Monday, April 30, 2007
`Anti-zionism' goes mainstream, as a slew of Anti-Israel ads are to be posted in the Washington DC subways.
A group calling itself the 'US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation' placed 20 poster ads showing an Israeli tank pointing its cannon at a child with a schoolbag walking along a dirt road.
'Imagine if this were your child's path to school. Palestinians don't have to imagine,' the poster states, before continuing to call for an end to US aid for 'Israel's brutal military occupation… paid for by US taxpayers like you.'
Originally, CBS Outdoor, the New York-based firm that places in-station advertising for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), at wouldn't consider allowing the posters, but eventually relented to pressure from WMATA and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Interestingly enough both CBS Outdoor's Vice President, Jodi Senes weho caved to the threats from the ACLU and the ACLU's Legal Director in Washington, Arthur Spitzer who pressured CBS into allowing the posters are both Jewish.
According to Spitzer, it "wasn't 'a case about Judaism or Israel… but about establishing someone's right to freedom of speech, which I agree with regardless of whether I agree with their particular political position."
Pure horse manure.
There's a difference between the right to speak - which the First Amendment clearly mandates - and the right to be heard, which isn't part of the Constitution in the least.
The ACLU is simply another left-wing group who are down for the `anti-Zionist' agenda.
Stockholm much, Mr. Spitzer?
Turkey is virtually the only predominantly Muslim nation that mandates a strict seperation of Islam and the secular government. Erdogan and Gul belong to the ruling AK party, which was formed from a banned Islamist party. They are both Islamists whose wives wears the Muslim hhijab banned from state institutions.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court began on Monday to examine an opposition request to suspend the presidential election, a move which would trigger early parliamentary polls and defuse tensions.The court has said it will try to issue its verdict by Wednesday, when parliament is due to hold the second round of voting on Gul’s candidacy.
The leader of Turkey’s secularist main opposition CHP, Deniz Baykal, called on Monday for an alliance among all opposition parties and accused the AK Party of wanting to create an Islamist state in Turkey. “The forces who want to protect the republic should unite,” Baykal told a news conference.
Another wild card, as I've mentioned, is the army, which is almost completely pro-secular and has issued a clear warning that they interpret the Turkish Constitution as giving them the authority to intervene if the secular government is threatened.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
And as far as I'm concerned, it couldn't happen to a more deserving pair.
Along with all the revelations and ongoing criminal investigations against Israeli PM Olmert , the other shoe is about to drop when the Winograd Commission releases its report tomorrow on the mishandling of the Lebanon War.
Several Israeli media outlets have already given the public over there previews, and it isn't pretty.
The report criticizes Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz for failing to put contingency planning into action that had been drawn up long before the war.
It describes how Olmert refused to allow the IDF to make a ground incursion in force into Lebanon but essentially had no plan to propose instead... so , according to the committee the war was grossly mismanaged and decisions were hastily made on the fly while Hezbollah created chaos in Northern Israel.
As for our friend Amir Peretz, the report cites him for his lack of military command experience and for essentially bypassing the Israeli ministry of defense so that in the end he was running the war personally with Olmert without the necessary knowledge to do so!
The report even said that Peretz's decision to run the war this way was motivated by irrelevant personal considerations ( his ego, perhaps?) and that perhaps he was negligent in even accepting the post of defense minister in the first place.
As for ex-IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, the commission criticizes him for arrogance, underestimating the Katyusha rocket threat Israel faced and quashing criticism within military ranks. Even though Halutz has already resigned, the report may implicate senior officers who colluded with him in this, and thus may implicate senior officers who are still in the IDF.
So why are these buffoons still in office? Carl in Jerusalem at Israel Matzav has a good explanation on what it would take to remove Olmert as Prime Minister. Like impeaching a president, it takes a lot of time and a concensus from the Knesset.
But things may be looking up.
Unlike Halutz, Olmert and Peretz refused to do the decent thing and resign, but they may not be able to put that off for too much longer.
Oddly enough, it appears that both the Israeli Left and the Israeli Right may be uniting to force Olmert's hand, as none other than Yossi Beilen and Bibi Netanyahu met secretly on Friday to discuss the report and the possibility of elections.
"Olmert's fate will be similar to that of Golda Meir's after the Yom Kippur war," said Beilin.
And my favorite Israeli politician, the courageous Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP) called for new elections. He said that "the commission's conclusions on Olmert, Peretz and Halutz's failures verify the public's feeling that the government had failed and that it should resign."
I also expect the Israeli public to come out in force calling for Olmert's ouster. Israel is a small and fairly vibrant democracy, where people don't hesitate to button hole politicians and read them the riot act.
Both Olmert and his Kadima party are highly unpopular, and this could very possibly be what pushes them over the cliff.
Good riddance. And hopefully, just in time.
As I reported last week, US forces major al-Qaeda chief in Iraq, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi.
He was caught he was caught trying to return to Iraq via Iran to take command of al Qaeda forces there, proof if nothing else that our operations against al-Qaeda in Iraq have met with some success.
As he's continued to be interrogated, several things have come to light.
For starters, it's plain that Iran is once again facilitating the movement of al-Qaeda through Iran, just as they did after the US took out the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002. Not only that, but it also provides more evidence ( as if that was needed) that Iran is allowing al-Qaeda terrorists operating in Iraq to use Iran's territory as a haven to recruit, arm and then strike US and Iraqi forces from strike from within Iran's borders.
There are also some interesting sidelines that highlight the connections between Hamas and al-Qaeda.
An interesting fact that's come to light as al-Hadi continues to sing showtunes for his interrogators is his involvement in the first al-Qaeda strike against an Israeli target and a major role in the 7/7/ tube bombings in Britain.
Both attacks were done by British Muslims of Pakistani origin.
The tactic of using British Muslims for terrorism attacks is one al Qaeda was quick to seize on. They speak English, carry EU passports and even more importantly, usually have family back in Pakistan that can provide a cover and an alibi for British Muslims traveling back to al Qaeda's headquarters for training.
al-Hadi was apparently in charge of recruiting young British Muslims for al-Qaeda, with notable success.
Two British Muslims, Asif Muhammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, were recruited at the radical Finsbury Park mosque in London. So was Richard Reid, the `shoe bomber' now in US custody.
As other investigations have already revealed, after training in Pakistan, Hanif and Sharif then spent time in Hamas training camps in Gaza before setting out for their mission...blowing up the US embassy in Tel Aviv. Instead, they bombed a Tel Aviv seafront bar, Mike’s Place, killing three Israelis and injuring 60.
Other fruits of al-Hadi's work with British Muslims of Pakistani recruited in Britain's radical mosques were the homicide bombers who pulled off the homicide bombings in London on July 7th, 2005, killing 52 and injuring hundreds.
Al-Hadi's capture also proves something else. Instead of being a fragmented and beaten terrorist army, al-Qaeda is alive and well, thanks to the Muslim nation-states that fund, harbor and protect it and use al Qaeda as shock troops against the West.
On April 25, of this year in a statement to the Pakistani press, Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah stated unequivocally that Osama bin Laden is still alive, and still actively directing al Qaeda operations, no doubt from the safety afforded him and his friends by Pakistan.
Friday, April 27, 2007
The Saudis uncovered a major internal al-Qaeda plot with both Saudis and and foreign nationals among the people arrested
The Saudis arrested 172 `militants' involved in the plot ( yes,the WAPO still refuses to use the `t' word).
The terrorist cell included some members whom had trained abroad as pilots so they could fly aircraft in attacks on Saudi Arabia's “public figures, oil facilities, refineries and military zones” according to interior ministry spokesman Brig. Mansour al-Turki.
"They had reached an advance stage of readiness and what remained only was to set the zero hour for their attacks...They had the personnel, the money, the arms. Almost all the elements for terror attacks were complete except for setting the zero hour for the attacks."
The terrorists also planned to storm Saudi prisons to free the inmates, the statement said. The Saudi state TV channel Al-Ekhbariah broadcast footage of large weapons caches being dug up in the desert. The arms included bricks of plastic explosives, ammunition cartridges, handguns and rifles wrapped in plastic sheeting.
There were also large amounts of money seized, with amounts quoted ranging from $5.3 million to over $32.4 million, depending on whom you believe.
This was obviously a well planned and well financed operation, designed to hit atthe Saudi royals and wreak havoc on an already volatile oil market.
So, what's behind all this and what does it signify?
For all of the reputation they have, al-Qaeda are, for the most part, subcontractors who would have major problems operating without the havens, financing and support they enjoy from nation-states in the Muslims world who use them as shock troops in the jihad against the West.
So there are several ways to look at this, especially given the well financed and highly organized nature of the plot. Especially significant are the attempted release of terrorists already incarcerated by the Saudis and the targeting of officials for assassination.
I've had several sources in the Middle East relate to me this morning that this was a double cross against the Saudi royals by Iran, and that this operation was supported and linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guards who are trying to foment rebellion in Saudi Arabia's oppressed Shiite minority in the Kingdom's Eastern Persian Gulf Provinces - which is where the Saudi oil is.
If this is true, it would be a major shock to the Saudis, who thought all of these matters were arranged at the Riyadh summit. A major strike against the Saudi oilfields would, of course, benefit Iran because of higher oil prices, and the Mullahs definitely need capital for their nuclear programs and their conventional military.But it would also jeopardize their now friendly relations with the Sunni autocrats stemming from Riyadh....
I heard from at least one source that the plot was a reaction to a supposed Saudi double cross, a `sign off' on a US strike against Iran set for this summer. That's certainly not impossible.
It's also not impossible that the oil fields weren't a target at all, and this was an attempted coup.
In any event, the wheels are turning, and I need to do some more digging. Obviously when the Saudis interrogate some of the prisoners, more will come to light.
This has the earmarks of one of those far-reaching, turning point type stories.
Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi was one of al-Qaeda's chief operatives, described as one of bin-Laden's `globallieutenants' in charge of operations. He's been credited with commanding al Qaeda's paramilitary operations in Afghanistan and launching attacks on U.S. and coalition forces from safe areas in Pakistan...you know, our `ally'.
Apparently he was caught trying to return to Iraq (via Iran,according to my sources) probably to take command of operations against our forces there. If nothing else, bringing someone like this in and the change in command indicates that al Qaeda has suffered significant reverses in Iraq at our hands.
al-Hadi is now another one of the guests at our tropical resort, Club Gitmo, and is described as one of 15 `high value' jihadis confined there - a classification that indicates that U.S. officials believe the capture had a significant effect on al Qaeda operations and the prisoner can provide high-quality intel.
Born in Mosul in 1960, al-Hadi had a a million dollar reward offered for his capture ..which may explain how we got him.
This week's winner is:
Done With Mirrors: Earth Day - one of the most common sense takes I've read on climate change and global warming. Congrats, Callimachus!
In second place was Presidential power and criminal terrorists: Bookworm Room Ms. Bookworm's worthy examination of how our presidents and our nation have historically reacted to protect the country in times of dire threat. Congratulations, Ms. Bookworm!
For honorable mention, I'd like to single out Soccer Dad: Cohen must've got lost..just because I think it merits it.
For non-Council The winner was:
The Big White Lie by Andrew Klavan in which the writer reveals an unfortunate truth...that self-described `liberals' are mostly intolerant, and thatthe Left's great strength is the white lie of glossing over unpleasant truths.
In second place was the one and only Michael J. Totten: Where Kurdistan Meets the Red Zone An examination of the tensions the Kurds face over Kirkuk.
Hearty Kudos to all the winners!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Yes, it happened. Congress sent the Iraq pullout bill to President Bush and challenged him to veto it.
In the Senate, the vote was 51-46. Of the 535 members of Congress, it was pretty much a straight party line vote with only 4 Republicans joining the Democrats.
Of course, this is mere grandstanding, since Bush will almost certainly veto this bill and the Democrats lack the votes to override him. So there will be more political games played, most likely bills extending funding for two months or so.
If the Democrats had the courage to simply defund the war and take the political heat for the results, that would be something I could at least respect, even as I disagreed with it.
What's happening now simply a cowardly disgrace, designed to try and make political points while gambling with the lives of our troops.
Yes, it's true.
Spinal Tap, perhaps the most influential heavy metal band of our times are back.
Bassist/cucumberist Derek Smalls, lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel and singer/guitarist David St. Hubbins have reunited to play a gig in London over the summer at a pro-environment show July 7 in London...and what's more, it will be filmed.
No news yet on who will play drums behind the group. Apparently, they've had trouble filling the spot for some reason this time out, but will no doubt find a suitable skin basher before showtime.
Can a tour be in the offing?
Turn it up to eleven!
World Public Opinion is a respected organization known for it's fairly straightforward polling of public opinion in various countries on different issues.In this new poll, they surveyed the opinions of the populations of four almost entirely Muslim countries - Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia and found some interesting if not surprising trends.
Large majorities agree that the US is in a war to weaken and divide Islam. While Western politicians may use euphemisms like ` a war on terror', a vast majority of Muslims see it as a war between Islam and the West. A large majority also favor attacks on US forces, want US forces out of Islamic countries and favor the further Islamization of their countries:
What's more, three in ten - 30% - view Osama bin-Laden and al Qaeda favorably, although that number falls when asked if attacks on civilians are justified as seen above. However, according to the pollsters, less than one in four believes al Qaeda was responsible for September 11th attacks.
On average, about three out of four agree with seeking to “require Islamic countries to impose a strict application of sharia,” and to “keep Western values out of Islamic countries.” Two-thirds favor the idea “unify all Islamic counties into a single Islamic state or caliphate.”
It would have been very interesting for the pollsters to survey Muslims in Britain, and the US on these same questions.
I recommend to you again JoshuaPundit's 20-60-20 formulae - 20% hardline jihad supporters, 60% who are basically passive but will go wherever the flow dictates, and 20% who are strongly opposed.
If the numbers on this poll are consistent among Muslims everywhere, then we have a huge problem and a major struggle ahead.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
One of the things that mystifies some of the conservative `gate keepers', pundits and commentators about ex-Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani is his continued front runner status, especially among people who would normally disagree with his positions on some social issues.
The answer's simple, really. Mayor Giuliani, perhaps because he experienced Islamic terrorism first hand is, aside from Duncan Hunter, the only candidate from either party so far who appears to have a clue of the actual nature of the existential war we're in, and whom our enemies are.
Mayor Giuliani created a great deal of heat today by simply stating the obvious in a speech in New Hampshire...that we are headed for another for another major terrorist attack here in the US, that it is much less likely to succeed if we stay on offense rather than retreating on defense and that the Democrats now running lack a basic understanding of the war we're in.
“If any Republican is elected president —- and I think obviously I would be the best at this —- we will remain on offense and will anticipate what [the terrorists] will do and try to stop them before they do it,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani, feels that America would ultimately defeat terrorism no matter which party gains the White House.
“But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have?” Giuliani said. “If we are on defense [with a Democratic president], we will have more losses and it will go on longer.”
I've said the exact same thing on this site many times.
“I listen a little to the Democrats and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense,” Giuliani continued. “We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense.”
He added: “The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.”
“This war ends when they stop coming here to kill us!” Giuliani said . “Never, ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for [terrorists] to attack us if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense!”
Needless to say,the sound of screeching peahens you hear came from Barack Obama, Karen Finley of the DNC and others..but the truth does that sometimes.
Giuliani said terrorists “hate us and not because of anything bad we have done; it has nothing to do with Israel and Palestine. They hate us for the freedoms we have and the freedoms we want to share with the world.”
Giuliani continued: “The freedoms we have are in conflict with the perverted, maniacal interpretation of their religion.” He said Americans would fight for “freedom for women, the freedom of elections, freedom of religion and the freedom of our economy.”
Addressing the terrorists directly, Giuliani said: “We are not giving that up, and you are not going to take it from us!”
Unlike the present occupant of the White House, Rudy Giuliani also seems to understand that Islamic jihad is Islamic jihad, even if it comes from say, the Saudis or the Palestinians.
At a fundraiser in New Jersey on March 27th, Giuliani unequivocally stated that he doesn't care whether the Palestinian Authority is run by Hamas, Fatah, or a combination of the two.
"Hamas or Abbas, It Makes No Difference" the Mayor said.
"The ball is in their court, and we just have to show patience and not push any peace process until they do what they have to do."
What they have to do, he said, is, at the very minimum, to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to renounce terrorism. Then, he said, Israel and the US should sit back and see if they mean it.
"They don’t just have to say the words. Anyone can say the words. They have to show that they are ending terrorism; they have to show that they are doing what they have to do to end terrorism. I’m a strong proponent of the philosophy that we can trust, but we have to verify," he said. "If all that happens, then it will lead naturally to a peace process, but we have to wait patiently until they are ready to make it happen. And no one should make any concessions to the Palestinians until they take those steps."
The mayor also had a few things to say about Oslo. He called the concessions Israel was forced to make as part of the Oslo process before the Palestinians fulfilled any of their requirements, "mistakes."
"The US pushed Israel to make concessions, and it didn’t matter that the Palestinians did nothing to live up to their end of the bargain. This was wrong and we should never do it again," he said.
Giuliani, of course, is the man who had Yasir Arafat thrown out of Lincoln Center and refused millions of dollars of Saudi money after 9/11 from Prince Alaweed when the Saudis insisted on linking the donation to a demonization of Israel.
"I like the approach taken by Ronald Reagan, that we will gain peace only through strength. If we show weakness in Iraq, it will affect our ability to handle Iran, and that would be dangerous," he said.
"The US must make it clear that, under no circumstances, will Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Going to war with Iran would be terrible. The only thing that would be worse would be allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons," he said.
Giuliani also doesn't think much of the idea of the US containing a nuclear-armed Iran in a Cold War time stalemate. The Islamofascists, he said, "are a different kind of enemy."
"The communists in the Soviet Union and China were terrible, but didn’t make plans to come here to kill us. They didn’t send suicide bombers," he said.
Mayor Giuliani, unlike most of the candidates out there is at least saying some of the right things and showing that he understands that we no longer have the option of retreating.
What's more, he has a track record of accomplishing what he sets out to do even in unpromising circumstances.It's how he put the mafia in jail as US attorney and how he brought new York City back to life when everyone said it was impossible.
While a number of people might consider Giuliani's positions on some issues `too liberal', they might want to think about the fact that it we get the war wrong, things like abortion and gay rights won't matter. And that the last time our Republic was facing this type of danger, it took another New Yorker from the middle of the spectrum to unite a divided country, do what needed to be done, shake it out of a funk of isolationism and lead us to victory.
Let's say I'm cautiously optimistic, and that, as Winston Churchill once said, this may be the end of the beginning.
Here's the latest I've heard from the Weekend Monkey campaign...ff:
"Hidey Ho, Primates...uh, my fellow Primates...uh, my fellow... anywho, whaddup!
I apologize to all my many fans for my long absence, but as youknow, I've been campaigning hard for the Democratic presidential nomination.
I know you want to read all about my triumphant road to the White House, so I promised ff I'd give you regular updates.
I'm writing to you from Ames, Iowa, where I made an appearance at Iowa State. I just attended a pancake breakfast with the locals and helped judge a few candidates for The Clayton County Dairy Promotion Committee for Clayton County Dairy Princess, AKA Little Miss Squirt.
I've learned a lot about farm issues since I've been here, and announced my support for a new policy for federal ethanol subsidies that went over gangbusters with the locals.
Hey if it goes through, we'll be seeing Iowa sheiks with endless fields, harems of corn-fed lovelies and gold John Deere's instead of a bunch of Arabs with Rolls Royces and oil rigs! And I'm sure the primates will learn to live with additional taxes on their ethanol.
I want to make a formal statement here...John Kerry, my ex-pal bites the rotten banana.
Loserboy promised to help finance my campaign with money he had to get rid of anyway because of the campaign finance laws when he decided not to run...but now, he's flip-flopping again and `thinking about getting back into it',and the last check that grifter wrote me had a stop payment issued on it. And now, he won't even return my phonecalls!
Maybe Tur-Ray-Zah yanked his leash or something.
Anyway, this makes it more of a People's Campaign, and that's fine with me. When I'm elected, rest assured that there will be a few tax audits and eminent domain seizures of a few mansions and SUV's...and Kerry will be assigned by me as our ambassador to Gaza or Zimbabwe as a just reward.
New developments.. first of all, let me introduce you to our new campaign website WEEKEND MONKEY FOR PRESIDENT.
As the campaign becomes even more of a hellish jungle than it has already, go to the website for the latest on my triumphant swing into power as your leader.
Second, I decided to take ff's advice, and put together a real staff, and I know you want to meet them.
First of all, let me introduce Todd Terwilliger, my advance man and head of campaign security:
Todd joined the campaign in the enthusiasm generated by a really fun get together after my speech at Iowa State. He's majoring in peace and justice studies, has a drivers license and has already proven to have a cool head and a decisive decision making ability in tense situations without involving the authorities.
Next, let me introduce Linda Gruppstein, Campaign Coordinator and spokesperson:
Linda comes to us from the world of advertising, and first got involved with the Weekend Monkey campaign after helping form a `Weekend Monkey for President' club at Columbia U after my appearance there..
Next we come to Kurt Beibersnatch, Minister of Information and Propaganda:
Kurt came to the campaign from a fast track career with the fine people at Starbucks' in East Orange, New Jersey and has demonstrated his prehensile grasp of the blood sport of politics many times since he's been with us. He's also responsible for the fine website. Hey, Bush has Karl Rove, Hitler had Goebbels and I've got Beibersnatch.
Last, but certainly not least is campaign finance chairperson Lydia Hooker:
A key member of our team, she is the person who keeps the wheels greased and the campaign on track financially. Lydia comes to us after a successful entrepreneurial career in New York City and joined the Weekend Monkey campaign when she happened to see my speech at Columbia while there on a business trip.
Each of these fine young primates were willing to come aboard and interrupt their busy lives because they were willing to work for change. Well, I mean, they were working for change already in a manner of speaking, but now they work for change with the Weekend Monkey presidential campaign.
All of us join in saying `IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE! ON TO WASHINGTON!
Thanks for your support."
As I predicted, the Democrats' campaign to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney is ramping up.
Led by their post-Vietnam/Watergate era pitbull Henry Waxman ( d-CA), the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to subpoena Rice on the Iraq intelligence that led up to the war. The vote was 21-10, and on straight party lines.
"There was one person in the White House who had primary responsibility to get the intelligence about Iraq right -- and that was Secretary Rice who was then President George W. Bush's national security adviser," said committee Chairman Henry Waxman.
"The American public was misled about the threat posed by Iraq, and this committee is going to do its part to find out why."
An interesting note...the link on this is to an al-Reuters supposedly straight news article without a byline that editorializes and repeats the lie about the"administration's warnings, later proven false, that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger for nuclear arms."
Of course, as we know now, those warnings weren't false at all. Iraq did indeed send a delegation to Niger to inquire about a trade deal, which meant that Saddam was either interested in Uranium or peanuts.
And the British Butler Commission, examining the entire intel about Saddam trying to buy uranium from Niger that originated with British Intelligence still stands by that as a fact.
Rice can prepare for some intense grilling, on this and many other subjects.
In further action today, right next door the House judiciary Committee voted to give immunity to Monica Goodling,Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' White House liaison, for her testimony on why the administration fired those eight federal prosecutors, while the same House oversight committee chaired by Waxman also issued subpoenas for the Republican National Committee for testimony and documents about those White House e- mails on RNC accounts that have apparently gone missing in the prosecutors case.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a subpoena on the prosecutors' matter to Sara Taylor, deputy to presidential adviser Karl Rove.
The scent of a coup d'etat, a final revenge over George Bush and a Pelosi presidency is driving the Democrats into a feeding frenzy.
Every week, the Watcher's Council members nominate two posts each, one from the Council members and one from outside for consideration by the whole Council. The complete list of this week's Council nominations can be found at the site of our fearless leader, Watcher of Weasels
OK, here's this week's Council lineup:
1. J O S H U A P U N D I T: On winners and losers - Harry Reid and defeatism This week, I write about the remarks and actions of the Senate majority leader in informing the press that the Iraq War is `lost' and bragging that he `told Bush what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear'.
While I've been very critical of how the Bush Administration has mismanaged the war(of which Iraq is just one front) to say something like this loudly and publicly when our troops are under fire in the field is unconscionable. Not only that, but it is singularly gutless. As I wrote, if Reid, Pelosi and their colleagues truly believe this, they have a responsibility to defund the war immediately...and take the political fallout that goes with it. Instead, they are playing politics with the lives of far braver men and women, because they like the idea of our military being humiliated and defeated because people like Reid are reliving their glory days of the Vietnam era, and pave the way for a return to the White House.
I follow the news pretty closely and many Americans who are defending Reid's `truth' have no idea how this played in the Arab press and of course, with our enemies.
2. Done With Mirrors: Earth Day An intriging piece by Callimachus as he looks at Earth Day and the Global Warming controversy in his usual common sense way. Since the Earth has had an ice age roughly every ten thousand years, I think there's something to the theory he mentions that human activity has actually been staving it off.
And of course, as no one ever mentions, one of the ultimate sources of greenhouse gases is the CO2 exhalations of billions of humans every time they breathe.
3. Soccer Dad: Cohen must've got lost WAPO columnist Richard Cohen, who is, at least, ancestrally Jewish has long been a leftist critic of pretty much everything Israel does...and last year, he topped himself when he wrote a snivelling piece about how Israel was `a mistake.'
Soccer Dad examines a recent piece by Cohen in which he wonders why people single out Israel for such demonization. Could it be, just maybe, that some of these `anti-Zionist' Jew haters feel much more comfortable now about indulging in their racism because Leftist self-hating Jews like Richard Cohen and Tony Judt have provided them with cover? Ya think?
4. The Glittering Eye: One Day Has Passed This week, The Glittering Eye's Dave Schuler examines the hysterical calls for gun control in the wake of the Virginia tech shootings, and calls for some calm and common sense.
5. Right Wing Nut House : REID AND THE DEMS: COWARDLY, IMMORAL JELLYFISH Rick likewise examines Harry Reid and company, especially in terms of what he sees as their political strategy involved. Unlike me, he doesn't see Reid's remarks as unpatriotic, but we agree on the idea that if Reid and his fellow Democrats feel the war is lost, they have a moral obligation to stand on their principles and defund the war forthwith.
Of course, for them, that's not what the game is about, not by any means.
6. Rhymes With Right - The Problem With Political Speech Limitation Greg writes this week about McCain-Feingold and the First Amendment implications of limits on political spending.
7. The Colossus of Rhodey: Quota baseball Another interesting post on desegregation, as Hube fisks an article on the racial makeup of sports teams.
8. Presidential power and criminal terrorists: Bookworm Room Ms. Bookworm has a scintillating piece this week that reminds us of some history in how various President dealt with civil liberties in wartime. And frankly, next to FDR or Lincoln, Dubbyah has unfortunately been far too wishy washy on this subject.
The Constitution was never intended to be a suicide pact.
9. Eternity Road - Helots Francis also writes about the hoo-hah for strict gun control in the wake of the Virginia Tech killings. Interestingly, he compares the plight on unarmed citizenry to helots...Greek serfs with few if any rights.
10. Cheat Seeking Missiles: Kevin Granata: Virginia Tech Hero Laer also writes about the Virginia tech killings, and focuses on a hero of the tragedy, a teacher who was a military veteran and who died trying to confront the murderer physically. Had Mr. Granata been armed, lives would have been saved, undoubtedly.
11. Big Lizards: “Into Every Life, Some Reid Must Fall”Dafydd Ab Hugh likewise talks about Harry Reid and his questionable statements.
12. The Education Wonks: Merit-Based Success: James Calderwood EdWonk celebrates the acheivements of a Boy Scout who won all 122 merit badges available.
That's this week's lineup..enjoy!
I say supposedly because it's pretty common that no name personality signs a one year deal in TV on a show like 'The View' because it take a year to make the ratings and sell out the advertising.
And since O'Donnell came on board, ratings for the show have risen at least 15%, if for no other reason than people watching to see what nonsense comes out of her mouth next.
My take? I think executive producer Barbara Walters finally got fed up and told ABC that it was either her or O'Donnell.
If you're any kind of serious journalist with credentials and end up doing the day in and day out sitting there smiling next to a loud, obnoxious co-host who says that the US government pulled of 9/11 as an inside job and offers as proof the `fact' the heat doesn't melt metal ( !!), sooner or later you have to get tired of being tarred with that kind of stupidity by association.
The political circus in Turkey continues.
Islamist prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,leader of the Islamist Justice and Development Party decided not to run for the presidency after wide spread protests in Turkey by pro-secular anti-Islamists, and a frank warning from the Army.
However, in a new bid to take over the country and move it further into the Islamist camp, Erdogan is pushing Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul — a leading member of Turkey's ruling Islamist government - as the Justice and Development's presidential candidate.
Gul, of course, is very familiar to Joshua's Army members as a major player in pushing for Turkey's alignment with Iran's Islamist bloc against the West.
Gul's candidacy has deeply divided parliament and upset the country's secular establishment, which is led by the military.
And the main opposition, pro-secular Republican People's Party, which has 152 seats, said it will boycott the first round of parliamentary voting Friday. They are talking about bringing matters to the Constitutional Court to cancel the election if the first round proceeded without two-thirds of the 550 lawmakers present, which means Turkey could be forced into early general elections.
Or, the army could step in.
If Gul is elected by parliament, he would basically act as a rubber stamp to steer the country further in the direction of Islamism under Erdogan's direction. The previous president, Sezer, rejected a record number of bills and appointments of officials who were Islamist supporters.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Among them is our old pal, Imam Abu Izzadeen, who last surfaced in a famous video yelling at Home Secretary John Reid about his nerve in coming into `a Muslim neighborhood' and saying that British Muslims need to cooperate with the authorities tocombat Islamic terrorism in their adopted country.
The six were indicted on charges of inciting others to commit acts of terrorism and on charges in connection with terrorist fund raising.
Izzadeen is already facing charges for making speeches inciting terrorism during sermons in Birmingham.
According to Scotland Yard, a number of searches were going on in connection with the investigation.
"The arrests form part of a long-term pro-active and complex investigation into alleged incitement and radicalisation for the purposes of terrorism, as well as alleged provision of financial support for international terrorism," a Yard spokesperson said.
In view of al Qaeda threats to unleash a major attack on Britain as Blair leaves office, hopefully some of these arrests will provide some needed intel on Britain's fifth column in its Muslim community.
The Hamas military arm, Ezz-e-Din announced that it had shot 80 missiles and mortar rounds at Israeli targets in retaliation for IDF operations. Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said later: “This is a message to the Zionist enemy that our strikes will continue. We have the means and we hold Gilead Shalit.”
The Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades and Jihad Islami also took part.
Meanwhile, IDF troops arrested six Palestinian terrorists in Judea and Samria(the West Bank ) over the last two days, including a cell five Islamic Jihad members in Hebron.
Near Jenin, the Palestinians tried to ambush an IDF patrol and opened fire them, while in Nablus, the IDF found a 20-kg. bomb that was probably being readied for another homicide bombing attempt..which IDF sappers detonated in a controlled explosion.
As for the rocket and mortar attacks coming from Gaza, the IDF disclosed that the rocket attacks were a cover for another attempted kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.
In reality, of course, there never was a `ceasefire' as on going attacks continued to take place against Israel, including a massive bombing planned for Tel Aviv..though they were mostly foiled by the IDF and Shin Bet.
The rocket fire was slightly curtailed, but this ended because of three factors. One, the re-arming of Hamas' arsenal by Iran and Syria - two, the successful completion of the unity government brokered by Mecca - and three, their increased funding the Palestinians have received from the US, The EU, Iran, and the Arabs.
This, of course was not an arbitrary decision by Hamas, but done in coordination with its Saudi, Syrian and Iranian allies, and in conjunction with Hezbollah, who we can probably also expect to ramp up their attacks as time goes on.
Significantly, Hamas' real leader Khalid Meshaal is meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo, Egypt this weekend to plot strategy.
In response, the Olmert government has already ruled out any major retaliation, but said it will concentrate on a `targeted response'...which probably means some more empty buildings will be expensively detonated, or a few Hamas cockroaches will be incinerated in a car-BQ.
The Olmert government is doing virtually nothing to combat the military buildup by the Palestinians in Gaza or Judea and Samaria ( the West Bank)whichincludes massive arms smuggling through Egypt and virtually easy access by Hamas and Hezbollah troops to Iran and Syria for training.As a matter of fact, my sources tell me that iranian revolutionary Guards instructors are openly working with Hamas and Fatah in Gaza...and perhaps in the West Bank as well.
Originally, you'll recall, part of the deal brokered by the US and EU with the Palestinians for Israel's retreat from Gaza was firm monitoring of the Rafah crossing to stop any arms smuggling. Like Resolution 1701 in Lebanon, this has become a grim joke as the Philadelphi Corridor and Gaza have been wide open for over two years now.
It's also obvious that the attempts by Israel, the EU and the US to deal with `non-Hamas' ministers of the new Unity Palestinian government simply took the pressure off them, gave them legitimacy and allowed them the time and opportunity to build up their forces and arsenals and prepare for war.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Money doesn't talk, it screams - Bob Dylan
What's the best way to handle corporations that knowingly or unknowingly provide material support to terrorists and their supporters?
In Los Angeles, there is a notorious radio station known as KPFK. It's part of the taxpayer funded Pacifica Network and considered public radio, although what comes out over the airwaves makes NPR or even Air America look like Right Wing die hard conservatives.
In common with much of the Angry Left, Israel bashing and Jew hatred are staple parts of its broadcast day. A couple of years ago, the station lost a number of donors after `Afrikan Liberation Week' which was essentially an on-air orgy of anti-Semitism that Louis Farakhan and Yasir Arafat would have loved.
Since then, much of KPFK's Jew hatred is more skillfully camouflaged as `anti-Zionism' and one of the station's flagship programs is `Radio Intifada,' which, as its name indicates, could best be described as an on-air demonization of Israel's very right to exist and a rationalization of terrorism against its Jewish population.
Like many public radio stations, KPFK and its shows receives corporate donations of money and goods, often from mainstream firms who only know that it's public radio and see it as good PR without really knowing what's being put out over the airwaves.
Up until a short while ago, KPFK and Radio Intifada were receiving donations from Berkley-based Peet's Coffee, Trader Joe's Markets, Gelson's Markets and Whole Foods. When these firms were notified what their donations were funding,Gelson's and Trader Joe's promptly curtailed their donations to KPFK and Radio Intifada. Whole Foods and Peet's Coffee did not.
Daryl Tempkin, PHD runs a lecture bureau and educational center called The Israel Institute - and he decided to make his views known to Whole Foods and Peet's by writing letters.
While Peet's refused to even acknowledge him or anyone else's complaints Whole Foods did write him back - and essentially told him thanks for your concerns, now go away.
Here's what the correspondence looked like:
March 30, 2007
Dear Whole Foods Leaders,
I know you have received many letters asking you to discontinue your support of KPFK.
I understand that in running a company, many different advertisers come asking for your advertising dollar. Businesses often do not know what they are supporting from their advertising. However, in the case of KPFK, it is somewhat clear that they are a radical agenda driven organization.
If you didn't know before, by now you are aware that KPFK is the leading radio station promoting a radical leftist philosophy which is abhorrent to many of your customers. You will have to consider what client base you want to attract. As you know so well, your business is not just about selling food, you are selling and promoting a lifestyle. Your customers know that and that is an additional reason that they give you their shopping dollar.
You have to decide what your "lifestyle" image will fully reflect. You will have to publicly go on the record and let your buying audience know how and where you stand.
In today's world, people expect a lot more from a company than just selling a product, especially when that company has ventured into the public debate.
I along with many others will support you choosing more moderate causes to ally your political advertising dollar.
Daryl Temkin, Ph.D.
April 5, 2007
Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns; we appreciate and welcome your feedback.
The mission of Whole Foods Market is to provide the highest quality natural and organic products available and to appeal to customers who are interested in the benefits to be derived from consuming high quality food regardless of their political persuasion, religious beliefs or their position on controversial issues.
Whole Foods Market's donation policy allows our stores the freedom to choose organizations that are important to our communities and Team Members. We do not call out any specific organizations by name as to who our stores can or cannot donate to. We are intimately connected to the health and economy of each community we serve, and feel it is our responsibility to give back to those communities in meaningful ways. We support many non-profit groups during the course of the year. KPFK radio station is just one of the many groups that we support. We make donation choices based on specific criteria and feel that public radio meets those criteria.
Thank you for your comments and hope you will continue to support Whole Foods Market because of our commitment to bringing you the most healthful natural foods available.
Customer Communications Specialist
Global Communications Team
Tel: 512-542-0670 Fax: 512-482-7670
Let's be clear. Whole Foods, Peet's or anyone else have a perfect right to give their corporate dollars to whomever they want. But there are consequences to those decisions, since potential consumers also have a voice in where their money gets spent.
Once the e-mails started coming to Whole Foods corporate ( and I like to think I had a very small part in spreading the word) and more importantly, once Whole Foods business dropped off a bit as their position on KPFK and Radio Intifada became known, things changed, and as Dr. Temkin genteely put it `Whole Foods now has a clearer understanding of the impact of their sponsorships and they look forward to serving the community in a more aware and responsible manner.'
Whole Foods is to be congratulated on seeing the light and dropping their support for this station and its programs, and interested parties may do so by e-mailing the president at firstname.lastname@example.org and Vice-President A. C. Gallo at email@example.com
As for Peet's, they're apparently still down for KPFK and Radio Intifada's agenda. Think about that the next time you make a decision on buying coffee or tea, and more importantly, let Peet's know about it at Peet's Coffee & Tea
And above all, remember that you can make a difference.
The House and Senate have agreed on an Iraq/Afghanistan war funding bill. They will vote on it Wednesday or Thursday,then send it to President Bush for his signature after it passes.
For his part, Bush vowed to veto the proposed bill, saying that "I will strongly reject an artificial timetable (for) withdrawal and/or Washington politicians trying to tell those who wear the uniform how to do their job."
Given that the Democrats lack the votes to overide Bush's veto, this is nothing less than a collosal waste of time.
The bill would start removing U.S. troops from Iraq as early as this July, with a goal of a total exit by March 2008.
Some of the billions of dollars of special interest funding the Democrats used to bribe people to vote for the bill originally were removed, but much of it remains and Congress also stuck in a raise in the Federal Minimum Wage, from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour.
The bill also establishes benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet, including disarming the sectarian militias, allowing former Baath Party cronies of Saddam to participate in government and the final passage of a oil revenue-sharing law.
Given the current climate, meeting those benchmarks by this July even if the Iraqi government was that mythical Arab democracy the president was so excited about has some pretty long odds.
Speaking of democracy,both sides of this argument are letting some absolutely incredible things come out of their mouths...though, in fairness, I have to give overall points for vacuity and viciousness to Reid and the Democrats.
Senator Harry Reid had some of his normal insults for President Bush on hand, saying that the president was `living in denial'. He also took care to massage the Angry Left.
"I understand the restlessness that some feel. Many who voted for change in November anticipated dramatic and immediate results in January,'' he said. "But like it or not, George W. Bush is still the commander in chief - and this is his war." Reid said.
How odd....now, I thought that the whole country was at war. Perhaps that's what happens when you're a Democrat with your own foreign policy as opposed to the way things used to work in American government.
And people like Reid talk about the president being the one who's ignoring the Constitution!
Sheer grandstanding and posturing, from both sides.
If Reid, Pelosi and the Democrats had any courage and ethics whatsoever, they would have the courage to defund what they both have called a `lost war' and a disaster immediately...and take the political hit this would rightly entail. As a matter of fact, they have a moral obligation to do so, instead of merely sabotaging things.
And as far as President Bush is concerned, he should stop hiding behind the support most of the American people have for the troops and quit using that admirable sentiment to muddle through on policies that failed a long time ago.
The president should take the responsibility to come up with real strategies for victory like dropping the Arab democracy fetish and using Iraq as a base to deal with real problems like Iran and the other Muslims nation states that support and finance jihad against the West...and start communicating honestly with the American people for a change.
What a concept..we could actually start fighting this war to win.
Now that would make sense, instead of both sides merely folding one's arms like a five year old and saying `Won't! Won't Won't!"
Fundamentalist Islam makes a huge point of being against the 'immorality' of Western culture...but I guess the definition of `immorality' all depends in how you look at it and who's profitting from it, as evidenced by the widespread sex slavery in Iran.
The mullahs have had a great deal of success in controlling society by controlling Iran's women, including a gender segregation and a two tiered system of rights that could only be referred to as (ahem) apartheid.
And yes, there's money in it too. Apparently there is a widespread trade in buying and selling Iranian girls for prostitution and sex slavery.
According to an official source in Tehran, there has been a 600 percent increase in the number of teen-age girls involved in prostitution. In Tehran alone, there are an estimated 84,000 women and girls in the sex trade, with around 250 brothels that reportedly operate in the city. But the big dollars, of course, are in the international trade, with thousands of Iranian women and girls sold into sexual slavery abroad, to the point where it is a major earner of foreign currency.
Government officials themselves are involved in buying and selling women and girls, most of whom come from impoverished rural areas. High unemployment -- 28 percent for youths from 15 to 29 years of age, and 43 percent for women from 15 to 20 years of age is the driving force in luring women to take risky offers as `maids', `dancers' `hostesses' or `secretaries' only to find out too late that they've been sold into sex slavery.
A number of the mullahs, who control every aspect of life in Iran are also reportedly involved in the business.
Popular destinations for victims of the slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, which is where the big money is. According to the head of the Tehran provincial judiciary, traffickers target girls between 13 and 17 (and some reports of girls as young as 8 and 10) to send to Arab countries, where Persian women and girls are in high demand and command a premium price.
Move along, nothing to see here....
Federal officers arrested Mohammad "Mo" Alavi, 49, in Los Angeles this month and charged him with one count of violating a trade embargo, which prohibits Americans from exporting goods and services to Iran. It seems that the former engineer at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station might just have illegally taken software codes to Iran and downloaded details of control rooms, reactors and designs of the nation's biggest nuclear plant.
Of course. no one's using the word, `espionage'.
"The investigation has not led us to believe this information was taken for the purpose of being used by a foreign government or terrorists to attack us," said FBI spokeswoman Deborah McCarley.
So.....why was Alavi able to peddle this in Iran? And whom else would buy it but the government?
According to officials with the Arizona Public Service Co., which operates Palo Verde, the software doesn't pose a security risk because it doesn't control any of the nuclear plant's operating systems and is mostly used to train employees.
But..meanwhile, they've admitted that they now have changed procedures to prohibit former employees from accessing software when they leave the company. No such procedure was in place when Alavi quit APS last August...and remember, this is in a post 9/11 environment!
Meanwhile, Alawi Alavi, an Iranian who's been a naturalized citizen since 1976, is being held without bail in California, in spite of the fact that they're only charging him, believe it or, with a trade embargo violation.
According to Alavi's lawyer ( a public defender, of course) "Mr. Alavi is a U.S. citizen. He respects the court process, and he asserts his innocence," said Milagros Cisneros of the Federal Defender's Office in Phoenix. She said the government's indictment of her client is "more smoke than fire."
She didn't feel like talking about specific charges in the indictment, including whether Alavi gained unauthorized access to the software and bought a laptop computer weeks before he resigned and moved to Iran.
The federal judge in Phoenix wanted Alavi held without bail, because he posed a substantial flight risk.
"If released, it would not be difficult for him to sever electronic monitoring and leave the country by land," Judge Neil Wake said. "Ultimately, returning to Iran would require some effort but would not be difficult once he left the United States.
"Alavi's most important associations - family, home, business investment, intended employment and future plans - are all with Iran, not the United States."
Alavi faces a mere 21 months in prison maximum, if he's convicted.
Alavi was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on April 9 when he returned from Iran to join his wife, who arrived in the United States two weeks earlier to give birth to their child.
Now, here's where it gets interesting.
According to Judge Wake, Alawi was planning on relocating permanently in Iran, where he's invested substantial money in an Iranian company and owns a house.
And,authorities say that this unemployed engineer recently deposited $98,000 into a U.S. bank account.
Curious how that all worked out.
A month before Alawi gave notice at Palo Verde, he apparently bought a laptop computer and used it to download the 3KeyMaster software system.
That software is used to train employees on the operation of nuclear reactors and provides employees with emergency scenarios and teaches them how to react with proper procedures. According to court records, the system contains detailed information on the reactor control rooms as well as maps, drawings, schematics and designs of the power plant.
AThe Feds say Alavi asked a Palo Verde software engineer he was friends with to recommend a laptop and help him obtain a user name and password to access the software system.
On Aug. 9, Alavi bought a one-way ticket to Tehran, Iran. His last day at the company was Aug. 14. Two days later, he left the country with his wife. In October, authorities say, the software system was accessed from a person using the Palo Verde user ID in Tehran.
The software's maker, Western Services in Maryland, had no idea that Alavi had resigned from Palo Verde and were never told by Palo Verde..so they didn't try to restrict access, according to a federal affidavit.
Nobody from Palo Verde even informed Western Services that Alavi had quit his job at the power plant, the FBI said. TNor did the plant even tell the software company to remove Alavi's user name or password from the company's Web site!
Sunday, April 22, 2007
As press censorship in Russia increases and the government increasingly takes over the media, there are new rules for journalists - demands by the goverment for 50% `good news' and for the US to be portrayed as an enemy.
Russia's largest independent radio network, the Russian News Service was recently taken over by businesses loyal to the Kremlin, including Lukoil, though the exact ownership structure is not public. At their first meeting with journalists since taking control, the managers laid down the law to broadcasters and journalists - from now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be “positive.”
In addition, opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy, according to journalists employed by the network.
What was defined as `positive news'?
“When we talk of death, violence or poverty, for example, this is not positive,” said one editor at the station who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. “If the stock market is up, that is positive. The weather can also be positive.”
Well, maybe not the weather....not in Russia.
The radio news had been a significant source of independent journalism in Russia, and aside from its own broadcasts provided news updates for a network of music-formatted radio stations, called Russian Radio, with seven million listeners . Now, the implementation of this “50 percent positive” rule at the Russian News Service sharply reduces the small number of news outlets not controlled by the Kremlin, directly or through the state national gas company, Gazprom,which is a major owner of media outlets.
The three national television networks are already state controlled. Rossiya and Channel One are owned by the state, while NTV was seized from a Kremlin critic in 2001 and now belongs to Gazprom. Last weekend, the state channels mostly ignored the violent dispersal of opposition protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where 54 people were beaten bad enough by police to require medical treatment, according to Human Rights Watch.
But the lead story that day on Rossiya TV showcased Russian Premier Vladimir Putin attending a martial arts competition, with the Belgian actor Jean-Claude Van Damme as his guest.
This month, the Russian Parliament passed a measure banning “extremism” in politics and state prosecutors have gone after individuals who post critical comments on Web chat rooms.
Not only that, but the Parliament is also considering extending state control to Internet sites that report news, as more Russians become affluent enough to have computers.
On Tuesday, the police raided the Educated Media Foundation, a nongovernmental group sponsored by United States and European donors that's mission is to nuture an independent news media in Russia over the web. The police seized records and computers used as servers for the Web sites of independent groups, which caused a number of them to go dark. One of them was a Web site run by the Glasnost Defense Foundation, a media rights group, which published bulletins on violations of press freedoms.
The tactics used against independent media in Russia are more sophisticated than the old Soviet iron hand. Instead, the government is imposing state ownership on media companies throgh government owned companies like Gazprom, and replacing editors critical of the Putin government with loyalists.
New censorship laws are often vague in content, with lots of leeway for their selective interpertation.
The Russian government appears to be orchestrating a crackdown on political opposition ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections in the fall that are being carefully orchestrated by the Putin government to pretty much make the legislature a rubber stamp.
I hope America's Jews - and for that matter, anyone who abhors racism and hypocrisy - are watching closely.
Full disclosure...Senator Clinton spoke before this group Friday, and, I'm certain, bent over in exactly the same way.
The votes are in for the first round of the French presidential elections, and the French have voted themselves a clear choice for the second round.
The two candidates for the run-off in the second round couldn't be more different in the alternatives they offer for France's future.
Finishing first was France's ex-Interior Minister, Nicholas Sarkozy, with 29.5%, a conservative who favors a break with the past, a revitalized French economy based on free markets and privatization and a more pro-American, pro-Western stance in foreign policy.
Finishing second was the Socialists Ségolène Royal with 26.3%. She has views diametrically opposed to Sakorzy in almost every respect, favoring a rise in the minimum wage, higher taxes on corporations, more government control of the economy and a cultivation of the anti-American attitude favored by much of the French Left.
The ferver of rivalry and confrontation with America would certainly be diminished, and might even disappear, under Sarkozy. Under Royal it appears likely to be cultivated.
In one of her last campaign appearances, in the southwest city of Toulouse, Royale brought her followers to their feet cheering by appealing to disdain and defiance toward the US, saying that France would not ` get down on bended knees before George Bush and America!"
Sarkozy has a very different view of things. When one of Royal's fellow Socialists called him the President Bush's "lapdog" and an "American neo-conservative with a French passport," he said:
"I'd have a harder time shaking hands with a certain number of other heads of states which are not democracies." said Sarkozy. "Profound, sincere and unfailing French friendship with the United States is not submission."
Very different that what we've heard from France for some time, n'est pa?
America, of course, is an issue but far from the main one. Revitalizing France's moribund economy, doing something about the almost 9% unemployment, and dealing with France's increasingly belligerent and separatist Muslim population are France's primary concerns, and resulted in an 84% turnout.
While Sakorzy won the first round, the campaign for the second round is likely to be even more intense. The Left is united as never before against a man they call a neocon and a fascist...and for France's Muslims, who voted socialist almost in a bloc and for a large chunk of the French `anti-Zionist' Left, Sarkozy's Jewish heritage on his mother's side as well as his firm stance on law and order in France's cities are as polarizing as his economic views and his pro-American stance.
There were two other major vote getters in the first round - Union for French Democracy's François Bayrou, who got 18.8 of the vote and took a primarily center-Left position, trying to combine attacking Sarkozy as a conservative with a more centrist stance than the Socialists, and Jean-Marie Le Pen's far right party, which ended up with 11%.
The big question is how much of Bayrou's vote will go to Royal. If both Sarkozy and Royal receive the same percentages they did in the first round,Royal would have to get all of Bayrou's voters to win a narrow victory over Sarkozy - provided he gets none of Le Pen's votes, which is unlikely.
AT this point, I'd call it for Sarkozy par un nez ...or perhaps a lot more.
As the home of Europe's largest Muslim population and the key to EU cooperation with the West, this is a highly important election when it comes to the War on Jihad, and one that may presage a trend..which is why I've been covering it, and why it's important.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Some of you may recall that I did a piece on how PBS silences moderate Muslims and canceled a documentary on Islamic extremism for political reasons.
One of the moderate and patriotic Muslim highlighted in that canceled documentary was Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of Phoenix, a navy veteran, a devout Muslim and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), a non-profit organization of Muslim Americans who advocate patriotism, constitutional democracy and a separation of church and state and calls for Muslims to take an active role in combating Islamism and terrorism.
Today, Dr. Jasser has a piece that focuses on how the moderate voices of Islam are being deliberately stifled by political correctness and by Islamist influence within the dinosaur media and government. With courageous Muslim voices like his that refused to be silenced an dgive the lie to the notion that this is a `war against Islam', there's indeed hope for light at the end of the tunnel.
Here's a sample:
"As one of the subjects of the documentary, I was able to experience first-hand the professionalism and in-depth journalistic standards of veteran filmmaker, Martyn Burke, and his first-class team of consummate professionals. It was refreshing to have a documentary set out objectively to look into the deep-seated internal struggles of anti-Islamist Muslims like myself. Our work at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) here in Phoenix has been riddled with continual blowback and resistance in many forms from the power structure of the activist Muslim community in the Phoenix Valley. The Valley Council of Imams, the local Muslim Voice newspaper, and organizations like CAIR-AZ have provided a laboratory of typical Islamist responses to an American organization of Muslims, like AIFD, who are trying to rescue spiritual Islam from the death grip of Islamists--Islam vs. Islamists. I do this out of love for my faith and its spiritual path to the God of Abraham in order to free it from the corruption of the political imam which has become so ubiquitous.
I have previously discussed the harm of our government's enabling of Islamists (like CAIR, MPAC, MAS, MSA, or ISNA) in the United States and how the governmental endorsement of Islamists publicly empowers them and allows them to dodge their responsibility of countering Islamism as an ideology. This order of magnitude is greater in impact when it concerns the media's inability to wage the debate of the "struggle for the soul of Islam". Stories about Islam and Muslims have been more and more ubiquitous since 9-11 and now are actually commonplace. Yet, the actual debate within the Muslim community has barely begun. Where's the disconnect? Look no further than the Islamist enablers in the media.
When so many ask across the nation, "where are the moderate voices of Islam?", one cannot help lately but exclaim that they are being suffocated by misguided political correctness and by Islamist influence within mainstream media and government. The PBS censorship of the documentary, Islam vs. Islamists, highlights one of the best examples to date of the symbiosis of both government complicity and media complicity with the Islamist ideology."
Read it all here:
Attorney General Alberto Gonazales has had a remarkably bad last couple of days.
The furor over the firing of 8 federal prosecutors for what appear to be partisan motives under his watch remains a scandal that refuses to die, and his evasiveness, apologetic manner and obvious discomfort in testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee have only increased the calls for his resignation.
Time and again Thursday, the Attorney General said he had a hazy memory about his role in the firings of eight federal prosecutors. Seventy-one times, in fact.
Gonzales has admitted what he called `mistakes' but insisted: "It would be improper to remove a U.S. attorney to interfere with, or influence a particular prosecution for partisan political gain. I did not do that. I would never do that."
Senators on the committee -- both Democrats and Republicans -- weren't persuaded in the least...and many of them seem to want Gonzales gone.
"The best way to put this behind us is your resignation," said Senator Tom Coburn (r-OK).
"For the good of the country, resign," said Senator Charles Schumer(d-NY).
Jeff Sessions(r-AL) also had some hard words about the Attorney General "I think it's going to be difficult for him to be an effective leader," said Sessions, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor.
"At this point, I think (Gonzales) should be given a chance to think it through and talk to the president about what his future should be."
A major turning point in the hearings was Gonzales' inability to recall attending a November 27, 2006 meeting at which the firings were discussed...even when documents provided by the Justice Department show he was present at the meeting!
Calling most of Gonzales' explanations for the firings "a stretch," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham ( r-SC) plainly thought that the firings simply came down to personality conflicts the Justice Department and White House had with the former prosecutors.
"You said something that struck me — that sometimes it just came down to these were not the right people at the right time," said Graham. "If I applied that standard to you, what would you say?"
That one brought gales of laughter from some of the spectators the gallery, particularly when Gonzales responded:"I believe that I continue to be effective as the attorney general of the United States. We've done some great things."
Senator Chuck Grassley ( r-IA) also hit out at Gonzales, criticizing him for now accepting responsibility for the firings after initially saying he had played only a minor role. "Why is your story changing?" Grassley asked.
In response, like the lawyer he is, Gonzales replied that his earlier answers had been "overbroad," the result of inadequate preparation.
Translation? He's been instructed by the President to take the heat for carrying out the President's orders, which is all cabinet officers like the Attorney General do anyway.
This is hardly going to be the last attack on the Bush Administration or on the President,given the climate in Washington these days. Dennis Kucinich ( d-IL) has already said that he will introduce impeachment articles against Bush and Cheney without specifying what grounds he plans to proceed on, and Henry Waxman ( d-CA) the new head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is is considering a subpoena for Condi Rice an dother White House figures as part of a number of frenetic investigations he's pursuing.
Waxman announced Friday that his panel will hold a business meeting next Wednesday to consider whether to issue four subpoenas for testimony and documents. According to the committee’s press release, the subpoenas are aimed at obtaining:
- Rice’s testimony regarding the fabricated claim that Iraq sought uranium from Niger and other pre-war intelligence issues;
- the testimony of former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card regarding the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert identity and White House security procedures;
- Republican National Committee (RNC) documents related to possible violations of the Presidential Records Act and the Hatch Act by White House officials;
- and contacts between the White House and MZM, a federal contractor implicated in bribery charges.
With all the relentless digging going on and a partisan hack and confirmed Bush hater like John Conyers in command of the House Judiciary Committee, it's not looking like impeachment proceedings is the most off-the-wall call at the moment.
And remember...if it succeeds,we will have none other than Nancy Pelosi as president, which has probably been the goal all along.