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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Friday, May 16, 2008


UK Mulls Major Changes to Reproduction and Biotech Laws
Amid a storm of controversy, the British parliament next week will consider a number of significant changes to the country’s laws affecting human reproduction and bio-technology. The areas covered include abortion and the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos.

US Warns Tourists of Combat at Mexican Border
The State Dept. has warned travelers that the “equivalent to military small-unit combat” is taking place near the U.S. border in Mexico and that Americans are being kidnapped and murdered there.


The ultimate dream of elitists and a recipe for chaos -- or servitude?

Obama Knows Best'
By Michael Farris
...... I have every reason to believe that an Obama presidency would be incredibly and particularly harmful to the American family and homeschool community.

For starters, Obama supports the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that would have disastrous consequences for the American family. This treaty would be, according to our Constitution, part of the Supreme law of the land. And in the U.S. international treaties override state law.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the official UN tribunal granted the authority to interpret and enforce the Children's Convention, which sets forth an exhaustive index of children's rights, many at odds with the rights of parents.....

To The Democrats, You're Just a Groupie

The big difference between Republicans and liberal Democrats is the way each party views people.

By Michael Reagan

The War Over the War

By Victor Davis Hanson

The war in Iraq is in its sixth year -- and we, the public, are in our sixth year of reading warring accounts about it.

Climate Control: A Costly Proposal

By Rebecca Hagelin

Think energy is expensive now? Wait until Congress plugs in the "Climate Security Act of 2007."

McCain Joins Global Warming Cult

By Cal Thomas

Growing numbers of atmospheric scientists and others with related expertise are emerging from the global warming cult and testifying to their conversions.

Bush Caves to Polar Bear Ploy

By Amanda Carpenter

The Bush Administration named the polar bear to the ?threatened species? list based on computer predictions of the anticipated loss of sea ice due to global warming Tuesday.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

When Candidates Are Dangerously Wrong
By Alan Caruba

Americans have painted themselves into the corner on energy, and the two presumptive candidates for president -- Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain -- are ready to finish off the nation with the worst possible “solutions.” Neither one of the candidates has a grasp of economics or science…

Burgeoning Polar Bear Population Listed as Threatened

Even though polar bears have more than doubled in number in recent decades, the federal government has decided to list them as a “threatened” species. But the Endangered Species Act can’t be used to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said on Wednesday.

Oil Companies Brace for Battles Over Polar Bear Listing
Juneau, Alaska (AP) - The lawyers aren't clearing their calendars just yet, but the oil industry is bracing for some courtroom battles to maintain its stake in Alaska's oil-rich fields now that the Interior Department has listed polar bears as a threatened species.

About 15 percent of the nation's oil is being produced in Alaska, and soaring prices for the commodity are pushing companies to look farther and farther offshore to the floors of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, which are frozen much of the year.

Presumably because they are in the shadows

Mexican Immigrants Do Not Assimilate Quickly in US, Study Finds

Immigrants to the United States are doing a good job of assimilating, with immigrants from Cuba, Vietnam, and the Philippines leading the way in adapting to an American way of life, according to a new study. But the one group not assimilating well is Mexicans, apparently because so many of them are in the country illegally.

Dems making a false political attack about a false political attack

Bush Warns Against Those Who Would Negotiate With Terrorists
President Bush, speaking to Israel’s parliament on Thursday, criticized people who “seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals.” The Obama campaign took it personally, accusing Bush of making a "false political attack.”

Terrorism Intelligence Report

Terrorism Weekly : Mexico: Examining Cartel War Violence Through a Protective Intelligence Lens

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Mexico's long and violent drug cartel war has recently intensified. The past week witnessed the killings of no fewer than six senior police officials. One of those killed was Edgar Millan Gomez, acting head of the Mexican federal police and the highest-ranking federal cop in Mexico. Millan Gomez was shot to death May 8 just after entering his home in Mexico City.

Within the past few days, six suspects have been arrested in connection with his murder. One of the ringleaders is said to be a former federal highway police officer. The suspects appear to have ties to the Sinaloa cartel. In fact, Millan Gomez was responsible for a police operation in January that led to the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva, the cartel’s second-in-command. Mexican police believe Beltran Leyva's brother Arturo (who is also a significant player in the Sinaloa cartel structure) commissioned the hit.

During the same time period, violence from the cartel war has visited the family of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, the Sinaloa cartel leader who has the distinction of being Mexico's most-wanted drug kingpin. On May 8, Guzman Loera's son Edgar Guzman Beltran and two companions were killed by a large-scale ambush as they left a shopping mall in Culiacan, Sinaloa.

In addition to discussing the geopolitical implications of this escalation in the violence, we thought it would be instructive to look at the recent wave of violence through the lens of protective intelligence. Such an effort can allow us not only to see what lessons can be learned from the attacks, but also provide insight on how similar attacks can be avoided in the future, which is the real aim of protective intelligence.

Tactical Details of the Recent Attacks

On the evening of May 1, Roberto Velasco Bravo, director of investigations against organized crime for Mexico’s state public security police (SSP), was gunned down as he returned to his Mexico City home. Two assailants reportedly approached Velasco Bravo as he parked his sport utility vehicle and shot him in the head at close range before fleeing the scene. Although the incident initially was believed to have been a robbery attempt gone bad, the discovery of a .380 caliber handgun fitted with a suppressor near the crime scene suggests the shooting was actually a professionally targeted assassination. Local press also reported that Velasco Bravo died on his day off and that his bodyguard had been ordered to stand down because he was planning to travel outside the city.

On May 2, less than 24 hours after the Velasco Bravo shooting, inspector Jose Aristeo Gomez Martinez, the administrative director of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP), was gunned down in front of his home in the wealthy Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City. Gomez Martinez and a woman were talking in front of the house around midnight when two armed men surprised them and reportedly attempted to force Gomez Martinez into the back seat of his own car. Gomez Martinez struggled with the men and was shot in the arm and chest. Mexican authorities say the motive for the Gomez Martinez killing remains murky. However, the circumstances surrounding the case - he was shot with a suppressed .380 pistol outside of his residence — are certainly very similar to the Velasco Bravo and Millan Gomez killings.

In the Millan Gomez attack, alleged members of a murder-for-hire gang shot and killed the federal police chief as he returned to his home in the early hours of the morning. Millan Gomez was reportedly shot eight times at close range by a gunman armed with two handguns — one of which was a .380 with a suppressor. The gunman was reportedly waiting inside Millan Gomez’s apartment building. The victim apparently struggled with his assailant and attempted to grab the suppressed weapon from the gunman. During the struggle, the gunman reportedly shot Millan Gomez in the hand once with the suppressed weapon and then several times in the torso with his back-up weapon, which was not suppressed. Millan Gomez’s two-man protection team, who had just dropped him off at the door, heard the nonsuppressed shots and returned to the apartment building to investigate. One member of the protection team was wounded in the chest by the fleeing gunman, but the team was able to wound and apprehend him alive. The interrogation of the gunman and the investigation of the equipment and other items found in his possession led to the recent arrest of the five other suspects allegedly tied to the assassination gang.

Also on May 8, Edgar Guzman Beltran, the son of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, was killed at 8:50 p.m. local time in Culiacan, Sinaloa state. Guzman Beltran was leaving a local shopping mall with two friends — one of whom was Arturo Meza Cazares, the son of Blanca Margarita Cazares Salazar, reputed to be the cartel’s top money launderer — when the three were caught in a heavy hail of gunfire. Reports from the scene indicate that the team that attacked Guzman Beltran may have involved as many as 40 gunmen from a rival cartel who opened up on the three men with AK-47 rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Other reports put the number of ambushers at around 20. In any event, even 20 men armed with AKs and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher is a significant force, and something one would expect to see in a war zone such as Iraq or Afghanistan rather than in Mexico.

On May 9, Esteban Robles Espinosa, commander of Mexico City’s investigative police force, was attacked by a group of armed men shortly after he left his house at about 8:30 a.m. Four gunmen traveling in a truck and another in a compact car opened fire on him at an intersection near his home. The attack appears to be a classic vehicular ambush involving a blocking vehicle and an assault team. Robles Espinosa apparently attempted to avoid the attacks and flee the site, but his escape attempt ended when his vehicle struck a tree. Robles Espinosa was shot seven times — four times in the throat, once in the neck, and twice in the head. He died shortly after arriving at a hospital. Authorities reportedly found 20 casings from 9mm and .40 caliber cartridges at the scene of the attack. The placement of the shots in this case appears to be uncharacteristically controlled for Mexico, where victims are normally wounded in various parts of their bodies. The concentration of wounds in the head and neck would appear to indicate that at least one of the shooters was an accomplished marksman. The shot placement might also indicate that Robles Espinosa was wearing a protective vest, and the assailants, being aware of the vest, directed their fire toward his head.

Common Themes

The Millan Gomez, Velasco Bravo and Gomez Martinez shootings were all similar in that they involved suppressed .380 handguns and were intended to be clean and discreetly conducted events. They stand in stark contrast to many of the cartel killings in Mexico, which tend to be more like the killings of Beltran Guzman and involve massive firepower and very little precision or discretion. Even though the Millan Gomez killing got messy, and the shooter was caught, it was intended to be a very quiet, surgical hit — until Murphy’s law kicked in for the assassin.

It is notable that the killing of the four police officials all occurred in proximity to their homes, and that all four attacks were conducted during an arrival or departure at the home. It has long been common for terrorists and criminal kidnappers or assassins to focus on the home or office of their prospective target, because these are known locations that the potential victim frequently visits with some regularity. Also, homes are often preferable to offices, because they usually have less security, and criminals or terrorists can operate around them more easily and with less chance of being caught. Arrivals and departures are prime times for attacks, because the target is generally easier to locate and quickly acquire when on foot or in a car than when in a building.

Furthermore, the objective of preoperational surveillance is to detect the target’s patterns and vulnerabilities so that an attack can be planned. Historically, one of the most likely times for an attack to occur is when a potential victim is leaving from or returning to a known location. The most predictable move traditionally is the home-to-office move; however, the team that conducted the surveillance on Velasco Bravo, Gomez Martinez and Millan Gomez apparently found them to be predictable in their evening moves and planned the attacks accordingly. Robles Espinosa was attacked during the more-stereotypical morning move. Attacking in the evening could also give the assailants the cover of darkness. The low-key assassination cell behind the Velasco Bravo, Gomez Martinez and Millan Gomez attacks seemed to prefer that kind of cover. It is also possible that in the Guzman Beltran case, the shopping mall was a known place for him to frequent and that he had established a pattern of visiting there in the evening.

All five of the attacks also occurred in close proximity to vehicles. Millan Gomez, Gomez Martinez and Guzman Beltran were attacked while outside their vehicles; Robles Espinosa and Vellasco Bravo were attacked while in theirs, though neither of the men had an armored vehicle.
Protective Intelligence Lessons

A former federal police officer was arrested in connection with the Millan Gomez case, and he was found to have a list of license plates and home addresses; but such information alone is not enough to plan an assassination. Extensive preoperational surveillance is also required. From the careful planning of the Velasco Bravo, Gomez Martinez and Millan Gomez hits, it is apparent that the targets were under surveillance for a prolonged period of time. The fact that Robles Espinosa was hit during his morning move from home to work also tends to indicate that he had an established pattern that had been picked up by surveillance. Even in the Guzman Beltran killing, one does not amass a team of 20 or 40 assassins at the drop of a hat. Clearly, the operation was planned and the target had been watched.

The fact that surveillance was conducted in each of these cases means that the people conducting that surveillance were forced to expose themselves to detection. Furthermore, preoperational surveillance is normally not that sophisticated, since people rarely look for it. This means that had counter surveillance efforts been used these efforts likely would have been detected, especially since counter surveillance efforts often focus on known, predictable locations such as the home and office.

Another important lesson is that bodyguards and armored cars are no guarantee of protection in and of themselves. Assailants can look for and exploit vulnerabilities — as they did in the Velasco Bravo and Millan Gomez cases — if they are allowed to conduct surveillance at will and are given the opportunity to thoroughly assess the protective security program. Even if there are security measures in place, malefactors may choose to attack in spite of security and, in such a case, will do so with adequate resources to overcome those security measures. If there are protective agents, the attackers will plan to neutralize them first. If there is an armored vehicle, they will find ways to defeat the armor — something easily accomplished with the rocket-propelled grenades, LAW rockets and .50 caliber sniper rifles found in the arsenals of Mexican cartels.

Unfortunately, many people believe that the presence of armed bodyguards — or armed guards combined with armored vehicles — provides absolute security. This macho misconception is not confined to Latin America, but is pervasive there. Frankly, when we consider the size of the assault team employed in the Guzman Beltran hit (even if it consisted of only 20 men) and their armaments, there are very few protective details in the world sufficiently trained and equipped to deal with that level of threat. Executive protection teams and armored cars provide very little protection against dozens of attackers armed with AK rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, especially if the attackers are given free rein to conduct surveillance and plan their attack.

Indeed, many people — including police and executive protection personnel — either lack or fail to employ good observation skills. These skills are every bit as important as marksmanship — if not more — but are rarely taught or practiced. Additionally, even if a protection agent observes something unusual, in many cases there is no system in place to record these observations and no efficient way to communicate them or to compare them to the observations of others. There is often no process to investigate such observations in attempt to determine if they are indicators of something untoward.

The real counter to such a threat is heightened security awareness and a robust counter surveillance program, coupled with careful route and schedule analysis. Routes and traveling times must be varied, surveillance must be looked for and those conducting surveillance must not be afforded the opportunity to operate at will and with impunity. Suspicious events must be catalogued and investigated. Emphasis must also be placed on attack recognition and driver training to provide every possibility of spotting a pending attack and avoiding it before it can be successfully launched. Action is always faster than reaction. And even a highly-skilled protection team can be defeated if the attacker gains the tactical element of surprise — especially if coupled with overwhelming firepower.

Ideally, those conducting surveillance must be made uncomfortable or even manipulated into revealing their position when it proves advantageous to counter surveillance teams. Dummy motorcade moves are a fine tool to add into the mix, as is the use of safe houses for alternate residences and offices. Any ploy to confuse, deceive or deter potential scouts that ultimately make them tip their hand are valuable tricks of the trade employed by protective intelligence practitioners — professionals tasked with the difficult mission of deterring the type of assassinations we have recently seen in Mexico.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

About Mexico

Geopolitical Weekly

Mexico: On the Road to a Failed State?
By George Friedman

Edgar Millan Gomez was shot dead in his own home in Mexico City on May 8. Millan Gomez was the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in Mexico, responsible for overseeing most of Mexico's counternarcotics efforts. He orchestrated the January arrest of one of the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, Alfredo Beltran Leyva. (Several Sinaloa members have been arrested in Mexico City since the beginning of the year.) The week before, Roberto Velasco Bravo died when he was shot in the head at close range by two armed men near his home in Mexico City. He was the director of organized criminal investigations in a tactical analysis unit of the federal police. The Mexican government believes the Sinaloa drug cartel ordered the assassinations of Velasco Bravo and Millan Gomez. Combined with the assassination of other federal police officials in Mexico City, we now see a pattern of intensifying warfare in Mexico City.

The fighting also extended to the killing of the son of the Sinaloa cartel leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, who was killed outside a shopping center in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. Also killed was the son of reputed top Sinaloa money launderer Blanca Margarita Cazares Salazar in an attack carried out by 40 gunmen. According to sources, Los Zetas, the enforcement arm of the rival Gulf cartel, carried out the attack. Reports also indicate a split between Sinaloa and a resurgent Juarez cartel, which also could have been behind the Millan Gomez killing.

Spiraling Violence

Violence along the U.S.-Mexican border has been intensifying for several years, and there have been attacks in Mexico City. But last week was noteworthy not so much for the body count, but for the type of people being killed. Very senior government police officials in Mexico City were killed along with senior Sinaloa cartel operatives in Sinaloa state. In other words, the killings are extending from low-level operatives to higher-ranking ones, and the attacks are reaching into enemy territory, so to speak. Mexican government officials are being killed in Mexico City, Sinaloan operatives in Sinaloa. The conflict is becoming more intense and placing senior officials at risk.

The killings pose a strategic problem for the Mexican government. The bulk of its effective troops are deployed along the U.S. border, attempting to suppress violence and smuggling among the grunts along the border, as well as the well-known smuggling routes elsewhere in the country. The attacks in Mexico raise the question of whether forces should be shifted from these assignments to Mexico City to protect officials and break up the infrastructure of the Sinaloa and other cartels there. The government also faces the secondary task of suppressing violence between cartels. The Sinaloa cartel struck in Mexico City not only to kill troublesome officials and intimidate others, but also to pose a problem for the Mexican government by increasing areas requiring forces, thereby requiring the government to consider splitting its forces — thus reducing the government presence along the border. It was a strategically smart move by Sinaloa, but no one has accused the cartels of being stupid.

Mexico now faces a classic problem. Multiple, well-armed organized groups have emerged. They are fighting among themselves while simultaneously fighting the government. The groups are fueled by vast amounts of money earned via drug smuggling to the United States. The amount of money involved — estimated at some $40 billion a year — is sufficient to increase tension between these criminal groups and give them the resources to conduct wars against each other. It also provides them with resources to bribe and intimidate government officials. The resources they deploy in some ways are superior to the resources the government employs.

Given the amount of money they have, the organized criminal groups can be very effective in bribing government officials at all levels, from squad leaders patrolling the border to high-ranking state and federal officials. Given the resources they have, they can reach out and kill government officials at all levels as well. Government officials are human; and faced with the carrot of bribes and the stick of death, even the most incorruptible is going to be cautious in executing operations against the cartels.

Toward a Failed State?

There comes a moment when the imbalance in resources reverses the relationship between government and cartels. Government officials, seeing the futility of resistance, effectively become tools of the cartels. Since there are multiple cartels, the area of competition ceases to be solely the border towns, shifting to the corridors of power in Mexico City. Government officials begin giving their primary loyalty not to the government but to one of the cartels. The government thus becomes both an arena for competition among the cartels and an instrument used by one cartel against another. That is the prescription for what is called a “failed state” — a state that no longer can function as a state. Lebanon in the 1980s is one such example.

There are examples in American history as well. Chicago in the 1920s was overwhelmed by a similar process. Smuggling alcohol created huge pools of money on the U.S. side of the border, controlled by criminals both by definition (bootlegging was illegal) and by inclination (people who engage in one sort of illegality are prepared to be criminals, more broadly understood). The smuggling laws gave these criminals huge amounts of power, which they used to intimidate and effectively absorb the city government. Facing a choice between being killed or being enriched, city officials chose the latter. City government shifted from controlling the criminals to being an arm of criminal power. In the meantime, various criminal gangs competed with each other for power.

Chicago had a failed city government. The resources available to the Chicago gangs were limited, however, and it was not possible for them to carry out the same function in Washington. Ultimately, Washington deployed resources in Chicago and destroyed one of the main gangs. But if Al Capone had been able to carry out the same operation in Washington as he did in Chicago, the United States could have become a failed state.

It is important to point out that we are not speaking here of corruption, which exists in all governments everywhere. Instead, we are talking about a systematic breakdown of the state, in which government is not simply influenced by criminals, but becomes an instrument of criminals — either simply an arena for battling among groups or under the control of a particular group. The state no longer can carry out its primary function of imposing peace, and it becomes helpless, or itself a direct perpetrator of crime. Corruption has been seen in Washington — some triggered by organized crime, but never state failure.

The Mexican state has not yet failed. If the activities of the last week have become a pattern, however, we must begin thinking about the potential for state failure. The killing of Millan Gomez transmitted a critical message: No one is safe, no matter how high his rank or how well protected, if he works against cartel interests. The killing of El Chapo's son transmitted the message that no one in the leading cartel is safe from competing gangs, no matter how high his rank or how well protected.

The killing of senior state police officials causes other officials to recalculate their attitudes. The state is no longer seen as a competent protector, and being a state official is seen as a liability — potentially a fatal liability — unless protection is sought from a cartel, a protection that can be very lucrative indeed for the protector. The killing of senior cartel members intensifies conflict among cartels, making it even more difficult for the government to control the situation and intensifying the movement toward failure.

It is important to remember that Mexico has a tradition of failed governments, particularly in the 19th and early 20th century. In those periods, Mexico City became an arena for struggle among army officers and regional groups straddling the line between criminal and political. The Mexican army became an instrument in this struggle and its control a prize. The one thing missing was the vast amounts of money at stake. So there is a tradition of state failure in Mexico, and there are higher stakes today than before.

The Drug Trade’s High Stakes

To benchmark the amount at stake, assume that the total amount of drug trafficking is $40 billion, a frequently used figure, but hardly an exact one by any means. In 2007, Mexico exported about $210 billion worth of goods to the United States and imported about $136 billion from the United States. If the drug trade is $40 billion dollars, it represents about 25 percent of all exports to the United States. That in itself is huge, but what makes it more important is that while the $210 billion is divided among many businesses and individuals, the $40 billion is concentrated in the hands of a few, fairly tightly controlled cartels. Sinaloa and Gulf, currently the strongest, have vast resources at their disposal; a substantial part of the economy can be controlled through this money. This creates tremendous instability as other cartels vie for the top spot, with the state lacking the resources to control the situation and having its officials seduced and intimidated by the car tels.

We have seen failed states elsewhere. Colombia in the 1980s failed over the same issue — drug money. Lebanon failed in the 1970s and 1980s. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was a failed state.

Mexico's potential failure is important for three reasons. First, Mexico is a huge country, with a population of more than 100 million. Second, it has a large economy — the 14th-largest in the world. And third, it shares an extended border with the world's only global power, one that has assumed for most of the 20th century that its domination of North America and control of its borders is a foregone conclusion. If Mexico fails, there are serious geopolitical repercussions. This is not simply a criminal matter.

The amount of money accumulated in Mexico derives from smuggling operations in the United States. Drugs go one way, money another. But all the money doesn't have to return to Mexico or to third-party countries. If Mexico fails, the leading cartels will compete in the United States, and that competition will extend to the source of the money as well. We have already seen cartel violence in the border areas of the United States, but this risk is not limited to that. The same process that we see under way in Mexico could extend to the United States; logic dictates that it would.

The current issue is control of the source of drugs and of the supply chain that delivers drugs to retail customers in the United States. The struggle for control of the source and the supply chain also will involve a struggle for control of markets. The process of intimidation of government and police officials, as well as bribing them, can take place in market towns such as Los Angeles or Chicago, as well as production centers or transshipment points.

Cartel Incentives for U.S. Expansion

That means there are economic incentives for the cartels to extend their operations into the United States. With those incentives comes intercartel competition, and with that competition comes pressure on U.S. local, state and, ultimately, federal government and police functions. Were that to happen, the global implications obviously would be stunning. Imagine an extreme case in which the Mexican scenario is acted out in the United States. The effect on the global system economically and politically would be astounding, since U.S. failure would see the world reshaping itself in startling ways.

Failure for the United States is much harder than for Mexico, however. The United States has a gross domestic product of about $14 trillion, while Mexico's economy is about $900 billion. The impact of the cartels' money is vastly greater in Mexico than in the United States, where it would be dwarfed by other pools of money with a powerful interest in maintaining U.S. stability. The idea of a failed American state is therefore far-fetched.

Less far-fetched is the extension of a Mexican failure into the borderlands of the United States. Street-level violence already has crossed the border. But a deeper, more-systemic corruption — particularly on the local level — could easily extend into the United States, along with paramilitary operations between cartels and between the Mexican government and cartels.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently visited Mexico, and there are potential plans for U.S. aid in support of Mexican government operations. But if the Mexican government became paralyzed and couldn't carry out these operations, the U.S. government would face a stark and unpleasant choice. It could attempt to protect the United States from the violence defensively by sealing off Mexico or controlling the area north of the border more effectively. Or, as it did in the early 20th century, the United States could adopt a forward defense by sending U.S. troops south of the border to fight the battle in Mexico.

There have been suggestions that the border be sealed. But Mexico is the United States’ third-largest customer, and the United States is Mexico’s largest customer. This was the case well before NAFTA, and has nothing to do with treaties and everything to do with economics and geography. Cutting that trade would have catastrophic effects on both sides of the border, and would guarantee the failure of the Mexican state. It isn't going to happen.

The Impossibility of Sealing the Border

So long as vast quantities of goods flow across the border, the border cannot be sealed. Immigration might be limited by a wall, but the goods that cross the border do so at roads and bridges, and the sheer amount of goods crossing the border makes careful inspection impossible. The drugs will come across the border embedded in this trade as well as by other routes. So will gunmen from the cartel and anything else needed to take control of Los Angeles’ drug market.

A purely passive defense won't work unless the economic cost of blockade is absorbed. The choices are a defensive posture to deal with the battle on American soil if it spills over, or an offensive posture to suppress the battle on the other side of the border. Bearing in mind that Mexico is not a small country and that counterinsurgency is not the United States’ strong suit, the latter is a dangerous game. But the first option isn’t likely to work either.

One way to deal with the problem would be ending the artificial price of drugs by legalizing them. This would rapidly lower the price of drugs and vastly reduce the money to be made in smuggling them. Nothing hurt the American cartels more than the repeal of Prohibition, and nothing helped them more than Prohibition itself. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, drug legalization isn't going to happen. There is no visible political coalition of substantial size advocating this solution. Therefore, U.S. drug policy will continue to raise the price of drugs artificially, effective interdiction will be impossible, and the Mexican cartels will prosper and make war on each other and on the Mexican state.

We are not yet at the worst-case scenario, and we may never get there. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, perhaps with assistance from the United States, may devise a strategy to immunize his government from intimidation and corruption and take the war home to the cartels. This is a serious possibility that should not be ruled out. Nevertheless, the events of last week raise the serious possibility of a failed state in Mexico. That should not be taken lightly, as it could change far more than Mexico.

“In fairness to the United States, racial attitudes (or man’s view of the ‘other’ man) is a universal phenomenon that in most countries either goes unspoken or results in straight-out ethnic cleansing and murder. Here in America, in our earnest striving toward perfected tolerance and equality, we loquaciously agonize over our shortcomings—and it is good that we do.”

—Tony Blankley

“Here are the Obama rules in detail: He can’t be called a ‘liberal’ (’the same names and labels they pin on everyone,’ as Obama puts it); his toughness on the war on terror can’t be questioned (’attempts to play on our fears’); his extreme positions on social issues can’t be exposed (’the same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives’ and ‘turn us against each other’); and his Chicago background too is off-limits (’pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy’). Besides that, it should be a freewheeling and spirited campaign.”

—Rich Lowry

“Well, the conference met today and appointed a commission to meet tomorrow and appoint a delegation which will eventually appoint a subcommittee to draw up ways and means of finding out what to start with first.”

--Will Rogers--

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it.” -- H. L. Mencken

Barack Obama Pays Radicals to Staff His Campaign
By Ben Shapiro

Barack Obama is all about unification. There’s only one problem: the people who comprise his staff are some of the most extreme leftists in the country. All along, Barack Obama has pled ignorance with regard to the people with whom he associates. But he should certainly be held responsible for the people he puts on his payroll...

Of course, he is .....

Gore Financially Invested in Climate Cause
Weeks before announcing a $300-million, three-year advertising campaign to raise awareness about global warming, Al Gore conducted a slide show for a group of investors, touting companies that are not household names -- yet. These bio-fuel and green technology firms could be poised to take off, Gore told his audience.

Palestinians Phonebank for Obama

By Amanda Carpenter
"A television news segment produced by Al-Jazeera shows Palestinians in Gaza engaging in phone banking activities for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The segment explains how young Palestinians have banded together to call American voters at random asking them to vote for Obama.

“It all started at the time of the US primaries,” says one of pro-Obama Palestinian organizers. “After studying Obama’s electro campaign manifesto I thought this is a man that’s capable of change inside of America."

Just the kind of change we want, right? .... Something to make the Palestinians happy. Oh, boy. That really turns my trigger.

Congressional Problem Creation
By Walter E. Williams
Most of the great problems we face are caused by politicians creating solutions to problems they created in the first place. Politicians and a large percentage of the public lose sight of the unavoidable fact that for every created benefit, there's also a created cost or, as Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman put it, "There's no free lunch." While the person who receives the benefit might not pay or even be aware of the cost, but as sure as night follows day, there is a cost borne by someone.

Too "Complex"?: Part II
By Thomas Sowell
Let's face it. Supply and demand will never replace "need" and "greed" in political discussions of economic issues.

Talking about the "need" for more affordable housing or more affordable medical care is what will get politicians more votes this election year.

Voters don't want to hear about impersonal things like supply and demand. They want to hear about how their political heroes will stop the villains from "gouging" them or "exploiting" them with high prices.

World Tribune — Principal at UN school was missile developer for Islamic Jihad
GAZA CITY — A United Nations school principal killed by an Israeli air strike has been identified as a leading developer of missiles for the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad.

Awad Al Qiq, a science instructor and principal of the UN Relief and Works Agency school in Rafah, was said to have been one of the top missile, mortars and rocket developers for Jihad, the most active insurgency group in the Gaza Strip. The 33-year-old Al Qiq was killed in an Israel Air Force helicopter strike near the Egyptian border on April 30.

World Tribune — Al Qaida's 'prime minister' of the 'Islamic state of Iraq' captured
BAGHDAD — A senior Al Qaida commander has been captured in Iraq.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry reported the arrest of the chief of the Al Qaida-aligned Islamic State of Iraq. The commander and two of his lieutenants were reportedly located in the Diyala province.


#1 Clinton loyalists insist that the race may not be over. They say Sen. Clinton is a very "tight" woman with a buck and that she would not be putting up $11 million of her own money if she did not have some plan to win the nomination.

#2 The claims that McCain has a united Republican Party behind him are greatly exaggerated. We find considerable opposition on the right, ranging from economic conservatives (who consider him too green) to evangelicals. The biggest problem is that he does not realize he has a problem.

#3 The third straight Democratic win in a special election in a Republican district -- in Mississippi yesterday following Louisiana and Illinois -- raises the prospect of a tsunami in November against the GOP. Pessimism about McCain reversing this tide against Obama is growing.

#4 In the face of a possible catastrophe, Republicans in Congress are doing nothing to change their brand -- and President Bush is not helping. With the spendthrift farm bill coming up in the House Thursday, the House Republican leadership has informed the GOP "aggies" that they can vote their districts. Bush, in effect, has given them the same signal even while threatening a veto.

Congress Should Not Tamper with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

By The Heritage Foundation

The Economic Costs of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Change Legislation

By The Heritage Foundation

Media's 'green is good' philosophy strangles our energy policy.

Drill the Wasteland, Not the Consumers

Media Make Economic Storms Out of Silver Linings

The American news media declared the U.S. economy in “free fall” as it slowed in March of 2008. But much economic data hasn’t supported that negative view. Recently journalists have wrung the negatives out of stronger-than-expected numbers for retail sales, consumer spending and economic growth, as well as lower-than-anticipated job losses. Despite some economists downgrading recession forecasts the media keep seeing the dark clouds.


"It would be an act of terminal insanity for Barack Obama to name Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential candidate. It would not help him get elected, it would drag all the Clinton controversies into the general election, and having her down the hall in the West Wing would be a recipe for disaster, dissension and civil war. Other than that, it’s a hell of an idea!"

So says Dick Morris. Go read more here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Michael Reagan:
The Other Obama

After being subjected to eight years of the collegial presidency of Bill and Hillary, when we were told that when we got Bill we got Hillary as a bonus, it looks as if we are facing another twofer.

Amanda Carpenter:
Obama: "I Will Raise Taxes"

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama flatly promised to raise taxes in a television interview Thursday afternoon.

Jonah Goldberg:
Take That, Big Oil!

Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa, is offering his "Consumer Reasonable Energy Price Protection Act," which would make oil companies supplicants of a Reasonable Profits Board.

Hugh Hewitt:
The Michelle Factor: Forget Jeremiah Wright. What Does Michelle Obama Think About America?

Whether or not the issue of Barack Obama's two decades under the spiritual direction of Jeremiah Wright remains an issue through the next six months, the views of the possible First Lady at his side will be part of this half-year's discussion.

Bulletins at Obama’s Church Carry Their Own Controversy
Sen. Barack Obama recently said he is committed to Trinity United Church of Christ and not to the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but the church’s weekly bulletins are often just as controversial. Articles published in the bulletin in 2007 included the claim that Israel worked with South Africa to build an “ethnic bomb” that would kill blacks and Arabs, that the Pentagon was training Latin Americans to be terrorists, and that the TV networks are run by right-wing racists.

Follow the Money Trail to See Why Dem Congress Shields Trial Lawyers

WASHINGTON - A scandal has been emerging in the trial lawyer industry. It points to a potentially cancerous growth in our economy that is killing jobs and hampering prosperity at a time when families are being pummeled by the rising cost of living. What are Democrats in Congress planning to do about it? So far, the answer has been: nothing.

On May 19, trial lawyer William Lerach is expected to report to federal prison to begin serving the sentence he received after pleading guilty to charges of criminal conspiracy in conjunction with a class-action scheme involving his law firm, formerly known as Milberg Weiss.

According to federal investigators.... Read more.

Questions on Gore-bull Warming

“Here are my questions: In 1970, when environmentalists were making predictions of manmade global cooling and the threat of an ice age and millions of Americans starving to death, what kind of government policy should we have undertaken to prevent such a calamity? When Ehrlich predicted that England would not exist in the year 2000, what steps should the British Parliament have taken in 1970 to prevent such a dire outcome? In 1939, when the U.S. Department of the Interior warned that we only had oil supplies for another 13 years, what actions should President Roosevelt have taken? Finally, what makes us think that environmental alarmism is any more correct now that they have switched their tune to manmade global warming?”

-- Walter Williams

“The line between judicial ‘activism’ and due deference is not determined by whether one always lets elected branches get their way, but rather by whether a judge will defer to the clear language of the Constitution regardless of whether that means affirming legislative or executive action or overturning it. Sometimes a judge is being activist by refusing to overturn a congressional action despite a lack of constitutional authority for that action, merely because the judge happens to agree with the policy Congress has enacted... The very problem is that too many judges want to ensure that ‘no interest is served except the interest of justice.’ The problem is that what one man considers justice is often in conflict with the law, and that too many judges want to put their ideas of justice above the law’s dictates. But Oliver Wendell Holmes was right to upbraid a friend who urged him to ‘do justice.’ His answer: ‘That is not my job, sir. My job is to apply the law’.”

-- Quin Hillyer

Boston Globe:
Pro-Western leader pulls upset in Serbia vote

Washington Times:
Hezbollah 'redrawing' Mideast map

Ohhhh... YES they do

Washington Times:
Republican Leader Says Dems Want European-Style Socialism

Scenic Pakistan Valley Roiled by Taliban Violence
Peshawar, Pakistan
- Summer has arrived in the flower-adorned Swat valley of Northwest Pakistan, but a scenic area that has drawn tourists for centuries is now attracting the attention of militants who continue to wreak havoc.

Nice to see our institutions of higher learning believe in the free exchange of ideas

College Suspends Administrator for Op-Ed on Homosexuals
The University of Toledo has suspended with pay one of its administrators for writing a newspaper op-ed that questions whether homosexuality is a civil rights issue. The school said the administrator's views on homosexuality do not comport with those of the state institution.

The illusion that is Barack Obama
The Australian
By Fred Siegel

POLITICAL campaigning necessarily produces a wide gap between words and deeds. This is the price of bringing together a broad coalition with disparate interests. All effective politicians are at times authentically insincere or sincerely inauthentic. Exaggeration, embellishment, overstatement, doubletalk, deception and lies presented as metaphorical truths are the order of the day.

So, of course, Barack Obama is no different. He exaggerates the credit he deserves for a limited piece of ethics-reform legislation. He embellishes when he presents himself as having had a consistent record on the Iraq war when in fact he's done a fair amount of zigzagging. (Read more)

Hat tip to Bob McCarthy Writes.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Trade Deficit Boogey Man

At the risk of being called a “dupe,” or insinuated as being one, or at minimum, someone who is easily duped by reading just one article, I will espouse some views on the trade deficit topic.

Earlier, I linked to an article by Neal Asbury entitled TRADE VISION DEFICIT DISORDER. While I agreed with the many points in Asbury's column, I did not agree with everything. My overall take on the article was on how to increase our exporting, thus enhancing our global trading position, which should spur U.S. production of goods and create more jobs here at home.

I think Mr. Asbury outlined a number of reasons why we are not as competitive as we can be, and highlighted many things that we can do to enhance our trading positions. And, even though his column title mentioned "trade deficit," the thrust of his article was on how to improve (increase) our export trade.

I am interested in increasing production, creating jobs, and increasing exports. I do not get hung up on the idea of trade deficit per se. After all, those who get hysterical over international trade, would make you think that the whole purpose of international trade is to export as much of what we have produced as possible, while importing as little as possible of what other countries have produced. What better way to improve our "trade deficit" or turn it into a positive trade situation?

But what is the point of that? Lest you be confused, having a trade deficit does not mean we are in debt to foreigners.

Look at it this way: You buy groceries every week from your favorite grocer. You probably spend a few thousand dollars a year there. But how much does the grocery store buy from you? Nothing. Is it a problem?


In fact, it only would be a problem if you tried to balance your "trade deficit," with the grocery store by buying from them only to the extent that it needed your services. You most likely would starve. You would be engaged in a bartering system; a system that mankind found extremely unsuitable many moons ago and ditched it for a money economy.

"Trade statistics obscure reality. Individuals exchange only when each expects to benefit. If they didn't expect it, they wouldn't trade. That's true even if one party is American and the other Chinese. Trade is trade.

Foreigners trade cool products (and capital goods) for paper money. They can do only three things with our dollars: buy American goods and services, save them, or invest in the United States (including buying U.S. government debt).

In other words, most of what foreigners don't spend here, they invest here. The trade deficit is mirrored by the capital-account surplus." 1

Of course, the U.S. runs not only a trade deficit with China; it runs a trade deficit with the whole world. But this fact isn’t worrisome.

Why do foreigners willingly ship more goods and services to the United States than they demand in return? The answer is that foreigners find America to be an astonishingly attractive place to invest. To invest in the U.S., however, requires dollars. Foreigners get these dollars for investment by buying fewer goods and services from Americans than Americans buy from them. That is, foreigners save and then invest a large bulk of their savings here.

This investment creates jobs, improves worker productivity, and increases American economic output just as investment made by Americans. It’s a blessing; it’s a benefit; it’s a ringing testament to the dynamism and strength of the U.S. economy. 2

Millions of Americans get jobs because of international trade. And we, as consumers, do benefit from getting what we want, whenever we want, from wherever we want, at the lowest price, or of the highest quality.

Yet, the only way to shrink the trade deficit is for the government to prohibit us from buying whatever we want, from whomever we want. This can be accomplished by tariffs. This leads to increased isolationism.

If we want to "level the playing field" in international trade, we can either put tariffs in place on imported goods, or strike "free trade" agreements with individual countries so that we are on equal footing in our business dealings with them, i.e no restrictions on either party.

Still, all we seem to hear in the media is that our trade deficit keeps going up and the free trade agreements are bad. So again I ask, is a "trade deficit" bad?

The answer is still, "No."

Historically, countries with trade surpluses often don't do very well. Japan had a trade surplus all during its long recession, which began in 1990 and is only now ending. By contrast, countries running trade deficits often experience economic booms. A Cato Institute study shows, "Contrary to prevailing assumptions, 'worsening' trade deficits are associated with faster GDP and manufacturing growth and more rapidly declining unemployment, while 'improving' trade deficits are associated with slower GDP and manufacturing growth and rising unemployment."

Historically, we have been in a trade deficit position. However, during our depression era, we were in a trade surplus situation. In fact, in nine out of the 10 years of the Great Depression were in a positive trade position. Our economy should have been booming. Once again showing that a trade surplus position is not some magic elixir to cure a sick economy. Economies are far too complex to draw simplistic causal connections between trade deficits and surpluses and economic welfare and growth.

"Economic theory and experience show that trade deficits are driven by levels of national saving and investment in the U.S. economy, not by allegedly unfair trade barriers abroad or by declining industrial competitiveness at home. America's record trade deficit is a symbol of economic strength, reflecting a strong net inflow of foreign investment drawn to America's dynamic economy.

Growing trade deficits signal improving economic conditions, while shrinking deficits often occur in times of economic trouble. During the last 25 years, the U.S. economy has on average grown about a percentage point faster, 3.5 percent vs. 2.6 percent, in years when the trade deficit expanded compared with years when it shrank. The unemployment rate on average fell 0.4 percentage points during years of rising deficits and rose 0.4 points when the deficit shrank. Manufacturing output rose much faster during years of rising trade deficits than during years of shrinking deficits.

America's largest trade deficits in recent decades occurred during economic expansions, its smallest deficits during recessions. It's no coincidence that as the economy shows signs of slowing down, the monthly trade deficit numbers have also begun to shrink with the economy's growth rate. (Those critics who demand that something be done to "fix" the trade deficit should be concerned that they might get what they ask for.)

The best policy is to ignore the trade deficit, however large it may now seem, and concentrate on maintaining a strong and open domestic economy that welcomes foreign investment. As long as investors world-wide see the United States as a safe and profitable haven for their savings, the trade deficit will persist, and Americans will be better off because of it."3

One of the rights which the freeman has always guarded with most jealous care is that of enjoying the rewards of his own industry. Realizing the power to tax is the power to destroy, and that the power to take a certain amount of property or of income is only another way of saying that for a certain proportion of his time a citizen must work for the government, authority to impose a tax upon the people must be carefully guarded.... It condemns the citizen to servitude.

President Calvin Coolidge, 1924

“I think once you accept that you have the answer to everything, you can do anything to bring it about because your enemies are trying to stop you, are enemies of reason, of truth of everything - enemies of the future. You represent the people, you represent the nation, you represent everything that is good and that entitles you to destroy the bad people.”

-- Robert Conquest

"What does not need to be done needs not to be done - though, of course, there are things that need to be done, and situations so dangerous that quick and major action is required. But it is not enough to show that a situation is bad; it is also necessary to be reasonably certain that the problem has been properly described, fairly certain that the proposed remedy will improve it, and virtually certain that it will not make it worse."

-- Robert Conquest