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APPRECIATING AMERICA

Oh well, oh well, I feel so good today, We just touched ground on an international runway Jet propelled back home, from overseas to the USA. Did I miss the skyscrapers, did I miss the long freeway? From the coast of California to the shores of Delaware Bay You can bet your life I did, ‘till I got back to the USA. Looking hard for a drive-in, searchin' for a corner café Where hamburgers sizzle on an open grill night and day Yeah, and a juke-box jumpin' with records like in the USA. Well, I'm so glad I'm livin' in the USA. Yes. I'm so glad I'm livin' in the USA. Anything you want, we got right here in the USA. --Chuck Berry, "Back In The USA," 1962.
Two months traveling around the world through 15 countries.  Back home at last.

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THE DEMOCRAT DANGER TO AMERICA

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor illustrates why Democrats cannot be trusted with political power in time of war. Ms. Taylor, who is the chief judge of the federal district court in Detroit, ruled Aug. 17 that it is unconstitutional for the National Security Agency to listen in, without warrants, on telephone conversations between terror suspects abroad and people in the United States. Her ruling was praised by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent Democrats.   Then it was discovered that Judge Taylor served on the board of a foundation which gave $125,000 to the Michigan ACLU, the lead plaintiff in the case, and did not disclose this apparent conflict of interest.

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NO GOOD OPTIONS IN LEBANON

The U.N.-backed cease-fire has stopped the killing in Lebanon and Israel. Now a United Nations peacekeeping force, coupled with the fractured Lebanese army, faces the daunting task of disarming Hezbollah. A realistic appraisal of this "A-Team" of terrorist organizations has this cease-fire looking more like a Hezbollah tactical pause, not a lasting commitment to peace with Israel. In Israel last week, the speaker of its Knesset told me "we closed our eyes" to the growing threat of Hezbollah, which started building its military capabilities in southern Lebanon the day Israeli soldiers departed six years ago. The threat continues to grow and Israel is in deep crisis.

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THREE STRIKES FOR LIBERALS ON TAX CUTS

Many in the Washington establishment were shocked Aug. 17, when the Congressional Budget Office reported a surge of "unanticipated tax receipts" that will sharply push down this year's deficit. Those who had been proclaiming the Bush tax rate cuts would result in a big reduction in tax revenues tried to hide their disappointment. It was tough being proved wrong again after having said the same thing when Ronald Reagan cut tax rates in the early 1980s. We have now had three major experiments with tax rate reduction in the last half-century, and each time both economic growth and tax revenues have surged, despite the fears and cries of the anti-tax-cut crowd. How much more evidence will they need to understand the difference between tax rates and tax revenues?

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IF BUSH GIVES UP

We are all aware of the dangerous Middle East conditions the United States faces today after five and a half years of President Bush's leadership. So let's consider what the world might well look like if, in his remaining two and a half years, he were to follow the recommendations of his critics. First: America out of Iraq by the end of 2007.      We warn the Iraqis to get off their duffs and prepare to be in charge by Dec. 31, 2007. We depart (leaving a couple of divisions in a desert base somewhere in Kuwait - per John Murtha's over the horizon strategy). The Iraqi military and police are still not able to manage. Full scale civil war breaks out. The Iranians enter to give help to the Shias. The Egyptians, Saudis and other Sunni states lend a hand to help the Iraqi Sunnis. The Kurds declare an independent Kurdistan. Kuwait demands our two divisions immediately leave, as it is arousing the hostility of its population. Qatar makes the same demand, for same reason, of our naval base. The United States complies.

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BEYOND THE PALE

ireland_map Ronald Reagan's origins are even more humble than Abraham Lincoln's log cabin.  His great-grandfather, Michael O'Regan, was born in a hut of mud and slats in farmland called Doolis near the village of Ballyporeen, County Tipperary, in 1829. The O'Regans, like most of Ireland's rural poor, lived on potatoes.  When a fungus (phytophtora infestans) infected the potato crop in 1845 causing a famine, teen-age Michael fled to London with other folks from Tipperary.  Among them was a young lass, Catherine Mulcahy, whom he married in 1852 after Anglicizing his name to Reagan. They had a son, John, in 1854, and emigrated to America, settling in Fulton, Illinois by 1860.  John's son, Jack, was born in Fulton in 1883.  Jack's son, Ronald Wilson Reagan, was born in nearby Tampico in 1911. Seventy-three years later, in June 1984, Ronald Reagan came to Ballyporeen as President of the United States.  In his speech to the townspeople in the village square, he said, "I can't think of a place on the planet I would rather claim as my roots more than Ballyporeen, County Tipperary." A friend of mine was there as a member of Reagan's staff.  After the speech, the President commented to him, "I really am proud to be from here."  With a wink, he explained:  "You see, I'm from Beyond the Pale."

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DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES CHANGING AGAIN

If you've had trouble figuring out the differences in service and pricing structure between ADSL and cable modems, dial-up and broadband, well, all I can tell you is to prepare yourself for some complications before you get too involved in reading this since the inevitable headache is sure to result. That's right, folks - they're changing the technology, yet again. The current range of download speeds available for both cable and DSL/ADSL modems isn't sufficient for the "Next Big Thing": video or TV on demand. So, the people in charge of these things - phone and cable companies, international consortia of various shapes and sizes and, of course, the marketing department - went back to the drawing board and came up with a bunch of new technological candidates that will provide faster, easier and smoother access to all things digital, including video, data and voice systems. The new converged systems will replace the current un-converged digital technologies, as well as require the hapless citizenry to learn a whole new bunch of acronyms.

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A MODEST PROPOSAL FOR AIRPORT SECURITY

Here I am in Ireland and the last thing in the world I am looking forward to is flying through London Heathrow to get back home.  British intel was tipped off by some good guys inserted by Parvez Musharaff into ISI (Pakistan intel) about a Moslem terrorist plot to blow up airliners flying out of Heathrow to America.  So the security is a nightmare - for everyone, not just Moslems. Thus I was thrilled to hear about The Heroes of Malaga - British passengers on a Monarch Airlines flight from Malaga, Spain to Manchester, England on August 16 who refused to fly until two Moslems were taken off the plane. The liberal British media was horrified.  The London Daily Mail ran a story entitled Asian students' shock at ejection from jet by passenger mutiny.  It is forbidden, you see, to refer to Moslems as such in the British media.  The accepted code word is "Asian" - as if they were Chinese or Japanese, anything but Moslem. The "Asians" complained bitterly they were "humiliated."  So I have a modest proposal to end their humiliation, and increase airport security as well.

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A PERSONAL JOURNEY THROUGH RELATIVITY

There is an amusing story about Sir Arthur Eddington, who in the 1920s and 1930s was Britain's leading expert on Einstein's theory of relativity.  Eddington was once asked to comment on the rumor that only three people in the world, by implication including himself and Einstein, properly understood the theory.  There was a long pause before Eddington replied slowly,  "I wonder who the third person is." The theory of relativity has a fearsome reputation, the widespread belief being that any theory formulated by a man of such legendary genius as Albert Einstein must be beyond the power of ordinary people to grasp. Yet today, Einstein's theory is routinely taught in universities around the world, and libraries contain a range of student textbooks on the subject. Either the students of today are much brighter than they are sometimes given credit for, or the theory is not so fearsomely difficult to grasp after all.

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ISRAEL IN ‘NAM

Finally, a war like Vietnam. If the cease fire in Lebanon actually goes into effect, Israel will have lost despite having won every battle, because political dithering prevented decisive victory. Hezbollah will have won through a propaganda campaign what it could not obtain on the battlefield. Hezbollah won by surviving.  Israel's reputation for military invincibility is shattered.  The vultures are circling: "Today Arab and Muslim society is reasonably certain that the defeat of Israel is possible and that the countdown to the disappearance of the Zionist entity in the region has begun," Ahmed Barakat, a member of Hezbollah's central council, told a Qatari newspaper. As in Vietnam, the overwhelming failure was in political leadership. 

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