Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Barbra Streisand and Conservatives In Bed Together?

Bad enough so many of our friends are validating the demagougery of Hillary Clinton and Schmuck Schumer. But now this:
Barbra Streisand: When no one thought that this President could push his luck any further, the Adminstration disclosed that they are in the midst of closing a $6.8 billion deal to give a company owned by the United Arab Emirates management of six American ports. The UAE has ties to the September 11 attacks. In fact, two of the hijackers from 9/11 were from the UAE and money for the Taliban has been laundered through UAE banks.
Read the rest of Democrat deep thinker Streisand's strategic analysis here.

Of course you know that Babs would never recognize the links between Saddam Hussein and Al Queda.

I just wonder if some of my conservative friends concerned about this Dubai TERMINALS deal are starting to wonder what they have gotten themselves into. I know that politics makes strange bedfellows, but come on. An orgy with Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Barabara Stresiand?

Do I need to sing my rendition of "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever?"

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Jack Kelly: The phony fracas

My apolgies if you are tired of this story. But apparently the Democrats aren't tired of trying to split the Republican governing coalition... so here's another go:

Jack Kelly: The phony fracas: Sorry folks, but United Arab Emirates is a key American ally

What do the arrests of three suspected Muslim terrorists in Ohio have to do with the purchase by an Arab company of the firm that manages facilities at six U.S. seaports?

Nothing ... and everything.
The Justice Department indicted Tuesday Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 26, of Toledo; Marwan Othman al-Hindi, 42, of Toledo; and Wassim Mazloum, 24, of Cleveland, on charges of plotting to kill U.S. military personnel.
A fourth person is mentioned in the indictment. He is "the trainer," a U.S. military combat veteran and "respected member of the Muslim community" in Toledo from whom the plotters sought weapons training and bomb making advice.
The "trainer" reported the terrorists to the FBI, and agreed to work undercover to build the case against them.
So what does this have to do with the purchase by Dubai Ports World of the British firm that manages commercial operations at ports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans?
Bush administration approval of the sale has united Democrats and Republicans in fury. Conservative pundits are apoplectic.
"The Dubai ports fracas will become a flap, quickly swell into a firestorm, then become a debacle before settling into the history books as a 'historic miscalculation' -- providing the Republicans only lose the Congress," predicted James Lileks of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
On the left, Jack Cafferty, CNN's resident bozo, opined the ports deal could be grounds for impeachment.
Distilled to its essence, the argument against the sale is that Dubai Ports World is an Arab firm, and it was Arabs who attacked us on 9/11 (including Marwan al Shehhi, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, who flew United Flight 175 into the World Trade Center).
The argument is comparable to the one President Roosevelt used to send Japanese Americans from the West Coast to concentration camps.
If we are to win the war against the Islamofascists, we need to be able to distinguish our friends from our enemies.
In this war, there are good Muslims and bad Muslims. The Toledo conspirators are examples of the latter. The "trainer," and the 1,715 Muslims currently serving in the U.S. Army are examples of the former.
We wouldn't lump "the trainer" in with the terrorists he risked his life to catch, and we shouldn't lump the UAE in with Iran or Syria, or even with Egypt or Saudi Arabia.
Among Arab nations, we have no better friends than the United Arab Emirates. The government (which owns Dubai Ports World) sponsors a U.S. Air Force base, services U.S. Navy warships and is assisting in our efforts to shut down terrorist funding. (Dubai is the banking, and consequently the money laundering, center of the Gulf.)
Unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE is a modern, tolerant country. The British Financial Times describes it as "the Singapore of the Gulf." The UAE is what we wish every Arab country were like. But we will not make more friends in the Arab world if we treat the friends we have as if they were enemies.
There are, of course, Islamists in the UAE. But not, so far as we know, in the management of Dubai Ports World, whose security record has been exemplary.
There are, as we have seen, Islamists in Toledo, too. And there are lots of Islamists in London, which is where Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, the British firm Dubai Ports World bought, is headquartered. Not even Jack Cafferty has yet suggested we stop doing business with Ohio and Britain.
Dubai Ports World bought P&O; it isn't replacing it. Management of the ports will continue as before. The employees who load and unload ships -- nearly all of whom are Americans -- will remain the same. The managers simply will report to a different board of directors.
And P&O has nothing to do with port security, which remains in the hands of the Coast Guard and other federal agencies. U.S. intelligence agencies and the U.S. military reviewed the deal, and say they have no problem with it.
Opposition to the ports deal has been fueled by ignorance and prejudice. Blocking it will do no more to defeat the terrorists than Roosevelt's concentration camps did to defeat the Japanese.
It is stupid as well as shameful to turn the war we must fight against Islamic extremism into an attack on Muslims generally.

Justice Scalia Lectures Looney Lefties

Since most of the lamestream media spent the past week fomenting a split among conservatives over a phony security issue at a few terminals at even fewer U.S. ports, it's no wonder that we didn't hear more about this story.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia spoke at the prestigious American Enterprise Institute as part of a symposium on the "Outsourcing of American Law." At a time when the concerns of many Americans about foreign influence in our ports is being played like strings on a guitar by the Democrats, this issue gets no attention.

There is a trend among the judiciary (mostly on the leftward side) that when they cannot find an opinion based on U.S. law to support the preferred outcome, they feel free to use the law of another country, which is not bound by our constitutional and legal traditions.

Justice Scalia, possessing one of the most brilliant minds in the nation, gave a remarkable speech, which is highly recommended to all Mike's America readers. The video of his address is available in full via a link at the AEI web site (last item on video link).

But the real action got going after Justice Scalia had concluded his remarks and agreed to take questions from the audience. Normally, these questions are rather dry and stuffed with legalistic jargon. But much to the embarrassment of the AEI a group of twenty-something members of the Lyndon LaRouche Youth Movement (Google here) showed up to display their ignorance by making snide insults to Justice Scalia, slurs against their country and not very good jokes about Dick Cheney and quail hunting.

Obviously poisoned by some whacked out college professors, these parrots for pacifism completely ignored the important subject of the role of international law in U.S. legal decisions to go off on a loon-fest of stupidity.

Expose the Left has a video excerpt from the Q&A, but I found radio talk show host and former Supreme Court Law Clerk, Laura Ingraham's audio presentation to be not only informative, but hilarious.

Scalia allowed not one, not two, or three or four or five questioners to stand up and regurgitate the bilge they are being brainwashed with. But his irritation at the poor level of intellect displayed by the questioners is clear.

My two favorite picks:

IDIOT: "You're just talking about our people, you said just then. And uh, what does that have to do with the general welfare of the people among the world?

SCALIA: "I don't do the world. I do the United States.... I am a federal Judge operating under a Constitution which begins 'We, the people of the United States.'"

In a further exchange, another brain damaged product of higher education, suffering from the disease of moral relativism, which has been used to justify the worst atrocities in the world by accusing the good guy's minor indiscretions of being somehow just as bad, goes on to accuse Justice Scalia of moral relativism. Not smart! Here's a partial transcript courtesy of Patterico's Pontifications:
SCALIA: I'm not a moral relativist at all.
IDIOT: Entirely subjective.
SCALIA: I don't say it's entirely subjective. I do believe that there is a right and a wrong.
IDIOT: No, you
SCALIA: The trouble is, my perception of it is not the same as yours. And therefore, I have no right to im
IDIOT: That's relativism!
SCALIA: No it isn't. No it isn't. I think there's a right and a wrong answer. And I would say my perception of the moral law is right and yours is wrong! [Applause.] All I'm saying... is that our perceptions are different. Yours happens to be wrong. That doesn't make me a moral relativist.
Imagine this nitwit being such a dimbulb with the temerity to argue with Justice Scalia when the loon doesn't even know what he is talking about. If I was this kid's parent, I would be embarrassed first of all, then angry with poor quality of the child's education.

I'll have to keep the audio clip of this quote: "I think there's a right and a wrong answer. And I would say my perception of the moral law is right and yours is wrong! " around for future use. A copy of it is here in Windows Media Audio format.

You will really enjoy the full Ingraham presentation.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hillary Clinton Serves Port Deal Kool Aid at Miami Fundraiser

After serving the Kool Aid at a Miami fundraiser, Hillary Clinton wows the crowd by reciting her favorite lines from Shakespeare's "Macbeth:" "Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and kool aid bubble."

From Newsmax:

In her first public comments since Dubai Ports World volunteered to postpone its takeover late Thursday, Clinton said she is "very pleased when last night the administration and the Dubai company said that they would subject themselves to the questions that Americans and their elected representatives have. That's the way a democracy is supposed to work."

But Clinton added that she did not believe another country should be running American ports.

"We cannot cede sovereignty over critical infrastructure like our ports. This is a job that America has to do," Clinton told about 600 people at a breakfast sponsored by the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Union members protesting the proposed takeover echoed that sentiment.

Sovereignty? Over a couple of terminals, a minority of those at each port?

NO foreign country that buys or leases property in the United States acquires sovereignty over that asset!

And you didn't think there was a HUGE amount of disinformation about this ports deal?

Here again from the Department of Homeland Security:
DP World will not, nor will any other terminal operator, control, operate or manage any United States port. DP World will only operate and manage specific, individual terminals located within six ports.

Baltimore - 2 of 14 total.
Philadelphia - 1 of 5
Miami - 1 of 3
New Orleans - 2 of 5
Houston - 4 of 12.
Newark - 1 of 4.
Does the Saudi Airlines have "sovereignty" over the terminals they lease at American airports?

Security and the Sale of Port Facilities: Facts and Recommendations

From the Heritage Foundation:
Security and the Sale of Port Facilities: Facts and Recommendations:
The sale of facilities at six U.S ports by a British-based company to Dubai World Ports, a government-owned company in the United Arab Emirates, has raised concerns among many in the homeland security community. While a review of the facts suggest no apparent security issues, these concerns do reflect the importance of ensuring that the system created by Congress to review the sale of foreign investments in the United States is functioning properly. Congress should take 45 days to review the sale to Dubai World Ports. Because Congress has not closely reviewed this oversight process since 9/11, a brief delay is reasonable and warranted.

Security and Substance
Outsourcing Is Not the Issue. That the facilities at six U.S. ports will be foreign-owned is not significant. These facilities are already owned by a foreign company, the London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Company. Indeed, much of the maritime infrastructure (e.g., ships, containers, and facilitates) that supports U.S. seaborne trade and travel, which accounts for about 1/3 of U.S. GDP, is already foreign-owned. The globalization of maritime trade began decades ago, and this sale reflects the continuing globalization of a sector long-dominated by transnational firms.

Additionally, none of the infrastructure at these ports relates to military or national security facilities. The Defense Department controls the facilities that it uses to ship military goods.

Security Standards Will Not Change.
Security standards for ports are governed by the International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS) Code, which is based on U.S. maritime laws adopted after 9/11. The same law applies to any company operating in the U.S., regardless of its origin.

The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for overseeing the implementation of ISPS. Every U.S. port has a Coast Guard officer who is the Captain of the Port and is responsible for coordinating all port security. The Customs and Border Protection agency and the Coast Guard, not the owner of the port, conduct security screening on individuals and cargo that enter the port.

Not a Terrorist Gateway.
Dubai World Ports is a holding company, and it will have little to do with the day-to-day management of these port facilities. Its ownership alone does not entitle its employees to access any classified or sensitive security information unless, as now, they meet the requirements of ISPS and U.S. law. Moreover, almost all of the employees at these facilities are U.S. citizens. As well, with over $6 billion invested, no company would want to see its facilities used by terrorists. Finally, terrorist tradecraft does not involve high-profile purchases of companies. Terrorism infiltration, like criminal smuggling, involves penetration by individuals. That is a challenge for any company.

The UAE Is an Ally. Since 9/11, the UAE has provided unprecedented cooperation to the United States in the war on terrorism, including finding, arresting, and turning over high-ranking al-Qaeda operatives and participating in the U.S. Container Security Initiative to screen cargo bound for the U.S. That Dubai World Ports is owned by the UAE should reassure Americans.

The Review Process
The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 created the Committee on Foreign Direct Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The Secretary of the Treasury heads CFIUS, and 11 other agencies participate in it, including the Departments of Defense, Justice, Commerce, and Homeland Security. The committee’s task is “to suspend or prohibit any foreign acquisition, merger or takeover of a U.S. corporation that is determined to threaten the national security of the United States.” The process is designed to be non-partisan and non-political because these decisions should not be based on political considerations but solely on the merits of the transfer and appropriate security concerns. CFIUS reviewed the Dubai World Ports transaction and did not find any problems.

A Reasoned Approach
Congress certainly has the responsibility to ensure that the CIFUS process is being implemented as it intended. However, Because Congress has not taken the opportunity to review the CFIUS procedure since its implementation in 1988, it should take 45 days to review the Dubai World Ports deal. The country needs confidence in the procedures meant to ensure that foreign investment does not harm national security and this reasonable delay for review is the way to provide it.
Thanks Flopping Aces for finding the above.

Maryland Governor Ehrlich Enters Comfort Zone on Port Deal

From the Baltimore Sun:
Ehrlich said Friday that a discussion he had with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff raised his "comfort level" with the deal. The governor focused his criticism on the process for approving the deal, not the company. That moved him closer to the position of President Bush as well as many security experts and waterfront workers who believe there is little security threat.

"I have been given a lot of facts," Ehrlich said to reporters and televisions crews gathered Friday in a hallway outside an influenza pandemic summit in Linthicum. "Some who have opined on this issue either chose to ignore the facts or have not been informed in the first place. I understand the latter. I don't understand the former."
Finally, Daniel Henninger at Opinion Journal writes another excellent piece on the political meltdown demonstrated by the hysteria over the ports deal.

If you're still reflexively opposed to this port deal after reading the above and the posts below, then a visit with General Honore of New Orleans fame might be in order.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Student Shouts "REMEMBER CHAPPAQUIDDICK" at Senator Kennedy

From WorldNetDaily:
Student under fire for yelling:
'Remember Chappaquiddick!'

A community college student in Massachusetts faces possible disciplinary action for shouting "Remember Chappaquiddick!" during an on-campus speech by Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy yesterday.

Paul Trost, 20, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., says he was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success.

"Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said of the introduction, which occurred in the school's student center yesterday morning.

Just as Kennedy began speaking, Trost was walking out of the room when he shouted, "Remember Chappaquiddick!"

Trost says the cop took down his information and told him he would be hearing from school officials about disciplinary action. A spokesman with the campus police verified the incident but stressed that Trost was not arrested.

The student said one of his teachers confronted him after a class about the Chappaquiddick issue.

"One of my teachers called me ignorant and told me this was an embarrassment to the school," Trost told WND. "She said to me, 'Can't you forgive him after all these years?' And I said, 'No, he killed somebody.'

"If it had been me or any other person, we'd be in jail," Trost says he told his instructor.

Referring to his two-word shout, Trost said, "I did it because I know about Kennedy's past. I know what happened at Chappaquiddick.

"I wanted to send a message to him that my generation still knows about it. We haven't forgotten about it."

Trost said he was satisfied to know that students on campus were talking about the Chappaquiddick incident later in the day – some of whom, in fact, were not familiar with it.

In 1969, Kennedy was driving a car that went off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Mass. His passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, was killed after the car landed upside down in the water. No autopsy was ever performed to determine her exact cause of death.

At the time, Kennedy claimed he tried several times to swim down to reach Kopechne to no avail. He came under fire for not reporting the incident to authorities until the next morning. In the interim he reportedly made an effort to call a family legal adviser.

So Trost may face disciplinary action. Imagine the reaction of Trost's teachers and school administrators if he had instead heckled President Bush.

For more information on the Chappaquiddick coverup see the complete FBI files and the best wrapup of the story at Chappaquiddick: A Profile in Cowardice. Make sure to check out the exhibits which include diagrams and photographs of the accident scene and Senator Kennedy's driving record.

UAE: With US, Not the Terrorists

Nine days after September 11th, President Bush in a speech before a joint session of Congress declared: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

In that address he gave nations of the world a choice: you can side with the West and freedom, or you can side with the forces of darkness and evil and be prepared to reap the consequences. The President's remarks set U.S. national security policy in very clear terms. We would work with our friends and unite with them to oppose those who do not share our values.

My conclusion in the wake of opposition to the UAE ports deal (the political equivalent of a Muslim cartoon riot) is that the United Arab Emirates are on our side.

Frequent readers at Mike's America know that I have two longterm areas of interest: politics in general and national security in particular.

I join the very competent members of twelve government departments that make up the Committee on Foreign Investments who approved this deal. None of the members had any national security concern regarding this deal that would have automatically caused the deal to be delayed.

Those of us who voted to elect, and then to re-elect President Bush did so in part because of the incredible team of talented and able individuals he brought with him to manage government. We voted for President Bush because we found his Administration to be highly competent and in tune with our concerns for national security.

Democrats Serious About Port Security or Politics?

I have the very strong suspicion that those on the Democratic side of the aisle, who have consistently opposed every Bush initiative to protect our national security are now less concerned with that security than they are with the evident opportunity to drive another wedge in the President's political base.

And now we've had two weeks in a row where the President's agenda has been sidetracked. First, a solid week of Dick Cheney's shooting accident and now a solid week of the UAE ports deal. Iranian nukes and the fatwa allowing their use just dropped off the radar screen. As did the Hamas takeover of the Palestinian government. Oh, and when was the last time you heard that our economy was setting performance records?

One good thing to come out of this latest attempt to hijack the President's diminishing political capital is an overdue examination of port security, border security and foreign investment. Those are all issues of primary concern to conservatives. But do you really think the likes of Senator Schumer, Clinton, Boxer and the rest of defeat America wing of the Democratic Party are seriously interested in resolving those problems? Should we know take seriously the same bunch who crowed about killing the Patriot Act?

While I respect and admire the Republicans who have expressed their concerns over this deal, I wonder who they would rather put their trust in:

A. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretaries Rice, Rumsfeld, Chertoff, Snow, Attorney General Gonzales


B. Senators Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Carl Levin and Ted Kennedy?

Ports Deal Delayed: Time to Inform

The companies involved in the ports deal have announced a delay in the U.S. portion of their transaction to give President Bush and the Administration more time to calm fears of those opposing the deal.

With that objective in mind, the following information may be useful in expanding awareness of the issue:

From the Department of Homeland Security: "DP World will not, nor will any other terminal operator, control, operate or manage any United States port. DP World will only operate and manage specific, individual terminals located within six ports. "

  • Baltimore - 2 of 14 total.
  • Philadelphia - 1 of 5 (does not include the 1 cruise vessel terminal) .
  • Miami - 1 of 3 (does not include the 7 cruise vessel terminals).
  • New Orleans - 2 of 5 (does not include the numerous chemical plant terminals up and down the Mississippi River, up to Baton Rouge).
  • Houston – 4 of 12.
  • Newark – 1 of 4.

Remarks of General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

The military-to-military relationship with the United Arab Emirates is superb. They've got great seaports that are capable of handling, and do, our aircraft carriers. They've got airfields that they allow us to use, and their airspace, their logistics support. They've got a world-class air-to-air training facility that they let us use and cooperate with them in the training of our pilots. In everything that we have asked and work with them on, they have proven to be very, very solid partners.

Comments of Tommy Franks, Former CENTCOM commanding general:

"We have more U.S. Navy ships using the port in Dubai, Jebel Ali, than any other port outside the United States...We know he difference between an enemy and a friend. The Emirates is a friend...That is the best run port that I've ever seen."

An extensive report by the New York Sun: "Dubai is Said to Have Long Aided the U.S." A few excerpts:
For at least a decade, intelligence officials in Dubai have quietly shared detailed banking records of suspected terrorists, and even neighboring officials in Iran, with American intelligence agencies.

The financial intelligence from Dubai, a principality known as the Switzerland of the Middle East for its closed banking system, has been particularly useful in tracking down much of the money to Saudi charities that have been in league with Al Qaeda, former CIA officials said.
[D]ocuments relating to the Treasury Department's decision to allow the deal showed that the Bush administration attached strict conditions for the sale, requiring the Dubai company to cooperate with future American investigations and disclose internal operations records on demand.
[F]ormer senior intelligence officials said the UAE has been a strong ally in counterterrorism since long before September 11.

"They could not be more cooperative in terms of knowing who is in their country and what is going on there," a former CIA operations officer in the Middle East, Robert Baer, said yesterday.

Mr. Baer, whose life story was the inspiration for the Hollywood movie, "Syriana," called the UAE's historic cooperation "unprecedented for the region." "They reported to us that one of the hijackers was coming through the country. They have provided travel documentation, kept track of Iranians, and did the best they could in Saudi Arabia."

Mr. Baer also said that after September 11, after Mr. Baer retired from the agency, the security services for the Emirates were instrumental in shutting down money transfer operations known as Hawalas preferred by Islamists because of Islam's prohibition on charging and collecting interest. Mr. Baer said the Emirates were the first country to promise not to allow the Hawala money to be transferred to accounts in America. "They were instrumental in helping us track the money from Saudi Arabia connected to 9/11," he added.

A former colleague of Mr. Baer at the CIA, David Manners, concurred yesterday. "For as long as I've been involved in Middle Eastern affairs, the word around the agency was that these guys were pretty helpful." He added, "They have been helpful on the banking front, very cooperative."
The Emirates have also cooperated with America in other facets of the war on terror. In November 2002 authorities there apprehended the man known as Al Qaeda's admiral, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. According to the 9/11 Commission, Mr. Nashiri attempted the attack on the USS Sullivans in January 2000 and later that year in October the attack on the USS Cole off the port of Aden.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that on September 21, 2005:
[T]he United Arab Emirates contributed $100 million to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, officials confirmed Thursday.

The Bush administration said the money it received from the United Arab Emirates was nearly four times as much as it received from all other countries combined. Other countries, including some in the Middle East, also pledged large contributions but have not yet sent the money.
And this from Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times "Going Overboard":
For five years, Republicans have chanted "trust the president" on national security. They even won elections on the issue. For nearly five years, Democrats have said President Bush should use more carrots and fewer sticks in his diplomacy in the Muslim world. They argued that we need to reward our allies with trade and trust (except when we actually did it in places such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia). Liberals lectured that equating "Muslim" or "Arab" and "terrorist" is not only bigoted but counterproductive, in that it will feed the "root causes" of terrorism.

But suddenly, virtually all leading Republicans and Democrats — with the laudable exception of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — now argue that Bush can't be trusted on national security, that our Arab ally the UAE should go suck eggs and that racial profiling of foreign firms is just fine. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) now even thinks Halliburton should run the ports. And Jimmy Carter is backing the White House.

At this rate, Barbra Streisand will soon be holding benefit concerts for Pennsylvania's conservative Sen. Rick Santorum.
You may also be interested in Flopping Aces comprehensive roundup on this story. If you visit, make sure to read Curt's point by point conclusions on the issue here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ports Deal Poo Poo!

I haven't said much about this yet. But here we go. Another chance to be an equal opportunity offender.

For the record: I am not at all bothered by the ports deal that would allow a Dubai based company run by American executives to take over a handful of port terminals run also by Americans.

Furthermore, much of the hysteria about this deal is being whipped up by Democrats hoping to fuel another Harriet Miers moment and split the Republican Party.

Many of the same Democrats who are opposed to this deal also voted to "kill" the Patriot Act and are actively undermining programs like the NSA terrorist surveillance program that keep us safe.

More on this subject from Real Clear Politics:

David Brooks Rips Port Deal Hysteria

David Brooks is one of the most mild-mannered guys in the world. He's also one of the smartest and most thoughtful commentators around. So I think the tone of his column (Times Select) in the NY Times today on the reaction to the US/UAE port deal says quite a bit:
This Dubai port deal has unleashed a kind of collective mania we haven't seen in decades. First seized by the radio hatemonger Michael Savage, it's been embraced by reactionaries of left and right, exploited by Empire State panderers, and enabled by a bipartisan horde of politicians who don't have the guts to stand in front of a xenophobic tsunami.
But let's be clear: the opposition to the acquisition by Dubai Ports World is completely bogus.
In short, there is no evidence this deal will do any harm. But it is certain that the xenophobic hysteria will come back to harm the U.S.

The oil-rich nations of the Middle East have plenty of places to invest their money and don't need to do favors for nations that kick them in the teeth. Moreover, this is a region in the midst of traumatic democratic change. The strongest argument the fundamentalists have is that they are engaged in a holy war against the racist West, which imposes one set of harsh rules on Arabs and another set of rules on everybody else. Now comes a group of politicians to prove them gloriously right.

God must love Hamas and Moktada al-Sadr. He has given them the America First brigades of Capitol Hill. God must love the folks at Al Jazeera. They won't have to work to stoke resentments this week. All the garbage they need will be spewing forth from press conferences and photo ops on C-Span and CNN.

The more we learn about this deal, the more we find that the hysteria surrounding it is vastly overblown. That doesn't mean there aren't legitimate concerns that should be given additional scrutiny or that the whole thing couldn't have been handled better by the Bush administration.

Still, in situations like this - perhaps especially in this case - it's always best to listen to experts, not politicians, because the truth is that most politicians don't have much more of a clue than you or I about how our port system works:

Port security specialists say much of Wednesday's rhetoric focused on the wrong questions.

Allowing Dubai Ports World to control up to 30% of the port terminals in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Miami shouldn't really be a cause for concern, says James Loy, former deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security and a retired commandant of the Coast Guard. “We're making a mountain out of a mole hill here."

He and other analysts say that instead, politicians should focus on gaps in port-security programs that have left the global shipping system and the nation's 360 ports vulnerable to terrorism. The vulnerabilities extend from companies that load cargo containers abroad and the inspection process at overseas ports, to the need to install radiation detectors at most U.S. ports.

So far I haven't seen any experts saying DP World poses some sort of additional security threat - though I've heard plenty of politicians say it. As you can see from the above quote, experts do say there are port security issues that need to be addressed that have nothing to do with which company operates which terminal, so perhaps the silver lining in this entire affair is that Congress will focus its attention and energy where the experts say it matters most.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Stand Up or Give Up!

Another great one by Cox and Forkum

Cox and Forkum reminds readers that the cartoon war isn't just about protests over the depiction of Mohamed. Before the Danish cartoons, Muslims objected to pictures of piglet and statues of pigs in Great Britain. Mark Steyn had this great piece on that subject last year.

And with Nigerian Muslims busy killing Christians and burning churches last week in protest of the cartoons, we need only recall that these same Nigerian followers of the religion of peace were busy killing Christians in protest over the Miss World beauty pageant that had been planned for Nigeria in 2002.

It's clear that quite a bit offends Muslims these days. And it's sad that leaders like Bill Clinton would validate Muslim violence by suggesting during a visit to Pakistan: that those who published the cartoons should be convicted and the people’s religious convictions should be respected at all costs and the media should be disallowed to play with the religious sentiments of other faiths.

Of course that comes from a man whose administration funded such works of art as the dung covered Madonna.

Muslims being offended, when they are not busy complaining about being oppressed by Israel or American imperialism, is all part of their plan to use our socities tolerance and forebearance against us. Take another look at the 20 year Muslim plan to dominate America and you may begin to connect the dots.

The choice is clear: either we stand up to defend our freedom, or we give it away to whacked out crazies who will find more and more things to be offended by.

More on this subject:

  • Inside the Enemy Camp- Grizzly Mama attends a public meeting in Philadelphia sponsored by the Council on Arab Islamic Relations, Philadelphia branch. She presents a disturbing, even chilling eyewitness account of the extremism that these people are willing to express in public. Imagine what they really think.
  • Metrospy, who dared to make t-shirts with one of the Mohammed cartoons has been subject to a large number of emailed threats. Metrospy prints a sample and includes the email addresses of the people who sent them. Feel free to email each of those loons a copy of the Cox and Forkum cartoon above.
  • Want to see a whacked out Imam? Cartoon Nazi has this very odd video of a Muslim cleric going completely bonkers.
  • And Now for something completely different (warning: generally offensive content):

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Moslem Inolerance in 18th Century

Plumber at Mental Mas.... found this very interesting quote in National Review:
I cobble together a verse comedy about the customs of the harem, assuming that...I can say what I like about Mohammed without drawing hostile fire. Next thing, some envoy from God-know-where turns up and complains that in my play I have offended the Ottoman empire, Persia, a large slice of the Indian peninsula, the whole of Egypt, and the kingdoms of Barca [Ethiopia], Tripoli, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. And so my play sinks without a trace, all to placate a bunch of Muslim princes, not one of whom, as far as I know, can read but who beat the living daylights out of us and say we are 'Christian dogs.' Since they can't stop a man from thinking, they take is out on his hide instead.

-Beaumarchais (1784), from The Marriage of Figaro
As the old Dana Carvey Saturday Night Live character Church Lady would say: "Isn't that special!"

222 years ago, long before George W. Bush, long before American "imperialism" or Israel became the excuse for violence and barbarity, we get this example of Muslims demanding Western adherence to Muslim values.

Shucks. Cindy Sheehan thought it was all Bush's fault!

Lefties Want End to "Curious George" Imperialism

What's the usual routine for lefties when they find something wholesome, that people enjoy? Well, they either trash it or try and ban it. The latest target is the classic children's book series "Curious George" which hits the big screen this week in an animated feature.

And what better place to pull of this cultural control than whacked out California?

By George, monkey movie finds itself fodder for cultural wars: "For the politically correct Bay Area parent, the 'Curious George' children's books are a minefield of cultural horrors through which to tiptoe. Imperialism. Animal abuse. Bad parenting....

"The books are really irresponsible to me. It's sickening, really," said Robin Roth, managing editor of www.arkonline.com, an animal welfare Web site.

Start with the Caucasian, gun-carrying Man with the Yellow Hat venturing to Africa (imperialism alert!) to harvest wildlife for a zoo (animal repression alert!). Continue with George being unsupervised and allowed to smoke a pipe and huff ether (bad parenting alert!), and it's a wonder there aren't pickets already forming around movie theaters.

Roth, a high school English teacher in Los Angeles, writes on her animal rights Web site that "Curious George" reveals "the sinister side of a corrupt wildlife trade with perilous roots in Western imperialism."
What was that web site again? Liberaldorks.com?

And of course this lefty do-gooder busybody is a TEACHER in the California public school system. Your tax dollars at work!

No doubt Roth would prefer a curriculum that includes this bit of brainwashing, "Why Mommy is a Democrat" brought to us courtesy of Little Democrats.Net

Here's a sample:

Notice in the background the private school with the outrageous tutition posted? And that large "Y" on the graduation gown is no doubt a reference to Yale, the alma mater of President George W. Bush. Perhaps the socialist who drew this propaganda was too high on crack to recall that John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton all went to Yale. And of course Democrats in Washington send their children to private schools like Sidwell Friends. No public school mind pollution for THEIR kids.

Another not so subtle smack of socialism. Oh yes! Those sharing Democrats! But only when it's someone elses money! That's just peachy when you can get government agents with guns to go to your neighbors house and demand he turns over half his stuff for you and your friends to "share."

I wonder if the author recalls how little "sharing" Al Gore did in 1997 when he listed a miserly $353 in charitable contributions on his income tax form? Or perhaps we could learn from the example of Hillary Clinton, who deducted money from the Clinton's return after donating Bill and Chelseas used underwear to charity?

And in case you thought the anti-GOP message was a tad subliminal in the preceding examples, this one is more direct. Here's Mommy protecting the little squirrels from that dangerous elephant.

Have Democrats Gone Nuts?

Most of us have long thought Democrats were a tad "squirrely" but this "book" takes the cake. Squirrels are known for their resourcefulness, hard work and ingenuity in finding and storing food. Democrats mostly complain that someone else should be doing the work and just handing over the nuts.

And what kind of tone does a book like this set with no father figure in the story? Or is this just the typical Democrat broken home with a deadbeat squirrel dad who spends his day hanging out around the bird feeder?

And what do you bet that taxpayer dollars will be used to make sure this book is in every library in the country within the year?

And Let's not forget this other classic for Democrat children. The lovable character, Dhimmi the donkey who shows young Dems the way to bring peace to the world through submission to another murderous ideology.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Another Mark Steyn Treat!

The always worth reading Mark Steyn!

Cheering tidbits lighten otherwise grim week: In an otherwise grim week -- at least on unimportant peripheral matters like Iranian nukes -- three things cheered me up. The first was the decision of Iran's bakers to rename Danish pastries "Roses of the Prophet Muhammed pastries.'' Has a ring to it, don't you think? If they're looking for a slogan, how about "Iranian pastry: There's nothing flakier. Except our president."

The second cheery sight was the destruction of a McDonald's in Lahore by the usual excitable young lads from the religion of pieces. Apparently the lively Pakistanis had burned every single Danish target in the city -- one early Victor Borge LP left behind by the last British governor -- and had been obliged to diversify. So they dragged Ronald McDonald out of the joint, torched him in the street and danced around his flaming remains shouting "Death to America! Death to Britain! Death to Tony Blair!"

I'm not sure I even get that. Ronald and Tony seem kind of similar from a distance but even on the all-infidels-look-alike-to-me-especially-when-they're-alight thesis you'd think they weren't that easily confused.

The third jolly event of the week was those other excitable fellows -- the Big Media White House reporters -- jumping up and down shouting "Death to Dick Cheney!" NBC's David Gregory, the George Clooney of the press corps, was yelling truth to power about why the Elmer-Fudd-in-gun-rampage story was released to "a local Corpus Christi newspaper, not the White House press corps at large.'' I know how he feels. I remember, like, four or five years ago -- early September, maybe second week -- there was this building collapse in New York and I had to learn about it from the TV because this notoriously secretive paranoid administration couldn't even e-mail me a timely press release. For an NBC guy discovering that some hicksville nowhere-burg one-stop-light feed-price sheet got tipped off before he did is like a dowager duchess turning up at the royal banquet to discover the scullery maid's been seated next to the queen.....
Read the rest here.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

When the Real Shooting Starts: Beyond the Cartoon War

During a week when the White House Press Corps was obsessed with a shooting accident involving the Vice President, darkening clouds of violence and worse yet to come drew closer.

The violence and mayhem fueled by the cartoon war spread further with riots breaking out in Pakistan where American cultural icon Ronald McDonald was abused and a Kentucky Fried Chicken sacked.

This wasn't the action of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but an extension of the organized campaign of anti-Western violence that miraculously sprung up last month to protest the publication of cartoons mocking Islam months ago in an obscure Danish newspaper. Never mind that much of the American media has refused to publish the cartoons out of sensitivity to Islam; nor did Ronald McDonald ever express an anti-Islamic thought.

The Heart of Evil: Iran

In the same week when all eyes turned towards the "scandal" that Dick Cheney didn't immediately notify the White House Press Corps he had been responsible for a hunting accident, Iranians celebrated the 27th anniversary of the Islamic takeover of that country with another display of dangerous rhetoric and threats.

Amid the ritual chanting of "death to America" and "death to Israel" came the very real threat that Iran would pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. During a speech at a massive rally in Tehran marking the occasion, Iranian President Ahmadinejad warned that "The nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic so far has been peaceful," (emphasis mine) but went on to warn that "If we see you want to violate the right of the Iranian people by using those [IAEA]regulations (against us), you should know that the Iranian people will revise its policies."

Basically what he is saying is we reserve the right to do whatever we want regardless of our treaty commitments and it will be the fault of the West should you insist on enforcing the treaty.

Cartoon War is no Phony

During the speech Amadjihad (my name for him) also made repeated references to the cartoon war. Big surprise there as Iran has been a key player behind the violence.

The cartoons were originally published on September 30 2005 in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten. A few weeks later they were reprinted in an Egyptian newspaper , El Fagr, without incident.

As the controversy caused by the cartoons grew in Europe, other papers printed them to show solidarity with the principle of free speech. Two Dutch newspapers published the cartoons shortly after the Egyptian paper (chronology of those publishing here). The ever tolerant Dutch had experienced their own insight into the beast of Islamic fanaticism with the brutal death of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, his throat cut down to the spinal cord for offending Islam in his film "Submission" depicting the role of women in Islamic society.

The cartoon war began heating up in late January, 2006. Prior to that Muslim outrage was confined to diplomatic protests and meetings of various Islamic organizations demanding that any offense to Islam should be considered a crime under international law; enshrining Islamic Sharia law as the international standard. The Brussels Journal has one of the best selection of posts on this subject. And Wikipedia has a comprehensive timeline.

By the first week of February we witnessed the takeover of the European Union offices in Gaza. Attacks on Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus, Syria and Beirut, Lebanon soon followed leading to attacks on embassies, including curiously enough the Austrian embassy in Tehran.

You can trace the growing violence from the Gaza Strip directly to Tehran and there is more than a geographic connection.

On January 19th Iranian President Amadjihad was in Damascus cementing the old alliance between these two partners in crime. And of course Iran has been funding terrorist activities in Gaza for some time. Readers may recall the Israeli seizure of the ship Karine A bound for Gaza loaded with Iranian weapons. Likewise, Iran holds the leash for their Lebanese attack dog Hezbollah.

When the riots spread to Tehran, it had become rather obvious that these events were orchestrated by the Iranians. But why attack the Austrian embassy? Austrian newspapers had not published any of the offending cartoons?

But, Austria is home to the International Atomic Energy Agency which referred Iran to the UN Security Council on Saturday, February 4th for violating it's treaty obligations regarding nuclear weapons proliferation. Austria also assumed presidency of the European Union for 2006. Two days later, their embassy in Tehran is pelted with firebombs. Coincidence? Only Cindy Sheehan would think so.

Why Now?

The ultimate objective of Iran's whacko fanatics is a worldwide Islamic Revolution. Iranian President Amadjihad has declared it openly: "Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen and the Islamic revolution of 1384 [the current Iranian year] will, if God wills, cut off the roots of injustice in the world," Ahmadinejad was quoted by the official Iranian news agency as saying.

And he is backed up by the mad mullahocracy, many of whom are growing old and no doubt impatient to see the final act of violence spawned by their crazed and hate-filled delusions before they visit the grave.

Michael Leeden in National Review Online describes the urgency of the timeline. Iran sees the West as weakened by dissent over the war in Iraq; thanks to the likes of Congressman Murtha. But Iranians also need the conflict to control their people, most of whom grew tired long ago of the religious oppression that is much worse than that suffered under the Shah.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei may also be terminally ill, and there's nothing like a conflict with the West to help hardliners knock less radical elements into line in the eventual power struggle.

The West's Response: Talk or Action?

Up to now, the West's response to the bluster, threats and violence emanating from Iran has been to talk tough. You know, the usual routine: report them to the UN Security Council (Demark will chair the Council in June.) Get a handful of paper resolutions, maybe some sanctions.

Europeans were encouraged by the Bush Administration to take the early lead in defusing the Iranian nuclear threat. What's called the "EU-3" of Britain, France and Germany has been working on the issue now for several years without success. It now appears they have seen the ineffectiveness of their efforts.

Newly elected German Chancellor Merkel at a White House meeting with President Bush January 13th had this to say: ""Iran armed with a nuclear weapon poses a grave threat to the security of the world..."And we will certainly not be intimidated by a country such as Iran."

And earlier this week, the French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy described Iran's nuclear program as a "clandestine military nuclear program" and went on to say ""The international community has sent a very firm message in telling the Iranians to return to reason and suspend all nuclear activity and the enrichment and conversion of uranium, but they aren't listening to us."

And of course the French suggest we go the UN Security Council route with the inevitable conclusion that more talk will lead the same result.

US Objectives

President Bush has consistently and repeatedly spelled out US objectives regarding Iran. When he first included Iran in the famous "axis of evil" State of the Union speech in January 2002 he described not only Iran's role in terrorism, but his concern that "an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom."

He reiterated both those concerns and the nuclear issue in his 2006 speech: "the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons." But he went one step further and described the ultimate objective of US policy:
Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.
Turning Policy into Reality

But how to get there from here is the question.

With suspicions that Iran is may be about to test a nuclear weapon, a sense of urgency has overtaken the usually slow, tedious and mostly unfruitful diplomatic process. The military option of bombing Iranian nuclear sites is openly discussed. The dangers and limitations of such a strike are clear.

Would surgical strikes succeed in destroying Iran's nuclear ambitions or would such an attack only provoke a wider war for which the West is totally unprepared? Would a military solution embolden democratic activists in Iran to seize the initiative and free that nation from the mullahocracy or would the strikes enable a further crackdown and a propaganda campaign to control the Iranian people?

There are no good answers here, only good questions. And sadly, with a national media more focused on a hunting accident than life and death issues affecting millions around the globe, few of these questions are being asked, let alone answered.

What Does the Future Hold?

Nial Ferguson, writing in the London Telegraph theorized on "The origins of the Great War of 2007 - and how it could have been prevented." We may now be at a point in history where the confluence of forces, both good and bad, require resolution. We cannot allow villainous madmen like Amadjihad and crazed Islamic fanatics to proceed further down a path that will ultimately lead to the deaths of millions in some nuclear holy war.

But the smart path to avoid such a calamity is also fraught with risk and requires a determination and unity of purpose that is lacking in Western society.

Are we condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past and fail to act until the cost to history is enormous?

Posted also at The Wide Awakes

Islamic truths by Mansoor Ijaz

Islamic truths - By Mansoor Ijaz, MANSOOR IJAZ is an American Muslim of Pakistani ancestry:ANOTHER WEEK, another Muslim country burns in rage over months-old Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in an unflattering light. On Friday it was Libya, and earlier in the week it was my father's homeland, Pakistan, where violent protests were scattered across the nation. Some Muslims have decided that burning cities in defense of a prophet's teachings, which none of them seem willing to practice, is preferable to participating in rational debate about the myths and realities of a religion whose worst enemies are increasingly its own adherents.

This week's events should compel those of us who claim Islam as our system of philosophical guidance to ask hard questions of ourselves in order to revive the religion's essential foundation: justice, peaceful and tolerant coexistence, compassion, the search for knowledge and unwavering faith in the unity of God.

I am an American by birth and a Muslim by faith. For many of my American friends, I am a voice of reason in a sea of Islamist darkness, while many Muslims have called me an "Uncle Tom" for ingratiating myself with the vested interests they seek to destroy through their violence. Mostly, though, I try not to ignore the harsh realities the followers of my religion are often unwilling to face.

The first truth is that most Muslim ideologues are hypocrites. What has Osama bin Laden done for the victims of the 2004 tsunami or the shattered families who lost everything in the Pakistani earthquake last year? He did not build one school, offer one loaf of bread or pay for one vaccination. And yet he, not the devout Muslim doctors from California and Iowa who repair broken limbs and lives in the snowy peaks of Kashmir, speaks the loudest for what Muslims allegedly stand for. He has succeeded in presenting himself as the defender of Islam's poor, and the Western media has taken his jihadist message all the way to the bank.

The hypocrisy only starts there. Muslims and Arabs have done pitifully little to help improve the capacity of the Palestinian people to be good neighbors to their Israeli brethren. Take the money spent by any Middle Eastern royal family at a London hotel or Geneva resort during one month and you could build enough schools and medical clinics to take care of 1,000 Palestinian children for a year. Yet rather than educate and feed Palestinian and Muslim children so they may learn to settle differences through dialogue and debate, instead of by throwing rocks and wearing bombs, the Muslim "haves" put on a few telethons to raise paltry sums for the "have nots" to alleviate the guilt over their palatial gilded cages.

The second truth — one that the West needs to come to grips with — is that there is no such human persona as a "moderate Muslim." You either believe in the oneness of God or you don't. You either believe in the teachings of his prophet or you don't. You either learn those teachings and apply them to the circumstances of life in the country you have chosen to live in, or you shouldn't live there.

Haters of Islam use the simplicity and elegance of its black-and-white rigor for devious political advantage by classifying the Koran's religious edicts as the cult-like behavior of fanatics. The West would win a lot of hearts and minds if it only showed Islam as it really is — telling the story, for example, that the prophet Muhammad was one of the great commodity traders of all time because he based his dealings on uniquely Muslim values, or that the reason he had multiple wives was not for the sake of sex but to give proper homes to the children of women made widows during a time of war. The cartoon imbroglio offered Western media an opportunity to portray the prophet in his many dignified dimensions, not just the distorted ones; sadly, there were few takers.

But to look at angry Islam's reaction on television each night forces the question of what might be possible if all the lost energy of thousands of rioting Muslims went into the villages of Aceh to rebuild lost homes or into Kashmir to construct schools.

In fact, the most glaring truth is that Islam's mobsters fear the West has it right: that we have perfected the very system Islam's holy scriptures urged them to learn and practice. And having failed in their mission to lead their masses, they seek any excuse to demonize those of us in the West and to try to bring us down. They know they are losing the ideological struggle for hearts and minds, for life in all its different dimensions, and so they prepare themselves, and us, for Armageddon by starting fires everywhere in a display of Islamic unity intended to galvanize the masses they cannot feed, clothe, educate or house.

This is not Islam. And the faster its truest believers stand up and demonstrate its values and principles by actions, not words, the sooner a great religion will return to its rightful role as guide for nearly a quarter of humanity.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Crass versus Class: Compare Whittington Statement to King Funeral

Whittington statement - Politics - MSNBC.com: All of you in the media have been very patient in waiting for me to make my appearance here. I hope you understand. I'm sorry I delayed you, but I know your role is to get the news out to the public. I compliment you on what you've done. I've read and seen many of your reports and I know your job isn't easy. I regret that I couldn't have been here earlier so you could see what a lucky person I am.

For many years my family has been friends with the Armstrongs down in Kenedy County. We have visited with them for over 25 years and have had some wonderful trips and visits – pleasant memories that we cherish forever. However, this past weekend encompassed all of us in a cloud of misfortune and sadness that is not easy to explain – especially to those who are not familiar with the great sport of quail hunting.

We all assume certain risks in whatever we do, whatever activities we pursue. And regardless of how experienced, careful and dedicated we are, accidents do and will happen – and that’s what happened last Friday.

I am very grateful and want to thank all the people that remembered me in their prayers and the kindness you have extend to my family that’s been here this week.

My family and I are deeply sorry for all that vice president Cheney has had to go through this past week. We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we’ve had this week. And we hope that he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves.
WHAT? No mention of how tax cuts are to blame? No mention of the racism that pervades this nation's political discourse?

How dare Whittington come out and basically praise the Vice President when the lamestream media know he is nothing more than a war criminal?

You haven't heard the last of the lamestream media Harry!

Ohio Senate Candidate Paul Hackett "Swiftboated" by Fellow Dems

With the deliberate lamestream media effort to take attention off the Al Gore treason in Saudi Arabia and the Abramoff scandal surrounding Senate MINORITY Leader Harry Reid, it's no wonder this story has been put on the back burner.

Backroom Battles: "Democratic Senate candidate and Marine Corps Major Paul Hackett is accustomed to waging quixotic battles and taking his hits. He just didn't expect the lowest,and fatal,blows to come from his own party.

In an announcement that stunned many in Washington and even some in his campaign staff, Hackett declared on February 13, 2006, that he was dropping his bid for U.S. Senate in Ohio, ending his 11 month political career. "I made this decision reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party leaders, as well as behind-the-scenes machinations, that were intended to hurt my campaign," he said, only hinting at what had gone down. The day after his withdrawal from the race, he told me about the backroom battles that forced him out.

Hackett was running against seven-term Akron Democrat Rep. Sherrod Brown in a May primary, with the winner going on to face two-term Republican Sen. Mike DeWine in November (assuming DeWine wins his own primary against a longshot Republican challenger). DeWine is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans, and the national Democratic Party is pulling out the stops to defeat him.
But first, the Democrats had to get Hackett out of the way. The weapons used in the rubout included economic sabotage, whisper campaigns, and threats.

Hackett, an Iraq War combat veteran, was hailed last summer as just the kind of “fighting Democrat” the party needed to reinvigorate its base and end its years in the congressional wilderness. After narrowly losing a race for Congress in a lopsidedly Republican district outside Cincinnati last August, the telegenic veteran—famous for dissing President Bush as a “chickenhawk” and “sonuvabitch” while on the stump—was courted heavily by Democratic leaders, including Sens. Charles Schumer and Harry Reid, to take on DeWine. But no sooner did Hackett enter the Senate race last October than Brown announced his candidacy for Senate, reversing an earlier decision he had made to stay out of the race.

With Brown, a party insider, on board, the Democratic establishment quickly began pulling away from the fiery Hackett. Schumer, after having wooed him in August, called again in October. “Schumer didn’t tell me anything definitive,” Hackett told me at the time. “But I’m not a dumb ass, and I know what he wanted me to do.” Hackett, a maverick who relishes the fight, decided to buck the Beltway insiders, and stay in the race.

Swift boats soon appeared on the horizon. A whisper campaign started: Hackett committed war crimes in Iraq—and there were photos. “The first rumor that I heard was probably a month and a half ago,” Dave Lane, chair of the Clermont County Democratic Party, told me the day after Hackett pulled out of the race. “I heard it more than once that someone was distributing photos of Paul in Iraq with Iraqi war casualties with captions or suggestions that Paul had committed some sort of atrocities. Who did it? I have no idea. It sounds like a Republican M.O. to me, but I have no proof of that. But if it was someone on my side of the fence, I have a real problem with that. I have a hard time believing that a Democrat would do that to another Democrat.”

In late November, Hackett got a call from Sen. Harry Reid. “I hear there’s a photo of you mistreating bodies in Iraq. Is it true?” demanded the Senate minority leader. “No sir,” replied Hackett. To drive home his point, Hackett traveled to Washington to show Reid’s staff the photo in question. Hackett declined to send me the photo, but he insists that it shows another Marine—not Hackett—unloading a sealed body bag from a truck. “There was nothing disrespectful or unprofessional,” he insists. “That was a photo of a Marine doing his job. If you don’t like what they’re doing, don’t send Marines into war.”

A staffer in Reid’s office confirmed that Hackett had showed them several photos. “The ones I saw were part of a diary he kept while serving in Iraq and were in no way compromising. The one picture in question depicted Marines doing their work on what looked like a scorching day in Iraq,” said the aide.

But the whispering continued, and Hackett was troubled. “It creates doubt and suspicion,” Hackett told me, saying his close supporters were asking him privately about the rumors. “It tarnishes my very strength as a candidate, my military service. It’s like you take a handful of seeds, throw them up in the wind, and they blow all around and start growing. It really bothered me.”

Hackett backers suspected the smear was being floated by Sherrod Brown’s campaign. A senior Brown staffer angrily dismissed the charge this week as “ridiculous.”

Brown campaign spokesperson Joanna Kuebler declined to respond to the rumors. She offered this prepared statement: “This campaign has never been about Paul Hackett or about Sherrod Brown. This campaign is about the hard working people of Ohio, and what Republican corruption has done to them.”

Hackett wanted to fight to the finish. He raised nearly a half-million dollars in the last quarter of 2005, matching Brown’s fundraising. But Brown entered the Senate race with $2 million in the bank, a strategic cushion. Early polls show both Brown and Hackett running in a dead heat against DeWine. An internal poll done in February for the Hackett campaign that was obtained by the Cleveland Plain Dealer showed Brown leading Hackett by 20 points, but Hackett took the lead if voters simply heard both candidates' bios. The analysis concluded, “If Paul Hackett can raise the funds necessary to communicate his message to the voters of Ohio, he will present Sherrod Brown with a formidable challenge in May.”

With the very real prospect of a smear against him going public late in the campaign—a la the Swift Boating of John Kerry—Hackett knew that dollars would be especially important for him. “If I don’t have the $2 million or $3 million it would take to respond in the final weeks, to influence the battlefield with my message, then I would just be reacting and I’ll get trounced,” said Hackett.

Hackett had demonstrated his ability to shake money from donors during a January fundraising roadshow in California and New York. But he soon discovered that top Democrats were attempting to cut off his money. The hosts of a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Hackett received an e-mail from the political action committee of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that concluded, “I hope you will re-consider your efforts on behalf of Hackett and give your support to Sherrod.” Waxman’s chief of staff, Phil Schiliro, said the e-mail was only sent to a handful of people and that “it probably came from a suggestion from the Sherrod Brown campaign.”

Michael Fleming, who manages Internet millionaire David Bohnett’s political and charitable giving, was one of the recipients of the Waxman email. Bohnett has given to hundreds of progressive candidates, but Fleming says, “This was the first time I had ever gotten an email or communication like that. I find it discouraging and disheartening. It’s unfortunate that the powers that be didn’t let the people of Ohio figure this out. We should be in the business of encouraging people like Paul Hackett and viable progressive candidates like him to run. The message instead is don’t bother, it’s not worth your time.”

Sen. Schumer was also reported to be trying to turn off Hackett’s cash spigots. No one would confirm this to me on the record. But veteran political activist David Mixner, who described himself as “a fanatically strong supporter” of Hackett and who helped sponsor a New York fundraiser, confirmed that he “received calls from a couple people in Congress urging Paul Hackett to withdraw or not to contribute money to his campaign. The reasons ranged from he can’t win, to he’s too controversial, Brown has more money, is more centrist, and more appealing. It was that inner beltway circle crap,” said Mixner. “They are people who have no idea what’s going on in the country but believe they know everything.”

Mixner added, “I don’t think it’s inappropriate to call me. What’s inappropriate is that the people calling me were the same people who asked him to run, and now they wanted to push him out. That's what made this unique.”

Hackett was infuriated by the subterfuge. “I felt like I got fucked by the Democratic Party because they enticed me in and then they pulled the rug out from beneath me. It sounds eerily familiar to sending in the military to Iraq, which was a misuse of the military, and then not giving them what they need to fight.”

In what is being called the Valentine’s Day Massacre, Paul Hackett threw in the towel, and insisted he would not be running for elected office anytime soon. He declined requests to switch races and run again in the Ohio Second Congressional District against Rep. Jean Schmidt, saying he had promised the candidates currently in that race that he wouldn’t run. “My word is my bond and I will take it to my grave,” he declared.

As word spread about the intra-party intrigue that helped bring down Hackett, supporters have reacted angrily. “If the Democratic Party continues with these suicidal decisions, we will continue to defeat ourselves,” declared Yolanda Parker, who recently attended a California fundraiser for Hackett. “The only strategy the Republicans need to stay in power is patience. They just need to wait while our party self-implodes through idiotic decisions such as the one to pressure an articulate Iraqi war veteran to pull out of the race.”

Party officials have tried to tamp down the anger. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) spokesman Phil Singer stated, “Neither the DSCC nor Senator Schumer reached out to donors to ask them to take sides in this race. Paul Hackett’s statesman-like decision will help us win one of the most important Senate races in the nation.

Hackett, who says he would still like to help “retool” the Democratic Party, ends his meteoric political career with some advice for other maverick candidates. “They simply can’t rely on any of the party infrastructure to help them, and they must assume that people at high levels will work against them. These guys,” he says of the party insiders, “view the Senate as a club. They’re not gonna welcome you if one day they turn the key on the clubhouse door and you are sitting there with your feet on the table flippin’ them the middle finger. I understand that from their perspective. It works for them, but not for the rest of us out here.”.”

Democrats force Hackett to "cut and run."

Democrat Strategy: Unrelenting Negativity

You want to know why the Democrats insist on blowing everything out of proportion?

OpinionJournal - Wonder Land: ...Have you ever noticed how on a scale of one to 10, every untoward event in the life of the Bush presidency goes straight to a 10?[on the lamestream media scale]

The Abu Ghraib photos? A 10 forever. Dick Cheney catching a hunting buddy with some birdshot? An instant 10. The Bush National Guard story? Total 10. How can it be that each downside event in this presidency greets the public at this one, screeching level of outrage and denunciation by the out-of-power party and a perpetually outraged media?

There was a time when what's been called news judgment would deem some stories a five or six and run them on page 14, or deeper in the newscast. Back then the Senate minority leader wouldn't bother to look up from his desk. Not with this presidency. Every downside event--large, small, in between--plays above the fold on the front page now. And when Dick Cheney accidentally pops Harry Whittington, old Harry Reid jumps up from his Senate leader's desk faster than a Nevada jack rabbit to announce, one more time, that this "is part of the secretive nature of this administration."

Here are some of the political and media bonfires that have been lit on the White House lawn, stoked and reignited the past five years: the "stolen" 2000 election, Halliburton, "Fahrenheit 9/11," Cheney lives in an "undisclosed location," Abu Ghraib, torture at Guantanamo, Bush lied about WMD, secret CIA prison sites, Valerie Plame, the neocons, Rumsfeld, Cheney's "secret" energy task force, Cindy Sheehan, Bush is destroying Social Security, Hurricane Katrina, Jack Abramoff, illegal wiretaps, Bill Frist's stock sales, what else?

Absent any fresh or positive message for voters, why not try winning by turning politics under the Republicans into an experience of unrelenting discomfort? The substance of any given issue falls in importance. Connecting Jack Abramoff to George Bush personally was always a stretch. So what?

The most telling evidence of a strategy of discomfiting the body politic was the January bonfire over terrorist wiretaps. Here the opposition shrieked for days about a 'constitutional crisis' even as polls were indicating public support for the Bush program, including 28% who would OK tapping anyone's phone 'on a regular basis' to catch terrorists.

Parties don't sail against the polling winds. Why this time? Because come November, the 'wiretaps' will sit in many voters' minds not as a debate over Article II but as part of what feels to them like endless 'bad news.' The press's supersizing of the Cheney shooting may look like excess. So what? No matter how voters feel on any one issue--terror, the courts, values--the Democrats, event after event, are building the feeling that the Bush-Cheney presidency and GOP Congress have somehow been 40 miles of bad road.

Can it work? Absent a 21st-century political vision, I think Democratic candidates will always be drawing to an inside straight. Creating a negative aura is easier than contending on discrete issues such as taxes. Yes, substance and ideas count in politics, but in many parts of American culture these days feelings and stereotypes are money. Why not make the public just want to throw in the towel on the Republican 'experience'?

Until the recent strong speeches by the president and other officials, the White House had no apparent strategy for offsetting this almost daily downdraft of ill political winds. Not that the antidote is obvious. The talk shows and blogs? Arguably, they fan the flames higher; most of their energies are spent pouring gasoline on the other guys' bonfires. Sure, some people like the new high heat of our politics. But you know what? Some--many--don't.

Those interested in a more complete analysis of political polarization in the U.S. today should read "How Divided Are We?" by James Q. Wilson in the February issue of Commentary, reprinted in this Wednesday's OpinionJournal.com (click here). But collaborating with a willing media to market the opposition party as a haunted house is a cynical, wholly reductionist strategy, with nothing in it for the public good. It dumbs down our politics. As shown with Social Security reform, the system ceases to function. A major U.S. foreign-policy initiative like the Bush Doctrine has to be delegitimized with no serious opposition support at any level. This is the strategy of the phalanx, not politics. If it works, the other side will surely run the same tar-and-pitch strategy against a new Clinton presidency. It deserves to fail.

Read the whole piece here.

Winston Chuchill, the savior of wartime Britain said "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

And in this time of war, what do the Democrats offer? Nothing but negativity! What a disgrace!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Lamestream Media on Fast Track to Irrelevancy

What major institution is losing audience faster than the Democrat Party is losing voters? You guessed it: the formerly "mainstream" media.

The Cheney shooting incident simply unmasked and amplified what many knew to be true: The lamestream media is just a rusty tool in the now shattered Democratic propaganda monopoly.

You caught your first inkling of the fall of the lamestream media when they erupted in anger that the story was first given to a local Texas paper, not one of the big boys in New York or Washington.

The last nail in this coffin came about when Vice President Cheney choose to do an interview with Brit Hume on Fox News. After conducting the interview, Brit was asked by one of his competitors how he got the scoop. Brit was very diplomatic in answering, but later shared with viewers on his "Special Report" program what he was really thinking: "because we have more viewers than you and the rest of our competitors combined (paraphrase)."

And why are the old dogs of the lamestream media losing viewers and readers? Most people have grown tired of the media antics of the David Gregory's and the Helen Thomases of the White House Press Corps and the institutional attitudes they represent.

And like their masters in the Democratic Party, the snarling pack of yapping Yorkies that so typifies the deportment of the fading lamestreamers will only hasten the process leading to their total irrelevancy.

The lamestream media is losing audience. The Democrat Party is losing voters. In my book, we shortcut our terminology and just call them LOSERS!

Appeasement: Is it OUR Fault they Hate Us?

Professor Rubin nails the problem. History may be repeating itself. Just as we refused to see the threat of Nazism in the 30's, we fail to recognize the true nature of our present conflict because again: we blame ourselves, or Israel.

Nearly 60 million people died in World War II because we didn't recognize the true nature of our enemies until it was too late.

Appeasement Redux By Barry Rubin:We have come full circle. Here is how the last great historical era began, the one we seem to be starting over afresh.

It's January 30, 1933, and here's what the Cleveland Press reports from Washington under the headline, "U.S. Unruffled by Hitler Rise":
"High authorities here regard with complacence Adolph Hitler's rise to power in Germany….They [express] faith that Hitler would act with moderation….Experts based this belief on past events showing that so-called 'radical' groups usually moderated, once in power." The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin stated that Hitler seemed extreme in the past but, "Lately, however, there have been indications of moderation."

Perhaps you had to be nice to them to bring about this moderation, as advocates of appeasement proposed. There were good arguments for that case. Germany was strong and it was better not to provoke it; perhaps it was better to have as a friend. Germany could be a profitable trading partner; economic embargos didn't work any way. Could the democratic countries really preach to Germany given their own sins of imperialism and injustice? Wasn't confrontation worth avoiding at any price, especially faced with the horrors of war? And what about Germany's genuine grievances as victim of mistreatment by Britain, France and America?

Was it really proper to interfere in Germany's internal affairs (this was the U.S. government's position) or to try to impose the values of other countries on it? Six years later, in 1939, after allying with Nazi Germany, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov explained that "fascism as a matter of taste." And, of course, there was always the final resort: the Germans weren't against "us" but merely against the Jews, who were thus the ones pushing conflict with Germany for their own interests.

Sound familiar? Just substitute Iran, Hizballah, Hamas, radical Islamists, Iraqi insurgents or Syria. All of these groups are aligned, while the West flaunts its divisions and doubts.

But, of course, a lot happened back in the 1930s to drive away that kind of thinking for more than a half-century. Democratic countries found it impossible to appease Germany, even by feeding one of them--Czechoslovakia--to it. They had to fight a desperate war, coming closer to defeat than we like to recall.

Then, after a brief period of renewed wishful thinking in dealing with Joseph Stalin's USSR starting in 1945, these lessons were reinforced. The Cold War was America's fault, many of the best intellectual minds explained. Stalin had limited defensive and legitimate demands. Yet, again, radical forces would not let the democratic world betray itself. They kept pushing and showing their true nature until it had to respond, like it or not. Finally, it was understood that concessions and apologies only made the aggressors more confident of their own strength and the decadent weakness of democratic foes.

It seems, however, that this whole cycle of experience has been forgotten by all too many people and even whole countries. Thus, Russia and France base their indecently quick and unconditional invitations to Hamas leaders to be official guests on the assertion that they can persuade the organization to moderate. First, they do not consider it to be a terrorist group (apparently terrorism, like fascism, is a matter of taste). Second, it is coming to power due to an election (as did Communists and fascists). And third, only appeasement--excuse me, I meant, "constructive engagement"--will work. Or in Soviet President Vladimir Putin's words "We are deeply convinced that burning bridges is the easiest, but not a very promising activity,"

The Washington Post explained it all to us. Hamas, it said, "Probably...will seek to implement its moderate campaign platform, which promised an uncorrupted and effective government while working out a modus vivendi with Israel." Excessive pressure on the new regime, it warned, "would likely only strengthen the Islamists or trigger a resumption of terrorism." In other words, aspirants to genocide never lie and if you don't bother them they won't kill you.

The Economist spoke in similar terms in a February 2 editorial: "Having to keep voters sweet may instead force [Hamas] to pay less heed to its ideology of destroying Israel and more to the Palestinians' real needs and achievable goals." John Negroponte, director of U.S. intelligence, agreed, telling the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that same day that the Hamas victory did not necessarily mean an end for hopes of a negotiate peace agreement. "Hamas must now contend with Palestinian public opinion that over the years has supported the two-state solution." If this is the assessment of U.S. intelligence analysts something is seriously wrong.

But this notion does reflect a New York Times editorial saying Hamas will be "compelled" to become moderate by its need to deliver material improvements to the Palestinians, leaving us only to explain how the PLO managed to ignore such alleged pressures for 40 years or why Hamas--which has risen so effectively through terrorism, inciting hatred and demanding total victory--will now reverse itself.

Unfortunately, Hamas does not share this standpoint. It can burn all the bridges it wants and suffer little or no consequences, at least, not from the appeasers. Much of the same pattern applied to the PLO, Usama bin Ladin, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and Islamist Iran in the recent past. Yet what faith can one put in the courage of a European Union which endlessly preaches unity then totally abandons one of its members, Denmark, when it is subjected to assault on the basis of cartoons published in a newspaper which supposedly enjoys free speech?

After the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on America, many called them a Pearl Harbor-like wake-up call to Western unity and democratic struggle against totalitarian, anti-freedom forces. Yet there are probably more people--at least among respected Western elites--who think the problem is Islamophobia, America, and Israel rather than radical Islamism, terrorism, and Iran.
What year is it any way?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. His co-authored book, Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography, (Oxford University Press) is now available in paperback and in Hebrew. His latest book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, will be published by Wiley in September. Prof. Rubin's columns can now be read online at http://gloria.idc.ac.il/columns/column.html.

Thanks City Troll for finding this excellent historical analysis.
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