Thursday, November 27, 2008

From Operation Iraqi Freedom: "We Have Done Something Really Good Here"

From Sgt. Joe Roche, writing from Operation Iraqi Freedom:
This is a special day to be an American soldier in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ninety years ago, hopes for freedom and self-determination sprung up all over the Arab world. After centuries of despotic foreign rule by the Ottoman Empire, European powers angling for survival in World War One's vast killing fields made all sorts of false promises to manipulate Arabs as proxies. Betrayals became the norm.

Despite dreams of self-determination after that war, our world was instead brutalized by the most horrific tyrants and genocide ever witnessed. Fascism, Nazism, Imperialism and Communism not only killed tens of millions and enslaved much of Asia and Europe, but other regions such as the Arab Middle East were gravely traumatized. Much of the fascism witnessed in the Arab world and in Islamic fundamentalism from Egypt to Iraq are largely a consequence from the manipulations by and ferocious ideologies of Europe and Asia.

American idealism for liberty and self-determination was felt here after World War One. President Woodrow Wilson dispatched the King-Crane Commission, which was followed by several other American envoys over decades trying to find ways to achieve self-determination. But the Great Powers of that time had other ideas. Hitler courted a lot of Arabs, particularly Islamist leaders in Jerusalem, bringing Muslims to the front lines with German forces outside Stalingrad, and facilitated a pro-Nazi coup in Baghdad in 1941. Though Israel's creation was a moment of great inspiration and achievement, the Arab world naturally felt it was just another in a long series of betrayals and conspiracies against them.

Because of the Cold War, the Arab people were left to languish for almost six decades under a series of megalomaniac tyrants, as long as stability was ensured. The Soviet Union's efforts at destabilizing the most vulnerable regions coerced surrender and apathy on the part of those who had once dreamt of self-determination in the Arab Middle East. Iraq became tied to the Soviets and was the recipient of Moscow’s largest foreign military aid during the 1970s. The collapse of the Soviet Union did unleash the virtuous spread of American liberty and self-determination in most parts of the world, but the Arab region remained frozen until Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I was part of the initial push in 2003. I had lived in this region before, and Iraq's suffering under repression and tyranny coerced the entire region to be in a constant state of war, paranoia and extremism.

I knew this would take a long time, but I had hope. As an American sharing our country's experience with democracy to Iraqis, I often reflected on how the United States had to discard our first constitution of 11 years after Shay's Rebellion, and yet the resulting constitution still had the institution of slavery. Women couldn't vote for over a century. We had a huge civil war, the effects of which were still violently playing out in the South in the 1960s.

I got to know many Iraqis. They impressed me greatly. I had known some Iraqis in exile before 2003, and I understood they were a very vibrant and strong people. Surviving the terror of Saddam Hussein's regime in a land tortured by centuries of conflict and turmoil, I knew these people could withstand a lot.

My unit in 2004 trained hundreds of Iraqis who served their military forces. They are some of the bravest people I ever met. Their casualty rates in the face of a horrendous terrorist offensive were 20 times worse than anything we faced, yet they kept showing up.

Over the past several months, I've seen those Iraqis we trained take over command of their country as we pull back. For the first time, self-determination is being expressed. Ninety years of betrayal and false promises are finally being corrected.

This is the achievement of America. Yes, there were scenes of protest in opposition to the treaty, but overall this was the remarkable -- and once unimaginable -- process of Iraqis debating the future of their own country. While most news only reported the protests, there were other large demonstrations in support of the US-Iraqi agreement, such as the 5,000 in Hillah last week.

To behold this is amazing. Some might want to just see the negatives, but I'd point out that our own experience with democracy gives us no basis to expect more from the Iraqis less than six years after being liberated by us. There will be further challenges. Ours is the world’s greatest democracy, but we had a shooting, a clubbing and even a sword used in the US Congress. Even one of our great Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton, was killed in a duel. The birth of democracy is not a smooth process, but it is inspiring to participate in.

This is a proud moment. As an American soldier having been here at the beginning of this mission, and to be here now again at this moment of self-determination coming to fruition, is awesome. Lafayette came to us when we needed help. We’ve come here and finally reversed 90 years of betrayal. This is good, just and honorable. I’m very happy for Iraq and for our military mission. Out of the ashes of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks, we have done something really good here.

For more of Joe's writing from the front and elsewhere, please go here. A profile of his life and army service published by Stars and Stripes in 2004 can be found in this post.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:04 AM

Not Giving Thanks

The Washington Times Inside the Beltway column today is quoting Project 21 Senior Fellow Deneen Borelli from this press release Wednesday.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:17 AM

See Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie in NYC Panel Discussion on Effects of Obama Victory on Black Youth This Monday

By David Almasi:
Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie will participate in a panel discussion sponsored by The Smith Family Foundation on "Does the Election of Barack Obama Portend the Effective End of American Racism?"

The event will be held on Monday, December 1st at 6:30pm at the Lighthouse Theater (111 East 59th Street Between Park and Lexington Avenue, New York, NY). The event is free and open to the public, but people wishing to attend must RSVP by clicking here.

Joining Mychal on the panel will be Dr. John McWhorter of the Manhattan Institute, Fredrick C. Harris of Columbia University and Elaine Gross of ERASE Racism.

This is how the Smith Family Foundation describes the premise of the panel discussion:
Barack Obama's 2004 Democratic Convention speech made reference to inner city black children with books being mocked by their classmates for "Acting White." Will these smart children now have a new answer, "Acting White? No, I'm acting like the President!" - laying an inspirational foundation for their better educational outcomes and better futures? Or are the problems of inner city children far too entrenched, with failing schools, gang violence and too few male role models, for the election of a President to materially affect their lives?

And will Barack Obama's rise to the highest office in the land change how African-Americans see opportunity, spurring more black entrepreneurs into business and increasing the general belief that success in America is possible? Or does that ignore a historical truth - that enthusiasm for any political candidate is inherently fleeting once the rough and tumble of modern Beltway politics takes its inevitable toll - and that Obama's ability to inspire people might wane, right along with his newness?
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

Friday, November 21, 2008

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie on al Qaeda's Racial Slur and the Continuing Threat of Terrorism with Janet Parshall Monday - Listen Live

By David Almasi:
Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie recently spoke out against al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for calling President-elect Barack Obama and Bush Administration Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell "house negroes" in a video posted on Islamist web sites.

Mychal will discuss the topic further and the ongoing threat of terrorism with syndicated talk radio host Janet Parshall on Monday, November at 4:15 pm eastern.

Janet Parshall's America” can be heard on over 250 stations nationwide (click here to find a local station) and on XM "Family Radio" (channel 170). You can stream the show on the Internet or download a podcast (for a fee) by clicking here.

In the Project 21 press release, Mychal said:
While no fan of Barack Obama, I am a proud American. I find this terrorist's remarks directed at our nation's incoming leader to be highly offensive...

Liberals fail to grasp the reality that Muslim extremists such as al-Zawahiri hate them just as much as they hate the rest of America. At the very least, his crazed diatribe should prove this very point. I hope it jolts the incoming administration into reality. Being President isn't like playing senator or being a community organizer - it is about protecting the American people. That cannot be done without a strong military and the backbone to make decisions that might be unpopular among his friends.
To read the entire press release, click here.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:40 PM

Project 21's Deneen Borelli Joins Discussion on Fox's "Strategy Room" Today - Watch Live Online

From David Almasi:
Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli will discuss her new column about the perils of unconditional black support for President-elect Barack Obama today as part of the group discussion on the Fox News Channel's on-line "Strategy Room" program on Friday, November 21 between 11:00am and 1:00pm eastern.

To access the live Internet broadcast, click here and then click the "STREAM THIS NOW" headline in the center or the page at the top right of the photo.

In her latest New Visions Commentary - "Black Backing of Barack Should Not Be Unconditional" - Deneen writes:
It is quite possible to be black and be proud - even excited - about Barack Obama's achievement while opposing him politically. This black woman, for instance, did not vote for Obama. Furthermore, I don't believe his policies are sound.

I find it unfortunate that Obama's personal keys to success - hard work and perseverance - are tragically absent from the agenda he espouses. Instead of lauding the virtues of self-reliance and independence, he is pushing massive federal growth and government intrusion.

Collectivism replaces individualism, and government intervention replaces self-preservation...

...Unfortunately, the "We" in Obama's "Yes We Can!" literally means collectivism and a statist government that stifles our liberties.

I'd rather endorse a "Yes I Can!" philosophy. I think those who came before me would agree.
To read all of Deneen's commentary, click here.
To contact author David Almasi directly, write him at [email protected]


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:34 AM

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Welfare State Expands Access to Health Insurance - Not

We received a notice today from The National Center for Public Policy Research's health insurance carrier, an HMO, to remind us that our January invoice will be two percent higher thanks to a new District of Columbia tax on employers paying the premiums for their employees' HMO memberships, as well as anyone paying out-of-pocket for an HMO membership.

Way to expand health care coverage, DC!

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:20 PM

Capping Greenhouse Gases: Here's Why Not

Husband David has an op-ed in today's Washington Times as well as other papers on what a cap on greenhouse gas emissions would due to our economy.

An excerpt:
When our economic bus is teetering at the edge of a cliff, it's a bad time to throw on some extra weight.

Yet government-mandated restrictions on carbon emissions would do precisely that, adding enormous additional weight to an economy already reeling. This additional weight shouldn't just be thrown from the bus -- it should be thrown under it.

Most econometric studies agree that restricting greenhouse-gas emissions would slow our already sluggish economy.

A study by the National Association of Manufacturers projected that emissions caps similar to those rejected earlier this year by the U.S. Senate calling for a 63-percent cut in emissions by 2050, would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by up to $269 billion and cost 850,000 jobs by 2014.

The Heritage Foundation estimated such restrictions would result in cumulative GDP losses of up to $4.8 trillion and employment losses of more than 500,000 a year by 2030.

Other studies suggest smaller economic costs: Duke University's Nicholas Institute estimates a GDP loss of $245 billion by 2030 while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates a GDP drop of $238 billion to $983 billion.

Sharp emissions restrictions would also push the costs of energy and other consumer products higher. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the restrictions could raise gasoline prices 29 percent, electricity prices 55 percent and natural-gas prices 15 percent by 2015.

The people most vulnerable to such price increases are the poor. A 2007 report by the Congressional Budget Office examining the costs of cutting carbon emissions just 15 percent noted that customers "would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline. Those price increases would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would." Indeed, the lowest quintile income group would pay nearly double what the highest quintile income group would, as a proportion of income, pay in increased energy costs.

And it appears that all this economic pain would be an utterly meaningless gesture. Patrick Michaels, former president of the American Association of State Climatologists, who is now with the Cato Institute, says reducing U.S. emissions 63 percent would prevent a mere 0.013 degrees Celsius in warming. With emissions from China, India and other developing nations growing at breakneck speed, even this modest benefit would be completely erased.

Some argue that we should undergo this pain anyway to set an example for others to follow. The European Union tried that and now, apparently, they're throwing in their collective recycled-material towel... Read it all here.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:38 PM

Anti-Obama Racial Slur Denounced

Project 21's Mychal Massie and Greg Parker are denouncing the offensive racial slur made by al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri against President-elect Barack Obama.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:55 PM

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Writing from Operation Iraqi Freedom, A Soldier Comments on the Election

Many of our long-time blog readers will recall the 2004 blog entry "A Soldier Assures Us: Our Progress is Amazing," by my old friend Joe Roche, then on active duty with the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division in Baghdad.

For those who don't recall or weren't readers back then, Joe's essay was published by over two dozen newspapers across the U.S., linked to by Matt Drudge, read aloud on the radio by Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, Kirby Wilbur and many others, was linked to by at least 286 blogs, was quoted by President Bush in his acceptance speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention, and was quoted in a Smithsonian Institution exhibit. Among other things.

Joe spent 14 months in Iraq with the U.S. Army in 2003-2004; then was posted in Europe and the U.S. He left the army, only to recently return, and has once again been deployed abroad, to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Joe is again writing essays I believe will be of interest to this blog's readers. Watch for more of them here in coming days. The first of these I'll post comes from Joe writing from the Mideast the night Barack Obama was elected.

Joe's thoughts:
On the election:

The elegance of America is clear for me to see. I know that being home in the USA the election must appear jarring and messy sometimes. Being overseas, however, is a special way to experience our Republic's moment of decision.

The fascination w/ our election is overwhelming to see among all the other nations and peoples of the world. Over the past months we have heard the usual talk of how our impact on the world is waning and that we are isolated. If you look back, you will find that such notions are always said about our country, especially from foreign press that feels intimidated or jealous of us. We must not apologize for this because it is part of the burden of leadership. Those who seek to emulate the values of justice and progress will celebrate, but those who merely want to take from us that which we have been blessed with will always lament our decline.

I watched as European elites in the press proclaimed that the sub-prime mortgage crisis signaled the end of American economic influence. Yet, those same elites said nothing when the US Federal Reserve pumped hundreds of billions of US taxpayer dollars into the European Central Bank a few weeks ago to keep Europe afloat. Now Hungary, Iceland, Greece, Italy, the Baltics and others are all falling deeply into economic malaise because Europe has a banking, financial and export crisis on its hands that has been triggered because of the financial crisis that hit our country. Asia also is now squirming as the export and credit crises hit them as we slow down to re-tune our economy.

We have an annual $14 trillion dollar economy, with the second largest foreign economy being below $4.5 trillion, and the next five put together not adding up to ours. We are the only nation in the world with the expeditionary military capability to intervene to maintain not only our own country's direct interests, but also to protect our allies in every continent.

These are not things we took from others. Rather, this was imposed on us by the reckless destruction brought to the world by tyrants over the past century that laid waste to many of the world's great nations. Communism, fascism, tyranny of all forms has cruelly destroyed the well-being of millions. Into the void left after World War Two and then the Cold War, it was America that was left to spread her influence, alone.

The impact has been the most extraordinary growth of liberty, democracy and human rights that the world has ever seen. Nothing like the past decades of American exceptionalism on the world stage has ever been seen in history.

As a soldier, this election has been especially gripping because of the impact it has on our missions. However, our ideals and values and hopes for the rest of the world, and as regards America's unique and special role in the world, does not change. Instead, the elites who criticize us will learn again, as they always do in the months after an election in America, that it is the USA that stands as the best last hope for mankind on earth.

I have watched with my fellow soldiers, missing out on sleep because of the hour difference between home in the US and being in the Middle East, the election results. It is the commentary and fascination foreigners have that has most intrigued me.

The electoral college, an institution that we Americans often criticize, stands elegant again. Rather than having the malaise of coalition governments with small minority single-issue parties dictating the survival of government, as happens in parliaments all over the world, the electoral college ensures that the two-party system of our Republic is solid. I have heard those at home who want it to be otherwise, but as I see in foreign observance of our system, parliamentarism would be a disaster for America.

It may be fine for countries such as Italy, Switzerland, Israel, Germany or Japan to have constantly crippled coalition governments in which deals have to be made with small parties dedicated to one single issue. The problem is that our country's responsibilities simply wouldn't survive such malaise in our leadership. It is good and necessary that we have a system that keeps our country focused on two parties that therefore are dedicated to national interests. In an age of challenges such as we face since 1945, we must have strong leadership that is stable and can make unpopular decisions. The alternative would leave the world vulnerable to the re-emergence of the fury and destructiveness that so bludgeoned the world before. There is no substitute for American leadership.

The process of electing our leaders, without tanks firing at buildings and no assassinations and no militias taking up arms to over throw and terrorize various states may sound normal, but it isn't. Much of the rest of the world lives like that and has seen tanks, bombs and massacres when leadership is changed, overthrown, or otherwise challenged. Not in America. We may not all like what happens in our votes, but we don't resort to violence.

I had laugh when in Italy and France various journalists recently wrote that Vice President Cheney called up us soldiers so that we could fight in the streets of America to maintain power for President Bush after the election. Don't worry. Such ridiculous sentiments have always been expressed by those who have yet to learn from America.

I also feel such a sense of awe and respect from all the foreigners observing our election as they speak with fascination about Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and other places they have never seen. They are watching us, seeing the process, and there is great admiration.

Always remember that the easiest thing to do, and the lazily attractive way to sound intelligent, is to criticize. That is what the elites in foreign lands like to do when talking about us. But notice that after 1945, the world has transformed in ways that are simply remarkable and beyond any precedent in history. Even today as economic experts decry our recession as signaling the end of our influence, their economies are catching pneumonia from our cough, and their banks are being bailed out by American taxpayers.

If you ask why American exceptionalism exists and why it is that America is this great and powerful country, the answer is so simple that you might miss it because too many of us take it for granted. It is an answer that the rest of the world yearns for, and as long as we remain committed to our ideals and principles of our Constitution and our way of life, all humanity will benefit from. The answer is freedom. That is what it is all about, and that is what makes it all be this way.

It is our freedom, economic and political freedom, that is the engine of our growth. All of our prosperity comes from freedom. All of our influence and gravitas comes from freedom. Freedom is the one and central factor that dictates progress and strength.

Just look at some of the lands around where I am at, or in places like North Korea, Myanmar, Sudan, or other places where great human suffering is occurring. It is because of the lack of freedom.

The French Revolution gave inspiration to the Bolshevik Revolution because some took the cause of freedom to be something closer to anarchy and mob rule. In America, it is our Republic which has fostered and maintained freedom's greatest expression because as Americans, we also know that freedom brings with it responsibility. The basic understandings that the rule of law must be the foundation to freedom's maintenance, and that such law must have the lessons of Judeo-Christian values imbedded, are key to this.

This means we don't just go yell fire in a movie theater. That is not freedom. Freedom has to be protected, and that means even from the government. That is why our economic freedom is so important.

Again, I know that being at home in America our high taxes and large government makes it seem like economic freedom was lost long ago. But travel abroad and see how socialism in the form of communism, fascism, religious fundamentalism, and other forms of tyranny has put on straight jackets against prosperity and progress. Then you will realize that while we do have to maintain our vigilance against the tyranny of the state in our own home, we still are far more free than any other society on earth.

This past election season has exhausted many Americans. Nonetheless, it has also been one of the greatest events for the rest of the world to watch. I'm not saying that the election turned out the way I voted, but I am saying that the vibrancy and brilliance of America's elegant Republic has shown bright again to the world. Be proud no matter what, even if your candidate lost, because America's role in the world is far larger and far more lasting than any one election can undo.
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If you would like to know more about Joe Roche, a profile of his life and army service published by Stars and Stripes can be found in this post from 2004.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:21 AM

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Project 21's Horace Cooper on C-Span Friday to Discuss Race Issues in Obama's America - Watch or Listen Live

By David Almasi:
Project 21 member and National Center board member Horace Cooper has been scheduled to discuss how the dynamic of race relations is changed by Barack Obama’s election to the presidency on C-Span's "Washington Journal" program Friday morning.

You can see Horace live at 8:00 am eastern on C-Span (please check your local cable listings for station). You can also watch or listen to it live from your computer by clicking here and selecting the format appropriate for your computer on the right-hand side of the page (choose the format to the right of the blue C-Span logo to watch or the black C-Span Radio logo to listen only).

C-Span Radio is broadcast in the Washington/Baltimore area at 90.1 FM and available nationwide on XM Channel 132.

Later in the day, the show can be seen on the “Washington Journal” web page.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:25 PM

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