"The Wets"

The title of this post is taken from Margaret Thatcher's wonderfully-descriptive phrase about politicians who stand around with a wet finger raised to determine which way the wind is blowing before they decide what to do. I am sick and tired of both parties being run by people without any discernable convictions beyond getting re-elected. A plague on both their houses. If we don't get some dry-fingered leaders soon, we're going to pay a tremendous price for it. And if we don't insist on that kind of leadership, we're going to deserve it.


Poor in America

Poor people in America have an awful life--at least that's what you'd think if you get your news from TV...and John Edwards. But here's a glimpse at reality (from Betsy's Place):

The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:

-Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
-Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
-Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person. -The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
-Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
-Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
-Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
-Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.

Yes, there are people living in genuine need. But if history shows anything, it is that such needs are much better addressed by individuals and local communities than by the feds. And the next time you hear someone talking about the awful plight of "the poor" in America, remember what those people actually have.


The Cowardice of Their Convictions

The Democrats in Congress are vocal in their opposition of the plan to send additional troops to Iraq to try to quell the violence, particularly in Baghdad. They're keen to pass a "non-binding" resolution opposing the surge. And yet...

They by and large don't have the guts to go ahead and do what a genuine belief in what they are saying would require. With very few exceptions such as Russ Feingold (who is still a complete idiot, but at least is consistent) they aren't willing to take responsibility for trying to actually stop the surge and bring the troops home. This is most despicable form of craven behavior. They say they believe that sending additional troops will be a disaster, but they aren't willing to do anything but preen against it.

There are only two options here. 1) The Dems do not believe what they are saying, in which case they are damaging the morale of our troops in battle for political advantage. Frankly, that borders on treason. 2) The Dems do believe what they are saying, in which case they are condemning our troops to die uselessly for political advantage, because it would cost them too much political capital to get the troops home. That borders on premeditated manslaughter if not murder.

Neither of those options are very flattering. I am not convinced that the surge is the answer. A few dozen well-placed military and industrial "accidents" and "heart attacks" in Iran and Syria would probably be more effective. But for Heaven's sake, if you believe what the Dems say about the surge, you MUST as a loyal American marshal all of your power and influence and fight against it--not with meaningless resolutions designed to gain headlines but with all the legislative weapons at your disposal.

And furthermore, when the general who designed the plan that is now going to be put into effect comes before you for confirmation, he would not gain unanimous approval! If JFK were alive today, he'd have to write a book about his party called Profiles in Cowardice. (By the way, if JFK, Truman or FDR were alive today, they would be leading their party in an entirely different direction--or leaving it as Reagan did!) It's disgusting. America deserves better than this.


Put Up or Shut Up

From out of the past (two thousand years past to be precise) come words of wisdom for the micro-managers of the war on Capitol Hill. Nothing else can or needs to be said. (Hat tip to Dean Barnett at hughhewitt.com)

In every circle, and truly, at every table, there are people who lead armies into Macedonia; who know where the camp ought to be placed; what posts ought to be occupied by troops; when and through what pass that territory should be entered; where magazines should be formed; how provisions should be conveyed by land and sea; and when it is proper to engage the enemy, when to lie quiet and they not only determine what is best to be done, but if any thing is done in any other manner than what they have pointed out, they arraign the consul, as if he were on trial before them.

These are great impediments to those who have the management of affairs; for every one cannot encounter injurious reports with the same constancy and firmness of mind as Fabius did, who chose to let his own ability be questioned through the folly of the people, rather than to mismanage the public business with a high reputation. I am not one of those who think that commanders ought at no time to receive advice; on the contrary, I should deem that man more proud than wise, who regulated every proceeding by the standard of his own single judgement.

What then is my opinion? That commanders should be counseled chiefly by persons of known talent, by those who have made the art of war their particular study, and whose knowledge is derived from experience, by those who are present at the scene of action, who see the enemy, who see the advantages that occasions offer, and who, like people embarked in the same ship, are sharers of the danger.

If, therefore, anyone thinks himself qualified to give advice respecting the war which I am to conduct, let him not refuse the assistance to the State, but let him come with me into Macedonia.He shall be furnished with a ship, a tent, even his traveling charges will be defrayed, but if he thinks this is too much trouble, and prefers the repose of a city life to the toils of war, let him not on land assume the office of a pilot. The city in itself furnishes abundance of topics for conversation. Let it confine its passion for talking to its own precincts and rest assured that we shall pay no attention to any councils but such as shall be framed within our camp.-- General Lucius Aemilius Paulus (229-160 B.C.), Rome.


"Trust Me, I'm Not"

In six years, 24 has gone from a programming stunt to a cultural phenomenon. It has entered the lexicon of political dialogue, and become a flash point of controversy for daring to portray Muslims as terrorists. (Can't be having that on a fictional program, after all, when the news never has anything like it.)

But tonight, the best line in any of the "worst days of Jack's life"...a line that captures the character, both of the show and Jack. Preparing to torture his own brother (who turns out to be one of the head bad guys) he warned that he was prepared to hurt him. "You're already hurting me," the brother said...to which Jack replied, "Trust me, I'm not." Can't wait to see how this turns out.


The Great Ice Storm

Thursday of last week, it was 68 degrees.

What a difference a day makes. On Friday, the first of four waves of freezing rain, sleet, ice and snow swept across Oklahoma. Just about everything in our part of the state is still blanketed with a layer of ice--trees, bushes, power lines and the roads.

We missed the worst of it here in Tulsa, but even so, this is what we had hanging from the eaves today. Toto, I'm pretty sure we aren't in Arizona anymore.

But then, my wife got a phone call from one of our friends in Tucson. Last night they hit 20 and her water pipes froze! So I guess it's cold all over. But I'm loving the winter, and not having to turn on the air conditioner to run the fireplace.

Best Immigration Solution Ever

Everybody talks about illegal immigration, but not very many people seem to really be interested in solving the problem. Well today I came across the best solution I've seen yet from Free Frank Warner: (Hat tip No Left Turns)

By setting the minimum wage for illegal immigrants at a handsome $14.50 an hour, several problems would be solved.
* It would encourage foreigners with more education and training to come to the United States. If they’re going to sneak in illegally, it wouldn’t hurt anyone if they bring high-level skills.
* It would encourage employers to check thoroughly whether their employees are illegal immigrants. If an employer pays the American citizen’s minimum wage and then the worker turns out to be an illegal immigrant, the employer would have to pay the missed wages and heavy penalties, and worse, he might have to go to jail for theft.

There's lots more...and it's well worth reading the whole thing.


The Book Arrives!!!

Several years ago I taught a series of Sunday school lessons in the church we were attending at the time. After the class ended, I wrote them up and sent them to a publisher--and today, the finished product showed up in the mail! I'm very thrilled to see it.

You can order the book from the publisher by clicking here. (This is technically known in the book world as shameless self-promotion!)


Mexico Invades America

This is amazing. You probably didn't hear about this at all, and if you did, it was probably downplayed by the media into no big deal. But one blogger did the media's job for them--went and actually interviewed the people involved to get the real story. This is ugly, and if (more like since) our government refuses to face the truth, it's going to get worse.

Those of us who are concerned about illegal immigration are often portrayed as ignorant xenophobic bigots. But there are real issues here. And hiding our heads in the sand won't make them go away. This is long, but you need to read the whole thing.

Mexican Gunmen Involved in Arizona Border Incident Actually Uniformed Mexican Force

By Heidi at Euphoric Reality

The excursion into U.S. territory last week by "Mexican gunmen" was not a chance confrontation between the Arizona National Guard and untrained illegal immigrants, but a deliberate "perimeter probe" by an infantry-trained, uniformed Mexican force, officials say.
Euphoric Reality has learned in exclusive interviews with high-ranking sources within both the Arizona National Guard and the U.S. Border Patrol that the incident the mainstream media calls a "standoff" was in reality a military-style operation, carried out by a unit of Mexican troops dressed in military uniforms, flak jackets, and armed with AK-47s in an apparent operation to probe the border defenses and test the limits of the National Guard troops. Using easily recognizable infantry movement tactics (such as arm and hand signals and flanking maneuvers), the Mexican unit deliberately moved in a military formation across the border from Mexico, where they were picked up by National Guard surveillance.

As the hostile force moved north over the next three hours, deeper into Arizona, National Guardsmen wearing night vision goggles were able to ascertain that the approaching gunmen were indeed uniformed (including PAGST helmets) and heavily armed. When the Mexican unit came within approximately 100 yards of the EIT site, the Guardsmen repositioned themselves in order to maintain surveillance and tactical advantage. They observed the Mexican unit sweep through the EIT site, and then rapidly withdrew back into Mexico. No shots were fired by either the Mexican gunmen or the Guardsmen. Border Patrol was on the scene within minutes of the Mexican unit's withdrawal.

The Guardsmen, through an Arizona Border Patrol official, confirmed that the incident appeared to be an intelligence-gathering exercise designed to ascertain what the National Guard's response would be to certain tactics. It is not an isolated incident, and many such probes have been reported by the Guardsmen assigned to the area. Though no shots were fired during this particular incident, shots have been fired near and in the vicinity of the soldiers at the EIT site in other situations, though not at the soldiers themselves. It is not clear from the uniforms if the Mexican soldiers were official Mexican federales or mercenaries hired by the drug cartels.
Since then, follow-on news reports have included statements from the Border Patrol that no shots were fired. This was confirmed today by Major Paul Aguirre, a Public Affairs Officer (PAO) for the Arizona National Guard. Rumors have circulated that the Guardsmen were not armed, and thus unable to defend themselves - and that is not the case. Both Major Aguirre and Rob Daniels, a Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Arizona Border Patrol, state that all Guardsmen assigned to EITs are armed, specifically with M16s and sometimes a sidearm. As well, there have been some contradictory news reports that stated the gunmen came "within yards" of the Guardsmen, while other reports state that the gunmen were approximately 100 yards away. Mr. Daniels clarified that the gunmen came as close as 100 yards to the Guardsmen. He also stated that the Guardsmen did not "retreat" but tactically repositioned themselves to maintain surveillance of the group of armed men while simultaneously radioing for Border Patrol agents. He asserted that the Guardsmen had followed their protocols perfectly, and that their services were invaluable to the Border Patrol agents.

The Myth of Troops Bringing Law Enforcement to the Border

National Guard soldiers on the border are volunteers deployed by the federal government for Operation Jump Start. They are not mandated to perform law enforcement activities and, in fact, are prohibited from doing so under the Posse Comitatus Act while federally deployed. They are assigned to the border mission for the sole purpose of supporting the Border Patrol - mostly performing administrative, engineering, and maintenance duties that free up Border Patrol agents for border enforcement.

The ramifications of this incident hitting the public awareness are significant. There are incidents on the record of specially-trained military commandos attacking Border Patrol agents, and videos in existence of uniformed Mexicans, deep in American territory, claiming to be reporters when confronted by Arizona Minutemen. Hundreds of armed incursions have been documented by the Border Patrol. In one year, June 2005 until June 2006, over 250 armed assaults have been reported by Border Patrol agents, and several agents have been killed.
Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security, has gone on the record to dismiss reports of armed incursions by a uniformed military force as "navigational mistakes", claiming that the Mexican soldiers were "lost." However, Chertoff offered no explanation as to why these "lost troops" fired on American agents. The Mexican government claims that uniformed military soldiers coming from Mexico are actually American soldiers disguised as Mexican soldiers. Furthermore, when confronted with the possibility that Mexican commandos called Los Zetas, trained by U.S. Special Forces at Fort Bragg to support the Drug War, have defected from the military and now work as mercenaries for the drug cartels, Mexican officials have worked very hard to debunk such evidence. In an official report presented to the U.S. on behalf of the Mexican Office of Inter-Intelligence Affairs, Mexico claimed that "the Zeta army, or syndicate, is no more real than the crying lady of Puebla."

Yet, contrary to Mexican denials, Los Zetas do exist, and the U.S. Border Patrol is very familiar with them. In a June 2006 investigative news piece by News Channel 5 in Texas, Zetas discussed their training and murderous missions. They also issued a warning:
"These two members of the Zeta army also have a warning for American law enforcement: They are here, with cells operating in Roma, Rio Grande City and Mission - and more are coming.
'It is not a lie,' Zeta-2 said. 'They need to check good, because it is true.'"

Los Zetas: Guns Gone Bad

During the 1990s, U.S. Army Special Forces trained a number of Mexican federal agents and army units in special warfare tactics as part of an effort to aid the struggling Mexican government in the Drug War involving the violent drug cartels of northern Mexico. It's been said that "the training was remedial in nature, and did not exceed international peace time law of NATO forces training foreign combat forces in tactical warfare." Lest we worry about the operational proficiency of such mercenaries, Wikipedia has this unattributed entry:
"The training lasted a mere three months in the sweltering North Carolina heat. In total, 300 Mexican agents and army officers participated in the summer long exercise. Years later, unsealed documents revealed that the training proved to be no more than an extended boot camp. "It was more a media and propaganda effort then it was for actual tactical training that could be used in combat," one of the US Special Forces Officers that participated in the effort stated. "They brought them [sic] boys here, and most of them could fire a gun already, so we just showed them a lot of video of Special Forces training from the early 70's. We were not about to teach or display tactics that make Special Forces what they are. That's why when I read that these boys that are 'Zetas' were Special Forces trained, I almost wet myself with laughter.'"
What the Zetas may lack in professional specialized training, they make up for in ruthless and savage violence. Last year, Times Magazine exposed much of the brutality in an article called Brutal New Drug Gangs Are Terrorizing The U.S.-Mexico Border, and added further information about the identity of Los Zetas.

"According to Mexican officials, Lazcano was a clean-cut Mexican army recruit from the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz when he was picked a decade ago to be part of the highly trained Airborne Special Forces Group. The unit was sent to the eastern border to battle drug trafficking. But in the late 1990s, Lazcano and more than 30 other members of the special forces began working for drug lord Osiel Cardenas, head of the Matamoros-based Gulf cartel, which at the time controlled almost one-third of the Mexican drug trade. "

Official Mexican propaganda notwithstanding, it can be safely assumed that the Zetas are a paramilitary force that has made regular incursions over our border in sometimes heavily-armed assaults. Whether they are actual Mexican federales or uniformed mercenaries in the employ of the drug cartels remains to be seen. Perhaps a small clue to the uniforms is found in the News Channel Five investigative report:

"The municipal police, the state police, the ministerial police, the police of the state,' Zeta-1 said. 'The soldiers and the federal preventive police. The military on the border. They are bought by the Zetas.' The Zeta's tools even include uniforms given by the police themselves."

Regardless of who the uniformed soldiers are, or who commands them, what is paramount is that our southern border security is breached by foreign troops on an increasingly aggressive basis. While our National Guard troops are effectively hamstrung by political restrictions, foreign military soldiers press the advantage. Border Patrol agents have already given their lives in a heroic effort to guard our border, and it is only a matter of time before we lose American soldiers. Is that what it will take for our government to finally take the matter of border security seriously? This is no longer a matter of local civilian law enforcement; it is a matter of national security. For politicians, no matter their affiliation, to play partisan games with our national safety and security is a betrayal of their constituents' trust, and the constitutional duties of their office.


Nick Saban Is the Right Coach for Bama

From his press conference:

"I know there are tremendous expectations here for what you would like to accomplish at this football program. And I can tell that, however you feel about it, I have even higher expectations…I want to win every game we play.

Work every day to dominate your opponent…relentless in the competitive spirit. I want every team we play to say, ‘I hate playing against these guys.’ That takes a lot of conditioning and preparation, and it takes a mindset that says you’re going to compete for sixty minutes, regardless of the score."

Works for me...


ESPN and its Idiot Readers

The people at ESPN are not exactly noted for their intelligence. Rather, they've long been (rightly) decried for their bias against the SEC and their slanted "news" coverage. Today, they outdid themselves. On line, they have a poll regarding Bama's hiring of Nick Saban which includes the following gems:

STUPID QUESTION #1 (6) Is Saban an upgrade from Mike Shula?
57.3% Yes
42.7% No

UPDATE: The response to this question is now (5 CST) 50-50 (50.3 to 49.7 to be exact). Folks, my 19 year old daughter who likes baseball better than football would be an upgrade from Mike Shula. Keep in mind that the people who answer this question are also able to vote (well eligible--whether they can find the polling place is another question)...and then you will grasp the reason we have such trouble getting good people in office.

STUPID QUESTION #2 (7) Did Alabama fire Shula prematurely? (26-23 over 4 seasons, 10-2 in 2005, 1-1 in bowls, 0-8 vs. LSU and Auburn)
71.3% Yes
28.7% No

Anybody who would ask either of those questions is too dumb to be let out without a minder...and to the 42.7 and 71.3 per cent respectively who answered those two exceedingly stupid questions wrong, what color is the sky on your planet????

Finally a Coach

Well, it's amazing what a guarantee of 3.5 to 4 mill a year will do...

Here's what I know about Nick Saban:

We won't ever see a "deer in the headlights" look on the sidelines
We won't be calling timeouts to discuss our indecision with our therapist
We won't be scoring one touchdown per conference game
We won't be blowing leads in the fourth quarter 3 or 4 times a year
We will be in shape
We will be tough
We will win games

I didn't think they'd be able to persuade Saban to leave the Dolphins, but for all the criticism (most of it justified) that Mal Moore took, he did indeed get a proven winner.

The talent is there for a really good team, especially on offense. I can't wait to see what we look like next fall. September 1 is just 240 days off! Bring on Western Carolina and let's get a new era started.

Roll Tide!