Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy 2007: Don't fall for those dire predictions

Are you tired of so many dire predictions? I am.
See Climate of fear By Jeff Jacoby:

"Well, that's climate change for you. Maybe Mother Earth is warming up, or maybe she's cooling down, but either way it's always bad news."
Take a good look at the Top 10 Junk Science Moments of 2006 compiled by
My favorite is related to VP Gore's new career:

"1. Some Real Inconvenient Truth.

Al Gore whipped the world into a global warming frenzy with his doomsday documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Milloy personally asked Mr. Gore to help arrange a debate between scientists about the purported climate catastrophe.
He declined (twice) without explanation -- leaving me to wonder why global warming alarmists are unwilling to explain why they believe in non-validated and always-wrong computer guess-timations of future climate change rather than actual temperature measurements and greenhouse-effect physics that indicate manmade emissions of greenhouse gases are not a problem."

Enjoy your 2007 and take all of these dire predictions carefully.
Didn't they say 25 years that we would freeze to death? Or that we would run out of food?
Go ahead with your party plans. Enjoy 2007 and many more. The world is not coming to an end anytime soon.
The truth is that God has a time line for the end of the world. The good news is that he did not share that information with VP Gore!

Saddam humor

Here is a New Year's Resolution. Make Scrappleface one of your favorite places for 2007. This is a wonderful web site for political humor.

Woodward Releases Embargoed Chat with Saddam By Scott Ott, Editor-in-Chief,

"Reporter Bob Woodward said today he would soon allow his Washington Post editors to publish a secret interview he did in 2005 with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in which the dictator questioned U.S. President George Bush’s rationale for invading Iraq.

Mr. Woodward, who recently permitted his employer to publish a similar covert interview with the late former President Gerald Ford, said Mr. Hussein agreed to the no-holds-barred chat on the condition that the transcript be embargoed until after he “retired from public life,” which he did earlier today.

“I have always thought that President Bush did the right thing when he ordered the invasion,” Mr. Hussein told the star reporter.

“However, I never understood why he made WMD such a big deal. Those canisters are so easy to hide and ship, and the lab just looks like any other lab after we scrub it.”

Mr. Hussein said if he were a U.S. president he would not have “wasted 12 years negotiating toothless resolutions” in the United Nations Security Council, but would have extended the Iraq no-fly zone “border to border, and also made it a no-drive, no-walk, no-breathe zone until the Baathist regime fell.”

“If Bush’s father had tried to take Baghdad in 1991, we would have run like a herd of goats from a pack of wild dogs,” he said.

“I’d be living in peaceful seclusion in Geneva now, working on my memoirs with Judith Regan, and trading old war stories by email with the exiled former leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and so on.”

Yes, Saddam clearly miscalculated. He is not living in Geneva but has joined his two brutal sons in hell!

Good vibes for Mexico but the border is still a problem

Pres. Calderon is off to a good start. He is making lots of friends in the US business community and Mexico. IBD has good vibes about Mexico 2007:

"If Mexico had just dodged a bullet on Election Day last summer and avoided seating a radical leftist as president, most people would have been happy.

But it's better than that. President Felipe Calderon is showing strong and effective leadership that's giving the country a new direction — upward.

He began by taking out the trash, blasting leftist rebellions and drug-trafficking cartels. Going predecessor Vicente Fox one better, he sent 17,000 troops — rather than police — into troubled Michoacan state as he seeks to win back the one-quarter of Mexican territory that is controlled by traffickers.

Calderon's leadership has won him respect in Mexico's Congress, which had tried to stop his inauguration through fistfights.

Calderon got the budget he wanted and, even more unexpectedly, has seen ex-opponents agree to work with him to modernize Mexico's state-run energy industry through private partnerships.

Where did this strength come from?

Probably from Mexico's increasingly stable institutions, such as an electoral board that refused to yield to mob pressure and a more-transparent stock exchange.

But it's not just the government; it's also the people.

Independence-loving Northerners are rising politically as their economic power grows.

Business formation is high, investment is rising and homeownership is growing.

With Calderon's leadership directed toward making Mexico prosperous, the migrant flow to the north may ebb."

This is a good.

On the flip side, the border is still a mess and a human tragedy. See
Border crackdown fuels smugglers' boom on U.S.-Mexico border:

"Inspectors at a San Diego crossing found a 14-year-old girl strapped under the metal bars of a car seat, the driver sitting atop her, and occasionally find children inside compartments that once served as the gas tanks.

Smugglers in Arizona have hijacked loads of customers from rivals -- in one case, resulting in a highway shootout that killed four people in 2003.

In Tijuana, across from heavily fortified San Diego and the world's busiest border crossing, three bullet-ridden bodies were found in May, covered with roasted chickens.

Spanish slang for a smuggler includes "pollero," literally a poultry handler.

"It's become a very good business -- more dangerous, but a good business," said Daniel Rivera, 63, who recruits migrants walking the streets of Tijuana."

Pres. Calderon has a lot big things on his plate but he is off to a good start! Let's hope that Pres. Calderon will bring a new realism to the illegal immigration problem.

Illegal immigration, like any violation of the rule of law, has created a circle of corruption, from the "coyote" or "pollero" to the US employer who hires someone outside of the law.

I think that Pres. Calderon understands that Mexico needs investments rather than "remesas". Let's hope that he can persuade more Mexicans to see that point.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

We are moving to the south and west

According to the new census projections, we are moving south and west.

By now, everyone has heard that the US's population has reached 300,000,000! See
The Latest Census Figures by Michael Barone:

"Over the decade, 2000-06, growth has been much higher in the West (9.7 percent) and the South (8.8 percent) than in the Midwest (2.8 percent) and the East (2.1 percent).

In 2000 there were more people in the Midwest than in the West; in 2006 it was the other way around. And in 2006 there were more than twice as many people in the South as in the East. So we're becoming more western and southern: Nearly 60 percent of Americans live in one of those two regions."
Population shifts have a huge electoral impact because House seats and The Electoral College are determined by population.
In the future, specially the 2012 presidential election, we will see more electoral votes coming from southern and western states.
It's hard to predict the future. However, it is clear to me that future presidents will continue to come from the South and West.
From LBJ ('64) to GW Bush, our presidents have come from Texas (LBJ, Bush and Bush), California (Nixon and Reagan), Arkansas (Clinton) and Georgia (Carter). Ford was the exception (Michigan).
Can we predict the future? No. However, we are a nation that lives in the South and West!

Senator McCain is starting to look better and better

According to Rasmussen, McCain Leads Clinton, Gore in 2008 Match-Ups:

"McCain now leads Clinton 49% to 45% and Gore 49% to 44%. This is the second straight survey where McCain has enjoyed a four point lead over the former First Lady.
In early December, he held a 48% to 44% lead over Clinton. The last time we polled a McCain-Gore match-up, it was McCain by seven.

McCain holds a lead against every Democratic challenger and has done so in every Election 2008 poll we’ve conducted to date."

It gets even better when you put John Kerry or Wesley Clark in the game. See McCain Crushes Kerry and Clark:

"McCain leads Kerry by 18 points, 53% to 35%. That’s very similar to the 53% to 36% edge McCain enjoyed in our previous poll on this match-up.

McCain also leads Clark by 18 points, 51% to 33%. This is the first time we’ve polled a McCain-Clark election. Against both these Democrats, McCain attracts votes from roughly one-of-every-four Democrats. He also leads these candidates by a 2-to-1 margin among unaffiliated voters.

Most voters (59%) have a favorable opinion of John McCain."

Of course, it's early. Also, Guiliani is out there and he is a very strong candidate.

Yet, McCain stands out because his willing to tell us what we don't want to hear. In this, he is quite a contrast from Obama, who is treating the presidential quest like an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Obama is not a serious man. McCain is serious.

I love Senator Backbone By Lawrence Kudlow:

"In the midst of the latest doubt, pessimism and quibbling over our direction in Iraq, here is John McCain digging his heels in the sand. He is fighting the defeatist tide, and though it might endanger his presidential bid, he is entirely comfortable with his posture. I believe this is called courage. Principle. Leadership. It's what has long described this highly decorated former Navy fighter pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war."

What a contrast with the other side.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam and the future of Iraq

Take a good look at these pictures and videos. Is anyone in the world still making excuses for this evil man?

In '91, I met a Lebanese businessman who lived in Kuwait with his US wife and children. They were able to get out early because of the wife's US citizenship. Some of their neighbors and friends were not so fortunate. They came face to face with the horrors. Some were killed. Their home was sacked. Some of their neighbors' daughters were raped. (I am specifically talking about a 15 year old girl who lived down the street!)

My guess is that he won't be crying when he hears of Saddam's execution.

My guess is that most Iraqis won't either. They need to see this man executed so that there is closure.

Will some Iraqis be upset? Of course. There were Germans who cried when Hitler killed himself. There are Russians who still think that Stalin was a good man despite the reality that he killed millions of them.

In the end, justice will happen and Iraqis can move on.

See Why Saddam Must Hang By Patrick Poole:

"It is interesting to note that those complaining about Saddam's death sentence do so in the safety knowing that they will probably never have to live in the culture he helped create, nor will they ever have Saddam Hussein as a neighbor.

If Saddam were allowed to live, Iraqis who suffered under his regime would not have those same assurances.

Many of those critics are saying that the death of Saddam Hussein will not serve as a deterrent to other tyrants. But making deterrence, rather than desert, the basis of justice is to revert to the Humanitarian Theory of Punishment. What we can assure the Iraqi people of on the day when Saddam dances at the end of a rope is that he will deterred forever from ever resuming his reign of terror. May God have mercy on his soul."

A message for an Iraqi widow

Today, I saw this article about a US military officer who was in Iraq in the mid-90s.

Check out
By Lt. Colonel Rick Francona:

"In 1995 and 1996, I was involved in the CIA’s covert operations to overthrow Saddam Hussein, operating from several Middle East countries bordering Iraq, as well as inside the Kurdish-controlled area of Iraq itself."

Let me say this about Lt. Col. Francona. I'm glad that he was there. I like his message to the Iraqi widow about justice and Saddam:

"I told Mrs. Al-Shahwani that someday Saddam would pay for his crimes. Finally, that day is here."

The Democrats have forgotten about immigration reform!

In plain English, the "out of power" Democrats flirted with the Mexican vote in the US. Now, the flirt has to put up or shut up. It looks likely that the flirt won't put up!

A few years ago, I saw this quote:

"Flirtation: attention without intention" by Max O'Rell. (I believe that it comes from a novel but I can't link it. I found this about O'Rell.)

The Democrats flirted a lot. Now, they will prove that it was all attention without intention. Also, we will see a huge disconnect between the Washington liberals (like Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi) and the new centrist faces elected in 2006.

What are some already saying? Gerardo Sandoval is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. This is where he stands on immigration reform:

"So the Democrats have taken over Congress. The confetti has fallen, been swept up and recycled. Now the question is: Can Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean and the rest of the Democrats deliver? Will the 110th Congress really be able to break free from the past six years?"

Good luck Gerardo! It was a lot easier to blame Bush than to come up with solutions.

Breaking the Wall on Immigration Reform By Marcela Sanchez:

"Nevertheless, Democrats aren't exactly seizing the day. On their list of priorities, the so-called New Direction for America, immigration is conspicuously absent. In her first news conference after the Democrats captured the House, soon-to-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not even mention the "I" word."

Why are you shocked Marcela? How can you believe anyone who will say anything to get your vote? Are you so naive Marcela?

This is from The Washington Post a few days after the election. See Democrats
May Proceed With Caution on Immigration (Explosive Issue Not A Top Priority For Incoming Leaders) By Darryl Fears and Spencer S. Hsu:

"In the days after the election, Democratic leaders surprised pro-immigration groups by not including the issue on their list of immediate priorities.

Experts said the issue is so complicated, so sensitive and so explosive that it could easily blow up in the Democrats' faces and give control of Congress back to Republicans in the next election two years from now. And a number of Democrats who took a hard line on illegal immigration were also elected to Congress."

Democrats clash on immigration policy (Tensions in party rise to the surface) By Nicole Gaouette:

"As the Democratic Party prepares to take power on Capitol Hill in January, tensions are surfacing over the details of plans to overhaul the nation's immigration policies.

Statements by incoming members such as Claire McCaskill, the Democratic senator-elect from Missouri, could provide an early warning of the difficulties ahead.

In a September television spot, McCaskill sat at a kitchen table and looked directly into the camera. "Let me tell you what I believe in," she said. "No amnesty for illegal immigrants."

It worked for McCaskill! The article goes on:

"Some unions strongly object to Democratic support for guest worker programs that would not allow participants to gain citizenship.

Party leaders worry that backing a bill that included a path to citizenship would alienate some blacks, who have traditionally competed with Hispanic immigrants for jobs.

And the Democrats will have to contend with a newly energized left wing, which could push to do more for legal and illegal immigrants."

FAIR's analysis of the 2006 elections is interesting. See
Support for Immigration Enforcement was a Key Factor in Many Democratic Victories.

In fact:

"In countless races across the country Democrats pointed to Congress’ failure to control illegal immigration. The administration’s refusal to back House Republicans on critical legislation undermined the party’s standing with the public. Many victorious Democrats ran on a platform of support for immigration enforcement."

Another example comes from Arizona. Take a look at The Great Illegal Immigration Myth of '06 by John Hawkins:

"J.D. Hayworth's loss was particularly noteworthy because unlike the other candidates being mentioned, he could fairly be called one of the leaders of the "tough on illegal immigration" crowd.

However, what you will never hear amnesty fans mention about Hayworth's loss is that his opponent, Harry Mitchell, actually tried to run to his right on the illegal immigration issue.

For example, on October 24, 2006, here's a message that was posted prominently on the front of Mitchell's web page:

I’m proud to show you the second television spot of our campaign which highlights an important issue to all Arizonan(s):

securing our border and ending illegal immigration.

My opponent likes to talk tough about immigration, but the truth is he and those in Washington have failed in their responsibility to secure our border.

The number of illegal immigrants in our state has increased 400% during his tenure in Congress.

My opponent has rewarded illegal immigration by voting for amnesty four times.

Just last month, he voted against 12,000 additional Border Patrol agents and against implementing the border security recommendations of the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission.

In his 12 years in Congress, J.D. has given us a lot of rhetoric, but not a lot of results.

Now, after reading that, does it sound like J.D. Hayworth had problems because he was "too tough" on illegal immigration? No, it doesn't."

The bottom line is that many Democrats went to the right of Republicans on immigration. And they won!

Who is going to take the lead in immigration reform? Don't bet on the Democrats!

Everything points to Iran

This week, I saw this on Drudge: U.S. Is Holding Iranians Seized in Raids in Iraq.

As we suspected, Iran is in the middle of much of what goes in Iraq. They are funding and feeding a lot of the violence. Why? Because they want lots of blood on our TV screens so that the US will go home!

Last week, a judge connected Iran with the killing of US soldiers at The Khobar Towers in '96. Add the '83 bombing of the Marines in Beirut.

See The Power Line's
The mullahs at war: "The war continues. Whether we like it or not."

Iran is next!

Check out Showdown By Kenneth R. Timmerman:

"The nuclear crisis boiling away under the surface for the past three years with Iran has finally erupted. Over the next three to six months, expect things to get much worse, with a very real possibility of a war that could spread far beyond the confines of the Persian Gulf."

We remember President Ford

Pres. Carter spoke those words within minutes of taking the oath. I recall listening to it on the radio. It was a nice touch. It got a big applause. It was the best line of the speech!

Over the last day, I have watched a lot of the news coverage regarding the life and times of Pres. Ford.

As a naturalized citizen, I've always been impressed with US history. Where does the US get men like Gerald Ford? Where do we get leaders who are willing to do the right thing, i.e. the Nixon pardon and the vetoes?

I remember 1974 quite well. Pres. Ford was grilled by opportunistic Democrats who were looking for another cheap shot against Pres. Nixon. Yet, Pres. Ford stood up, answered the questions before a congressional committee and did not back down.

They used to call him stubborn! He wasn't stubborn. He believed in doing the right thing which is not always the most popular thing! We learned this in the eight years of Pres. Clinton's poll-reading presidency.

See the Wall Street Journal's wonderful editorial
President Ford:

"He made a particular contribution in pardoning Nixon, though he knew Nixon's enemies would accuse him of a quid pro quo. The decision cost him dearly in the polls and may have cost him the election in 1976, but it also spared the country from years of division over a criminal trial that special prosecutor Leon Jaworski seemed determined to pursue.

Congress had trampled over a weakened Nixon, and another Ford contribution was restoring some measure of executive authority. Far more than Nixon, he used his veto pen (66 times in 895 days), blunting liberal excesses after Democrats picked up 46 House seats in 1974.

He also deserves credit for resisting the isolationism that was rampant as the Vietnam War wound down. It was a rare period in postwar U.S. history when the public favored spending less on defense.

Democrats exploited the mood in early 1975 to block Ford's funding request for our allies in South Vietnam, as the North began its offensive. Ford pleaded with Congress that "American unwillingness to provide adequate assistance to allies fighting for their lives could seriously affect our credibility throughout the world as an ally," but to no avail. Saigon fell by April, and the boat people and massacres in Southeast Asia soon followed.
Thus one irony of this week's praise for Ford as a unifying President: At the time, he was mocked as clumsy and dull, and he was vilified for blocking Congressional priorities.

Any of this sound familiar?"

The Ford news coverage reminded me of unpleasant moments: the two assassination attempts in 1975. Did any other president have two attempts on his life within a month? I don't think so!

Here is a bit of Ford trivia.

I did not realize that Pres. Ford was the only president from Michigan. In fact, Ford was born in Nebraska but raised in Michigan. See He led with honesty and civility by George Weeks of The Detroit News:

"Many a Michiganian has coveted the presidency. Former territorial Gov. Lewis Cass was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee in 1848. A century later, Owosso's Tom Dewey, then New York governor, lost as Republican nominee to Harry Truman -- despite polling that suggested Dewey would win and a Chicago Tribune headline that said he did. Later in the 20th century, presidential ambitions of six-term Democratic Gov. G. Mennen "Soapy" Williams fizzled as Michigan had a financial crisis all too common for Michigan governors. Republican Gov. George Romney made a more serious bid for the nomination, but also failed."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A couple of notes about Iraq

Iraq is doing a lot better than we read in the media. See

"WHILE the American political elite is using Iraq as an excuse for fighting internal political wars, a different reality is taking shape in parts of this war-torn nation. Wherever some measure of security is assured - that is to say in more than 80 percent of Iraq - towns and villages long left to die a slow death are creeping back to life."

More on Iraq. See
Female Iraqi lawyers gaining in popularity By Basim Al Sharaa:

"With Iraqi society becoming ever more religious and conservative, large numbers of women are turning to female lawyers for advice on marriage, divorce, and inheritance. As a result, legal practice has become a lucrative business for female lawyers."

Where are the feminists? Why aren't the world's feminists cheering the gains made by women in Iraq?

Saddam won't be around for the Super Bowl

Saddam won't be around to watch the Super Bowl. The big news from Iraq is that Saddam will be executed. See Court: Execute Saddam Within 30 Days!
In my book, Saddam should have been removed in '98. This is when he expelled the UN inspectors. Saddam gave the world the middle finger and made a mockery out of the UN, the cease fire and the rule of law. On top of that, he was shooting at US/UK planes enforcing the UN resolutions and paying $25,000 to the families of terrorists blowing up Israelis.
Why did Saddam do all of this? Because he knew that Pres. Clinton would not take him out. Also, he bought much of the UN with the Oil for Food Program.
See How to Buy a French Veto By Dick Morris.
Saddam's execution is justice.
Most Iraqis need to see Saddam hung and dead. Can you blame them? See Hundreds of Iraqis Apply to be Hangman:
"The execution may be controversial, but hundreds of Iraqis want to pull the gallows lever."

They will have that chance very soon!

See Did someone tell the Kurds that Saddam did not have WMDs?

See The Crimes of Saddam Hussein
By Dave Johns

See Saddam's Chemical Weapons Campaign: Halabja, March 16, 1988.

Of course, the charges against Saddam Hussein were around before Pres. Bush.

See The Case for Justice in Iraq By David J. Scheffer (U.S. War Crimes Ambassador Reviews Saddam Hussein's Criminality) from September 2000.

See Saddam Hussein's Iraq Prepared by the U.S. Department of State Released September 13, 1999 (updated 2/23/00)

So long James Brown!

James Brown left us a huge legacy of songs and albums.

In many ways, James Brown had a great life. He was born in poverty and worked his way to the top. He did make a few mistakes. Frankly, who hasn't?

So goodbye James Brown.

Put on a good show for all of your fans in heaven!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pres. Ford, the man with the pipe

Pres. Ford spent much of the last 30 years enjoying a well deserved retirement. He made a few appearances but generally stayed home and enjoyed his wonderful wife and family. Frankly, I had not seen him since the Reagan funeral in June '04.
Over the next few days, we will watch a state funeral and remember a man who smoked a pipe.

Yes, Pres. Ford often smoked a pipe in public. He may have been the last president to smoke in public.

For more, see Steady Hand for a Nation in Crisis By PAUL GRAY:

"He was the nation's first appointed Vice President, chosen in October 1973 by President Richard Nixon under the terms of the recently ratified 25th Amendment to succeed the disgraced Spiro Agnew. Less than a year later, on Aug. 9, 1974, Nixon resigned rather than face a Senate trial on three articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives, and Ford took the oath to be the 38th President of the U.S.

That was a preposterous development in the career of a politician who had never run for office beyond the confines of the Fifth Congressional District of Michigan.
In his first televised statement after his swearing-in, Ford acknowledged his anomalous status:
"I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President by your ballots. So I ask you to confirm me as your President with your prayers."
I remember Pres. Ford making that statement. I think that it went over very well with much of the country.

"His greatest feat, leading America out of the traumas of Watergate and Vietnam, has routinely been viewed as an important but hardly towering achievement. But it was no small accomplishment. It was not something that any politician who stepped into the presidency, unelected, in August 1974 could have pulled off. It took a strong personality and guts."

Yes, it did take a lot of guts because the country was stressed out over Watergate and Vietnam.
See The Ford Legacy by LAWRENCE KUDLOW:

"He was a dedicated and honest public servant--well liked by all who knew him personally. And I think his controversial pardon of Richard Nixon was a good idea--good in the sense that it got it off the table so the country could move on."

Kudlow is right on. Everybody liked Gerald Ford.
See's Obituary:

"History has tended to look quite kindly on the 895 day Ford presidency, as did his countrymen at the time by nearly returning him to office in 1976 against Jimmy Carter. It was felt, then and now, that he had restored a degree of dignity and decency to a besmirched White House, an achievement that helped offset the accurate public perception that he was far from the smartest president on record. The equally commonsense contributions of his wife, the former Elizabeth (Betty) Bloomer, helped much - he married her in 1948 and the couple had three sons and one daughter - though the strain of public life was to take a toll on her."

I love Rick Moran's A GOOD AND DECENT MAN:

"I will always remember him; the only President I ever met. He was a good and decent man who served our country in war and peace the best he knew how. And considering some who succeeded him, I daresay his stellar character stands the test of time much better than some who believe themselves his better."

"President Ford was a wonderful man and an excellent president. I spent most of the fall of 1976 running around Massachusetts with a bus full of college students attempting to persuade voters that they were better off with Gerry Ford than an unknown an untried southern governor. I had no idea how right I was."
Hewitt is right. I spent the fall of '76 making the same case. We lost and Pres. Carter turned out to be worse than any of us could have imagined!

A bit of good news from Mexico

It's been a very tough year for Mexico. Therefore, it's nice to see some good news about Mexico and Pres. Calderon.

See this one from The Dallas Morning News.

For more good news, see CALDERON TO ROGUES: ENOUGH:

"In his first three weeks in office, President Felipe Calderon has sent a message to the rogue powers that have paralyzed or terrorized much of Mexico: Enough is enough.
Just days after his Dec. 1 inauguration, Calderon's government arrested the figurehead of the violent protests in Oaxaca City. And a week later he deployed thousands of soldiers and police to combat increasingly bloodthirsty drug traffickers in his native Michoacan state.

Calderon's swift use of force is a major departure from the conciliatory style of his predecessor, Vicente Fox. But that may be just the point — to separate himself from Fox's often-perceived image of a weakling.

The moves come after five months of chaos in colonial Oaxaca and a raft of beheadings in western Michoacan, including one incident in which the traffickers dumped five human heads on a dance floor.

"The message is very clear: To say to the traffickers that there are things you can't do," said Jorge Chabat, a crime analyst in Mexico City. "You can't chop off heads and throw them on a dance floor, because that affects Mexico's image.

"If you're president and you want to attract investment, you can't have your country looking like Rwanda during the civil war."

I like this one from Alan Wall in Mexico City. He writes Is Mexico About to Fall Apart?:

"I’ve heard for years that Mexico is "
on the verge" of a revolution. It hasn’t happened yet and I don’t see it in the foreseeable future.

In the mid-90s
things were looking bad too. There was an uprising in Chiapas, there were high-profile assassinations (including a presidential candidate and a cardinal) and other negative developments. And a disastrous peso crash effectively cut everybody’s income in half (including mine).

But, Mexico survived and here we are a decade later…hearing the same predictions of collapse. As they say, there’s a lot of ruin in a nation.

Mexico faces enormous problems that are not about to magically disappear. Corruption, incompetence and bad policies are greatly in evidence. Nevertheless, the political system, the bureaucracy and the levers of power are still functioning, with no viable secession movements on the horizon. All the major political forces, in fact, have a vested interest in holding the system together.

I live in Mexico. If I believed it were falling apart, I’d be getting
my family out of here."

Over the past, I've written a lot about Mexico. Frankly, we want Mexico to succeed.

We are not happy that Mexico is a poor country despite wonderful natural resources. We are not pleased that Mexico has to export its young people so that they can send "remesas" back home.

We want Mexico to succeed. Why? Mexico is Texas' biggest trade partner.

We wish Pres. Calderon and Mexicans a good and prosperous 2007.

We remember Pres. Ford

Yesterday, I added several presidential libraries to my favorite places.

This morning, I heard about Pres. Ford's death and read about his early years:

"Gerald R. Ford was born July 14, 1913, in Omaha, Neb., to Leslie Lynch King and Dorothy Ayer Gardner King. He was originally named Leslie Lynch King Jr., after his father, but his parents separated when he was just two weeks old. In 1916, Dorothy married Gerald R. Ford, a paint salesman, and began calling her son Gerald R. Ford Jr.

Dorothy and Ford Sr. had three more sons, Thomas, Richard and James, and Ford was raised the oldest boy in a close and loving family. But, he did not know his mother's husband was not his biological father until 1930, and did not legally change his name until 1935.

After his high school graduation in 1931, Ford received a scholarship to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Majoring in economics and political science, Ford was a star athlete. He played on the university's national championship football teams in 1931 and 1933 and was voted the Wolverines' most valuable player in 1934.

Ford passed up a professional football career to take a job as a boxing coach and assistant football coach at Yale, where he attended law school. He graduated in 1941 in the top 25 percent of his class. It was during his law school years that Ford was introduced to politics, when he worked on Wendell Willkie's 1940 presidential campaign.

After graduating from Yale, Ford returned to Michigan and established a law firm in Grand Rapids and taught a course in business law at the University of Grand Rapids. He also served as line coach for the school's football team until World War II.

In April 1942, Ford joined the U.S. Naval Reserve as an ensign and the next year was stationed aboard the USS Monterey, a light aircraft carrier that participated in most of the major operations in the South Pacific. In December 1944, a typhoon pounded the Monterey, which caught fire. Ford was nearly swept overboard, the closest he came to death during the entire war.

After his discharge in 1946 as a lieutenant commander, Ford returned to Grand Rapids and became a partner in a law firm. He found himself in new ideological terrain — an isolationist before the war, Ford was now a committed internationalist.

Ford decided to challenge incumbent Rep. Bartel Jonkman, an isolationist, for the Republican nomination in the 1948 election. Ford beat Jonkman and went on to win the seat with 61 percent of the vote.

The voters of Michigan would re-elect him 12 times, each time giving him more than 60 percent of the vote.

It was during his House campaign that Ford married Elizabeth Ann Bloomer Warren, a department store fashion consultant — legendarily campaigning on his wedding day.

Gerald and Betty Ford had four children between 1950 and 1957: Michael Gerald, John Gardner, Steven Meigs and Susan Elizabeth."

Some of us are old enough to remember Watergate and the challenges that Pres. Ford faced in 1974. Therefore, it is very difficult to compare his presidency with others. No one else became president, or faced the challenges, that Pres. Ford faced.

Watergate was a constitutional crisis. Pres. Ford was the right man at a very difficult time. Later, he wrote "A time to heal", one of the most interesting presidential memoirs ever written.

Overall, he was a great man.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It takes a certain kind of mom not Hillary!

What Hillary Clinton will show up in 2008?

Dick Morris knows the Clintons well. In his latest website
report, Morris predicts that Hillary will run as a "mom" in 2008:

"Hillary the Hawk may ultimately be the way to win the centrists who dominate the general electorate. But Hillary, the Mom, another Mother for Peace, is the way to capture the left that runs the Democratic primaries. And that’s exactly what she’s doing."

I guess that this is the strategy: After 43 "fathers", the US needs for a mother for # 44.

Of course, I don't have a problem voting for a mother for president. Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir were great leaders because they didn't read polls.

For example, my mother would make a great president. Why? Because she is honest and unafraid to kill our enemies. She has core values and knows what she stands for.

Can we say that Hillary is honest? Core values? Even Democrats have trouble with those two!

Is Hillary unafraid of our enemies? Hard to tell. However, do you want to put the national security in the hands of a woman who will tell you anything you want to hear?

At the end of the day, my problem with Hillary, Obama, Kerry, Edwards and the rest is that they tell us what we want to hear. Can't a Democrat look in the camera and say something other than what we want to hear?

What we need is a father or mother who will tell us the truth!

The first truth is that we have enemies who want to blow up a US city. They wake up every morning trying to figure out a way to carry out their plans. They don't give a "four letter word" whether we have a Democrat or Republican in the White House. Also, these terrorists won't go back to "insurance sales" if we leave Iraq.

The second truth is that Social Security is a time bomb. We diffuse it now or have it blow up later.

The third truth is that European socialism does not work. It does not create jobs or prosperity. This is why so many young Europeans are lining up at US embassies and consulates looking for a visa.

My mother is not the Senator from New York but she will speak her mind. Can we say that about the current senator from NY?

If we want a "mom", vote for mine! If you want another phony Clinton who will read polls 24/7, vote for Hillary!

For a little history, do you remember this from Jonathan Goldberg?:

"In the 1980s Chris Matthews popularized the idea that the Republicans were the Daddy party and the Democrats were the Mommy party. I’ve since learned that Matthews was re-packaging a pretty old idea. Robert Frost, for example, once said "The father is always a Republican toward his son, and his mother is always a Democrat." Still, the idea remains true. Dad protects you and sets standards of conduct. Mommy forgives and nurtures. For decades we wanted a Republican president and a Democratic Congress because we like a President who can send people to their rooms without dinner and we like a Congress which will sneak us dessert when nobody’s looking."

Or, what about Venus at the Ballot Box by Cathy Young:

"The election deadlock of 2000 that provided such a surreal -- and fitting -- end to the Clinton era would not have happened if only one sex had gone to the polls. An all-male electorate would have handed George W. Bush a decisive victory, 53 percent to 42 percent. If only women voted, Al Gore would have won 54 percent to 43 percent. These numbers are unlikely to startle anyone who has followed American politics over the last two decades.

Women get the credit, or the blame, for sending Bill Clinton back to the White House in 1996, when exit polls showed Bob Dole with a 1 percent lead among men. Women are also more likely to vote for Democrats in congressional elections. There is a widespread perception that Republicans are the party of men and Democrats are the party of women. Paraphrasing John Gray's pop psychology best-sellers, you might call it Mars and Venus at the Ballot Box."

Monday, December 25, 2006

Joy to the World!

Fr. Gerald E. Murray is pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in New York City. Take a look at Joy to the World! A timely reminder from The National Review:

"A monsignor friend of mine is known to walk up the stairs of his rectory saying out loud, “Filled with joy, filled with joy.”

His reminder to himself and anyone in earshot is that joy is the central reality of Christian life.
Amidst the many problems and difficulties of everyday life in this world, faith teaches us to rejoice in God’s goodness.

At Christmas, God makes it easy to rejoice once again.
Past and present seem to be one: the Virgin and Child at Bethlehem, the Christmas tree and crèche scene in our home growing up, our present-day preparations to celebrate another Christmas.

Christmas morning is certainly a time of great joy for children. Think back to those happy days.

The anticipation of finding under the tree exactly what we asked for was almost always fulfilled, unless Santa decided otherwise in his wisdom, as our parents were quick to tell us as we opened a box containing a shirt or a sweater.

Be grateful for what you have, they said, which is surely good advice.

Anyway, we will have soon have a chance to thank the Baby Jesus at Mass, so get dressed now!

Gratitude indeed is the root of our joy:
We recognize God’s goodness, experienced in a small but very important way through giving and receiving Christmas gifts, and we rejoice.
Joy in the soul is a foretaste of Heavenly beatitude.
Joy at Christmas is the fruit of knowing deep down that the birth of the Child Jesus changes everything for all time.
The cold and darkness of the long night of waiting has passed as the Sun of Justice shines upon creation.

Pope Benedict XVI recently called for prayers in these words:

“But let us also think of those, especially young people, who have lost the sense of authentic joy, and who seek it in vain where it is impossible to find: in the exasperated race for self-affirmation and success, in false amusements, in consumerism, in moments of drunkenness, in the artificial paradise of drugs and of other forms of alienation.”

This reads as though the pope has been spending time going through Page Six of the New York Post.

But in fact he does not need to be reminded of the inanities and self-destructive acts of mankind, as typified (but not exclusively, to be sure) in the lives of celebrities.

We are all to some extent, in one way or another, at some point (or points) in our lives, on the wrong track going downhill.
What can get us out of this spiral of despair?

To know joy exists, and that it is within our reach, can be sufficient motivation to exit the fast lane and find that path that the Wise Men took to reach Bethlehem, and the Child.

May joy draw us out of ourselves and lead us to kneel in awe before the tiny Child who makes all things new."

Merry Christmas to you and your family!
P.S. Check this out! See
Essential books for understanding Christianity BY GEORGE WEIGEL.

Memories of George Washington

For a little history, see
A Christmas Gift from Washington We Can All Be Thankful For by Lance Thompson:

"Christmas 1776 was a moment of decision for George Washington. His army was low on supplies, winter clothing and food, and dwindling in strength. Support from civilians, the Continental Congress, and even some of his own subordinates, was waning. The British, with their Hessian allies, would only grow stronger with time. Washington desperately needed a victory to restore his army’s morale, and prevent the Revolution from dying. He might have one last chance to strike a surprise blow while he still had the troops and equipment to make it effective. But he would have to risk all to carry it off."

Go ahead and celebrate Christmas with your family. However, take a minute to remember those who came before us, such as the legendary George Washington:

"We all have Christmas traditions–religious, traditional, familial, commercial. But in between shopping, writing cards, decorating the tree, going to mass, gathering around a table with family and friends, find a moment to give thanks for those first Americans who fought and sacrificed on that Christmas long ago, and for their successors who will be defending our country this Christmas and throughout the year. Their gifts to all of us are beyond value."




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