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Michael Ubaldi, March 8, 2005.

National Review editor Rich Lowry wonders which direction the greater left will fall: acceptance and abnegation or denial, superstition and mania. Comedian Jon Stewart has been reluctantly considering a mea culpa, though still in his own language. And his choice of colleagues probably won't help him to redemption:

The Democratic foreign-policy expert who was Stewart's guest that night, Nancy Soderberg, tried to comfort him, pointing out that the budding democratic revolution in the Middle East still might fail: "There's always hope that this might not work."

There is historical precedent for that, of course. Liberal revolutions failed in Europe in 1848 and Eastern Europe in 1968.

In those last two sentences Rich is being fair to opponents and fortune. But consider that the historical precedent he strikes up is obsolete. Where was the medium serving as an internet in 1968, or 1956; let alone 1848? Where were the round-the-clock, worldwide news broadcasters? Even Tiananmen Square is from a spent epoch. The greatest threat from modern authoritarianism is rooted in a strongman's ability to subvert free nations' latest technology to his own destructive practices — from instant communication to airplanes to atomic bombs. But after two demonstrations of checking the authoritarian use of force with democratic military power, our greatest weapon, free expression, can finally be brought to bear: today's revolutions go live, the entire world a witness to every single one. Rule by strength relies on deprivation, and a dictator will never defeat what he can't hide.

EVERY PROTEST HAS ITS AUDIENCE: Robert Mayer, covering reports of protests across the globe, includes two pictures of a women's suffrage demonstration in Kuwait. Picket signs were in English as well as Arabic, and though English is widely used in the country's print, it's worth considering Kuwaitis know exactly whom among those watching will help.

Michael Ubaldi, March 7, 2005.

Power is in expression without exertion. All the high talk of lineage and nationality couldn't cloak China's desire to swallow up Taiwan, especially with the growing thicket of ballistic missiles threatening to skewer the strait-excused island country. For all its physical might, China is sufficiently weaker than the United States and American allies to be prevented from enveloping its neighbor — and in frustration Beijing prefers all parties simply accept the proposed sequestration and not talk about the decline in possibility running inversely to, oddly enough, the number of silos on the eastern Chinese coast.

A third party has joined Taiwan and America, and if their Beijing-perceived meddling weren't enough, the interlopers have the gall to play it cool:

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that Japan was not stepping up pressure on China.

"Japan's basic policy has not changed," Koizumi said, stressing that Tokyo wanted a peaceful solution in the Taiwan Strait.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, the top Japanese government spokesman, said last month's joint US-Japan statement came because it is "important to have a deeper recognition" over the key strategic area.

"We believe there is no particular problem as our country's policy toward Taiwan has not changed at all," Hosoda told reporters.

Nothing special, see? Tokyo just wouldn't want anything happen to Taipei, that's all, and will make especially certain with its broadening navy.

Michael Ubaldi, March 7, 2005.

While scanning the Wall Street Journal editorial page just a few days ago I noticed a smallish article advocating the postal service's privatization. I didn't read it: a noble cause, it seemed too far-fetched, what with the day's otherwise reasonable progressive ideas facing spears and poison arrows.

Yet on the other side of the world, in a country more closely wedded to a central state than ours, reform is just what the executive is calling for:

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi urged his fellow Liberal Democratic Party executives Monday to work hard to get the opponent-dominated ruling party to support privatizing Japan Post with the aim of legislating the policy by June 19.

"I asked them to have vigorous discussions so it can be enacted during the current Diet session as I have no plans to extend the session," Koizumi told reporters after an executive meeting of the party, which he heads.

Koizumi faces as uncertain a public as President Bush, skewed New York Times polls aside. Yet as surveys regularly show, whether Americans or Japanese can decide on a preferable solution, they want change — and here's to the leaders willing to risk for that need.

Michael Ubaldi, March 7, 2005.

One of the elite media's strengths in post-Saddam Iraq has been its ability to mask the nature of seditionists, terrorists and murderers, and present Iraq's enemies to the world as popular resisters and devout warrior-pilgrims, or another fitting caricature from the left's brimming library of grassroots-fascist mythology.

The rightist New York Post is among a few publications to hail American-funded television station al-Iraqiya's nightly broadcast of aggressive interviews with "insurgents." Baghdad Iraqi Omar has, at the request of his brother, begun watching the program. He gives us his reaction, as well as a few screenshots. Without exception, those revealing their gang-style killings for pennies are monosyllabic, violent low-lifes — often working under their old drivers:

This question which has been repeated over and over again in this program is now ringing in the ears and minds of the people. Why are these terrorists killing the people? Is it Jihad? No, because they're charging money for it. Is it to "liberate Iraq from the occupiers"? Again the answer is "no" because the victims were Iraqis in almost all of the attacks. Is it to "defend Islam"? The answer is still "no" because what has an alcoholic got to do with religion.

...It's also worth mentioning that most of the performers are people with simple careers while the heads of the cells are in most of the cases ex-officers in the republican guard and middle ranking former Ba'athists and there are always some joint officers from Syria and in this case the Syrian agent's code name was Abu Ivan (no further details were provided).

...Here in Iraq, it did make a difference as it helped more people who had uncertain thoughts about the "insurgency" get the right picture of the nature of the "insurgents" motivations, goals and ideology. And I think it will also have a positive effect on the performance of the security forces.

If these broadcasts receive more stateside attention, support for liberation should also benefit, as Americans — confronted with the brutal simplicity of the danger they share with Iraqis — become less susceptible to propaganda from the left.

'NOT REVENGE': Al-Mendhar briefly comments on the matter.

Michael Ubaldi, March 4, 2005.

This morning I overheard a radio news break reporting a second policy front on which Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan supports President Bush. The tax code:

Calling the existing U.S. tax code overly complex with an "overlapping web of deductions and exemptions," Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan suggested a consumption tax could spur more personal savings and economic growth.

I laughed out loud, knowing how desperate the Democratic Party has grown for support beyond a mainstream media bunch increasingly and correctly identified as leftist rather than objective. Democrats wanted Greenspan to stand with them or keep his mouth shut; he did neither.

Greenspan objectified is a political totem — he won't win a Washington battle alone but his presence certainly helps the side who's got him. The perennial nonpartisan guru, Greenspan was publicly measured on taxes, even suggesting the addition of levies to supplant less economically and fiscally beneficial forms of collection.

Yet as with social security, halfway insulted the Democrats, who apparently expect party line from the chairman. I knew they would be furious, some leading representatives compulsive in their egalitarian gripes. What I did not realize was how uncontrollably angry the collectivist-nihilist lot of the party might become — and what some of them are now conniving.

Michael Ubaldi, March 4, 2005.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' non-farm payroll report has come in 15% above expectations; unemployment, while slightly up, is acceptable; and growth indicators assuage inflation worries. The market's red hot.

And somebody's convinced you'd rather hear about Martha.

Michael Ubaldi, March 4, 2005.

While General John Abizaid told Congress that he believes Iraq's enemies are buckling, he made clear that native civil and military frames cannot yet support the beset country's weight. Yet. Another complement of specialized law enforcers have been deployed:

The Iraqi Police Service graduated 292 police officers from advanced and specialty courses at the Adnan Training Facility, March 3, as part of the Iraqi government's ongoing effort to train its security forces.

The courses consist of Kidnapping Investigations with 27 graduates, Basic Criminal Investigations with 63 graduates, Interview & Interrogations with 41 graduates, Organized Crime Investigations with 58 graduates, Incident Command System with 32 graduates, Internal Controls with 44 graduates, and Executive Leadership with 27 graduates.

Iraqi police have been unfairly criticized for yielding stations or the streets to terrorists packing medium infantry weapons from Saddam's countless hoards. As the Iraqi military's service is intended, like any free nation, to be one of peripheral and external operation, combating well-armed thugs must fall to civil authority:

The Iraqi Police graduated 27 officers from the Special Weapons and Tactics [SWAT] training course March 3. The officers completed a specialized four-week training curriculum that places a heavy emphasis on weapons training and includes training in dynamic entries, mechanical breaching, diversionary devices, sniper training, intelligence and surveillance, offensive driving skills, and human relations and police conduct.

Numbers are small but growing, and likely encouraged by successes in cities like Mosul. Finally, with the graduation of six dozen Iraqi emergency response officers, we're likely to hear of more heroism as seen two months ago in Tikrit.

All law enforcement agencies will benefit from countrywide, internet-accessible satellite surveillance, noted by a well-known citizen who understandably looks forward to the network's activation.

(Note Al Mendhar's geographic organization of news, denoted by a colorful map in the site's lefthand sidebar, perfectly tailored for news observers.)

Michael Ubaldi, March 4, 2005.

Democratic revolution across the earth has been made nearly irresistible with the power of image and word as broadcast by satellite and ethernet. That said, many countries need our help — and even the most modest gestures are worth trying.

Michael Ubaldi, March 3, 2005.

Busy bees buzz:

The productivity of American workers rose at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the final three months of last year, sharply higher than originally believed. ...The better-than-expected 2.1 percent revised estimate for productivity left this indicator for all of 2004 rising by 4 percent, the department said Thursday, capping the strongest three-year period for productivity growth in more than a half-century of record keeping.

Productivity is the key component for rising living standards.

Watching jobless rates fall as labor exponentially produces work is not unlike Olympic spectating: a misstep here or there, it's still world-class. And concessions are hot, too.

Michael Ubaldi, March 3, 2005.

Natural law is meaningless without a supreme arbiter:

How did the phrase "In God We Trust" get on our coins? It was on this day, March 3, 1865, that Congress approved inscribing the motto on all our national coins.

Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law. Less than two months later Lincoln was assassinated.

At a Memorial Address for Lincoln, Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax noted:

Nor should I forget to mention here that the last act of Congress ever signed by President Lincoln was one requiring that the motto, in which he sincerely believed, "In God We Trust," should hereafter be inscribed upon all our national coin.

Consider that on days when the thin-skinned see tort in what makes them uncomfortable. American federal, state and local governments are bedecked with the religious instance, officially acknowledged out of respect for tradition and history rather than the purpose of establishment. After all — be it Sunnandaeg, Monandaeg, Tiwesdaeg, Wodnesdaeg, Thursdaeg or Frigedaeg, where's your altar slab as mandated by law?