LA2AL-Quds

soon and very soon

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

After some confusion, I have now mangaged to get the Xmas Pictures up and running, click here to check them out.

The pictures are out of order, some are from a Xmas/Chanukah party; some are from Xmas Eve outside Bethlehem and some are from Xmas Day when my roomate, his brother and sister and I went on a jeep tour of the forests outside of Jerusalem.

In other news, I'm sick, so I won't be updating for a while. Hope you enjoy the pics everyone. Lburke2@alumni.nd.edu

Monday, December 22, 2003

My old ND friend and charter member of the Brooklyn-4 has a piece in Newsweek this week about humor and the upcoming 2004 election. It focuses on John Stewart's "The Daily Show", but also looks at the likes of Leno, Letterman and SNL. Read it here.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Oh to be the solider who punched Saddam Hussein.

Saudi Columnist: 'America is a Liberator and not an Occupier... Bush will Go Down in Arab History as the Liberator of Baghdad'

Nice Summary of the controversy over Gibson's The Passion, written by conservative talk show host and Orthodox Jew Michael Medved.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Best Xmas party in the Holy Land? I don't know but I just got back from the Irish Consul's Xmas party and I was dissapointed to say the least at the fact that they had BUSHMILL'S whisky!!!!! Oh well, it was still a great party, thanks to Fr. John Fitzpatrick, S.J., the Director of the Pontifical Biblical Insitutue, and the Xmas party there tonight. Whisky aside, it was a great time.

The alignment of the religious in America to the GOP has been brewing for a while and seems to have crystallized with Bush in office. Read about it here, my favorite part of the story:

According to a national survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center, "The Democrats had an 18 percentage-point advantage among white Catholics who said in the late 1980s that they attended Mass daily; today the Republicans have a 2-point advantage over voters who say the same thing".

The flogging of America: Boston's "Big Dig" wraps up. This is what happens when Democrats rule, taxpayers fork over the cash to the politicians who give it to all those Union members to do their jobs that are over budget and years late. What do the Democrat politicians get? Union endorsements and reelection of course.

This is awesome, welcome home private.

Friday, December 19, 2003

DEMOCRATS ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY (AGAIN)

First off, Howard Dean signed his own Presidential Death Certificate when he said that the capture of Saddam doesn't make the US safer. This is a guy the American people are suppose to vote into office because they think he will do a better job protecting Americans than President Bush? Since the capture of Saddam we have been able to launch raids against insurgents thanks to intelligence that was obtained with Hussein. And now there is news that Saddam's agents were able to infiltrate the US Command in Iraq, thereby perpetrating attacks from the inside:

"Among the documents found in Saddam's briefcase when he was captured last weekend was a list of names of Iraqis who have been working with the United States either in the Iraqi security forces or the Coalition Provisional Authority and are feeding information to the insurgents"

So now I am really confused as to how capturing Saddam Hussein hasn't made Americans safer, so please DOCTOR Dean, explain.

A classic quote from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in a statement in December 1998 supporting President Clinton's four-day bombing of Iraq:

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process. The responsibility of the United States in this conflict is to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, to minimize the danger to our troops and to diminish the suffering of the Iraqi people."


***ROADMAP UPDATE***
In other news, Israeli Prime Minister gave what is the most important speech concerning the American lead "Road Map to Peace" yesterday which will have a drastic impact upon the nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict very soon. You can read the text of Sharon's speech at the Herzliya Conference here, or read some of the points I will focus on below.

For starters Sharon made an important point that the main goal of Israel as a state isn't peace with the Palestinians or the Arab/Muslim World. The sole goal Eretz Yisrael (The Land of Israel) is Aliyah, or the ecouragement of Jews to move to Israel and become Israeli citizens; put simply the Jewish State isn't going anywhere. Much to the chagrin of Yasser Arafat and the rest of the tyrants in the Arab/Muslim World.

He also calls for the easing of restrictions upon everyday Palestinians:

"Israel will remove closures and curfews and reduce the number of roadblocks; we will improve freedom of movement for the Palestinian population, including the passage of people and goods; we will increase the hours of operation at international border crossings; we will enable a large number of Palestinian merchants to conduct regular and normal economic and trade relations with their Israeli counterparts, etc. All these measures are aimed at enabling better and freer movement for the Palestinian population not involved in terror"

I feel this is a good move by Sharon. I have said for a while that the people I really feel sorry for in this whole conflict is the Palestinian people. It is the Palestinian people who suffer under the rule of the terrorist and murder Yasser Arafat, not his wife who lives in the French Rivera on an American expense account and off of monies that Arafat has stolen from the UN and other NGOs. It is the Palestinian people who don't get to see their sons and daughters grow up and be successful doctors, scholars and/or artists because the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, has so brainwashed them into thinking that walking into a cafe and blowing themselves up is the most important thing their lives could possibly accomplish. So in a way this is Sharon's masked statement of solidarity with the Palestinian people, he very well knows that Arafat & Co. are responsible for the state of the Palestinians and not Israel.

Second big move by Sharon:

" I have committed to the President of the United States that Israel will dismantle unauthorized outposts. It is my intention to implement this commitment. The State of Israel is governed by law, and the issue of the outposts is no exception. I understand the sensitivity; we will try to do this in the least painful way possible, but the unauthorized outposts will be dismantled. Period."

No one who wants a real solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem can deny that Jewish settlement building into the West Bank is a huge problem in a final status agreement. And Israeli agreed, by signing the Road Map, to dismantle "settlement outposts erected since March 2001 (Road Map, Phase I)". Sharon had tried and was successful in removing a few settlements but no sooner had he done so that Israel was again attacked by suicide bombers. The dismantling of settlements was to be seen as a reward to and as a response to Palestinian leadership actively rooting out and dismantling terrorist organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. This clearly did not, and has not, happened; so why should Sharon be the one to me making unilateral decisions? Unfortunately, the answer is because Israel is a democracy. Accordingly Democracies stand for freedom, integrity, morality, and being the light when all else is dark (see WWII, Cold War, War on Terror). So now Sharon has decided to remove the outposts that are both an obstacle to peace as well as a strain on the capabilities on the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and to include into Israel via the new security fence, those settlement areas which are older and are too large to be destroyed.

After discussing the settlements, Sharon spoke about launching is new "Disengagement Plan" which includes:
1. Redeployment of the IDF along the new security fence, significantly lowering the number of IDF members currently protecting settlements which will have been removed and thus also reducing friction between Palestinians and Israelis.
2. The construction of the Israeli security fence will continue at an accelerated rate; which, as a result, will allow the IDF to remove roadblocks inside the West Bank and allow the easing of restrictions on everyday Palestinians.

So that is where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at this point. It is about time Sharon put some of the pressure back on the Palestinians and force them to decide which path they will trod: to terrorism and thus, misery for their own people or, negotiations and the physical destruction of Hamas. Israel will make the first move, the response (unfortunately) is up to Arafat.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Latest Gallop Poll shows a bounce for Bush.

Michael Novak follows up on a Vatican Cardinal's Anti-Americanism.

And, the Democrats continue to dig themselves holes on the foreign policy front. Great piece in the Washington Times shows how extreme the mainstream Democratic Party has gotten, from former Secretary of State Albright to hopeful Democratic Presidential Nominee Howard Dean, not only did Bush know about 9-11 but he had Saddam Hussein waiting to bring out for political gain and has bin Laden somewhere ready to do the same right before the election. Democratic hyper-paranoia and hyper-hatred of Bush is easily more fervent and malicious than it was during the peak days of the Clinton Administration. I really hope the GOP can get their message out there and really expose the DNC for how radical they are in 2004.

What really happened to Saddam after he was captured by American forces? See for yourself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

**THE PASSION UPDATE** POPE GIVE'S GIBSON'S PASSION THUMBS UP!!!

Peggy Noonan writes about the Pope's reaction to Mel Gibson's yet to be released film on the Passion of Jesus Christ saying "It is as it was".

Noonan says something in it that I've been thinking for a while namely:

"The church is very odd these days in that it dodges those controversies on which it has known authority and expertise, and seems to embrace those controversies on which it seems to have nothing to add but airy non sequiturs (see Iraq war; reaction to Saddam's capture)"

At any rate, it's a short and good piece. Gibson now has Rev. Billy Graham and the Pope on board, should be a great Ash Wednesday.

IN OTHER NEWS - Best friend and former roomate Casey Johnson has decided to contribute to the site with analysis on the domestic and global economies. This time he looks at the jobless recovery in the States as well as the reasons behind the depreciation of the dollar in the last year. I feel he's right on about everything, and will definitely leave the technical jargon to him but one thing is for sure, that jobs numbers are a lagging indicator in an economic recovery, they're always the last thing to bounce back. I suspect as long as Bush continues to see jobs beging created, no matter what the amount, he will be alright in 2004.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The New Iraqi Foreign Minister goes off on the United Nations "efforts" in post-war Iraq. Cheers!
"Squabbling over political differences takes a back seat to the daily struggle for security, jobs, basic freedoms and all the rights the U.N. is chartered to uphold"

"I'd like to remind you that the governing council is the most representative and democratic governing body in the region."

An incredible story about the oldest man to ever become an American citizen.

Monday, December 15, 2003

There's a lot of good stuff out there on the big news, I like Amir Taheri's piece in the National Review. He raises some interesting facts about Hussein, including the part below, as well as addresses the positives and negatives to his capture and its possible results in Iraq., an insightful article:

"It may take months for the full impact of the final demise of Saddam to become fully apparent in Iraq and other Arab countries. His was the most brutal of the one-party regimes that the Arabs developed from the 1950s onwards. His rule affected almost every Iraqi. There is hardly an Iraqi family that did not lose at least one, member to Saddam's death machine. And that includes Saddam's own family. He murdered dozens of his own relatives, including both his sons-in-laws, two of his grandsons, a supposedly "favorite" uncle, and several cousins.

His victims included not only Shiites, Kurds, the Marsh Arabs and the Yazidis, but also Arab Sunnis. The Iraqi army itself was one of his victims; he killed thousands of officers. Even the ruling Baath party was a victim of Saddam's terror. Of the 16 members of the Baath top leaders in 1968, only one was alive in 2003: Saddam Hussein"


For Domestic results of Saddam's capture check out Fox News All Star and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes's article on the Weekly Standard online . What does his capture mean for the 2004 Election, well has he puts it: "it's bad for Dean".

Sunday, December 14, 2003

"WE GOT HIM"; THE ACE IN THE HOLE

Iraqis celebrate
The World reacts
Saddam's fate
How Bush found out
Peggy Noonan even returns from sabbatical to write on the momentous news.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

An important piece on the Beltway sniper terrorists John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo in Towhall.com, a great read.

And if you don't believe what she says than you can go to the Fairfax County website and see for yourself this sicko's drawings. I am not in favor of the death penalty anymore than I am in favor of abortion, but sometimes it is a fitting punishment.

TCB IN SACRAMENTO - Is anyone really surprised by the type of bi-partisan support and cooperation that the new Californian Governor has been able to generate? I'm not, that's why I was supportive of his run in the recall election. The biggest knock against Schwarzenegger during the recall was that he didn't have enough experience to serve as Governor of a state whose GDP is bigger than most countries. My response to that claim? California does't need a professional politician right now, they need someone with charisma and leadership who can unite the people of the great Golden State in rebuilding an economy whose experiment into progressive liberal policies left it bankrupt. He might not be as experienced or as dedicated to conservatism as Tom McClintock, but he knows not to raise taxes, knows that politicians must be fiscally responsible and knows that California needs to do create conditions conducive for businesses to return to California and that's good enough for now. Cheers Gov.!!!


Barney is back!
No, not the singing purple dinosaur but the President and First Lady's black Scottish Terrier. A funny video and a lot of good cameos from Karl Rove, Andy Card and the President.

Don't forget to help the troops with your care packages or frequent flyer miles.
Jerusalem Pics are here.
Israel pics are here.
Hebrew University pics are here.

Stay tuned for updated pics in the coming weeks!

Friday, December 12, 2003

Is there any doubt as to if Whitney Houston is a one cracked out broad?

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Yeah Cerritos!!! The first Wi-Fi city in the USA!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

A great symbolic statement by the people of Baghdad. They may not want coalition forces running their country but they know what has to get done before any type of viable democracy can be set up in their country. The biggest mistake being made by these Baathist and international terrorist instigators in Iraq is that they have strayed from attacking only American and Coalition troops and instead have shifted their focus to Iraqis and the people trying to help them. The Japanese NGO workers that were killed, bombings at Iraqi police stations, the UN and Red Cross, etc. make it obvious even to the Iraqis that the Americans are not the bad guys.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Election 2004 - The best article I've read yet on what's looking more and more to be a Bush-Dean Presidential election in 2004 is from an editorial in today's Washington Post courtesy of the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol.

Kristol makes some great observations about Dean's campaign, especially the fact that the second after Dean wins the Democratic nomination he will immediately turn to the right in a move designed to court Libertarians and Centrist Republicans; it's really quite hard to know where Dean would possibly govern from. The extreme Left or as a Centrist like he did in Vermont. Even though there isn't much precedence for the US electorate to make such a dramatic electoral reversal (especially considering midterm and gubernatorial elections after 2000), stranger things have happened.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Just got back from seeing the "Last Temptation of Christ" at the Jerusalem Cinematheque with my roommate Josh and that movie gets better and better every time I see it. This time I was amazed at the historical accuracy given to the people (with the exception of Dafoe as Christ), music, sets, etc. everything is flawless. And even though it is considered controversial because it portrays Christ as so very human, but wasn't that the beauty of the Pascal Lamb and Sacrifice and the whole point of God's New Covenant with mankind? This movie makes me want to go out into the desert and live like the Essenes, and not I'm not joking. So now you know how excited I am about Mel Gibson's "The Passion".

Nicolas Kazantzakis describes his spiritual curiosity which lead him to write the book, "The Last Temptation of Christ"; go rent the movie:

"My principal anguish, and the wellspring of all my joys and sorrows, has been the incessant merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh. . . . Every man partakes of the divine nature in both his spirit and his flesh. That is why the mystery of Christ is not simply a mystery for a particular creed; it is universal. . . . Struggle between the flesh and the spirit, rebellion and resistance, reconciliation and submission, and finally-the supreme purpose of the struggle-union with God: this was the ascent taken by Christ, the ascent which he invites us to take as well, following in his bloody tracks. . . . "

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Looking for ways to support our troops during the holiday season? If you are interested in sending care packages to our fighting men and women in Iraq or Afghanistan logon to http://www.anysoldier.us/ and find out how.

Or, if you have a zillion frequent flyer miles, donate them to soldiers trying to get home for their 2 week R & Rs. Soldiers on R & R or Emergency Leave are flown by the military to Germany or three airports in the United States, Baltimore/Washington, (BWI), Dallas/FortWorth, (DFW), or Atlanta, (ATL ) for free.

The soldiers have been responsible for flights the rest of the way in the U.S. to their destinations, here's where you can help, logon to Operation Hero Miles and donate your unused miles to deserving soldiers. Most major airlines are onboard including: AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, Pan Am, SouthWest and United.

Remember: Freedom isn't free.

Bush as FDR??? That's what Max Boot thinks in his piece Friday from the Wall Street Journal about W.'s Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad. I don't know if I'm buying it, but he has interesting analysis. I wonder if the Dems bitched about FDR skippin the states to go to Yalta. Boot's overarching theme is more important than his comparison to FDR, which is that the President's trip showed that the US will remained committed to building Iraq, no matter the danger.

And my favorite military historian is back with another stellar piece in the National Review, VDH as been on a role since Gulf War II started and once again he's right on the money. Once again this week he writes concerning the continued war on terror, opening with one disturbing fact:

"Remember, even apart from all the killing in Israel and Iraq, all of the deadly terrorism since 9/11 — the synagogue in Tunisia, French naval personnel in Pakistan, Americans in Karachi, Yemeni attacks on a French ship, the Bali bombing, the Kenyan attack on Israelis, the several deadly attacks on Russians in both Moscow and Chechnya, the assault on housing compounds in Saudi Arabia, the suicide car bombings in Morocco, the Marriott bombing in Indonesia, the mass murdering in Bombay, and the Turkish killing — has been perpetrated exclusively by Muslim fascists and directed at Westerners, Christians, Hindus, and Jews."

Fighting the worst fascist fundamentalists since Hitler will never be easy and I'm not sure even the majority of Americans realize the stakes of this continued war, but at least for those of us that do VDF we know we have the moral highground and know that we are on the right side of history.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

It's nice to see that not all Democrats thrive in the politics of personal destruction, which liberals have come to epitomize. Susan Estrich, Hannity & Colmes regular, is one liberal I can actually respect because she engages in politics and the culture wars based on ideas, not upon hate and even though I may disagree with her ideology, I can respect her point of view and more easily take into consideration her ideas because she doesn't partake in the "Bush is stupid" mentality (ala James Carville, Michael Moore, Maureen Dowd, Al Franken, etc. al). She was right to stick up for Schwarzenegger during the recall election, she's right to tell Larry David's wife and the rest of the Hollywood elite to get a life, and she's right that Bush hating (or Republican hating for that matter) won't win any election for the Democrats (see congressional and gubernatorial elections since 1992).

Hilarious parody in this week's "News in Brief" on The Onion Online, I love the last sentence:

Alan Colmes Loses Argument With Nephew
NEW YORK—Alan Colmes, the liberal co-host of the Fox News debate program Hannity & Colmes, lost an argument to his nephew Bryan while babysitting the 8-year-old Monday. "I wanted to stay up late to watch television, but Uncle Alan said, 'There's already too much self-parenting in America,'" Bryan said. "So I started screaming, 'Mom lets me, Mom lets me,' real loud. He gave in after, like, 20 seconds." In the past two years, Bryan has won arguments with Colmes on the subjects of Pokémon cards, Crunch Berries cereal, and steel tariffs.

An AP story on Arab immigration to the states concludes that "the Arab population in the United States has nearly doubled in the past two decades". Of course, Arabs are welcome in the USA just as much as any other ethnic group and have, arguably, succeeded in mobilizing politically faster than many other ethnic groups. For instance, in October, seven of the eight Democratic presidential candidates attended the Arab American Institute's national leadership conference in Dearborn, as did the heads of the Democratic and Republican parties. They've also been more successful economically than other groups because the Arabs immigrating to the states are far more educated than those coming across the border to the south. Many are professionals in their field of work (professors, doctors, engineers) and we know that any group who is educated and motivated to work will have no problem achieving their own vision of the American Dream.

So winter has finally hit Jerusalem like a sledgehammer this week, just in the last few days the temperature has gotten down into the low 50s and it has been raining quite a bit. I suppose it could be worse, this could be my 10-day forecast.

Pics are here:
Jerusalem
Hebrew University
Around Israel

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

New Poll out of Iraq concludes that most Iraqis are glad Saddam is gone, big surprise huh? According to the poll, "most respondents felt they were in control of their lives, and the results indicated that in an international context Iraqis were not particularly dissatisfied". Imagine that, a different reality than what is being portrayed in the mainstream media, interesting.

Also, here's a great story out of Iraq, if all the Peaceniks were really intested in the people of Iraq why don't we hear any stories of them putting together any kind of operation like this? Oh I'm sure in some way it's the fault of the American Interm Government for not allowing them to do so, but you would at least think you'd hear something about their attempts to really help the people.