John Wayne is the Duke. Elvis is the King.

John Wayne's Holster: August 2005
John Wayne's Holster
Visit my main blog at Monkey Wrench Revival. Visit my birdwatching blog at The Birding Nerd.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Today Gaza, Tomorrow Jerusalem

Banner Reads Today Gaza and Tomorrow Jerusalem

Ariel Sharon’s Disengagement policy is now in full swing. It has been less that one week since Jews living in Gaza were forced to evacuate the homes and abandon their businesses. Once all the Jewish settlers are gone, the area will be turned over to the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Opponents of the Disengagement are fearful that the surrender of Gaza will not have the desired peace-promoting affects, but rather will only serve to embolden Palestinian terror groups to achieve their long-stated goals of annihilating all Jews and gaining control of all Jewish-occupied territories in Gaza, as well as the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Affirming these fears, some Palestinian terror groups were calling for exactly that – even before the Disengagement was officially underway. Now it seems that the United Nations itself is lending its support to the PA.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is funding a Palestinian propaganda campaign that includes the production of materials (hats, banners, bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc) bearing the slogan “Today Gaza, Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem.”. According the the New York Sun, the slogan has apparently been adopted by senior members of the PA, and by Hamas.

John Bolton, US Ambassador to the UN, is not letting the action slip by unnoticed. Bolton labeled the UNDP’s support of the campaign as “inappropriate and unacceptable.” Jewish leaders and Israeli officials have also brought the issue to the attention of the UNDP. The UNDP responded by saying that they thought it was unacceptable that the UNDP logo was associated with the propaganda.

The logo? What about the message being conveyed by the slogan?!

It seems that the UN is OK with it. In fact, when FOX News confronted Timothy Rothermel, the UNDP representative in Gaza, about it, he said that it was “consistent with the relevant U.N. resolutions in the Security Council decisions about the status of Palestine.

There was no word from the UN as to whether to funding of the Palestinian propaganda campaign would continue. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has not made any statement.

John Bolton and the US Congress should not wait around for Mr. Annan to take action. The US currently funds approximately 25% of the UN’s budget – that’s our tax dollars at work. The UNDP is misusing that money! The UNDP was set up as an impartial development organization to assist overpopulated and underdeveloped regions of the world in finding their own solutions to global and national development challenges and the help them attract and use aid effectively. I don’t see how funding geopolitical propaganda campaigns and assisting terrorism falls under that umbrella.

The UN better clean up it’s act. Or the US should withhold it's UN dues. Thankfully we have John Bolton to keep the fire at their feet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Peace Mission 2005

August 18th will mark the beginning of joint military exercises (cleverly dubbed Peace Mission 2005) between Russia and the Peoples Republic of China. The exercises, which will involve approx. 10,000 troops, are modest by US standards, but indicate that the two nations may be forging a new partnership aimed at counter-balancing or eliminating US influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

China has the potential to be the dominant economy in the Asia-Pacific region, if not the world. For China to realize this, it must expand its maritime influence. In China’s view, the United States is in it's way. The United States essentially controls economic activity in the region. Our control is assured by our strong military presence and is supported by our alliances with Japan, Taiwan and Australia, among others. China (and Russia) would like to see this change.

Towards this end, China has two main goals, to recapture Taiwan and to control shipping lanes in the South China Sea (the energy life line for most of Asia). To achieve these goals, impediments (i.e. the United States) must be removed.

The geopolitical, economic and strategic importance of Taiwan can not be understated! Both China and the United States realize this. As such, China is willing to go to any lengths to regain control of Taiwan, which is vital to maintaining their economic growth and establishing sea lines of communication to ensure their ability to import oil. The United States has repeatedly stated its desire to maintain the status quo with Taiwan, and is willing to defend her against any attempt by China to seize control. Something has to give. The United States military better be prepared, because China will not be deterred. She is patient.

Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping laid the foundation for China’s military strategy. This strategy can best be summed-up using Deng’s own words, “bide our time, build our capabilities”. That is exactly what China has been doing. China has been slowly increasing the number of short-range ballistic missiles pointed across the Taiwan Strait. Currently there are over 800 missiles. China has also been expanding its air power and blue water navy for the seemingly inevitable clash with the US over Taiwan. China recently acquired Russian SU-27 and SU-30 fighter jets, three Sovremenny-class destroyers, several Kilo-class submarines, and a Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier.

China is in the market for more!

It is no coincidence that tomorrow’s military exercises are with Russia. Russia is China’s biggest supplier of military equipment. The war games will give Russia a chance to display their latest weaponry, including the cruise missile-capable TU-22 and TU-95 bombers, as well as a variety of anti-submarine ships, amphibious assault vehicles, and submarines.

China is also working behind the scenes to undermine US alliances in the region. China recently offered favorable trade and energy deals with Australia in exchange for their agreement not to assist the US with troops should a dust-up develop over Taiwan. In addition, China has been lobbying hard to convince Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to close the US Airbases they are hosting. It should also be noted that China and Russia are not supportive of current US efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have done very little to alleviate tensions with North Korea.

Despite all this (not to mention China’s glowing human rights record), China has most-favored nation trading status, they are on the positive end of a sizeable trade deficit with the US, their diplomats and citizens have virtually unfettered access to the US govt, and they have been stealing our military technology from under our noses. Yet nothing is being done to stop this, mostly due to pressure for corporate interests that are heavily invested in China's impending growth.

We need to put the safety and security of the United States before the commercial interests of international corporations. China is not our ally. Someone in the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, or the Pentagon better take note.

Peace Mission 2005? Peace Mission my ass!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Long Live the King!

Rock Idol Elvis Presley Dies at 42

By Larry Rohter and Tom Zito
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 17, 1977
(© 1977 The Washington Post Co.)

Elvis Presley, who revolutionized American popular music with his earthy singing style and became a hero to two generations of rock 'n' roll fans, died yesterday in Memphis, Tenn. He was 42.

Shelby County Medical Examiner Dr. Jerry Francisco said last night an autopsy indicated Presley died of "cardiac arrhythmia," which he described as a "severely irregular heartbeat" and "just another name for a form of heart attack." He said the three-hour autopsy uncovered no sign of any other diseases -- though Presley had in recent years been treated at Baptist Memorial Hospital for hypertension, pneumonia and an enlarged colon -- and there was no sign of any drug abuse.

Presley’s body was discovered at 2:30 p.m. Memphis time by his road manager, Jerry Esposito, in a bathroom in the singer’s multimillion-dollar Graceland Mansion. He was rushed to the Baptist Memorial, where he was met by his personal physician, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, and pronounced dead.

Read the rest of the article HERE

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Never Again! At Least Not Yet

Photo from Jerusalem Post

The Palestinians and the Jews both deserve a homeland. The question of how to bring this about peacefully has plagued the Middle East for generations. It is not my intention to summarize that history here. Those interested can find countless links on the interent to give you both sides of the story.

The tensions between Jews and Palestinians in the region are as high as ever. Now, Ariel Sharon has a plan called Disengagement. Under considerable pressure from the West, and severe cases of amnesia and myopia, Ariel Sharon has put into effect a plan to evacuate Gaza and the northern portion of the West Bank. The plan calls for all Jews living in the region to pack up their homes and businesses and vacate the area. Once the exodus is complete, Gaza will be used for the establishment of a Palestinian state – the first step in bringing peace to the region.

Sounds reasonable on the surface. But I wonder why the Jews living in Gaza have to leave for this to happen? Sounds like ethnic cleansing to me! There are also other ramifications of this which I will discuss below.

President Bush has assured Sharon that he will support Israel’s claim to “defensible borders”. To Israel, this means the West Bank. Perhaps someone should point out that the Palestinians have not agreed to this. In return for control of Gaza, the Palestinians have agreed to reciprocate by…um?…DOING NOTHING! The Disengagement plan essentially amounts to a unilateral withdraw on the part of Israel. A surrender that Palestinians see as a victory in their war against Israel. A victory they attribute to the successes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In fact, there is no indication that the Palestinian terror groups have backed-off from their goal of the complete annihilation of Israel.

Disengagement? Has Ariel Sharon flipped his yarmulke?

Opponents of the Disengagement plan see it as a disastrous military move that puts the safety of Israelis and the security of Israel itself in grave jeopardy. Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believes that “Gaza will be transformed into a base for Islamic terrorism adjacent to the coast of the State of Israel” al-Quaeda is known to have a working relationship with Hamas and it likely to establish operations there. In fact, evidence indicates that al-Quaeda operatives, in the form of the “Jihad Brigades in the Promised Land”, are already moving in to the region. In addition, according to Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, Israel’s intelligence chief, al-Quaeda is shifting its operation from Afghanistan to North Africa.

The effect of the Disengagement plan is to give the terror groups, whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel, a base for operations within striking range of Israel itself. (It is not that far from Europe either.) To exacerbate matters, the forced evacuation of Jews from Gaza has the effect of depriving Israel of vital intelligence outposts and thereby creating a safe haven for the terrorists to train, plan and launch their operations.

As if this were not enough, the plan also calls to the release to hundreds of prisoners by the Israeli government. A large number of these prisoners are affiliated with Hamas, Fatah, and other terrorist organizations. Are we to believe that they will go home, withdraw to the countryside and raise sheep? Unlikely!

The Third Intifada has started. As Cal Thomas rhetorically asks, "Who will stop it?" It certainly won't be the Palestinians or the Arab states that fund them. The United Nations is unlikely to get involved, particularly if France has any say in the matter. Will it be Europe - with all there business interests with the Arab world? Can the United States afford to entangle themselves in the issue, in light of their precarious situation with Iraq and Iran? It seems as if the process has been set in motion from which there will be no turning back. Gaza is first, the West Bank and Jerusalem will be next! Israel will slowly fade from the region. And the West will stand-by - dumbfounded - watching.

And they said it could never happen again!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bush Gets His Guy - Goo Goo G'Joob

Bypasing the Senate, President Bush made a recess appointment and named John Bolton as Ambassador to the United Nations. Democrats wasted no time in criticizing the President for the move. In reality, the move should not have come as a surprise - Bush had little choice in the matter. The UN has already begun to discuss the reforms set forward by Secretary General Kofi Annan. It is critical that the President have his ambassador present for these negotiations to ensure that the views of the US (which pays 22% of the UN’s budget) are heard. So like it or not, Bush got his man! And it is John Bolton!

Bolton will serve for a minimum of 18 months - until the next session of Congress opens. At that time, he will come up for a vote again, where it is widely believed he will be confirmed. Within hours of the appointment, Bolton was sworn in and was on the job. Bolton's mission, according to the President, is to “…speak for me on critical issues facing the international community. [John Bolton will] make it clear that America values the potential of the United Nations to be a source of hope and dignity and peace.

What exactly is are the UN's role? Contrary to the view apparently held by Senate democrats, the role of the UN is NOT to protect and maintain the status quo. According to the UN charter, its role is to advance peace and freedom, to protect fundamental human rights, and to promote social progress. The President, and the majority of Congressional conservatives, believe that the UN has strayed from its mission.

President Bush firmly believes that the UN must return to its roots if it is to realize its intended mission. In recent years, the UN has been rocked by scandals. For example, Sudan served on the Human Rights Commision - in the midst of an ongoing genocide in its own country. Institutional mismanagement has lead to a cornucopia of corruption, such as the Iraq oil-for-food scandal, and the Congo sex scandal.

Now is a critical time to see that the UN's reform mission is accomplished. It is with that goal in mind that the President has sent John Bolton. By most accounts, Bolton is a tough man to work for – an SOB if you will. He is straight shooter - blunt, in your face, and demanding. Just the type of guy the President wants. The kind of guy the UN desparately needs. The President is not looking to send someone to nod and coddle the bureaucrats on Embassy row, but rather to knock some heads together and get some results.

He found the right guy!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Gun Manufacturers Don't Kill, Felons Do!

Me and My Winchester

The Senate overwhelmingly passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S. 397) on Friday by a margin of 65-31. The legislation is designed to protect lawful firearm manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits largely brought by gun-control advocates. Anti-gun activists have lobbied unsuccessful in the past for tighter gun-control measures. Failing to gain adequate support, they sought to have their will imposed on us through the courts.

Although the frivolous lawsuits have not been successful overall, they have cost the firearms industry, which operates on a small margin, over $200 million in litigation costs. As Alan M. Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), points out, "These legal actions, backed by extremists in the gun control lobby, have no other purpose than to financially devastate the gun industry…”

In my opinion, the position of the gun-control lobby is not well founded. This legislation is common sense – regardless of where one stands on the 2nd amendment. How can one rightfully sue a manufacturer for the wrongful misuse of its product by a third party? Moreover, manufactures typically do not sell firearms directly to the man on the street. Rather, they are first sold to federally licensed wholesalers, who, in turn, sells them to federally licensed retailers, who sells them to a lawful purchaser. If that lawfully-sold firearm winds up in the hand of a felon, how is the manufacturer liable?

Unfortunately, people are murdered everyday in this country. Some are killed with guns, others with knives, and still more with diverse items such clubs, cars, hammers or ropes. Should we also sue the manufactures of these products? That would be madness!

I believe I have a solution to this problem. It may seem far out and crazy to some of you. Perhaps even radical. I suggest that, rather than going after the law-abiding gun manufacturers, we go after the criminals instead!