Saturday, June 30, 2007
Disclaimer: The Coffee House also contains a good deal of sports material. I understand that some people find this sort of thing amusing. Personally, the only team I care about has a big elephant for a mascot, but I digress...
Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Of course, for a commentary on socialized medicine that is actually grounded in reality, check out this piece by David Gratzer in today's WSJ. He explains that countries like Canada really have health care systems "in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years."
Thanks to WSJ's Daniel Henniger for pointing this one out in his opinion piece here.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Rosie's defense? Her daughter was just "playing dress up". Right. We're supposed to believe that (crazy though she may be) Rosie O'Donnell, who is vehemently anti-guns, allows her children to play with toy guns? If that's true it's hypocrisy. And even if "just dressing up" is how it came about she's using her own child as a pawn in her personal political agenda. Or maybe just as way to get back in the news, but that's just cynical of me.
Look, I'm for private gun ownership. I'll defend that 2nd Amendment to anyone. But guns and politics about guns, are not the province of children. As we do not have sons this hasn't come up very often in our home. Though our girls are more known for playing Princess Teacher Ballerina than Rambo, I've seen them playing all sorts of things, sometimes even with pretend weapons (blame it on their uncle & daddy!), but I've never once seen them suit up in camo, toss some (fake) ammunition around their shoulders, tote a (toy) gun, and ask me to post the picture for the entire world to see.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
"It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran -- but nobody has officially declared it."
Don't expect this news to get much play in the drive-by media. They will continue to ignore and trivialize evil wherever they find it, preferring to focus on blaming the USA and George Bush for all the world's troubles.
Friday, June 22, 2007
15 June 07
Dear Night Raider Families and Loved Ones,
As I'm sure you know by now, the end of May was a tough month for the Night Raidersas we had 6 Soldiers seriously wounded and lost CPL Casey Zylman-all while serving their nation here in Iraq. Each of them and their families has made a tremendous sacrifice and I ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
After a series of catastrophic IEDs, your Night Raiders struck back hard against the enemy. Blackfoot Troop supported by Kiowa Warrior (KW) attack helicopters and Air Force F16s interdicted and destroyed a violent IED cell in their area of operations.
After the initial contact where elements of Blackfoot Troop engaged and destroyed an enemy vehicle and disabled a second with lethal machine gun fire, KWs were brought in to disable the third, and finally 2x 500lb laser guided bombs finished off any remnants of the enemy and their bomb making equipment. Within days, elements of Comanche Troop in support of the Iraqi Army took down a second deadly IED cell and captured those responsible for the death of our brother, CPL Zylman.
The net result is that we have the new enemy threat on its heels and on the run. The pressure is on them and this has also resulted in different factions of the enemy fighting against each other for the remnants of resources and territory. Additionally, elements of the Fire Support platoon (FIST) in Hellfighter Troop captured one of the leading financiers of terrorist activities in Western Nineveh. The Squadron staff has worked hard to develop plans against these threats and the Troops have endured a higher operational tempo to execute the long, continuous operations that have netted these successes against the enemy.
Additionally, Apache Troop has had tremendous success stemming the flow of insurgents, terrorists, and foreign fighters in Rabiah and at the Port of Entry (POE) between Syria and Iraq. The insurgents have been so frustrated that they cannot easily cross this once porous entry and exit point that they have tried to strike back. We anticipated our success would cause dire attempts by the enemy, and less than a week ago they tried to attack the POE and Combat Outpost Heider with dual Suicide Truck-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (STBIED = Truck Bomb) each carrying 3,000 pounds of explosives. Apache Troop's force protection and coordination with local Iraqi Security Forces resulted in the Iraqi Police defeating one of the trucks at a check point and the other having to divert to another target where it was also defeated. Unfortunately, the 2 hero IPs that stopped the first truck were killed in the blast as were 3 other IP and 5 civilians. No Night Raiders were wounded in the attack.
While your Night Raiders have been involved with more engagements with the enemy, we have also made significant progress in the areas of economics, governance, and reconstruction. We recently began a micro-grant program for small businesses in Tal'Afar through the Economic Business Center and funded start up costs for 9 businesses. These businesses include a sports store, potato chip factory, coffee and ice cream shop, electronics store, cell phone store, and farming equipment.
This year's harvest of barley and wheat is set to surpass last year's mark by 25-30% due to Apache Troop's success with ensuring irrigation canal networks and pump stations were operational in the Rabiah region. The Sinjar Water Project, a $17 million dollar project to provide irrigation and drinking water to a vast part of our region is on schedule and very soon we will be conducting the opening of the first phase of this project in Sinjar proper.
Additionally, Baghdad and the central government of Iraq have finally released $29 million of the $37 million in Reconstruction Funds promised to Tal'Afar 18 months ago. The money is at the Provincial level and work has begun between the Tal'Afar City Council, City Directors, and the Deputy Governors of Nineveh (Mosul) to jump start the projects that began over a year ago and start bidding, contracting, and funding the remainder of the outstanding projects. Very soon we hope to see contracts, jobs, and long awaited reconstruction in the city of Tal'Afar.
We also continue to repair many bridges and culverts that the insurgency has blown up to try to isolate the population bases, instill fear in the populace, and undermine the credibility of the local governance and security forces. Along with these repairs, we continue to "bridge the gap" with last mile projects for the people to include electricity projects hooking up villages to the national grid, drinking water wells for outlying villages, paving roads, and building facilities for the government such as the Tal'Afar City Council building, Tal'Afar library, and Joint Coordination Centers for the hub cities. These are just a few of the many projects we manage every day on behalf of both the US taxpayer and the Iraqi people. We go to great lengths to QA/QC each project every step of the way and ensure they are done correctly. This month will see several landmark grand openings of some of these facilities and the funding for many others to include the Tal'Afar Today newspaper and a Media Center for Western Nineveh. To date, your Night Raiders have completed over 100 projects for the Iraqis totally over $10 million.
Every day I see progress in Western Nineveh in each of our lines of effort: Security, Transition, Governance, Economics, and Communication. While we will not reach our desired end state in each prior to our departure in a few months, we have made very real, visible progress that will set the conditions for the unit that follows us and provide the framework for the Iraqis to progress, eventually on their own, toward the prosperous future of their choosing.
Prepared and Loyal!!
MALCOLM B. FROST
Lieutenant Colonel, Infantry
Thursday, June 21, 2007
If Congress (and states) were really interested in lowering the price of gas, all they need do is roll back taxes on gas. These taxes exceed the profits made by "greedy" oil companies. One more step would finish the job: end all the foolish environmental restrictions on building new refineries, off-shore drilling and drilling in Alaska. Instant price decreases AND leverage against Islamo-fascist oil barons. Which sounds better to you?
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
How dare citizens actually tell you how they feel about their country and its laws! Because, you know, we don't live in a representative republic or anything...
Monday, June 18, 2007
"Wrong. Government is part of the answer. We need more mandated time off. ... Government needs to balance the voraciousness of the "free market" which believes in nothing but spitting products out, chewing workers up and taking home nice juicy profits." - lauram
"...companies are not so ingrained with 'good hearts' that they’ll gladly offer up time off protections for working families. I live in Tennessee, where Moms get a generous amount of protected time off for maternity (although pay is not guaranteed). But it’s not because the employers of the greater Tennessee area all agreed to do so. They were 'forced' by legislation." - todd
We all agree that mothers getting to spend more time with their children would be a good thing. We also agree that getting paid time off to do this would also be nice. But let's not stop there! I can think of many other good things I might like to enjoy. I hate having to pay high gas prices (I drive my children around in a minivan!), so maybe my employer (all employers) should buy my gas. The price of groceries has also increased tremendously as my children grow in size and number. This, too, should be covered. After all, who can live without food? As it happens, I also enjoy beach vacations. Alas, these can be pricey, too. Should my employer just skip right along without financing this important time of relaxation for my family? I would mention my astronomical pediatrician bills, but many on the left are already way ahead of me on that one...
The real question here is what should the state and federal governments pay for (or force employers to pay for) and what should they not. This discussion is nearly identical to the debate over the minimum wage. Is it really enough? Perhaps it should be $10/hour. But why not $50/hour? I would be able to afford practically everything I need for that kind of scratch. And if the minimum wage were $5,000/hour, well then, I could just retire now (making sure to work at least two or three hours a month, of course). At some point this discussion reaches the level of absurdity. Maybe that point is $10 for you or maybe even $15, but at that point you concede an important premise: there is a LIMIT on the amount of money government or employers can provide for us. We might argue about where that limit falls, but we need not revisit the premise.
Paid maternity leave adds only one more benefit to a host of other benefits already offered by competitive employers in addition to salary. In a free market, employers and employees come together and agree to the limit. However, if government mandates an extra premium or a larger salary, what might happen? We don't have any more money in the equation (actually, we may have less, since new regulation isn't without cost), so one thing that doesn't happen is people suddenly getting lots more benefits and salary for free. These benefits are paid for by the employer (those greedy capitalists...). Do you really think greedy capitalists will sit idly by while their profits plummet? Of course not! The added costs are simply passed on to...you. Employees may have paid maternity, but they might make less money, or there might be fewer employees working much harder now. Consumers also get to play by paying higher prices for goods and services. Really, the only upshot is that politicians can make nifty campaign ads claiming to have helped struggling mothers (except the ones who got laid off or whose companies went out of business)!
Maybe paid maternity leave is too important to leave in the hands of employers. Perhaps the government could simply provide this valuable service to worthy mothers...by taxing the rich. They have this down to a science in France. The results? Citizens with entrepreneurial dreams wanting to become part of "the rich" have left in droves. Consequently, France's tax base shrinks and shrinks until, one day, there will be no more rich people left to tax. If, on the other hand, government allows individuals to keep more of their money, they will reinvest that money into the economy (buying plasma screen tvs and beach vacations or maybe even buying more stock). When this happens, employers can afford to hire more people and pay them more. Suddenly there are a lot more people paying taxes and a net increase in tax revenue. This was exactly what happened when Reagan cut taxes in the 1980s.
Back to the book review: the solution is not increased government spending (and taxing), but rather, free individuals deciding to be more careful with money and less materialistic. Our culture tells us we can have everything we want right know. Unfortunately, this is a big, fat lie. This post has only dealt with one aspect of the issue at hand. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and expanding the conversation.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
“Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.”
I'm curious about the possible "solution" he might propose. I'm truly sorry that he has to be hassled with receiving phone calls and emails from actual constituents, but it is his own fault for supporting (read: ramming through) immigration "reform" that only 20% of Americans want (as reported by Rasmussen in The Business Journal). Talk radio only helped to reveal the truth that Lott and his Democrat and Rino buddies wanted to keep under the table, that the current legislation amounts to nothing short of amnesty.
I have a solution for him. If he wants to live in a country where government officials closely monitor and censor political speech, where talk radio is not such a "problem," Sen. Lott can simply move to China. Or if that won't quite reach his exacting standards, he can try North Korea, where executions of cell phone users is on the rise. You know, just to be thorough.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Since both Fatah and Hamas (indeed, all Palestinians) openly embrace the goal of destroying Israel, it ultimately makes little difference which group of Islamo-fascist terrorists final emerges with the most power. One might make the case that Hamas represents the more radical group, but spending too much energy making minute distinctions between the various Islamic terrorist groups works to muddy the larger reality: all these groups share the common vision of creating a world ruled by Islamic law.
America Alone, by Mark Steyn, points to this fact in chilling detail. Steyn boils down all of the complex issues surrounding terrorism and the rise of radical Islam to a simple discussion of demographics. European birth rates are being far outstripped by Muslim birth rates. While many European countries (Italy, Spain, France, etc.) are well below replacement level, in a death spiral to extinction, their Muslim immigrants represent an ever-growing population. It will only be a matter of time until many European countries become majority Muslim.
Steyn does note that America, for the time being, maintains a strong level of population replacement. As long as we keep fighting abortion on demand and upholding the family unit, we should be able to resist this demographic nightmare scenario in our own country. However, it bears repeating that the Islamo-fascists want nothing short of total domination of Western society as we know it. We ignore this truth at our own peril.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Being staunchly pro-life myself, I can appreciate the moral advancement of this technique over simply killing new embryos. However, the larger issue (dirty little secret) remains: embryonic stem cell research has failed to yield anything but tumorous monstrosities. Only adult stem cell research has actually made real scientific and medical achievements.
I welcome anything that removes the main (but unstated) purpose of embryonic stem cell research, which is to provide justification for abortion at the embryonic level. Pro-abortionists (they want women to make only one "choice") see this as their biggest shot at widening the public acceptance of abortion. Pro-life advocates must do all they can to undercut this twisted strategy of disinformation.
Monday, June 11, 2007
In his excellent book Freedomnomics, John R. Lott, Jr. argues that the supposed mystery of the crime decrease in the 1990s can be largely attributed to an increased imposition of the death penalty. He also found that capital punishment has a deterrent effect on rape, robbery and aggravated assault as well, since these crimes may lead to the death penalty if the victim dies. Lott adds that increased law enforcement and right-to-carry laws also reduced crime in a statistically meaningful way.
I have always heard the argument, "At least the execution will deter that guy from killing again." This, it now seems, gives far too much credit to the opposition. The simple truth is that capital punishment makes murder a far riskier proposition for criminals, and its increased use would save the lives of potential victims.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Friday, June 8, 2007
Thursday, June 7, 2007
I'm choosing to take this as a hopeful sign. I hope this girl manages to stand by her convictions as she lives in the spotlight. We need more pro-life and abstinence "spokespersons".
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
I wrote a serious yet witty, and dare I say, long, post about this article. But alas, the technology must be against me today. Despite auto saving, saving of drafts, etc, this post seems to have disappeared into the murky ether of the Internet. So the analysis will have to wait for another time as my main points were about the importance of children to the family, and right now mine are hungry.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Illegal Immigration: Will Congress Finally Solve It?
Getting Immigration Reform Right
Basically, he advocates a temporary worker program with a path to legalization.
He also does a great job refuting the national security argument in this Congressional testimony:
Securing Our Borders Under a Temporary Guest Worker Program
When I find a little time, I'll respond to the "rule of law" objection.
First off, the premise that it is primarily an economic issue. Are you kidding me? I suppose the effects immigration would have on our welfare state constitute an economic issue. You cannot have open borders and a welfare state. Since I don't see our country giving up welfare and entitlements any time soon, open borders are a no-go.
But of far more concern to me are the issues of the rule of law and security. We are a nation of laws. If we're not enforcing the laws already on the books for immigration, throwing more laws on top isn't going to fix anything. Why not try to work within the framework we already have? So what if we can't deport every illegal - you've got to start somewhere, right? Rewarding people for breaking the law bothers me no matter what the situation and no matter what the economic benefit may be (though I'm not convinced there is an economic benefit).
The lack of a civil debate over this very important issue is disturbing. One side (i.e. Linda Chavez) calling the other side racist is the kind of inexcusable politics the right has often accused the left of perpetrating. If your argument depends on the other side being "racist" you've run out of ideas.
Recently, Karen and I visited the new Answers in Genesis Creation Museum just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. The news stories generated by this event are about what you might expect from the pro-evolution establishment. Even so, they can't quite hide the fact that they witnessed something very impressive. The New York Times piece is as good as any, giving an almost-fair shake mixed with more than a hint of snarkiness.
As one who has visited Disney World in Orlando and numerous other theme parks, I can safely say that the Creation Museum meets or even exceeds the level of quality found in modern world-class attractions. The only thing lacking from the Creation Museum is the ubiquitous "It's a Small World After All," which I add to the "plus" column. Everything about the museum is absolutely top-notch. From the hundreds of flat-screen high-definition TVs to the amazing animatronics to the special effects theater complete with water-squirting seats, this $27 million facility cannot help but overwhelm even the most tech-savvy visitors.
Yet the real heart of the museum lies in the hundreds of exhibits proclaiming the scientific evidence for creation and the cultural consequences of embracing evolution. Journalists seem mystified that some much effort went into producing scientific displays when (to them) creation is only a matter of faith. In fact, the sheer amount evidence in favor of creation and against evolution shocks those unfamiliar with the issues. Years of public schoolings and exposure to mainstream media leave the (intentional) impression on most people that evolution is the unquestioned foundation of all natural science. To them it seems absurd that an ancient religious book would have anything of value to offer on a subject long closed to debate. That's exactly why this museum exists--to confront average people with the claims (even the scientific ones) of the Bible.
The tour ends with a presentation of the gospel message. Ultimately, the museum seeks to introduce their guests to the God of creation, Jesus Christ. The Christian worldview allows all of life's mysteries and problems to come into proper focus. Sin separates us from God and causes death and misery on the earth. However, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross as a payment for sin. Those who turn from their sin and put their faith in the work of Jesus will be saved from a wasted existence in this life and eternal punishment in the next. I urge you to consider what is for most Americans east of the Mississippi a day trip to the Creation Museum. Prepare to believe!
Monday, June 4, 2007
However, I do not agree that the illegal immigration crisis is only economic. This ignores more fundamental issues such as the rule of law and basic fairness. Even if we somehow figure out how to extract the taxes and fees necessary to offset the burden of illegal immigration (something we can't even do for many of our own citizens), this does nothing to help those immigrants (many of them highly skilled) who are pursuing the legal path to citizenship. Any form of amnesty will deny law-abiding immigrants a fair shot at citizenship. And only a program that incorporates enhanced border enforcement and encourages the rule of law will qualify as non-amnesty. The price tag may seem high in the short-term, but it is the only way to avoid an even more difficult and costly situation in the future.
In the short term the fiscal burden imposed by illegal immigrants may outweigh the economic gains they bring. In other words, the average native-born American has a higher pre-tax income thanks to the country's “broken” border, but his post-tax income may be slightly lower. All told, Mr Hanson thinks that illegal immigration might cost native-born residents some 0.07% of GDP.
But that net cost, if it exists at all, is clearly less than the price of keeping illegal workers out. Since 2001 Congress has more than doubled the amount of money spent on securing the borders and enforcing immigration laws. Mr Bush's 2008 budget proposes spending $13 billion, or 0.1% of GDP. The senators' plans would be even more expensive. A needlessly cumbersome guest-worker plan and a costly war on gatecrashers are bad ideas—even if you don't give a fig for the welfare of would-be migrants.
I'm glad that even most conservatives have now jettisoned the absurd national security argument with respect to illegal immigration and recognize the issue as primarily economic. We should consider the two main economic features of immigration: the influx of cheap unskilled labor and the burden on government services.
It should be obvious that argument against cheap unskilled labor is nothing more than protectionism. Increased competition in the labor market can only result in a more efficient economy in the long run. In the short term, it may result in higher structural unemployment of American citizens. However, we must realize that the displacement of unskilled American workers has already taken place for the most part--a large and growing population of migrant workers has been a feature of the American economy for many years. As long as a new immigration policy does not significantly disrupt the current equilibrium, we shouldn't suffer any dramatic short-term problems. The only thing that might possibly throw a wrench into the long-run benefits of increased labor competition is the minimum wage, which should be abolished.
Assessing the burden on government services that a quickly multiplying and "chain-migrating" population of immigrants might have on Americans is much trickier. It is frustrating that we wouldn't be facing this problem if we hadn't erected a system just brimming with programs and entitlements. The solution to the fiscal burden of immigratation is to ensure that tax revenues derived from migrant workers offset the government services they and their families consume. At present, illegal immigrants are tax evaders--clearly, new immigration policies must allow for the reliable taxation of the migrant worker population. However, even when working immigrants are fully paying their taxes, it is likely that they and their families remain a net burden on tax-paying American citizens. Perhaps we should levy higher taxes from immigrant workers, restrict their consumption of government services, or both. Nevertheless, as the article points out, this too is likely only a short-term problem, since "these first-generation Americans will likely earn far more than their parents, adding to the pot of taxes in the future."
I certainly don't suggest that I have a complete answer to the current immigration debacle. However, I am confident that it is primarily a question of economics and needs to be addressed as such. It is unfortunate and embarrassing that most of the discourse on the right is chiefly motivated by xenophobia. Am I the only one who cringes when Rush plays "The Star Spanglish Banner"?
Sunday, June 3, 2007
WARSAW (Reuters) - A 65-year-old railwayman who fell into a coma following an accident in communist Poland regained consciousness 19 years later to find democracy and a market economy, Polish media reported on Saturday. Read the whole story from Yahoo!News.
This is amazing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his account of "remembering" certain events (family members, parties) during the coma. As if end-of-life issues weren't complicated enough...