At the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Dr. James McHenry, a Maryland delegate, followed Benjamin Franklin from Independence Hall. He recorded a question asked by a lady, directed at Dr. Franklin.

The lady asked, "Well Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?"

"A republic," replied Dr. Franklin, "if you can keep it."


"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." - Ayn Rand

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Does the US have a Border Strategy?

The Obama Administration seems to falter at every turn because of a lack of visionary and even competent leadership. Nowhere is this more apparent than their policy on securing America's Southern Border.

(LINK) Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, took sharp aim Tuesday at Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton over the controversial ATF gun program dubbed Operation Fast and Furious.

“On March 4, 2001, Senator Charles E. Grassley wrote to you requesting basic information about the connection between Operation “Fast and Furious”conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and the December 14, 2010 firefight that claimed the life of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry,” Issa wrote. “I understand you have yet to respond and are likely to refuse Senator Grassley’s request for information without a letter from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“This refusal is mystifying in its own right, given Senator Grassley’s standing as the Ranking Member of that Committee. More inexplicably, your refusal stands in stark contradiction to the promise of transparency promoted by President Obama. During Sunshine Week last year, the President stated that he had “recommit(ed) (his) administration to be the most open and honest ever.”
“Given the gravity of this matter, this refusal is simply unacceptable,” he wrote. “Therefore, I am joining Senator Grassley’s request for any and all records relating to a meeting involving the then-U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual with Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Mr. Breuer’s deputy, and other officials in Mexico City in the summer of 2010 regarding “on-going investigations” related to Project Gunrunner and its “Fast and Furious” component….Additionally, please explain in detail the reasons behind your refusal to answer the Senator directly.” (DEAFENING SILENCE FROM OBAMA'S ADMINISTRATION)
ATF Operation - Fast and Furious let guns “walk” into hands of Mexican drug cartels with aim of tracking and breaking a big case. Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.
CBS News: He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?
“Yes ma’am,” Dodson told CBS News. “The agency was.”
Documents show the inevitable result: The guns that ATF let go began showing up at crime scenes in Mexico. And as ATF stood by watching thousands of weapons hit the streets… the Fast and Furious group supervisor noted the escalating Mexican violence.

One e-mail noted, “958 killed in March 2010 … most violent month since 2005.” The same e-mail notes: “Our subjects purchased 359 firearms during March alone,” including “numerous Barrett .50 caliber rifles.”

On Dec. 14, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down. Dodson got the bad news from a colleague. According to Dodson, “They said, ‘Did you hear about the border patrol agent?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And they said ‘Well it was one of the Fast and Furious guns.’ There’s not really much you can say after that.”

It seems that the most problematic gun runners into Mexico was the Government of the United States. Is this a key component of Obama's Strategy? At the same time that the Obama Government was running guns to the Mexican cartels, they were howling about the "gun problem" along the US Border. How can the Obama Administration possibly condone arming Mexican cartel members at taxpayer expense and then criticize Americans who live along the border from banding together for self protection -- as it turns out -- from American firearms and ammunition that was being used against them.

The Obama Administration has been faithful in telling Americans that there are areas where the narcotics cartels are in control. We ceded territory to criminal organizations... when in history have we done that before?

Where is the coherent policy? Where is the aching concern for the lives and property of American citizens?

Obama stands behind the lecturn and speaks from his teleprompter - but WHAT is his REAL Border Strategy? Actions speak louder than words. 

Does America need an ATF? What do they do that can't be done by other agencies? Should we fold the agents into some other agency where the work can be more carefully managed?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bloody Mexico - Vincente's Defense

Vangardia (LINK) reports (in the Spanish language) the strategy of the legal defense team in the matter of Vincente Zambada Niebla, coming to trial in Chicago on Wednesday, March 30, 2011. But before we go there, let's take a step back and put it in context with his arrest. 

CNN Reported ( "Vicente Zambada Niebla, known as "El Vicentillo," was arrested Wednesday (March 19, 2009) along with five subordinates, Mexico's defense department and attorney general's office said in a joint release. The men were acting suspiciously and had military-grade weapons, officials said.
"Zambada is the son of Ismael Zambada GarcĂ­a, known as "El Mayo." The elder Zambada is a top lieutenant in the Sinaloa cartel, headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, officials said."
Vincent Zambada would be hard pressed to assert that he had not trafficked or caused to be trafficked, tons of cocaine, firearms, and had conspired to do the things that drug kingpins do. The US Government's case (1:09-CR-00383) is well defined, the witnesses are stacked up and to that extent there are no surprises. The defense team are not alleging that Vincente didn't do it. They are saying that the US Government was complicit in his drug dealing. In some cases, the "dog ate the homework" defense works and in others, it doesn't. While we don't know what the US Government did and didn't do, we can presume that they helped the Mexican government in their counter-narcotics efforts and we're also safe in presuming that many Mexican officials were complicit in the Sinaloa Cartel's drug empire.

To quote Vangardia and reporter Anabel Hernandez (with slight editorializing because she writes in Spanish), the defense filed a motion on March 15 (2011) that shows that the narcotics trafficking undertaken by Vincente Zambada was done with the consent of the US Department of Justice, DEA, FBI, the US Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE). They specify that the DEA's regional assistant for South America, the Director General of DEA in Mexico as well as DEA agents assigned to Monterrey, Hermosillo and Mexico City  as well as FBI Agents assigned to Mexico are involved in the complicit activities alleged. 

Was the Obama Administration complicit in drug running? I personally doubt it. There is a substantial burden on the defense when they make this sort of "public authority" allegation. All we can do now is to wait and see how it plays out.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

While I like to appear optimistic when discussing the situation in the Middle East, the revolutionary movements don't seem to be leading to increases liberty and tolerance there. Our indecisive, post-American president simply adds fuel to the fire as he sends the wrong message by golfing and vacationing his way through office.

There are many people in Iran and the Arab nations of the world who yearn for freedom and who want to take themselves and their culture and religion move toward the 21st century (and since their starting point is psychologically in the 12th century, they have a huge task before them). However, history stridently shows us that voices of reason will be subsumed into the collective paranoia of the Arab mind and fanned by ideology of Islam. 

For too long that collective mind, marinating in Islamic fundamentalism, has been flying in the face of reality and willfully refusing to acknowledge it. Why? Because there are far too many unpleasant truths and painful self-knowledge that need to be faced about both their culture and their religon before thay can escape from the medieval rut they are in.

The Obama presidency has been marked by intense pandering to Islam and it has been rewarded very predictably, with contempt. I don't know that things can change while this president is in power. AND I don't know that Islam will become a kinder, gentler system of faith while I draw breath.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Recession in a Nut Shell

Why are we as a nation, bankrupt?

There are a lot of people out there who would make the answer very complicated, but it's a very simple matter. (note above)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Housing - Landscape for the Soul

I take a keen interest in what my neighbors do to their homes, because their improvements and the look of the area reflects on me personally, as does my home. When you walk into my house, the decor reflects my personality, my preferences, and that of my family. I don't look up to those with more means and a better home with a better view, or down on those who have less than I do. I grew up as one of those people with less, but my lawn was always mowed and the house looked bright and fresh. My home as a child and my home as an adult were/are the results of personal achievement.

But what about public housing projects? Are they a solution to the problems that they purport to cure? I find the evidence less than encouraging. Most of them turn into slums, sinkholes of human misery where the problems that people had when they moved in are only magnified. Politicians see housing not as the consequence of lifestyle choices but as the cause of lifestyle. They have the equation skewed beyond recognition and the result was public policy making housing available to everyone irrespective of their ability to pay -- and it bankrupt the planet.

The architectural terrain is a mere reflection of human terrain. Buildings are an expression of the economic, social and cultural conditions of the human beings they enclose. They are like the Picture of Dorian Gray, they show the soul within the man. The place to start isn’t by giving a man a house; it is by giving him an opportunity. Socialists and communists are convinced that the soul can be altered by a change of clothes. After all, politicians do it all the time. And public housing is popular with the construction industry and only costs the taxpayers a few dollars more.

Whether we're speaking of bloated fools like Al Gore or other "social engineers" developing grandiose plans to save the environment from humans, or building the next housing project for the poor, they all miss the point. The internal landscape of the soul of any human being at any moment in time will be externalized and reflected in that human's behavior; or, how he presents himself to the world. Character and one's state of mind will find expression in the environment the human creates around himself and in which he chooses to live. It can also be found by examining those with whom he chooses to associate.

Poverty does not have to translate chaos, crime, or ugliness--but sadly, it often does because those realities lurk inside the soul of many poor persons. They are nurtured within a culture of victimhood--a culture in which they are taught early that there are only two options in life: being a victim, or victimizing others.

Handouts and programs that are created with the "best" of intentions, including all those wonderful public housing programs for the poor--fail to take all this into account. All those do-gooders with the grandiose plans for the poor probably don't deliberately intend to make people feel like losers; but that is what is reinforced by all those government programs.

The Democratic Party has been the party which has enabled that victimization philosophy through their concept of keeping black people on the 'plantation' where they will remain poor and dependent on hand-outs. It's a way to keep them voting Democrat at the expense of their own souls. Freedom means making choices about your own life - not having those choices made for you.

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