Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

I thought I'd wish my Christian friends a very blessed Resurrection Sunday (Easter) today. My apologies to my Jewish friends for missing the opportunity to wish them a blessed Pesach (Passover) on the first day of the observance.

God bless and keep you all during these sacred holidays and always!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Welcome to YouTube, MNF-Iraq!

Multi-national Forces in Iraq have embraced the phenomenon that is YouTube. You can now add the MNF-Iraq channel to your favorites line-up now on YouTube!

With terrorists feeding their videos directly to CNN for free airtime/publicity, I suppose the most we pro-victory folks can hope for is a YouTube channel, eh? Kind of a sad commentary on the choices made by our media, really.

NPR's "On the Media" did an interview with Major Armando Hernandez who is the media outreach embed chief with the multinational forces in Iraq. The interviewers mention almost immediately that terrorists have been using the internet to get their messages out for years now while our own forces have largely passed on the opportunities the internet presents (apart from the random videos produced and posted by soldiers).

I've subscribed to the new channel and am looking forward to watching these videos as they are released. I post the news from CENTCOM already and I'm sure we'll be seeing some videos that are representative of some of the operations mentioned in those releases.

The new YouTube channel is probably the ONLY place we will see videos like the one I've embedded in this post -- videos that show some of the good our forces are doing for Iraqis who are being subjected to violence at the hands of insurgents.

Enjoy the following video courtesy of the new MNF-Iraq channel. Keep up the good work MNF!!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Gathering of Eagles II -- May 26

The Gathering of Eagles in DC on St. Patrick's Day this year was a roaring success and revived the spirit of patriotism in many of us. The organization itself has been busy since that gathering with other smaller gatherings across the country and planning for the next big one in DC.

Larry Bailey's announcement of GOE II was posted today:

[...] The next Gathering will be held, as most of you know by now, back on the Mall in Washington, DC, on May 26th. We are teaming with Rolling Thunder to put on one of the biggest “Support the Troops” rallies ever seen in this nation. Check the website for details and start organizing your car pools and bus charters. The Headquarters Hotel is the Georgetown Holiday Inn in the District of Columbia. We have 150 rooms available at a significantly discounted price; they’re filling up fast, so make your reservations soon. [...]

See you there?

New Majority = New Taxes? Gee thanks.

Well America, way to go! Thanks for voicing your discontent by electing a majority that is notorious for raising taxes rather than trimming spending. (You are sensing the sarcasm here, aren't you?)

At least those of us in the 4th District know that Representative Geoff Davis has our back on tax increases! This article is from his newsletter this week. (I wish they would publish this particular newsletter in full form to the Congressman's website -- it's always worth a read.)

Congress Continues Work on the Budget

Last week before adjourning for the spring recess, House Democrats ushered their fiscally-irresponsible budget proposal for FY2008 through the House. I was proud to vote against this budget that includes an average tax increase of $2,563 for an estimated 1,405,000 Kentuckians.

I supported the alternative budget offered by the Republicans. The Republican substitute achieves a balanced budget by 2012 and would maintain the tax relief enacted in 2001 and 2003. Without maintaining these important provisions, more than 1,245,000 Kentuckians would see their taxes increase as the 10% tax rate bracket disappears, more than 476,000 Kentuckians would see their taxes increase an average of $466 as a result of reinstatement of the marriage penalty, and more than 381,000 families would see their tax bills increase as the child tax credit reverts to $500 from $1,000. These tax increases on our hard working Kentucky families are not necessary.

Perhaps most importantly, the Republican alternative budget, unlike the Democrat proposal, provided meaningful reform in entitlement spending. Current entitlement spending is growing at an unsustainable pace, and we must act now or face the loss of future benefits. The budget proposed by Republicans builds on the successes of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 as it achieves an additional $279 billion in savings over five years. These savings are achieved without a reduction in benefits. By implementing reforms, overall entitlement growth is moderated from 5.2% to 4.3% annually. In stark contrast, the Democrats' budget contains no reforms despite continued warnings from financial and economic analysts that immediate action is required to maintain the solvency of entitlement programs.

The Republican alternative budget also contained measures to increase government accountability and transparency in spending, such as line item veto power for the President. The legislative line item veto would give the President the authority to veto specific measures in spending bills and send them back to Congress for an up or down vote on the project. The Republican proposal also established caps on discretionary spending in annual appropriations bills. I believe these measures would go a long way towards reducing wasteful spending and forcing Congress to be more accountable.

In addition, the Republican alternative strengthened the Democrat-supported PAYGO, or pay-as-you-go, budget rules. The provision in the Republican budget requires direct spending increases to be offset with spending reductions, not new taxes. This type of reform would ensure that taxes could not be raised to pay for reckless spending.

Though the Republican alternative budget proposal was ultimately defeated, I believe it contained many provisions that are important for our ongoing dialogue about fiscal restraint in Congress. As the House and Senate work to find compromise on the budget, I will continue to fight for permanent tax relief, meaningful entitlement reform, and against needless tax increases for Kentucky families.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Pakistan: Their peace = our problem?

I posted about this a while back when Daveed Gartenstein-Ross's piece about South Waziristan was published in The Weekly Standard. He wrote extensively about the Warizistan Accords and what they meant to our efforts in Afghanistan. Pakistan's surrender of that territory to al-Qaeda was indeed bad news for our forces.

Now in a new story from CBN News, "Bajaur: When 'Peace' Yields War," we find that the Waziristan Accords have indeed cost us mightily:
...since that deal, al-Qaeda and the Taliban have increased their attacks into Afghanistan by some 300 percent. ...
And, the saga of Musharraf's peace-making in Pakistan continues with the surrender of Bajaur to a Taliban leader:

... Sources told CBN News this accord is similar to the Waziristan treaty, in which Pakistan turned control of that region over to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

"Bajaur is right by an area where there's been a lot of insurgent activity in Afghanistan. So there's obviously a concern that with this new accord, there will be much more of an increase in attacks against Coalition forces," said CBN News consultant Daveed Gartenstein-Ross.

High-level intelligence sources have told CBN News that the Pakistani government made the deal with Faqir Mohamed, a powerful Taliban leader in Bajaur.

Mohamed's group sent more than 10,000 troops to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Pilots bombed his home in Bajaur last year to target a top al-Qaeda leader.

Basically, with these accords, he becomes the king of Bajaur. He's a man who is incredibly influential, incredibly powerful there, and basically is the perfect confluence of factors to help al-Qaeda," said Gartenstein-Ross. ...

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf agreed to the Bajaur accord despite increasing White House pressure to crack down on jihadists in the tribal regions.

As Musharraf attempts to make peace within his own country, it would seem that he is setting up NATO and Coalition Forces for more trouble in Afghanistan if the Waziristan Accords are any indicator. This seems like a bit of a double-edged sword for Pakistan, really. Find peace within their borders only to have war waged against Afghanistan from within their borders? Sticky situation, without a doubt.

Musharraf is either (a) helping us by allowing the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces to settle into one central location where they can be easily irradicated; or, (b) hurting us by allowing the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces to settle into one central location to rebuild their strength and fight again for Afghanistan. Option "a" is the only option that helps the US, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Let's hope Musharraf knows which side he's on... and it's our side!