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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

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Many politicians and pundits claim that the credit crunch and high mortgage foreclosure rate is an example of market failure and want government to step in to bail out creditors and borrowers at the expense of taxpayers who prudently managed their affairs.

These financial problems are not market failures but government failure. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 is a federal law that intimidated lenders into offering credit throughout their entire market and discouraged them from restricting their credit services to low-risk markets, a practice sometimes called redlining.

The Federal Reserve Bank, keeping interest rates artificially low, gave buyers and builders incentive to buy and build, thereby producing the housing bubble. Lenders were willing to make creative interest-only loans, often high-risk “no doc” and “liar loans,” in order to allow people to buy more housing than they could afford. Of course, with the expectation that housing prices will continue to rise, it was no problem for lenders and borrowers but housing prices began to fall, leaving some people with negative home equity and banks in trouble.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Dawn of Energy Independence?

By Rep. Jeb Hensarling and Sen. Jim DeMint

In just two weeks, on Oct. 1, Americans could be celebrating American Energy Freedom Day. That's the day the bans on oil shale and offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in America will expire.

Right off American shores there are reserves estimated to hold over 20 billion barrels of oil and 97 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. And in the west, oil shale is estimated to be between 800 billion and 2 trillion barrels of oil -- that is more than three times the proven oil reserves in Saudi Arabia alone.

Al Qaida wore police uniforms in Yemen attack on U.S. embassy

CAIRO -- Al Qaida has finally succeeded in attacking the U.S. embassy in Yemen but killed no Americans.

Al Qaida fighters, armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, stormed the U.S. embassy in Sanaa on Sept. 17. The attackers, dressed in Yemeni police uniforms, penetrated an embassy checkpoint and .. .(click here for more )

Top defector: China will be in driver's seat if North Korea comes unhinged

North Korea is unlikely to implode following the death of its ailing leader Kim Jong-Il because Beijing will exert control over the neighboring communist country, the highest-ranking defector from the North said. "China would never remain a mere spectator to a possible political upheaval in North Korea." Hwang Jang-Yop told a group of South Korean conservative leaders...(click here for more).

Democrat Fakery on Obama, Biden "Working Class" Origins

By Michael Medved
Both Joe Biden and Barack Obama appeal to the public with outrageously phony stories about their working class, blue collar backgrounds.

For Biden, the masquerade is particularly reprehensible since his pose as a "lunch bucket" Democrat from gritty Scranton, Pennsylvania played a prominent role in his selection as Senator Obama's running mate.

For instance, [Read on]

We Are Losing Europe to Islam

By Diana West
With Wall Street convulsing, and the White House race intensifying, the question "Who lost Europe" is on no one's lips, let alone minds. Indeed, the question begs another: "Is Europe lost?"

The answer to the second question is .... Keep reading.

The Rest of the Meltdown Story

By Neal Boortz
What in the world is going on here?

You’ve seen the headlines, and you heard of the failures and buyouts. Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, AIG; all big names and all in big trouble. Then those mysterious quasi-government agencies with names like Freddie and Fannie become wards of the state and you learn that you and your fellow taxpayers are potentially on the hook for tens of billions of dollars. At the end of the week Washington Mutual is looking for a buyer, and you start to wonder about the security of your own bank and your own savings account. Let’s change that ad copy to WaMu -- boo hoo.

Somewhere in the back of your mind you understand that... [Read more]

Pinning the Tail on the Donkey

By Michael Reagan
When I was a little boy we used to play a game where we wore a blindfold and tried to put a slip of paper on a drawing of a donkey we couldn't see. I thought of that as I watched the chattering class, blindfolded and frantically trying to pin the blame for the Wall Street debacle on everything but the real donkey, the Democrats, whose symbol is. guess what?

Right, a donkey, and that's where the blame lies, on Barack Obama's Democratic Party.

To find the donkey you need to go back to the Clinton administration, which decided that everybody and his kid brother was entitled to a mortgage even when they didn't begin to qualify for a home loan.

In saner days, banks designated certain areas as no-loan zones - depressed neighborhoods where lending money to potential home buyers was not just a risky investment, but a certain future foreclosure. Critics of the practice called it "redlining" and President Clinton and his chums on Capitol Hill decided that banks should no longer act like banks and lend money only to home buyers who could afford to handle the monthly payments. Now all bets would be off and people not the least bit creditworthy -- and speculators -- would be entitled by law to obtain mortgages even when it was obvious they couldn't afford to handle them. Keep reading.

Already sour, mood between Russia and West worsens

Boston Globe:
Rice faults course taken by Moscow

Official Rangel Probe Appears Likely

Rep. Gene Green (D-Tex.), the acting chairman of the House ethics committee, said yesterday that he will recommend launching a probe of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), who has asked the panel to examine questions about his financial filings and other matters.

Rep. Doc Hastings (Wash.), the ranking Republican, said the investigation should have begun in July and should include a special counsel to help lawmakers understand the issues. "This has been delayed for far too long," Hastings said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a potential new ethics problem for Rangel is ... Keep reading.

GOP Senators Vow to Fight House Democrats’ New Ban on Offshore Drilling

(CNSNews.com) – The battle over allowing offshore drilling on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf has now shifted to the U.S. Senate. Senators Chuck Schumer-(D-N.Y.) and Pattie Murray (D-Wash.) told CNSNews.com on Thursday that they have not yet decided whether oil drilling ought to be allowed within 50 miles of U.S. shores. Conservative Senate Republicans, however, told CNSNews.com that if the energy package that passed the House on Tuesday, which would permanently ban all oil drilling within 50 miles of the U.S. coast, comes to the Senate floor, they will do everything they can to block its passage. Keep reading.

McCain Says Obama Put Politics Above National Interest Over Iran Rally

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Barack Obama “chose politics rather than the national interest” by sidestepping the opportunity for a bipartisan stand against Iran’s nuclear drive, Sen. John McCain said Thursday. The Republican presidential candidate leveled the charge after the organizers of the “Stop Iran Now” rally, planned for next Monday in New York City, withdrew an invitation to his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, following appeals by Democrats. “Governor Palin was pleased to accept an invitation to address this rally and show her resolve on this grave national security issue,” McCain said in a statement. “Regrettably that invitation has since been withdrawn under pressure from Democratic partisans.” Keep reading.

Obama Pays Women Only 78 Percent of What He Pays Men

(CNSNews.com) – While Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has produced a television ad criticizing Sen. John McCain’s position on equal pay for women and pointing out that women in America are paid only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men, Obama pays his own female Senate staffers, on average, only 78 percent of what he pays male staffers. Women on McCain’s staff, meanwhile, earn 24 percent more on average than women on Obama’s Senate staff. McCain also pays his female Senate staff members a higher average salary than his male Senate staff members. Keep reading.


Columnist Jack Kelly:

"There are a lot of people to blame for the subprime mortgage crisis and this week's wall Street meltdown. Above all are the crooks and mismanagers who ran the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) - and their political enablers.

Fannie and Freddie were very good at greasing palms on Capitol Hill. Fannie spent $170 million on lobbying since 1998, and $19.3 million on political contributions since 1990.

The principal recipient of Fannie Mae's largesse was Sen. Chriss Dodd (D-CT), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Number two was Barack Hussein Obama.

Fannie bought most of its bad mortgages from Countrywide Financial, whose CEO, Angelo Mozilo, gave sweetheart loans to senior executives of Fannie Mae.

Sen. Dodd was also the second largest recipient in the Senate of contributions from Countrywide's PAC and its employees. The number one senator on Countrywide's list? Barack Hussein Obama."

Inside Obama’s Acorn

By their fruits ye shall know them.
By Stanley Kurtz

What if Barack Obama’s most important radical connection has been hiding in plain sight all along? Obama has had an intimate and long-term association with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn), the largest radical group in America. If I told you Obama had close ties with MoveOn.org or Code Pink, you’d know what I was talking about. Acorn is at least as radical as these better-known groups, arguably more so. Yet because Acorn works locally, in carefully selected urban areas, its national profile is lower. Acorn likes it that way. And so, I’d wager, does Barack Obama.

Keep reading

Rep. Rangel: Resign post . . . or be removed


When Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., took the gavel in January 2007 to become the first woman to fill the post of House Speaker, she proclaimed that Democrats would run the chamber ''with the highest ethical standards.'' That was then.

This is now: Rep. Charles Rangel, D.-N.Y., chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, is caught in a scandal in which he ...... [read on]

Rangel broke rules by storing old car in House garage, paper says

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is having a bad year.

First, there were reports that ......

Wall Street's Panic


With new shudders striking Wall Street on a weekly basis, the case for calm, experienced leadership in the White House grows. As the fall out from the mortgage crisis rolls through big name institution after big name institution, the conviction grows that Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been exactly the seasoned hand needed at this time. The orderly shut down of struggling banks means a lot of economic pain, but no panic, and the value of experience here is enormous.

Voters have to wonder what a panicky, inexperienced Barack Obama would have meant these past six months. John McCain has responded with a steady, calm demeanor which previews exactly how he will lead in the White House.

September headlines don't usually mean votes in November, but the economic uncertainty is clearly underscoring John McCain's advantages in the race for the Oval Office.


"The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy."
-- Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Palin Phenomenon Accelerates Downfall of Old Media

By Chris Adamo
Mens News Daily
The 2004 contest between President Bush and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry marked the beginning of the end for the old media monopoly. On the one hand, clumsy media attempts to fabricate a story, complete with phony documents hastily fabricated using modern word-processing software, clearly indicated that CBS bigwig Dan Rather and his minions were stumping for Kerry. Meanwhile, the old media failed miserably in their shameless attempts to discredit the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth. That organization’s thoroughly documented evidence completely unraveled Kerry’s baseless claims of heroism in Vietnam. By so doing, the Swift Vets struck the fatal blow to his inept campaign.

Of course the old media, devoted exclusively to..... [read on]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Palin Effect

By Hugh Hewitt

Sarah Palin has come under another round of attacks from Manhattan-Beltway media elites, and they are growing increasingly shrill. Now Saturday Night Live is, quite predictably, portraying Governor Palin as a God-crazed dumb-as-a-box-of-bricks small town mom, demonstrating again the entertainment industry's love of their customer base. New York columnist Frank Rich appears positively unhinged by Palin--as do many others.

No matter. Every attack only deepens the affection and admiration felt by the vast majority of Americans of every political stripe--except those living in the mega cities on the water's edge. Rarely has the cultural divide in this country been so completely exposed, and big media's allegiances to the left side of that divide more obvious--perhaps now more than ever.

Reforming Health Care to Protect Parents' Rights

By Daniel P Moloney, Ph.D.

In pursuing health care reform, federal and state policymakers alike need to respect and protect paren­tal rights and responsibilities. Currently, they are not doing so.

A 14-year-old grade-school girl in Kentucky arrives at the local health clinic seeking birth control. Who should decide whether she receives it? The doctor? The girl? Or her parents? The state legislature says that the girl is not even old enough to consent to sexual activity. Yet public officials, under authorization from Congress, have written rules that allow the girl to enroll in one of a number of federal programs, and this federal law would overrule state law and prohibit the clinic from informing her parents.

A Common Problem

Thousands of similar situations occur each year— not surreptitiously, but legally, under the authority of ... [read more]

Ultimatum by Paulson Sparked Frantic End

One of the most tumultuous weekends in Wall Street's history began Friday, when federal officials decided to deliver a sobering message to the captains of finance: There would be no government bailout of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

Officials wanted to prepare the market for the possibility that Lehman could simply fail. The best way to do that in an orderly way would be to get everyone together in a room.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his top New York lieutenant, Timothy Geithner, summoned some 30 Wall Street executives for a 6 p.m. Friday meeting at the Fed's offices in Lower Manhattan.

"There is no political will for a federal bailout," Mr. Geithner told the assembled executives, according to a person familiar with the matter. "Come back in the morning and be prepared to do something."

Over the next 48 hours, these marching orders developed into a nerve-wracking test of the ability of the U.S. financial system to hold itself together amid the worst series of shocks it has faced in decades.

By taking the rescue option off the table, the U.S. government was declaring that there are limits to .... [read more]

Networks Help Obama Bridge Gap on Earmarks

Journalists race to 'check' Palin claims, ignore Democrats' billion dollars in earmarks.

By Julia A. Seymour
Business & Media Institute

When Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin claimed she defeated the infamous Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere” earmark, the Democratic nominees and network, cable and print journalists rushed to “fact check” her statement.

Journalists across the media spectrum carried Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s argument portraying Palin as an exaggerator at best, a liar at worst. Reports often failed to fully explain Palin’s handling of the “Bridge to Nowhere” earmark and mostly ignored budget watchdogs that still defended her record of reform. Obama’s nearly $1 billion in earmark requests, as well as Sen. Joe Biden’s $323 million were not mentioned by network reporters either.

The assault stemmed from .... [read more]

The Danger of Vote Fraud in the 2008 Election

By Phyllis Schlafly
The most provocative line in the Democratic national platform adopted in Denver is: "We oppose laws that require identification in order to vote or register to vote." Since it's routine to show an ID in order to board a plane and do dozens of other very ordinary things, what's the big deal about showing an ID to exercise the most important privilege of citizenship?

That question is answered in the new book by John Fund called "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy." Honest elections absolutely depend on preventing the stuffing of the ballot box by people who are not eligible to vote.

Among those who are not eligible to vote are those who... [read more]

TrooperGate Investigator Sued

By Amanda Carpenter
Troopergate Investigator Stephen Branchflower has been slapped with two lawsuits, one by a group of Alaskan residents who believe his inquiry represents an abuse of their tax dollars and the other by five Republican lawmakers who called Branchflower’s tactics “McCarthyistic.”

Both suits were filed at the Third Judicial District in Anchorage on Tuesday.

Citizens Robert Bettishworth, James Dodson, Seth Church, David Eichler, Thomas Temple and Alan Simmons complained the $100,000 allocated to determine whether Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin abused her power in firing of a political appointee is “a statutorily unauthorized waste of public monies.”

The citizen suit raised doubts about Branchflower’s.... [read more]

The High Cost of Racial Hype

By Thomas Sowell
Sometimes you don't know when you are lucky. Certainly I did not consider myself lucky when I left home at seventeen and discovered the hard way that there was no great demand for a black teenage dropout with no experience and no skill.

In retrospect, however, those days of struggling to earn money to pay the room rent and buy food left little time or energy for navel-gazing over things like "identity."

All this came back to me recently when I saw a font-page.... [read more]

Barack Obama and White Privilege

By John Stossel
Complaints about racism still dominate media discussion of the disparity between black and white success. Comedian Chris Rock tells white audiences, "None of ya would change places with me! And I'm rich! That's how good it is to be white!"

I assumed that the success of Barack Obama, as well as thousands of other black Americans and dark-skinned immigrants -- many of whom thrive despite language problems -- demonstrates that America today is largely a colorblind meritocracy. But a white campus..... [read more]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

World Tribune — Russians have started work on major Syrian port
MOSCOW —Syrian has signed an agreement meant to result in a major Russian naval presence in the Arab state.

Officials said the Russian Navy has already begun the upgrade of Tartous in an effort to establish a permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea. They said the modernization of the Syrian naval facility was discussed during a Sept. 12 meeting in Moscow by the naval commanders of Russia and Syria.

World Tribune — Sol Sanders: The 'Summer War': Will West learn from history?
Some dead old white Frenchman once said, I am told, that all historical analogies are odious. One definition of "odious" in the New Oxford Dictionary is "exciting hatred or repugnance". And that could well be. No two events in history are really alike. But it is useful sometimes to recall how something that is happening now might be better analyzed by looking back at another historical event.

World Tribune — Iran's largest air exercise ever geared to defense

NICOSIA — Iran has launched its largest air combat exercise ever.

Officials said the exercise, which began on Sept. 15, was the largest by the Iranian Air Force and included air defense batteries supplied this year by Russia.

The Russian Resurgence and the New-Old Front

By Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Intelligence Report

"Russia is attempting to reforge its Cold War-era influence in its near abroad. This is not simply an issue of nostalgia, but a perfectly logical and predictable reaction to the Russian environment. Russia lacks easily definable, easily defendable borders. There is no redoubt to which the Russians can withdraw, and the only security they know comes from establishing buffers — buffers which tend to be lost in times of crisis. The alternative is for Russia to simply trust other states to leave it alone. Considering Russia’s history of occupations, from the Mongol horde to Napoleonic France to Hitler’s Germany, it is not difficult to surmise why the Russians tend to choose a more activist set of policies.

As such, the country tends to expand and contract like a beating heart — gobbling up nearby territories in times of strength, and then contracting and losing those territories in times of weakness. Rather than what Westerners think of as a traditional nation-state, Russia has always been a multiethnic empire, heavily stocked with non-Russian (and even non-Orthodox) minorities. Keeping those minorities from damaging central control requires a strong internal security and intelligence arm, and hence we get the Cheka, the KGB, and now the FSB.

Nature of the Budding Conflict

Combine a security policy thoroughly wedded to expansion with an internal stabilization policy that institutionalizes terror, and it is understandable why most of Russia’s neighbors do not like Moscow very much. A fair portion of Western history revolves around the formation and shifting of coalitions to manage Russian insecurities.

In the American case specifically, the issue is one of continental control. The United States is the only country in the world that effectively controls an entire continent. Mexico and Canada have been sufficiently intimidated so that they can operate independently only in a very limited sense. (Technically, Australia controls a continent, but with the some 85 percent of its territory unusable, it is more accurate in geopolitical terms to think of it as a small archipelago with some very long bridges.) This grants the United States not only a potentially massive internal market, but also the ability to project power without the fear of facing rearguard security threats. U.S. forces can be focused almost entirely on offensive operations, whereas potential competitors in Eurasia must constantly be on their guard about the neighbors.

The only thing that could threaten U.S. security would be the rise of a Eurasian continental hegemon. For the past 60 years, Russia (or the Soviet Union) has been the only entity that has had a chance of achieving that, largely due to its geographic reach. U.S. strategy for coping with this is simple: containment, or the creation of a network of allies to hedge in Russian political, economic and military expansion. NATO is the most obvious manifestation of this policy imperative, while the Sino-Soviet split is the most dramatic one.

Containment requires that United States counter Russian expansionism at every turn, crafting a new coalition wherever Russia attempts to break out of the strategic ring, and if necessary committing direct U.S. forces to the effort. The Korean and Vietnam wars — both traumatic periods in American history — were manifestations of this effort, as were the Berlin airlift and the backing of Islamist militants in Afghanistan (who incidentally went on to form al Qaeda).

The Georgian war in August was simply the first effort by a resurging Russia to pulse out, expand its security buffer and, ideally, in the Kremlin’s plans, break out of the post-Cold War noose that other powers have tied. The Americans (and others) will react as they did during the Cold War: by building coalitions to constrain Russian expansion. In Europe, the challenges will be to keep the Germans on board and to keep NATO cohesive. In the Caucasus, the United States will need to deftly manage its Turkish alliance and find a means of engaging Iran. In China and Japan, economic conflicts will undoubtedly take a backseat to security cooperation.

Russia and the United States will struggle in all of these areas, consisting as they do the Russian borderlands. Most of the locations will feel familiar, as Russia’s near abroad has been Russia’s near abroad for nearly 300 years. Those locations — the Baltics, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Central Asia and Mongolia — that defined Russia’s conflicts in times gone by will surface again. Such is the tapestry of history: the major powers seeking advantage in the same places over and over again.

The New Old-Front

But not all of those fronts are in Eurasia. So long as U.S. power projection puts the Russians on the defensive, it is only a matter of time before something along the cordon cracks and the Russians are either fighting a land war or facing a local insurrection. Russia must keep U.S. efforts dispersed and captured by events as far away from the Russian periphery as possible — preferably where Russian strengths can exploit American weakness.

So where is that?

Geography dictates that U.S. strength involves coalition building based on mutual interest and long-range force projection, and internal U.S. harmony is such that America’s intelligence and security agencies have no need to shine. Unlike Russia, the United States does not have large, unruly, resentful, conquered populations to keep in line. In contrast, recall that the multiethnic nature of the Russian state requires a powerful security and intelligence apparatus. No place better reflects Russia’s intelligence strengths and America’s intelligence weakness than Latin America.

The United States faces no traditional security threats in its backyard. South America is in essence a hollow continent, populated only on the edges and thus lacking a deep enough hinterland to ever coalesce into a single hegemonic power. Central America and southern Mexico are similarly fractured, primarily due to rugged terrain. Northern Mexico (like Canada) is too economically dependent upon the United States to seriously consider anything more vibrant than ideological hostility toward Washington. Faced with this kind of local competition, the United States simply does not worry too much about the rest of the Western Hemisphere — except when someone comes to visit.

Stretching back to the time of the Monroe Doctrine, Washington’s Latin American policy has been very simple. The United States does not feel threatened by any local power, but it feels inordinately threatened by any Eastern Hemispheric power that could ally with a local entity. Latin American entities cannot greatly harm American interests themselves, but they can be used as fulcrums by hostile states further abroad to strike at the core of the United States’ power: its undisputed command of North America.

It is a fairly straightforward exercise to predict where Russian activity will reach its deepest. One only needs to revisit Cold War history. Future Russian efforts can be broken down into three broad categories: naval interdiction, drug facilitation and direct territorial challenge.

Naval Interdiction

Naval interdiction represents the longest sustained fear of American policymakers. Among the earliest U.S. foreign efforts after securing the mainland was asserting control over the various waterways used for approaching North America. Key in this American geopolitical imperative is the neutralization of Cuba. All the naval power-projection capabilities in the world mean very little if Cuba is both hostile and serving as a basing ground for an extra-hemispheric power.

The U.S. Gulf Coast is not only the heart of the country’s energy industry, but the body of water that allows the United States to function as a unified polity and economy. The Ohio, Missouri, and Mississippi river basins all drain to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. The economic strength of these basins depends upon access to oceanic shipping. A hostile power in Cuba could fairly easily seal both the Straits of Florida and the Yucatan Channel, reducing the Gulf of Mexico to little more than a lake.

Building on the idea of naval interdiction, there is another key asset the Soviets targeted at which the Russians are sure to attempt a reprise: the Panama Canal. For both economic and military reasons, it is enormously convenient to not have to sail around the Americas, especially because U.S. economic and military power is based on maritime power and access. In the Cold War, the Soviets established friendly relations with Nicaragua and arranged for a favorable political evolution on the Caribbean island of Grenada. Like Cuba, these two locations are of dubious importance by themselves. But take them together — and add in a Soviet air base at each location as well as in Cuba — and there is a triangle of Soviet airpower that can threaten access to the Panama Canal.

Drug Facilitation

The next stage — drug facilitation — is somewhat trickier. South America is a wide and varying land with very little to offer Russian interests. Most of the states are commodity providers, much like the Soviet Union was and Russia is today, so they are seen as economic competitors. Politically, they are useful as anti-American bastions, so the Kremlin encourages such behavior whenever possible. But even if every country in South America were run by anti-American governments, it would not overly concern Washington; these states, alone or en masse, lack the ability to threaten American interests … in all ways but one.

The drug trade undermines American society from within, generating massive costs for social stability, law enforcement, the health system and trade. During the Cold War, the Soviets dabbled with narcotics producers and smugglers, from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to the highland coca farmers of Bolivia. It is not so much that the Soviets encouraged the drug trade directly, but that they encouraged any group they saw as ideologically useful.

Stratfor expects future Russian involvement in such activities to eclipse those of the past. After the Soviet fall, many FSB agents were forced to find new means to financially support themselves. (Remember it was not until 1999 that Vladimir Putin took over the Russian government and began treating Russian intelligence like a bona fide state asset again.) The Soviet fall led many FSB agents, who already possessed more than a passing familiarity with things such as smuggling and organized crime, directly into the heart of such activities. Most of those agents are — formally or not — back in the service of the Russian government, now with a decade of gritty experience on the less savory side of intelligence under their belts. And they now have a deeply personal financial interest in the outcome of future operations.

Drug groups do not need cash from the Russians, but they do need weaponry and a touch of training — needs which dovetail perfectly with the Russians’ strengths. Obviously, Russian state involvement in such areas will be far from overt; it just does not do to ship weapons to the FARC or to one side of the brewing Bolivian civil war with CNN watching. But this is a challenge the Russians are good at meeting. One of Russia’s current deputy prime ministers, Igor Sechin, was the USSR’s point man for weapons smuggling to much of Latin America and the Middle East. This really is old hat for them.

U.S. Stability

Finally, there is the issue of direct threats to U.S. stability, and this point rests solely on Mexico. With more than 100 million people, a growing economy and Atlantic and Pacific ports, Mexico is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that could theoretically (which is hardly to say inevitably) threaten U.S. dominance in North America. During the Cold War, Russian intelligence gave Mexico more than its share of jolts in efforts to cause chronic problems for the United States. In fact, the Mexico City KGB station was, and remains today, the biggest in the world. The Mexico City riots of 1968 were in part Soviet-inspired, and while ultimately unsuccessful at overthrowing the Mexican government, they remain a testament to the reach of Soviet intelligence. The security problems that would be created by the presence of a hostile state the size of Mexico on the southern U.S. border are as obvious as they would be dangerous.

As with involvement in drug activities, which incidentally are likely to overlap in Mexico, Stratfor expects Russia to be particularly active in destabilizing Mexico in the years ahead. But while an anti-American state is still a Russian goal, it is not their only option. The Mexican drug cartels have reached such strength that the Mexican government’s control over large portions of the country is an open question. Failure of the Mexican state is something that must be considered even before the Russians get involved. And simply doing with the Mexican cartels what the Soviets once did with anti-American militant groups the world over could suffice to tip the balance.

In many regards, Mexico as a failed state would be a worse result for Washington than a hostile united Mexico. A hostile Mexico could be intimidated, sanctioned or even invaded, effectively browbeaten into submission. But a failed Mexico would not restrict the drug trade at all. The border would be chaos, and the implications of that go well beyond drugs. One of the United States’ largest trading partners could well devolve into a seething anarchy that could not help but leak into the U.S. proper.

Whether Mexico becomes staunchly anti-American or devolves into the violent chaos of a failed state does not matter much to the Russians. Either one would threaten the United States with a staggering problem that no amount of resources could quickly or easily fix. And the Russians right now are shopping around for staggering problems with which to threaten the United States.

In terms of cost-benefit analysis, all of these options are no-brainers. Threatening naval interdiction simply requires a few jets. Encouraging the drug trade can be done with a few weapons shipments. Destabilizing a country just requires some creativity. However, countering such activities requires a massive outlay of intelligence and military assets — often into areas that are politically and militarily hostile, if not outright inaccessible. In many ways, this is containment in reverse.

Old Opportunities, New Twists

In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega has proven so enthusiastic in his nostalgia for Cold War alignments that Nicaragua has already recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two territories in the former Soviet state (and U.S. ally) of Georgia that Russia went to war to protect. That makes Nicaragua the only country in the world other than Russia to recognize the breakaway regions. Moscow is quite obviously pleased — and was undoubtedly working the system behind the scenes.

In Bolivia, President Evo Morales is attempting to rewrite the laws that govern his country’s wealth distribution in favor of his poor supporters in the indigenous highlands. Now, a belt of conflict separates those highlands, which are roughly centered at the pro-Morales city of Cochabamba, from the wealthier, more Europeanized lowlands. A civil war is brewing — a conflict that is just screaming for outside interference, as similar fights did during the Cold War. It is likely only a matter of time before the headlines become splattered with pictures of Kalashnikov-wielding Cochabambinos decrying American imperialism.

Yet while the winds of history are blowing in the same old channels, there certainly are variations on the theme. The Mexican cartels, for one, were radically weaker beasts the last time around, and their current strength and disruptive capabilities present the Russians with new options.

So does Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a man so anti-American he seems to be even a few steps ahead of Kremlin propagandists. In recent days, Chavez has already hosted long-range Russian strategic bombers and evicted the U.S. ambassador. A glance at a map indicates that Venezuela is a far superior basing point than Grenada for threatening the Panama Canal. Additionally, Chavez’s Venezuela has already indicated both its willingness to get militarily involved in the Bolivian conflict and its willingness to act as a weapons smuggler via links to the FARC — and that without any heretofore detected Russian involvement. The opportunities for smuggling networks — both old and new — using Venezuela as a base are robust.

Not all changes since the Cold War are good for Russia, however. Cuba is not as blindly pro-Russian as it once was. While Russian hurricane aid to Cuba is a bid to reopen old doors, the Cubans are noticeably hesitant. Between the ailing of Fidel Castro and the presence of the world’s largest market within spitting distance, the emerging Cuban regime is not going to reflexively side with the Russians for peanuts. In Soviet times, Cuba traded massive Soviet subsidies in exchange for its allegiance. A few planeloads of hurricane aid simply won’t pay the bills in Havana, and it is still unclear how much money the Russians are willing to come up with.

There is also the question of Brazil. Long gone is the dysfunctional state; Brazil is now an emerging industrial powerhouse with an energy company, Petroleo Brasileiro, of skill levels that outshine anything the Russians have yet conquered in that sphere. While Brazilian rhetoric has always claimed that Brazil was just about to come of age, it now happens to be true. A rising Brazil is feeling its strength and tentatively pushing its influence into the border states of Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, as well as into regional rivals Venezuela and Argentina. Russian intervention tends to appeal to those who do not feel they have meaningful control over their own neighborhoods. Brazil no longer fits into that category, and it will not appreciate Russia’s mucking around in its neighborhood.

A few weeks ago, Stratfor published a piece detailing how U.S. involvement in the Iraq war was winding to a close. We received many comments from readers applauding our optimism. We are afraid that we were misinterpreted. “New” does not mean “bright” or “better,” but simply different. And the dawning struggle in Latin America is an example of the sort of “different” that the United States can look forward to in the years ahead. Buckle up."

"The freedom and happiness of man...[are] the sole objects of all legitimate government." -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, September 15, 2008


“On Sept. 8, Fox News broadcast an interview between Obama and Bill O’Reilly that focused on taxation and the economy. Obama repeated his pledge to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, while raising taxes on the tiny fraction who earn more than $250,000... His tax proposal, he explained, was a matter of civility: ‘If I am sitting pretty and you’ve got a waitress who is making minimum wage plus tips, and I can afford it and she can’t, what’s the big deal for me to say, I’m going to pay a little bit more? That’s neighborliness.’ If that is Obama’s rationale for making the tax code even more steeply progressive than it already is, it’s no wonder voters are having second thoughts about his economic aptitude. ‘Neighborliness.’ Perhaps that word has a nonstandard meaning to someone whose home adjoined the property of convicted swindler Tony Rezko, but extracting money by force from someone who earned it in order to give it to someone who didn’t is not usually spoken of as neighborly. If Citizen Obama, ‘sitting pretty,’ reaches into his own pocket and helps out the waitress with a large tip, he has shown a neighborly spirit. But there is nothing neighborly about using the tax code to compel someone else to pay the waitress that tip. Taxation is not generosity, it is confiscation at gunpoint. Does Obama not understand the difference? Perhaps he doesn’t. Eager though he may be to compel ‘neighborliness’ in others, he has not been nearly so avid about demonstrating it himself. Barack and Michelle Obama’s tax returns show that from 2000 through 2004, when their adjusted gross income averaged nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year, their annual charitable donations amounted to just $2,154—less than nine-tenths of 1 percent. Not until he entered the US Senate in 2005 and began to be spoken of as a presidential possibility did the Obamas’ ‘neighborliness’ become more evident. (In 2005-2007, they gave 5.5 percent of their income to charity.)” —Jeff Jacoby


“I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form.” —Calvin Coolidge


“Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has a great twofer pitch: ‘green jobs.’... Governments create no wealth. They only move it around while taking a cut for their trouble. So any jobs created over here come at the expense of jobs that would have been created over there... One reason decentralized markets are preferable to government central planning is that human beings are fallible. Mistakes are inevitable. Some investments will be errors. Mistakes in the market tend to be on a comparatively small scale. If one company invests in plug-in hybrids and it goes bust, only a relatively few people suffer. The assets of the bankrupt firm pass into more capable hands. But decisions by government, especially the federal government, affect all of us. When government makes a mistake, the bureaucracy can’t go bankrupt. Instead, it will use its failure to justify increased appropriations in the next budget. If ‘green jobs’ make so much sense, the market will create them. They will be created by private entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who are eager to profit from winning investments. The best ideas will rise to the top, and green energy will gradually replace coal and oil. If politicians were serious about creating jobs and cleaner technologies, they would step aside and let the free market go to work.” —John Stossel


“The patriotism feared by liberals isn’t the standard American-flag-pinned-on-your-lapel-patriotism (hardly anyone other than Barack Obama is against that). The kind they are afraid of is that which was stirred in us by the attacks on Pearl Harbor and again on 9/11—the kind that motivated Americans of all races and political persuasions to pull together in the duty of our common citizenship and the common cause of enduring American ideals. Liberals are threatened by such patriotism because they worry that their position—their belief that they, rather than we as free people, are the better rulers of our lives—will be usurped by a rebirth of Thomas Jefferson’s understanding of self-reliance and independence. They also worry that an increase in such patriotism will continually motivate men from all walks of life... to join our military and fight for the preservation of this great nation. It’s hard to convince men who are risking their lives in service to this nation that this nation isn’t as good as it once was or that we need to turn the reins of our government over to Democrats so they can rescue us from ourselves by ‘the audacity of hope’.” —A.W.R. Hawkins

“Ultimately, the choice before the American people is the choice between two visions: on the one hand, the policies of limited government, economic growth, a strong defense, and a firm foreign policy; and on the other hand, policies of tax and spend, economic stagnation, international weakness and accommodation, and always, always, from them, ‘Blame America first.’ It’s the choice between the policies of liberalism or the policies of America’s political mainstream.” —Ronald Reagan

Maybe. It has certainly given the Repubs a shot in the arm.

“Only once in modern times has a vice presidential candidate swung an election. Lyndon Johnson brought Texas and Alabama to John F. Kennedy in 1960, states that otherwise would have been suspicious of a Catholic liberal from New England. I think Sarah Palin will be the second. She has changed the nature of this race in ways ominous for Mr. Obama. First, this race is no longer between a candidate who advocates change and the status quo, as Democrats would like to frame it. It’s between two different visions of change, and between a ticket that’s actually delivered reform, and a ticket that just talks about it.”

-Jack Kelly

“National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.” —John Adams

The Scandal of the McCain Campaign

By Rich Lowry
A crucial turning point in the presidential race came when the McCain campaign ended its candidate's habitual informal interactions with the press. The area of the McCain campaign plane where a couch had been installed so the Arizonian could hold court with journalists was cut off with a dark curtain, marking the end of an era.

Read on.


Obama has never gone out of his way to relate to women. Only seven of his top twenty Senate staff positions are filled by women (McCain has thirteen of twenty) and women on Obama’s staff earn 83 cents for each dollar his male staffers are paid. (McCain pays his female staffers $1.04 for each dollar he pays to his men).

From the very first moment Obama entered the presidential race, feminists resented him for trying to stop Hillary from becoming the first woman to be elected president. In the minds of feminists, the fifteenth Amendment (giving blacks the vote) competed with the nineteenth (women’s suffrage) for national attention. Even though women had to wait more than fifty years longer than African-Americans to get the vote, feminists were in no mood to let a black man get elected in place of a white woman, especially if her name was Hillary Clinton.

Clearly the Obama/Clinton race triggered......

ABC News And "The Central Question:" Will Obama Be Scrutinized Next?

By Austin Hill
What an amazing escapade in broadcast journalism.

In his exclusive one-on-one interview with Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Charlie Gibson of ABC News began with what he characterized as “the central question:”

“Governor, let me start by asking you a question that I asked John McCain about you, and it is really the central question” he stated. “Can you look the country in the eye and say ‘I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just vice president, but perhaps president of the United States of America?’"

Great question, Charlie. And it should be the “central question” for anybody who seeks the presidency or vice presidency. So why is Governor Palin being asked this question now, while the question has not been posed to the other candidates that have participated in the 2008 election cycle? Read more.

Records show McCain more bipartisan

Washington Times

Sen. John McCain's record of working with Democrats easily outstrips Sen. Barack Obama's efforts with Republicans, according to an analysis by The Washington Times of their legislative records.

Whether looking at bills they have led on or bills they have signed onto, Mr. McCain has reached across the aisle far more frequently and with more members than Mr. Obama since the latter came to the Senate in 2005.

In fact, by several measures, Mr. McCain has been more likely to team up with Democrats than with members of his own party. Democrats made up 55 percent of his political partners over the last two Congresses, including on the tough issues of campaign finance and global warming. For Mr. Obama, Republicans were only 13 percent of his co-sponsors during his time in the Senate, and he had his biggest bipartisan successes on noncontroversial measures, such as issuing a postage stamp in honor of civil rights icon Rosa Parks. Read more.

BBC NEWS- Pakistan soldiers 'confront US'
Pakistani troops have fired shots into the air to stop US troops crossing into the South Waziristan region of Pakistan, local officials say.

Reports say nine US helicopters.....

CNSNews.com - Oil Falls Below $97 on Little Damage From Ike
Oil prices fell below $97 a barrel on Monday after Hurricane Ike inflicted minimal damage to oil installations on the Texas coast.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery declined $4.39 to $96.79 a barrel in electronic trading on.....

Contrary to ABC Report, Palin’s Global Warming Views Have Been Consistent
– In its exclusive interview with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, ABC News reported that she has “softened” her view on global warming and whether it is man-made, putting her closer in sync with John McCain. However, contrary to ABC, Palin has never said that human activity does not affect climate change, or that it does not.


McCain, RNC Advertise Intent to Spend ‘Millions More’ on Stem Cell Research
- Sen. John McCain’s Republican presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee released a radio ad Friday advertising McCain’s intention to join with his “Congressional allies” in spending millions in additional tax dollars on stem cell research. The language of the ad makes no distinction between research on adult stem cells or research on stem cells taken from human embryos that are destroyed in the process.

I have a hard time believing that Governor Palin is on board with this. There is no need to spend taxpayer's money on embryonic stem cell research. Let private money fund this if need be.

Adult stem cell and cells from umbilical cords is a different story.


Birth Control, Eugenics Advocate Honored With Postage Stamp
– Britain’s Royal Mail is under fire over a decision to honor a birth control pioneer and eugenicist who shared views on racial purity with the Nazis. Marie Stopes, who died in 1958, is one of six female pioneers commemorated in a series of postage stamps named “Women of Distinction,” which will be on sale from mid-October. Pro-life campaigners are outraged at the decision.


Higher (Priced) Education

By Burt Prelutsky
Oscar Wilde once described a cynic as a man who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. It makes me wonder, were he alive today, if he would characterize us as a country of cynics or merely dismiss us as a nation of fools.

I mean, how is it that Americans who lived hard scrabble lives 150 years ago could read, write, do math problems and..........

Giants Among the Lilliputians

By Kathleen Parker
CAMDEN, S.C. -- While the political class was focused on the meaning of pigs wearing lipstick, a few fortunate South Carolinians were riveted by the meaning of valor.

The occasion was a celebration of four of the state's living .........

You Can Put Lipstick on a Socialist—But He’s Still a Socialist

By Doug Giles
Did Obama put the pig dig to Palin this past week in Virginia? Personally, I think he did, nearly everyone else thinks he did, and judging from his fawning audience’s reaction they thought he did. But since he’s the Holy One and all that he says and does is just and true, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, okay?

It’s not okay?  (More)

Building the Right Framework

By Jackie Gingrich Cushman
When my grandmother (my mother’s mother) was born, women did not have the right to vote. In the rural area where she was born, it was expected she would always live there. She defied expectations, and her father’s wishes, moved to town and became a nurse. She was quite progressive for her time.

My mother went to college and earned a math degree, unusual for her time. When I graduated from high school,........

GOP: Democrats' plan leaves most oil off limits

Yahoo! News
WASHINGTON - House Republicans attacked a Democratic offshore drilling plan Friday for including a 50-mile coastal buffer that they said would leave untouched most of the 18 billion barrels of oil in waters now off-limits to energy companies.

Read more.

"Conscience is the most sacred of all property. "
-- James Madison

Refusing to Apologize
By Michael Medved

"Republicans accused Barack Obama of calling Sarah Palin a pig when he attacked GOP promises of reform with the old phrase: "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it?s still a pig." The audience whooped and hollered, delighted by apparent reference to Palin's quip at the Republican convention citing "lipstick" as the difference between pit bulls and hockey moms.

Obama's visible hesitation suggests he knew he might get into trouble for the line. Moreover, his refusal to apologize, and insistence on attacking Republicans for objecting to his words, keeps the issue alive. When John Kerry joked about those with poor educations "getting stuck in Iraq," he angrily denounced his critics, rather than apologizing--giving the issue added resonance and ruining his presidential prospects. Similarly, Obama's determination to fight over this issue is the self-destructive mistake of an increasingly insecure candidate."