Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."
Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is
You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my
rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country
anymore. The President of the
A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER.
That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the
right thing. But because Iacocca does not personally agree with the President in how
the War In Iraq has been conducted, George Bush does not have the necessary quality of
character that he says a true leader must possess. Outside of his comments
about the war, Mr. Iacoccas points are vague and general. Other than outlining
certain characteristics that he says are lacking in todays leaders, he offers no
concrete suggestions to right the ship of state. On the other hand, this type of ranting
appeals to the widest array of readers, in that it allows them to fill in the
blanks with their own favorite agenda. Who and where are the people today who could
fill these worthy shoes? Perhaps Mr. Iacocca himself? Could this be the opening salvo of a
wannabe presidential candidate? At 82, that is doubtful. Perhaps he merely has too much
time on his hands and wants to become a blogger. His writing suggests that either motive
could be correct.
If these excerpts are any indication, I do not believe that the book cause célèbre in
American political literature. Mr. Iacocca has already solidified his worthy reputation as
The Awakening Russian Bear
The fearsome Russian Bear appears to be coming out of a 16-year hibernation. President Vladimir Putin says he wants to regain Russia's prominence in the world community, and his actions are backing up his words. Unencumbered by Marxist dogma, he is attempting to regain Russia's superpower status by the old Soviet method of intimidation.
Putin has directed the seizure of assets of the oil giant Yukos, and restricted oil supplies to Eastern Europe. But if he can decree such gross confiscation of property, then there is no rule of law and Russia's reforms mean nothing. Moreover, Moscow has drastically raised energy prices and threatened an oil cutoff in former client nations that have had the dared to pursue economic and political independence apart from Russia.
Putin sees Russia's vast petroleum reserves as more than a means to economic growth, but as an avenue to superpower status once again. Last year, Russia was the second-highest oil producer in the world after Saudi Arabia. Their GDP has grown at an average rate of 5.5% since 2000, largely by energy exports.
Now that world oil prices are high, and rising, his strategy is working. But if they fall, Russia will be in trouble, as was the USSR following the price collapse of oil in the 1980s.
Russians wearily remember the early days of democracy following the collapse of the USSR. That was a time when an erratic, and perhaps alcoholic President Yeltsin governed the country. It was a time when their money became worthless, and crime ran wild.
Most Russians would rather have a strong and secure nation than one that guarantees personal freedoms. This sentiment, and the growing economy, is the basis for Putin's broad popularity. A recent poll found only 16 percent of Russians surveyed want to see Western-style democracy remain in their country. Predictability is perhaps the greatest comfort to the average Russian.
Demographically, however, Russia is a nation that is slowly dying. The country has dwindling birthrates, and amazingly, declining life expectancy. That portends a bleak economic outlook unless they can leverage their energy resources to attain higher growth rates. This is Putin's strategy.
Since he became president, rising oil revenues have allowed the Russian defense budget to grow enormously. Defense outlays for 2007 are at a post-Soviet high of $32.4 billion, rising 23 percent in the past year, and four times expenditures of 2001.
Any discussion of energy prices ultimately leads to the Middle East.
Instability in the Middle East leads to higher oil prices, and works to Russia's financial advantage. For obvious reasons, therefore, Moscow wants to stir the pot. But it's a balancing act. They don't want to unnerve things so badly that the Saudis, or anyone else, feel so threatened that they glut the market with cheap oil.
Other sources of revenue come from sales of arms and nuclear technology. In arms sales alone, Moscow exported $6 billion in 2006 to more than 70 countries. Before Putin, most Russian arms sales were those of old Soviet-era armored vehicles and military aircraft. Since they shipped them to Africa and other remote places, no one was overly concerned about it.
But recent sales have increasingly turned to sophisticated weapons, including precision-guided munitions, and advanced air-defense systems. And they are selling them to rogue regime Iran and to Venezuela, among others. They have the dual purpose of aggravating the U.S. while earning Russia money.
For its part, Washington may have unnecessarily provoked Putin as well.
Following 9/11, Putin agreed to allow Americans to stage the Afghanistan invasion from bases in former Soviet central Asian republics. Washington's reluctance now to depart from these bases has become troublesome to Moscow.
Overreach by NATO hasn't helped either. With China to the east, radical Islam to the south, and NATO's advancement from the west, Putin fears Russia is being threatened and encircled.
When the Soviet Army departed former Warsaw Pact countries in Eastern Europe, they were not expecting NATO to expand eastward. But that is exactly what happened. Not only did Poland and the Czech Republic join NATO, the former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have joined too.
These days, the most important political question in Russia is over who will succeed Putin when his second term expires in 2008. He is much admired, and almost certainly would be reelected if he were eligible to run. Though the Russian Constitution forbids him from running for a third term, it doesn't stop conjecture that he may do so anyway. No matter what the law or his legitimacy may be, many believe he has the support and authority to stay in power. His actions in 2008 will foretell much about which direction, whether cooperative or confrontational, the country is heading.
Russia's culture and history are tied to Western civilization. While recent events may give pause, we should encourage those foundations, and work to advance our common interests. The fight against radical Islam -- whether in Iran, Iraq, Chechnya, or elsewhere -- is one that Russia should unite with the West.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was our adversary. Russia need
not be our adversary today.
Jeff Lukens is a staff writer for the New Media
Alliance, a conservative issue advocacy and information group established to promote and
defend conservative social, political and economic principles nationally. It is a
non-partisan, nonprofit, tax-exempt educational foundation.
Jeff also authors his own blog, JeffLukens.com
The Drum and Cannon joins Black Five in promoting an article appearing at the premium website The Belmont Club, entitled Deliver Us From Evil. From Iraq and Afghanistan to our own pristine Shenandoah Valley, the home of Virginia Tech, we have been confronted by sinister events conducted by hateful people that have needlessly taken lives. The debate rages on as to whether the perpetrators of these events should be labeled as being "evil", and whether what they do should be called "evil". Regardless of what it is called, how do we deal with this deadly behavior? It is not so much the fact that "evil" thoughts occur to most of us from time to time, but rather how our culture has taught us about how to deal with these thoughts.
While the article itself is stimulating and thought-provoking, the
comments that follow are equally insightful. It is our humble opinion that one of those
comments in particular, written by the article's author himself, stands out as being on a
level equal to those of our nation's founding fathers, perhaps not in literary flair, but
definitely in thoughtfulness and relevance. Author "Wretchard" writes:
Whether you are talking about the inferent conflict with Islamic Jihad that many of us believe is an inevitable fact of life, or our own conflicts that we face as we go about our everyday lives, our freedom gives us a choice in how to deal with them. Some of us cannot handle this. Read on.
been easily able to shake it off as nothing more than the show business schtick of a third-rate purveyor of media flatulence. The media, with the help of victim-designators Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, convinced the girls that if they played their "victim" roles to the fullest, they would be able to gain attention and fame far beyond what the circumstances warranted. Nor do I harbor any sorrow for Imus himself, since I am convinced of the basic fact that radio shows like his and that of Michael Savage are testaments to the low levels of taste and propriety that too many Americans share today. Should they be banned from radio? No they should not, because they come to us as a part of the freedom that Wretchard discusses in the above article. The public itself, however, also has the freedom to either tell or not tell itself that Imus and his ilk that their flavor of effluence will no longer be accepted as a part of American life. The rest is up to commercial sponsors.
The release of actor Alec Baldwin's voice-mail message to his daughter may have been an invasion of his privacy, but it in no way diminishes the total ignorance and lack of self-control that was displayed in his tirade. If Baldwin had an IQ out of double digits, he would easily recognize that his daughter's apparent refusal to talk to him is probably a learned response resulting from the same self-absorbed and tyrannical narcissism that other actors, producers, and directors have attributed to him.
What is even more disturbing was that, being the focus of many radio talk shows last week, so many of the hosts and more than one psychologist/psychiatrist gave him a free pass, rationalizing that sometimes teenagers (she is not yet a teenager) are capable of pressing a parent's buttons until any semblance of a civil response disappears. I am sorry, but I do not buy that "not-responsible" crap. There is never an excuse for belittling or insulting one's own children, and anyone whose own lack of self-discipline and restraint makes him or her unable to control a confrontational situation should not have had children in the first place. Any parent who does not consistently illustrate respect for his or her own children should not expect any measure of respect in return. Conversely, parents who do not sew a sense of values and self-respect in their children and instead promote hate or victim status are likely to reap the results as well.
It is not easy being a parent. It is apparently far beyond the
capability of one of life's losers who is Alec Baldwin. Fame and fortune are fleeting.
Children are forever.