31 March 2006    |    PatriotPost.US    |    Patriot No. 06-13

THE FOUNDATION

"The fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace." —Alexander Hamilton

TOP OF THE FOLD

The unthinkable—perhaps the inevitable...

The Cold War nuclear threat may have subsided with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but The Long War, our campaign to secure the U.S. and our national interests and allies against Islamist terror, is heating up. Also on the rise is the risk of nuclear attack on Western targets. Albeit limited in scope, such attacks are much more probable now than during the Cold War. Preventing nuclear attack is more difficult today because our Jihadi foes are asymmetric rather than symmetric entities.

For most of U.S. history, perilous national security threats were symmetric, emanating from distinct nation-states or alliances with unambiguous political, economic and geographical interests. In the last century, World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam involved symmetric threats—that is, well-defined adversaries. Symmetric threats are tangible and easier for our political leaders to define. For the American people, this enemy is easier to identify.

Ronald Reagan tagged the Soviet Union as "The Evil Empire," and Americans understood this enemy and its characterization. Similarly, George W. Bush called our post-Cold War symmetric adversaries—Iraq, Iran and North Korea—the "Axis of Evil."

When a symmetric adversary like the USSR possessed large quantities of WMD and a proven delivery capability, the principle method for preventing their use was deterrence. Throughout the Cold War, the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction stayed offensive strikes, and limited conflicts between communist and democratic nations to conventional warfare.

 

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Saddam possessed substantial quantities of WMD and used them on Iraqi civilians.

When symmetric adversaries do not possess, or have obtained only limited quantities of WMD, our method of damage control is active nonproliferation—using all political, economic and diplomatic means to prevent, constrain, or reverse their spread. In the case of Saddam's regime in Iraq, which possessed substantial quantities of WMD (and used them on Iraqi civilians), the failure of nonproliferation efforts led to Operation Iraqi Freedom—the deposition of Saddam and seeding of democracy in place of his tyrannical regime.

But OIF was more than the enforcement of a nonproliferation policy, because another adversary had emerged which defied political, economic and geographical definition. OIF was, more accurately, an act of Counterproliferation—using all means to protect against the threat of a WMD attack by non-state actors (terrorists surrogates) who have been provided WMD by their state sponsors.

In 2001, President Bush estimated, correctly, that Iraq had, and was prepared to provide, WMD to Islamist terrorists like al-Qa'ida. As The Patriot reported in October 2002 our well-placed sources in the Southwest Asia theater and intelligence sources within the NSA and NRO estimated that the UN Security Council's foot-dragging (with substantial help from the French and Russians) provided an ample window for Saddam to export some or all of his WMD to Syria and Iran prior to the launch of OIF. It now appears that they may have done so with the help of Russian special forces.

At that time, we reported that Allied Forces would be unlikely to discover any WMD stores, noting, "Our sources estimate that Iraq has shipped its nuclear WMD components—including two 'crude nuclear devices' designed to utilize U235 cores—through Syria to southern Lebanon's heavily fortified Bekaa Valley." In December 2002 our senior-level intelligence sources re-confirmed estimates that some of Iraq's biological and nuclear WMD material and components had, in fact, been moved into Syria and possibly Iran. That movement continued until President Bush finally pulled the plug on the UN's ruse.

General Georges Sada supervised the export of Saddam's WMD to Syria.

In January of this year, Saddam's air force deputy commander, General Georges Sada, now a national-security advisor for Iraq's new government, confirmed that in June, 2002, under Saddam's direction, he arranged transportation of WMD and related technology to Syria aboard retrofitted commercial jets under the pretense of conducting a humanitarian mission on behalf of flood victims. The Patriot has corroborated evidence that there were such flights during that timeframe, though our sources would not confirm the manifest—other than to suggest that the flights did not contain humanitarian relief.

It is worth noting here that the major intelligence failure in Iraq was not about WMD but about how long it would take to stabilize Iraq after removing Saddam. The original estimate, based primarily on assurances from Dr. Ahmed Chalabi, the man who was scripted to replace Saddam after the invasion, was 90-180 days.

Of course, we thought we would only be in Japan and Germany for 5 years after the cessation of WWII hostilities—yet we are still in both countries today. As The Patriot noted prior to the invasion of Iraq, we clearly have long-term objectives to establish one or more bases in southern Iraq as forward deployment strongholds in the region.

Currently, there is mounting evidence that Saddam's government did provide significant intelligence and operational support for al-Qa'ida. The burning question remains, were any of Saddam's nuclear components, in whatever state of readiness, acquired by al-Qa'ida?

Unfortunately, there is no neat Cold War doctrine—no Mutually Assured Destruction—to stave off a nuclear attack from an asymmetric threat such as al-Qa'ida. The only counter-proliferation doctrine capable of keeping this enemy at bay is that of pre-emption—initiating first strikes on their turf to keep them off our own.

"We love death. The U.S. loves life." —Osama bin Laden

Al-Qa'ida's protagonist, Osama bin Laden, has called for an "American Hiroshima" in which al-Qa'ida cells detonate multiple nukes in U.S. urban centers. Al-Qa'ida has made it clear that they will use any means at hand to disrupt continuity of government and commerce in the U.S. in an effort to impede our influence in the Middle East. As Osama put it, "We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the big difference between us." Osama's lieutenant Sulaiman Abu Ghaith says al-Qa'ida aspires "to kill 4 million Americans, including 1 million children."

Why does al-Qa'ida choose nuclear weapons? Because chemical weapons are low consequence, and biological weapons are indiscriminate—more likely to inflict mass casualties among Muslims in Asia and Africa than Christians in the West.

And what is al-Qa'ida's nuclear weapon of choice? While radiological dispersal devices (dirty bombs) are low tech, they are also, like chemical weapons, low consequence. The highest consequence nuclear weapon would be one utilizing U239, but plutonium is extremely hard to produce, unstable, easily detectable, and the bomb hardware is highly sophisticated, requiring great precision in the manufacture and machining of its parts.

A nuclear device utilizing U235 is therefore the weapon al-Qa'ida will use. Highly enriched uranium is more accessible and stable, and it requires a comparatively low-tech detonation sequence. This is precisely the type of weapon our sources indicate Saddam had in production.

Al-Qa'ida has a broad and amorphous network, including cells in North America. It is unlikely that these cells are in possession of a nuclear weapon, because moving such a device subjects both the mover and the weapon to detection—and our methods for detecting nuclear devices are very good.

"We're living on borrowed time." —Dr. Graham Allison

But they are not infallible. As Harvard's Graham Allison, author of "Nuclear Terrorism," grimly notes, "It's a great puzzle... I think that we should be very thankful that it hasn't happened already... We're living on borrowed time."

To be sure, an asymmetric nuclear threat is not the greatest potential hazard we face as a nation. That would be the very real threat of another Pandemic. Still, the nuclear threat remains very real—and it is greatly enhanced by the political infighting over OIF and domestic security issues such as the USA Patriot Act and our NSA terrorist surveillance programs.

Exclusive Official Military Insignia Items!

Quote of the week...

"The enemy we face may be the most brutal in our history. They currently lack only the means—not the desire—to kill, murder millions of innocent people with weapons vastly more powerful than boarding passes and box cutters." —Secretary of Defense Donald

On cross-examination...

"While Congress was engaged in the hysterical debate over foreign ownership of U.S. ports, something much more dangerous was taking place in America's vulnerable ports of entry. As disclosed yesterday at a congressional hearing, federal investigators were able to smuggle enough radioactive material into the United States last year to make two dirty bombs... The Government Accountability Office is the investigative arm of Congress. In a test in December, undercover GAO teams managed to sneak small amounts of cesium-137 across U.S. border crossing points in Washington State and Texas. Radiation alarms went off, but security inspectors were fooled by phony documents and allowed the material through." —The Miami Herald

Open query...

"Why do you use an ax when you can use a bulldozer?" —Osama bin Laden

The BIG lie...

"Now let me just say I don't believe the world is safer today as a result of our going into Iraq. We're a crutch to the Iraqis. And the best way to remove that crutch is to see a substantial withdrawal of American troops. That's what I'm for." —Ted Kennedy (D-Plorable)

Memo to Teddy: Democrats are the rallying cry for al-Qa'ida!

Publisher's Note...

This week marks the passing of two friends—both integral parts of the Reagan revolution.

Caspar "Cap" Weinberger served six years as President Reagan's secretary of defense, overseeing one of the largest peacetime military expansions in our nation's history. This massive build-up was, of course, a key component of the administration's strategy to collapse the Soviet Union as it attempted to keep pace. Amid the expansion of the nation's largest bureaucracy, Secretary Weinberger skillfully adhered to his Reaganesque commitment to the "bottom line," earning him the nickname "Cap the Knife."

Secretary Weinberger was 88, and is survived by his wife of 63 years, Jane; a son and daughter; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

On Monday, our friend and mentor, Franklyn Nofziger, left this life in his 81st year. Lyn stood apart from Washington society with his customary rumpled blazers and slacks, and his trademark Mickey Mouse tie—loosely knotted and an ever-present reminder of his contempt for bureaucrats and bureaucracies.

Lyn was a veteran of World War II, a hard-nosed career journalist who Ronald Reagan tapped to be the "North Star" of America's conservative renaissance. Lyn's presence at President Reagan's side dates from the Gipper's 1966 California gubernatorial campaign. Lyn's free spirit and distaste for government in general kept him from staying anywhere very long, and he left the Reagan administration in January 1982. His subsequent presence as an informal consultant during the Reagan years, however, earned him his well-deserved reputation as a touchstone for the administration's conservative agenda.

"Freedom is America's most important product." —Lyn Nofziger

In a time when our Republic's values are again under assault from foes at home and abroad, those of us who knew Lyn are especially mindful of one of his many memorable statements: "I am a Republican," he said, "because, like Ronald Reagan, I believe that freedom is America's most important product."

Lyn is survived by his wife, Bonnie; his daughter; and two grandchildren.

News from the Swamp...

In the Executive Branch, Andy Card resigned as President Bush's chief of staff this week, bringing an end to five years of 90-hour work weeks pushing the President's agenda. Card was the longest serving chief of staff since Sherman Adams under Eisenhower, and certainly one of the hardest working people in Washington. His departure indicates that the President may have heard his critics' calls to shake things up in the White House. Then again, the President always plays his cards close to his vest, and it's difficult to know what changes, or how many, could be coming in the near future. Certainly, however, the fatigue of many long-time staffers could be a factor in the political failures of recent months. When the wheels are spinning, it generally means that it's time to change gears.

Josh Bolten, the current head of the Office of Management and Budget, will replace Card. Prior to his stint at OMB, Bolten served as deputy chief of staff during President Bush's first term. He is thus a member of the President's inner circle. This is precisely what some old Washington hands advised against, believing that the President should reach outside his own group for someone who can add a fresh perspective and some direction to the agenda. Bolten, however, should not be sold short. By virtue of being fresh to the role, he can imbue this administration with new ideas, and his work at OMB demonstrates that he has a talent for creating workable conservative programs that could help bring the administration back on track.

In the Senate, a bill expanding the disclosure requirements of lobbyists sailed through 90-8. Some lawmakers didn't think the bill was tough enough, as it lacked provisions such as an independent office to assist the Senate in investigating ethics claims. Of course, such an office would likely serve as little more than a launching pad for political attacks against enemies. The bill prohibits lawmakers from accepting meals and gifts, and requires lobbyists to file quarterly reports instead of biannual ones. These reports must also be available on the Internet. Finally, the legislation doubles to two years the period during which former lawmakers are prohibited from lobbying their former colleagues.

In other news on the Political Front...

Delivering a well-deserved black eye to the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance legislation, the Federal Election Commission ruled unanimously that bloggers and Internet activists are exempt from federal campaign laws and are free to praise and criticize politicians at any time, anywhere. The FEC also left unregulated virtually all political activity on the Internet with the exception of paid political advertisements, which will still be subject to current campaign law. Conservative and liberal bloggers alike rejoiced at the ruling, and The Patriot concurs. Now all we have to do is repeal McCain-Feingold itself.

On the National Security front...

According to a newly released Pentagon report, Russian intelligence provided details of the U.S. invasion plan for Iraq in 2003, with information on logistics and troop movements passing through Moscow's ambassador in Baghdad. Most of the information the Iraqis received, though, was false. For instance, Russian intelligence claimed that the U.S. advance would come from the west, through Jordan, and only after the Fourth Infantry Division was in position. In fact, the main U.S. attack came from Kuwait in the south, and prior to the 4th ID's arrival in the theater. The precise nature of any Russian involvement remains unclear, though U.S. strategists speculate any cooperation arose out of Moscow's economic interests in Iraq. Though details remain scarce, the dubious nature of the Russian intelligence raises the possibility that it was intentionally circulated as a part of U.S. counterintelligence efforts leading up to the invasion.

From the warfront with Jihadistan...

American reporter Jill Carroll was released yesterday, having been kidnapped and held by an Iraqi insurgency group since 7 January. "I was treated well, but I don't know why I was kidnapped," Carroll said in an interview on Baghdad television. "They never hit me. They never even threatened to hit me." Carroll's apparent Stockholm Syndrome notwithstanding, her release comes as a welcome validation of the U.S. policy of non-negotiation with terrorists. If insurgents see that such terrorist tactics fail to achieve their desired political end, the incentive to engage in those practices is removed. Needless to say, this is a wonderful blessing for the Carroll family.

Speaking of insurgent kidnappings, as The Patriot noted last week, three anti-OIF activists with "Christian Peacemaker Teams" neglected to thank the troops who conducted their rescue. Rather, the freed CPT members blamed OIF for their capture. But wait! CPT issued an addendum last Friday "thanking" their rescuers. "We have been so overwhelmed and overjoyed to have Jim, Harmeet and Norman freed, that we have not adequately thanked the people involved with freeing them... We are grateful to the soldiers who risked their lives to free Jim, Norman and Harmeet. As peacemakers who hold firm to our commitment to nonviolence, we are also deeply grateful that they fired no shots to free our colleagues." Some thanks.

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In assessing the impact of the Peacemaker Teams, let it suffice to cite one young Iraqi Christian woman, who recently noted that the actions of the CPT and other peaceniks endanger the country's fragile Christian minority. She wisely noted, "They are foolish to be here."

On the Homeland Security front...

President Bush wraps up talks in Cancun today with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the second session of the recently formed Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. One topic has dominated the agenda—illegal immigration. As half a million people rallied in Los Angeles this week in support of illegal aliens' presence in the U.S.—only one in a wave of De Colores-styled protests from coast to coast—Mr. Bush is having difficulty gaining traction within his own party on what has apparently been chosen as a major election year issue.

Already, the House has passed legislation calling for a border fence and criminalizing assistance to illegals in the U.S.—even clergy, social workers and lawyers would be liable under the felony statute, subject to five years in prison and stiff fines. The mood in the Senate is far more conciliatory, however, with the Judiciary Committee this week passing a measure initiating a temporary-worker program, allowing a limited number of illegal entrants to obtain work visas upon paying a fine. At the same time, though, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano issued an executive order authorizing the deployment of more National Guard troops to the state's border with Mexico.

Emotions about immigration undercut rational discourse.

Similar to the heated debates over Dubai Ports management of some U.S. port terminals, emotions run high on all sides of the immigration issue, which severely undercuts rational discourse.

Still, in the end, we expect compromise to rule the day: Something in the order of a temporary-worker program, coupled with heightened border security and a tougher stance on U.S. companies hiring illegal workers. Whether such a compromise will temper emotions—or illegal immigration—remains to be seen.

From the "Department of Military Readiness"...

Largely in response to political pressure, the military has supplied more upgraded body armor to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The trouble is, many soldiers and Marines don't want it. Indeed, they're stuffing it into their lockers or under bunks, rather than bearing the extra burden. As one soldier recounted, he carries "body armor, a Kevlar helmet, my M4 rifle with a few hundred rounds of ammunition, my M9 sidearm with another hundred rounds of ammunition, 2-3 quarts of water, a portable radio, night vision equipment, and numerous other odds and ends." A soldier's gear can thus exceed 80 pounds, and while body armor adds protection, it does so at the expense of mobility and energy.

Currently, it is up to the commander of each unit whether to require the use of armor. Units operating in Fallujah are required to wear it, though many Special Forces units use little or none. As one soldier quipped, "When someone designs an affordable lightweight polymer that allows for freedom of movement but can stop a 7.62 mm round (like the bat-suit in 'Batman Begins'), sign me up."

Judicial Benchmarks...

Addressing a hostile audience at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reiterated his standing legal opinion that combatant detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, do not enjoy constitutional protections. "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you capture a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," Scalia observed. "Give me a break." Asked if detainees have protection under the Geneva Convention, Justice Scalia responded, "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield, and they were shooting at my son, and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy."

Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that enemy combatants in U.S. custody could appeal their detention through U.S. courts. Scalia dissented, arguing that the decision represented an intrusion into the executive branch's prerogatives in waging a foreign war. Scalia's latest comments come only weeks before the Court will take up the appeal of Guantanamo detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver, whose defense asserts that the U.S. government overstepped its authority in subjecting him to a military trial. Scalia is already under pressure to recuse himself from the case, to which we can only echo the Associate Justice's original sentiment: "Give me a break."

From the Left...

Demos want us to believe that theirs is the party that will protect the country.

We've been waiting with bated breath as the Democrats have crafted, focus-grouped, recrafted, edited and survey-tested their much-touted national security strategy. This week they unveiled the "Real Security" initiative in their attempt to seize control of the GOP's signature issue. Unfortunately, this program is nothing more than a mixture of everything that we've seen before—programs that John Kerry hopelessly clung to in 2004, and other proposals that President Bush has been actively pursuing in spite of Democrat intransigence. The Demos want us to believe that theirs is the party that will protect the country, yet their principal motivation for success in November is to cripple the administration with impeachment hearings and congressional investigations.

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This week's "Alpha Jackass" awards:

"We need a new direction on national security, and leaders with policies that are tough and smart. That is what Democrats offer." —Harry Reid

"[Democrats are providing a fresh strategy], one that is strong and smart, which understands the challenges America faces in a post 9/11 world, and one that demonstrates that Democrats are the party of real national security." —Nancy Pelosi

From the Leftmedia...

Further confirming our suspicions that CNN could alternatively be known as "Atlanta-Jazeera," CNN Havana correspondent Lucia Newman has in fact transferred to Al-Jazeera. (We say "transferred" because, really, how much of a jump is it?) This move follows others similar to it, such as that of Dave Marash of ABC's "Nightline," now a Washington-based anchor/reporter for Al-Jazeera International. As for Newman, she will now be based at the Al-Jazeera bureau in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Don't cry for us, Argentina—we'll get along just fine without her.

This week's "Braying Jackass" award:

"The news isn't good in Iraq. There's violence in Iraq. People are found dead every day in the streets of Baghdad. This didn't turn out the way the politicians told us it would. And it's our fault? I beg to differ." —Atlanta-Jazeera's Jack Cafferty

Regarding the redistribution of your income...

As "Redistribution Day" approaches, we find another example of federal government misuse of our hard-earned dollars. FEMA has spent nearly $100 billion on hurricane relief, with much of that wasted through fraud, abuse and mismanagement. Typically well-planned expenditures were 25,000 manufactured homes ($878.8 million) now being "stored" around the country due to FEMA's own regulations prohibiting placing homes in flood plains—e.g., New Orleans! Almost 11,000 unused manufactured homes sat in Arkansas fields while FEMA housed families in a New York City hotel for $438 per night.

As you write that tax check this April, remember all the government waste you're footing the bill for.

In addition, there were 2.5 million evacuee registrations for emergency assistance, with 60 percent of them taken over the phone. It doesn't take a gummint skoo edgication to suspect that fraud might result from such a process. Indeed, it is now estimated that nearly 900,000 registrations were duplicates. So, as you write that tax check this April, remember all those plasma TVs and unused mobile homes you're footing the bill for.

From the "Regulatory Commissars" File...

Elvis fans will be happy to know that The King's mansion, Graceland, is now a national historic landmark. Just before stepping down from office this week, Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced that Graceland will join the list of 2,500 such landmarks around the country.

Beneath the radar of the chief of staff switch-up, Gale Norton's departure after five years as Interior Secretary provokes mixed reviews. Norton, the first woman to hold the post, took a lot of flak from Lefties for her support of easing regulations on domestic oil drilling, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and for the Healthy Forest Initiative, which called for thinning dangerously dense forests in the West. What she failed to do was discourage the National Park Service from becoming the most progressive government social experiment with its "inclusion" of sexual deviants, much like the military under the Clintons.

As quirky as the Graceland announcement may be for a final act of office, maybe it's fitting for the woman who would straighten out the forests, but not the rangers. Ladies and gentlemen, Gale has left the building.

From the "Non Compos Mentis" Files...

One of those Disgraceful Demos, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, is again causing trouble with the Capitol Police. Members of Congress routinely pass around metal detectors on their way into the Capitol building, and yesterday was no exception for Ms. McKinney, who rarely wears her House security pin. An officer who didn't recognize her attempted to stop her—and she promptly slugged him. "I was urgently trying to get to an important meeting on time to fulfill my obligations to my constituents," she explained later. Of course, now she "deeply regrets [the] unfortunate confrontation." We know, on the other hand, that this is vintage McKinney. Inquiring minds want to know more details about the "important meeting."

From the "Village Academic Curriculum" File...

The National "Education" Association gives yearly grades to members of Congress for their work regarding education. (Considering the source, an "F" would be a desirable grade.) Three Republican congressmen, however, report that although they were given "A's" by the NEA, Connecticut's teachers union won't release the results, coveted by the three in an election year. Other states' teachers unions are pulling the same stunt as they "consider endorsements." RINO Reps. Chris Shays, Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons should recall that the NEA is little more than an arm for the Democrat Party—and that sucking up will get them nowhere. The RINOs might instead give conservative ideals of school choice and less federal control a try, though we won't bet our lunch money on it.

Speaking of choice, Missouri is considering a bill that would offer students struggling in poor schools scholarships to alternative schools. Additionally, up to $40 million in tax credits is on the table for contributions made to nonprofits offering scholarships to poor students in St. Louis and Kansas City. Demagogues are out in force as usual, scaring people without facts to back their usual blather. "This is the beginning of the end of public education as we know it," said Joe Wanda, Bozeman president of the Missouri Parkway Education Association. We can only hope so.

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Around the nation...

From the states, "Michigan, you are getting a raise and it's about time," said Gov. Jennifer Granholm as she signed legislation this week raising the state's minimum wage. It will rise to $6.95 per hour in October, $7.15 per hour in July 2007 and $7.40 per hour in July 2008. Democrats regularly complain that the federal minimum wage (found in the Constitution under Article... uh, never mind) of $5.15 an hour has been "stuck" for nine years. Look for Michigan's job numbers to fall even further beginning, oh, around October.

Indiana became the third state (following Florida and South Dakota) to afford legal clarity regarding the use of deadly force for self-protection. These "Stand Your Ground" laws spell out that a potential victim has no "duty to retreat" from an attacker before resorting to the use of a firearm for protection. Similar legislation is under consideration in Georgia, causing Sarah Brady to shriek, "This bill will enable the most aggressive and paranoid individuals in Georgia to use deadly force anywhere against a presumed assailant." Leave it to a gun-grabber to charge as "aggressive and paranoid" the person wanting to save his or her own life with a gun instead of the "presumed assailant."

Kansas joined the ranks of states allowing concealed carry of a firearm after the legislature overrode a veto by Democrat Gov. Kathleen Sebelius last week. Residents 21 or older can apply for the four-year permits with the local sheriff—a fee and training course are also required. Unfortunately, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" has been infringed far too often, even with laws such as this that actually reduce prior infringement.

In business/economic news...

Last week, the bill dubbed "Son of Wal-Mart" was defeated 13-9 by a committee of the Maryland House of Delegates. The measure, sponsored by DC-area Delegate James Hubbard (D-Nied), would have expanded last year's "Fair Share Health Care Act" to affect all Maryland businesses. Along with expanding the state's program for uninsurable citizens to cover anyone not insured regardless of cause, the 50-page bill also created other mandates on spending and prescription drugs.

Election year politics played a role in the defeat, as Free Staters have two major statewide races this year. Meanwhile, the original "Fair Share" law is now in court as business interests seek its annulment as a violation of federal ERISA rules. While more than 30 other states have similar legislation in process, none has passed a measure similar to Maryland's.

On the culture front...

San Francisco, the ever-tolerant "City by the Bay," has put its hypocrisy on display again this week in a resolution attacking the Catholic Church for its position on adoption by the gender-disoriented. According to the city supervisors, the Church's policy is "hateful and discriminatory" and "shows insensitivity and ignorance." We're so glad the thought police are here to tell us these things. And never mind the children...

Family and faith matters...

Afghan Christian convert Abdul Rahman is free after the uproar over his trial reached fever pitch last week. Rahman was freed when prosecutors concluded that he is "mentally unfit" to stand trial. Of course, this was little more than a convenient way for the Afghan government to get out of a tough spot, though many Muslim citizens aren't happy. Italy has offered asylum, and announced that Rahman did indeed arrive safely in Rome, though his location remains a secret. This episode is a very poor reflection on "reformed" Afghanistan more than four years after the ouster of the Taliban.

Around the world...

Proving that some bad ideas never die, the communist and socialist parties in Ukraine's election have garnered almost 10 percent of the vote, according to unofficial tallies late Thursday. This in a country that as recently as 1991 had the letters SSR after its name, and that experienced a man-made famine in the 1930s under Joseph Stalin that killed millions. Clearly, this is not a good omen in what had appeared to be a democratic success story following last year's Orange Revolution under now-President Viktor Yushchenko. While it is not hard to see Russian influence and even manipulation behind the election results, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's election monitors have pronounced the election "free and fair."

And proving yet again that few things are as incomprehensible as Israeli politics, on Tuesday the incumbent Kadima Party staggered to overall victory in the Knesset, yet came up so far short of the necessary number of seats for a majority that the party's strength actually declined. Winning only 28 out of 120 seats, Kadima will be more dependent than ever on the horse-trading practices embodied by the Knesset. More important, Ehud Olmert appears to have none of Ariel Sharon's personal clout, making Israel's still-unfinished security fence—and her security policy generally—far less certain than it was just a few weeks ago.

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And last...

Piggy-gate is on in the town of Appalachia, Virginia (population: 1,839). There, a Commonwealth prosecutor has brought before the court fellow Democrats, many of whom helped elect him, and charged them with buying votes with, among other things, pork rinds. Fourteen hard-core Democrats, including the mayor, town manager, a councilman and the town's top cop, have been indicted.

An Appalachia resident first piqued the interest of state police, telling them she was offered pork rinds and a pack of cigarettes by Demo activists in exchange for her vote. Times are tough there these days. It seems like only yesterday when a vote was worth half a pint of cheap whiskey, at least. Leave it to Democrats to cheapen even the longest-held traditions of election fraud.

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.)