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 JunkScience.com.
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.

See
Woodward Releases Embargoed Chat with Saddam By Scott Ott, Editor-in-Chief, ScrappleFace.com:

"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

Saddam Hussein and the use of American power



In many ways, Saddam was the real occupier of Iraq. He was the one who destroyed a proud country and killed thousands.

He is dead. See
Saddam Hussein's Brutal Reign Ends in the Gallows!
See A PROUD DAY FOR U.S. AND A LESSON FOR TYRANTS By RALPH PETERS.

He is dead because Pres. Bush had the courage to carry out
UN resolutions, enforce the cease fire and, last but not least, Pres. Clinton's Regime Change Law from 1998. (See Glenn Reynolds on Clinton's "Iraq Liberation Act" )

To be fair, Pres. Clinton did not have 9-11 on his watch. As I have said before, a Pres. Clinton, or Pres. Gore, or Pres. Kerry, would have invaded Iraq after 9-11. The bottom line is this: No US president was going to play "cat and mouse" with Saddam after 9-11.

I am sorry to break so many anti-Bush hearts. Let me repeat: No conservative or liberal president was going to play "cat and mouse" with Saddam after 9-11!

Between 1991 and 2003, Saddam had several opportunities to comply with the cease fire and 17 UN resolutions. Instead, he chose to defy the world order.

Along the way, he committed horrific crimes against his own people and neighbors. We are clearly better off that this man is out of power and dead.

In the end, the Iraqis had a chance to put this man on trial because of Pres. Bush and our wonderful ally PM Blair.


Just ask yourself: What would the Middle East look like today if Saddam was still in power? What would Israel be saying about Iran and Iraq? What about the price of oil? Would there have been 3 elections in Iraq?

If President Roosevelt had attacked Hitler in '39, most of the world would have accused him of being an unilateralist and cowboy diplomacy. Roosevelt didn't and 50 million people died, including 6 million Jews in concentration camps.

Should the US be the world's policeman? Not at all.

However, Saddam Hussein was more than a bad guy. He was a very dangerous bad guy sitting on oil reserves and with a history of making bad mistakes, such as the Iran War, the invasion of Kuwait and his defiance of UN Resolutions.

Sometimes, the US is the only one who can remove a beast like this.

It reminds me of something I read in The Wall Street Journal earlier this year. See What a world without U.S. power looks like:

"So that leaves . . . guess who?
The cowboy President, the American unilateralists, the Yankee imperialists--or, to put it another way, the only nation with the will and wallet to provide order in an otherwise Hobbesian world."

Without the US, the savages will reign. Savage Saddam will reign no more!

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
A PERSONAL NOTE ON THE EXECUTION OF SADDAM HUSSEIN
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.

See
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."

See
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."

A few more thoughts on Pres. 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."

I agree that Pres. Ford governed with honesty and civility. However, I don't remember a lot of civility from the Democrats!
See The Moderates’ Last Stand (Gerald Ford and the GOP) By Jonathan Martin:
"Twelve years after his stirring, made-for-TV speech endorsing Barry Goldwater’s long-shot White House campaign, Ronald Reagan came within 117 delegates of defeating the sitting president at the August Kansas City convention. What’s more, he stole the show from the most powerful man in the world — the one who was actually nominated."
This is true. I watched the whole thing on TV. It was the most exciting party convention ever!
For more trivia, see A Happy, Normal President By George Will:

"There is a photograph of the House Chamber when President Truman was delivering one of his State of the Union addresses. Scattered through the chamber in front of Truman were four future presidents -- Congressman Kennedy, Sen. Johnson, Congressman Nixon, Congressman Ford. Never before or since have four consecutive presidents gone directly from the legislative branch to national elective office."

In '76, Sen. Dole ran for VP. This is how he remembers Pres. Ford. See Profile in Decency.
Of course, there's been a lot of talk about Pres. Ford's simple nature. In fact, he was a simple man. Of course, he was simple because he was a straight arrow rather than someone who played word games.
"Sometimes a nation needs a break from greatness (both good and bad greatness) to catch its breath. A greater man preceded Gerald Ford, and a greater man than most other American presidents preceded George H.W. Bush. Now the ex-presidents club has dwindled to three. How odd it will be if two years from now it is a foursome, with a father and son as bookends to a man who seems to haunt them both in different ways. But that is another story."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A couple of notes about Iraq


Iraq is doing a lot better than we read in the media. See
THE BOOM OUTSIDE BAGHDAD By AMIR TAHERI:

"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 FT.com'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!


My memories of the late Pres. Ford


In 1976, I was one of those young Republicans who got heavily involved in Gov. Reagan's campaign. As everyone remembers, Gov. Reagan nearly defeated Pres. Ford for the '76 nomination. In fact, the '76 Republican convention in Kansas City was an exciting back and forth battle between Gov. Reagan and Pres. Ford.

Looking back, Pres. Ford gave the best speech of his life. I have a VHS of that convention and it makes for some interesting viewing 30 years later.

It was a great
acceptance speech and challenged Gov. Carter to debates:

"We will build on performance, not promises; experience, not expediency; real progress instead of mysterious plans to be revealed in some dim and distant future. The American people are wise, wiser than our opponents think. They know who pays for every campaign promise. They are not afraid of the truth. We will tell them the truth."

I recalled that line during the four miserable years of the failed Carter presidency!

Why did I support Gov. Reagan in '76? Frankly, I did not think that Pres. Ford could win. It was a political calculation based on several factors:

1) Gov. Jimmy Carter was "Obama 1976". He said nothing and told us everything that we wanted to hear. However, it was effective because the country had Watergate fatigue.

2) The Nixon pardon was correct but tough politically. (By the way, aren't we grateful that Pres. Ford did not read polls?)


Speaking of the pardon, see Nixon Pardon Ended Watergate, Sealed Ford's Fate:

"Ford's stunning announcement may also have sealed his political fate, since the nation's only president never elected to nationwide office -- a Republican -- lost the 1976 election to Democrat Jimmy Carter. Many said the unpopular pardon was a cause of Ford's defeat.


But years later, Ford's act of conscience was viewed differently. In 2001, Ford, who died Tuesday, received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award named after the former Democratic president. He was chosen by a bipartisan committee of political and community leaders, who had the luxury of looking back at the fateful day of Sept. 8, 1974."


After the convention, I worked for Pres. Ford. It looked hopeless in late August when a national poll had Gov. Carter leading by 30 points!

By mid-October, Gov. Carter's "Obama-isms" began to catch up with him. It was a dead heat by the second debate and Gov. Carter was melting fast.

Unfortunately, Pres. Ford made a stupid remark about Poland. I know what he meant to say but it came out differently. He meant to say that Poland had not conceded its sovereignty to the USSR. It did not come out that way and it gave Gov. Carter a chance to get back in the game. For more on the Poland comment, see
Power Line!

On election night, we waited until the next morning to hear that Gov. Carter had carried Texas and
won the election. (By the way, Texas has voted Republican ever since!)

Pres. Ford was a transitional president and one of the most decent men to serve in the White House.


Pres. Ford had a great wife and family. Betty Ford was one of the most popular and active First Ladies in my lifetime. His children were good citizens who avoided the pitfalls of being in the public eye. Most of us remember them in the White House and during the '76 campaign. This is what Mrs. Ford said of Pres. Ford's death:

"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald R. Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, has passed away at 93 years of age. His was a life filled with love of God, his family, and his country."

By the way, check the
Pres. Ford Library website for more on his life and funeral updates!

The AP recalls Ford remembered as most athletic president:

"Ford, who has died at age 93, played center on the University of Michigan football team, where he was a three-year letter winner. His teams enjoyed consecutive undefeated, national championship seasons in 1932 and 1933. He was the Wolverines' most valuable player in 1934 and, on Jan. 1, 1935, he played in a college all-star game known today as the East West Shrine Game. Michigan later retired Ford's No. 48 jersey."



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.

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