Friday, December 28, 2007

Why I don't believe in Manmade Global Warming

*Al Gore is not a scientist

*I am not interested in "global Salvationism".

*Environmentalism is usually an excuse for more government control over your life. Has it ever been an excuse for less?

*Leading "greens" oppose affordable energy.

*Environmentalists want to prosecute those who disagree with them.

*Climate is always changing.

*The sun's activity correllates more closely to global temperatures than CO2 levels do.

*Global warming likely will be a net past warmings have always been.

*Many climate experts doubt the media-proclaimed global warming alarmism.

*It is the greens who seek to censor science and intimidate dissent and debate.

*The South Pole is getting colder.

*Most polar bear populations are thriving even if Al Gore falsely says they cannot swim).

*Not a single hurricane hit the USA in 2006.

*Enron lobbied Gore and worked with green groups in support of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

*Those "responsible" businesses happen to stand to profit from otherwise ineffective environmental laws.

*Green groups get millions from major corporations.

*Many journalists proclaim a duty to present only one side in climate debates

*The media have alternated between global cooling scares and global warming for a century.

*Gore warns of 20-foot sea level rises, but the UN says sea level will continue its slow and steady rise, anywhere from 4 inches to under three feet in the next century.

*Carbon dioxide taxes and rationing schemes are regressive: they disproportionately affect poor people and seniors.

*Renewable fuels cannot meet today's demands, let alone the world's growing needs.

*Global sea levels have been rising for centuries.

The modern environmentalist movement is generally "anti" something, and that something is typically related to growth: economic growth, population growth, physical development, or simply the individual property rights necessary for growth. It is also extremely anticapitalist (communism anyone?) as well as anti-human and anti-American. Sadly, their motivation is not a love of biological diversity or horticulture, nor a desire to expand animal habitats and so on. We have been taught by the government to be very, very afraid, successively, of AIDS, Saddam Hussein, BSE, terrorists, SARS, bird flu, and now global warming, and I just ain't buying it, folks.....

And then there are their own quotes:

"Every time someone dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned." George Monbiot

"We should have war crimes for these bastards--some sort of climate Nuremberg." David Roberts

"Scientists who want to attract attention to themselves, who want to attract great funding to themselves, have to find a way to scare the public....and this you can achieve only by making things bigger and more dangerous than they are." Petr Chylek

So, finally, the "settled" theory of catastrophic Manmade global warming is that it is not catastrophic, Manmade, nor global. The entire Southern Hemisphere as a whole is not experiencing any statistically significant warming and Al Gore utterly ignores the real reasons for increases in various weather-related damages--more people and more wealth situated in more flood-prone or storm-prone areas. The sea levels around the globe have been rising, for the last 8,000 years and will continue to do so at varying rates until the next ice age. CO2 levels have nothing to do with temperature levels across the planet but it will increase the biodiversity of the planet by extending animal and plant ranges. In fact, according to the fossil record, over 450 million years ago CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are today, but the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years.

So there you have it....


NATO, Arabs, and China

NATO Plans To Invade
The Russian parliament has approved the suspension of the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. This treaty was a Cold War effort, hammered out after years of negotiations in the 1980s, that limited the size and composition of Russian armed forces in western Russia (and thus able to threaten Western Europe.)

The Treaty became moot about a year after it was signed, and is a largely useless relic of the Cold War. But now Russia is threatening to build up combat forces on its Western borders, in response to a government approved conspiracy theory that NATO is planning to eventually invade Russia. Senior Russian officials openly talk about this, and many Russians believe it as well.

Fatal Jealousy
One thing that keeps the Islamic world favorably disposed towards Islamic terrorism is widespread fear and hatred of the Western world. Opinion surveys continue to show that Moslems hate and fear the West, more than Westerns hate and fear Moslems (despite the growth of Islamic terrorism.)

The fear comes largely from the poor economic, political and scientific performance of the Moslem, especially the Arab, world when compared to the West. It's a perverse expression of jealousy and resentment. There are practical reasons for this lack of progress. For example, the Arab world didn’t adopt printing until two centuries after it became common in the West. This was partly due to the complexities of written Arabic. There are thousands of rules governing how Arabic letters are joined, and it was difficult for typographers to make it work. A further complication was resistance from the Islamic religious establishment. Printed Arabic had to be very much like written Arabic, otherwise one was defaming the language of the Koran, which is God’s word. This is one of the reasons the Arab world publishes books at a tenth the rate of the rest of the world. The lack of books leads to knowledge being transmitted more slowly.

That brings up another obstacle. For a thousand years, there has been a struggle between a large segment of the Islamic clergy, and Moslem scientists and engineers. In a pattern that persists to the present, Islamic conservatives condemned many things that are “new” as “un-Islamic.” Thus the al Qaeda enthusiasm for this attitude is nothing new. The price paid for this attitude has been enormous. Moslem countries contain a disproportionate number of the illiterates on the planet. Arab college students are much less likely to study science and engineering than are non-Moslem students. The West produces more than a hundred times as many Nobel prizes in science, per million people, than does the Islamic world.

The education shortage results in less wealth. GDP of all Islamic countries is a fifth of the European Union and the United States (which contain half as many people.) Unemployment rates are much higher in Islamic countries, and most are ruled by dictators or monarchs. Without science, education and democracy, you find that science and economic progress cannot flourish. It’s only recently become fashionable among Moslems to attribute this to internal conditions. The Arab Reform Movement tries, with limited success, to overcome this “blame the outsider” attitude. Even the Saudi royal family is behind the Arab Reform Movement, and the need for the Islamic world to invest more in education and economic freedom. But thousand year old habits are difficult to erase quickly. This is why Westerners can speak with educated Moslems and come away thinking that friendly relations between the Western and Islamic world are more likely than not. But among the vast majority of poorly educated, and often illiterate, Moslems, the West is feared and hated. Moslem tyrants play on this, as they have for centuries, to blame the misery the tyrants have created on infidel (non-Moslem) foreigners.

This instinctive Islamic ill-will towards the West changes very slowly, and until it changes a lot, easily recruited Islamic terrorists will feel compelled to kill Westerners.

Hot Line With America
China and the United States have agreed to establish a hot line between the Pentagon and the Chinese Defense Ministry. This would make it easier to defuse any accidental (or intentional) confrontations between U.S. and Chinese military forces. Such a hot line has been under discussion since early 2001, when a Chinese fighter collided with an American patrol aircraft off the Chinese coast.

Taiwan recently revealed that it was manufacturing longer range (over a thousand kilometer) cruise missiles, and aiming them at China. The United States was alarmed at this, fearing it was now easier to get dragged into a Taiwan-China war. In response, Taiwan promised to notify the U.S. before any of these new missiles were fired at China. Taiwan is building up its missile force in response to the 988 ballistic missiles China has aimed at Taiwan.

Although Taiwan and China are quite hostile to each other, the same cannot be said about Taiwanese and Chinese. Some 400,000 Taiwanese (out of a population of 23 million) live in China. Each year, Taiwanese make 46 million visits to China, and Chinese make 1.56 million visits to Taiwan.

Russia and China have established an informal "free trade for weapons" alliance. Basically, both nations support each other in selling weapons to anyone who can pay. This includes international pariahs like Burma, North Korea, Iran and several African dictatorships. The Western custom of not selling to those perceived as evil is not a factor here. The ability to pay is. The only nation China opposes weapons sales to is Taiwan, and that's only because China believes it may one day have to fight Taiwan in order to annex it. Think of it as free trade free of any moral constraints.

“This Is America. So Sue Me.”
We’ve been following the case of Joe Vento for some time, but for those of you who may not be familiar with it, here’s a brief history. Mr. Vento is the owner of Geno’s Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. Vento started the restaurant in 1966 with just six dollars to his name. Today, Geno’s is a popular tourist stop and a thriving, multi-million dollar business. Through hard work and dedication, Mr. Vento has become a living example of the American Dream. In 2005, Mr. Vento put up a sign in his restaurant that read, “This is America. When ordering, please speak English.” Guess what happened next. Mr. Vento was slapped with a discrimination complaint by the bureaucrats at the Philadelphia Human Rights Commission.

Last week, he was grilled by the grand inquisitors of political correctness for six hours as he defended his First Amendment right to put up a sign in his own business and ask that his customers speak the language of our country. According to the Associated Press, “…a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania testified that Vento's signs harken back to the ‘Whites only’ postings of the Jim Crow era.” Asking customers to speak English is now being equated with racism. As outrageous as this is, it shouldn’t be a total surprise. In recent years militant homosexual activists have tried to insist that anyone who believes marriage is between a man and a woman is a bigot! Sadly, Vento may lose his business over this silliness, but there is a much bigger case looming on the horizon.

Although the overwhelming majority of the American people support making English our official language, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an agency of our federal government, announced in April that it was suing the Salvation Army over its requirement that employees speak English on the job. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) attached an amendment to the EEOC’s budget that withholds funds for this lawsuit. On November 8th, the House narrowly approved a similar amendment on a vote of 218-to-186. (It should have been unanimous!) But, I’m sorry to say, this language was dropped from the omnibus spending bill by the majority party during closed door negotiations.

My friends, our nation is in deep trouble when normalcy is decried as bigotry; when common sense values that unite us are forced to give way to political correctness that divides us. Teddy Roosevelt once wrote: “We have room but for one flag, the American flag… We have room but for one language here and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality…; we have room for but one soul [sic] loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.” Roosevelt was right then, and, if this nation is going to remain free and prosperous, we must have the courage to boldly and unapologetically defend our values today

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Chopping Block

A very serious crisis is now looming in defense aquisition for the Defense Department. Skyrocketing costs in purchasing new weapons are now so absurdly high that only a few hundred or few dozen units of fighters and ships can now be bought without bankrupting the United States. Ridiculously priced aircraft like the F-22 (estimated cost of $200 million per airplane) to the new Littoral Combat Ship (price is $350 million and climbing) is seriously hampering the ability of the Pentagon to buy new weapons while replacing old and worn out equipment. The individual cost of nearly all new weapon systems have caused the total collapse of any new helicopter program and is primed to scuttle the US Navy from an all-important 600 ship fleet to below 300 vessels, which is clearly not enough warships to police the seas.

Part of the problem is former US military officials being hired by defense companies to lobby the Department of Defense and Congress, a clear violation of ethics and defense preparedness standards. These lobbyists work the corridors of Congress and the Pentagon, trying to get officials in those hallowed halls to buy any and all their projects, even if they are not needed. This costs the US taxpayers billions of dollars in unnecessary waste and threatens the financial stability of the DOD.

Second, the overall scheme of defense contracting needs to be re-evaluated. The current trend in military spending has basically gutted the defense industry, leaving just a few ultra-large companies vying for defense dollars. This is a very serious problem because if just one or two companies can build the planes that the US military desperately needs, these companies apparently have no qualms about adding cost overruns that grow to hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was a brand new series of vessels (corvette-sized) that were intended to be cheaper than destroyers and frigates plus do more jobs that both of those ships could do. Estimated costs were less than $200 million per warship but under Lockheed Martin's disastrous construction and oversight, the cost of the first LCS ballooned to over $350 million per vessel, almost double the original estimate, which caused the US Navy to pull the plug on this important program.

I believe cost overruns like this are intentional since Lockheed Martin knows that the US Navy cannot just go down the hall to the their competitors and order the same ship. Such actions on the part of Lockheed are nearly criminal and should be stopped, and here's how:

The Chopping Block
My (simple) idea is that the top 100 leaders in a company will be listed with any new contract. If a ship or plane program goes over budget, then these 100 people cannot work on any new project for the entire US government, period. By holding the leaders of each company accountable, it will force them to avoid cost overruns like the plague and the US military will be able to afford the equipment it needs. As of now, the US Air Force wants to buy the F-22, but it can only afford around 200 of the planes. This is absurd and the defense contractors MUST be held accountable for all financial disasters in critically important programs like the F-22 and LCS.

A second idea is to break up all design groups in defense companies into small "think tank" like organizations. Each think tank would design a weapon system and individual companies would vie for the contract to build the item. If a specific defense contractor company went over budget, it could be handed off to another defense contractor for production instead.

After looking at the billions and billions of dollars wasted on programs like the Comanche and the Sergeant York, the US Congress and Pentagon needs to wise up and reshape how buying military equipment is done. After all, it's our money....

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Pro-Environment, Anti-Family?
While delegates from every corner of the globe are gathered in Bali to hammer out a new environmental treaty, there have been several reports in recent days casting some doubt on the science of global warming and the underpinnings of this new protocol effort. For example, researchers from the Universities of Rochester, Alabama and Virginia have found that observable measurements (i.e. reality) are not matching up to the predictions of computer-generated climate change models. They believe, according to their research, that “what’s causing the warming are changes in the sun.” They also note, “We have to remember that the climate has always been changing ever since we have records… We know that there have been huge climate changes on earth…” Moreover, Brazil’s MetSul Weather Center reports that snow and ice in the Arctic is within one percent of normal (winter hasn’t even started yet!), and ice on the southern polar ice cap has grown substantially compared to last year.

Now, we can reasonably and rationally debate the science and seriousness of global warming, but I’ve been arguing for some time that there is a hidden agenda lurking behind much of the hype. Cloaked in concern for the environment, it is becoming increasingly obvious that this movement is just another attempt by the Left to control our economy and your life. For years conservatives and pro-family advocates in this country have fought for family-friendly tax policies, such as the per-child tax credit. But the radical Left has something else in mind for your family – all in the name of saving the planet, of course.

Recently, a west Australian medical expert published an article calling for families with more than two children to pay a $5,000-plus “baby levy” at birth and an annual carbon tax of up to $800 per child to pay for enough trees to offset the carbon emissions generated over each child’s lifetime. It’s not a major leap to go from punitive taxation to a ban on childbearing, much like communist China’s one-child policy, which has led to forced abortions and sterilizations. But to prove just how extreme some in the environmentalist movement are, a heart-wrenching story appeared recently in the British media about women who have chosen not to have children because, as one woman put it, “…a baby would pollute the planet -- and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do.”

Sadly, another woman interviewed for the article was so brainwashed by this pro-environment/anti-family ideology that when she learned she was pregnant, she was so horrified she got an abortion and spent the next two years searching for a doctor who would sterilize her. The sacrifice of her child in the womb for the sake of the environment reminds me of the ancient civilizations whose people would ritually sacrifice babies on alters to appease pagan earth gods. While I do believe it is imperative that we are good stewards of the environment, I am mindful that we worship the Creator and not the creation. When our priorities become so grossly distorted, it is inevitable that public policy will become equally distorted.

The Left’s Hatred
Americans were shocked this week when news broke that a gunman had opened fire on a Christian missionary center and a mega-church in Colorado, killing four and wounding several others. It was even more disturbing to learn that the shooter was motivated by a bizarre hatred of Christians, as were the Columbine killers and the Virginia Tech murderer. Where does such hatred come from? Here’s one example.

Our staff regularly monitors the websites of the radical Left – just to know what the opposition is up to. This morning we were stunned to find a post on the site of a homosexual blogger (who has been on a crusade to “out” Republican members of Congress) that reads, “It’s official!!!! Democrats are a bunch of [expletive] wimps.” His ever-so-tolerant post provided a link to a roll call vote taken in the House of Representatives this week. What could lead a homosexual activist to level such invective at the Democrats? Needless to say, we were very curious. Had the new majority suddenly reversed course and passed the marriage protection amendment or banned homosexual adoptions? What earth-shattering news had we missed? Are you ready for this? On Tuesday, the House overwhelmingly voted in support of a resolution recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith in the founding of the United States and formation of Western Civilization. Amazingly, the rage of this militant homosexual activist was focused on the fact that only nine Democrats voted against the resolution recognizing Christmas and Christianity.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Behind the Kitty Hawk Spat

US, Chinese hold military talks amid strains over port calls
by Andrei Chang
Hong Kong (UPI) Dec 3, 2007

Senior US and Chinese defense officials opened two days of security talks here Monday amid strained relations over Beijing's denial of US naval visits to Hong Kong. The Chinese government late last week formally notified the Pentagon that it is refusing a request for a port call in Hong Kong over the New Year's holiday by the guided missile frigate USS Reuben James, a Pentagon spokesman said. "It is hard to believe that is not a topic of ongoing discussion," spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters, referring to the naval visits.

Top US military officials expressed surprise and anger last week after China abruptly cancelled a long-planned Hong Kong port call over November 21-24 by the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and its battle group. Officials said Beijing also turned away two minesweepers seeking refuge from a storm and a US military flight to resupply the US consulate in Hong Kong, sparking one of the sharpest diplomatic rows since 2001. Whitman said the defense consultative talks had long been scheduled, and the fact that they are being held shows that the Defense Department wants good military relations with Beijing. "The United States Defense Department values this relationship and are only going to try to strengthen it through dialogue with their Chinese counterparts," he said. Agenda items include US-Chinese military relations, global and regional security issues, the war on terror, and missile defense, he said. Eric Edelman, the undersecretary of defense for policy, is leading the US delegation.

The Chinese delegation is led by Lieutenant General Ma Xiaotian, the People's Liberation Army's deputy chief of general staff for foreign affairs. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Beijing in early November, and called for greater US-Chinese military contacts and a longer term strategic dialogue to avoid misunderstandings and miscalculation. Relations between the two powers have been colored by a Chinese military buildup that the Pentagon believes is aimed at thwarting US intervention in a conflict over Taiwan, and ultimately challenging its access to the region. US suspicions intensified in January after a Chinese anti-satellite test in which a ballistic missile was used to destroy a Chinese weather satellite in low Earth orbit. Top Pentagon officials have warned that China will be able to disrupt US military satellites in a regional conflict within three years.

Ever since former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui put forward his two-state theory in 1996 -- implying that Taiwan and China were separate states -- the U.S. aircraft carrier battle group has quickly made an appearance in Hong Kong whenever tensions arose in the Taiwan Strait. The appearance of the USS Kitty Hawk has marked particularly significant occasions, compared with visits by other aircraft carriers. On March 6, 2004, ahead of Taiwan's presidential election and a referendum on whether the island should acquire anti-missile weapons to defend itself against mainland China, it was the same Kitty Hawk that visited Hong Kong.

There are strong signals that Beijing's refusal to permit the Kitty Hawk to enter Hong Kong for the Thanksgiving holiday had to do with the U.S. decision to sell Taiwan an upgrade to three sets of Patriot II ground-to-air missiles, with a price tag of approximately $930 million. The decision was announced by the U.S. administration right after Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to Beijing on Nov. 5.

First of all, from Beijing's perspective, the timing of the announcement was sensitive. The U.S. approval of the sale ahead of Taiwan's March presidential election and referendum on joining the United Nations sends Taipei the wrong signal, in Beijing's view.

Second, the upgraded Patriot II technology is intended to boost Taiwan's capability to intercept ballistic missiles, and Beijing thinks this procurement will undermine strategic stability in the Taiwan Strait. Beijing is consistently sensitive to such arms sales to Taiwan.

Thirdly, the U.S. decision to sell arms to Taiwan immediately following a top-level military visit to China is out of line with the traditional Chinese mindset. To Beijing, this was a serious betrayal and a huge loss of face.

Some have speculated that President Bush's meeting with the Dalai Lama was a factor in China's decision to block the Kitty Hawk from Hong Kong. Beijing is taking an increasingly hysterical stance on the danger of simultaneous crises over independence erupting in Tibet and Taiwan. Nonetheless, this doesn't appear to be the root cause of Beijing's decision. China's behavior has been consistent over the past 10 years of U.S.-China interactions. Ever since former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping introduced the strategic principle of reducing friction with the United States, Beijing has held that political tensions should be handled by political means, economic conflicts should be resolved through economic means, and the Taiwan issue should be treated as a regional security matter. Tibet has never been an issue in the U.S.-China military and strategic relationship. Japan also received the Dalai Lama this month, and yet the PLA navy's No. 167 guided-missile destroyer visited Japan last week as originally scheduled.

Why would Beijing then change its mind and grant last-minute permission for the Kitty Hawk to enter Hong Kong, and why did the United States respond by refusing this offer?

The relationship between major powers is sometimes like that between a man and a woman; there is a constant struggle for dominance. The USS Kitty Hawk had already arrived in Hong Kong waters when Beijing denied berthing permission. Beijing's message was simple: The United States cannot take its welcome for granted; it should not forget that China holds decision-making power in this part of the world. Having sent that message, it could then allow the ship entry on "humanitarian grounds."

On the other hand, Washington's decision not to anchor the Kitty Hawk after this reversal sent the message that the United States is not to be trifled with. The United States then retaliated against Beijing's snub by sailing the aircraft carrier group through the Taiwan Strait on the way to its home port in Japan. Since the beginning of this year, this writer has warned on several occasions that the situation in the Taiwan Strait is at its highest risk since the end of the Cold War; it is relaxed on the surface but extremely tense underneath.

It happened that the Kitty Hawk's appearance in the area coincided with large-scale joint exercises between the Chinese air force and navy in the vicinity of Taiwan. The People's Liberation Army's air force was conducting an unprecedented fighter transfer exercise with the East and South China Sea Fleets, the largest such war games so far this year. As many as nine airports, including those in Shanghai and Guangzhou, were under military aviation control from Nov. 18-25. Nearly 10,000 passengers were stuck in airports across the region as hundreds of commercial flights were postponed during the exercises.

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It is worth noting that these exercises were conducted simultaneously in both the Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions, obviously aimed at practicing coordinated combat operations between the two commands. Almost all the crack air force units of the two regions were involved. Controlling such a large fleet of aviation units with a traditional Soviet-style ground-based command system would be virtually impossible. Thus, it was no surprise that Chinese Internet bloggers claimed they saw KJ200 AWACS in the air space over Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuxi, which would have allowed effective coordination and command from the air.

Also in mid-November, the PLA navy's South and East Sea Fleets held a large-scale joint exercise involving guided-missile destroyers and frigates and at least three Type 022 missile boats in a series of concerted operations. The fleet comprised the navy's crack systems and the exercises called for coordinated use of its best weapon systems. The navy's new-generation battleships are fitted with tactical data link systems, giving them an improved ability to coordinate combat operations.

As tensions remain high in the region, China is readying itself for any challenge. Under these circumstances, the military spat between the United States and China sends a warning from each side to the other not to act rashly.

US Soldiers, Weapons, and Boeing

Anti-War Radicals Attack US Soldiers via Mail
According to television news today, the US Post Office at the request of the Pentagon is no longer accepting holiday packages for "Any US Soldier" during the holiday season. This ban includes cards as well, all of which will either be returned to the sender or thrown away. Why is this happening? Last year, the Pentagon received numerous complaints by soldiers within the US military that stated that anonymous packages sent from the US included vile and hate-filled messages to the random US military personnel that received them. Also, tainted products like cookies, mouthwash, and toothpaste were also sent using this system. Urine filled mouthwash bottles and toothpaste with hot sauce and mace inside were sent to random soldiers using the popular "To Any US Soldier" system and hate-filled left-wing anti-war activists were to blame. While the Pentagon said that it also wanted to avoid Al Qaeda being able to send US military personnel lethal Christmas gifts, the real effort behind the ban was to stop vicious anti-war activists from trying to hurt or discourage US military personnel during the holiday season. These sorts of left-wing attacks are just despicable and unjustified, but something we are now coming to expect from the radical leftist haters here in America.

Finish First, Fix Later
Does the Navy need a lesson from its own history? Cancellation of the second General Dynamics Littoral Combat Ship, "LCS-4," on November 1st points up a problem that has plagued innovative American military technology development programs since the 1950s. The ship was cancelled because of "cost overruns." The original estimated cost per LCS was $220 million, but it kept rising as the first General Dynamics ship, the USS Independence (LCS-2), began construction. In response, the Navy tried to get General Dynamics to change the contract from "cost plus" to "fixed cost." In a "cost plus" contract, the Navy pays whatever the ship costs, plus a profit to the builder, while a "fixed cost" contract has the Navy pay a set amount, and any the cost over that has to be eaten by the builder. General Dynamics refused. Meanwhile the rose to $350 million, and kept going; When it hit $375 million the Navy pulled the plug.

Why did the costs rise? Well, one reason is that the General Dynamics design is pretty innovative. Among other things, it's an aluminum trimaran, a three-hulled vessel with a whole lot of new ideas and technologies. But that's only part of the problem. The main problem with the LCS, and with most post-1950s innovations in military equipment, is that the military keeps changing the specs. Even small changes may have "cascading" effects, as existing plans have to be changed. In some cases completed work may have to be modified or even ripped out, to accommodate the new idea. Sometimes changes follow on changes, and work may have to be redone several times, to insure that the latest nifty innovations are included in the ship. Naturally this costs money, in labor and materials, and also takes time, so that the ship is delivered later than planned.

There's a simple solution to this problem, one that worked very well during World War II, when the Navy was buying ships in huge lots. It was simply this; no new idea gets put into a vessel already under construction. During World War II the Navy determined that it was easier to complete a ship, even an aircraft carrier, to the original design, rather than interrupt work to allow changes. Once completed to the original design, a ship could be sent to a shipyard for the modifications needed to adapt it to the new, improved design (unless she was desperately needed with the fleet, and then her "boring old design" was probably perfectly suited to the mission anyway). Experience proved that doing things this way took less time and less money than trying to introduce modifications during construction. After the war, unfortunately, this intelligent approach was quickly forgotten.

Other examples of the services' penchant for shoving more and more nifty new stuff into a design, thereby causing the costs to go out of control, and often leading to the cancellation of a project: American tank development since the 1950s, ditto aircraft, etc., etc. Sometimes old ideas work best.

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US jet intercepts ballistic missile for first time
Dec 4, 2007
A US F-16 fighter used an air-to-air missile to destroy a sounding rocket in its boost phase for the first time this week in a test of a new missile defense concept, US spokesmen said Tuesday. The system -- named the Net-Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCDE) -- breaks new ground in that it would arm fighter aircraft or drones with missiles fast enough to intercept a ballistic missile as it lifts into space. The aircraft would have to get to within a 100 miles of the launch site to catch the ascending missile in the first two to three minutes after launch. But it could be very useful in a short range combat situation against short and medium range missiles, said Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the US Missile Defense Agency.

The Pentagon has two other better known boost phase intercept systems under development -- the Airborne Laser and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor -- but those are still years away from being ready, he said. "So it does give us an initial boost phase capability even though it is a much shorter range missile, and you have to be in the area of the missile launch to be effective," Lehner said. The test Monday at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico involved an F-16 fighter that fired two modified AIM-9X missile at an Orion sounding or research rocket. The first destroyed the rocket and the second recorded the interception, the Pentagon's missile defense agency said.

The missile seekers' relayed images of the rocket at close range, demonstrating the capability to acquire and track the target, the Pentagon's missile defense agency said. "Although not unexpected, the subsequent intercept destroyed the target," it said. "A second AIM-9X launched during the test observed through its seeker the intercept of the target by the first and was also on a trajectory to intercept the target," the agency said. Besides special seekers, AIM-9X and AIM-20 AAMRAM are fitted with a new liquid propellant second stage to give it the burst of speed needed to catch a ballistic missile in its boost phase.

Lehner said the missiles were heavily instrumented during the test, but otherwise conditions were "pretty realistic."

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Boeing Installs High-Energy Laser On Laser Gunship Aircraft
St. Louis MO (SPX) Dec 11, 2007
The Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL), which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Department of Defense, will destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations.

Boeing has installed a high-energy chemical laser aboard a C-130H aircraft, achieving a key milestone for the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program. Boeing completed the laser installation Dec. 4 at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. The laser, including its major subsystem, a 12,000-pound integrated laser module, was moved into place aboard the aircraft and aligned with the previously-installed beam control system, which will direct the laser beam to its target.

With the laser installed, Boeing is set to conduct a series of tests leading up to a demonstration in 2008 in which the program will fire the laser in-flight at mission-representative ground targets to demonstrate the military utility of high-energy lasers. The test team will fire the laser through a rotating turret that extends through the aircraft's belly.

"The installation of the high-energy laser shows that the ATL program continues to make tremendous progress toward giving the warfighter a speed-of-light, precision engagement capability that will dramatically reduce collateral damage," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. "Next year, we will fire the laser at ground targets, demonstrating the military utility of this transformational directed energy weapon."

The program achieved two other major milestones earlier this year. "Low-power" flight tests were completed in June at Kirtland; the ATL aircraft used its flight demonstration hardware and a low-power laser to find and track moving and stationary ground targets. The flight demonstration hardware includes the beam control system; weapon system consoles, which display high-resolution imagery and enable the tracking of targets; and sensors.

The low-power laser, a surrogate for the high-energy laser, hit its intended target in each of more than a dozen tests. Also, in late July, the high-energy laser concluded laboratory testing at the Davis Advanced Laser Facility at Kirtland, demonstrating reliable operations in more than 50 firings.

ATL, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Department of Defense, will destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations. Boeing's Advanced Tactical Laser industry team includes L-3 Communications/Brashear, which made the laser turret, and HYTEC, Inc., which made various structural elements of the weapon system.

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In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right. Ellen Goodman

Friday, November 30, 2007

Save the Teddy Bear Teacher!

(or why you cannot rationalize with muslims)

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Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad."

"No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."

More here.

The BIG Bill for Saving the World
You know, I always knew that the man-made global warming thing was a scam, but now the bill has come in on it and it's huge:

Helping the world's poor adapt to more floods, droughts and other changes from a warming planet will cost the richest nations at least $86 billion a year by 2015. "They must have help from the rich world," said Claes Johnasson, a co-author of the report commissioned by the U.N. Development Program. The report recommends the biggest share be paid by the United States and other rich nations, based on aid targets and financing calculations by the World Bank and Group of Eight major industrialized nations.

"We're suggesting 1.6 percent of (global) GDP - still very affordable," Kjorven said. "The countries of the world that are the principal culprits, if you wish, for creating this problem in the first place need to act strongly to safeguard the future of those that have done nothing to cause this problem but are the most vulnerable."

The Gangs of Iraq Are Killing Each Other Off
The Gangs of Iraq are killing each other off. What it has come down to is the gangs, militias and organizations that have been making a living planting roadside bombs and carrying out contract hits on American and Iraqi troops for the last three years, are being defeated by tribal and community groups fed up with the constant violence. The terrorist activity of the last three years was paid for by kidnapping, extortion, black market gasoline and so on, and wealthy Sunni Arabs eager to put the Baath party back into power. Religious leaders, who often took fees for allowing their mosques to be used as armories and safe houses, also preached against the heretical Shia, who now ruled the country. Now the pro-peace Sunni Arab clergy have displaced the pro-violence imams, and established their own "Council of Religious Scholars" to prove it.

Generally unnoticed over the last two years was a growing revolt within the Sunni Arab community. The Sunni Arab nationalists, the guys who supported Saddam and what he represented, did not have the backing of all Sunni Arabs. Neither did Saddam. And after Saddam fell, the fighting between Sunni Arabs began. Many Sunni Arabs greeted the Americans, and the prospect of democracy, with enthusiasm. These Sunni Arabs found themselves threatened by their fellow Sunnis, and distrusted by the majority Kurds and Shia. But the anti-Saddam Sunni Arabs have grown in number over the last three years, aided in part by the departure (for Syria, Jordan or internal exile) of nearly half the Sunni Arab community.

The tipping point occurred this year, as the anti-terrorist Sunni Arabs became numerous enough to defeat the terrorist groups. The fighting continues, and serious violence will probably not end until sometime next year. Many of the terrorist groups have roots in the community, or simply will not flee or quit. They will fight to the death. But many others are giving up, or sticking to less murderous criminal activities. There's still money to be made in kidnapping, extortion and stealing. The Iraqi economy has continued to boom since 2003, so there's a lot more to steal.

All these changes have been a boon for foreign journalists. It's safe enough now for these reporters to get out among the Iraqi people. There's still plenty of violence and tragedy to report, and now it can be done personally, rather than through Iraqi stringers. American troops are noting a dramatic reduction in violence against them. Earlier this year, the average American brigade encountered about half a dozen IEDs (roadside bombs) a day, and nearly as many incidents of gunfire directed at their patrols. That violence has gone down by more than half. Many neighborhoods are safe enough to stop and walk around in, and even do a little shopping. Getting local souvenirs for the folks back home has become popular. More Iraqis, especially the kids, come out to practice their English. Lots of Iraqis are learning English. Lots of Iraqis want to get out of Iraq and go to America. Lots of Iraqis already in America, and they tell the folks back in the old country that there have been no Islamic terrorist bombs going off in America since September 11, 2001. It's safe in America, and it's getting safer in Iraq.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Archbishop, Ron Paul, and the Teddy Bear

To the Archbishop of Canterbury
When your heritage is genocide, wars of aggression, or cowardly surrender, then the record of the United States must be nearly impossible to bear. No continent has exported as much misery and slaughter as Europe has done. Since the end of World War 2 every conflict in which the United States has been involved with has been to some degree a legacy of Europe's colonial era--including the liberation of that Frankenstein's monster of a state, Iraq.We are cleaning up the messes left by Paris, Berlin, and even London, while the Europeans chide us self-righteously. No one should ever doubt that Americans are the most generous and greatest force for good in human history. Period.

On Ron Paul
As I look over Ron Paul's supporters I find an imposing collection of neo-Nazis, white Supremacists, Holocaust deniers, 9/11 'truthers' and other paranoid and discredited conspiracists. He has the passionate support of the Legion of Doom and his campaign lunchroom looks like the "Star Wars" cantina. I try to ignore Paul like an eccentric who sits too close to you on the bus ;)

Paris Violence Ramps Up
The rioting in France entered its third day last night, and events took an ominous turn. A French police official said that “genuine urban guerrillas with conventional weapons” were now involved. European news broadcasts available online show Muslim rioters firing shotguns at reporters and policemen. Over 100 police officers have been injured, at least thirty of them hit by buckshot. Six officers were in serious condition after being shot at close range, several of them in the face. Most media reports continue to describe the rioting thugs as “youth” or, in a few cases, as “Arab and black children.”

But here is the reality that continues to be ignored. Many of the areas where rioting took place in 2005, and is taking place now, are considered “no go zones” by police, firemen and medical emergency vehicles because they are too dangerous. Whole neighborhoods are outside the control of French government authorities on a daily basis. These neighborhoods are often “ruled” by a bizarre combination of radical Muslims, drug gangs and petty criminals. These are the same criminals who have terrorized commuters in Paris, gang-raped French women and attacked French Jews. France’s new government, under the pro-American President Nicolas Sarkozy, is facing a key test of its ability to confront the growing threat to its nation.

Left Shrugs At Islamic Injustice
The government of Sudan today charged British school teacher Gillian Gibbons with “insulting religion and inciting hatred” for allowing her students to name a class teddy bear “Muhammad.” Gibbons was arrested on Sunday at Unity High School in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, after one of her student’s parents complained to government authorities about the name. The charge was filed even though one of Gibbons’ seven-year-old students told authorities that he chose the teddy bear’s name after his own name and that most of the class agreed with his choice. A Sudanese government spokesman, however, called Gibbons’ conduct “unacceptable,” and she now faces six months in prison, a fine and up to 40 lashes under Sudan’s Islamic law-based legal system.

Islamic fundamentalists in Sudan are even calling for demonstrations after Friday prayers, when most followers of the faith in Sudan attend mosque and congregate together. It is not surprising that this story comes from Sudan, whose government is in the midst of a five-year-long campaign of genocide that has taken the lives of over 300,000 of its own people in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Unfortunately, this type of distorted justice is far from uncommon in the Islamic world. Earlier this month a 19-year-old Muslim woman was sentenced to 90 lashings under Saudi Arabian law. What was her offense? The young woman had been beaten and gang-raped but was being punished for violating the country’s laws on segregation because she had traveled to the location of the rape in a car with an unrelated man. Though seven men were convicted for the brutal rapes, their punishments ranged from a mere two to nine years in prison. Even worse, when the young victim appealed her ridiculous sentence, the court increased her punishment to 200 lashes and six-months in prison.

Not surprisingly, western liberals have been less than eager to discuss these cases. When asked to comment on the Gibbons case, a spokeswoman for the National Organization for Women (NOW) said the situation “is definitely on the radar, and NOW is not ignoring it.” But the spokeswoman for NOW, whose mission statement is “to take action to bring about equality for all women,” added that the group is “not putting out a statement or taking a position.” Of course what more can we expect from a group that has refused to condemn gender selection abortion in China and the mistreatment of Muslim women in Afghanistan and Iran? The very same liberals who accuse religious conservatives in America of trying to impose a “theocracy” merely because we oppose abortion-on-demand and gay “marriage” become conspicuously quiet when genuine theocracies mete out their brutal and unjust punishments.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pakistan: How we Got Here and What to do Now

Pakistan: in many ways this country is both a success story and at the same time a failure for the United States. We supported the muslims in Pakistan for decades against their Hindu rivals in neighboring India, but we never get credit for it from the Islamic world. In fact, there was a very good chance that India was going to nuke Pakistan in 1990 until President Bush told both countries to stand down. That war would have killed millions but no credit is given to Republican Presidents by the left-stream media, ever. In fact, the situation in Pakistan is so serious that many people in senior government positions go to bed worrying that tomorrow the 100 or so nuclear weapons that Pakistan has may fall into the hands of Islamic radicals. How did we get here? Here's a small summary:

Since it's creation in 1947, the government of Pakistan has been fairly secular: women had the right to vote and Islamic laws were not on the books of the judiciary. However, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan took a serious turn off the rails of intelligent civilization. The Pakistani President at the time, General Zia al-Huq, sought to prevent the takeover of his country by arming radical Islamic rebels to fight the "godless" soldiers of the Soviets in the backwaters of Afghanistan. He also began major funding for religious madrassas that taught only Islamic law from a Wahhabi viewpoint; strict, militant, and with fervor. Eventually these students grew up and entered Pakistani society, with radical muslims now penetrating large sections of the Pakistani military and intelligence services. This is why Pakistan is reaching a critical boiling point. Benazir Bhutto and all of the other civilian leaders in Pakistan have been far more corrupt than the Pak military when they were in power, and are not seen as potential saviour of the nation. In fact, the entire country could fall into all-out rebellion if a woman took over the Islamic-bound nation again. Surely the rebels in the Waziristan province area of Pakistan would not follow her. Neither can the Pak military or intelligence branches save the country; both are heavily infiltrated by muslim radicals.

Relations between Pakistan and the United States soured in the 1990s as Islamabad refused to give up their nuclear program, which the USA did not support. In fact, all military sales to Pakistan were halted for years because of this rupture. The United States refused to endorse a Pak nuclear program, which we now know also fueled and funded the nuclear programs of North Korea, Iran, and Libya via the A.Q. Khan network. The vast majority of Pakistani nuclear know-how came from communist China, which sought to use Pakistan as a bulwark against Indian ambitions on the sub-continent of Southeast Asia.

India views the deteriorating situation in Pakistan with great alarm. Not only has that huge democratic nation suffered numerous attacks by Pakistan over the years, including a direct attack on the India Parliament several years ago but the Pak missiles can easily reach all of India's major cities. In fact, defense ties between India and Israel are a direct result of this threat: Israel has advanced anti-ballistic missile technology with which to shoot down Pak missiles. Trade in defense weapons also helped the Indian military successfully seal the border between Pakistan and India in Kashmir, which caused an enormous drop in deaths in that part of the country.

Overall, the situation in Pakistan is rapidly deteriorating but luckily the nation has relatively few ties with Iran, America's #1 enemy in the world. Pakistan has long been seen as an strategic competitor by Iran, which has maintained strong ties with India for millenia. The side into chaos for Pakistan is slow...but it is surely happening and nothing we can do can prevent this catastrophe from occurring. What we need to do is mitigate how bad it can get.

New A-10C Connects
The new upgrade of the A-10, the A-10C, has been in Iraq for two months now and has been a big success. The upgrades give the A-10 the same goodies that most other fighters have. These include the ability to drop JDAM (GPS guided) bombs, plus a targeting pod, lots of color displays in the cockpit and a digital communications capability. In practical terms, the A-10C pilots have a much better idea of where they, and any other aircraft, are in the area. The targeting pod gives a detailed, and up close view of what's going on down there, day or night. The heat sensing night camera even makes it possible to detect recently buried roadside bombs, and A-10C pilots have gotten pretty good at that. The digital data link gives the pilots the equivalent of battlefield Internet. Video, voice and text messages can be quickly exchanged with other aircraft and troops on the ground. This makes the planning of strikes go a lot quicker, and much reduces the risk of friendly fire.

Although the A-10 is built to take ground fire, the targeting pod and JDAMs allow the A-10 to be useful outside the range of ground fire (10,000 feet and up). But the A-10 can still come down low and use its 30mm cannon. With the upgrade, the A-10C can do anything for the troops that an F-16, F-18 or F-15E can do, and do it more cheaply (the A-10 is a less expensive aircraft to operate), as well as providing services an F-16 cannot (a bullet resistant design, a larger caliber cannon and slower speed). The entire A-10 fleet (350 aircraft) is being converted to the A-10C standard, at a cost of about $13 million per aircraft.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Russia, School Vouchers, and Iran

Perhaps Putin “Gets It” Now
To say that U.S. relations with Russia have been strained in recent years is an understatement. While many held out hope that Russia might become an ally in the post-Cold War world, the relationship turned chilly as President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, sought to reassert Russian power in the world with a series of provocative gestures, including Russia’s refusal to back tougher measures against Iran. In fact, many observers viewed Putin’s recent visit to Tehran as a public rebuke of the West, as he almost seemed to be encouraging the Islamic Republic’s defiance.

But now there are leaks coming out of the Kremlin that suggest Putin may have left Tehran with a very different attitude. Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri reports that Putin advisors are now saying that the Russian president was “taken aback” and “had not expected what he heard.” What exactly did he hear? Just consider the following quote from a senior Russian official:

“This was the first time that Putin was talking to senior Islamic Republic leaders in a substantive and focused way. The president found his Iranian interlocutor weird, to say the least. The Iranians mouthed a lot of eschatological nonsense and came close to urging Putin to convert to Islam. It was clear they lived in a world of their own.”

Taheri also reports that both Iranian “president” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave Putin the impression that, “‘they settle matters in the metaphysical space’ and with ‘the help of the Hidden Imam.’” Moreover, the Russian officials said, “The Iranians think they have already won. So intoxicated they appeared with hubris that they did not even ask Putin to help them ward off further United Nations sanctions.”

This is crucial, friends, because according to the Shiite sect that Ahmadinejad follows, the “Hidden Imam,” or Islamic messiah, will only return after an apocalyptic conflagration. Ahmadinejad believes he is fulfilling Islamic prophecy through Iran’s nuclear program! Let’s hope that after sitting down face-to-face and looking into the eyes of this madman that Putin now understands the threat confronting the civilized world. Remember this report the next time you hear a politician suggest that we need to engage the mullahs diplomatically or offer them economic incentives. The last time the world trusted a madman’s signature on a scrap of paper promising “peace in our time,” millions lost their lives.

Indian Air Force Gets Screwed
India's recent deal to partner with Russia in the development and production of a "Fifth Generation Fighter" has caused some unrest in the senior ranks of the Indian Air Force. Some generals believe India is paying too much ($5 billion, about half the development cost) and is not involved enough. The Russians have frozen the design of the aircraft. This is not to say that Indian air force generals cannot have some input when changes have to be made during development, but the current deal does not force the Russians to pay much attention.

The Russian-Indian effort is meant to build a superior aircraft to the American F-22. The Sukhoi T-50 is not expected to fly until 2010, and won't be in service for another 5-10 years (depending on how quickly the new technology can be obtained). The T-50 looks a lot like the F-22. The 37 ton T-50 is about the same weight as the F-22, and has a similar shape.

The benefits of the Russia-Indian cooperation are many. In addition to the financial and technical help, Russia will have a guaranteed export customer, and a better chance at increasing the number produced, and bringing down the per-aircraft cost. If only 200 are produced, each aircraft will carry a $50 million share of the development cost. Manufacturing costs for each aircraft could be as much as $100 million. While Russia and India have lower labor costs, wage rates are not a major factor here. You have to build a lot of expensive, and precise, production facilities.

In addition to stealth, super-cruise and multiple sensors (some of them passive), the T-50 will also contain multiple electronic systems, all possessing a lot of technology that neither Russia, nor, India, have at the moment. While Russia has its spies trying to steal all the technogoodies it can, that may not be enough.

For the last 70 years, the Russians have been designing hot (although often flawed) aircraft, that tended to be flown by low quality pilots. The Russians say they are trying to break out of this cycle, but they've been saying that for several decades. Their last generation of fighters, the MiG-29 and Su-27, like all those before it, performed poorly against American fighters. But the Indians believe this is more a reflection of pilot, than aircraft, quality. With the T-50, they will have a fighter far superior to anything Pakistan or China possess. That's worth $5 billion, and not being allowed to tinker with the design. This assumes that the cooperation deal involves the understanding that the aircraft will not be sold to China or Pakistan. By StrategyPage

School Vouchers, Please!
By Tom McLaughlin

It’s my misfortune to have been a public school teacher during the more than three decades that public education has been in decline. The reasons are too voluminous to account for here, but I’ll point out two: increased power of teachers’ unions and increased intervention by big government.

The teachers’ unions make it so expensive to get rid of bad teacher that administrators usually just try to just work around them. One report claims it costs an average of $200,000 in legal fees to fire someone if the union contests it. How can a principal build an effective team if (s)he can’t get rid of dead wood? Under most contracts, the only easy way to get rid of a teacher is through the RIF process – Reduction In Force. If a budget is cut or if student enrollment declines, teachers can be laid off – but administrators still don’t have the option of laying off dysfunctional teachers. It has to be “last hired, first fired.”

Then the federal government enters the picture and mandates that local districts spend more and more on students who don’t function well. Trouble is, many slow learners for whom this spending was originally intended over thirty years ago are being dropped from services. They get help in their early grades, but then they’re tested again in middle school and even though they’re still struggling, regulations say they’re operating at the level they’re capable of and they’re declared ineligible for services. Meanwhile, students who are quite capable but who won’t function for whatever reason, receive most of the help. They get an increasing share of services while many slow learners are cut loose to fend for themselves. Regular classroom teachers are expected to tailor their curricula to slow learners who have been reclassified as “low normal.” At the same time, they must put up with the presence of the others who can work but won’t and they must try to keep bright, motivated students interested – all in the same room at the same time. Educational “experts” insist this can be done if teachers receive training in “differentiation.” One result of this is the grade inflation prevalent at nearly every level of education.

As in so many other social programs since the 1960s, millions and millions of our tax dollars are spent to subsidize dysfunction in public education. Why should we be surprised when it increases? Such students learn that the less they do for themselves, the more someone will step in and do it for them. It’s called “learned helplessness” and it has a pronounced effect on the atmosphere of a class. Such kids do nearly nothing for themselves because they’ve learned that there are essentially no consequences for drifting along. They’re passed along year after year. Few ever stay back anymore because the “progressive” experts insist it does them no good. And, they insist that students be grouped heterogeneously – that is, the functional ones are in the same classes as the dysfunctional ones. This way, a whole class is held back rather than just the students who refuse to learn. This condition is most pronounced in middle school, because in high school students may choose advanced courses after the first year and the many dysfunctional students drop out along the way. The “experts” are afraid of grouping students according to their ability and their willingness to do the work necessary to learn, because bright, motivated students would progress so much that the gap between the functional and dysfunctional would become a chasm and attract scrutiny.

The teachers’ unions are the biggest constituents of the Democrat Party and major donors as well. With their pronounced Leftist bias, they push the party to port and are largely responsible for bringing Planned Parenthood sex education programs and homosexual activists into public schools with all the accompanying propaganda.

Students down to kindergarten level are exposed to it. What’s going on at Portland, Maine’s King Middle School lately – prescribing birth control to middle schoolers – is a good example of how far that envelope is being pushed.

Whatever money is left over in union coffers after contributing to Democrat candidates is used to fight voucher initiatives in whatever city or state they might arise. The unions know that if low and middle income parents had a choice about where to send their children to school, it wouldn’t be the local public school for many. With the choices vouchers would offer, the enormous political power of the teacher’s union monopoly would be smashed and public schools would have to compete for students. Unions insist that voucher initiatives would “take money away from public schools,” but one wonders what kind of fuzzy math they use to make those calculations. It costs an average of over $10,000 per year for each student in public schools. Voucher initiatives which the unions have defeated over and over call for less than half that amount to be spent for students to go to private schools. Parents would kick in the rest. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that vouchers would leave more money for public schools, not less.

In spite of all this, my career has provided much reward because I've had the freedom to deliver my curriculum the best way I can and it's been my privilege to work with almost three thousand Maine children, most of them terrific kids. Also, I know that although union power is at its greatest.

Right now, cracks are beginning to form. The Utah legislature passed a voucher initiative and the governor signed it. The teachers' union forced it to referendum and defeated it Tuesday after outspending the proponents. New York City, however, is considering one. Cracks are widening.

U.S. Says Attack Plans for Iran Ready
U.S. defense officials have signaled that up-to-date attack plans are available if needed in the escalating crisis over Iran's nuclear aims, although no strike appears imminent.

The Army and Marine Corps are under enormous strain from years of heavy ground fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the United States has ample air and naval power to strike Iran if President Bush decided to target nuclear sites or to retaliate for alleged Iranian meddling in neighboring Iraq.

Among the possible targets, in addition to nuclear installations like the centrifuge plant at Natanz: Iran's ballistic missile sites, Republican Guard bases, and naval warfare assets that Tehran could use in a retaliatory closure of the Straits of Hormuz, a vital artery for the flow of Gulf oil.

The Navy has an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf area with about 60 fighters and other aircraft that likely would feature prominently in a bombing campaign. And a contingent of about 2,200 Marines are on a standard deployment to the Gulf region aboard ships led by the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship. Air Force fighters and bombers are available elsewhere in the Gulf area, including a variety of warplanes in Iraq and at a regional air operations center in Qatar.

But there has been no new buildup of U.S. firepower in the region. In fact there has been some shrinkage in recent months. After adding a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf early this year - a move that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said was designed to underscore U.S. long-term stakes in the region - the Navy has quietly returned to a one-carrier presence.

Talk of a possible U.S. attack on Iran has surfaced frequently this year, prompted in some cases by hard-line statements by White House officials. Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, stated on Oct. 21 that the United States would "not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," and that Iran would face "serious consequences" if it continued in that direction. Gates, on the other hand, has emphasized diplomacy.

Bush suggested on Oct. 17 that Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear arms could lead to "World War III." Yet on Wednesday, in discussing Iran at a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Bush made no reference to the military option.

"The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous, and, therefore, now is the time for us to work together to diplomatically solve this problem," Bush said, adding that Sarkozy also wants a peaceful solution.

Iran's conventional military forces are generally viewed as limited, not among the strongest in the Middle East. But a leading expert on the subject, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says it would be a mistake to view the Islamic republic as a military weakling.

"Its strengths in overt conflict are more defensive than offensive, but Iran has already shown it has great capability to resist outside pressure and any form of invasion and done so under far more adverse and divisive conditions than exist in Iran today," Cordesman wrote earlier this year.

Cordesman estimates that Iran's army has an active strength of around 350,000 men.

At the moment, there are few indications of U.S. military leaders either advising offensive action against Iran or taking new steps to prepare for that possibility. Gates has repeatedly emphasized that while military action cannot be ruled out, the focus is on diplomacy and tougher economic sanctions.

A long-standing responsibility of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is to maintain and update what are called contingency plans for potential military action that a president might order against any conceivable foe. The secret plans, with a range of timelines and troop numbers, are based on a variety of potential scenarios - from an all-out invasion like the March 2003 march on Baghdad to less demanding missions.

Another military option for Washington would be limited, clandestine action by U.S. special operations commandos, such as Delta Force soldiers, against a small number of key nuclear installations.

The man whose responsibility it would be to design any conventional military action against Iran - and execute it if ordered by Bush - is Adm. William Fallon, the Central Command chief. He is playing down prospects of conflict, saying in a late September interview that there is too much talk of war.

"This constant drumbeat of conflict is what strikes me, which is not helpful and not useful," Fallon told Al-Jazeera television, adding that he does not expect a war against Iran. During a recent tour of the Gulf region, Fallon made a point of telling U.S. allies that Iran is not as strong as it portrays itself. "Not militarily, economically or politically," he said.

Fallon's immediate predecessor, retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, raised eyebrows in September when he suggested that initiating a war against Iran would be a mistake. He urged vigorous efforts to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but failing that, he said, "There are ways to live with a nuclear Iran." He also said he believed Iran's leaders could be dissuaded from using nuclear arms, once acquired.

The possibility of U.S. military action raises many tough questions, beginning perhaps with the practical issue of whether the United States knows enough about Iran's network of nuclear sites - declared sites as well as possible clandestine ones - to sufficiently set back or destroy their program. Among other unknowns: Iran's capacity to retaliate by unleashing terrorist strikes against U.S. targets. Nonmilitary specialists who have studied Iran's nuclear program are doubtful of U.S. military action. "There is a nontrivial chance that there will be an attack, but it's not likely," said Jeffrey Lewis, director of a nuclear strategy project at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy group.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Gary on Sarkozy

“Long Live The United States Of America!”
It’s not every day that a French president earns a standing ovation from American politicians, but yesterday Nicolas Sarkozy had members of Congress rising to their feet as he delivered a stirring speech described as “Reaganesque.” With Veterans Day approaching, I was especially appreciative of his tribute to the sacrifices of America’s heroes in uniform. Below are excerpts of President Sarkozy’s address to Congress.

“From the very beginning, the American dream meant proving to all mankind that freedom, justice, human rights and democracy were no utopia but were rather the most realistic policy there is and the most likely to improve the fate of each and every person. America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who … built the greatest nation in the world: ‘Come, and everything will be given to you.’ She said: ‘Come, and the only limits to what you’ll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent.’ America embodies this extraordinary ability to grant each and every person a second chance.

“…Ladies and gentlemen, the men and women of my generation heard their grandparents talk about how in 1917, America saved France at a time when it had reached the final limits of its strength, which it had exhausted in the most absurd and bloodiest of wars. The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how in 1944, America returned to free Europe from the horrifying tyranny that threatened to enslave it.

“…France will never forget the sacrifice of your children. To those 20-year-old heroes who gave us everything, to the families of those who never returned, to the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, I want to express France’s eternal gratitude. …I want to tell you that whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them and I am sad, as one is sad to lose a member of one’s family.

“Today as in the past, as we stand at the beginning of the 21st century, it is together that we must fight to defend and promote the values and ideals of freedom and democracy that men such as Washington and Lafayette invented together. Together we must fight against terrorism. …Let me tell you solemnly today: France will remain engaged in Afghanistan as long as it takes, because what’s at stake in that country is the future of our values and that of the Atlantic Alliance. For me, failure is not an option. …America can count on France.

“…It is this ambitious France that I have come to present to you today. A France that comes out to meet America to renew the pact of friendship and the alliance that Washington and Lafayette sealed in Yorktown. Together let us be worthy of their example, let us be equal to their ambition, let us be true to their memories! Long live the United States of America!”

The Cost Of Business
Longtime supporters of my work know that I have been critical of our trade policies with communist China. I know the arguments: Free trade with the Chinese will transform them. I’m skeptical, and this week we got more evidence that trade with China is transforming us. While the president of France was praising America yesterday for its defense of freedom, House leaders the day before were publicly shaming American corporate executives for betraying human rights activists in communist China. Evidently, a number of Chinese dissidents have been jailed as a result of Yahoo’s cooperation with the communist state. In one case, a Chinese journalist who e-mailed a government memo prohibiting coverage of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre was sentenced to 10 years in prison after Yahoo turned over the reporter’s e-mail account information to the Chinese government.

Yahoo executives expressed regret, but defended their actions by stating that doing business in China is complicated. If the costs of doing business with the communist Chinese require our companies to sacrifice the principles of freedom, I would hope every American business executive would conclude that such costs are too high. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the only Holocaust survivor serving in Congress, castigated the Yahoo executives, saying, “While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are Pygmies.”

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Russia, China, and North Korea: Troika of Terror

Japan vs China
Growing concern over China's expanding maritime presence has led Japan to announce that it will deploy sophisticated fighter aircraft to the southernmost island chain of Okinawa. According to Defense News, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force will shift twenty F-15s from their current station in Tokyo to Okinawa's Naha base by March of 2009, replace a similar number of aging F-4 aircraft already stationed there. "The Japanese government cannot say that China is a threat, but we are showing concern," Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura has told reporters. The announcement comes as Japan, the U.S. and Australia hold their first ever joint military drill in the East China Sea.

According to defense officials, those maneuvers are aimed at "improving techniques in fields such as communications and search-and-rescue operations, as well as helping build mutual confidence."

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More on Putin
Opposition leader Garry Kasparov has warned that President Vladimir Putin’s plan to run for parliament could destabilize Russia, Reuters reports. “Putin must be the boss, he wants to be the boss, he wants to remain the boss - do you doubt it?” the former chess champion told reporters. “It is very dangerous. The consequences could be a collapse of power, February 1917. Power must be legitimate.” Kasparov also said Putin fears leaving office. “He has created a system where there is no guarantee but having power himself, so he will try to preserve it,” the one-time chess champion said. “But he will do it subtly - he doesn’t want to be Mugabe.”

Kasparov added that he doubted Putin – who, he said, has sent many deliberately misleading signals - will become prime minister. “You should forget about that - all his life he has been leading people along,” he said, citing previous speculation that Putin could endorse Sergei Ivanov or Dmitry Medvedev, both first deputy prime ministers, as successors. “Half a year ago everyone was talking about Ivanov and Medvedev and now where are they?” Reuters quoted Kasparov as saying. “They are nowhere."

Some observers believe recent arrests in Moscow are evidence of a ongoing (and increasing) power struggle inside Russia’s security and law-enforcement establishment.

Philippines: The Terrorist Bomb That Wasn't
MILF and government negotiators have overcome some basic disagreements and resumed peace talks. The hang up was over how much southern territory, which now contains a lot of Christian inhabitants, would be considered part of the new "Moslem territory" for the three million Moslems in the south. Christians have been migrating to the Moslem south for decades, and have changed the ethnic and religious make up of once purely Moslem districts. But there's another factor that is slowing down a peace deal with the Islamic separatists; clan feuds. The clans have long provided more government than the government. The clans back up their authority with armed militias. These gunmen have also provided recruits for separatist movements like the MILF, and terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf. It's estimated that, in the last 80 years, there have been over 1,200 clan feuds. Most have been more smoke than
fire, with only about 5,000 people killed in all that time. But the violence shuts down traffic and commerce, and off causes hundreds, or thousands, of people to flee their homes. Disarming the clans is going to be more difficult than negotiating peace deals with outfits like the MILF.

Korea: Cell Phone Police Strike Back
North Korean police have increased the use of German cell phone signal detectors, to find and arrest those illegally using cell phones near the Chinese border. It is possible to get a signal there, and the government sees this as a major security leak. People can say whatever they want using Chinese cell phone service, and the government is determined to stop this phone traffic. There are believed to be dozens of the German detectors in use, with teams (consisting of several dozen secret police agents) moving through neighborhoods and hauling away those found with cell phones. The detectors are small enough to fit in a pocket, so the secret police teams are fairly inconspicuous. The cell phone users are usually engaged in commercial activities, or simply communicating with friends and family. Some North Koreans have established a lucrative business by selling North Koreans access to relatives in China, South Korea or elsewhere, via calls on these phones. The government wants to stop all of this.

Where Diplomats Fear To Tread
While our Marines are restoring order to Iraq, U.S. diplomats are refusing to take their posts in Baghdad. The U.S. embassy desperately needs to fill nearly 50 vacancies, but it is finding few volunteers and may have to “draft” foreign service officers. During a “town hall meeting” this week at the State Department, we witnessed a sorry example of what is happening to the spirit of sacrifice from a State Department bureaucrat. Referring to the possibility of being sent to Iraq, a career foreign service officer said, “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?” (To date three foreign service personnel have been killed in Iraq.) All of these guys are supposed to be public servants, and even the folks at Foggy Bottom understand the world is a dangerous place. The 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania killed dozens of U.S. personnel. If they want a “safe” job, they should take their pinstripes and wingtips to Sears!

This is just one more example of why it is so dangerous to rely on diplomats and bureaucrats to preserve our security. When the first terrorist bombs went off in Iraq, the U.N. was the first to abandon the country. And when the bullets start flying, the bureaucrats start hiding. What if on 9/11, New York police officers and firefighters had looked up at those burning towers and said, “I’m not going in, that’s a potential death sentence”? What if the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 had stayed in their seats, because fighting back, after all, was “a potential death sentence”? What if all our men and women in uniform said, “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?”

US Media (speaks for itself)
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