Thursday, June 28, 2007

For years I took hook, line and sinker the approach to immigration, even illegal immigration, advocated by the amnesty crowd, such as the WSJ.

In fact, to this day I agree with the "work ethic" points of the amnesty crowd, such as those made by a recent caller and restaurant owner to the Bill Bennett morning show, who stated that his Hispanic immigrants on staff - which he further stated were legal and had paperwork in order - were hands down better workers than his non-immigrant (read: white and black American kids) staff. To summarize, the restaurant owner stated he didn't have to worry about his immigrant staff members calling in sick because they partied the night before, or missing a shift to see a concert, or taking umpteen smoke breaks a night. I don't doubt that, and whether for manual labor or more technical and professional labor (IT, nursing, etc.) the US need take in 'X' amount of legal immigrants to suffice this need.

On the flip side, my fiance's parents were recently involved in a car accident whose faulty driver was, you guessed it, an illegal with no insurance. So anecdotal evidence can go either way.

The problem I have, and what is most swaying my opinion, however, are the efforts by pro-amnesty immigration groups, including media, elected officials, and various advocacy groups, to simply demonize, ad hominem, those who dare retort, offer cost analysis data and impact to the welfare state, or cite post-9-11 terrorism concerns over an estimated 12 million and growing illegal aliens.

In my mind they've become nothing more than race-card playing Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons. Their methods, however, are very effective. For Example:

[USA Today] One big factor behind the [Hispanic voter] flight from the GOP: a heated debate over immigration in which congressional Republicans' remarks on illegal immigrants have offended many Hispanic voters.

...Hispanics will be more wary in 2008, predicts her sister, Gilda Lopez, 56, a speech pathologist and reliable Democrat. With a crisis in Iraq and questions at home about the GOP's attitudes toward Hispanics, she says, "I cannot understand how a Hispanic person could vote Republican."

... Some Hispanics have been alarmed and offended by the harsh rhetoric of some congressional Republicans in the immigration debate and the opposition by most of the GOP presidential field to designing a path to legal status for illegal immigrants now in the USA.

"People think just because I'm Hispanic, I'll open the gates and let them all come over," says Martha Gutierrez, 52, a middle school history teacher from Corpus Christi. That's not true, she says, but "a lot of us look at this as a more practical matter." The idea of forcing an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to leave is "crazy," she says.

"This country is based on immigrants, and now they want to send them all back?" says Mario Morales, 29, an engineer in San Antonio. "It'll hurt the economy, and it is a little racist."

The entire article is intellectually dishonest and race-baiting. To disguise their own opinion on immigration, USA Today cherry picks persons from the Hispanic masses to offer those opinions, with no retort or objectivity. How's that for Fairness Doctrine?

I've yet to find a single example of any conservative promoting a round up of 12 million illegals. That's (race-)bait and switch: They take a ridiculous position and attempt to package it as one belonging to the mainstream amnesty opponents.

The point is that like the enforcement of any law, one simply has to make somewhat an effort for it to be effective. One needn't catch every single burglar, or Wall Street white-collar criminal, for our laws and system to be effective.

But why bother with a "legal status for illegal immigrants" -- also known as amnesty -- so long as there is no enforcement of existing immigration laws? For that matter, why even have immigration laws? Heck, if "we can't catch every tax evader," one could argue, why have tax laws? Why have laws period?

Here's the saddest fact of the entire immigration debacle: By restructing the system and clearing the back-logs of legal Hispanic immigrant applicants we could get those desired laborers anyway, while avoiding or limiting the number of problems - loss of tax revenue; drain to welfare, medicare, social security, health care; crime.

Instead the numbers will grow unchecked. Of those numbers, yes, many will be professional, technical or skilled, as the WSJ notes, but large numbers will be flat-out increases to crime, drains to the economy and social services with no production or taxable revenue.

It's Statistics 101. It has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with poverty and mathematics. And the problems are heavily compounded because our society is not appropriately assimilating the large numbers of immigrants -- assimilation to learn English, for starters, because there's a direct correlation between not learning English and poverty.

All one need do is witness recent rioting in France to understand the issues surrounding unchecked illegal immigration.

In other words, by failing to enforce first and demonizing those who do, the pro-amnesty groups get all the problems, the potential for Balkanization in a few generations, and maybe the next Mohammed Atta sneaking through, when had they simply addressed the concerns of those opposed to these Congressional Amnesty bills (a latest poll finds only 20 percent approval) they could, in the end, get the economic and political gains that they wanted anyway.

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[BBC] It [fuel rationing] is a dangerous move for any elected government, especially in an oil-rich country like Iran, where people think cheap fuel is their birthright and public transport is very limited, she says.

Elected government? Iran? Really? Is the BBC that stupid and naive? Or do they just think their readers are? Even the New York Times editors call Iranian elections a "sham exercise."

If you're not educated on Iran's "elected" government, here's a refresher from Mark Bowden, author of Guests of the Ayatollah:

The term "republic" is double-talk. The elected government is run by a small group of privileged clerics who decide what candidates and what laws are acceptable, who control the military and the secret police, and whatever else they wish, and who stifle dissent, beating up or locking up those they don't like....

All laws and candidates for any public post must be approved by him [the Ayatollah] and the Guardian Council, a twelve-member body of clerics and judges that he appoints. The elected government of Iran is a kind of toy democracy that serves at his pleasure. It consists of an elected president, currently the populist ultraconservative former mayor of Tehran, Ahmadinejad, the Majlis, and a judiciary. The mullahs tolerate just enough of a semblance of democracy and freedom to maintain the pretense of a democracy

.... [After Khatami's 1996 election] There was a brief blossoming of free speech and debate, opposition newspapers sprang up, and Iran began to smell the prospect of real freedom. There was heady talk of Iran "evolving" peacefully toward democracy. Khatami encoded the hopes of many in the legislation that would have freed Iran's lawmakers from the veto power of the Guardians Council.The mullahs stopped that fast. Ayatollah Khamenei vetoed the legislation, which provoked some rioting on college campuses in 2003 and some spontaneous heretical Pro-American displays, but such outbursts were quickly subdued. Early in 2005, the Guardians Council simply crossed all reform candidates off the ballot

.... Writers and artists must be licensed to work for any of the major news outlets, or for their work to be published or shown. A jury representing the ministries of information and culture weighs applicants and decides which pass political and religious muster

.... In the current crackdown more than a hundred reform newspapers and magazines have been banned. Many formerly tolerated journalists are out of work. To attempt any unlicensed work means risking being hauled in to chat with a polished but unyielding middle-management Information Ministry zealot with the power to fire, arrest, torture, and even execute enemies of the state, although in the Land of the Bordbari [Iran], such measures are no longer frequently required. Some writers are silenced by threats to keep their children from acceptance at universities, a critical path to future success.Without a free press it is hard to know how most people feel about progress toward the umma [community of Muslims].

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I'm not a big Coulter fan but the way this went down was truly a telling statement about media "fairness."

The blatant media dishonesty is best described by Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center:

"When I first heard the sound-bite of Ann Coulter's remarks calling for the assassination of John Edwards, I was appalled. Then I read the entire quote, and was doubly appalled—at the media themselves. I have never seen a person's words so blatantly, and dishonestly distorted. When one reads, or listens to Ann's entire statement, it is immediately apparent that she was wishing for no such thing."

Here is the quote being run by some of the top media:

Ann Coulter: "If I'm gonna' say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot." (ABC, Good Morning America, June 25.)

Here is the entire quote:

Ann Coulter: "But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So, I've learned my lesson. If I'm gonna' say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot." (ABC, Good Morning America, June 25.)

"Ann Coulter was making the point that (a) a leftist like Bill Maher made the serious statement that it might be a positive thing to have Vice President Dick Cheney killed by terrorists," Brent Bozell continued, and, "(b) it received no condemnation from the national press; and therefore (c) she would escape negative media scrutiny in the future were she to take that line against John Edwards.

"It is an inescapable truth that Ann Coulter was dripping with sarcasm when she made her remark. It is also an inescapable truth that every TV, radio, and print outlet that has run the shortened version of her remarks is distorting her words—deliberately. Some have run the full-quote, such as the morning shows on CBS, ABC and NBC. Good for them.

"But Ann Coulter is owed an apology from those outlets, including NBC's Nightly News, The Washington Post and CNN's American Morning, which have mis-reported her comments. And conservatives, take note: Today it's Coulter, tomorrow it may be you. The left has demonstrated that it will stop at nothing, including flat-out dishonesty, to undermine our leaders."




If you've never visited Brain Terminal, run by the young Evan Coyne Maloney, you should. I discovered him years ago after my buddy at FrogBrother sent me a link to his documentaries on political correctness, war protesters and a few other campus topics. He's smart. So smart, in fact, that even Michael Moore had to give him props for his intelligence and cajones -- Maloney on camera surprised and confronted Moore over Hollywood's left-wing slant, with Moore responding basically, 'yeah, you're right.'

Anyway, moving along, the following is Weekly Standards' Sonny Bunch comparing the NY Times review of Maloney's latest film, Indoctrinate U, to their review of Moore's latest film. Guess which one got the praise?

The good folks over at the New York Times finally got around to taking a look at Indoctrinate U in the education section yesterday. As we might have expected, the Times's take on the film was less than flattering--indeed, the author seems to use Evan Coyne Maloney's film as little more than an introductory device to tell us how few restrictions are placed on free speech on campus.

Maloney has done a fine job dismantling the Times piece, which went so far as to praise university administrators for reopening newspapers they'd previously shut-down for what they perceived as objectionable political content:

Oddly, one of the examples cited in the article (but not the film) was the case of a student paper published by Vassar's Moderate, Independent and Conservative Student Alliance. The paper was de-funded and shut down for a year after publishing a piece criticizing the school's funding of special "social centers" for minority and gay students. But because the paper was eventually allowed to start publishing again--the following year--the Vassar case is presented as one in which "[u]ltimately, free speech was respected."

Sorry, but shutting down a paper for a year is not a benign event, and it is certainly not one in which we can say "free speech was respected." If Homeland Security shut down the Times for a year after exposing ways that we track terrorist financing, I'm sure they'd understand my position on this.

I've already written up my own thoughts on the film, so I won't go into it any more here. But it is useful to contrast the treatment this documentary received with that of another controversial flick making the rounds: Sicko. A.O. Scott reviewed the new Michael Moore picture for the Times in a modestly celebratory manner. While Maloney's film is dismissed as "just a pastiche of notorious events," Moore's is praised for making an "argument [that] is illustrated with anecdotes and statistics--terrible stories about Americans denied medical care or forced into bankruptcy to pay for it; grim actuarial data about life expectancy and infant mortality; damning tallies of dollars donated to political campaigns."

Those interested in seeing some other "anecdotes and statistics" that argue America's health care "crisis" is overblown and that socialized medicine is dangerous to your health can check out Free Market Cure, a project brought to us by one of the primary financiers of Indoctrinate U, Stuart Browning.

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A century and a half after the fact, President Abraham Lincoln's leadership during the Civil War is widely revered and credited with having preserved the Union and having freed the slaves. At the time, though, he was widely reviled for staying the course. We can profit by looking to Lincoln's example as we consider our options in Iraq.

By the end of the Civil War in 1865, America had lost more than 600,000 men, more than 400 for each day of the war. Yet the country was only one-tenth the size it is today,

Many doubted whether the war could be won at all. In "The Civil War" by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns, the companion book to Burns' acclaimed PBS documentary, historian James McPhearson explained the situation:

"By August, the crucial question was not what policy to pursue toward the South once the war was won, but whether it could be won at all. . . . The President came under enormous pressure to drop emancipation as a condition of peace negotiations. Lincoln bent but did not break under this pressure. His Emancipation Proclamation had promised freedom, 'and the promise being made, must be kept.' 'I should be damned in time and in eternity,' said Lincoln, if I were 'to return to slavery the black warriors' who had fought for the Union. 'The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends and enemies, come what will.'"

Members of Congress were frustrated with the conduct of the war. As noted in passages in "The Civil War," in late 1862 "Senate Republicans caucused and, with only a single dissenting vote, demanded that Lincoln dismiss [Secretary of State William H.] Seward." Veteran Republican leader Thurlow Weed observed that "the people are wild for peace. . . . Lincoln's reelection is an impossibility."

Lincoln also was decidedly unpopular in the press. The New York Herald, for example, called him "a joke incarnated, his election a very sorry joke, and the idea that such a man as he should be the President of such a country as this a very ridiculous joke."

As noted in historian Shelby Foote's three-volume "The Civil War: A Narrative," members of Congress and others even urged the troops to abandon the cause. Ohio Rep. Clement Vallandigham campaigned by "calling upon soldiers to desert, declaring the South invincible. 'You have not conquered the South,' he said. 'You never will. War for the Union was abandoned; war for the [slave] openly begun. . . . With what success? Let the dead at Fredericksburg . . . answer.'"

In studying past wars, let us not fall victim to the mindset that a winning outcome was inevitable. It was not so during the Civil War. But neither was a losing outcome inevitable, despite the fact that so many predicted it at the time.

Some leaders say we already have lost in Iraq, despite the progress we see from the new counter-insurgency strategy of Gen. David H. Petraus, which was implemented fully just days ago.

There may be short-term political benefits to politicians if Congress orders retreat, but our intelligence services have told us that if we withdraw before the Iraqi army and police can maintain security, the killings would increase, al-Qaida would have a safe haven for command and control and chaos and violence almost certainly would spread through the region.

Let minds wonder where history would be if Lincoln had retreated in the face of opposition and despair. We can count on President Bush and our military to persevere. The question is whether the naysayers in Congress will study the lessons of history.

-- Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond

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In 1974, a weary Congress cut off funds for Cambodia and South Vietnam, leading to the swift fall of both allies. In his memoir, "Years of Renewal," Henry Kissinger tells the story of former Cambodian prime minister Sirik Matak, who refused to leave his country.

"I thank you very sincerely," Matak wrote in response, "for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it. You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we are all born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you [the Americans]."

Eventually, between 1 million and 2 million Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge when "peace" came to Indochina. Matak, Kissinger recounts, was shot in the stomach and died three days later.

Sometimes peace for America can produce ghosts of its own.

-- Michael Gerson

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Beware when anyone, especially an elected official, advocates legislative action be taken in the name of "fairness." What is "fairness" anyway? Well, if you're a liberal, "fairness" -- much like "reform" -- often means crushing free speech.

[National Review] A new blueprint for a government takedown of conservative talk radio comes from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, founded and run by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta. In a report entitled, " The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio ," the Center outlines a plan that would, if implemented, do enormous damage not only to conservatives on talk radio, but to freedom of speech as well.

Surveying 257 stations owned by the top-five commercial station groups, the report's authors found the unsurprising news that 91 percent of total weekday talk programming is conservative, and just nine percent "progressive." Rather than attribute that imbalance to the generally conceded superiority of conservative programming — most radio professionals would tell you that Rush Limbaugh is simply better at what he does than any of the liberal opponents who have tried to compete with him — the report finds a deeper, more sinister case. "The gap between conservative and progressive talk radio," it concludes, "is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system. " According to Podesta's Center, those structural problems can only be solved by government action.

Not satisfied with a liberal alphabet soup of network and cable news "progressive" viewpoints (read: liberal viewpoints), some advocates are now attempting to eradicate talk radio rather than bothering to compete with it.

Naturally, their analysis is exactly backwards: Liberals viewpoints are scarce on talk radio precisely because they're so prevalent in every single other medium, from television to Internet to movies to books.

Why would any liberal bother with talk radio when, for example, they can get their views coddled by the gals on The View or gang from 60 Minutes, or by Katie Couric, Brian Williams, or Charles Gibson, or Wolf Blitzer (television) or by the NY Times and Washington Post and LA Times (print) or by Oprah Book Club and NY Times best sellers (books) or Daily Kos and Center for American Progress (Internet) and so on?

Liberal viewpoints aren't prevalent on talk radio because they don't have to be.

They don't need that medium. Conservatives did, as a response to the standard media. Conservatives overwhelm talk radio because they were long ago forcibly pushed out from every other medium sans a handful of exceptions (Fox News, WSJ editorial pages, and, well, that's about it) by the HR procedures of those companies.

The true disparity is that conservative viewpoints are so often vilified everywhere but talk radio.

Indeed, when's the last time Hollywood produced a pro-conservative view? Just in the few years we've had dozens of anti-pharmaceutical (The Constant Gardner; Micheal Moore's Sicko), anti-corporate/anti-big industry (The Manchurian Candidate, Syriana), anti-Bush (Man of the Year, Revenge of the Sith, American Dreamz), pro-global warming alarmist flics (The Day After Tomorrow, An Inconvenient Truth).

Shall we apply "equal time" to Hollywood movies then?

For all the liberal whining on the issue ask any conservative and they'll happily trade them: Fox News, talk radio and the WSJ editorial page for the liberal bastions of ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, CNN Headline, CNN International, BBC America, PBS, NPR, and the rest of the alphabet soup.

Conservatives would gladly give up Fox News' 1.5 million prime-time views for just one of the big-three prime-time views (8 to 11 million each, or about 28 million total, every night). That's not even counting the millions of viewers of other cable news networks (CNN, MSNBC, etc.) who combine to dwarf Fox News, nor does it include the millions viewing the big-three morning programs. It's simply comical to gripe about Fox or Rush given the number of Americans who are by contrast not tuning to those conservative outlets.

In the end this is about competition, or rather a refusal to compete. After all, it's not like Rush or O'Reilly wouldn't gladly welcome a debate with Nancy Pelosi or Michael Moore on their radio shows -- rather, the liberals choose not to attend them.

At the end of the day the critics of talk radio crying foul are really arguing for a debate-free, criticism-free zone in which to air their ideas. Thus, they attend the friendly softball-pitching environments on other mediums.

Having failed in competition, and not satisfied with what they do have, they're instead going to lob large amounts of cash and influence to legislate curbs on free speech.

And they'll package it as "fairness."

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Sunday, June 24, 2007
MEDIA HYPOCRITS AND LAPDOGS identified 144 journalists who made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign, according to the public records of the Federal Election Commission. Most of the newsroom checkbooks leaned to the left: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes. Only 17 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.
That's a 9:1 ratio of media bias favoring Democrats to Republicans. 9 to 1.

Well, kudos to MSNBC for having the cajones to actually run this story. I'm sure other outlets would have buried it, given the findings (a la Newsweek burying the Lewinski story in 1998).

What's most humorous, or perhaps disgusting, is the tortured and convoluted logic the identified journalists used when fingered and questioned by MSNBC. but first, a point:

The pattern of donations, with nearly nine out of 10 giving to Democratic candidates and causes, appears to confirm a leftward tilt in newsrooms — at least among the donors, who are a tiny fraction of the roughly 100,000 staffers in newsrooms across the nation.

The donors said they try to be fair in reporting and editing the news. One of the recurring themes in the responses is that it's better for journalists to be transparent about their beliefs, and that editors who insist on manufacturing an appearance of impartiality are being deceptive to a public that already knows journalists aren't without biases.

"Our writers are citizens, and they're free to do what they want to do," said New Yorker editor David Remnick, who has 10 political donors at his magazine. "If what they write is fair, and they respond to editing and counter-arguments with an open mind, that to me is the way we work."

The openness didn't extend, however, to telling the public about the donations. Apparently none of the journalists disclosed the donations to readers, viewers or listeners. Few told their bosses, either.

Remnick is spot on to say that it's far better for a journalist to admit their bias than claim "journalist objectivity" or some other manure.

But the facts dictate that the reality simply does not meet Remnick's rosy fantasy of full journalist ideological disclosure -- indeed, they instead go to great lengths to hide their identities from the public and their bosses, as the article shows time and again.

In the end, this is just more concrete proof that journalists are hypocrites: they are not what they claim to be, their ideology does dictate their reporting, and they hide in the shadows even as they seek to expose lobbyists and such who do the same.

Recall these stats from past elections:

* 81 percent of the journalists interviewed voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election between 1964 and 1976.

* In the Democratic landslide of 1964, 94 percent of the press surveyed voted for President Lyndon Johnson (D) over Senator Barry Goldwater (R).

*In 1968, 86 percent of the press surveyed voted for Democrat Senator Hubert Humphrey.

* In 1972, when 62 percent of the electorate chose President Richard Nixon, 81 percent of the media elite voted for liberal Democratic Senator George McGovern.

* In 1976, the Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter, captured the allegiance of 81 percent of the reporters surveyed while a mere 19 percent cast their ballots for President Gerald Ford.

* Over the 16-year period, the Republican candidate always received less than 20 percent of the media elite's vote.

* Lichter and Rothman's survey of journalists discovered that "Fifty-four percent placed themselves to the left of center, compared to only 19 percent who chose the right side of the spectrum."

* "Fifty-six percent said the people they worked with were mostly on the left, and only 8 percent on the right — a margin of seven-to-one."




It Cost Me Money to Work, so I'm Staying Home With the Kids

Your June 14 editorial "100% Marginal Tax Rate" caught my eye, as that reality is, in effect, already here for us. Two years ago I came to the conclusion that it was actually costing me money to go to work. As a two-physician couple with two children, we required daily child care in order for both us to work, given our hectic schedules. That child care can only be purchased with pre-tax dollars. Given our dual income, every dollar I earned was taxed at an effective top marginal rate of 51.15% (35% federal, 1.45% Medicare, 6.2% Social Security, and 8.5% state). But it only got worse as we were swept into the Alternative Minimum Tax bracket as well. Living in such a high tax state as Maine, where property taxes and income taxes are some of the highest in the country, exposed us to the AMT tax as our federal tax deductions consist mostly of property tax, excise tax and state income tax payments.

The "Bush tax cut" is a myth, at least for us, as the AMT tax is costing us more money than the small decrease in the top marginal rate returned to us. The more I worked, the more state taxes I paid and the higher the AMT burden became. As an emergency physician, I found that after the state and federal governments took their share along with the AMT tax, I wasn't making enough money to pay our child-care expenses with pre-tax dollars. Add to that the constant threat of being sued as an emergency physician, it only made economic sense for me to quit my job and take over child-care responsibilities full time. Now I no longer work as an emergency physician or employ a child-care provider (and pay her employment taxes), and our after-tax take-home pay has increased. Who says this isn't a great country?

John McGoldrick, M.D.
Brunswick, Maine

Letter to the WSJ, June 20

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Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thou-sand-year-long "Younger Dryas" cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade -- 100 times faster than the past century's 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.
That's the beginning of the latest from the National Post's "Deniers" series on climate change (now at part XXVII).

If you haven't started reading Tim Patterson's series you should start. It's eye opening and contradicts the vast amount of conventional environgelical hysterics that so frequently is pounded down our throats.

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[Senator James] Inhofe said that American defense spending in the 20th century averaged more than 5.5 percent of GDP, dropped to 2.8 percent during the Clinton administration, and was now "hovering at around 4 percent." But Inhofe says that's not enough--"we need to be really close to where we've been in the 20th's going to have to be at 5-5.5 percent of GDP." As for how we might get back to a number like that, Inhofe said "it won't be long before I'm chairing the Armed Services committee again, and I look forward to rebuilding these programs."

-- Weekly Standard

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[World Net Daily] With summer travel in full gear and motorists more conscious of the price of gasoline than ever before, few Americans realize that up to 60 cents of the cost per gallon is the result of local, state and federal taxes.

In fact, despite allegations of price-gouging, some retailers say they are actually losing money on every gallon they pump.

State, local and federal taxes make up about 20 percent of the cost paid at the pump, according to Conoco Phillips, an international, integrated energy company.

As of March, the national average gasoline tax is 45.8 cents. New York has the highest gas tax at 60.8 cents at the pump, with Hawaii just behind costing 60.2 cents per gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

Gas taxes include federal, averaging 18.4 cents per gallon; state, averaging 18.2 cents per gallon; and additional taxes costing an average of 9.15 cents per gallon. The additional taxes include applicable sales taxes, gross receipts taxes, oil inspection fees, underground storage tank fees and other environmental fees.

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Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior editor of Commentary magazine, produces a damning critique of both the Central Intelligence Agency and George Tenet's reign over it. Here's a snippet:

At a juncture of history when the agency’s real, crying need was to penetrate, or at a minimum to study closely the thinking of, adversaries like Iran or North Korea or Iraq—three countries where its coverage and understanding had been chronically inadequate—he [former CIA Director George Tenet] now permits himself to boast that he “made it a priority to enhance the agency’s record on diversity” and to have “its workforce reflect a broad cross-section of our population.” In other words, he saw it as the CIA’s most pressing “business need” (his term) to turn its affirmative-action program, at least, into a truly “well-oiled machine”—albeit one running inside a government bureaucracy now indistinguishable from any other.

...In his memoir, Tenet does acknowledge Saddam Hussein’s deep involvement with terrorism:

[T]here was no doubt that Saddam was making large donations to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers and was known to be harboring several prominent terrorists, including Abu Nidal, a ruthless killer responsible for attacks on El Al ticket counters in Rome and Vienna in 1985, resulting in 18 deaths and injury to 120 people. Saddam also gave refuge to one of the individuals still being sought for the first World Trade Center bombing.
In a passage that speaks volumes, Tenet then also concedes that the CIA “had devoted little analytic attention to [this issue] prior to September 11,” and was therefore “not initially prepared for the intense focus that the administration put on the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship.” Instead, he offers in apparent extenuation, the agency had been “consumed with the very hot war with Sunni extremists all over the world.”

This is confounding. A high proportion of those Sunni extremists were Palestinian suicide bombers whose families Saddam Hussein was rewarding. Abu Nidal himself, notwithstanding the secular ideology he came to embrace, was a Sunni. The individuals who carried out the first World Trade Center bombing, one of whom Saddam was sheltering, had been Sunni extremists. Not only were they Sunnis; they were the germ of the al-Qaeda organization. Yet Tenet, as if these dots could not be readily connected, blithely asserts that the CIA, “consumed” with “a very hot war with Sunni extremists all over the world,” did not find it worthwhile to study the relationship with Iraq. Incoherence seldom gets more incoherent than this.

One hopes that the CIA has a better undocumented and invisible track record than its documented and visible one. As the author points out, since its inception the CIA has embarrassed itself by failing to remotely predict a multitude of world-changing events, including: The Korean War and the Chinese involvement of it, the Suez Canal Crisis, Soviet missiles to Cuba, Soviet invasions of Poland and later Afghanistan, or the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. And that's a limited list.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I sent the following letter to National Review Online today. Just thought it was an interesting interview. This guy's analysis is spot on.

James Miller's interview with author James Piereson ("Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism") was fascinating.

I was struck with Piereson's answer to Miller's inquiry to compare the Lincoln and JFK assassinations.

Piereson responded, "Liberals at the time [of JFK's assassination] were convinced that the nation was threatened more by right-wing radicals like Sen. McCarthy or fundamentalist preachers than by Communists. Given their assumptions, they had great difficulty assimilating the fact that JFK was shot by a Communist — for this was exactly the kind of thing that the hated Sen. McCarthy had been warning against."

Now, replace the words "Communists" with "Islamic extremists," "Sen. McCarthy" with "Neo-Cons," and "JFK was shot by" with "September 11 was performed by," and one realizes that the same persons who couldn't come to grip with reality in 1963 likewise cannot do so today!

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Christopher Hitchens comments in Slate the absurdity of jailing Scooter Libby for a victimless "crime" for a leak he actually never made:

If Scooter Libby goes to jail, it will be because he made a telephone call to Tim Russert and because Tim Russert has a different recollection of the conversation. Can this really be the case? And why is such a nugatory issue a legal matter in the first place?

Before savoring the full absurdity of the thing, please purge your mind of any preconceptions or confusions.

*Mr. Libby was not charged with breaking the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.
Nobody was ever charged with breaking that law, designed to shield the names of covert agents. Indeed, the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, determined that the law had not been broken in the first place.

*The identity of the person who disclosed the name of Valerie Plame to Robert Novak—his name is Richard Armitage, incidentally—was known to those investigating the non-illegal leak before the full-dress inquiry began to grind its way through the system, incidentally imprisoning one reporter and consuming thousands of man hours of government time (and in time of war, at that).

*In the other two "counts" in the case, both involving conversations with reporters (Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time), Judge Reggie Walton threw out the Miller count while the jury found for Libby on the Cooper count.

*The call to Russert was not about Plame in any case; it was a complaint from the vice president's office about Chris Matthews, who was felt by some to have been overstressing the Jewish names associated with the removal of Saddam Hussein. Russert was called in his capacity as bureau chief; any chitchat about Wilson and Plame was secondary.

*The call was made after Robert Novak had put his fateful column (generated by Richard Armitage) on the wire, and after he had mentioned Plame's identity to Karl Rove.

Does it not seem extraordinary that a man can be prosecuted, and now be condemned to a long term of imprisonment, because of an alleged minor inconsistency of testimony in a case where it is admitted that there was no crime and no victim?

Yes, it does. Read the rest.

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One of the things I love about the WSJ is the good letters people write in to the paper. This one expanding upon some points that Sen. Joe Lieberman made is an excellent case in point. A 40-year proxy war against the US by Iran? Buster, you got that right!

Iran Is Spider at Center of a Middle East Web

Joe Lieberman's June 15 editorial-page commentary "What I Saw in Iraq '' [non-subscribers may read here] is thoughtful, but he overlooks two strategic issues. One, Iran is changing the entire dynamics of the Middle East by controlling Lebanon through Hezbollah, controlling ''Palestine'' through Hamas, arming the Taliban in Afghanistan, arming al Qaeda to fight us in Iraq and essentially having Syrian as a client state. This in addition to building a nuclear capacity. This is the beginning of the Shiite Aryan Persians against the Sunni Arabs while we sit and watch.

Secondly, Sen. Lieberman says "no one believes there is a military solution in Iraq" when it is precisely a military solution that would work -- it's simply that the political courage is not there. Does anyone believe a nuclear-armed Iran will be contained? Civilization prevailed over barbarism in World War II. Was that not a military solution? Gen. David Petraeus's surge will work if Iran is out of the equation. We have here a hostile, barbaric government threatening Israel with annihilation that could easily be put down if we used our military equipment, yet we can't even summon a gasoline boycott on Iran let alone strafe its supply lines to Iraq. Reasonable people can disagree about a dramatic overt strike but please don't tell us there is no military solution. That is the only solution, and no one wants to use it.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer in Iran who understands the emotional immaturity and the mindset, I've watched as Iran's plan has played out over 40 years, beginning with the mullahs in each village conspiring against the shah and, with a little U.S. help, usurping him. As a refugee from the former Soviet Union, I also saw the U.S. misjudge communism. Once again it misjudges Iran, which will take its place of ascendancy in the next 20 years.

Andrew Engelman
Stuart, Fla.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi:

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the president over Iraq by sending him a letter, ahead of a White House meeting later on Wednesday.

"As many had forseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results," the two leaders wrote. "The increase in US forces has had little impact in curbing the violence or fostering political reconciliation.

"It has not enhanced Americas national security. The unsettling reality is that instances of violence against Iraqis remain high and attacks on US forces have increased. In fact, the last two months of the war were the deadliest to date for US troops."

This just in... The Allied forces lost the battle at Normandy, 1944.

How do we know this? Well, it was a massive troop surge but the casualty rates for both Allied and German troops skyrocketed -- thus the escalation must have been a failure, at least by the logic of Harry and Nancy.

With such "leadership" by very definition the US could never possibly win another battle.

Ironically comical, just a few hours after their joint statement was sent to the press, USA Today released its interview with the commander of all coalition forces in Iraq, General Dave Petraeus - that is, the guy who actually knows what the hell he's talking about:

BAGHDAD — When Gen. David Petraeus drives through the streets of Iraq's capital, he sees "astonishing signs of normalcy" in half, perhaps two-thirds of Baghdad.
"I'm talking about professional soccer leagues with real grass field stadiums, several amusement parks — big ones, markets that are very vibrant," says Petraeus, commander of the roughly 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The scenes provide a sign that the new strategy in Iraq is working, although many problems remain, he told USA TODAY in an interview Wednesday.

Hey, who needs enemies when you have Democratic leaders acting as our fifth column and inciting defeatism?

But here's a video in which one can hear Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats explain the dangers of the Saddam Hussein regime and his WMD in the runup to the war... you know, the war which they voted for before they voted against.

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What's going to truly kill more people, the strawman of supposed civil liberties infringements, or the small cells of terrorists who actually do infringe upon our civil liberties (that is, murder us)?

Bradford Berenson, former associate White House council, details the dangers of allowing theoretical dangers to trump real danger, in this case commenting upon the Fourth Circuit Court's decision to nullify the term "enemy combatant" in the Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri case.

The Fourth Circuit panel held that, despite President Bush's formal, written determination that Mr. Marri is an enemy combatant waging war against the U.S., he is instead a "civilian" who can only be treated as an ordinary criminal. It did not question any of the facts put forward by the government about Mr. Marri. Instead, the court held that foreign terrorists on our soil are categorically beyond the reach of American military power.

What about the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld just three years ago, which accepted that we are at war and held that even U.S. citizens may be detained as enemy combatants? According to the Fourth Circuit decision, that case was different because Yaser Esam Hamdi was fighting for the Taliban, carrying a gun on a traditional battlefield. What about the World War II precedent in Ex Parte Quirin, where the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the power of the military to try U.S. citizen Nazi saboteurs who came onto our shores disguised as civilians to commit acts of terrorism? That, too, was different according to the court, because those terrorists were working for "the military arm of an enemy government."

According to the Fourth Circuit decision, unless you participate in actual combat against the U.S. on something that looks like a traditional battlefield, or are allied with the armed forces of a foreign government, you can't be an enemy combatant, and the U.S. military is powerless to act against you, at least on U.S. soil. A mere al Qaeda terrorist who is a member of a sleeper cell is like Timothy McVeigh or the Unabomber -- a civilian, rather than a soldier, and can only be treated as such by our government. Only the tools of criminal law enforcement are available.

... The implications of this ruling are dramatic. Under it, if Mohammed Atta had been apprehended on Sept. 10, 2001, the military could not have taken custody of him and interrogated him. And absent the ability to charge him with an ordinary crime under the U.S. Code, even the civilian authorities could not have held him for long. The only option would have been for the police to arrest him and give him a Miranda warning and a lawyer. No pressure could have been exerted to extract intelligence that might have prevented the next day's attacks, and he would have been free to alert his confederates who were still at large planning those attacks. And if the evidence against him had been obtained without a warrant, come from a confession not preceded by Miranda warnings, or come in the form of a hearsay intelligence file from a cooperating foreign intelligence service whose assistance had to be kept secret, there would have been no choice but to release him. Under the al-Marri decision, the U.S. homeland becomes a relative safe haven for foreign terrorists on the global battlefield -- an out-of-bounds where the military cannot incapacitate them.

The court's ukase that people like Atta are -- as a matter of law -- just a law-enforcement problem takes us a long way back toward pre-9/11 thinking. It ludicrously misconstrues the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress just days after the towers collapsed, which plainly regarded the kinds of individuals who mounted the 9/11 attacks as presenting a military threat and committing acts of war against us.

The idea that the AUMF authorized the use of military force against the Taliban, who harbored al-Qaeda's leadership, but not the actual al-Qaeda terrorists who perpetrated the attacks, simply makes no sense. And the court's ruling ignores that al Qaeda clearly regards itself as making war on us, sending its holy warriors here not merely to transgress our laws but to attempt to destroy our nation and its global power. The 9/11 attacks were directed at the centers of American financial, military, and political might.

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Outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair made some wake today in a speech that criticized a media that "hunts in a pack" and "is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits" for "no-one dares miss out." Additionally, Blair correctly pointed out "the confusion of news and commentary."

"Comment is a perfectly respectable part of journalism. But it is supposed to be separate. Opinion and fact should be clearly divisible. The truth is a large part of the media today not merely elides the two but does so now as a matter of course. In other words, this is not exceptional. It is routine."

Commentary that long ago left the editorial pages for the mainstream anchor desks is a frequent criticism on this blog.

Blair also noted the extremism of reporting in general:

The question is: is it [reporting and media] qualitatively and quantitively different today? I think yes. So that's my starting point.

... The result [of technology and speed to market] is a media that increasingly and to a dangerous degree is driven by "impact". Impact is what matters. It is all that can distinguish, can rise above the clamour, can get noticed. Impact gives competitive edge. Of course the accuracy of a story counts. But it is secondary to impact.

It is this necessary devotion to impact that is unravelling standards, driving them down, making the diversity of the media not the strength it should be but an impulsion towards sensation above all else.

Broadsheets today face the same pressures as tabloids; broadcasters increasingly the same pressures as broadsheets. The audience needs to be arrested, held and their emotions engaged. Something that is interesting is less powerful than something that makes you angry or shocked.

The consequences of this are acute.

First, scandal or controversy beats ordinary reporting hands down. News is rarely news unless it generates heat as much as or more than light.

Second, attacking motive is far more potent than attacking judgement. It is not enough for someone to make an error. It has to be venal. Conspiratorial. Watergate was a great piece of journalism but there is a PhD thesis all on its own to examine the consequences for journalism of standing one conspiracy up.

What creates cynicism is not mistakes; it is allegations of misconduct. But misconduct is what has impact.

Third, the fear of missing out means today's media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no-one dares miss out.

Fourth, rather than just report news, even if sensational or controversial, the new technique is commentary on the news being as, if not more important than the news itself. So - for example - there will often be as much interpretation of what a politician is saying as there is coverage of them actually saying it. In the interpretation, what matters is not what they mean; but what they could be taken to mean. This leads to the incredibly frustrating pastime of expending a large amount of energy rebutting claims about the significance of things said, that bears little or no relation to what was intended.

In turn, this leads to a fifth point: the confusion of news and commentary. Comment is a perfectly respectable part of journalism. But it is supposed to be separate. Opinion and fact should be clearly divisible. The truth is a large part of the media today not merely elides the two but does so now as a matter of course. In other words, this is not exceptional. It is routine.

The metaphor for this genre of modern journalism is the Independent newspaper. Let me state at the outset it is a well-edited lively paper and is absolutely entitled to print what it wants, how it wants, on the Middle East or anything else. But it was started as an antidote to the idea of journalism as views not news. That was why it was called the Independent. Today it is avowedly a viewspaper not merely a newspaper.

The final consequence of all of this is that it is rare today to find balance in the media. Things, people, issues, stories, are all black and white. Life's usual grey is almost entirely absent. "Some good, some bad"; "some things going right, some going wrong": these are concepts alien to today's reporting. It's a triumph or a disaster. A problem is "a crisis". A setback is a policy "in tatters". A criticism, "a savage attack".

NGOs and pundits know that unless they are prepared to go over the top, they shouldn't venture out at all. Talk to any public service leader - especially in the NHS or the field of law and order - and they will tell you not that they mind the criticism, but they become totally demoralised by the completely unbalanced nature of it.

It is becoming worse? Again, I would say, yes. In my 10 years, I've noticed all these elements evolve with ever greater momentum.

Blair concluded with a plea to media to "reassert their own selling point" and reestablish the "distinction between news and comment."

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[Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General [Peter] Pace's fate is one more example of Mr. Bush's recent habit of abandoning those most closely identified with his Iraq policy. Paul Wolfowitz received only tepid support from Treasury while he was besieged at the World Bank, while I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby may soon go to jail because the President has refused to pardon him. With Mr. Libby, what is Mr. Bush afraid of -- jeopardizing his 33% approval rating? A pardon would be a two-day story. His opponents can't hate Mr. Bush more than they already do, and his supporters would cheer to see the President standing by the man who stood by him when others in his Administration cut and ran.
-- WSJ editorial noting how the current Bush administration is nothing more than a reincarnation than his father's, only perhaps with a little less spine if that's even possible.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

I've had mixed emotions about immigration as an issue for some time now, but there are reasons to rejoice the death of the latest immigration bill (assuming predictions of its doom prove accurate).

The split amongst conservatives has never been hotter. Last week the National Review even dared the Wall Street Journal editorial board to a series of debates, based on the Journal's position that seems at times almost pro-illegal immigration.

Sure, business is important, but at times the Journal has sounded like any other race-baiting liberal group, who simply whitewash all opponents as racists or xenophobes. At, Michelle Malkin has posted excerpts of a video from a Journal board strategy session, in which they claim that illegal-immigration opponents on the right "foam at the mouth" and even accuse them of opposing legal immigration (this is, in my opinion, beyond the pale and without merit).

The complaints of anti-amnesty conservatives by Dan Henninger, one of my otherwise favorite WSJ authors, is on the immigration topic not just misguided but bizarrely so. Henninger wrote today:

[Illegal-immigration opponents] They want the borders secured, the laws obeyed, English spoken, taxes paid, costs raised on employers of illegal workers, welfare payments suppressed, enclaved Spanish neighborhoods broken up and a very, very long path to citizenship.
Yeah. That's right. And what's wrong with that? Henninger appears to be promoting the nutty position that it's just fine and dandy that illegal immigrants don't pay taxes or obey laws or learn English all they while gladly taking the federal and state benefits that legal citizens and taxpayers are providing. Is Henninger on drugs?

Ironically, however, the board has run columns from authors whose immigration positions mirror that of the National Review, so one can't accuse the Journal board of being unfair I guess.

For example, Ed Meese, former Reagan-era attorney general, notes that the proposed immigration bill forces the Department of Homeland Security to "issue a probationary visa within one business day of the application [of probationary Z-visas], unless it discovers a reason for disqualification within that 24-hour period."

Under the proposal, issuing a probationary Z visa takes precedence over applying the regular immigration laws that govern illegal entry and presence, so that applicants could not be deported or subjected to other enforcement procedures -- even if they had been apprehended before the legislation is enacted. Thus millions of illegal aliens would quickly be allowed to remain in the U.S. with legal status.

Our security system would be overwhelmed. The task of carefully checking each applicant within one business day would be virtually impossible. If government agencies could find no basis for denying the visa application of 9/11 terrorist Mohammed Atta six months after he flew into the North Tower in New York City, DHS is unlikely to uncover many bad actors within a 24-hour time limit.

Moreover, the minimal documentation needed to support a probationary visa application is immediately susceptible to fraud. The extensive industry that now provides illegal aliens with false Social Security cards and other fraudulent documents will shift into high gear, producing the far less secure papers acceptable as "proof" under this proposal. Terrorists, drug dealers and other criminals will eagerly -- and easily -- exploit a security system that will be inundated by millions of applications demanding virtually immediate clearance.

That's crazy! Does anyone in their right mind trust the government to make an effective decision regarding any application in 24 hours?

Immigration lawyer Martin Lawler (ironic last name, no?) explains that the federal governments' proposed point system (out of 100 points, but oddly with no definition of how many points a person requires to immigrate) gives points based on categories such as employment, education, English/civics and family ties.

Showing how ridiculous is this system Lawler notes that actor Michael J. Fox, journalist Peter Jennings and current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would have had low and likely disqualifying scores of 37, 44 and 40, respectively. (Having said that I must say one could have picked better representatives to argue their point before conservatives than choosing two left-wingers and one sometimes moderate.)

The point being, however, is that there are simply too many reasons to oppose this bill, even if you're more inclined towards the WSJ position.

The best argument overall on immigration came from columnist Peggy Noonan (again, ironically Noonan is WSJ staff), who analogized immigration to consuming a huge meal:

The past quarter-century an unprecedented wave of illegal immigrants has crossed our borders. The flood is so great that no one--no one--can see or fully imagine all the many implications, all the country-changing facts of it. No one knows exactly what uncontrolled immigration is doing and will do to our country.

So what should we do?

We should stop, slow down and absorb. We should sit and settle. We should do what you do after eating an eight-course meal. We should digest what we've eaten.

We should close our borders. We should do whatever it takes to close them tight and solid. Will that take the Army? Then send the Army. Does it mean building a wall? Then build a wall, but the wall must have doors, which can be opened a little or a lot down the road once we know where we are. Should all legal immigration stop? No. We should make a list of what our nation needs, such as engineers and nurses, and then admit a lot of engineers and nurses. We should take in what we need to survive and flourish.

As we end illegal immigration, we should set ourselves to the Americanization of the immigrants we have. They haven't only joined a place of riches, it's a place of meaning. We must teach them what it is they've joined and why it is good and what is expected of them and what is owed. We stopped Americanizing ourselves 40 years ago. We've got to start telling the story of our country again.

That a girl, Peggy. Stop eating before you burst -- now that's sound advice.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

[Washington Post] Iran has increased arms shipments to both Iraq's Shiite extremists and Afghanistan's Taliban in recent weeks in an apparent attempt to pressure American and other Western troops operating in its two strategic neighbors, according to senior U.S. and European officials.

In Iraq, Iranian 240mm rockets, which have a range of up to 30 miles and could significantly change the battlefield, have been used recently by Shiite extremists against U.S. and British targets in Basra and Baghdad, the officials said. Three of the rockets have targeted U.S. facilities in Baghdad's Green Zone, and one came very close to hitting the U.S. Embassy in the Iraqi capital, according to the U.S. officials.

... The intercepted shipments to Afghanistan included 107mm mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, C-4 explosives and small arms, identical to shipments to Iraqi militias around Basra in March, according to the U.S. and European sources, who track arms movements. The C-4 explosives in both shipments have fake U.S. markings, a common deceptive tactic, the sources added.

... The new arms supplies reflect an increasing boldness by Iran, according to U.S. officials and officials from NATO countries. The secretive Quds Force, the branch of the elite Revolutionary Guard in charge of Iran's special operations abroad, is said by the U.S. officials to be behind the arms flow to militants in both countries.

In Iraq, U.S. special military operations as well as new diplomatic talks with Iran are focused on trying to limit the impact of Quds, U.S. officials said. "The imperative for this exercise is to stop Iran's lethal activities," said a senior U.S. official involved in Iran policy.

At U.S.-Iran talks last Monday, the first in almost three decades, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, laid out what he later described as "solid evidence" of Iran's role in arming the militant groups that are attacking American and Iraqi forces, as well as civilians. "We know the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force is the lead instrument in pursuing this policy and that they need to stop this behavior," Crocker said in a telephone briefing after the talks. "We know what they're doing."

If "we know what they're doing" why haven't we stopped it? Why aren't we carpet bombing Tehran? Why aren't we arming the domestic enemies of Iran's government? Why aren't we at least vocally threatening a response?

Iran is arming persons who are killing our soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and killing those countries' citizens. Worse, they're arming the very Taliban that harbored the 9-11 hijackers! And all we get from this is a page-14 peep? Ho hum, now here's Jill with the weather...?

No wonder Iran thinks we're weak.

It's reminiscent of that line from the movie Braveheart where the wicked King Longshanks states that the mere sight of his incompetent and cowardly son would only encourage the enemy to take over the whole country. We've become the weakling Prince Edward.

Perhaps Americans don't want war with Iran, but Iran wants war with the United States. One imagines that had this information been brought to light on September 12th, 2001, there would be quite the different reaction from our politicians and media. But here, five years after 9-11, nothing has changed.

Actually it's worse: Iran is conducting the same proxy war against the US that it has conducted against Israel for years.

It also shows us how naive are so many of our so-called experts.

Time and time again we've heard that Sunni and Shiite groups would never team up against us because of their hatred for one another. Rubbish.

Weekly Standard's Mike Goldfarb summed it up thusly:

An assumption of the Iraq Study Group was that the clerical regime wants stability next door in Iraq. Hence it might be willing to work with Americans. Yet Iran has benefited enormously from Iraqi instability. Traditional, moderate clerics like Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who have been willing to work with Americans, have been battered and bruised by the violence. The radical Moktada al-Sadr, a little-known and little-admired scion of a famous clerical family, skyrocketed to prominence because of the strife and thanks to critical Iranian aid to him. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its more radical military wing, the Badr Organization, has also benefited enormously from the violence. SCIRI is a key Iraqi player that has received substantial assistance from Tehran. What is particularly regrettable about SCIRI is that the bloodletting has made life more difficult for moderates within the organization. And the violence has made it harder for SCIRI to pull away from Iranian patronage.

Does Iran want to stop this process? Iraq's Arab Sunni community--detested by the Iranians--has been routed from much of Baghdad, badly bloodied, and put to flight by the hundreds of thousands. This is a bad thing in the eyes of Tehran? Where does Iran have the most influence in Iraq? In Basra, where Shiite-versus-Shiite violence is at its worst. This is not a coincidence. Tehran has benefited massively from Iraqi Shiite division and internecine strife. What the United States should expect from Iran is that it will continue to ship its deadly explosives to Iraq and, through violence, feed the radicalization of the Shiite community. Success through Hezbollah in civil-war-torn Lebanon is the model to remember. Until now, it's been Iran's only successful foray abroad. "Stability" in Iraq means only one thing to Tehran: an American success.

What does it mean for American foreign policy if there is a consensus that a) Iran has no interest in seeing stability return to Iraq, and b) Iran is actively supporting Sunni militants, aka al Qaeda, in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

We'd better get our collective head out of our arse. And soon.

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There was in interesting statement by the suspect whom FBI arrested in the plot to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport.

[Russell] Defreitas said the airport was a symbol that would put "the whole country in mourning."

"Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States," he said on a recording made by a police informant. "They love John F. Kennedy like he's the man ... It's like you can kill the man twice."

What's interesting is that it generally liberals and Democrats who put JFK on such a pedestal, and yet liberals and Democrats often peddle the belief that Bush has made more terrorists and other such nonsense. They seem to imply from pundit to politician that were we to just stop acknowledging a global war on terror -- as John Edwards recently recommended -- we could better protect ourselves and not incite the world's Islamic terrorists. That is, shun Bush to shun terror.

Defreitas' words and actions emphasize what rubbish are these beliefs because it should be clear to all that Islamic terrorists don't ask for one's voter registration card before they kill you.

Remember when Michael Moore bizarrely lamented on his website that the 9-11 attacks happened to hit the liberal demographics the hardest (New York City, Washington D.C.), wondering why the hijackers had not stuck a southern state like Alabama?

Moore's cluelessness aside, Defreitas and countless other Islamic nuts, like the 9-11 hijackers before him, don't care which American political ideology they strike, and don't target sites whose population voted more for Bush than Gore or Kerry.

They just kill Americans.

So we could choose, as John Edwards suggests, to simply repudiate the notion of a global war on terror and clash of civilizations (Western liberal constitutional democracy versus Allah's Sharia-demanded rule), but so long as Islamic terrorists believe in those concepts it matters not what we think.

The JFK plot is just one more proof of that.

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[Chicago Sun Times] "When I was president, we were determined to turn around two decades of stagnation and inequality, which had led to the growth of all these ills in our cities," he [former President Bill Clinton] said.

But under President Bush, "we're now in the sixth year of an economic recovery that's been great for rich people, while those in the middle and just under lose ground."

This is not true -- in fact it flies in the face of the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and Bill Clinton and fellow Democrats know it's not true. Perhaps it's because the CBO and economic analysts identify as a key reason for lower-income growth the 1990s GOP-backed legislated welfare reform, which Clinton vetoed twice before it passed on the third try.

The CBO found in May that, "In 2005, inflation-adjusted income for low-income households with children averaged $16,800, 35 percent above what it had been in 1991."

In fact, the lower class boom was best during Bush's first term:

"Those households with children that were in the low income category in 2001 had, on average, significant increases in income in each of the next two years. For those households, average inflation adjusted income increased by about 45 percent, from $16,700 in 2001 to $24,100 in 2003."
Perhaps Bill Clinton can explain how a 45 percent grown in income within two years is "losing ground."

Must be similar to his "definition of is."

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Breakthrough brings 'Star Trek' teleport a step closer

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 04 June 2007

Scientists have set a new record in sending information through thin air using the revolutionary technology of quantum teleportation - although Mr Spock may have to wait a little longer for a Scotty to beam him up with it.

A team of physicists has teleported data over a distance of 89 miles from the Canary Island of La Palma to the neighbouring island of Tenerife, which is 10 times further than the previous attempt at teleportation through free space.

The scientists did it by exploiting the "spooky" and virtually unfathomable field of quantum entanglement - when the state of matter rather than matter itself is sent from one place to another. Tiny packets or particles of light, photons, were used to teleport information between telescopes on the two islands. The photons did it by quantum entanglement and scientists hope it will form the basis of a way of sending encrypted data.

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[ABC News] NASA administrator Michael Griffin is drawing the ire of his agency's preeminent climate scientists after apparently downplaying the need to combat global warming.

In an interview broadcast this morning on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program, Griffin was asked by NPR's Steve Inskeep whether he is concerned about global warming.

"I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists," Griffin told Inskeep. "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

"To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change," Griffin said. "I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

Griffin's comments immediately drew stunned reaction from James Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

"It's an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement," Hansen told ABC News. "It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change."

Hansen believes Griffin's comments fly in the face of well-established scientific knowledge that hundreds of NASA scientists have contributed to.

"It's unbelievable," said Hansen. "I thought he had been misquoted. It's so unbelievable."

Actually, Griffin's statement sounds completely rational and worthy of discussion.

Isn't it funny how liberals are supposedly open-minded and urging of debate except when they're not! Brent Bozell noted recently how when it comes to liberals - he cited Al Gore - "Democracy is only truly democratic when the Democrats are in charge. Debates aren't truly informative unless the liberals win the argument. The same holds true for elections [for them until they lose one]."

Case in point: James Hansen, global warming media darling, doesn't bother retorting Griffin. Why bother? All he need do is just call Griffin stupid: But all the other people at NASA say it's a problem! Griffin is just ignorant!

Par for the course, the global warming proponents will cajole and bully anyone who dares question their science, their methods, or their conclusions.

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Mike Goldfarb notes that even CNN, the LA Times, and The New York Times are starting to cover the ethics hypocrisy of the Democrats, who so effectively used the Culture of Corruption charge against Republicans in the last election.

Robert Novak highlighted that "Rep. John Murtha [D, PA] quietly slipped into the intelligence authorization bill two earmarks costing taxpayers $5.5 million. The beneficiary was a contractor whose headquarters is in Murtha's home town of Johnstown, Pa., and whose executives have been generous political contributors to the powerful 17-term congressman."

... Five days later, in a letter to House Republican leader John Boehner, Flake revealed (without describing them) Murtha's two earmarks for the Johnstown-based Concurrent Technologies. One provides $2.5 million for the Mobile Missile Monitoring and Detection program. The other supplies $3 million for the Joint Intelligence Training & Education with Advanced Distributed Learning Technological Phase II.

Murtha's earmark requests attest (as required by the new reforms) that "neither I nor my spouse had any financial interest" in either project. What he did not attest was that officers and employees of Concurrent Technologies contributed $56,475 to Murtha from the 2000 election cycle to the present, according to Federal Election Commission reports. That includes $4,500 from the company's chief executive and president, Daniel DeVos, and $5,000 from its vice president, Emil Sarady.

In his May 15 letter to Boehner, Flake made "another appeal" for House Republicans "to take a more proactive position in opposition to earmarks." The minority leader did not respond. Instead, on May 21, Boehner wrote to Pelosi that Murtha's $23 million earmark for a National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown was "a questionable project" secured by "highly suspect methods." Indeed, the project was not placed on the earmark list, as required by the new rules. An effort by Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan to eliminate this project led to Murtha's notorious threats, in violation of House rules, to eliminate Rogers's own earmarks "now and forever."

In fact, Rogers, a 43-year-old former FBI agent, has 10 earmarks, costing more $45 million, to protect. Flake is a rare Republican who understands that pounding on Democrats will not cure the GOP's earmark addiction. "I am concerned," Flake wrote to Boehner, "that the only action taken regarding earmarks by Republicans thus far this year is to ask for clarification of the earmark rules, in order to ensure that we can take full advantage of earmark opportunities." Boehner, who personally does not use earmarks, told me, "I can't agree with that." But he did not respond to Flake.

Nor do Democrats show interest in curbing earmarks. Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, Pelosi's handpicked intelligence committee chairman, blamed nondisclosure of earmarks on a mistake by the Government Printing Office. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) first skirted the new rules by claiming that no earmarks were contained in the supplemental appropriations. Last week, he decreed that henceforth, earmarks in his bills would not be revealed until a measure passes both the House and Senate. The test for Democrats is what they will do about Murtha now that it is known that he rewards contributors with federal funds.

Apparently, they can all be corrupt now.

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This is just classic Clinton...

The travel and consulting fees paid to [Hillary] Clinton's husband have come to light recently in a lawsuit against Vinod Gupta, a Clinton contributor and chief executive of the data company, InfoUSA Inc. (IUSA)

The lawsuit by company shareholders accuses Gupta of excessively spending millions of dollars, including $900,000 worth of travel on the Clintons.

Sen. Clinton, who complained about corporate America's largesse and skyrocketing executive pay during campaign events Wednesday, said she did not believe her message was undermined by her acceptance of the private flights. In line with Senate rules then in effect, Clinton's campaign has said she reimbursed Gupta at the cost of a first-class flight, typically a significant discount off the expense of a private jet.

"Those were the rules. You'll have to ask somebody else whether that's good policy," she said.

Ask somebody else whether it's good policy...? That's the tip of the spear, eh!? Judging right from wrong? I can't do that! I'm too busy running for president!

Frakin' hypocrites...

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