05 May 2006    |    PatriotPost.US    |    Patriot No. 06-18

THE FOUNDATION

"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." —James Madison

TOP OF THE FOLD

What would a conservative Republican Party look like?

Well, that's exactly what Indiana Representative Mike Pence and 100 fellow House Republicans are out to answer—how to make the Republican Party the home of constitutionality and conservatism once again.

That's not to say there's no conservatism in the GOP. As the titular head of the Republican Party, President George W. Bush has distinguished himself as a conservative when it comes to foreign policy and—all importantly—in restoring the judicial branch to its proper constitutional role through the appointment of constructionist-minded judges to federal benches. That said, President Bush has failed dismally when it comes to restoring, or even holding, government to its proper constitutionally limited role.

The size of the central government has grown unabated since President Bush took office.

At present, Republicans control the executive and legislative branches of government, yet the size and regulatory role of the central government has grown unabated since President Bush took office. Of course, our nation's vigorous response to the 9/11 attacks and our pre-emptive military response to Jihadis in the Middle East and elsewhere are responsible for some of that growth, but those necessary—and we might add, constitutionally mandated—expenditures have not been offset by spending cuts to domestic programs as Mr. Bush once promised would happen.

 

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Today, the federal government spends $2.47 trillion—that's 2,470 billions of dollars—each year. Adjusted for inflation, that's 50 percent larger than the big-government Clinton-era budgets of only a decade ago, about which Republicans constantly complained. Of that, only 21 cents of every taxpayer dollar goes to national defense and homeland security. By contrast, 54 cents goes to entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and 8 cents goes to servicing the federal debt.

Meanwhile, the federal deficit will grow another $423 billion this year, raising the national debt to $8.28 trillion! While we're not exactly "The sky is falling!" deficit hawks, it's worth noting that big budgets and big deficits tighten the money supply, increasing the costs of investment and slowing economic growth and prosperity.

Enter the Republican Study Committee.

Founded in 1973 by Rep. Phil Crane to reinvigorate the GOP as the party of constitutional constructivism and social conservatism, the RSC became the premier mobilizing agent for House conservatives, dedicated to "a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government, a strong national defense, the protection of individual and property rights, and the preservation of traditional family values."

In 2005, Rep. Mike Pence became the Committee's chairman for the 109th Congress. He and his fellow conservatives have rallied around principles outlined in a speech last fall, "Another Time for Choosing," picking up the central theme of Ronald Reagan's famous 1964 speech "A Time for Choosing".

Today, under Pence's leadership, the RSC is the originator of the Contract with America: Renewed, created by Representatives Pence and Jeb Hensarling, with the aim of reviving the legislative agenda of Newt Gingrich's original 1994 Contract with America. It was that agenda, readers will recall, that catapulted Republicans into control of Congress for the first time in over 40 years.

The RSC is taking steps to get the federal government out of the entitlement business altogether.

Under the FY 2007 Contract with America: Renewed budget proposal, overall spending would be reduced by more than $700 billion and a balanced federal budget realized by 2011. The RSC proposal would make real reductions in discretionary spending (without silly and unconstitutional inventions like a "line-item veto"), rein in entitlement spending and undergird the U.S. economy with sound, pro-growth tax policy. Under the RSC plan, more than 150 other federal programs would be eliminated outright. Foreign aid—which should serve as a tool for U.S. security and interests abroad, but often falls prey to special interests—would be cut by $31 billion over five years. The ignominious six-year Highway Bill, pork-laden with roads and bridges to nowhere, would be repealed. Medicare, whose trustees this week announced will go broke in 2018, would be limited to a more sustainable growth of 5.4 percent annually—a necessary first step in getting the federal government out of the entitlement business altogether.

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As was the case in 1994, today's Contract isn't just about a return to fiscal conservatism; it includes a strong focus on social conservatism as well. Take, for instance, the Contract's objectives with respect to the three sacred cows of taxpayer-funded social liberalism: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts—not reduction, elimination.

And that's just the beginning.

In 1994, when the "Gingrich Revolution" launched the original Contract, Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, and the nation was in the grip of the Clinton presidency. The Contract nationalized the election around its agenda. It proved a monumental success in capturing both Houses for the GOP, promoting increased trade, reforming welfare and containing the advance of big-government entitlement schemes under the Clinton regime.

Now, 12 years later, with Republican control of the Senate and the Presidency, true conservatism is again set for takeoff—so what's keeping this would-be juggernaut on the launch pad?

Democrats? No, not really. In a word, it's the leadership of the Republican Party.

Indeed, DC scuttlebutt says that Pence was told his Contract: Renewed would be DOA when it hit the House floor. Sadly, the party in control is all too vulnerable to Lord Acton's famous maxim ("Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."), using earmarks, pork-barreling and other budgetary quid pro quos to stay in power. As evidence, the Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) 2006 Congressional Pig Book identifies 9,963 pork projects in 11 appropriation bills, totaling $29 billion for FY 2006 alone. Since 2003, says CAGW, congressional pork has increased by a staggering 29 percent.

Crusading reformers while out of power, the GOP in power seems seduced by Washington's tax-and-spend status quo. To make us feel better about it, it's now called "compassionate conservatism" —an agenda thoroughly embodied in President Bush's 2005 Nanny State of the Union.

Where's the Republican leadership? It's a mixed bag. In the Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist has a 92 percent overall approval rating by the American Conservative Union (ACU). Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a 96 percent ACU rating. Both have 95 percent ratings from Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). In the House, where members are more responsive to their constituents, Speaker Dennis Hastert has a 100 percent ACU rating, as does the new Majority Leader, John Boehner. The ACU gives House Whip Roy Blunt a 96. Their ATR ratings are 100, 100 and 95, respectively. That's the good news.

When it comes to government waste, the Republican leadership gets an "F."

But when it comes to government waste the story takes a different turn. CAGW gives Frist and McConnell a 66 and 69, respectively, while in the House, Hastert, Boehner and Blunt line up with scores of 50, 75 and 65. That's an average score of 65—an "F" —for the Republican congressional leadership. With government waste out of control even among the otherwise moderate-conservative leadership, and no leadership on fiscal conservatism coming from the White House, the RSC agenda faces a tough, maybe insurmountable, hill to climb.

In Rep. Pence's words during the latest round of budget negotiations, "We must not let this moment pass. The American people long for Congress to reaffirm our commitment to fiscal discipline and reform and House conservatives are ready to stand with our leadership to do just that."

Quote of the week...

"Ronald Reagan's ideas inspired a nation and they inspire me still, and as I think of the example of President Reagan, and I think of the men and women with whom I serve in the 100-member House Republican Study Committee, I know that the baton has been passed to a new generation of conservative leaders... Today in Congress, I am proud to report that a new generation of men and women aspire to do as those who went before, to do the work the American people have elected conservatives to do: to lead this country on behalf of limited government and traditional moral values." —RSC Chairman, Rep. Mike Pence

On cross-examination...

"You and I are told we must choose between a left or a right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream: the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism." —President Ronald Reagan

Open query...

"Our task now is not to sell a philosophy, but to make the majority of Americans, who already share that philosophy, see that modern conservatism offers them a political home. We are not a cult; we are members of a majority. Let's act and talk like it. The job is ours and the job must be done. If not by us, who? If not now, when?" —President Ronald Reagan

Immigration Update—Reconquista!

"We believe that we have the right to be in this land... Aztlan is California! Aztlan is this country! This country was ours... We didn't cross the borders. The borders crossed us... This country is based on exploitation!" —Member of the MeCha reconquista movement

Thousands of illegal aliens, primarily Mexican nationalists, took to the streets Monday for a May Day protest calling for amnesty and citizenship rights. Organizers, unfortunately, have more in mind—primarily "reconquista"—the re-conquest of the southwestern U.S.

"It is a show of political and economic force against the way immigrants are being treated and attacked in the U.S.," exclaimed Carlos Alvarez, spokesman for the Communist-inspired May Day event. "It is meant to show the qualitative impact of immigrants in the U.S. by their absence, their absence in the labor they produce in this country and by the wealth they produce." The mass boycott went largely unnoticed economically, unless you were a small business owner on a route closed for the protest.

But the tenor of the "reconquista" rhetoric did not go unnoticed—and it is heating up.

Rallying illegal aliens to protest immigration reform on U.S. soil does not play well with Americans.

Needless to say, rallying illegal aliens to protest immigration reform on U.S. soil does not play well with Americans—particularly those who have immigrated here legally, and understand the spirit of what it means to be an American.

Meanwhile, the Senate is slowly working toward a compromise bill creating a guest-worker program offering citizenship to illegals who meet certain criteria. Due to congressional failure to secure the border, many states are dusting off the idea of federalism and passing their own immigration laws—463 bills introduced in 43 states.

Please help stop any congressional legislation giving illegal aliens "amnesty" and "fast-track citizenship." Support The Patriot's Immigration Reform Campaign today, to provide millions of Americans this critical message so our Senators, Representatives and President will know that the vast majority of Americans reject any amnesty proposal.

News from the Swamp...

On the Hill, the Senate has all but openly dared President Bush to veto an emergency-spending bill (passed 77-21) that is $14 billion over the $94.5 billion cap he has called for. The bill, which was initially meant to fund the war in Iraq and offer more relief to the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast, has ballooned into a treasure trove of pork-barrel spending items not at all related to the original initiative. Meanwhile, the House version of the bill is in line with Bush's original request, and support for a veto of anything more than $94.5 billion is strong.

Tax cuts that are about to expire afford one opportunity for the President and congressional Republicans to come together in harmony. Together they have crafted a $70-billion package that would include tax-rate cuts in capital gains and dividends, continue small-business investment tax breaks and stall the growth of the alternative minimum tax (AMT). Of course any plan with real muscle would kill the AMT outright, but it will be hard enough to extend the tax cuts as they are now. Democrats predictably treated this proposal as a sop to the rich and are expected to fight an extension.

In the House, ethics legislation tightening rules regulating lobbyists passed in a squeaker 217-213 vote. The bill expands the information lobbyists must disclose regarding their dealings by requiring quarterly filings and full listings of gifts given to lawmakers and staffers. The legislation is much tamer than what was promised at the height of the Jack Abramoff imbroglio, and it passed in the shadow of a guilty plea by Vernon Jackson, a technology executive who bribed Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson. Jefferson's dealings persuaded eight Democrats to vote for the legislation, covering the margin of Republicans who voted against what they called a toothless bill.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Frist, after a major backlash from retailers and manufacturers, abandoned an energy-bill amendment mandating an accounting change that would have increased tax liabilities for oil and energy companies. The legislation also calls for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an overhaul of fuel-economy standards and research into alternative fuels, but it was criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for a controversial and meaningless $100 taxpayer rebate to alleviate rising gas prices. Liberals derided the gesture as too cheap, and conservatives think it's a lousy big-government idea. How about creating a comprehensive energy policy instead of making one up as we go along?

New and notable legislation: Rep. John Shadegg is preparing to introduce the Ethanol Tax Relief Act, which would temporarily suspend the 2.5-percent tariff and ridiculous 54-cent-per-gallon duty on imported ethanol until 1 January 2007. Beginning on 1 January 2007, we'd suggest at least permanently lower, if not eliminated, numbers.

The House on Thursday passed HR 4954, the "SAFE Port Act." The bill calls for $7.4 billion for port-security improvements, screening 98 percent of all incoming cargo with nuclear and biological detectors and requiring biometric ID cards for port workers.

This week's "Braying Jenny" award:

"Republicans don't want to end the culture of corruption because they continue to benefit from it. It's time for a new direction." —House Demo Leader Nancy Pelosi

The BIG huh?...

"I was recently asked about the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties. When it comes right down to it, the essential difference is that the Democrats fundamentally believe it is important to make sure that American Jews feel comfortable being American Jews." —Howard Dean

Political Futures

The campaign cash that is being raised by challengers in key congressional races may be a sign of a serious anti-incumbent wave that could sweep the 2006 elections. Of the 30 competitive congressional races this year, first-quarter campaign-finance reports show that nine incumbents have not raised as much money as their opponents, among them Republican Sen. Jon Kyl and Republican Rep. Christopher Shays. Additionally, Republican Senator Jim Talent is neck and neck in first-quarter fundraising with challenger Claire McCaskill, and "Republican" Senator Lincoln Chafee has raised less money in this election cycle than his Democrat opponent Sheldon Whitehouse.

On the National Security front...

The Iranian nuclear saga continues, with this week's episode taking place in the halls of the United Nations. There Britain, France and Germany offered the UNSC a draft resolution demanding Tehran to end uranium enrichment or face "further measures" —a thinly-veiled reference to economic sanctions. The resolution has the backing of the U.S. but met immediate resistance from Russia and China, both of whom wield a veto.

Tehran has vowed to ignore any UN resolution impinging upon their rights to pursue nuclear energy for "peaceful" ends.

While the Europeans attempt to persuade Russia and China to give their assent, Tehran has already vowed—not for the first time—to ignore any resolution impinging upon their Non-Proliferation Treaty rights to pursue nuclear energy for "peaceful" ends.

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From the warfront with Jihadistan...

In a report written by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and released this week with the State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism, the number of terrorist attacks in 2005 totaled 11,111—nearly a fourfold increase over the previous year. More than 14,600 noncombatants died in terrorist attacks, a majority in Iraq and 80 percent across the whole of the Near East and South Asia. With 30 percent of the terrorist attacks occurring in Iraq, the NCTC's "strategic assessment" concluded that though "al-Qa'ida is not the organization it was four years ago," the group was "adaptive and resilient...and important members of its core cadre remained alive and were adjusting to our operational tempo."

Consistent with The Patriot's remarks on the Long War with Jihadistan, the NCTC report concludes, "Overall, we are still in the first phase of a potentially long war. The enemy's proven ability to adapt means we will probably go through several more cycles of action/reaction before the war's outcome is no longer in doubt. It is likely that we will face a resilient enemy for years to come."

Indeed, as The Patriot surmised last year, "[I]f the war against Jihadistan began, as suggested here, on 11 September 2001, taking into account that Jihadi attacks on Western targets date back to the 1960s, then it will likely continue for decades. After all, it took 70 years to topple the Evil Empire." While the MSM will spin this report another way, make no mistake—the NCTC's conclusions are encouraging, not least for their realism.

On the Homeland Security front...

"God curse America, God save Osama bin Laden—you will never get him." —Zacarias Moussaoui

"God curse America, God save Osama bin Laden—you will never get him." So shouted 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui when allowed to speak after his sentencing—life in prison without the possibility of parole, in lieu of a possible death sentence. Moussaoui had declared Wednesday that "I won," to which Judge Leonie Brinkema replied Thursday, "You will spend the rest of your life in a supermax prison. It's absolutely clear who won." Indeed, though most Americans, ourselves included, hoped in their gut for execution, Moussaoui would have become a martyr. Instead, he will rot in solitary confinement for the rest of his days. Again, Judge Brinkema is correct: "Mr. Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory, but...instead you will die with a whimper."

Judicial Benchmarks...

From the Leftjudiciary, U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson issued his edict Wednesday that the City of San Diego must cut down the Mt. Soledad War Memorial Cross, and in his imperious ruling handed down a deadline (90 days for destroying the Cross) and a threat ($5,000 per day in fines if the Cross is not destroyed, or a similar settlement reached with the atheist plaintiff). A cross has stood on the site for decades as a veterans' memorial, honoring their sacrifice and displaying the religious freedom our nation's veterans fight to preserve.

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This is a clear instance of Leftjudicial dictatorship—the people of San Diego have voted several times to transfer the Cross as a war monument together with surrounding memorial plaques into private hands, and Judge Thompson (and other judicial despots involved in the matter) have refused to back down.

Moreover, in the last go-round over maintaining the War Memorial intact, Congress on 20 November 2004 passed HR 4818, which was then signed into law by President Bush, authorizing the federal government to acquire the entire war memorial should the City of San Diego deed over the property. Last July, San Diego voters overwhelmingly approved this transfer by a 76 percent majority, but a Superior Court judge (who, a week before the election, declared a need for a two-thirds majority vote) prevented its finalization in yet another stunning despotic refusal to obey voter-enacted law.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has indicated he'll represent the will of the voters—and the rule of the voters' law—by pursuing appeals.

This week's "Braying Justice" award:

"My sense now is that the judiciary is under assault in a way that I haven't seen before." —Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Former ACLU attorney and current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never fails to disappoint. Addressing an American Bar Association gathering this week, Ginsburg fretted over any oversight against conflicts of interest in the judiciary—likening to the Soviet Union calls for an inspector general looking into free trips for judges and financial contacts between judges and those appearing in their courtrooms. Moaned Ginsburg, "My sense now is that the judiciary is under assault in a way that I haven't seen before... It sounds to me very much like the Soviet Union was... That's a really scary idea." She's got that precisely backward—it's the U.S. Constitution and public that's under an assault from the Leftjudiciary that has never been seen before—and the people are simply responding to the judges' attacks on our system of republican self-government.

From the Left...

Conservative commentators have already noted that this year's Pulitzer Prizes have gone to journalists for work damaging our side in the war with Jihadistan. How deeply this wrongheaded mindset runs among the Leftmedia is clear from the following e-mail posted by New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller: "I'm not sure journalists fully appreciate the threat confronting us—The Times in the eavesdropping case, the Post for its CIA prison stories, and everyone else who has tried to look behind the war on terror. Maybe we're suffering a bit of subpoena fatigue. Maybe some people are a little intimidated by the way the White House plays the soft-on-terror card."

"Whatever the reason, I worry that we're not as worried as we should be. No president likes reporters sniffing after his secrets, but most come to realize that accountability is the price of power in our democracy. Some officials in this administration, and their more vociferous cheerleaders, seem to have a special animus towards reporters doing their jobs. There's sometimes a vindictive tone in way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries and in the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors. I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."

The Leftmedia have befriended those bent on destroying as many U.S. citizens and our allies as they can.

Get that? "Declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad." Sorry, but this is not a war on the reporting set's "values." It is in fact simply a natural consequence of MSM acts siding with the Jihadi terrorists due to their hostile stance toward the Bush administration. For the Leftmedia the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and by their actions the chattering and scribbling classes have befriended those bent on destroying as many U.S. citizens and our allies as they can.

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Regarding the redistribution of your income...

The Senate was able to preserve the $700-million railroad to nowhere by a 49-48 vote this week, demonstrating their total lack of fiscal restraint. Mississippi Senators Trent Loot—oops, Lott—and Thad Cochran forced the rerouting of a newly refurbished rail line so that they can build a road in their home state to access casinos and resort property. Sen. Loot—there we go again... Sen. Lott indicated his attitude thus: "I don't take [the President's veto threat] that seriously, and I don't think [Mr. Bush's] priorities come down from heaven." The two porkers also championed a $500-million insurance subsidy for Northrup Grumman and are fighting with Sen. Tom Coburn, who was on the warpath this week to slash as much pork as possible from the emergency-appropriations bill. He did succeed in removing a $15 million earmark for a Gulf States seafood ad campaign. It seems like an ant on a $109-billion elephant's back, but every little bit helps.

John Kenneth Galbraith...

This week saw the death of John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard economist, New Deal architect, Kennedy's ambassador to India and the 20th century embodiment of modern liberalism's demise. Says commentator George Will of Galbraith's thought, and his influential 1958 work, The Affluent Society:

"Although Galbraith coined the phrase 'conventional wisdom,' and thought of himself as the scourge of groupthink, The Affluent Society was the distilled essence of the conventional wisdom on campuses. In the 1960s, that liberalism became a stance of disdain, describing Americans not only as Galbraith had as vulgar, but also as sick, racist, sexist, imperialist, etc. Again, and not amazingly, voters were not amused when told that their desires—for big cars, neighborhood schools and other things—did not deserve respect."

Galbraith's neo-Keynesian ideas would go on to couple with social movements of the 1960s. Together these ideas spawned the illegitimate child that is the contemporary American Left—ever eager to blame others for their faults and look to government for their needs. To the chagrin of Galbraith admirers, today's liberalism is just as intellectually and morally bankrupt as those ideas which gave it birth. Together with Ambassador Galbraith, may they rest in peace.

From the "Non Compos Mentis" Files...

Just when you thought the sidewalks were safe for walking, another Kennedy uses them for driving.

Just when you thought the sidewalks were safe for walking, another Kennedy uses them for driving. Patrick Kennedy (D-UI) narrowly missed smashing into a police cruiser on Capitol Hill early Thursday morning and then proceeded to crash into a security barricade. Police, who then witnessed Kennedy stagger from his car, suspect he may have been intoxicated, though they were prevented by superiors from doing a field sobriety test. It is quaint that Mr. Kennedy got a ride home from the local constabulary. For most of us that ride would have ended at the station house! For his part, Kennedy said, "Sometime around 2:45 a.m., I drove the few blocks to the Capitol Complex believing I needed to vote. Apparently, I was disoriented from [my] medication... At no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol." Considering that Congress had adjourned three hours earlier, we'd concur that he was "disoriented." Aren't all Democrats?

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From the "Village Academic Curriculum" File...

It is common knowledge that Bill Clinton sets a good example for young people in making good choices. Er, well, never mind. But now, thanks in large part to lobbying by the William J. Clinton Foundation, the nation's largest soft-drink distributors—Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., Cadbury Schweppes PLC and the American Beverage Association—have announced that high-calorie soft drinks will not be sold in public schools. Only water, unsweetened juice and low-fat milk will be sold in elementary and middle schools, while diet soda will be available in high schools. California has already passed regulatory laws regarding the sale of "junk food," and other states are considering similar bills. Here, we quarrel with the means, not the ends. Giving kids tons of sugar and then requiring them to sit through classes is asking for trouble. However, special-interest lobbying for government regulation is certainly not the answer. This should be between school districts and suppliers. Free enterprise is a remarkable concept.

Around the nation...

Democrats are engaged in a wide-ranging effort to get minimum-wage proposals on a number of state ballots in the fall elections. Taking a cue from the Republican strategy that drew out numerous voters to defeat homosexual-marriage referenda in 2004, Demos hope that support for raising the minimum wage will likewise draw voters to support their candidates. Whenever a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage comes about, it creates controversy and tough fights between Republicans and Democrats. However, there is skepticism that making a ballot initiative out of it will help Democrats in November, as similar attempts in the past have met with mixed results.

In business/economic news...

As a reaction to the sharply rising cost of coastal disasters, property and casualty insurers are pulling back from some U.S. coastal markets. In the wake of this retreat, more homeowners are relying on state-subsidized plans of last resort which perversely encourage development in such areas. To counter this trend, some state regulators and insurers have proposed establishing a greater role for the federal government in backing up state catastrophe funds for the private sector when losses exceed a certain level, toughening state and local building codes and increasing premiums to accurately price risks.

Abdicating responsibility to the federal government fails to address development in areas with a high probability of suffering catastrophic events. Perhaps the insurance system is already realigning precisely because its current scarcity discourages new developments in risky areas. Eventually, the problems will ease for development in lower-risk coastal areas.

On the culture front...

All things considered, "United 93" is a pretty good movie, especially when compared to the usual Hollywood bunk. In our view, however, it fails to portray adequately the noble actions that surely occurred that fateful day. It also seems to have a slight, very subtle criticism of the President that was not deserved. This occurs as the Air Force Air Defense Command Center is seen "begging" for rules of engagement. The film represents a lack of responsiveness or perhaps even decisiveness, as the President and Vice President Cheney are supposedly incommunicado. The facts are clear that the rules of engagement were agreed to by the President and communicated clearly by the Vice President.

Don't go see United 93 hoping to see any old-fashioned Hollywood patriotism. No one really knows exactly what happened, but we would have enjoyed seeing less passenger screaming and cowering, and far more terrorist scumbag beating. We do know the passengers took action and heroically stopped another Jihadi attack. It would have done no one a disservice to show a little more American bravery or the Christian faith from whence it came.

Finally, the Muslim extremists who hijacked United 93 were also portrayed as far too devout. There were many scenes of prayer before take off and during the hijacking. But the 9/11 terrorists reportedly did an awful lot of pornography viewing and seemed more attracted to strip clubs than mosques. If you want a decent reminder of the horror of that day, go see this film; just don't bring a flag to wave afterwards. Memo to Hollywood: "Let's Roll!"

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Family and faith matters...

On 4 May, our nation formally recognized the National Day of Prayer. In his annual commemoration speech, President George W. Bush stated, "America is a nation of prayer. It's impossible to tell the story of our nation without telling the story of people who pray... At decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables, we are a people humbled and strengthened and blessed by prayer. During the darkest days of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress and George Washington...urged citizens to pray and to give thanks and to ask for God's protection."

"We continue to ask for God's guidance in our own lives and in the life our nation." —President George W. Bush

Later, speaking to NDP organizers and patrons from the East Room, the President continued, "More than two centuries since our first National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving, we continue to ask for God's guidance in our own lives and in the life our nation... [W]e also remember that we are a people united by our love for freedom, even when we differ in our personal beliefs... What brings us together is our shared desire to answer the call to serve something greater than ourselves."

On the frontiers of junk science...

What will they think of next! Given all the concern about high gas prices, scientists have developed a flatulence-free bean. They found that fermenting beans with certain friendly bacteria significantly reduces the amount of "wind-causing compounds" and enhances their nutritional value to boot. Of course, wind-free beans would be more expensive. Dr. Frankie Phillips of the British Dietetic Association notes, "Despite the obvious social concerns, there is no physiological harm from the flatulence caused by eating beans." Unless, of course, you mix them with alcohol and fall while evacuating the area of "social concern"!

Around the world...

South America continues its worrisome lurch to the Left. In a surprise move on Monday, Bolivian President Evo Morales had his troops occupy foreign-owned oil and gas facilities and corporate offices and appeared ready to seize corporate documents in order to coerce the companies into nationalization. President Morales, elected last year on a socialist pledge of nationalizing the country's petroleum industry, was expected to do so, but the speed of yesterday's seizure caught everyone off guard. Just last week Morales said that the nationalization process would "take time," but oil-industry insiders now believe Morales deliberately misled them so there was no time to remove incriminating or proprietary documents. Coming just one day after meeting with Leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who nationalized Venezuela's oil industry, and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Morales' seizure is the clearest sign yet that South America needs immediate attention from the U.S. in order to counter this Leftist surge.

And last...

You won't see it on al-Jazeera, but "Iraq's Funniest Home Videos" could be the hit of the year. In a recent raid, U.S. forces captured the uncut footage of Insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's video debut, made public last week. In this new "director's cut" version of Zarqawi's message, the insurgent leader is shown befuddled at how to fire a M249 Squad Assault Weapon (SAW) in automatic mode. Off camera, we hear a Jihadi say, "Go help the sheik," at which a hooded comrade appears to clear a jam and set the weapon for Zarqawi to fire in bursts.

His shooting scene complete, clad in black fatigues and cutting the image of a powerful al-Qa'ida leader, Zarqawi is then shown walking away... in his bright white New Balance tennis shoes. As he does so another associate grabs Zarqawi's SAW by the barrel—now scalding hot—jumping back in pain. "He's wearing his black uniform and his New Balance tennis shoes as he moves to this white pickup," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the U.S. military's senior spokesman in Iraq, debuting the footage for reporters, "and his close associates around him...do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves. It makes you wonder."

Lex et Libertas—Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis! Mark Alexander, Publisher, for the editors and staff. (Please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm's way around the world, and for their families, especially those of our fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who have died in defense of American liberty while prosecuting the war with Jihadistan.)