Saturday, August 21, 2010

Political Digest August 21, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

There may not be posts Sunday or Monday, as Bonnie and I are going to visit an icon of the Corps, Maj. (Ret.) Gene Duncan to tell lies and drink Scotch. Dunc is the author of Green Side Out and other popular books of Marine sea stories. He’s a combat vet of both Korea and Vietnam, with the scars to prove it. His book, Dunc’s Almanac, is as good as any management book you can buy. After three or four drams, I’ll tell him how I won the National Defense Medal, with “V” for Valor, of course. After all, the 9th Circuit says I have a constitutional right to say rubbish like that.

Worth Reading: A Border Manifesto
Excerpt: My home has been broken into twice. My son’s home has been broken into also and between us we have had between twenty and thirty thousand dollars worth of stuff stolen from us including two ranch pick-ups, a four wheeler, 9 firearms (including a loaded AK 47) cash, jewelry all of our credit cards, driver’s license, etc. A guest house here on the ranch has been broken into so many times we quit counting… many times we haven’t even called the Sheriff’s dept. The Cochise County Sheriff’s dept. has no less than fifteen reports on file where I’ve called for assistance dealing with an outlaw illegal alien.

Ashurst: Border Manifesto #2
Excerpt: On Wednesday August 4th I met with Supervisory Border Patrol Agent, Mark Monin. He had contacted me a few days earlier to discuss the possibility of using a high hill about a quarter of a mile south of Highway 80 at mile marker 400 to establish a camp for several National Guardsmen. They wanted to establish an observation post complete with modern optics and night vision capabilities. The purpose of this post would be to aid Border Patrol agents in spotting and identifying illegal alien groups. The hill referred to is on deeded land so Agent Monin needed my approval to proceed with the plan. My first response was to question his choice of this certain hill, it being quite high and steep, 4 or 5 hundred feet above the valley floor and having no established trail or road ascending to the summit. His response was that those obstacles could perhaps be overcome. I suggested a smaller hill on the opposite side of the hiway with a road to the top and easily accessed. This seemed fine at the time and we agreed to proceed. It seemed odd to me that the much talked about Guard was to be deployed 22 miles north of the border so I told Agent Monin that I had thought the guard was going to be sent right to the border itself. His response was that no suitable spot had been found to that point. They had looked at a hill on a ranch very near the border with a view extended 10 miles both east and west, but had decided against it because the (the Border Patrol, and National Guard) thought it would be too time consuming to get up and down it and it was a long way from town. Actually it is closer to town than either of the hills he was interested in on my place, and it had a road and trail already established going up to the top. I didn’t get it. Picking a hill 22 miles north of the border with no access and limited view after passing up the chance to establish a lookout right on the border? The rancher who controls the hill right on the border (we’ll call this Hill #1) pleaded with the Border Patrol to establish this new lookout there. The rancher has witnessed countless dope loads and outlaws cross the line within shouting distance of Hill #1 and was quite dismayed when they chose to go elsewhere. Hill # 1 is about 21 miles straight south of Hill #2 (the hill first mentioned at mile marker 400 on Highway 80). Several days after my meeting with Agent Monin, a Ford F-150 pick-up with over 1000 pounds of Marijuana was found at the Fairchild Ranch. The pick-up had Sonoran plates and so overloaded with dope that both rear tires had blown out

Worth reading: An Open Letter To President Obama
Excerpt: In today's dangerous world, we need a president with experience, leadership and courage. Unfortunately, you have shown us little of those traits. Your childhood and younger years denied you the opportunity to grow up as an American man, and that is no fault of your own. Unfortunately, your lack of empathy for and experience of a traditional American upbringing has left you out of touch with those of us who grew up learning the traditions and work ethic of our predecessors. You have never accepted the honor of military service, or held and survived in any sort of entry-level working position. You are bereft of many of the basic building blocks of a true American personality and worldview. You have never experienced the icy hand of fear caressing your gut during a firefight when your very survival from second to second depends on your luck, wits, fellow troopers and the grace of God. You have never sweated out a payroll when your receivables are late. You've missed the rewarding feeling of flogging a loaded truck all night to deliver a load 500 miles away at 7 a.m. You never shoveled cow manure for less than minimum wage to earn enough for a rattletrap car. You missed out on greasing dump trucks on the night shift, and never had the opportunity to start out cleaning restrooms and sweeping floors in a factory. Your education was in the law, and you ignored any opportunity to absorb the lessons of history or the theories of economics. You have never experienced the law of the jungle in the private sector….I may well end up destroyed financially from the results of your misguided and dangerous actions — but you will never break me psychologically or crush my spirit. I am a Marine, I have a wonderful wife and family, and last but not least, I live in the greatest nation in the world. I shall work to my last breath to keep it that way, and you, sir, shall fail to destroy that dream. Howard, a Marine Corps veteran, University of Washington graduate and heavy-equipment supervisor for two decades, is now a developer with projects in Washington and Oregon.

Important: Dismantling America: Part IV by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: How did we get to the point where many people feel that the America they have known is being replaced by a very different kind of country, with not only different kinds of policies but very different values and ways of governing? Something of this magnitude does not happen all at once or in just one administration in Washington. What we are seeing is the culmination of many trends in many aspects of American life that go back for years. Neither the Constitution of the United States nor the institutions set up by that Constitution are enough to ensure the continuance of a free, self-governing nation. When Benjamin Franklin was asked what members of the Constitution Convention were creating, he replied, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it." In other words, a Constitutional government does not depend on the Constitution but on us. To the extent that we allow clever people to circumvent the Constitution, while dazzling us with rhetoric, the Constitution will become just a meaningless piece of paper, as our freedoms are stolen from us, much as a pick-pocket would steal our wallet while we are distracted by other things. It is not just evil people who would dismantle America. Many people who have no desire to destroy our freedoms simply have their own agendas that are singly or collectively incompatible with the survival of freedom. Someone once said that a democratic society cannot survive for long after 51 percent of the people decide that they want to live off the other 49 percent. Yet that is the direction in which we are being pushed by those who are promoting envy under its more high-toned alias of "social justice."

Obama makes four recess appointments
To be fair, Michele Obama sleeps with a guy who wishes the US ill. Why shouldn’t an ambassador do the same? Excerpt: President Obama made four recess appointments Thursday for nominees that have waited an average of 303 days for confirmation, the White House said. “At a time when our nation faces so many pressing challenges, I urge members of the Senate to stop playing politics with our highly qualified nominees, and fulfill their responsibilities of advice and consent,” President Obama said in a statement announcing the appointments. “Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people.” Obama has made a total of 22 recess appointments, including the four announced Thursday. George W. Bush made 23 recess appointments by the end of his second year in office and Clinton made a total of 139 recess appointments during his presidency, according to the Congressional Research Service. The appointment likely to draw Republican ire is that of Maria del Carmen Aponte, the administration's pick for ambassador to El Salvador. Aponte faced questions at her March confirmation hearing about a former romantic relationship with a Cuban national she lived with in the 1980s who was tied to Cuban intelligence officials. She denied any contact with Cuban intelligence and admitted meeting socially with Cuban officials. Senate Republicans, led by Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), placed a hold on her nomination in pursuit of additional information about Aponte's background and her decision to withdraw a similar nomination during Bill Clinton's presidency. "The White House continued to deny Senators information, despite numerous requests, and then recess appoints her to circumvent the advice and consent process. So much for transparency and accountability," said DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton.

Taliban's chilling hunt & slaughter
We are trying to negotiate with people who will never get the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” memo, no matter how many times Bush and Obama chant it. Would that the world was half as outraged by Islamist murder as they are by waterboarding by people trying to stop murder. Excerpt: "What's going on?" Upstate optometrist Tom Little, 62, reportedly shouted his final words as Taliban fighters, faces covered by scarves and bodies wrapped in blankets, rushed at him and nine other charity workers. In an account of the terrorist atrocity, the Sunday Times of London reported that the small group, led by Little, had just stopped their all-terrain vehicles after navigating a river that had washed out part of the dirt track they'd followed in Afghanistan's remote Badakhshan province. Little, a father of three from Delmar, outside Albany, yelled his last words as the 10 masked thugs began shooting in the air. His answer was a blow from the butt of an AK-47 -- and a bullet to the gut. In a terrible twist, the sole survivor of the attack, driver Safiullah, said that one of the gunmen was part of a group of three that the convoy had offered to drive through the rugged terrain. Two women with Little made a desperate bid to escape by climbing into a nearby ATV. But a Taliban goon calmly lobbed a hand grenade into the vehicle, killing them both, the newspaper reported. The account also revealed that British aid worker Karen Woo was lashed across the face by a gunman wielding a Kalashnikov. She fell face-first onto the stony track, and the gunman shot her twice in the back. The team's cook was fatally shot as he hid beneath an ATV. One by one, the entire team -- Little, Woo, five other Americans, one German and two Afghans -- were wiped out. Only their driver, who fell to his knees and recited from the Koran, was spared. "God was good to me," Safiullah told the AP in his first interview since being released. When the slaughter was over, one of the Taliban killers spoke Urdu into his radio. "Mission accomplished," he coldly declared.

Border Patrol joins ICE agents in condemning Obama administration
Excerpt: On the heels of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents' 258-0 "vote of no confidence" against their superiors, U.S. Border Patrol agents are slamming President Barack Obama's administration especially Attorney General Eric Holder. "We are receiving reports... that Eric Holder and DOJ have signaled that they [will continue to] challenge SB1070. If this development wasn't so sad, it would be funny," according to the membership of the National Border Patrol Council Local 2544, which represents U.S. Border Patrol agents in Tucson, Arizona. While lamenting the disinterest in the Obama Administration for border security and immigration enforcement, Local 2544 officials said in a statement, “Now, [Attorney General Eric] Holder and DOJ [Department of Justice] apparently have found resources to challenge SB1070. This is an obvious political ploy, and Americans should be outraged [that] they actually go after a state for trying to do something about the out-of-control illegal immigration mess." "How many times have Americans heard lawmakers, mayors, governors, and immigration advocates when asked about Arizona enforcing immigration law, claim that their police officers aren't authorized or trained to enforce immigration laws?" asks a career law enforcement officer from New York. "Well, either these government leaders are too ignorant to hold office or they're out-and-out lying to the American people," said former NYPD detective Sid Franes.

Shame of Obama aunt asylum files
They should keep quiet about his grandmother, or they might attract some Muslims that haven’t gotten the memo. Excerpt: An aunt of President Barack Obama was allowed to stay in the United States on the shocking grounds that she would be persecuted by Kenyan leaders if she was forced to return to the country. And on Wednesday, the government reacted angrily to the US Immigration court’s apparent endorsement of claims by Ms Zeituni Onyango -- the half-sister of the American President’s Kenyan father -- that she would be persecuted if she was deported. Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo described the claims as “ridiculous and an insult to Kenyans”. Zeituni convinced a US judge three months ago that she feared “persecution by some members of the Kenyan government” and was allowed to stay in the US although she had been classified as an illegal immigrant after her visa expired. Said Mr Kilonzo: “The insinuation about Kenya’s inability to protect Ms Obama is outrageous, misplaced and an insult to the Kenyan state. “President Obama’s grandmother is here and she is treated like a royalty. It is unfortunate because Kenya enjoys cordial relations with the United States.”

Salt in the Wound
The mosque at Ground Zero for country fans.

Why He Turns Voters Off
I thought the Daily Beast was leftwing? Excerpt: There is a fundamental problem with the way President Obama has governed. Since taking office, he has systematically put forth policies the American people do not want. The net result is a crisis of confidence and legitimacy in the American political system and our institutions. The president is now at record low levels of approval—close to 40 percent overall, and in the mid- to low 30s among swing voters. Put simply, we are looking at an unprecedented electoral blowout because the administration has made a systematic set of bad decisions that have had an adverse impact on public opinion. Indeed, those closest to the president have made clear that he is pursuing policies that do not have the support of the American people. A majority of voters now believe that Obama has failed on each of the 12 issues tested on the August 2010 Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, particularly the federal budget deficit, reducing government spending, changing business as usual in Washington, and the economy. And in an extraordinary survey of 1,100 likely voters that has gotten little attention or publicity, the president’s own pollster, Joel Benenson, has shown clearly and demonstratively that the administration’s policies and general approach to governance not only have failed, but also have not addressed the American people’s fundamental concerns.

Opposition to Afghanistan conflict not just a liberal issue anymore
When the Taliban come back, it will be tough on the Afghan Women who will be married at nine to old men, have acid thrown in their faces if they go to school, prohibited from holding jobs, or going out without a burka and male relative, have their noses cut of if they disobey their husbands and be stoned to death if charged with adultery. But who gives a damn about them? Excerpt: Opposition to the war in Afghanistan, once a mainstay of liberals, is no longer a partisan campaign issue. A majority of voters want the conflict to end quickly – no matter their party affiliation, according to recent polls. And Senate candidates on both sides of the aisle say they support that goal. Prominent liberal activists, reacting to President Obama’s plan to move 30,000 troops into the region, warned late last year the surge could cause Democrats to stay home in the midterm election. Now the issue is spreading across the political spectrum as the last of the surge prepares to move into place – just after Obama ordered the remaining U.S. combat troops out of Iraq. Already this summer, American forces in Afghanistan suffered back-to-back record casualties and voters are starting to take notice.

2010 Sets Record for Cost of Government
Not exactly breaking news but we have to be reaching the breaking point. Excerpt: The average American worker had to toil through the first 231 days of 2010—more than 63 percent of the year—to pay off the costs of their state, local, and federal governments. This leaves just under four and half months for Americans to provide for themselves and their families before the growing tab of the cost of government comes due again. Every year, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and its Center for Fiscal Accountability calculate the day on which average Americans have paid off their share of the costs of federal, state, and local spending and regulations. This year that day falls on August 19, a full eight days later than last year’s date. It is the latest Cost of Government Day ever recorded. "The fact that Cost of Government Day falls in the later part of August is alarming enough. It is even more harrowing that the 2010 Cost of Government Day constitutes a 34-day jump from COGD just two short years ago, when it fell on July 16," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "This illustrates the ballooning growth of government, and should be of serious concern to taxpayers who are footing the ever-expanding bill."

Cities Can't Give In To Protection Racket
Excerpt: City governments nationwide are bleeding red ink, largely due to the salaries and benefits their unionized employees are paid. With high unemployment, falling property values and sinking tax revenues, these salaries and benefits can't be sustained. Decisions to lay off or furlough employees, reduce benefits or curtail promised pay raises typically produce highly publicized threats to cut services. Cities and their citizens should consider responding to such threats by laying off even more employees. Most public employees don't do anything that can't be done at lower cost by employees of private firms, from filling out incident-report forms to protecting the public. Consider the case of Anthony Batts, the police chief of Oakland, Calif. He has announced that his department will no longer respond to citizen calls on 44 criminal and noncriminal matters typically handled by the police, including grand theft, burglary, embezzlement and auto accidents. This was Chief Batts' response to Oakland's decision to lay off 80 police officers.

John Boehner For President!
Hard to jump from the House to the White House. Maybe if he’s speaker in 2011.

Last Combat Troops Roll Out of Iraq, -GOP congressional candidate disgusted; others cautiously optimistic about pullout
Excerpt: While the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq elicited cheers from war-weary Americans Thursday, the exit strategy drew fire from Florida Republican congressional candidate Allen West. "Just because you run away doesn't mean the bully isn't going to stay and fight," said West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served in both Iraq conflicts. "The enemy also has a vote on the cessation of combat operations," added West, who is vying to unseat Rep. Ron Klein, D-Fort Lauderdale, in the 22nd Congressional District. Even as U.S. forces were departing Iraq, violence was escalating. Whereas a troop surge last year cleared the way for improvements on the ground, American disengagement is leaving a deadly and chaotic security vacuum, military analysts say. West said the pullout of U.S. combat troops harkens back to previous precipitous pullouts. He recalled "the means by which we left Somalia and the message that sent to radical Islamists. I don't want to get labeled like the Soviets when they left Afghanistan." President Barack Obama, noting that the Iraq conflict has lasted longer than World War II, is keeping 50,000 personnel on the ground to help Iraqis with training and logistics while the military ramps up operations in Afghanistan.

Support Your Border Sheriff
But there is no evidence that Obama wants to secure the border. ~Bob. Excerpt: As nearly half the states weigh measures similar to Arizona's SB1070, the sheriff of Pinal County issues a challenge to the president: Spend 30 minutes with me and I'll show you how to secure the border. Sheriff Paul Babeu is on the front lines of the border war. Although his jurisdiction is not directly on the Mexican line, Pinal has been designated by the Justice Department as part of a High Intensity Drug Trafficking region that is a major route for drug and alien smugglers bringing narcotics and illegal aliens into America from Mexico. Babeu was asked by if he'd like President Obama to sit down with him to discuss the border security situation. "If the president gave me a half-hour," Babeu replied, "I am confident that I could convince him and ... show him the way he can personally secure the border, and he would be the hero of everybody that truly transcends bipartisan politics and secures that border." Babeu and Sheriff Larry Dever of neighboring Cochise County, which does sit on the border, endorse a 10-point plan by Arizona Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain. Among other things, the plan urges the deployment of 3,000 National Guardsmen on the Arizona border until the state's governor, in consultation with local law enforcement, certifies the border is secure. The plan also includes the completion of 700 miles of double- and triple-layered fencing, an increase in drone surveillance aircraft, the appointment of one full-time federal magistrate in Cochise County to deal with apprehended aliens, and federal reimbursement of state and local governments for the full cost of incarcerating criminal aliens.

FBI Agent Busted in Texas for Hiring Illegal Immigrants
Chick guarding the fox house. Excerpt: Businesses across the U.S. get busted with regularity for hiring illegal immigrants, but what made one recent case in Texas all the more unusual was that involved an FBI agent. Federal authorities late last month charged FBI agent Ann Cox of Dallas with a misdemeanor, alleging that from 1997 to 2008 she hired six illegal immigrants for a restaurant, Schlotzsky's Deli, she owned in Rockwall, Texas. The Dallas Morning News reported that she was fired shortly after authorities filed charges. It noted that she has a husband in the FBI who was not implicated in the case.

Dems retreat on health care cost pitch
Obama lied and healthcare died. The two main selling points, that it would reduce cost and cut the deficit, turn out to be lies, just as opponents claimed at the time. A majority of the public knew that instinctively. Excerpt: Key White House allies are dramatically shifting their attempts to defend health care legislation, abandoning claims that it will reduce costs and deficit, and instead stressing a promise to "improve it." The messaging shift was circulated this afternoon on a conference call and PowerPoint presentation organized by FamiliesUSA — one of the central groups in the push for the initial legislation. The call was led by a staffer for the Herndon Alliance, which includes leading labor groups and other health care allies. It was based on polling from three top Democratic pollsters, John Anzalone, Celinda Lake, and Stan Greenberg. The confidential presentation, available in full here and provided to POLITICO by a source on the call, suggests that Democrats are acknowledging the failure of their predictions that the health care legislation would grow more popular after its passage, as its benefits became clear and rhetoric cooled. Instead, the presentation is designed to win over a skeptical public, and to defend the legislation — and in particular the individual mandate — from a push for repeal. The presentation concedes that groups typically supportive of Democratic causes — people under 40, non-college educated women, and Hispanic voters — have not been won over by the plan. Indeed, it stresses repeatedly, many are unaware that the legislation has passed, an astonishing shortcoming in the White House's all-out communications effort.

Yemen: Al-Qaeda no.2 urges '9/11' style Jihad against Israel
Didn’t get the ‘Islam is a religion of peace” memo. Should have read it to him at Gitmo. Excerpt: A top Al-Qaeda commander in Yemen has urged Arab military pilots to fly their planes into Israeli targets replicating the deadly 11 September 2001 attacks on American cities, the Daily Beast website reported. The Yemen branch of Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Saeed al-Shehri, purportedly issued the call in an audio message, the Daily Beast said. In the message, Al-Shehri ordered jihadists to exploit a future war between the Jewish State and Iran. An all-out regional war is expected to break out after Israel launches a strike again Tehran's nuclear facilities, al-Sheri said. Iran's Shia government will blame Saudi Arabia for helping Israel attack its nuclear installations and will use this as an excuse to seize the holy Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina, he predicted. Israel will seize fresh territory in the Middle East to establish “the greater state of Israel," he claims. The "Shura Council of the Mujahadeen in the Arabian Peninsula” has held a meeting to prepare for such a war, al-Shehri said. He urged followers to assassinate Arab leaders, citing the example of the "tyrant Anwar Sadat," the Egyptian president murdered by Islamic radicals. Shehri was held in the US prison camp at Guantanamo for six years after being caught in Pakistan in December 2001. After being sent back to his native Saudi Arabia, he fled to Yemen and helped set up Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Why have Pakistan and India evolved so differently?

Pakistan troops fire at Indian forward posts, violate ceasefire

Minorities denied flood relief in Pakistan

Pak Hindus being looted at gunpoint call for Army’s deployment in flood-affected areas

Accept Indian aid, no role for politics in disaster: US to Pak

Decision Not to Rebuild Church Destroyed on 9/11 Surprises Greek Orthodox Leaders
Mosque yes, church no--and they wonder why folks wonder about Obama’s religion. Maybe if he’d speak up for the church too? Excerpt: Greek Orthodox leaders trying to rebuild the only church destroyed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks expressed shock this week after learning, via Fox News, that government officials had killed a deal to relocate the church. The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, once a tiny, four-story building in the shadows of lower Manhattan, was destroyed in 2001 by one of the falling World Trade Center towers. Nobody from the church was hurt in the attack, but the congregation has, for the past eight years, been trying to rebuild its house of worship. Though talks between the church and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey stalled last year, church leaders say they've been trying to kick-start discussions ever since. But amid debate over whether a proposed Islamic community center should go forward near Ground Zero, government officials threw cold water on the prospect of any deal with the church -- telling Fox News the deal is off the table.

The Moon Has Shrunk, and May Still Be Contracting
Excerpt: The moon has been shrinking, suggest scientists who spotted relatively young geological features that form when a planetary body cools and contracts. Called lobate scarps, the features are made when land on one side of a geologic fault line is thrust upward, creating a slanting wall that can be several hundred feet high and several miles long. "If you were walking up to one of these landforms, you would see basically what looks like a stair-step in the landscape," said study co-author Thomas Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. "It would be steep in the front on the scarp face itself and then gently sloping on the backside." The Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions photographed about 70 lobate scarps near the moon's equator. (Read the original National Geographic magazine coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.) But NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter found 14 more scarps in several, widespread locations, suggesting the thrust faults are globally distributed across the moon's surface. (See some of the first moon pictures from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.) Watters and colleagues think the scarps formed as the inside of the moon cooled from its original, molten state. (The total contraction is about 600 feet over the course of about 1 billion years, so this can't be used to frighten the masses into fear of Lunar global cooling. It also can't impact Earth's tides as the Lunar orbit and mass remain the same, the mass is just in a slightly smaller amount of space. Ron P. Easy for you to say, Ron. I blame George Bush. ~Bob)

Illegal immigration from China increases 10 fold
News of China's alarming military buildup has made headlines this week. But, there is yet another national security threat involving China that is closer to home. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported: "The number of Chinese immigrants arrested while illegally crossing the border into Arizona through the busiest smuggling corridor in the United States increased tenfold in the last fiscal year, according to the United States Border Patrol in Tucson.

Thank You, Maureen Dowd!
Excerpt: This is delicious: Supporters of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” are so desperate that they are calling on the Great Satan himself — that’s President George W. Bush to you and me — to support the project. Yes, that’s right: all those “Bush=Hitler” signs have been temporarily retired as the large left flank of the commentariat casts about for authoritative voices to help them put through this project to besmirch the memories of the nearly 3000 people who died at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001. So we have the comedic spectacle of Maureen Dowd — Maureen Dowd! — writing in the New York Times that “it’s time for W. to weigh in,” explaining that the former president “understands” — when was the last time Maureen Dowd accused George W. Bush of understanding anything? — that “you can’t have an effective war against the terrorists if it is a war on Islam.” Byron York, reporting on this gratifying development in the Washington Examiner, also has some lovely quotations from Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post (“I … would love to hear from former President Bush on this issue”) and former New Republic editor Peter Beinart (“I pine for George W. Bush”). (What a coincidence all three of these opinion pieces appearing in such accidental coordination. JournoList lives. I think/hope W is smart enough to keep out of this. Ron P.)

Muslims, not Americans, are religious bigots
Scary that only 46% of Americans are paying attention to what is going on in the world. Excerpt: Time magazine asked this week whether America has “a Muslim problem,” and suggested that “many” of those opposed to the Ground Zero mosque “are motivated by deep-seated Islamophobia.” The same article scowls disapprovingly that “46% of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence against nonbelievers.” (What could have possibly given them that idea?) But, as the article concedes, there has been no increase in violence against Muslims. In reality, Americans remain fastidiously tolerant of all religions, even one that inspired 19 fanatics to hijack four commercial airliners on 9/11 and kill more than 3,000 Americans in the bloodiest attack in our nation’s history. Time requires a peculiar sort of blindness to see so much imagined intolerance in America — especially based solely on “anecdotal evidence” — while nearly ignoring the religious intolerance in most Islamic countries. A group of triumphalist Muslims seeks to erect an Islamic center near Ground Zero in a city that already has 100 mosques, and they face, at worst, disapproval, stern looks and calls to relocate their project. Contrast this with a news report by journalist Mindy Belz in the current issue of World magazine, concerning Afghanistan’s small community of Christian converts. Belz describes how an Afghan television station recently broadcast a video of a baptismal service, sparking riots in the streets of Kabul and leading to the arrest of 25 Christians. Nobody knows at this time the fate of those arrested. Because it is illegal for Muslims to convert in Afghanistan — as it is in most Islamic countries — people who choose any other faith face the death penalty. Adherents of other religions, meanwhile, are subject to official discrimination and persecution, despite guarantees to the contrary in Afghanistan’s constitution. Thus, the plight of Christians is shared in many Islamic countries by Buddhists, Baha’is, Hindus and Zoroastrians. As Time puts it, it is wrong to “conflate Islam with terrorism and savagery.” But the world must be dealt with as it is and not as we wish it were. That requires us to accept the reality that Muslim nations are the most religiously intolerant places on Earth, and that a startling number of Islamic clerics worldwide still refuse to condemn violence against nonbelievers. In contrast, Americans who oppose the mosque are not even demanding that its developers be arrested or harmed in any way for their beliefs. They ask only that the mosque developers voluntarily show common sense, decency and sensitivity for America’s loss on 9/11.

Confrontation at Black Conservative (Tea Party Express) Press Conference

With a Whimper or a Bang — or Not at All?
Excerpt: I fear greatly the federal and state judiciaries. I know that special prosecutors like Patrick Fitzgerald hold press conferences, bankrupt their prey through drawn-out legal procedures, and then usually fail to prove much of anything against the likes of a Scooter Libby or Blago (and so settle for perjury convictions when they find contradictions in the miles of confused subpoenaed testimony). Arizona and California plebiscites mean little. A judge or two can overturn the votes of millions. One rarely sees a left-wing ballot proposition overturned by a right-wing judge, as the former has not the votes and the latter usually objects to the procedure. The federal government will sue those states that try to enforce Washington’s statutes, but ignore dozens of cities that undermine them. Contracts do not mean much either, not after the Chrysler reversal of its creditors. BP should pay, let’s say, 20, 30 — or, damn it, why not 40 billion dollars? The academic elite is becoming bankrupt. And by that I mean utterly mendacious. The email disclosures about faking the global warming evidence, the BP scientific hysteria to stop drilling, the Gore saga, the nuclear power furor, the Delta smelt — no one much believes that the old rules of peer-reviewed, dispassionate scholarship apply when one can make the case that the egalitarian ends justify the tawdry means. Plagiarism depends — a progressive mistakenly cuts and pastes an email, or had lousy research assistants, or mixed up his index cards; a less hip scholar who fudges is a crook as he should be.

US Tries to Calm Israel on Iranian Nuclear Threat
Excerpt: U.S. officials tell The New York Times they shared evidence of problems inside the Iranian nuclear program with Israeli counterparts, and that they believe their analysis has diminished the chances that Israel will feel threatened enough to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear targets during the next 12 months. A series of moves by Iran's nuclear program this year has led U.S. and international officials to suspect that Tehran could be accelerating the creation of atomic weaponry by perfecting the enrichment, or purification, of uranium and building a stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could quickly be processed to weapons-grade quality. Fears about such a "breakout" scenario were stoked by a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency in February suggesting Iran could be working on "a nuclear payload for a missile," and by an ambitious announcement in Tehran last month promising a faster pace of enrichment. (Some problems with this approach. First, "breakout" is undefined. Does this mean we or Israel should wait until the Iranians have all the parts of an unassembled weapon completed, but unassembled and untested? In 1945, the USA constructed 4 atomic bombs: three of the Fat Man type, one of which was tested in New Mexico because we weren't sure it would work, and one Little Boy which was tested over Nagasaki because they WERE sure it would work (the fourth bomb was held in reserve and not used in the war). The Iranians may choose to test theirs in Haifa or NYC. Second, our intel folks been saying 1 - 3 years for more than 2 years already; Bush was still President when we first heard this. When should we expect the 1 - 3 years to end? And how? Keeping in mind we have NEVER correctly anticipated when another nation would test their first bomb. Third, they have many delivery systems, all the way from SUV or camel-back up to airplanes or ships and including missiles (don't forget the low-earth-orbit satellite they launched a few months ago). And, they currently seem to have no problem finding suicide murderers, imagine the joy of the one tasked to destroy Washington, DC. Ron P.)

Exclusive: Al Qaeda Plans for Israel War
Excerpt: The terror group's arm in Yemen is ordering jihadists across the region to ready themselves for a war "by the Jews against Iran" that will spread across the globe, according to a new audio message. Al Qaeda is warning its supporters and sympathizers to prepare for a new war in the Middle East, which it says will pit Israel against Iran. Al Qaeda’s franchise in Yemen, the self-styled al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), issued an audio message this month with a lecture by its second-in-command Saeed al Shehri in which he tells jihadists in the Middle East that “what is expected is for the war to begin by the Jews against Iran.” Israel will stage air strikes on Iran’s nuclear installations to start. Shehri expects the Iranian Shia regime to try to take advantage of an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities to seize the holy cities of Mecca and Medina by blaming Saudi Arabia for helping Israel attack. In turn, the Israelis will seize territory in the Levant to establish “the greater state of Israel.” The Sunni Arab population of the Middle East will be caught between the “Jews in the Middle East and Iran in the Peninsula.” (...) Al Qaeda has consistently said a struggle between Israel and Iran can only be good for the global Islamic jihad by blooding two of its enemies and forcing America to side with Israel. But this warning is the most vivid by far and comes with the most explicit instructions on how to exploit a new conflict. (The pot is almost ready to boil. –Ron P.)

1 comment: