Friday, August 31, 2007

New Orleans, Drop Dead

I guess I’m really a hard-hearted person, but as a survivor of Florida’s Hurricane Charley, which tore my roof off and forced me to spend many days of back-breaking labor and many months of distress, I have no sympathy for the slobs and vultures in New Orleans who want everyone else but them to handle their problems. I agree with the sentiments expressed in the following articles, and I’ll go on to point out that the incident that sealed my disgust with these whiners was when they re-elected Mayor Ray Nagin, possibly the most incompetent politician in the U.S.A. Who could ever forget those hundreds of school buses sitting in pools of water as people died?

In southwest Florida, after facing four hurricanes in a row, there were many incredible stories of neighbors helping neighbors. Because of flooding, New Orleans obviously faced even worse problems than did Floridians, but the main stories to emerge involved terrible crimes, looting, finger-pointing, whining and the arrest of a courageous doctor who faced and dealt with an impossible situation while others fled.

The Big Easy's Billion Dollar Boondoggle
By Lawrence Kudlow, August 30, 2007, RealClearPolitics

So, the president and Mrs. Bush went down to New Orleans to commemorate the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Who knows? Maybe over a latte with leading Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, they discussed spending even more money down there. After all, everyone seems to be saying New Orleans needs more cash.

Here's a pop quiz: How much money has Uncle Sam spent on New Orleans and the Gulf region since Hurricane Katrina ripped the place apart?

I'll give you the answer because you'll never guess it. The grand total is $127 billion (including tax relief).

That's right: a monstrous $127 billion. Of course, not a single media story has highlighted this gargantuan government-spending figure. But that number came straight from the White House in a fact sheet subtitled, "The Federal Government Is Fulfilling Its Commitment to Help the People of the Gulf Coast Rebuild." Huh?

This is an outrage. The entire GDP of the state of Louisiana is only $141 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. So the cash spent there nearly matches the entire state gross GDP. That's simply unbelievable. And to make matters worse, by all accounts New Orleans ain't even fixed!

You might be asking: Where in the hell did all this money go? Well, the White House fact sheet says $24 billion has been used to build houses and schools, repair damaged infrastructure and provide victims with a place to live. But isn't everyone complaining about the lack of housing?

Perhaps all this money should've been directly deposited in the bank accounts of the 300,000 people living in New Orleans. All divvied up, that $127 billion would come to $425,000 per person! After thanking Uncle Sam for their sudden windfall, residents could head to Southern California and buy homes that are now on sale thanks to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and bid up the sagging house prices in the state.

The fact sheet goes on to say that $7.1 billion went to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the levees; that the U.S. Department of Education spent $2 billion on local schools; and that the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries has awarded more than $2.5 million (the pikers). The administration also provided $16.7 billion as part of the largest housing-recovery program in U.S. history.
So the billion-dollar question becomes: Where did the rest of that money go?

Meanwhile, according to an article by Nicole Gelinas at the Manhattan Institute, New Orleans has earned the distinct honor of becoming the murder capital of the world. The murder rate is 40 percent higher than before Katrina, and twice as high as other dangerous cities like Detroit, Newark, N.J., and Washington, D.C.

Think of this: The idea of using federal money to rebuild cities is the quintessential liberal vision. And given the dreadful results in New Orleans, we can say that the government's $127 billion check represents the quintessential failure of that liberal vision. Hillary Clinton calls this sort of reckless spending "government investment." And that's just what's in store for America if she wins the White House next year.

Remember President Reagan's line during the 1980 campaign about how LBJ fought a big-government spending war against poverty, and poverty won? Well think of all this Katrina spending as the Great Society Redux. And it failed. I suppose the current Bush administration would like to label this "compassionate conservatism." But guess what? That failed, too.

Right from the start, New Orleans should have been turned into a tax-free enterprise zone. No income taxes, no corporate taxes, no capital-gains taxes. The only tax would have been a sales tax paid on direct transactions. A tax-free New Orleans would have attracted tens of billions of dollars in business and real-estate investment. This in turn would have helped rebuild the cities, schools and hospitals. Private-sector entrepreneurs would have succeeded where big-government bureaucrats and regulators have so abysmally failed.

This is the real New Orleans Katrina story. It's a pity that the mainstream media isn't writing about it. Call it one of the greatest stories never told.

Lawrence Kudlow is a former Reagan economic advisor, a syndicated columnist, and the host of CNBC's Kudlow & Company. Visit his blog, Kudlow's Money Politics.

The Battle of New Orleans
Published 8/30/2007 American Spectator (Excerpts)

Re: Quin Hillyer's Memories of a City:

”Conservatives are right, however, to raise serious policy issues as the rebuilding of New Orleans proceeds. The failure laid bare in New Orleans with Katrina was not, and is not, limited to, much less unique to, New Orleans. Decades of liberal policy proscriptions for America's cities -- cities run almost exclusively by Democrats -- have categorically proved themselves to be failures. Much is made, by Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and many others, of the post-Katrina problems of New Orleans' 9th Ward.

The conservative question should be: Where were these people like Mr. Edwards BEFORE Katrina? And why was the 9th Ward in such bad shape to begin with? The answer to these questions can be found in other cities in America -- like Barack Obama's Chicago or here in my own state of Pennsylvania in sections of Philadelphia or any number of other urban areas, including the city of Washington, D.C., outside the sections dominated by the federal government and the monuments. Millions were squandered on so-called "housing developments" that became squalid infestations of crime and drug addiction. The public education system was/is held hostage to greedy unions and mediocrity, millions of taxpayer dollars producing badly educated kids.

Corruption among bureaucratic officials, occasionally reaching right into various city halls, was/is rampant. And always the answer is to raise taxes higher, the money getting wasted on more bad policy almost as soon as it arrives in the coffers of big city X….

"New Orleans still needs help. We cannot afford to let it die." Really?

Mr. Hillyer seems to have illusions that New Orleans was some sort of a cultural Mecca. But no, the facts are: New Orleans is one of, if not the most, corrupt city in the nation. The police were quasi-criminals; the schools were out-and-out failures; the city government, when it was not run by thieves, was always incompetent; crime was rampant.

By any objective measure, New Orleans was (and is) a city that cannot govern itself. As for the culture of New Orleans, it was that of a sewer. Although he doesn't explicitly say it, you can just sense that a big part of the city's charm for Mr. Hillyer is its blatant corruption.

Even now, so much of the money -- both private and from the government -- that is being funneled down there is stolen and/or squandered. But all that money is not enough. It never will be. But why pour billions, maybe even a trillion plus dollars, into New Orleans, especially given the fact that the city itself is below sea level and is still sinking deeper?

If anything, the New Orleans recovery money should go to protect the area's port facilities and oil refineries which serve a national purpose, not to rebuild ghettos and reestablish its "culture."”
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

"Big Brother Muhammad, I Love You!"

"I met Danny the week he converted, about seven years ago," said Uguz, identified by worshipers at the mosque yesterday as Maldonado's best friend. "He was cool. He dressed in T-shirts and jeans and didn't hide any of his tattoos. His hair was in dreadlocks. He was eager, and he had a lot of questions."


Maldonado, who grew up in Pelham, N.H., and later lived in Methuen, became immersed in Islam and attended prayer sessions regularly at Selimiye Mosque. He began wearing traditional Arab clothing, including the galabeyah, an ankle-length gown with long sleeves that covered the tattoos on his arms. He struggled to grow the beard of a religious Muslim. When he could not, he blamed his Puerto Rican heritage and began chastising fellow Muslims who could grow a full beard and chose not to." -- from this article

Islam is so many wonderful things for a convert such as Danny Maldonado.

The Rest Of The Story

Anti-Islamofascist Movie A Hit In Pakistan

Aside from the absurd Anti-American angle, the producers of this movie made in Pakistan display courage in being very critical of those who take the KORAN literally. I wonder if anyone in Hollywood is listening? I think I'll watch it when the DVD comes out.

Lahore, 29 August (AKI) - Despite fatwas and legal threats to prevent the Pakistani film Khuda Kay Liye (In the Name of God) from being screened, the three-hour long blockbuster has become a box-office smash in Pakistan.

In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), the film's writer and director, Shoaib Mansoor, said that it was made to "reform the fundamentalists in Pakistan in particular, and the Muslim world in general. "

While Mansoor recognises that this is "such a high ambition", he is thrilled by the response that the film has received in his home country.

Reports say that the film took 180,000 dollars in its opening weekend last month and grossed 500,000 dollars in its first three weeks.

The movie tells the story of two brothers who are musicians. One of them gives up music and becomes radicalised, grows a beard and tries get his mother to wear a hijab. The other brother moves to Chicago to study music but ends up getting arrested after 9/11 and is tortured by US interrogators until he is paralysed.

The film cover hot topics in Pakistan such as marital rape, forced marriage as well as jihad and also includes anti-American sentiments.

It is expected to also generate broad debate at international festivals, like this week's Venice International Film Festival which is showing a number of political films this year.

"I have hardly cared or bothered about getting into festivals," Mansoon told AKI. But he admits that screening at an event like Venice would definitely give his Pakistani film greater exposure and credibility.

It would be "an added accomplishment and will inject tins of new blood in me," said the Mansoor, who made his name with a career in Pakistani television. Khuda Kay Liye is his first feature film.

"My first and foremost purpose coming to film-making after having spent thirty years in television was to revive or revitalise our film industry," said Mansoor.

"It was the second step to think of a concept and a storyline which was not a typically Bollywood or Lollywood (the word used to refer to Pakistan's movie industry based in Lahore) romance cum dance and music saga but to have some philosophy and message in it," he told AKI.

"I feel like flying in the sky after having achieved both targets," he said.

The film is playing on 11 screens in 10 cities in Pakistan, even though the radical cleric of Islamabad's Red Mosque, Abdul Rashid Ghazi issued a fatwa against the film. Ghazi was one of more than 50 people killed in the assault on the mosque in early July.

A petition was also filed at the Lahore High Court earlier this month challenging the screening of the film, but the court eventually ruled against it.

Mansoor doesn't believe that this kind of publicity helped his film.

"If at all, it affected it negatively because the general fear among the masses was aggravated by such fatwas," said Mansoor. "Most of them were afraid that there could be bomb blasts in [the] cinema halls," he said.

"In fact there are many who still haven't gone just because of the fear. I must salute those who despite all the fears and apprehensions have made it to [the] cinemas."

The film has caused debate in Pakistan about Islam with the battle lines drawn out between two groups - the modernised elites who carry the banner of enlightened moderation and the radical segments of society with their calls for jihad.

For Mansoor, the winner in this fight is clear.

"I think we are definitely heading towards a win of the moderate majority," he told AKI. "Up until now this section was totally docile and quiet. I have tried to be a representative voice.

"The wonderful response that I got from people has shown that they are now ready to talk about it. I hope action will follow the talk and this film will be remembered to have initiated it," he said.


Opus Censored By Leftist Cowards Afraid Of Islam

Washington Post, Other Newspapers Won't Run 'Opus' Cartoon Mocking Radical Islam

Tuesday , August 28, 2007

By Catherine Donaldson-Evans

A popular comic strip that poked fun at the Rev. Jerry Falwell without incident one week ago was deemed too controversial to run over the weekend because this time it took a humorous swipe at Muslim fundamentalists.

The Washington Post and several other newspapers around the country did not run Sunday's installment of Berkeley Breathed's "Opus," in which the spiritual fad-seeking character Lola Granola appears in a headscarf and explains to her boyfriend, Steve, why she wants to become a radical Islamist.

The installment did not appear in the Post's print version, but it ran on and The same will hold true for the upcoming Sept. 2 strip, which is a continuation of the plotline.

The Rest Of The Story


MicrochippedIn the U.K. it's 'tagging' for children. But in the U.S., it's human micro-chipping. Yes, that's right, people in California are being required to have an identification device implanted into their bodies.
State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) proposed the measure after at least one company began marketing radio frequency identification devices for use in humans.

The devices, as small as a grain of rice, can be used by employers to identify workers. A scanner passing over a body part implanted with one can instantly identify the person

The Princess Diana Death Pictures - Update


Photos of dying Diana create furore

By Mimi Turner

LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) - Channel 4 on Monday said it will go ahead with the broadcast of a film showing previously unseen photographs of Princess Diana in the car crash that killed her in 1997, despite anger from her friends and criticism from politicians.

The broadcaster, which earlier this year stoked controversy with the fictionalized assassination of President George Bush in "Death of a President," has denied the program is sensationalizing Diana's death and has described the film as "responsible."

It will broadcast "Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel" next week, to mark the 10th anniversary of her death. Newspapers have reported that the program features previously unpublished photographs of the princess receiving medical attention from a doctor as she lay dying in the back of the black Mercedes S-class vehicle in which her lover, Dodi Fayed, and the driver, Henri Paul, also were killed.

Very few of the photos taken by paparazzi and passers by on the night of the crash in August 1997 have surfaced in the media, and many were confiscated as evidence by the French legal authorities in the aftermath of the crash in the Pont d'Alma in Paris.

The broadcaster said the images shown in the program, which was made by its history department, have been "carefully and sensitively selected" and that the identities of those in the car had been blacked out.

"These photographs are an important and accurate eyewitness record of how events unfolded after the crash," a Channel 4 statement said.

"We acknowledge there is great public sensitivity surrounding pictures of the victims and these have not been included," Channel 4 said, adding that it believed the events were the subject of "genuine public interest" to know how the events leading to Diana's death had unfolded.

The broadcaster's comment have not mollified critics.

In an interview for BBC radio, long-time Diana family friend Rosa Monckton accused Channel 4 of using the footage to lure viewers and said it would damage her sons.

"They must have released the fact that they were using this image as part of their publicity campaign," Monckton told the "PM" program on BBC Radio 4. "Why else would people want to tune in? It's rather like how people stop on the motorway to look at car crashes, but they are summoning people, they are saying 'Roll up, roll up, come and look at this.'"

"She can't be hurt by this anymore but her sons can," she added.

Hugo Swire, the member of parliament who speaks for culture and media affairs for the opposition Conservative party, said the film would violate Diana's privacy and cause further grief to her sons.

"This kind of coverage must be deeply distressing to Princes William and Harry," Swire said. "It is difficult to see who will be served from broadcasting such sensational and private material," he said.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

The Complete Article

The Princess Diana Death Pictures:

Are These Pictures Fakes?

It was an incredibly violent crash. No one was wearing a seatbelt. Paul and Fayed were dead. Dr. Frederic Maillez, an off duty emergency doctor, stopped his car 30 seconds later.

"I remember almost nobody around me walking toward the wreckage," he said. "And my first intention was to see if there were any victims."

An off-duty fireman was already tending to the bodyguard in the front seat. Without knowing who she was, and with little equipment, Maillez focused on Diana.

"She was laying on the floor of the car, she was unconscious," he said. "The first thing I had to do was to lift up her head, apply the respiratory bag so she could breathe a little bit better. What I could see is that she did not have any injury on her face. Her face was intact. Just a few drops of blood and that's it. She was still very beautiful, very sophisticated lady."

As Maillez worked, others began to arrive including the photographers who had been left behind.

"Little by little, there was more and more flash more and more photographs taken - there was like 'tsh tsh tsh,' " Maillez said.

So it would appear these pictures do match up to an eyewitness account of how Diana appeared after the accident.


Ted Nugent Disrespects The Hildabeast And Osama Obama

Comment From Sergeant Ronbo: "ROCK ON, TED!"

See The Video

Typical Comment Below From A Raving Moonbat Who Had No Problem With Leftist Hate Speech Exposed In The Bush Assassination Movie

Renegade right-winger Ted Nugent recently went on a vicious onstage rant in which he threatened the lives of Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Decked out in full-on camouflage hunting gear, Nugent wielded two machine guns while raging, “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary,” he continued. “You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.” Nugent summed up his eloquent speech by screaming “freedom!”

This isn’t the first time Nugent has been caught spewing hatred. Last January, the guitarist caused a scandal for Republican Texas governor Rick Perry when he wore a Confederate flag shirt and insulted immigrants at Perry’s inauguration event. In July, Nugent was quoted in a Wall Street Journal story blaming “stoned, dirty, stinky hippies” for “rising rates of divorce, high school drop-outs, drug use, abortion, sexual diseases and crime, not to mention the exponential expansion of government and taxes.”


Moral to the story: If the Left starts talking about the assassination of Rightists, the kind regards will be extended to leading Leftists. If the Left actually starts murdering Rightists, the violence will be returned tenfold.

Freedom For Pakistan?

More news is emerging about the deal made—with US encouragement—between exiled former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and reigning military dictator Pervez Musharraf. From what we know now, it looks like a good deal, and not just because it will put Pakistan back on the road to political freedom and free elections.

It looks like a good deal because Bhutto is promising to rally Pakistan's liberals and to reverse Musharraf's policy of abandoning the tribal regions of Northwest Pakistan to al-Qaeda. In the bracing editorial below, she argues that "a democratic government can better restore the authority of the state" and vows that "no deals can be struck with religious fanatics."

If Bhutto returns to power and proves to have the willingness and ability to act on these promises—a big "if"—it could be a major new victory in the War on Terrorism. The only nuclear-armed majority-Muslim state would be back under the control of its liberals.

"A Moment of Truth in Pakistan," Benazir Bhutto, Los Angeles Times, August 30 There are moments in history that prove decisive and mark a turning point for the future. The Civil War was such a moment in the United States. The fall of the Berlin Wall was such a moment for Germany and the European Union. Today is Pakistan's moment of truth. Decisions made now will determine whether extremism and terrorism can be contained to save Pakistan from internal collapse. The stability of not just Pakistan but the civilized world is at stake.

In a democratic Pakistan, extremist movements have been minimal. In all democratic elections, extremist religious parties never have garnered more than 11% of the vote. But under dictators—most notably Gen. Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, but unfortunately also Gen. Pervez Musharraf during this decade—religious extremism has gained a foothold in my homeland….

In both of my tenures as prime minister, my government imposed the rule of law on all areas of Pakistan—our four provinces and also the federally administered tribal areas, including Waziristan. With the support of the people of those tribal areas, we managed to uproot an international drug cartel that had operated with impunity under dictatorship.

Today, however, the international drug barons have morphed into religious extremists and terrorists. The current government of Pakistan has ceded large areas of our nation to the pro-Taliban and Al Qaeda forces, claiming that these areas are ungovernable. I believe that they are governable and that a democratic government can better restore the authority of the state….

Musharraf continues to enjoy the support of the international community and the armed forces of Pakistan. But such support is no substitute for the will of the people who are now disempowered and disenchanted….

Some argue that through cease-fires and peace treaties, one can get the extremists into the mainstream and moderate them. But the experience in Pakistan proves otherwise. Every cease-fire and peace treaty has emboldened the militants and terrorists…. The Red Mosque incident demonstrated that no deals can be struck with religious fanatics.

Pakistan is at the crossroads. Our success can be a signal to 1 billion Muslims all over the world that Islam is compatible with democracy, modernity and moderation.

"Divide And Conquer" In Iraq

Our enemies are always full of bluster, but we should never forget that they have problems of their own—and that if we had the same problems, we would conclude that we were utterly doomed.

In Iraq, Muqtada al Sadr has been forced to make a public statement instructing his Mahdi Army militia to suspend all of its military activities, after Mahdi Army fighters initiated a bloody battle with a rival militia during the height of the Shiite pilgrimage in Karbala. The problem: Mookie's militia is cracking up, and he may not have authority over it any more.

In the Weekly Standard's foreign policy blog, military blogger Bill Roggio sums up the story, catalogs the various, splintered factions of the Mahdi Army, and speculates that this will allow US forces—flush from their success in driving a wedge between the Sunni tribes and al Qaeda—to attempt a "divide and conquer" strategy against the Mahdi Army.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be vowing to fill the "power vacuum" in Iraq after America retreats—but he faces a giant economic vacuum at home caused by the implosion of the Iranian economy after Ahmadinejad imposed gasoline rationing. The Middle East Media Research Institute has a good overview of Iran's gasoline crisis.

When the Ayatollah Khamenei praised Ahmadinejad's policy as "courageous," one member of the Iranian parliament offered this response:

Do you know what problems the people are forced to face in their daily lives because of the gasoline rationing?... Do you think that busing [companies] haven't stopped transporting tourists around the country because of the rationing, causing substantial losses to owners of hotels, rental houses, and shops catering to tourists? Do you know that after months of toil in the fields, the farmers need to use their vehicles to bring their produce to market, but [that since they are prevented from doing so] the crops remain in their possession, and they can find no one to buy them, even at a reduced price?... Ambulances have no fuel to carry the sick... Was it a courageous [step] to inflict all this damage and catastrophe upon the people?

Another Iranian news website observes that the crisis is just beginning to reach a climax:

Right now, in mid-summer, when the demands on urban public transportation are minimal, [these] reports may appear negligible. However, each one of them is a piece of a puzzle which, if put together, would present an alarming picture of impending crisis: torched buses, looted banks and shops, gas stations set on fire by people fed up with the inflation, apartment shortages, and interminable lines of [standing] buses, trains and taxis—[and all this] by mid-September 2007 (when the demands on public transportation will be at their peak).

In the column below, Amir Taheri strangely opposes the labeling of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization (for fear of alienating the fanatical organization's "moderates"). But he also does a good job of sketching out the degree to which the IRGC now controls the Iranian regime, the extent of its economic enterprises, and what would happen if this economic empire were to collapse—including the interesting observation that a collapsing IRGC could take Lebanon's Hezbollah with it.

"The Odd Guard," Amir Taheri, New York Post, August 30 Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has moved to consolidate his hold on key organs of economic policymaking. He has replaced the Central Bank of Iran Gov. Ibrahim Sheibani after he criticized the president for policies that fuel inflation. Sheibani's forced resignation came only days after Ahmadinejad fired the oil minister, while the minister for industries also resigned in opposition to the projected sale of state-owned companies to members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The departing officials have all been replaced with Guard members. These moves confirm what many Iranians see as "a creeping coup d'etat" by the Guard against the ruling mullahs and their business partners. It's now safe to say that the IRGC is the dominant force in the ruling establishment.

This, perhaps, is one reason the Bush administration is mulling the possibility of declaring the Guard a "terrorist organization." America would thus be labeling as "terrorist" the principal force that ensures the Islamic Republic's survival….

The Islamic Republic is believed to have invested some $20 billion in Lebanon since 1983. Lebanese Hezbollah is nominally in control of these enterprises, but most of the Lebanese companies are fronts for Guard-controlled Iranian concerns. Hezbollah's business empire, the source of much of its power in Lebanon, thus could collapse with an adverse breeze from Tehran.

The Iraqi Elections Bush Lost

I have criticized the Bush administration for the way in which the woozy concept of "democracy" has undercut the Forward Strategy of Freedom, allowing the installation of mob rule instead of a free society. Now here comes confirmation of a key failure that was part of this policy: the failure to support liberal, pro-American parties in the 2005 Iraqi elections—for fear of "interfering" with "democracy"—even as Iran poured in millions to support Iraq's Islamist parties.

Note, however, that one of the people who helped shape this policy was then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. If Bush had covertly backed Ayad Allawi in 2005, he would not have had to wait for Allawi's political opponents in Iraq to brand him a paid stooge of the United States; the Democrats would have done it first.

So "democracy" is supposed to be our political and ideological weapon against Iran—but we let Iran seize it as a weapon against us.

"Bush's Lost Iraqi Election," David Ignatius, Washington Post, August 30 Behind Allawi's comment lies a tale of intrigue and indecision by the United States over whether to mount a covert-action program to confront Iran's political meddling. Such a plan was crafted by the Central Intelligence Agency and then withdrawn—because of opposition from an unlikely coalition that is said to have included Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was then House minority leader, and Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser….

The CIA warned in the summer and fall of 2004 that the Iranians were pumping money into Iraq to steer the Jan. 30, 2005, elections toward the coalition of Shiite religious parties known as the United Iraqi Alliance. By one CIA estimate, Iranian covert funding was running at $11 million a week for media and political operations on behalf of candidates who would be friendly to Iran, under the banner of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The CIA reported that in the run-up to the election, as many as 5,000 Iranians a week were crossing the border with counterfeit ration cards to register to vote in Iraq's southern provinces.

To counter this Iranian tide, the CIA proposed a political action program, initially at roughly $20 million but with no ceiling. The activities would include funding for moderate Iraqi candidates, outreach to Sunni tribal leaders and other efforts to counter Iranian influence. A covert-action finding was prepared in the fall of 2004 and signed by President Bush. As required by law, senior members of Congress, including Pelosi, were briefed.

But less than a week after the finding was signed, CIA officials were told that it had been withdrawn. Agency officials in Baghdad were ordered to meet with Iraqi political figures and get them to return whatever money had been distributed. Mystified by this turn of events, CIA officers were told that Rice had agreed with Pelosi that the United States couldn't on the one hand celebrate Iraqi democracy and on the other try to manipulate it secretly….

Future historians should record that the Bush administration actually lived by its pro-democracy rhetoric about a new Iraq—to the point that it scuttled a covert action program aimed at countering Iranian influence.

The Mo Toon Jihad....Again?

Alert Rage Boy: there are rumblings of another "Cartoon Jihad," this time against a drawing published in a Swedish newspaper showing Muhammed as a dog. We'll see if this story blows up to the same dimensions as the original Cartoon Jihad.

On the other hand, the article below describes another drawing by the same artist, which presents a crude anti-Jewish slur—so while the original Danish Mohammed cartoons were a powerful statement about freedom of speech, this new case may just be a publicity stunt by a crude provocateur looking to get his name in the papers.

"New Muslim Cartoon Protests Grow," Henry de Quetteville, Daily Telegraph, August 30 Fears grew of a new confrontation over images deemed blasphemous by Muslims as Pakistan joined Iran in protest over a sketch by a Swedish artist portraying the prophet Mohammed as a dog….

The drawings show the head of a turbaned man attached to the body of a dog, in front of various settings including a football goal.

The publication, in the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda, came after several galleries had refused to display the drawings, apparently for fear of violent retaliation from offended Muslims….

"Alongside the picture, we published a comment piece saying that it was serious that there is self-censorship among exhibition [galleries]," said the Nerikes Allehanda editor-in-chief, Ulf Johansson….

Artist Lars Vilks has not confined his provocative cartoons to Islam however. Another drawing, featured on his website, features a giant hook-nosed pig looming over hillside houses. The caption reads: "Modern Jew sow, swollen by capitalism, on her way to tear apart some peaceful villages."

Sweden Runs Up The White Flag

The Real Katrina Criminals

The criminals who flooded into New Orleans neighborhoods to loot stores and homes after Hurricane Katrina had nothing on the real looters—local, state, and federal politicians who used the natural disaster as an excuse to reach into our pockets and grab billions in swag.

How many billions? The official figure is now out: $127 billion. The article below offers a brilliant comparison: the Marshall Plan, which sought to rebuild the whole of Western Europe after the devastation of World War II, came to only $107 billion in today's money. So Katrina aid has surpassed the Marshall Plan—and with much less impressive results.

"Katrina Collects a Bundle," Audrey Hudson and Sean Lengell, Washington Times, August 30 The flow of federal dollars to the Gulf Coast two years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the region already exceeds what the US spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II.

President Bush and Congress have committed more than $127 billion in resources and tax relief for the region—significantly more than inflation-adjusted $107.6 billion directed to 16 countries in Europe between 1947 and 1951….

More than $96 billion has been distributed or is currently available to states to rebuild houses and schools, repair damaged infrastructure and to provide shelter for hurricane victims, among other uses.

Washington also provided about $13 billion in tax relief, and has spent more than $7 billion to get New Orleans area's levees back to pre-storm levels. Another $7 billion will be spent on the flood-protection system….

Still, the rebuilding process has gone slower than anticipated. "We had hoped to be much farther along," said Mr. McDonald. "There is still plenty of recovery to be done."…

The Senate Homeland Security Committee conducted an eight-month investigation that "uncovered massive and unacceptable fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars" including "$1 billion in improper and potentially fraudulent payments" by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and "millions of dollars in payments were paid in the name of individuals incarcerated in prisons."

The Rich Poor In America

The case of Hurricane Katrina was supposed to highlight the terrible, unrecognized plight of the poor in America. But a new Census Bureau report shows, not only that the poverty rate has been shrinking, but that America's "poor" live a lifestyle that would be considered opulent by historical standards and solidly middle-class by the standards of much of the world.

The article below goes into the details, listing the televisions, automobiles, homes, and other goods owned by America's "poor."

I don't mean to make light of some people's struggle to make ends meet; as a self-employed writer, I've been there and done that. But I do think we should take this as a reminder of the enormous wealth and opportunity available to everyone in a free-market economy, making America the best country in the world in which to be "poor."

One consequence of this fact, as this article points out, is that one-quarter of our "poor" are legal and illegal immigrants—people who have come for the opportunity to rise out of poverty. This is not a problem (as this article perversely implies); it is the "American dream." Rather than demonstrating the persistence of poverty, the role of immigrants in poverty statistics demonstrates the persistence of economic opportunity in America.

"'Poverty' in America," Robert Rector, New York Post, August 30 The Census Bureau announced Tuesday that 36.5 million Americans are "poor."…

According to the government's own data, the typical person defined as "poor" by the Census has cable or satellite TV, air conditioning, a microwave, a DVD player or VCR, and two color TVs. Three quarters of these "poor" own a car and nearly a third have two or more cars.

By his own testimony, the typical "poor" person consistently has enough food to feed his family and enough money to meet all essential expenses such as mortgage, rent, utilities and important medical care. When asked, he reports that his family was able to obtain medical care whenever needed during the past year.

Government data show that 43 percent of all "poor" Americans actually own their own homes—typically, a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage and a porch or patio….

Most poor children today are, in fact, super-nourished—growing up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier that the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II….

Immigration also plays a major role in U.S. poverty. Each year, our nation imports hundreds of thousands of new poor persons. Porous borders encourage some 800,000 illegal aliens a year to enter the nation. And our legal immigration system strongly favors low-skill immigrants over higher-skill immigrants.

As a result, one quarter of all poor persons in the United States are now immigrants or their minor children. An amazing one in 10 of the poor counted by Census is either an illegal alien or the minor child of an illegal.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bush and the Real Lessons of Vietnam

The Vietnam War, started by Democratic President Kennedy and greatly expanded by Democratic President Johnson, has caused many liberals to try to rewrite history. Even as we were winning the Tet offensive, that great liberal commentator and grandfatherly figure, Walter Cronkite, was telling us on CBS that we were losing. A few days ago, President Bush reminded us of a few facts about Vietnam that have been trashed in the meantime. Here are excerpts from two articles that illustrate my point and reinforce the message of leadership that President Bush urges us to understand:

The Left Shudders And Bush leads

by William Kristol
09/03/2007, Volume 012, Issue 47 (Excerpts)

“Like a pig in muck, the left loves to wallow in Vietnam. But only in their "Vietnam." Not in the real Vietnam war.

Not in the Vietnam war of 1963-68, the disastrous years where policy was shaped by the best and brightest of American liberalism. Not in the Vietnam war of 1969-73, when Richard Nixon and General Creighton Abrams managed to adjust our strategy, defeat the enemy, and draw down American troops all at once--an achievement affirmed and rewarded by the American electorate in November 1972. Not in the Vietnam of early 1975, when the Democratic Congress insisted on cutting off assistance to our allies in South Vietnam and Cambodia, thereby inviting the armies of the North and the Khmer Rouge to attack. And not in the defeats of April 1975. As the American left celebrated from New York to Hollywood, in Phnom Penh former Cambodian prime minister Sirik Matak wrote to John Gunther Dean, the American ambassador, turning down his offer of evacuation:

Dear Excellency and Friend:
I thank you very sincerely for your letter and 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 all are born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you [the Americans].

Please accept, Excellency and dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.
S/Sirik Matak

The Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh a few days later. Sirik Matak was executed: shot in the stomach, he was left without medical help and took three days to die. Between 1 and 2 million Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in the next three years. Next door, tens of thousands of Vietnamese were killed, and many more imprisoned. Hundreds of thousands braved the South China Sea to reach freedom.

The United States welcomed the refugees--but we were in worldwide retreat. It turned out that the USSR was sufficiently tired and ramshackle that its attempts to take advantage of that retreat had limited success. Still, the damage done by U.S. weakness in the late 1970s should not be underestimated. To mention only one event, our weakness made possible the first successful Islamist revolution in the modern world in Iran in 1979, in the course of which we allowed a new Iranian government to hold 52 Americans hostage for 444 days

The era of weakness ended with the American public's repudiation of Jimmy Carter in 1980…...

As the left shudders, Bush leads. In his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 27 years after Reagan's, Bush also told the truth about Vietnam. Now he has to be steadfast in supporting General Petraeus and ensuring that the war is fought as intelligently and energetically as possible. Not everyone in his administration is as fully committed to this task as they should be. Bush will have to be an energetic and effective commander in chief, both abroad and on the home front, over his final 17 months. Last week was a good start.” Weekly Standard

A Question of National Honor

By James Bowman
Published 8/28/2007 12:08:18 AM, (Excerpts)

Nothing that's happened in this summer's Silly Season so far has amused me half so much as President Bush's suddenly upsetting the media's whole rhetorical apple-cart by comparing Iraq to Vietnam. The media take that has now prevailed since the American-backed overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001 -- that every further step in the War on Terror is further progress into a Vietnam-like "quagmire" -- has done a 180. Now they're dragging onto the stage one anti-Bush historian after another to proclaim that Iraq is nothing like Vietnam and that the President, as usual, has got it all wrong.

"What is Bush suggesting? That we didn't fight hard enough, stay long enough?" asks Robert Dallek in the Los Angeles Times. "That's nonsense. It's a distortion." Likewise, "Vietnam was not a bunch of sectarian groups fighting each other," Stanley Karnow told USA Today before asking: "Does he think we should have stayed in Vietnam?" Well, yes, I suppose he does think that. But I suspect that he also thinks we should have stayed not to keep on losing for even longer than we did but rather to win.

For in spite of all the differences between Iraq and Vietnam that the administration's apologists are right to identify, there is one salient point of similarity that the anti-war left is powerfully invested in denying. It is that American national honor is at stake in Iraq just as it was in Vietnam, and that a premature withdrawal of American troops from Iraq -- and what we know would follow for the Iraqis who have trusted us and been our friends -- would be a stain on that honor as great or greater than the stain it incurred from the abandonment of our friends in Indochina in 1975. Then, in the President's words, "the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps,' and 'killing fields.'"....

Such reminders are particularly irksome to the media and the mainstream of academic historians, for whom Vietnam was merely the long-delayed triumph of youthful and journalistic idealism over a corrupt political and military establishment. That was the version of America's abandonment of her allies that was once again on sale a few months ago on the death of David Halberstam, but it's no more persuasive now than it was then. The media's belief in the glory -- at least their own glory -- in America's retreat, is also what blinds them to the irrelevance of the administration's mistakes in Iraq, which they also keep harping on -- as if those mistakes were of the slightest relevance now. What they can't understand is that it doesn't matter, even if the whole Iraqi invasion were a mistake, in terms of America's national honor. If President Bush has been right about nothing else, he is right about this. If American troops leave before the insurgency is defeated, it will be as much of a dishonor to us as it would have been had the administration been right about everything.

The anti-war crowd have never been able to understand this: war is always stupid, immoral, unjust, hateful, but once a country is engaged in one the national honor is also engaged, and the consequences of dishonor are incalculable. There is no way to "redeploy" American troops, to use a favorite euphemism of the Democrats, so long as there is still fight in the enemy, without surrendering
And surrender is always a dishonor. For us to surrender to the terror campaign -- whether "al Qaeda" or "civil war" makes no difference -- would be to devalue America's word in the international arena forever. This would be disastrous not only to us but to the world order that we uphold and must uphold in spite of the Buchananites and others who think we can simply refuse this role and go back to being Fortress America. They, too, fail to understand national honor.

For, it doesn't matter, either, if the American imperium is a good or bad thing, though we ought naturally to want to make it as good as it can be; it doesn't matter if we think it is primitive and immoral for the world to judge us by our willingness to go on making sacrifices of our young men and women on behalf of something as stupid as trying to make Iraq into even a vaguely Western-style democracy. For better or for worse, this is the task that we have undertaken, and it will be a shame and a disaster to us now to fail in it. It's encouraging to me to think that President Bush understands this, even if his critics don't.” American Spectator


Religious AhmadinejadWho do you choose for the lead character in your new movie? A megalomanic madman who tortures, murders, denies the Holocaust and wishes to annihilate the nation of Israel. Ahmadinejad, who else? If you truly loathe your country, it's best to go for the big fish.

Filmmaker, Oliver Stone had been snuffling around Ahmadinejad for months, begging and groveling for the privilege of making a movie on him.


On September 11—an interesting date to choose—General Petraeus will give his report to Congress on the progress of the surge. US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will also give a report on the progress of the political effort to achieve a stable Iraqi government. (On that issue, it looks like Crocker will be able to report on an agreement among Iraqi factions on certain key pieces of legislation—a development which has been ignored by the mainstream media.)

Washington is already immersed in a political battle over this report, with each side scrambling to prepare the ground, either to take full advantage of General Petraeus's report, or to make that report disappear. And so it is appropriate that some politicians are beginning to state their positions well in advance of the report, with Republican maverick Lindsey Graham backing the surge and influential Republican Senator John Warner putting forward an inane plan to "bring the boys home by Christmas."

But increasingly, this political battle is beginning to look like the last battle of the Vietnam War. The right is looking at this as a second chance to do what they couldn't do in 1974, in the wake of Nixon's resignation: to prevent the left from imposing another humiliating and unnecessary defeat on America.

That's the spirit of the pro-war counter-protests planned for Washington, DC, to coincide with Petraeus's testimony. If the outcome of the war is going to be decided, once again, by street protests and congressional testimony, then as one organizer puts it, "Unlike the 60s and 70s, the anti-war lemmings will not have the streets or the political stage to themselves."

"The Return of the Eagles," Michelle Malkin, Jewish World Review, August 29 Earlier this year, I reported on a new, nonpartisan movement that arose to challenge the surrender lobby. On a bitter cold weekend in March, the Gathering of Eagles brought together veterans, families of active-duty servicemen and servicewomen, Rolling Thunder members, military bloggers and their grass-roots supporters to raise their pro-troops, pro-mission voices. I interviewed Eagles who flew in from San Francisco, rode motorcycles south from Georgia, drove all night from Boston, and trekked in caravans from coast to coast to answer ANSWER. At the crack of dawn, facing biting winds and contemptuous taunts, tens of thousands of Eagles stood guard over war memorials threatened by anti-war anarchists and lined the streets where bongo drum-beating retreatists marched.

The Gathering of Eagles turnout was unprecedented. The Cindy Sheehanistas and socialist rabble-rousers had never been met and matched with such force. Now, the Eagles are organizing a return to Washington at a historic moment in the global war against jihad….

For every anti-Bush activist agitating for immediate withdrawal and throwing rocks at ROTC offices, an Eagle will be there in Washington to oppose the planting of the white flag….

As retired Army Col. Harry Riley explains, "Unlike the '60s and '70s, the anti-war lemmings will not have the streets or the political stage to themselves. This time, Eagle Americans—we who support our troops, understand the stakes in the War on Terror and the true nature of our enemy, who aren't blinded by an insane hatred of our way of life and our form of government—will also be in Washington, DC, to show Congress that we will not tolerate another betrayal of our own forces or our allies."

No Hot War With Iran?

If Iran is now our central enemy in the War on Terrorism, what is the Bush administration's strategy against Iran? For years, I have described that strategy as "Cold War II," a reprise of our Cold War strategy against the Soviets. That term is now somewhat equivocal, since Vladimir Putin seems determined to start his own Cold War sequel between Russia and the West.

So let's just call it the cold war with Iran. The idea is that we will not attack Iran directly or seek to topple its regime. We will act as if Iran were already protected by the nuclear weapons it seeks, and so instead we will oppose Iran through proxy wars fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, through economic and diplomatic "pressure," and through the occasional "brinksmanship" of military standoffs on minor issues.

President Bush makes this strategy clear in a new speech, which is nicely excerpted in the link below. The speech makes it clear that Bush does think Iran is the enemy in this war—and it also makes it clear that he is limiting America to an indirect proxy battle against Iran, in the hope of causing Iran's collapse from within, just as we did with the Soviet Union, after four decades of turmoil and bloodshed.

The proxy battle we're fighting in Iraq is against the Shiite militias, primarily the Mahdi Army nominally controlled by Muqtada al-Sadr and funded and trained by Iran. The Mahdi Army recently started a series of skirmishes in Southern Iraq against government forces (and rival Shiite militias)—though Sadr subsequently responded by claiming he would stand down his militia, at least for now.

As for the longer term, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made it clear how he plans to respond if Democrats succeed in mandating an American retreat from Iraq: "The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly. Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap."

If this is a new Cold War, and if Democrats are trying to turn Iraq into this war's Vietnam, then Ahmadinejad is preparing to take advantage of a replay of 1979—the year in which a collapse of American power saw an emboldened Soviet Union pressing forward on all fronts in an attempt o fill the "huge power vacuum" America has left open in the world.

"Confronting Dangers Before It's Too Late," George W. Bush via Investor's Business Daily, August 28 We always enter wars reluctantly—yet we have fought whenever dangers came….

[W]e responded when radicals and extremists attacked our homeland in the first ideological war of the 21st century. We toppled two regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq that gave harbor to terrorists, defied the international community, and threatened the security of our nation. And now we're working to help build free and secure societies in their place—and like the past, we will do what we have to do to get the job done….

[V]iolent Islamic radicalism…has two main strains. One is Sunni extremism, embodied by al Qaida and its terrorist allies….

The other strain of radicalism in the Middle East is Shia extremism, supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories.

Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late….

Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people. Members of the Qods Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated IEDs. And with the assistance of Hezbollah, they've provided training for these violent forces inside of Iraq. Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months—despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.

Some say Iran's leaders are not aware of what members of their own regime are doing. Others say Iran's leaders are actively seeking to provoke the West. Either way, they cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis. The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities.

For all those who ask whether the fight in Iraq is worth it, imagine an Iraq where militia groups backed by Iran control large parts of the country….

The challenge in Iraq comes down to this: Either the forces of extremism succeed, or the forces of freedom succeed. Either our enemies advance their interests in Iraq, or we advance our interests. The most important and immediate way to counter the ambitions of al Qaeda and Iran and other forces of instability and terror is to win the fight in Iraq.

The Battle Of Pakistan Continues....

Benazir Bhutto, the liberal former Pakistani prime minister, has indicated that she has arrived at a power-sharing deal with Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf, a deal that would return Pakistan to civilian rule and—hopefully—usher in a new alliance between the military and Pakistan's liberals, against the Islamists.

(For more of a sense of who Bhutto is and what she's trying to accomplish with this deal, see a new interview with her in the Washington Post.)

But the battle over Pakistan's future will be a long one, because Islamism is deeply established in Pakistan's culture, its politics, and its traditions. Below, I link to a long but worthwhile article from National Geographic which describes the tension between the relatively liberal traditions of Pakistan's Indus River Valley and the reactionary Islamism of its wild hinterland.

"The Struggle for the Soul of Pakistan," Don Belt, National Geographic, September 2007 If there is an address, an exact location for the rift tearing Pakistan apart, and possibly the world, it is a spot 17 miles (28 kilometers) west of Islamabad called the Margalla Pass. Here, at a limestone cliff in the middle of Pakistan, the mountainous west meets the Indus River Valley, and two ancient, and very different, civilizations collide….

This is also where two conflicting forms of Islam meet: the relatively relaxed and tolerant Islam of India, versus the rigid fundamentalism of the Afghan frontier. Beneath the surface of Pakistan, these opposing forces grind against each other like two vast geologic plates, rattling teacups from Lahore to London, Karachi to New York. The clash between moderates and extremists in Pakistan today reflects this rift, and can be seen as a microcosm for a larger struggle among Muslims everywhere. So when the earth trembles in Pakistan, the world pays attention.

Travel 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) across this troubled country, as I did recently, and it becomes obvious that, 60 years after its founding, Pakistan still occupies unsettled ground. Traumatized by multiple wars with India, a parade of military strongmen (including the current president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf), and infighting among ethnic groups—Punjabi, Sindhi, Baluchi, Pashtun—Pakistan's 165 million people have never fully united as one nation, despite being 97 percent Muslim. To hold the country together, successive governments have spent billions on the military, creating a pampered and self-serving monolith of mostly Punjabi generals while neglecting the basic needs of the people, for justice, health, education, security, and hope. Lately, these grievances have spilled onto the streets, as lawyers and other opponents challenge Pakistan's military government and demand a return to civilian, democratic rule. Meanwhile, six years after 9/11, the forces of Islamic radicalism are gaining strength and challenging Pakistan's moderate majority for the soul of the country….

From the start, the founders of Pakistan intended their nation to be a refuge for Muslims, not an Islamic state. Pakistan was created when India, a British colony for nearly a hundred years, gained its independence and was partitioned into two countries along a hastily drawn border. Pakistan's first leader, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and his brain trust of secular intellectuals created a fledgling democracy that gave Islam a cultural, rather than political, role in national life. Their Pakistan was to be a model of how Islam, merged with democratic ideals, could embrace the modern world. "Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense," Jinnah said in his inaugural address, but "as citizens of the state."…

More than anyone, it was General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who created Pakistan's current generation of Islamic radicals, and the climate in which they thrive. A Punjabi general with a pencil-thin mustache and raccoon circles under his eyes, Zia seized power in a coup in 1977, had the democratically elected prime minister tried and hanged, and promptly pressed for the Islamization of Pakistan, calling for more religion in the classroom and the use of punishments such as flogging and amputations for crimes against Islam. To Zia, Pakistan's secular founders, with their emphasis on Muslim culture, had it exactly backward. "We were created on the basis of Islam," Zia said, and he set out to remake democratic Pakistan as a strict Islamic state—despite the fact that a large majority of Pakistanis were, and remain, moderates….

Pervez Hoodbhoy lives every day with the consequences of the lack of public education in Pakistan. An MIT-trained professor of nuclear physics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, he was speaking to a graduate-level class in physics a few days after the huge earthquake that devastated Kashmir in 2005, describing the geophysical forces that produced the disaster. "When I finished, hands shot up all over the room," he recalls. "'Professor, you are wrong,' my students said. 'That earthquake was the wrath of God.'"

This, he says, is the legacy of General Zia-ul-Haq, whose education ministry issued guidelines on bringing an Islamic perspective to science and other subjects in the public schools. "The Zia Generation has come of age," he says. "It isn't Islamic to teach that earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates. Instead, you are supposed to say, by the will of Allah, an earthquake happens." Today a government commission is working to modernize education, but "it goes deeper than updating textbooks," he says. "It's a matter of changing society."

Democracy On The Ropes In Turkey

Meanwhile, the battle over secularism in Turkey is not going well. A new election has given Turkey's "moderate" Islamist party a majority in parliament, which it has used to elect one of its leaders to the position of president—an office at the center of Turkey's century-long, rigorously secular political system.

The New York Sun provides an article arguing that this is not as bad as it seems—and there is some truth to the observation that Turks are partly rebelling against military rule more than they are clamoring for Islamic rule. Moreover, Turkey's new president, as the New York Times observes below, has promised to respect its secular institutions.

But the history of Pakistan, as described in the article linked to above, provides a warning that once Islam acquires some degree of political power, a nation is headed on a downward slope to religious dogmatism, vigilante violence, and dictatorship.

"Turk With Islamic Ties Is Elected President," Sabrina Tavernise and Sebnem Arsu, New York Times, August 29 An observant Muslim with a background in Islamic politics was voted in on Tuesday as president, breaking an 84-year grip on power by the secular establishment and ushering a new religious middle class from Turkey’s heartland into the center of the staunchly secular state.

Lawmakers approved Abdullah Gul, a 56-year-old economist, with 339 votes, far above the simple majority required in the 550-member Parliament. Two candidates shared another 83 votes. The main party of the secular establishment boycotted the balloting….

There was no immediate statement from the military, which has ousted four elected governments since 1960. But its unspoken reaction was frosty: No military commander attended Mr. Gul’s inaugural ceremony, a highly unusual departure from protocol, considering that he is now the commander in chief….

In his acceptance speech in Parliament, Mr. Gul emphasized his commitment to Turkey’s secular values. He renewed his pledge to push for Turkey’s membership in the European Union, an effort that he has led tirelessly in his four years as foreign minister.

“Secularism, one of the basic principles of our republic, is a rule of social peace,” he said, dressed in a dark suit and a red tie. “My door will be open to everyone.”…

Most Turks strongly oppose the idea of a religiously oriented government, and the overwhelming portion of Mr. Gul’s constituency voted for his party because they said it had done well running the country, not because its leaders were pious men. Their policies over the past four years in power have reflected a careful respect for secular principles, many say, and have brought an economic boom and rising property values.

Democommie Plan To Sink The Economy

I linked recently to an article by economist Jerry Bowyer arguing that the "sub-prime" mortgage crisis is not capable of dragging down the economy, because this portion of the economy is just too small. Below, Bowyer follows up this argument by pointing to the one thing that is big enough to cause a small financial panic to spin out of control: the government. Bowyer argues that mortgage lenders are now hunkering down and refusing mortgages, not because of the actual financial risks, but because of the fear of new government interventions.

And to prove Bowyer right, along comes Barack Obama with a plan perfectly calculated to deter any lender from issuing a mortgage ever again: "Unscrupulous lenders who deceptively sold subprime mortgages to millions of Americans should be fined and the proceeds used to help bail out borrowers facing a wave of foreclosures." Meanwhile, Democratic congressman John Dingell is promoting another disastrous piece of legislation designed to appeal to environmentalists. He would punish the builders of bigger houses with a provision that would eliminate the tax deduction for mortgage interest on homes larger than 3,000 square feet.

This is the real "boom and bust" cycle of the modern economy: after years of expansion, the economy undergoes a mild correction—which is then made much worse by punitive new government controls.

"Helter Shelter," Jerry Bowyer, National Review Online, August 27 Why are mortgage lenders hiding under their desks?

What are they afraid of? The economy is solid. There’s plenty of investment capital out there. People want homes; mortgage applications generally have been going up. And the Federal Reserve has been doing its job, opening the discount window to troubled banks.

So, what are they afraid of? Why won’t the lenders lend?

Answer: Because Congress is on the case.

The Democrats are drooling over the credit "crisis," to the point where you can practically see the slobber stains on Barney Frank’s article in Tuesday’s Financial Times, a predictable cry for more regulation…. He’s the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee…, and he sees the sub-prime episode as an opportunity to extend his regulatory fiefdom from banks to any institution that originates a mortgage. He also spies a chance to move away from homeownership for the poor and toward public and subsidized housing….

Chuck Schumer is working on the kind of legislation that places broad and vague obligations on mortgage originators. Other legislators are talking about criminal penalties for “predatory lenders.” Can you see the perp walks? The Democrats can. That’s why the lenders aren’t lending.

The sub-prime problem never had to do with the default rates among sub-prime borrowers. As I (and Larry Kudlow and Ben Stein and Neil Cavuto) have been saying over and over, that market just isn’t big enough.

The problem is fear of backlash. Whether the issue is “managed earnings,” as in the case of Enron, or backdating options, as in the case of Apple, there is a pattern. A market corrects, people who are long on that market get hurt, the media blows the issue vastly out of proportion, politicians grandstand, Congress over-regulates, and a cloud of lawyers comes swarming across the plain laying waste to everything in sight….

[T]he president must make perfectly clear that he will veto any legislation that threatens the health of the housing market. No Sarbanes-Oxleys for home credit; no trial-lawyer open season on mortgage originators; no overzealous regulators treating judgment calls made in good faith in a strong market as crimes against humanity in a down market.

Ultimately it will be up to the president to stop the Congress from turning a correction into a catastrophe.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


The U.S. Army trains its soldiers in the most professional manner in the operation of the MORTAR and safety is always stressed:

1. Please be sure that your motar is clean and in good repair.

2. Please be sure your ammunition is clean and check carefully for rounds that are damaged.

3. Please be advised that failure to take these two simple steps can result in death or serious injury to the mortar operator.

4. Please watch this short video captured from Islamic terrorists in Iraq that speaks volumes on above items #1 and #2.

The Video And A Tip Of The Steel Helmet To Pam The Great

Democrat: Thy Very Name Is Corruption!

The Leftist New York Traitor Times yells once again at the Republicans for the purpose of propaganda to an America that often tunes out its high Soprano voice of lies and disinformation--A Scandal-Scarred G.O.P. Asks,What Next?’ all the while ignoring the many scandals of the Democrat (Democommie) Party, but I won't thanks to the "Doctor of Democracy" -- One Rush Limbaugh-- who has filed this very long summary of a real "Culture of Corruption" and an American political party that is both socialist and corrupt to its core.


RUSH: Bill in Delray Beach, Florida. Glad you called, sir, welcome.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. Listen, as you're you're recounting the corruption scandals of the past in Congress, you might want to remember the Keating Five, four of which were Democrats, and one was -- the only Republican was -- McCain -- and Jim Wright, the speaker of the House.

RUSH: Yeah, I got 'em all here. I got 'em all here. I've got the Keating Five. They say there was a Republican in that group, but I'm not so sure. Here's the list: Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini, Don Riegle, John Glenn and John McCain. Who is the Republican in that group?

CALLER: (Laughing.) Uh, it might be five-for-five Democrats.

RUSH: The Keating scandal, the Keating Five, was also related to the Savings and Loan Scandal. This is 1980 and 1989. Remember the name Charles Keating? That's on the list. Let's just start here. These are the scandals, major scandals, 1975 through 1999.

• Lancegate: President Carter's OMB Director Bert Lance resignation amidst allegations of misuse of funds (1977)

• Tongsun Park "Koreagate" scandal involving alleged bribery of more than 100 members of Congress by South Korean government; charges were pressed only against congressmen Richard T. Hanna (convicted) and Otto E. Passman (not prosecuted because of illness); also implicated was South Korean President Park Chung Hee

• Betty Ford addictions (1978)

• Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia ["Hummen, they called him. Hummen Talmadge of G'ogia.] punished after his ex-wife produced cash "gifts" he had hidden in an overcoat (1979); Talmadge later wrote, "I wish I'd burned that damn overcoat and charged everything on American Express." Talmadge the same year admitted to having spent five weeks in alcohol rehab; he was not re-elected to the Senate in 1980.
What this doesn't tell you is that Hummen would go back home to G'ogia and he'd go walkin' the streets and people would give him money! Constituents would give him money, and that's why it was in the overcoat. Hummen Talmadge. Hummen was around during the Watergate period. He wasn't on the committee or anything but he was constantly being interviewed about it.

• There was the Abscam scandal in (1980) ["One senator, Harrison A. Williams (D-NJ), and five members of the House: John Jenrette (D-SC), Richard Kelly (R-FL) -- later overturned -- Raymond Lederer (D-PA), Michael Myers (D-PA) and Frank Thompson (D-NJ) -- were convicted of bribery and conspiracy. John M. Murphy (D-NY), was convicted of a lesser charge. Most of the politicians resigned. Congressman Myers had to be expelled. Five other government officials were convicted, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Angelo Errichetti. One politician targeted, but not indicted, was Congressman John Murtha (D-PA).]

• "Debategate": briefing book of President Jimmy Carter stolen and given to Ronald Reagan campaign before the 1980 presidential election debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
• October Surprise (1980).

Which, of course, the Democrats were still investigating in 1990.

• Anne Gorsuch Burford refusal to turn over EPA documents (1982)
• William Casey insider trading (1983)
• Iran-Contra affair (1985-1986)
• Savings and loan scandal and the Keating Five (1980-1989): Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini, Don Riegle, John Glenn and John McCain.
• Senator John Tower's nomination as Defense Secretary derailed due to allegations of habitual and extreme alcohol abuse and improper ties to defense industry. (1987)
• Mario Biaggi convicted (1988) in Wedtech scandal of bribery, extortion, racketeering, filing a false tax return, mail fraud, and false financial disclosure; resigned from U.S. House before he could be expelled. He was a Democrat from New York.
• Speaker of the House "Fort Worthless" Jim Wright from Texas forced to resign after ethics committee investigation found dozens of violations of House rules, including alleged improper receipt of $145,000 in gifts by Wright's wife from a Fort Worth developer and large profits from "sale" of Wright's speeches.

Well, let me tell you about that. That was 1989. Fort Worthless Jim published a book of these speeches, and they had to get the book pretty thick to make it look Fort Worthless Jim was a substantive guy, and so they used a very large font, typeface, and some cases only one or two words per page. The books mostly were bought by organized labor in bulk, in boxes that were never opened. You had a tough time finding Fort Worthless Jim's book of speeches in the bookstore.

• Anthony Lee Coelho of California. That's Tony Coelho, who remains a major big shot organizing Democrat politics. He resigned from U.S. House for unethical finance practices including "junk bond" deal in 1989.

I remember I was watching Nightline that night. Barbara Walters was -- I saw Barbara Walters last night on Larry King Alive before the football started. You know, she was promoting her top ten most fascinating interviews. By the way, do you know who made her top ten most fascinating people list this year? Kanye West! Kanye West. Would somebody explain to me, of all the people in this country that might qualify as among the ten most fascinating, what in the world is Kanye West doing on the list? Now, I know I'm not an aficionado of rap music, but what am I missing here with Kanye West? Why is he among the fascinating? Is it that comment he made about Bush and Katrina? It has to be. It has to be. Anyway, she didn't look any older last night than when I watched her in 1989 on Nightline. A friend of mine said, "Well, it's all the Vaseline they put on the lens. It's a new version of soft focus." At any rate, I was watching her host Nightline. They were doing it on the resignation of Tony Coelho, and she was beside herself. "Can the government survive?" she said. It was just a congressman! He was a Democrat, powerful Democrat congressman from out in California. I met him a couple times.

• Alcee Hastings, federal district court judge impeached (1989) and convicted of soliciting a bribe. Nevertheless elected to U.S. House by the Democrats in Florida in 1992!
• Senator David Durenberger denounced by Senate for unethical financial transactions 1990.
• Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal implicates former Defense Secretary and Washington insider Clark Clifford (1991).

BCCI that was a Jimmy Carter Deal During his term in office.

• House Bank scandal (1992)
• Mary Rose Oakar (1992) allegations of "ghost employees" on payroll.
• President George H.W. Bush's pardon of six Iran-Contra affair figures on his last day in office ( January 20, 1993), days before the perjury trial of Casper Weinberger was scheduled to begin.

Well, it was a scandal only because the Democrats thought, "You can't do that! We had Weinberger nailed!" Weinberger was indicted the day before the election in 1992: a pure political indictment. That ought to be mentioned. Remember the special counsel on that? Lawrence Walsh. Political indictment. The day before the election, the Friday before the election, he indicted Weinberger. Democrats tried it again right before the election of 2000, leaking that Bush had a DWI he had never talked about, remember that?

• Travelgate (1993)
• Zoe Baird's nomination as Attorney General and Kimba Wood's subsequent near-nomination were derailed by past employment of illegal aliens as nannies. (1993)

Both nominated by President Clinton.

• Walter Fauntroy, Delegate to Congress from the District of Columbia, guilty plea regarding lying on financial disclosure form (1995)
• Wes Cooley (1996)
• Walter R. Tucker III of California resigned before bribery conviction (1996)

• Secretary of Agriculture Michael Espy forced to resign from office despite ultimate acquittal on criminal corruption charges (1998)

• Bruce ba-da ba-da ba-da Babbitt, Interior Secretary, independent probe (1998-2000) of alleged lying to Congress concerning influence of money in 1995 American Indian tribe casino decision finds no criminally prosecutable perjury by Babbitt.

• Vice-President Al Gore (1998) improper fundraising and "no controlling legal authority" defense.
This is those nuns out in California they bilked, the Buddhist nuns. Then he went out and said "no controlling legal authority."

• Whitewater scandal (1994-2000)
• Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich financial improprieties
• Dan "Rosty" Rostenkowski post office scandal (1994)

That's not even half of it. When they got to Rostenkowski's house in Illinois they found a bunch of furniture from his congressional office!

• Teamstergate: Ron Carey's and Bill Clinton's 1996 campaigns for the Presidency of the union and the US, respectively, swapped Teamster's Union general treasury funds into Clinton's campaign for Clinton Campaign funds into Ron Carey's campaign warchest. The Teamster's political director was jailed. No Clinton officials were charged. Carey's re-election was invalidated James Hoffa, Jr was elected when the Teamster election was rerun.
• Henry Cisneros resigns as Housing Secretary and, after lengthy probe that began in 1995, pleads guilty (1999) to lying to the FBI about money he paid former mistress; later pardoned by President Clinton in 2001(Possibly reclassify or cross-reference to Sex scandal)
• Pardongate (1999, 2001)

That's the Marc Rich pardon. We're just up to the year 2000 now, folks, and this just a list of scandals -- and Democrats want to talk about this "culture of corruption" out there? Nine out of ten of these that I've mentioned here are Democrats, and loads of them in the Clinton administration. Let's go.

• Linda Chavez, nomination as Secretary of Labor derailed by past employment of illegal alien. (2001)
• Jim Traficant (D-OH) we all know.
• Robert Torricelli bribery scandal (2002)
• Trent Lott resigned as Senate majority leader amid racial controversy
Yellow cake forgery, false evidence presented in the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

• That's still an ongoing controversy. To call this a scandal? We haven't even yet got to the bottom of this. Following that's the Valerie Plame affair.

• "Halliburton Company: is listed as a scandal, here. (laughing)

Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse, Tom DeLay, Bernard Kerik, Bush administration payment of columnists including Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus. The Downing Street memo is listed. Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, and so on and so forth. This all from Wikipedia as they list the scandal from his 1975 to 1999. What's that? The House Bank Scandal? No, I mentioned it. It's here. I went through it earlier. The House Bank Scandal and the House post office scandal are both mentioned here.

RUSH: Other Democrat scandals? Let's not forget Massachusetts congressman Gary Studds and the little patty cake he was playing with those House pages. Remember that one? Remember that? How about Barney Frank, Stephen Gobie? Stephen Gobie, Barney's partner, running a... Well, a brothel-type thing ran in Barney's basement. Barney said he never knew it. Barney was also fixing parking tickets for the guy. Joe Biden. Joe Biden plagiarizing Neil Kinnock during a presidential primary that Biden quickly faded. The Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd waitress sandwich. This is a scandal that was repeated practically every night at La Brasserie in Washington, a restaurant that's now closed -- and I'm not making this up. It would either be Senator Kennedy on the bottom and Senator Dodd on the top and the waitress in the middle, or Dodd on the bottom, Kennedy on the top, and the waitress in the middle, hence the waitress sandwich. The governor of Kentucky, Paul Patton, was accused of pressuring his mistress, harassing her after she broke it off and then withdrawing Medicare money from her nursing home that she ran, remember that? If the Democrats want to play this culture of corruption game, let's just remind them there's a new media. Oh, Edwin Edwards of Louisiana! Gosh, we could probably take up the rest of the program today mentioning a bunch of Democrat scandals. By the way, Dave Durenberger is a Republican from Minnesota. I said he was a Democrat senator. What about New Jersey? The whole state's a culture of corruption there. New Jersey itself --which is, you know, Democrat-run state.


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