DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> PELICANPOST.BLOGSPOT.COM: December 2004

Friday, December 31, 2004

Homeland security in review

By Michelle Malkin - 31 Dec 04
*****Five Star article and a must read

"This was a good year for terrorists, violent gang members, lawbreakers and fraud artists seeking safe haven in America. Let's reminisce: • The rise of MS-13. The savage El Salvador-based gang, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), has now penetrated more than a dozen states. In May, a Fairfax, Va., teenager had his fingers chopped off in an MS-13 machete attack. In November, D.C.-area police were warned that MS-13 is plotting to ambush and kill them when they respond to service calls.

• The rise of MS-13. The savage El Salvador-based gang, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), has now penetrated more than a dozen states. In May, a Fairfax, Va., teenager had his fingers chopped off in an MS-13 machete attack. In November, D.C.-area police were warned that MS-13 is plotting to ambush and kill them when they respond to service calls.

Active in alien, drug and weapons smuggling, MS-13 members in America have been tied to numerous killings, robberies, carjackings, extortions and rapes. The gang has been linked to efforts to help al Qaeda infiltrate the U.S.-Mexico border.

• Path of least resistance. Border Patrol officers and local investigative journalists in the Southwest reported on increasing numbers of Middle Eastern males entering illegally from Mexico. Muslim prayer books and Arabic diaries were found on "Terrorist Alley" in southern Arizona. Suspected al Qaeda operative Adnan Shukrijumah, a fugitive Saudi pilot who reportedly met with MS-13 this year, is believed to be in Mexico.

In April, a suspected al Qaeda agent arrested in Queens, N.Y., revealed a scheme to smuggle terrorists across the U.S.-Mexico border. In July, two alert Border Patrol agents apprehended Farida Goolam Mohamed Ahmed at McAllen (Texas) airport. She carried an altered South African passport, muddy jeans and dirty shoes. She confessed to entering the country illegally by crossing the Rio Grande River. Court documents showed she was on a government watch list and had entered the United States as many as 250 times...." for entire excellent article, including further evidence that our government is not enforcing its own border and immigration laws, while it allows illegal aliens and middle east terrorists to illegally enter and prowl our country at will, preying on our citizens and draining federal and state resources. Its becoming clear that American citizenship is being de-valued and American citizens themselves are regarded as having little value, as their government refuses to either fully protect them or listen to their expressed pleas for border and immigration laws to be enforced and illegal immigration stopped.

The "sensitivities" of foreign criminals are being put first while our porous borders are allowed to be a magnet for a flood of illegal aliens willing to work at slave wages and push Americans further into a growing lower class. There is no excuse for our government's sanctioning of illegal slave labor and sacrificing the prosperity of the American middle and lower income workers to the same greed that has outsourced and exported American industry. Made in America---by Americans---used to mean something. It was a source of American pride. Now it is rare....and on its way to extinction. This is a double whammy to the American worker. Industry and jobs are outsourced and exported to countries that use child labor and workers who are paid slave wages, while millions of illegal alien workers enter this country and take away Americans' jobs, force wages to remain low and ship millions of the $$$$ they earn out of the country. No one can honestly say no American will do those jobs until they can prove they have done everything humanly possible first to place unemployed Americans, including young men and women exiting school and entering the workforce for the first time, in available jobs---before allowing legal only alien workers to apply for those jobs. And I challenge anyone to show me the logic, fairness and justification for this prostitution of the American Dream for American workers.

It appears that another September 11---or worse---will have to happen before our elected leaders act responsibly to protect us, our borders and Americans' jobs. They're too busy protecting their Washington turf to aggressively act to protect our borders and our safety and security. We need to get busy demanding they act to strictly police our borders and allow only legal entry into the United States. Period. If they cannot or will not do so, we need to turn them out of office and elect true patriots who will---in 2006.
-Jacqueline, from the Soapbox

Odious tsunami politics

EDITORIAL - 31 Dec 04

"What they're actually doing is using dead people to make cheap points." That's how the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan described some partisans' use of this week's deadly Indian Ocean tsunami to promote various and sundry political agendas. We think it about describes the exploitation of the tragedy by the United Nations' Jan Egeland with his "stingy" remark and the New York Times' criticism of the United States.

It being Christmastime, most world leaders were on vacation when the tsunami hit. Kofi Annan was just arriving back in New York late Wednesday. By Thursday morning he still hadn't met with U.N. humanitarian relief point man Jan Egeland —the man in charge of tsunami relief. President Bush was in Crawford, Texas, until yesterday. British Prime Minister Tony Blair was vacationing in Egypt. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was away, too. That's to be expected. World leaders should be judged by the job they do — not by how fast they can turn to a camera....

....The truth is, the New York Times and Mr. Egeland are political opportunists of the highest order. They gleefully seized upon tragedy to promote a political agenda. They're not alone: Global-warming theorists, debt-relief enthusiasts and others have been doing the same. It's a disservice to the truth and a shameful commentary on their attitude towards the dead...." for entire Editorial.

Look who's talking about 'stingy'

*****Five Star article and an absolute must read
By Wesley Pruden - 31 Dec 04

"The Stinge-O-Meter, which the United Nations uses to measure the generosity of its members, is busted. The needle is spinning wildly, out of control.

Jan Egeland, the chief bureaucrat in charge of the U.N. emergency relief, such as it is, gave the Stinge-O-Meter a mighty spin in the wake of the Asian tsunami and read the miserable verdict: The United States and the nations of the West are "stingy."

Mr. Egeland, a Norwegian who throws up at the idea that anyone should spend his own money without bureaucratic guidance, says the trouble is rooted in the fact that Americans are not taxed enough. Americans would love to pay more taxes if only they could. Collecting more swag and turning more of it over to the United Nations would enable Kofi Annan to invite a few hundred more bureaucrats, maybe even thousands, to join the easy ride through Manhattan. Isn't that what we all want?...." for entire excellent article.

U.S. firms contribute $80 million

By Guy Taylor 31 Dec 04

"U.S. corporations have pledged more than $80 million in cash and supplies to help victims of the tsunami disaster in Asia and Africa, as other relief promised by the World Bank and governments around the globe topped $500 million yesterday.

"Whenever we have a disaster, corporations and Americans have stepped up to the plate," Red Cross spokeswoman Michelle Hudgins said. "We couldn't do our jobs without them...." for entire article re generosity and compassion of the U.S. business community in time of great need.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

And proud of our troops, wherever they serve, including those who will serve in the rescue and relief efforts operating out of the newly set up U.S. base of command in Thailand and those serving on the U.S.S. BonHomme Richard dispatched off the coast of Sri Lanka to assist that country and India.

Into the Tar Pits: Dinosaurs either evolve or die.

By Victor Davis Hanson - December 30, 2004, 8:38 a.m. EST
*****Five Star article and a must read

There was a time when the political lines about foreign policy were well drawn. Those on the Left felt that American democracy and global capitalism did not necessarily offer the rest of the world a much better alternative than either Soviet-sponsored Communism or third-world thuggery. Instead, in this view, American realism favored order, but not spreading liberty or social justice abroad — and only managed to promote overseas more of the unfairness and racism that we supposedly suffered from at home.

Everything from Vietnam to Nicaragua was seen through this reductionist prism, assuming a haughty United States at odds with indigenous reformers the world over. But with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the capitalist juggernauts China and India, the globalization of the world economy, radical social and economic changes here at home, and the spread of Islamic fascism, none of those old views makes sense anymore....

....As the old politics lie in ruin from hypocrisy and incoherence, the Left needs to get a new life. Here are a few more suggestions:

Remember that multilateral inaction — whether in the Balkans, Rwanda, or Darfur — is often calculated, selfish, and far more lethal to millions than risky interventions like removing the Taliban and Saddam.

Stop seeing an all-powerful United States behind every global problem. China is on the move and far more likely to disrupt environmental protocols, cheat on trade accords, and bully neighbors. The newly expanded Europe has a larger population and aggregate economy, stronger currency, and far less in trade and budget debts than does the United States — and is already using that economic clout for its own interests, not global freedom from dictators and autocrats.

Don't believe much of what the U.N. says anymore. Its secretary general is guilty of either malfeasance or incompetence, its soldiers are often hired thugs who terrorize those they are supposed to protect, and its resolutions are likely to be anti-democratic and anti-Semitic. Its members include dozens of nations whose odious representatives we would not let walk inside the doors of the U.S. Congress. The old idea of a United Nations was inspiring, the current reality chilling.

Stop seeing socialists and anti-Americans as Democrats. When a Michael Moore compares beheaders to our own Minutemen and laments that too many Democrats were in the World Trade Center, he deserves no platform alongside Wesley Clark or a seat next to Jimmy Carter or praise for his pseudo-dramas from high Democrats. Firebrands like Al Sharpton and Michael Moore are the current leftist equivalents of 1950s right-wing extremists like the John Birchers. They should suffer the same fate of ostracism, not bemused and tacit approval...." for the entire outstanding article.

Who Forgot China?

In the middle of fighting the global war on terror, America has forgotten about their "strategic competitor" to the East. The Chinese have noticed.
By Tom Donnelly 12/30/2004 12:00:00 AM EST *****Five Star article

"The post-9/11 world has been a mixed bag for the Chinese. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the deployment of forces to Central Asia renewed fears of American encirclement and upset a decade of careful diplomacy. Beijing's efforts to negotiate security and stability along its continental border--a prelude to greater activity in maritime Asia--seemed all for naught.

But then came the invasion and, more significantly, the occupation, of Iraq. The U.S. military, which had seemed entirely invincible, now seemed to be bogged down in an interminable quagmire. The Bush administration, which had campaigned for office in 2000 by casting China as a "strategic competitor," reversed course 180 degrees under the winds of the "global war on terrorism." Arms sales to Taiwan, once a priority for the White House, have been all but cancelled, while the plucky democrats of Taipei have been reviled by President Bush and his lieutenants as independence-obsessed troublemakers. From Beijing, the future looks better than it has for some time. China is a great power, not only in its own mind but increasingly in the minds of the rest of the world.

The Chinese can barely contain their self-satisfaction these days, and Beijing's recently-released white paper, China's National Defense in 2004, is a 36-page-wide smirk. Consider this passage: "The trends toward world multipolarization and economic globalization are deepening amid twists and turns. New changes are occurring in the balance of power among the major international players, with the process of their realignment and the redistribution of their interests accelerated."

Granted, this is hardly a ripping read--but within the refined art of the defense brief, this is equivalent to a middle-finger salute. The argument is essentially that the United States is a slipping superpower, leading to a "multipolar" world in which Beijing's interests will be given great weight...." for entire article on a topic no one can afford to ignore. China is a huge, rapidly developing nation that intends to become a major player on the world stage. They are a land of vast untapped natural resources, a fast growing, highly technical military industrial complex and a desire for spy satellite systems and space exploration. They have an enormous population, from which they have formed a huge military force. They are building or buying advanced arms, fighter planes, submarines as fast as they can and they already have a nuclear arsenal. They are re-writing Korean history to lay claims of entitlement to all Korean peopled and controlled lands. They are hell bent on reclaiming Taiwan, a country that has been independent for 50 years. They are flexing their muscles and flipping the world---especially the U.S.---the bird. The sleeping giant has awakened and is now shouting "See Me?" Need I say more?
-Jacqueline, from the Soapbox

A Unified Theory of the Old Media Collapse

Asymmetrical tolerance and the collapse of Big Media credibility: How 2004 brought doom to legacy media.
by Hugh Hewitt 12/28/2004 8:30:00 PM *****Five Star article and a must read

"IF OLD MEDIA--the "legacy media" of the big papers and old networks plus the newsweeklies--was a city and not simply a set of gasping institutions, it would look like Stalingrad circa 1944. Parts of most of the virtual buildings are still standing, but the devastation is pretty complete.

And the pummeling just keeps coming. On Sunday last, Power Line's John Hinderaker undressed the New York Times biggest big foot, Thomas Friedman, for all the blogosphere to see, The Belmont Club was scissoring the Associated Press's credibility, and I was pointing out the many defects in a Washington Post front-page story on an "Intelligent Design" controversy--in the process discovering that reporter Michael Powell, who came from a background of tenants' advocacy, had written extensively on tenants' issues without disclosing to the reader his past background.

And that was just three posts on a single day of the new world of accountability for the old media.

In my new book, Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That is Changing Your World, I devote a chapter to how the old media went left into a deep ditch of agenda journalism, forfeiting the trust of a large portion of their audience and, in the process, opening the door to Rush Limbaugh, the second generation of radio talkers, Fox News, and, of course, the blogs.

But I didn't speculate on the "why" of that disastrous and uncoordinated choice made by the old media. Here's my first take on a theory....

....Big Media had hired itself into a rut--a self-replicating echo chamber of left and further-left scribblers and talkers and self-reinforcing head nodders who were overwhelmingly anti-Republican, anti-Christian, anti-military, anti-wealth, anti-business, and even anti-middle class. These new journalists had no tolerance for majoritarian points of view, and the gap between the producers of the news and the consumers of the news widened until the credibility gap between the two made Lyndon Johnson's look modest by comparison.

MEANWHILE, the majority of consumers grew tired of the exclusion of its views from the media. When Rush Limbaugh arrived, he prospered because at last there was a voice reflecting majoritarian points of view. The same welcome greeted Fox News and the blogs of the center-right.

In legacy media there is now much dismay. Many of their biggest names appear not too understand that they are distrusted by more than half of America, and don't even seem to recognize their own contempt for majoritarian positions....

The uniformity of views within legacy media's legion of employees is nearly complete and very far left-of-center. And that is precisely why the old media has run aground so hard and so fast. Everyone knows it. The consumers of news now have choices. As a result, CNN's ratings over a decade are in a freefall. As are those of CBS. And the circulation of the Los Angeles Times is hardly graphing out better than either of those outfits.

The blogosphere is intensely partisan--just as old media has been. But, unlike the old media, there is truth in advertising on the Internet. This is a significant advantage going forward in the competition for credibility and trust. If old media does not develop tolerance for the majoritarian points of view in the United States, it will continue to decline in reach and authority...." for entire excellent article.


BY Nicole Gelinas - *****Five Star article and a must read

December 30, 2004 - "THE United Nations re cruited former U.S. Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker to investigate the Oil-for-Food scandal in April. But Volcker has apparently tired of determining just how Saddam transformed that humanitarian program — set up so that Iraq could export oil to earn money to feed starving Iraqis — into a global money-laundering scheme.

In an interview broadcast this week on a U.S.-backed TV station aimed at Mideast audiences, Volcker unilaterally demoted the status of his probe: He said that Saddam made most of his money outside of the U.N. program — by smuggling oil to neighbors like Jordan and Syria within full view of the United States.

"The big figures you see in the press — which are sometimes labeled Oil-for-Food — the big figures are [oil-] smuggling, which took place before the Oil-for-Food program started and continued while the program was in place," Volcker said. He added that he would investigate why the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — America, Britain, France, Russia and China — didn't stop this smuggling....

But this digression distracts from Volcker's original mandate. Volcker is supposed to be using his fiscal and monetary expertise to tackle one specific task: Learn how Saddam subverted the U.N. food program to gain unrestricted financial access to the rest of the world while supposedly languishing under the watchful eye of his U.N. babysitters....

* The Oil-for-Food accounts also let Saddam operate in hard-to-trace foreign currency: After 2000, Duelfer reported, Saddam began to fill foreign bank accounts with revenues generated through an increasingly efficient supplier-kickback scheme made possible by the UN program. As Duelfer put it: "The attitude grew" during the Oil-for-Food era that "sanctions were eroding and everyone else was making money. This effect was intangible, but powerful nonetheless." Made more powerful by the fact that the United Nations did not treat the Oil-for-Food account as the invaluable asset Saddam knew it to be — Saddam washed at least $2 billion in dirty money through the world body.

This perversion of the U.N.'s relief program is what Volcker must probe. For example, how were upstanding international contractors — like Scotland's blue-chip Weir Group — allegedly corralled into subverting international law to make kickbacks through Swiss bank accounts to Saddam? And where was that hard currency moved to — is it helping to fund the attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq now?

Volcker has a deadly serious task — which doesn't include musing over why the U.N. Security Council didn't stop Saddam from smuggling oil.

Actually, he already has his answer to that one: Two of the council members — America and Britain — did eventually end Saddam's smuggling for good...." for entire excellent article.

Jacqueline's Soapbox:
Now we see why Kofi Annan chose Paul Volcker to head up the weak investigation---with no subpoena power---that he is supposedly conducting into UN corruption in the UN Oil-for-Food program. That program was designed to allow Iraq to sell a certain amount of oil only for humanitarian purposes such as medicine and food for the people of Irac--not to line Saddam Hussein's pockets and finance Saddams' bribes to buy support from UN officials and some UN member nations who would then protect him and his scam and block any UN measures against Irac.

Volcker is basking in the attention he is getting at the UN, is prolonging his stay there, and has apparently bought into the save Kofi Annan movement and their blame the US and others first line. In other words, he has aligned himself with the foxes in the henhouse. The net result is he is now diverting the purpose of the investigation in order to propagandize for the UN, which was not his mandate. And he's doing it at great expense to the Iraqi people, since Kofi Annan is further defrauding the Iraqis by conscripting $30M of Iraqi money that was being held by the UN and using it to pay for Volcker's Annan-initiated show of an investigation of the UN's own involvement in that mother of all frauds. This empty and useless exercise is only a pretense of investigation in hopes the whole thing will blow over while Kofi Annan sets up a smokescreen of "reform" to change the subject to something other than the UN's culpability and fraud.

It is laughable to even suggest the United Nations is reformable at this point. It bears little or no resemblance to what it was set up to be following the demise of the League of Nations. The post war problems it was designed to deal with no longer exist. It is a criminal organization that has attained an extreme level of corruption and political subterfuge. Totally unaccountable and with corrupt and self-serving officials, it has rotted from the top down. And, while providing some measure of sporadic relief is about the only function it still carries out, the UN's Secretary General Kofi Annan continued his holiday vacation for three whole days before even condescending to make a statement expressing any concern at all about the Southeast Asian tsunami disaster---giving it the same disinterest and inaction he has given to the many thousands of victims of genocide and rape in Rwanda and in the Darfhur region.

We (the U.S.) are compromising our standards, principles and values if we remain in association with the United Nations and allow its continued existence on our soil. And the dottering Paul Volcker, who is going through a misguided and off-the-track investigation that gives Annan cover and excuse to not cooperate with Congress, needs to pack up his prejudiced attitude and compromised investigation and go home before he finds himself being held accountable for aiding and abetting coverup of crimes.

The U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Congress need to disregard the Annan-controlled, compromised Volcker investigation and go ahead full bore and complete their own investigations, subpoena and seize whatever is refused to them and needed for those investigations, freeze assets other than those legitimately spent on the Southeast Asia relief, and prosecute the guilty parties. Voluntary cooperation and accountability are long overdue and should no longer be an option.

We have some brave heroes fighting the hard fight in Irac. How about let's hear some courageous words and see some courageous strong action from DOJ and Congressional investigators. It's time for unprecedented action. It's time to say "let's roll."


BY AMIR TAHERI - *****Five Star opinion piece and a must read

December 30, 2004 - "JUST a year ago, Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, prom ised to shed his uniform and give up his position as head of the armed forces by the end of 2004. It seems unlikely he'll will meet that pledge. Musharraf made the promise as part of a deal under which opposition parties validated his presidency and accepted constitutional amendments that added to the president's powers....

Nevertheless, I think Musharraf is right to continue wearing his two hats, at least for some time. Why? For starters, Pakistan is at war.

Sinister forces are at work not only to sabotage democratic development but also to destroy the fabric of the Pakistani state. This is not a conventional war, but an asymmetric, low-intensity, one, waged by terrorists and their allies who can't be easily pinned down and dealt with. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2, last year designated Pakistan as one of three countries (along with Saudi Arabia and Iraq) serving as battlegrounds for his perverted version of jihad. Osama bid Laden confirmed that strategy this year.

In such a war, any nation — let alone Pakistan, which still needs generations before it consolidates its identity — would need to mobilize its resources under a unified command to deal with the enemy.

Yet combining the presidency and command of the army should not exclude checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution. As president, Musharraf would be commander-in-chief of the armed forces in any case. Thus keeping his uniform and army position need not mean anything more than a matter of expediency at a time of war.

Another reason Musharraf is right to combine the two positions relates to the condition of the Pakistani armed forces and security services: Both need to be reorganized and purged of the elements that don't want Pakistan to become a modern democracy.

It is no secret that Pakistan's military, especially its security services, have been infiltrated by jihadists over the past 25 years. It will take many years for a new generation of officers, brought up in a different cultural and political context, to dominate the military and security establishment. The best person to chaperon such a generation is Musharraf, who is probably the only senior Pakistani officer to both understand the problem and enjoy the trust of the younger military...." for entire excellent article and analysis.


OPINION EDITORIAL *****Five Star Op-Ed and a must read
December 30, 2004

"This just in: George W. Bush won.

Of course, most people have known that the president was reelected for going on two months.
But more than a few left-wing deadenders have been insisting that "evil Republicans" managed to deprive John Kerry of victory by "stealing" the state of Ohio — just like Florida in 2000!

Front and center for all this silliness were Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who traveled the Buckeye State claiming racial bias and voter intimidation and unethical behavior by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (this year's Katherine Harris in the fever swamps of the left).

Plus, the presidential candidates of the Green and Libertarian parties demanded — and got — an official recount.

Meanwhile, John Kerry's lawyers flitted about in hopes that..." for the entire entertaining article.

Yanukovych's Appeal Rejected in Ukraine

Breaking News - Dec 30, 11:05 AM EST
By Aleksandar Vasovic, AP Writer

KIEV, Ukraine - "Ukraine's election commission rejected the entire appeal by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych against results showing he lost this week's repeat running, saying he had not proved there were any mass violations, a commission member said.

Yanukovych will now appeal to the Supreme Court, said his campaign manager, Taras Chornovyl. The prime minister has refused to accept results showing a solid victory for Western-leaning opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko in Sunday's vote. for entire story about a hard-line Communist-backed candidate and loser refusing to accept his loss like a man and trying desperately to hold on to power. He is also losing his high position in the current Ukraine government. All this while his buddy and supporter, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin, refuses to accept Russian loss of control of Ukraine and some other former USSR nations, flirts and colludes with its traditional arch-enemy, China, who may one day surprise him by turning around and swallowing up its empire-grieving new best friend. If China can rewrite Korean history to justify its plans to ultimately take over that country, could Russian history be far behind? Like the moth to the flame, Putin plays with fire. Yanukovich played with fire---or was it dioxin? He ended up being the one to get burned.
-Jacqueline, from the Soapbox

26 Dead After Attack on U.S. Post in Mosul

Dec 30, 11:19 AM EST
By Slobodan Lekic, AP Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - "Insurgents tried to ram a truck with half a ton of explosives into a U.S. military post in the northern city of Mosul on Thursday then ambushed reinforcements in a huge gunbattle in which 25 rebels and one American soldier were killed. Warplanes fired missiles and strafed gunmen during the fight.

The assault on the outpost, which U.S. soldiers finally repulsed, appeared to be better coordinated than past attacks, with guerrillas apparently pulling out their strongest assaults in an effort to derail Jan. 30 elections, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Hastings said.

"The terrorists are growing more desperate in their attempts to derail the elections and they're trying to put it all on the line and give it all they can," Hastings said...." for entire article with more information about pre-election terrorist actions in Irac to prevent elections from occurring and coalition successes in combatting them.

The USS BonHomme Richard has been ordered to waters off the coast of Sri Lanka, to aid in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief after a Tsunami hit coastal regions throughout Southeast Asia.

Bush announces aid coalition

By Bill Sammon - 30 Dec 2004 *****Five Star article and a must read

"President Bush yesterday announced the formation of an international coalition to deal with the catastrophic effects from the deadly tsunami that swept across South Asia and rebuked a senior United Nations official for calling the United States "stingy." "The person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed," Mr. Bush said in his first public remarks on Sunday's underwater earthquake and subsequent tsunami....

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has contacted officials in various Asian nations to form a coalition to provide both immediate humanitarian relief and long-term reconstruction. "Based on these discussions, we've established a regional core group with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts," the president said. "I'm confident more nations will join this core group in short order...."

Marc Grossman, undersecretary of state for political affairs, will lead a U.S. task force to coordinate the U.S. response and urge other nations to help provide relief. In a 40-minute conference call last night, he spoke with senior Japanese, Australian and Indian officials on coordinating all parties' aid efforts to avoid duplication.

The president's emphasis on the United States' generosity was aimed at countering suggestions Monday by Jan Egeland, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, that the United States and other Western countries were "stingy." Mr. Egeland has been backpedaling from those remarks since coming under fire from Mr. Powell on Tuesday. "I obviously did a mistake," the Norwegian-born diplomat acknowledged yesterday.

Still, Mr. Egeland's original remarks continued to rankle U.S. officials yesterday. Andrew Natsios, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), defended America's generosity. "In terms of our level of contribution, there's been a little controversy over it," Mr. Natsios told reporters at the State Department. "We are by far the largest donor — no one even comes close to us — and have been for a long time. "The president actually has increased assistance in food aid and disaster relief while I've been administrator in his first term," he added. "So, we have been generous...."

In another example of U.S. military forces helping out, the Pentagon's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said yesterday it is using its spy satellites to gather such information as damage assessments of roads, bridges, ports and airfields. The information is used to guide U.S. agencies handling disaster relief on where to send workers and life-support supplies....

"In the year 2004, our government provided $2.4 billion in food, in cash, in humanitarian relief to cover the disasters for last year," he said. "That's 40 percent of all the relief aid given in the world." The president emphasized that governmental largesse is only part of the aid contributed by the United States. "The $2.4 billion was public money, of course, provided by the taxpayers," he said. "But there's also a lot of individual giving in America...." for entire excellent article.

Jacqueline's Soapbox: President Bush made a brilliant strategic move to take the initiative and set up a rapid multi-national response team to organize and implement effective relief and support for nations suffering from earthquake-driven tsunamis that killed now-believed-to-be as many as 114K people---leaving devastation, injury and despair in their wake.

Bush arranged for and set up a military command post in Thailand to assess damage, dispense aid and help maintain order in the process. He is also allowing use of military satellites to facilitate assessment and evaluation of where and what assistance is needed. These are only some of the things the President was doing while Bill Clinton, in his usual leap before the cameras, publicly led others in criticizing Bush for not immediately coming out in person to make the statement he had already otherwise made. If Bush had rushed in front of cameras early on, they would have criticized him for turning a tragedy into a photo opportunity---which is exactly what Clinton grabbed for himself. They'll never get it, it seems. Act or speak, then think---the liberal left's modus operandi---appears to be deeply embedded in their collective psyche.

Bush took quick command of the tragic and worsening situation---leaving the impotent and corrupt United Nations on the fringes, as the UN sent out its Deputy Jan Egeland to carp at the United States, accusing it of stinginess in it provision of aid to the needy. Herr Egeland forgets that the U.S. pays approximately one fourth of his salary and additionally has provided, and continues to provide, necessary money, relief and aid that the United Nations has neglected and/or chosen not to provide for many years of not fulfilling their own designated mission.

The cumbersome, self-serving, parasitic, dangerously corrupt United Nations has already been exposed as a useless, irrelevant and subversive body that does more damage than good, as it whines and demands ever more and more money from its host whom it despises. It is---in and of itself---an actively abusive, criminal, anti-democratic and pro-terrorist body that needs to be removed from the world stage. Pouring more money and effort into it under the rubric of "reform" would be a true exercise in futility---and stupidity.

President George W. Bush has it right. He is demonstrating true leadership and effective action by forming a core group, that is now growing, to deal with this disaster of historic proportions. The rest of the world, especially the UN, needs to follow---or get out of the way.

Update at 12.50pm EST, 30 Dec 04: In his currently on-going press conference, the United Nations' Kofi Annan acknowledged the U.S. formation of a core group that is now growing in size, in his response to a question from the press. In that response, he cast the "core group" as "supporting the United Nations," which is a mischaracterization. The core group was formed independent of the UN and, while they included Annan as representing the UN in the meeting, the UN is not in control of the group and its resources.

The original core group includes democratic nations and it would be a sensible base for the future formation of a new permanent group of only democratic nations---with a prerequisite for membership being a freely elected government of, by and for the people of the individual countries seeking to join. In addition to being the best way to directly help the currently devastated countries and survivors, this would be a way to take a first step toward bringing about the United Nations' exit from the world stage. It has become a corrupt political organization that is divisive, does not function in a democratic manner, has abused its power and has failed the purpose and mission for which it was formed.

Given a choice, the people of the United States of America would not invest their tax money in a secretive, unaccountable and political world body that no longer has any credibility and that pits a host of anti-democratic and despotic third world and socialist/communist countries against their own country. The cost is too dear and it may be paying for the very terrorism we are fighting. The future safety, security, integrity and sovereignty of our country may hinge upon what we do about the subversive and corrupt United Nations now. The UN is a problem, not a solution. That problem can be dealt with through dissolution.... sooner, rather than later.

U.S. Military Support to Tsunami Relief Efforts


U.S. Pacific Command is sending a forward command element (FCE) to Utapao, Thailand, to establish the command, control and communication structure for Joint Task Force 536 (JTF 536).

Thailand's decision to allow use of this Thai military facility is welcomed. The U.S. intends to use, with Thailand's cooperation, this military facility as a regional support center for emergency and medical personnel providing assistance throughout the region as well as a staging area for U.S. military and rescue aircraft, forensic experts, and other relief assistance.

The FCE and follow-on JTF will coordinate U.S. military relief efforts in the region. The FCE and JTF will work with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, host nations and humanitarian relief agencies to identify requirements and coordinate relief efforts.

The focus of the mission will be to prevent further loss of life and human suffering by expeditiously applying resources to the overall relief effort. The FCE team is comprised mainly of personnel from the III Marine ExpeditionaryForce. Additional personnel will be deployed from other locations in the Pacific command area of responsibility.

U.S. military relief efforts include:

+ U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft in Yokota, Japan, loaded with relief supplies are expected to deploy to Utapao, Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand.
+ U.S. Navy deployed P-3 aircraft from Kadena, Japan, to operate in the vicinity of Thailand with Utapao, Royal Thai Air Force Base, serving as a hub for operations.
+ Other forces enroute to the region that could be committed to relief efforts, if necessary, include USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, including USS Shoup, USS Shiloh, USS Benfold, and USNS Ranier and USS Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, including USS Duluth, USS Milius, USS Rushmore, USS Thach, USS Pasadena and USCG Munro.
+ U.S. Air Force will deploy KC-135 aircraft from Japan and Guam to provideassistance as directed.

U.S. military exercises often include training for humanitarian assistance. This humanitarian assistance training helps ensure the U.S. military is able to rapidly respond as directed to support relief efforts.

The Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command will continue to review resources available and direct forces as necessary to provide authorized humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to affected nations in the region.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Thanks to all our troops...every day...everywhere they serve.

Iraqis Direct Soldiers to Weapons Caches

American Forces Press Service - Press Release

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2004 - "Iraqi citizens continue to help U.S. soldiers rid their country of illegal weapons, Multinational Force Iraq officials reported today. Two Iraqi children led 1st Infantry Division soldiers from Task ForceTrailblazer to a weapons cache near Bayji this morning. The soldiers discovered nine land mines hidden in a former tank position and are investigating additional caches in the area, officials said.

Later today, near Duluiyah, an Iraqi citizen reported a weapons cache to 1st Infantry Division soldiers. The cache consisted of four 20 mm machine guns, a 60 mm mortar tube, an anti-aircraft gun, a box of 20 mm high-explosive ammunition, a box of .50-caliber ammunition, rocket propellant, rocket fuses, a 20 mm recoilless rifle, and six boxes of armor-piercing ammunition. The cache was transported to a Multinational Force facility for future destruction.
Also today in Iraq, Multinational forces and Iraqi security forces conducting a joint patrol in Mosul were attacked with small-arms fire from a mosque. An Iraqi National Guard soldier was wounded in the attack and was taken to a Multinational Force medical facility in Mosul for treatment.

Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, and the Iraqi National Guard quickly maneuvered on the mosque, but the insurgents fled as the soldiers approached. Iraqi National Guard soldiers searching the mosque found evidence that a safe haven was given to the insurgents so they could conduct the attack. Officials said the interim Iraqi government and the Ninevah provincial governor have made it clear that any mosque used as a base of operations to conduct attacks against Iraqi or multi-national forces is subject to search. Anyone using a position of authority to incite violence against the Iraqi government, the country's security forces or multinational troops, officials added, will be subject to arrest and detention.

Iraqi police and Polish soldiers from the 1st Battle Group of Multinational Division Central-South in Babil province thwarted five suspected vehicle bombs today. A joint patrol stopped vehicles about 1.5 kilometers north of Mashru. A search determined that all five vehicles were filled with parts of artillery shells and grenades. The soldiers determined it is likely that these vehicles were prepared as bombs. Eight suspects were detained and handed over to Iraqi police in Hillah. Iraqi police escorted the vehicles away from the urban area and U.S. explosive ordnance disposal personnel removed and destroyed all explosive material taken from the vehicles.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)
Original version of web page on DefenseLINK, the official website of U.S. Dept. of Defense, at

Hotline Succeeding in Foiling Iraqi Insurgents

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2004 - "Leads generated through a hotline to report insurgent activity in Iraq demonstrate that the Iraqi people want to bring an end to the violence against innocent civilians and critical infrastructure, a top officer in the Army's 1st Cavalry Division told reporters in Baghdad today.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Hammond, the division's assistant commander for support, said the tips hotline received more than 400 calls during the past few months.These enabled the coalition to take prompt action - from freeing several women who had been kidnapped for ransom to identifying and destroying vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices Hammond said "were rigged and ready to explode."

Billboards throughout Baghdad promote the hotline as a way for the Iraqi people to "fight the war in secret" without fear of reprisal, Hammond said. Because of a campaign of intimidation aimed at Iraqis helping to move their country forward, "people were virtually paralyzed to reach out for help," he noted. Now, thanks to the hotline campaign, "people today are picking up the phone and calling us. They are sharing information," the general said
Hammond said the hotline and its success have "hit a nerve with the insurgents" who regularly vandalize billboards promoting the campaign. But Hammond said the 200 billboards around Iraq are replaced as quickly as they're destroyed. "I'm not going to stop," he said.
He called the enemy "a selfish minority" that uses practices that "have no connection whatsoever to the Islam religion" and no interest in "the short- or long-term needs of the Iraqi people."

In Baghdad, Hammond said, the enemy is a mix of foreign fighters, former regime elements, religious extremists and criminals who "are trying to impede progress by attacking critical infrastructure and civilians." Hammond said their tactics - murdering civilians simply "for doing what's right for the people of Iraq" and attacking electrical towers, hospitals and other infra-structure - are part of a plan to instill fear and gain power. "This isn't going to work," he said.
Hammond said the coalition's and Iraqis' persistence against the insurgents is paying off. Last Christmas, he said, the coalition experienced a 500 percent spike in attacks. A similar spike was anticipated again this year, but didn't materialize, he said."

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Ethics Committee to Investigate McDermott

Breaking News - Dec 28, 12:04 PM (EST)

WASHINGTON (AP) - "The House ethics committee will investigate Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., to determine whether he violated standards of conduct when an illegally recorded telephone conversation was leaked to reporters during a committee investigation....
....McDermott was ranking Democrat on the ethics committee at the time, and the panel was investigating the conduct of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga....

The incident began when a Florida couple taped Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who was using his cell phone to discuss the Gingrich case with other Republicans. The tape ended up in McDermott's hands and subsequently was leaked to reporters.

Boehner sued McDermott in federal court. U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan concluded earlier this year that McDermott was responsible for the leak and ordered the Washington lawmaker to pay Boehner for "willful and knowing misconduct" that "rises to the level of malice." Boehner said the payment could total about $600,000, including his legal fees....

Responding to a complaint filed by Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, Hefley and Mollohan said the subcommittee would consider whether "McDermott's conduct violated the House Code of Official conduct," which requires members to conduct themselves "at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives." The investigative panel also will consider whether McDermott ran afoul of a government ethics code, and committee rules barring improper disclosures and protecting confidential information...." for entire article. It appears that the worm has finally turned. While Newt Gingrich was ruthlessly targeted by Democrats at that time---hated by them for having engineered and pushed through the Republican "Contract with America" that brought a wave of Republicans into Congress, reducing Democrats' numbers and resulting in Republican initiated Welfare Reform and many other legislative successes that the Dems couldn't obstruct---he was subsequently found innocent of all vigorously pursued false allegations against him. Something tells me Representative McDermott will meet a different fate. Such is his reward for the politics of personal destruction(PPD) which has now become a national pastime for Democrats.
Jacqueline, from the Soapbox

The Year That Was

By Irwin M. Stelzer - 12/28/2004 12:00:00 AM EST
*****Five Star article

"THIS WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS . . . . It opened with the world angry at America because of its willingness to use the strength of its military, and closes with the world angry at America for its willingness to tolerate the weakness of its currency. Thar's just no pleasin' these folks, as they say in Crawford.

This has been a year of reality checks. The Bush administration has been brought face-to-face with the reality of its massive deficits by financial markets that are scrambling to unload dollars, and by a Congress reluctant to tackle Social Security and tax reform until the federal deficit is brought under control. Bush has promised to do just that, but he is also intent on spending what it takes to win the war on terror, and on adding $2 trillion to $5 trillion to the deficit over the next several years in order to cover the transition to his proposed scheme for partial privatization of Social Security.

Several industries have also had annoying realities thrust upon them. The airlines now realize, or should, that the problems of the high-cost carriers, with their legacy of pension obligations and staggeringly generous union contracts, cannot be solved by selling more and more seats for less and less, or by bankruptcies that leave the industry with massive excess capacity. A major restructuring, leaving the dinosaurs in its wake, is now in the works.

The media is equally unhappy with the reality that hit in 2004. The liberal television networks have seen their market share dwindle as more balanced and more conservative voices attract audiences, and as bloggers provide instant corrections to the slanted stories that have long come from such as Dan Rather and CBS News. Like all fallen monopolists, the liberal networks are blaming everyone but themselves--audiences are too dumb to appreciate network pundits, conservative cable channels pander to audiences, etc. But the fault lies in themselves; like the airlines, they will linger, but in a shrunken and transformed state.

As will America's...." for entire excellent article.

Asia faces burials, even looting, as tsunami death toll hits 44,000; historic relief efforts begin

Breaking News - December 28th - 11:40 am EST
By Andi Djatmike, AP Writer

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — "Mourners in Sri Lanka used their bare hands to dig graves Tuesday while hungry islanders in Indonesia turned to looting in the aftermath of Asia's devastating tsunamis. Thousands more bodies were found in Indonesia, dramatically increasing the death toll across 11 nations to around 44,000...." for entire article providing updated information about the tragedy in Asia.


By John Podhoretz - December 28, 2004
*****Five Star article and an absolute must read

"IT will surely be difficult for many people of good will to reconcile the awfulness of the daily news coming out of Iraq — deaths of and injuries to American soldiers and committed Iraqis who want nothing more than to bring freedom and democracy to a forlorn and battered country — with the astonishing new poll released by the Military Times yesterday.

That poll of 1,423 active members of the military indicates that the armed forces of the United States are passionate supporters of the Coalition's efforts in Iraq. Support for the war inside the military stands at 60 percent, 25 percent higher than the latest Gallup measurement of the American people as a whole.

When it comes to President Bush's handling of the war effort, the results are even more lopsided. Only 42 percent of Americans approve, according to ABC News. In the military, Bush garners 63 percent support. In other words, support for Bush's Iraq policy is an astounding half again as big in the active military as in the American body politic.

And, in the words of the Army Times report on the poll, "Support for the war is even greater among those who have served longest in the combat zone: Two-thirds of combat vets say the war is worth fighting...."

....Note, too, that the active military is angrier at Congress than at the Pentagon.
In the wake of the publicity surrounding the National Guardsman's question to Donald Rumsfeld about the supposed failure to provide appropriate armor, it is instructive to note this poll's conclusion about the matter. Quoting from the Military Times again: "60 percent blame Congress for the shortage of body armor in the combat zone."

That result suggests a greater degree of sophistication on these matters than most Americans — and most pundits — possess. Military personnel know that equipment problems in Iraq are the result of Congress' decisions throughout the '90s to slash the military budget, which had a parlous impact on "combat readiness...."

But what is not heartening is this sobering fact: We can locate the decline in support for the war effort almost entirely inside the Democratic Party. By a margin of 80-19, Democrats now say they oppose the decision to go to war. The margin among Republicans is exactly the reverse: 80 percent of GOPers support the war, while 19 percent disapprove.

This is not only a partisan divide. It's a cultural divide. As the year 2004 ends, the rank and file of the Democratic Party has turned decisively and profoundly against the military effort in Iraq. And there is reason to believe it won't be long before they turn on the military as well....

Democratic Party bottom-feeders — like the odd and unpleasant people who inhabit the comments sections on Web sites like and — have already long since started spewing their bile at our soldiers, sailors and Marines.
Soon, however, the bottom feeders may rise to the surface, just as they did during the Vietnam War. These will be underground opinions no longer.

The good news is that the world has changed since the 1960s. Last week, when The New York Times shamefully tried to resuscitate the Vietnam-era leftist fantasy about tens of thousands of crazed war vets returning to haunt our shores here at home, conservative media voices gave it but good to the Old Grey Lady.

If they really want to fight a culture war rather than this just war to advance democracy and retard Islamofascism, we're more than ready for them...." for entire excellent article.

U.N. official slams U.S. as 'stingy' over aid

By Bill Sammon - 28 Dec 2004
*****Five Star article and a must read

"The Bush administration yesterday pledged $15 million to Asian nations hit by a tsunami that has killed more than 22,500 people, although the United Nations' humanitarian-aid chief called the donation "stingy."

"The United States, at the president's direction, will be a leading partner in one of the most significant relief, rescue and recovery challenges that the world has ever known," said White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy.

But U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland suggested that the United States and other Western nations were being "stingy" with relief funds, saying there would be more available if taxes were raised.

"It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really," the Norwegian-born U.N. official told reporters. "Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become."
"There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy," he said, adding that politicians in the United States and Europe "believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It's not true. They want to give more."

In response to Mr. Egeland's comments, Mr. Duffy pointed out that the United States is "the largest contributor to international relief and aid efforts, not only through the government, but through charitable organizations. The American people are very giving...." for the entire article.

Jacqueline's Soapbox: This is another example of the imperious hubris and arrogance of the parasitic United Nations that has gorged itself at the United States' trough for many years as they have insulted and undermined their host.

Let's have a full and open accounting of exactly how the United Nations has spent and is spending our tax money in the form of U.S. dues they have voraciously consumed while maintaining their elite lifestyle and surrepticiously supporting terrorism and anti-Americanism---none of which we should be financing. Show me the logic and reason that justifies our continuing to provide ca. one-fourth of the total budget of the unaccountable and secretive UN.

It is time for this parasitic behemoth to be cut off from the United States' dole, now that they have assumed an entitlement to bite our hands, even as we feed them. Any U.S. contributions of money for the current relief effort should be administered only by U.S. agencies to make sure all of it goes to directly help those who are hurt or have suffered loss and help them to rebuild and establish an early warning system.

The UN is like a mouth with various insatiable appetites---the more it is given, the more it demands. As long as the United Nations remains the unaccountable and secretive organization that it is, the United States should not be pouring any more money or resources down that unaccountable black hole---no more U.S. money at all for the UN until they: open all records, past and present; provide all 55 audits they are withholding; and provide total transparency, accountability and cooperation with all investigations of fraud, malfeasance, nepotism, sexual harassment, affiliation with terrorist-supporting relief organizations, and so on. There is no need to even play a reform game until we get to the bottom of all that's wrong at the UN and thoroughly analyze the extent of their criminality, unethical behaviors and abuses of power.

Only fools and idiots would place their trust in the presently constituted United Nations that is operating as a foil to the spread of democratic governments and is, itself, not run in any way resembling a democratic process. Why the United States, which is a democratic Republic, would be a party to and accede to the operation and existence of such an anti-democratic institution is beyond understanding---and it is unacceptable.

Unsteadfast chorus

By David Limbaugh - 28 Dec 2004
*****Five Star Commentary

"Our various reactions to the increased violence leading up to the elections in Iraq are instructive. All are equally horrified and saddened by the deaths of our troops, Iraqi nationals fighting for freedom and Iraq's officials, but some view these as reasons to quit, while others see it's why we must march on.

The suicide bombing massacre of our troops and Iraqi allies in Mosul, coupled with assassination of three Iraqi election commission members in broad daylight on a Baghdad street last week were particularly gut-wrenching. These are events that try men's souls...." for entire excellent commentary.

False friends

By Frank J. Gaffney Jr. - 28 Dec 2004
*****Five Star Commentary and a must read

" is increasingly clear the French government under President Jacques Chirac is bent on policies antithetical to U.S. interests. They are not simply anti-Bush, they are anti-American and anti-Atlaniticist. The latest example is Mr. Chirac's determination to have French and other European weapons manufacturers arm Communist China as part of what he has called "a necessary rebalancing of the 'grand triangle' formed by America, Europe and Asia....

This is, of course, hardly the first time that French policy toward the United States has been defined by balance-of-power considerations.....

....The implications of European weapons manufacturers joining Russia in arming China to the teeth are quite worrisome. Thoughtful observers, like acclaimed author Mark Helprin, warn of China's rising application of its immense accumulated wealth to strategic advantage. The latter include: neutralizing U.S. dominance in space and information technology (Chinese acquisition of IBM's personal computer division is not an accident); moving aggressively to dominate the world's critical minerals and other resources (especially those relevant to its burgeoning energy needs); establishing forward operations in choke-points and other sensitive areas around the globe (including, in our own hemisphere, in Cuba, the Bahamas, the Panama Canal, Brazil and Venezuela); and acquiring financial leverage by purchasing vast quantities of U.S. debt instruments.

Retaking Taiwan is an immediate target of such power. Dominance of Asia and the Western Pacific are in prospect. And China aspires to exercise global superpower status in due course, if not short order.

For years, Washington has paid lip service to — and often actively promoted — European unification. If, however, the upshot of unity is to be, as seems likely, a Continent whose policies are dominated by anti-Atlanticist France and Germany and contribute to emerging threats elsewhere, the United States must make discouraging such developments an explicit part of its foreign policy.

Mr. Chirac's determination to provide weapons that may be used to kill Americans in the event China decides to attack Taiwan should be a wake-up call. False friends are not allies. They should not be entitled to the preferential treatment accorded the latter. Mr. Bush is right that democracies traditionally don't fight democracies. But when they equip authoritarian regimes to do so, they must pay a real cost...." for entire excellent commentary.

Monday, December 27, 2004

One nation, under God....

The Joseph Goebbels award

By Thomas Sowell
December 24, 2004

"Events of this past year have shown the need for a special award in journalism for those who think that the purpose of reporting news is to cause the public to adopt the political views of those who do the reporting. Therefore this column announces the first annual Joseph Goebbels award for that journalist who best exemplifies the spirit and the practice that Dr. Goebbels pioneered.

For people too young to remember or too unschooled in history to know, Dr. Joseph Goebbels was the minister of propaganda in the Nazi regime back in the 1930s and 1940s. Facts never distracted him from his mission nor did a lack of facts inhibit his zeal.

Had there been such an award in 2003, "Baghdad Bob" would have been the clear winner for his repeated bold assurances that American troops were nowhere near Baghdad and never would be. That man could have had a great career in advertising. Holding the same official position as Dr. Goebbels, Baghdad Bob would have been the perfect first winner of this award. But such are the lost opportunities of history.

Since 2004 was an election year, there have been many highly qualified competitors for the Joseph Goebbels award in our own country. One can easily imagine them...." for the entire article to see who won the 2004 Goebbels' award for propaganda in the U.S. media, why they won, and who was first runner-up. The liberal elite media can't seem to comprehend that their job is to gather and report news---not to create, manipulate or distort news information to serve a particular political agenda and produce a desired public response or to destroy someone with whom they disagree or whom their preferred candidate is running against in an election.
-Jacqueline, from the Soapbox

Poll shows troops in support of war

27 Dec 2004
By Robert Hodierne, Army Times

"Despite a year of ferocious combat, mounting casualties and frequent deployments, support for the war in Iraq remains very high among the active-duty military, according to a Military Times Poll.

Sixty-three percent of respondents approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, and 60% remain convinced it is a war worth fighting. Support for the war is even greater among those who have served longest in the combat zone: Two-thirds of combat vets say the war is worth fighting.

But the men and women in uniform are under no illusions about how long they will be fighting in Iraq; nearly half say they expect to be there more than five years.

In addition, 87%% say they're satisfied with their jobs and, if given the choice today, only 25% say they'd leave the service...."
Linked from for entire article about high morale, job satisfaction, and support for Irac War/President Bush's handling of the war. Good news also for Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld and the Iraqi people.

United States dispatches disaster teams and prepares a $15 million aid package to Asian countries

Breaking News - December 27, 2004 - 2:21 pm EST
By Barry Schweid, AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON — "The United States dispatched disaster specialists Monday and prepared an initial $15 million aid package to the Asian countries hit by a massive earthquake and tsunamis. U.S. officials were seeking to contact hundreds of Americans who remain unaccounted for in the region.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said eight Americans died in the natural disaster, and that embassy officials were trying to locate other U.S. citizens who have not been heard from since Sunday's quake.

"We will do everything we can to immediately help," Powell said. "This is, indeed, an international tragedy...." for entire article.

Abdul Aziz al Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, the largest Iraqi Shiite party putting forward candidates for the upcoming January election in Irac. The cleric narrowly survived a suicide bomber's assassination attempt on his life today that did succeed in killing 9 people and injuring 39.

Top Shiite politician escapes assassination as main Sunni party drops out of national election

Breaking News - December 27, 2004 2:10 pm EST
By Slobodan Lekic, AP Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq — "A suicide car bomber killed 15 people Monday in trying to assassinate the head of Iraq's strongest Shiite party before parliamentary elections next month, while the biggest Sunni Muslim political group dealt a blow to ballot plans by withdrawing from the campaign because of the lack of security.

Meanwhile, in an audiotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera satellite television, a man purported to be Osama bin Laden endorsed Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of elections.

The bomber tried to drive his car through the gate at the home of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, but detonated his explosives when guards blocked the way.

Fifteen people died and at least 50 were wounded in the explosion, which shook Baghdad's Jadiriyah district and sent a cloud of smoke billowing into the sky, Police Capt. Ahmed Ismail said. Thirty-two cars on the street were destroyed or damaged. Al-Hakim, who was inside, was not hurt...." for entire article.

Osama bin Laden endorses al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq; calls for boycott of January elections

Breaking News - 27 Dec 2004 - 1:25 pm EST

CAIRO, Egypt (AP)— "In an audiotape received by Al-Jazeera satellite television, a man purported to be Osama bin Laden endorsed Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi as his deputy in Iraq and called for a boycott of next month's elections there.

Al-Jazeera quoted the tape in a news summary Monday but had not broadcast the recording.
Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, leads a group called al-Qaida in Iraq, which is responsible for numerous car bombings and beheadings of foreign hostages in Iraq. The United States has placed a $25 million bounty on both bin Laden and al-Zarqawi.

Iraqis are scheduled to elect a 275-member National Assembly on Jan. 30. There have been calls to postpone the election because of the ongoing insurgency, but President Bush has insisted the vote be held as scheduled...." for entire breaking news article.

The Millennium War

*****Five Star article and a no-doubt-about-it must read
From the January 3 / January 10, 2005 issue: A report from the Mesopotamian front.
By Austin Bay 01/03/2005, Volume 010, Issue 16

"OUR BLACKHAWK FLIGHT FROM VICTORY Base to Babylon packs 2,700 years of Iraqi history into a 100-kilometer dash at altitudes a cubit or so above the tallest date palms. Every Iraqi August day is a blowtorch by 1030 hours, and this morning is no exception. As I wait in the lead helicopter, sweat rolls from my helmet band and streaks down my face, soaking the cotton neck gaiter I use as a dust mask. For the umpteenth time in the last three months I promise I will never again damn summer in central Texas.

I'm flying with British Major-General Andrew Graham, the deputy commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq. He has a briefing scheduled at Camp Alfa, also known as Babil, site of ancient Babylon but temporarily the headquarters of Multi-National Division-Center South....

....The Blackhawks hover over Camp Alfa's landing zone. Sure, it's too hot and there's too much war, yet the poetry's right there: Saddam's mound begs comparison to a trunkless stone leg eroding in the desert. "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings," Shelley opined, "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" I don't despair, I just get ready to exit the helicopter. Saddam's in jail, not in a romantic's poem. Unlike those of Shelley's despot, Saddam's victims aren't forgotten, nor, unfortunately, is his lousy architecture.

"END STATE," the poli-sci mavens call it--or, to add the potent adjective, strategic End State, the grand goal. Wherever the great King Ozymandias thought he was heading, Shelley described his statue's shattered visage, a fossil relic of arrogance. Arrogance remains an American enemy, the arrogance of thug elites who never believe they'll be held accountable for their crimes....

....Twenty-first century Islamist imperialists aim for global domination, with themselves as the sole interpreters and enforcers of what they deem God's laws. An open system is anathema to theological tyranny.

This means the despot and theo-fascist are at war with the United States, the embodiment of political modernity. Saddam knew this in February 1990 when he spoke in Amman, Jordan, and vaguely alluded to America's unchecked post-Cold War power. Bin Laden knew this when he declared war on the United States in 1996.

The criminal empire and the global caliphate are enemy End States. They are not mutually compatible--at some point these enemies of ours turn on each other. But anyone with experience in the developing world knows the Islamofascists feed off the unfortunate victims of the secular despots. Particularly in the Middle East, the peoples the secular despots rob and oppress supply the Islamofascists' new recruits. That makes it both a great mistake and a dangerous case of psychological denial to talk of Exit Strategy, when there is no exit from a war with such twinned enemies.

Let's stipulate that a world where America has the same sense of security it had on September 10, 2001, is a dream state--not an End State for the global war on terror. Technology is a culprit. Technology has compressed the planet, with positive effects in communication, trade, and transportation; with horrifyingly negative effects in weaponry. Decades ago, radio, phone cables on the seabed, long-range aircraft, and then nuclear weapons shrunk the oceans. September 11 demonstrated that religious killers could turn domestic jumbo jets into strategic bombers--and the oceans were no obstacles. "Technological compression" is a fact; it cannot be reversed. To deny it or ignore it has deadly consequences.

One of the problems we face in defining what constitutes an American victory or acceptable End State in the global war on terror is the war's dirt-stupid name. One might as well declare war on exercise as declare war on terror, for terror is only a tactic used by an enemy. In this case the inept name has led to needless political confusion and loss of clarity about long-range goals.

In September 2001, I suggested we call this hideous conflict the Millennium War, a nom de guerre that captures both the chronological era and the ideological dimensions of the conflict. If there is one mistake we've made in fighting this war, it's the way we've soft-pedaled the ideological dimensions, and that soft-pedaling has blurred our goals. This really is a fight for the future, a battle between our free, open political system and the unholy alliance of despots and millenarian Islamofascists whose very existence depends on denying liberty.
Recognizing the ideological component as an essential feature of the war indicates the most desirable End State to the war would have two features: (1) democratic nations that police terrorism, instead of promoting it or seeding it; (2) an Islamic clerisy that understands its role on Earth is spiritual guidance and education, not temporal political control.

A large order? The task is absolutely huge, but so was World War II, when heavy history fell on "the greatest generation." It's this generation's turn to accept the challenge of building free nation states and protecting Muslim moderates, or we will face terrible destructive consequences...." for entire outstanding article.


*****Five Stars and a must read

December 27, 2004 - "AFTER so much promise, a political winter has de scended upon Mother Rus sia. Last week's murky, forced sell-off of parts of Russia's $40 billion oil giant, Yukos, at the bargain basement price of $9.4 billion is just the latest proof.

After all, Russia's slide into the darkness of soft authoritarianism already included President Vladimir Putin's media crackdown, political power grabs, international meddling and free enterprise rollbacks.

The situation has regressed so far that freedom monitors have dubbed Russia politically "not free" (Freedom House), and economically "mostly unfree" (The Heritage Foundation) in their annual rankings.

But looking more closely at the dismemberment of Yukos, (the world's 21st largest energy company, once pumping nearly 2 million barrels of oil daily) is instructive in understanding Czar Vlad's stewardship of Russia since his 2000 election...." for entire stunning news of the Russian government's totalitarian takeover of Yukos, a huge private oil company---some of whose stock was owned by American investors and others outside of Russia. This brazen action throws down a bright red marker warning other foreign investors of the danger of Russia's nationalization of other private business enterprises.

Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin remains true to his Communist KGB roots and is turning back the clock. Fortunately, the pendulum swung away from him and Mother Russia in Ukraine, where free elections were finally held and won by pro-West candidate Viktor Yushchenko. Not so good news for the Russian people, who are seeing their post-USSR freedoms snatched away from them.
-Jacqueline, from the Soapbox

IRAN'S POINTLESS PREZ RACE: A hat or a mullah?

Opinion Column - *****Five Stars and a must read

December 27, 2004 - THE turban or the hat? This is the question that Iran's leaders face as they pre pare for presidential election next spring.

The turban represents the Shiite clergy that, ever since its creation in Iran almost five centuries ago, has had an ambivalent attitude towards political power. The hat is the symbol of Iran's Westernized elites that started securing a power base in the middle of the 19th century and ended up by dominating the government from the first decade of the 20th century until the mullahs seized power in 1979.

During the 1978-79 revolution the people of the hat cooperated with the people of the turban to drive out the Shah.

The alliance worked for a while as the people of the turban allowed the people of the hat to fill major positions of power, including the president of the Islamic republic and the premiership. The people of the turban stayed in the shadows or were assigned middling positions in government. Gradually, they realized that running a government was no big deal. Within a year the people of the turban, who had tasted power and liked it, decided to cancel the arrangement and monopolize the big jobs...." for the entire informative column.

President-elect Viktor Yushchenko and supporters during the Orange Revolution for a new election, after massive voting fraud in the run-off election between him and Viktor Yanukovich, the Russian-backed candidate. Thank God for a positive outcome through peaceful resistance.

Ukraine's Yushchenko Declares Victory

Breaking News - Dec 27, 9:44 AM EST
By Aleksandar Vasovica, AP Writer

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - "Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko said Monday that Ukraine will finally be free after declaring himself the winner of the rerun of fraud-filled presidential elections, while supporters of his pro-Russian opponent vowed to challenge the results in court.

The Western-leaning Yushchenko, who was disfigured by dioxin poisoning, thanked orange-clad protesters who spent weeks camped out in the capital's frigid streets for helping secure his electoral victory Sunday. Orange is his campaign color.

Now, today, the Ukrainian people have won. I congratulate you," he told a jubilant crowd in Kiev's Independence Square, the center of massive protests following the Nov. 21 presidential runoff that was annulled after fraud allegations.

We have been independent for 14 years but we were not free. Now we can say this is a thing of the past. Now we are facing an independent and free Ukraine'...." for entire welcome news story about history in the making and emerging freedoms for the people of Ukraine. Congratulations to President-elect Viktor Yushchenko on his outstanding success in the election. May the orange flags fly long and free.
-Jacqueline, from the Soapbox

Donald Rumsfeld's record

EDITORIAL 27 Dec 2004 - *****Five Star Editorial and a must read

"All those calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation should take a deep breath and consider their quarry's record. It's a formidable one. President Bush knows this, and he knows the nation would be much worse off without Mr. Rumsfeld. That's why the president is sticking with him. Mr. Rumsfeld is arguably the best defense secretary since the position was created in 1947.

A brief review of Mr. Rumsfeld's record is in order to remind his critics why. He has rebuilt the U.S. military, which has freed 50 million people from tyranny, decimated al Qaeda, won two wars and is busily consolidating the second of those. None of his predecessors back to James V. Forrestal, appointed by President Truman, can claim anything approaching such a record...." for the entire excellent Editorial.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

There are many reminders in the news today that the power of government is vested in its people, who freely elect their leaders to govern in a manner that protects their lives, their liberties and their pursuit of happiness. This is a duty we shoulder gladly and one we wish for citizens of other countries who desire freedom and a democratic form of government.

Senate, Enviros Blocking Nat'l Security Fence

Breaking News - Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004 2:34 p.m. EST

"Succumbing to pressure from the environmental lobby, the U.S. Senate is blocking legislation already passed by the House that would erect an impenetrable national security fence across the U.S.-Mexican border.First proposed by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., way back in 1996, the new border fence was supposed to be an improvement on a temporary structure that was already credited with substantial success.

"The old fence, 14 miles of salvaged metal, was a stopgap measure to block the favorite path of Mexican drug smugglers and illegal aliens," reported CNN on Friday. "It worked. Illegal traffic dropped dramatically."

This past fall, the House voted to add a 150-foot corridor with a patrol road along the border and a second fence inside the border. Also included: a provision to waive any environmental law that stood in the way in the interest of national security.

The Senate, however, wouldn't go along, CNN said...." for the entire article about the U.S. Senate placing politics and unsubstantiated science above the security and safety of U.S. citizens, above the integrity of the U.S. borders, above legal applicants for immigration and above enforcing the laws of the United States.

Consequently, it appears that what we need now is some new U.S. Senators to replace those who cannot figure out how to create laws that deal with and satisfy the safety and security demands of the twenty-first century and the war on terrorism. Protecting the U.S. and its lawful citizens is infinitely more important than protecting a few plants and animals in a small swath along the border where they are now being trampled by the illegal aliens that flood into this country in violation of our border and immigration laws every day. The flora and fauna, which are very hardy survivors in the arid soils of the desert areas, will survive and flourish according to natural selection, adaptation and survival of the fittest, just as they have for many years where highways have been laid across vast expanses of the great outdoors. It appears some Senators are applying the same logic that denied water access to U.S. citizens and farms in order to protect so-called endangered "suckerfish."

We are the "suckers" if we allow these Senators to play politics with our lives and the lives of our family members and fellow citizens. Wake up, Americans, and speak up. These Senators are elected of, by and for you---to represent you and your best interests and the best interests of this country. If they can't do what you elected them to do, you can give them what the people of S. Dakota gave U.S. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle: their walking papers.
-Jacqueline, from the Soapbox

SCIENCE: Adult stem cells working

EDITORIAL - 26 Dec 2004

"For years, scientists have experimented with using adult stem cells, from bone marrow and other parts of the body, for medical purposes -- and the hard work is paying big dividends.

The Associated Press, for example, reports a 7-year-old German girl had lost several pieces of skull in a fall but surgeons repaired the damage by using stem cells from her own fat. This comes on the heels of an earlier report, from the same source, that doctors had used a man's bone marrow to grow a jaw bone in his back, then had transplanted it to replace a bone that had been lost in cancer surgery.

Human embryonic stem cells haven't been as successful. The AP says not a single person ever has been helped by them. A California researcher, the wire service continues, is making paralyzed rats walk again by injecting them with embryonic brain cells, but it remains to be seen whether the same procedure will work on humans.

Time will tell. Because of the record, not to mention ethical issues, federal money should be limited to adult stem cell research. Let the private sector continue funding embryonic experiments.

Medical science is fascinating, and great strides are being made by the day. It is difficult, but pleasurable, to imagine what the world will be like in another decade."

Three exit polls give Yushchenko the presidency by a large margin in Ukraine

Breaking News - December 26th - 2:09 pm EST
By Judith Ingram, AP Writer

KIEV, Ukraine — "Three exit polls projected Ukrainian opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko the winner by a commanding margin over Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in Sunday's fiercely fought presidential rematch.

A glum-looking Yanukovych told reporters "if we fail, we will form a strong opposition." He did not concede defeat, saying "I am ready to lead the state" and hinted that he would challenge the results in court. The first official results are not expected until Monday morning....

....The state-funded Ukrainian Institute of Social Research and Social Monitoring Center showed Yushchenko winning with 58.1 percent of the vote and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych garnering 38.4 percent. The margin of error was 2 percentage points.

The Western-funded Razumkov Center of Political Studies and Kiev International Institute of Sociology showed Yushchenko winning with 56.5 percent and Yanukovych collecting 41.3 percent of the vote, with no margin of error given.

A third exit poll, by Frank Luntz, a pollster for the U.S. Republican Party, and Douglas Schoen, of the Washington-based market research company Penn, Schoen & Berland, showed Yushchenko winning with 56 to Yanukovych's 41 percent, Schoen said. The margin of error was 2 percentage points...." for entire article and exciting news for all who believe in free, fair and democratic elections---and most of all for the people of Ukraine who demonstrated for and achieved positive change through peaceful means in order to elect the President of their choice. Another step forward for democracy and mankind.
-Jacqueline, from the Soapbox



December 26, 2004 -- IT'S time for everyone to make their predictions for '05. But here are a few that surely won't be coming true next year:

* Michael Moore will make a documentary based on fact.
* A New York-area sports team other than the Yankees will win a championship.
* State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer will announce the target of his next big probe: lawyers.
* Gov. Pataki will go to Albany and put in a full day of work.
* The New York Times will run a story about some positive development in Iraq.
* The New York Times will run a story about anything George Bush has done well.
* Donald Trump will decide that self-promotion can be tacky.
* Gov. Pataki will discover something in the state that isn't yet taxed — and decline to tax it.
* John Kerry finally will decide if he backs the war in Iraq.
* Someone in government will be admonished for 9/11.
* Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, repulsed by pols who get fat checks from law firms while shilling for them in Albany, will give up his own $1 mill-plus fees and quit Weitz & Luxenberg.
* Silver, repulsed by pols who get fat checks from law firms while shilling for them in Albany, will quit the Legislature.
* France will play a leadership role in the war against terrorism.
* France will play a minor role in the war against terrorism.
* France will play any role in the war against terrorism.
* Albany will pass a budget on time — and spend no more than what's expected in revenues.
* Democrats will offer a way to save Social Security without hiking taxes.
* Tiring of life in a cave, Osama bin Laden will emerge, renounce terrorism and sing the praises of Fox News.
* Someone in New York will plan to build on his own property — and no one will object.
* Martha Stewart will launch a reality TV show — on investing.
* George Soros will buy ads warning that terrorism is real and demand a tough response.
* Health-care union boss Dennis Rivera will call for the closing of an underutilized hospital.
* The American Civil Liberties Union will declare that all members of al Qaeda are Muslims and that, therefore, frisking old ladies at airports diverts resources from the War on Terror.
* George Bush will declare that all members of al Qaeda are Muslims and, thus, frisking old ladies at airports diverts resources from the War on Terror.
* Britney Spears will perform a show — fully dressed.
* Al Sharpton, Dennis Rivera and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity will say that the city's public schools are depriving minority kids of a proper education — and demand vouchers to give them a way out.
* will admit that Donald Rumsfeld played a key role in toppling the Taliban, liberating 28 million Afghanis, ousting Saddam, liberating 25 million Iraqis, disrupting al Qaeda and bringing democracy to the Middle East.
* Or even just one of these.
* A day will go by with no news of Scott Peterson.
* FBI agents will invoke the Patriot Act and finally examine books that a suspect checked out of a library.
* City Council Speaker Gifford Miller suddenly will realize that the city's onerous taxes are caused by out-of-control spending — and call for less spending this year than last.
* Mayor Bloomberg will call for less spending.
* Gov. Pataki will call for less spending. (And really mean it.)
* Any elected official anywhere will call for less spending.
* Someone will make it across Midtown on a weekday afternoon in less than 30 minutes.
* The U.N. will quit Gotham.
* George Bush will discover that there is no letter "u" after the "c" in "nuclear."
* Pundits (even this one) will admit being wrong occasionally."