The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, February 29, 2008

A Dream

The blogger, Wolf Pangloss, writes about the likely Democratic nominee for President of the United States and captures the true essence of Obamamania and its aftermath:
I had a dream about Barack Obama. I was watching Obama give a speech. It felt so good, so hypnotic. He was so beautiful and he spoke like an angel. I remember wondering if I was actually floating in the middle of the air. Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are having a conversation of such surpassing brilliance and insight that you want to remember every single speck of memory from the dream so you can write it down when you do actually wake up? This was one of those dreams. Every idea, every word, every phrase, every syllable that came out of his mouth was so perfect, so absolutely appropriate and energizing, that I knew I was giggling and couldn’t help it. I was surrounded by thousands who were, like me, giggling, half-floating, transfixed by the wise one, Obama. When the speech was over everyone in the dream clapped and we all tossed our shouts of approval at the great man, like so much confetti at a ticker-tape-parade for returning war heroes. Obama smiled his wide smile and waved his kindly hand at us in a gesture of heart-felt affection, then left the stage. In my dream as I tried to write down the gist of his speech I couldn’t remember what he said. It was something like “Change, blah blah blah,” and “Yes we can, blah blah blah,” and “Not red states and blue states, but United States, blah blah blah.” Everything kind of floated away, all airy and insubstantial as is the way of all dreams. Then I dreamed that I had to use the restroom. I woke up.

When I woke up, I was sitting in my armchair watching the end of an Obama speech on TV. I wasn’t asleep. And I hadn’t been dreaming.

As I went to the restroom I still couldn’t remember what Obama had said. The rhetorical brilliance and insight, blah blah blah, disappeared with the last shreds of the dream that wasn’t a dream and then the hypnotic afterglow was flushed away to be gone forever.

Slogans are not action. Change is not always for the better. Hope is not always fulfilled. And still, we must journey into a future where dreams can inexorably morph into nightmares. Obama is very good at dreams, but is he up to leading us out of a nightmare. I wonder.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


In the run-up to the Ohio (and Texas primaries) we hear Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama trip over each other to condemn NAFTA. Both, of course, are demagoguing the globalization issue in states in which smokestack industry is slowly fading.

Obama tries hard to paint Clinton as pro-NAFTA and has eroded her lead in Ohio, but Canada’s CTV reports that a senior Obama aide told Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador to the United States, that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, but that “the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value.”

Hmmm. Is that just a little political cynicism from the candidate of hope and change?

Like many of the issues raised by Barack Obama, his rhetorical skills make his presentation seem compelling, until you look at the facts. Steve Chapman considers the reality of NAFTA:
Obama makes a special theme of blaming this and other trade agreements for setting off a race to the bottom that destroys American jobs. "In Youngstown, Ohio," he said in a Texas debate, "I've talked to workers who have seen their plants shipped overseas as a consequence of bad trade deals like NAFTA, literally seeing equipment unbolted from the floors of factories and shipped to China." Why NAFTA would induce a company to move production to China is a puzzle, but you get the idea.

His campaign claims a million jobs have vanished because of the deal. That sounds devastating, but over the last 14 years, the American economy has added a net total of 25 million jobs -- some of them, incidentally, attributable to expanded trade with Mexico. When NAFTA took effect in 1994, the unemployment rate was 6.7 percent. Today it's 4.9 percent.

But maybe all the jobs we lost were good ones and all the new ones are minimum-wage positions sweeping out abandoned factories? Actually, no. According to data compiled by Harvard economist Robert Z. Lawrence, the average blue-collar worker's wages and benefits, adjusted for inflation, have risen by 11 percent under NAFTA. Instead of driving pay scales down, it appears to have pulled them up.

Manufacturing employment has declined, but not because we're producing less: Manufacturing output has not only expanded, but has expanded far faster than it did in the decade before NAFTA. The problem is that as productivity rises, we can make more stuff with fewer people. That's not a bad thing. In fact, it's essentially the definition of economic progress.

The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama will win the Democratic nomination and then handily beat John McCain, riding a wave created by those who are moved by his messianic message of hope and change.

But that message may begin to come apart as the electorate probes his policy positions and finds that there may not be much there. It’s important to remember that Hillary was "inevitable" 8 months ago. Some think Obama is the inevitable President today, 8 months before the general election. Eight months is a long time. Just ask Mrs. Clinton.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


For a moment, let’s assume the a Christian organization asked Harvard University to prohibit women from using a University gym during certain hours so that men could have it for themselves. Their argument is that their religious feelings made co-ed work-outs uncomfortable for men. Do you think (1) women’s groups at Harvard would accede without protest and (2) that Harvard would grant the request? Not likely.

The Daily Free Press reports that Harvard has in fact instituted such a policy, but at the request of the Harvard Islamic Society and for Moslem women.
Harvard Islamic Society's Islamic Knowledge Committee officer Ola Aljawhary, a junior, said the women-only hours are being tested on a trial basis. The special gym hours will be analyzed over Spring Break to determine if they will continue, she said.

Aljawhary said that she does not believe that the women-only gym hours discriminate against men.

"These hours are necessary because there is a segment of the Harvard female population that is not found in gyms not because they don't want to work out, but because for them working out in a co-ed gym is uncomfortable, awkward or problematic in some way," she said.

Though the policy was in part initiated by the school's Islamic group, Aljawhary said women-only hours are not a case of "minority rights trumping majority preference" and said women of different faiths have showed interest in the hours.

"We live together in one community, it only makes sense for everyone to compromise slightly in order for everyone to live happily," she said. "This matter is simple: Can't we just display basic decency and show tolerance and inclusion for people not a part of the mainstream majority?"

In an earlier post, I mentioned that our freedoms and hard won rights are eroded in very small increments, and that the strategy of Islamists and their sympathizers is to do just that. Drip, Drip, Drip.

Follow the Money

Gosh, you’d think the intrepid “journalists” at The New York Times would have been way ahead of the Times of London on a story about influence peddling in the US by a British-Iraqi billionaire who has been convicted of fraud in France and suspected on funneling monies for Saddam Hussein and Muhamar Quaddafi. Particularly when the man, Nadhmi Auchi, loaned large sums of money to a supporter of a Presidential candidate. After all, the NYT doggedly pursued John McCain’s connection to lobbyists, although not a dime changed hands between McCain and any other party.

But if you’ve been reading this blog, you already know why the NYT, the LAT, the Boston Globe, and other elite newspapers haven’t even carried this story, much less reported it. Among their Left-leaning reporters and editors, Obama is untouchable.

The connections are intriguing: Nadhmi Auchi (British-Iraqi billionaire) lent millions to Tony Resko (currently standing trial for campaign finance violations) who has had financial dealings with Barack Obama and was a major Obama contributor. Juicy? You’d think the media would be all over this story. There are connections to Islamofascists, money laundering, illegal campaign finance, and illegal or at least shady real estate transactions.

But wait, you argue, it’s difficult to prove. Yeah, that’s true, but that didn’t stop the NYT from going after John McCain, did it?

If you’re beginning to get a bit uneasy about Obama’s cult-like persona as a man who can do no wrong, you might want to read the report. Too bad you had to link to the UK media to get it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

SNL Sees Reality

Saturday Night Live’s (SNL) first post-writer’s strike show aired last night. In a biting satirical opening, the SNL players depicted the last Democratic debate with an amusing skit that was all too close to real life. The SNL ‘debate moderators' asked the Barack Obama character obsequious softball question after softball question (“Are you comfortable, Senator Obama”). The female moderator got the vapors as he answered each. The Hillary Clinton character was asked vicious questions that were designed to make her look bad.

It’s interesting that SNL sees reality in a way that seems to be eluding a significant segment of the American Public. The MSM appear to be smitten by Obama and will not address legitimate subjects that might bring his savior-like persona back down to earth.

The New York Times recent hit-piece on John McCain, alleging improprieties without a shred of hard evidence has been denounced by some NYT editors themselves. But the piece opened the door for CNN and other MSM outlets to ask, “Has John McCain had contact with lobbyists? Has there been any undue influence?” These questions are certainly reasonable and should be asked.

My question is this: “Why haven’t similar questions been asked about the many highly-questionable associations in Barack Obama’s immediate past. One explosive story (which most of the MSM has tried very hard to ignore) concerns Antoin "Tony" Rezko, whose trial is due to start in federal court in Chicago tomorrow. His association with Obama is discussed by Nicholas Wapshott :
In June 2005, Obama bought a 98-year-old Kenwood mansion from a University of Chicago doctor for $1.65 million, using a $1.69 million advance he received from publishers Crown for his book, "The Audacity of Hope." The same day Rezko's wife Rita paid the doctor $625,000 for the empty lot adjoining Obama's property.

Even though at the time Rezko was under federal investigation for influence-peddling in Illinois Governor Blagojevich's administration, Obama did business with him, buying for $104,500 a 10-foot wide strip of Rita Rezko's lot, ostensibly to provide space for a fence. The deal left Mrs. Rezko's lot too small to build upon, thereby lifting the value of Obama's home.

Obama denies wrongdoing. "I misgauged the appearance presented by my purchase of the additional land from Mr. Rezko," Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It was a mistake to have been engaged with him at all in this or any other personal business dealing that would allow him, or anyone else, to believe that he had done me a favor."

Obama now calls "boneheaded" his decision to continue to consort with Rezko even after a grand jury investigation into his dealings had begun and he has given about $150,000 of Rezko's campaign contributions to charity.

But that was not the end of the affair. The senator's claim to have been completely open about his relationship with Rezko was called into doubt on Monday when the senator belatedly admitted that, before he bought his home, he and Rezko visited the property together.

Rezko is a presidential candidate's nightmare buddy. He stands accused of demanding fake finder's fees for payments made to Illinois teachers' and health workers' state pension funds. And he is accused of defrauding GE Capital out of $10 million in loans for his fast-food franchises.

According to court documents, Rezko is also accused of prompting "at least one other individual" to give money to Obama's senatorial campaign, then reimbursing him, in violation of federal election law.

Prosecutors have submitted to the court a 26-page list of those Rezko wanted appointed to posts in Illinois Governor Blagojevich's administration. The list contains those whom Obama recommended for state jobs. On Thursday it was reported that among those Rezko proposed for a job was the real estate agent who conducted the sale of Sen. Obama's home.

Where are the media stories about this? If John McCain’s past associations are fair game (and they should be) why do we hear nothing about Barack Obama’s. Curious, huh?

And while the MSM are at it, how about looking into Obama’s associations with Bill Avery and Bernadette Dorn—two ex-Weather Underground terrorists (who bombed public building and are unapologetic about their activities) from the 70s who were among Obama’s political coterie in Chicago. How about Obama’s association with his mentor Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. of the Trinity United Church of Christ who, to quote Jonathan Raban “delivers magnificently cranky sermons on how the "African diaspora" struggles under the yoke of the "white supremacists" who run the "American empire" and whose in-house magazine recently lauded black Muslim and overt anti-Semite, Louis Farakan. That’s a reasonable start for the intrepid MSM reporters whose empty claims about searching for the truth would be laughable if they weren’t so damaging to the public’s right to assess these candidates fairly.

So far, SNL has it exactly right. Obama is untouchable and as a consequence, it’s extremely difficult to get a clear picture of the man, his background, and most important, he true beliefs and likely style of governance.

Since Obama is the “hope” and “change” candidate, I for one HOPE that the media’s ridiculous deference toward Obama will CHANGE.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


It’s interesting that the presidential candidates rarely, if ever mention Kosovo. They should, because it represents a harbinger of things to come.

Thinking back to 1999, President Bill Clinton, in conjunction with NATO, bombed Yugoslav security forces in an effort to suppress “ethnic cleansing” of Islamic fighters seeking secession from the former Yugoslavia.

The Kosovo War lasted only a few months and with hindsight accomplished relatively little. To Clinton’s credit, it did put a stop to the wholesale slaughter of Islamic people in Kosovo, but it did little to establish a true resolution to the inherent ethic strife in the region. It’s interesting to note, in passing, that few Democrats in Congress criticized Bill Clinton for waging the war and few today suggest that we should pull out of the region (yes, US troops are still there). I wonder where Hillary and Barack stand on this issue.

At the time (in 1999) I felt that this was a European matter, that the US had no direct national interest in this conflict, and that the EU had both the responsibility and the interest to intervene without US help. But as we do so often, the EU asked for help and we provided it.

Today, we ask for help in Afghanistan and the EU provides troops and equipment grudgingly, if at all. It seems that putting our military in harms way in Kosovo is perfectly acceptable for the EU, but when asked for reciprocity in Afghanistan, well, that’s another matter.

But back to Kosovo. David Warren suggests that our support of the newly declared independent Islamic state of Kosovo is a mistake:

President Bush, who was prompted to recognize the self-declared Kosovar state (together with most European powers), feels obliged to accept the fait accompli he inherited from the preceding administration. He, or his successor, will then try to resist the next stage of demands, for a Greater Albania in which Kosovo attempts to merge with Albania, and the Muslim majorities in adjoining districts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece begin insurrections to join them. By recognizing Kosovo, Bush et al. have validated exactly that: a deadly new round of Balkan troubles, ripe for Islamicization.

We cannot afford to validate the principle of armed insurrection, whether in Kosovo or Chechnya or Palestine or Kashmir or northern Sri Lanka or southern Thailand or the southern Philippines or in any of the many other places where terrorism demands to be rewarded with an independent state. And, within Europe, a couple of thousand EU policemen (about to be installed without United Nations cover, and in defiance of agreements with Serbia) cannot guarantee order in a territory that is already a European refuge for radical Islamist cells, and threatens to become Europe's terrorist safe house.

There is a deeper history here, for the understanding of which we would have to review the rest of the legacy of Ottoman imperialism in the Balkans. But that is, alas, something the Serbs understand a lot better than we do.

Stated bluntly, in the former Yugoslavia there are bad guys and thugs on both sides. There were victims, no doubt, and there was the ugly slaughter of innocents, but recognition of Kosovo sets a precedent that may come back to haunt the EU and the US. The new President will have to deal with all of the unintended consequences. Rather than doing fawning interviews of Hillary and Barack, it might be a good idea to ask them a few probing questions about the Balkans.

Nah … better to focus about super-delegates, plagiarism, and gossip.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Poker Game

I watched to the democratic “debate” last night and was struck by how similar both Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton's policy and world view actually are. Details vary a bit, but overall, they’re on the same page. The question, I suppose, is whether or not it’s the right page.

As I watched the domestic side of the debate, I got the feeling that Hillary Clinton really wanted to scream, “Barack, you’re either incredibly naive or dangerously disingenuous.”

For example, Obama suggested that rather than designing a health care reform bill “behind closed doors” (a jab at Hillary) he would solicit input from divergence of congressional contributors (gee, that’s a novel idea), and somehow, he never says how, he’ll be able to forge a bipartisan coalition on this extremely divisive and complex matter.

No mention of the fact that Congressmen and Senators are strongly influenced by lobbyists (and that’s NOT going to change, not matter how charismatic Obama is). Some will slant legislation in favor of drug companies, others will represents the medical establishment, more than a few will present the interests of insurance carriers, and on and on. But magically, Obama will bring these interests together and we’ll all live healthier lives.

On the international front, both candidates seem consumed with Iraq and work hard, very hard, to paint the very real successes of the past year as failures. Charles Krauthammer comments on the history of Democratic narrative in Iraq when he writes:
As Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., put it, "Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq." Their Senate leader, Harry Reid, declares the war already lost. Their presidential candidates (eight of them at the time) unanimously oppose the surge. Then the evidence begins trickling in.

We get news of the Anbar Awakening, which has now spread to other Sunni areas and Baghdad. The sectarian civil strife that the Democrats insisted was the reason for us to leave dwindles to the point of near disappearance. Much of Baghdad is returning to normal. There are 90,000 neighborhood volunteers -- ordinary citizens who act as auxiliary police and vital informants on terror activity -- starkly symbolizing the insurgency's loss of popular support. Captured letters of al-Qaeda leaders reveal despair as they are driven -- mostly by Iraqi Sunnis, their own Arab co-religionists -- to flight and into hiding.

After agonizing years of searching for the right strategy and the right general, we are winning. How do Democrats react? From Nancy Pelosi to Barack Obama the talking point is the same: Sure, there is military progress. We could have predicted that. (They in fact had predicted the opposite, but no matter.) But it's all pointless unless you get national reconciliation.

Both Obama and Hillary appear to be in a poker game where each raises the other's bid to exit Iraq sooner.

I for one, do not believe that we can achieve a classic “victory” in that part of the world, but we, along with the Iraqis, can establish a form a stability that will be strategically important. Obama and Hillary appear anxious to reinitiate instability—and in the Middle East, instability is a recipe for an emergent al-Qaeda, a stronger Iran, and many more decades of Islamofascist trouble.

If stability holds (and that will only happen if we extract ourselves slowly), we will be perceived (maybe grudgingly, but that really doesn’t matter) as being the victors by the Moslem world. If we leave precipitously (as both Democratic candidates seem to advocate) the Moslem world will perceive a great victory for the Islamofascists—the “great Satan” has been chased away.

Wretchard of the Belmont Club reacts harshly to precipitous withdrawal, suggesting that local sentiment, even in Islamic countries, follows the perceived victor. It does not care about concessions, apologies, listening to concerns or any of the things that Western liberals believe (against all historical fact) will somehow win Islam over. He comments:
Everybody loves a winner. Laugh and world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone. Which always made me wonder why the liberal response to radical Islam was always to engage in pre-emptive apology and unilateral retreat? It's not just that you die in the end, but you die sniveling. When you could have won by standing your ground just once.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, we never once (with the exception of the Gulf War) stood our ground. In provocation after provocation (Lebanon, Kobar Towers, Blackhawk Down, World Trade Center I, the USS Cole, and many, many others) we retreated. Did our retreat in each of those situations cause Islamists to rethink their strategy? Nope. In fact, our retreat strengthened them internally.

In an interesting side-bar, Amir Taheri reports
The latest analysis of the results [of the Pakistani Election] shows that the parties linked, or at least sympathetic, to the Taliban and al Qaeda saw their share of the votes slashed to about 3% from almost 11% in the last general election a few years ago. The largest coalition of the Islamist parties, the United Assembly for Action (MMA), lost control of the Northwest Frontier Province -- the only one of Pakistan's four provinces it governed. The winner in the province is the avowedly secularist National Awami Party.

Despite vast sums of money spent by the Islamic Republic in Tehran and wealthy Arabs from the Persian Gulf states, the MMA failed to achieve the "approaching victory" (fatah al-qarib) that Islamist candidates, both Shiite and Sunni, had boasted was coming.

The Islamist defeat in Pakistani confirms a trend that's been under way for years. Conventional wisdom had it that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the lack of progress in the Israel-Palestine conflict, would provide radical Islamists with a springboard from which to seize power through elections.

The facts tell a different story. So far, no Islamist party has managed to win a majority of the popular vote in any of the Muslim countries where reasonably clean elections are held. If anything, the Islamist share of the vote has been declining across the board.

It looks like the forces of moderation (and that includes us, folks) are making headway, not through concession but through resoluteness. It looks like AQ’s defeat in Iraq has weakened their standing in neighboring countries. Interesting, huh?

I wonder if Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are aware of this trend. I wonder further if they care. I suspect that because it runs counter to their deeply held narrative, they’ll simply dismiss it, and in the process, ruin the gains we have made.

And that’s too bad.

Cuba Si

Because I live in South Florida, the current situation in Cuba is front page news. Most Americans, particularly those on the Left, believe that the US embargo is responsible for Cuba’s dismal economy—an economy that allows little individual incentive and virtually no entrepreneurship. In reality, the Left’s romantic image of a small, struggling country whose woes are due to US pressure, conflicts with the harsh reality of a repressive Communist regime that has put a failed ideology ahead of the welfare of its people. Stratfor (subscription required) comments:
The Cuban economy is not in its current condition because of the U.S. embargo. That embargo is meaningless, since virtually every other country in the world is prepared to trade with Cuba. The Cuban problem is the same one that other rigid communist regimes had. The economy doesn’t work and the regime must be systematically repressive in order to control unrest.

The problem with Cuba is the same one we have seen in other Marxist countries. Reforming the economy requires political loosening. In the Soviet Union, that political loosening caused the regime to collapse. In China, at least for the last 30 years, it has not. The issue for the Cuban Communist Party is how to shape a Chinese course after Fidel. While Fidel was in charge, the regime was frozen. Without his charismatic force, that no longer will be an option. The regime will try to preserve itself while restructuring the economy.

Now that Fidel is gone after fifty years of ruinous reign, we can only hope that his brother, Raul, allows an industrious people to build a better country. Time will tell.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Then What?

In a number of recent posts, I’ve argued that Barack Obama’s campaign for the Presidency has a strange cult-like quality that is, well, creepy and troubling at the same time. However, it appears that more than a few Democrats and a growing number of Obama supporters are beginning to express doubts about him, now that the avatar of hope and change is a legitimate front-runner. Margery Eagan writes:
I’m an Obama girl and my man throttled Hillary Clinton, again, Tuesday night.

Suddenly, the impossible is real.

Suddenly, I’m nervous. Very nervous, actually.

I’m nervous because an otherwise normal grownup told me yesterday she’s watched the (Black Eyed Peas) “Yes We Can” Obama video about 100 times and gets “weepy” every time.

I’m nervous because a longtime political type, normally quite cynical, now waxes rhapsodic about Obama’s “cool.”

“He’s elegant, controlled, the best-dressed candidate ever,” he says. Never a red tie, yellow or bright blue. No, Obama does a subdued lean charcoal gray suit with a gray or silvery tie. Everything muted, measured, fluid. “He floats onto the stage, a bit of the Fred Astaire thing going.”

Fred Astaire?

Eagan, a Boston Herald columnist, goes on to enumerate celebrities, columnists, TV commentators, and average people who appear to be mesmerized by Obama’s charm.

But the issues themselves are what she’s beginning to think about. She writes:
I’m nervous because Harvard political genius Elaine Kamarck told me Hillary understands the various messes we’re in far better than Obama.

Suppose Kamarck’s right?

I’m nervous about the “O’Bambi” factor. Will the terrorists move in next door when Obama’s in the White House?

I’m nervous because Michelle Obama, about whom I just wrote a fawning puff piece, now says that until her husband’s stunning ascendancy, she’s never before been proud of America. Huh?

Barack now claims she didn’t mean it. Oh, yes she did. We all know the insufferable, holier-than-thou, Blame-America-First types who lecture the unwashed from the rarefied air of Cambridge and Brookline.

But all of that is supposition. It’s certainly possible that Obama will do well. Will understand, and not let his extremely Left-leaning ideology get in the way of making solid decisions.

Finally, however, Eagan gets around to the experience issue—an issue that allows us to understand where Obama stands and more importantly, what he might do in certain situations. Problem is, there’s very, very little to look at. Eagan writes:
I’m nervous because even his biggest fans can’t name Obama’s accomplishments, including Texas state Sen. Kirk Watson, an Obama-man who humiliated himself when MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked him about five times to name something, anything, Obama’s done. Watson hemmed. Watson hawed. Watson gave up.

I’m nervous because John McCain says Obama's is “an eloquent but empty call for change” and in the wee, wee hours, a nagging voice whispers, suppose McCain’s right, too? Then what?

Indeed, then what?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Waypoint

Over the past few years, I’ve argued that entering into negotiations with the Islamofascist leadership in Iran is a fool's errand. The Mullahs are experts at jerking around western diplomats, doing just enough to keep talks going, although doing nothing substantive in the end. As a consequence, the EU has spent years trying to move Iran away from the development of nuclear weapons—all to no avail. The UN has imposed weak sanctions—all to no avail. The US, using a bogus NIE report as its excuse, has decided not to move against Iran militarily. And so, Iran continues on the road to nukes.

In any interesting opinion piece in the NYT, Reuel Marc Gerecht argues in favor of negotiations:
Critics of any discussions might respond that the Iranians might say yes, but to only low-level talks in Switzerland, not in Washington and Tehran. In so doing, the mullahs could bind the United States to meaningless, stalling discussions while the regime perfected uranium enrichment, increased the range and accuracy of its ballistic missiles and advanced its nuclear warhead designs.

But so what? Minus the direct talks, this is more or less what is happening now. Would a President John McCain tolerate pointless discussions? Probably not. Would Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? Perhaps. Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton may well prefer to see the clerical regime go nuclear than strike it preventively. But if that is where they would go, their opponents can do little about it. The only thing that could conceivably change their minds would be direct talks on the big issues separating the two countries. The mullahs have a way of driving their foreign interlocutors nuts. Just ask the European negotiators who’ve had to deal with them. Meeting Iranian leaders is perhaps the best way to turn doves into hawks.

For far too long, the United States has failed to wage a war of ideas with the Iranian regime over the proposal that scares them the most: the reopening of the American Embassy. Washington has the biggest bully pulpit in the world, and we are faced with a clerical foe that constantly rails against the intrusion of American values into the bloodstream of Iranian society. There are profound social, cultural and political differences among Iran’s ruling elites, let alone between that class and ordinary Iranians. Some of these differences could conceivably have a major effect on the progress of Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. And the way to make these differences increasingly acute is to apply American soft and hard power.

Ayatollah Khamenei needs to be put off balance, as he was in 1997 when Mr. Khatami unexpectedly tapped into a huge groundswell of popular discontent and became president. What we need now is a psychological repeat of 1997: a shock to the clerical system that again opens Iran to serious debate.

When dealing with the mullahs, it is always wise to follow the lead of one of Iran’s most audacious clerical dissidents, former Interior Minister Abdallah Nuri. In 1999, he mocked the regime for its organic fear of the United States. Is the revolution’s Islam so weak, he said, that it cannot sustain the restoration of relations with the United States?

It would be riveting in Tehran — and millions of Iranians would watch on satellite TV — if Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice challenged the regime in this way: Islam is a great faith; the United States has relations with all Muslim nations except the Islamic Republic; we have diplomatic relations with Hugo Chávez and American diplomats in Havana. Why does the Islamic Republic fear us so? Is the regime so fragile? President Khatami repeatedly said that he wanted a “dialogue of civilizations.” The United States should finally say, “O.K., let’s start.”

If the Bush administration were to use this sort of diplomatic jujitsu on the ruling clerics, it could convulse their world. No, this is absolutely no guarantee that Tehran will stop, or even suspend, uranium enrichment. But a new approach would certainly put the United States on offense and Iran on defense. We would, at least, have the unquestioned moral and political high ground. And from there, it would be a lot easier for the next administration, if it must, to stop militarily the mullahs’ quest for the bomb.

Events often overtake positions, and Gerecht has, in this insightful op-ed piece, convinced me it’s time to change my long-standing position on negotiation with Iran. Not because we’ll modify Iran’s belligerence through negotiations. We will not. But because it is an absolutely critical first step toward accomplishing our final goal—to disarm Iran's nuclear capability. It will, if it is properly conducted, throw the mad-Mullahs off-balance. It can, if properly publicized inside Iran, create unrest among some of Iran’s young people. Most important, it has become a mandatory waypoint on a journey that will lead, I am almost certain, to dangerous conflict down the road.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Farmer

The AP reports from Lebanon:
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Syrian border guards shot and killed a Lebanese farmer on the Lebanese-Syrian frontier Tuesday, Lebanese police announced in a statement.
Abbas Abbas, 15, was returning home on a donkey after working in his land on the Lebanese-Syrian frontier when a Syrian border patrol opened fire on him, killing him instantly, according
to an official police statement. It was not immediately known why the Syrian patrol opened fire and there was no comment from Syria.

The AP headline was this: “Syrian guards shoot and kill Lebanese farmer on border”

Hmmm. The Syrians apparently shoot a 15 year-old boy in cold blood. Yet, the AP leads with a description of him as a “farmer.” And gee, not a word about it on the networks, CNN or the NYT. Too busy, I suppose, telling us how Barack Obama is going to talk with our enemies and eliminate incidents like this.

But wait, Obama’s arabist national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezenski (an anti Israel ideologue and vestigal element of the Carter administration) was in Syria in the past few days, undoubted setting the ground work for Obama's dialog with this fascist regime. Syria has a very long history of oppressing its own people and supporting terrorist organizations around the world. Tell me, Barack, are you going to suggest that Syria’s thugs embrace hope and change?

And oh, by the way, ya think the AP would have written the same lead if Israeli border guards had done the shooting. Not a chance.

The Rock Star

For months now, we’ve watched as Barack Obama has seized the hearts of many Americans. Obamamania has turned a young, relatively inexperienced Senator into a rock star. Oprah stands at his side and looks adoringly at her political hero. Chris Mathews, a supposedly hard-bitten political commentator, sounds like a teenage girl who is in the throws of her first crush as he swoons over Obama’s vague calls for “hope” and “change.” Obama's new self-referential phrase, “We are Change,” and the near messianic devotion of his followers, is, as I’ve noted before, just a bit creepy.

David Brooks comments on his claim that he will somehow cause partisan bickering to cease:
How is a 47-year-old novice going to unify highly polarized 70-something committee chairs? What will happen if the nation’s 261,000 lobbyists don’t see the light, even after the laying on of hands? Does The Changemaker have the guts to take on the special interests in his own party — the trial lawyers, the teachers’ unions, the AARP?

The Gang of 14 created bipartisan unity on judges, but Obama sat it out. Kennedy and McCain created a bipartisan deal on immigration. Obama opted out of the parts that displeased the unions. Sixty-eight senators supported a bipartisan deal on FISA. Obama voted no. And if he were president now, how would the High Deacon of Unity heal the breach that split the House last week?

The Democratic Senate, in a bi-partisan moment, proposed a reasonable FISA bill that exempted the telecom companies from frivolous lawsuits filed because they helped the government with terrorism investigations. The trial lawyers, a major contributor to the Democratic party, lobbied against the bill for purely selfish reasons, and the House stalled the bill.

Did Obama, the avatar of the new bipartisanship, call for the House to move in similarly bipartisan manner and pass the FISA bill. Not a peep from the rock star.


I actually like Barack Obama or at least I like his public persona. But there’s a very big difference between liking someone as a person and voting for that person for President of the United States. Particularly when he’s making promises that he won’t keep.

Update: 2/20/08

Finally, we're beginning to see thoughtful, center-Left commentators begin to question Obamamania. Robert Samuelson, Newsweek's economic writer and certainly no right-wing ideologue, deconstructs Obama’s political positions and comes away with grave concern. He writes:
The contrast between his [Obama’s] broad rhetoric and his narrow agenda is stark, and yet the press corps -- preoccupied with the political "horse race" -- has treated his invocation of "change" as a serious idea rather than a shallow campaign slogan. He seems to have hypnotized much of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation's major problems when, so far, he isn't.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Equal Time

In an article in the NY Daily News, Michael Goodwin defends Barack Obama against attacks by the Clintons. Bill and Hillary argue that his speeches, as spectacular as they are, mask a lack of experience and a sparse record of accomplishment that make one wonder whether the soaring rhetoric is nothing more than empty promises.

Goodwin argues for Obama:
In amassing a large coalition of young and old, black and white Democrats, independents and some Republicans, Obama offers the possibility that America can finally get beyond its partisan stalemates. If that happened, a united nation would be better equipped to move forward on everything from the economy to the scourge of Islamic terror …

His coalition could dramatically change the dynamics of our politics. Start with the sheer number of new voters who have supported him, nearly doubling the turnout of four years ago.

Increased citizen involvement is the greatest threat to special interests. Brought together by a common purpose, new voters are unlikely to fall sway to the narrow focuses that have reduced politics to a board game of legal bribes for pols and paybacks for special interests.

And given that Obama has trumpeted his ability to work with Republicans and said nice things about Reagan, his supporters are less likely to be limited by partisan labels.

All of this enthusiasm sounds good, but I think its very important to recognize that promises are easy … implementing those promises is very, very hard.

What in Obama’s extremely liberal voting record leads one to believe that he can bridge the partisan divide and “work with Republicans?” Has he crafted or even sponsored a single bi-partisan bill that has become law? Has he worked actively with Republican members of congress to limit the partisan bickering that we all despise? Are his “solutions” (as vague as they are at the moment) centrist or do they represent Left-leaning ideology (big government, higher taxes, but only for the “rich,” etc. etc.)?

Adults who indulge in adolescent swooning for this man make his entire self-referential campaign (“we are change”) just a little bit creepy. Is it possible that Barack Obama will be everything every admirer projects him to be? Not a chance.

Does that mean he couldn’t be a good President. No, it does not. But Presidents make decisions that have long lasting affects. Decisions that affect millions of lives. If those decisions are bad ones, or naïve, or doctrinaire, our world will not be a better place. Don’t believe me? Think: George W. Bush, or for that matter, Jimmy Carter.

If you're an adult and you’re gung ho for Barack Obama, I can understand your enthusiasm. But before you step into the voting booth, be sure you’ve given your heart and your brain equal time.

Obama’s rhetorical talent is a lot like Amy Winehouse’s soaring musical talent. You can love the listening experience, but before you propose marriage, understand what you’re likely to get as an outcome.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I admit it—I’m an apostate. I’ve decided to reject the religion of Climate Change Alarmism and instead, acknowledge the proven scientific method—you know, the one that relies on empirical observation, statistical analysis of historical data, and a cold, objective evaluation of the facts. The scientific method is NOT political, is NOT Left or Right, it is NOT “consensus,” and it does not rely on 100-year computer models as its primary driving force. The scientific method indicates that climate change alarmism is, well, nonsense.

But apostates are suspect, are they not? They “deny” a “consensus” of scientists. They argue that the Ayatollah of Climate Change Alarmism, one Al Gore, doesn’t have any idea what he’s talking about. They smile ruefully when politicians as diverse as Barack Obama and John McCain validate the climate change mantra, suggesting that we better act fast, or catastrophe will befall us all. Worse, since we’re the cause of it (the ultimate in hubris), we can fix it by spending trillions while at the same time retarding the economic progress of emerging nations.

But I suspect most readers of the blog are climate change fundamentalists, and you’re shaking your head. How can you be so blind, you ask? Don’t you care about the environment?

Before I answer that question, I’d ask a favor. Test your fundamentalism by watching a real scientist present real empirical data, and draw scientifically valid conclusions about climate change. Professor Robert Carter of James Cook University (Queensland, Australia), a researcher on climate change, sea-level change and stratigraphy is based on field studies of Cenozoic sediments (last 65 million years), presents a scientific talk captured in four YouTube segments presented by William M. Briggs. It’s one of the better presentations I’ve seen, and if you’re not afraid of graphs and trend lines (and some frank talk with a little humor mixed in), it may jolt your long-held fundamentalist beliefs.

Now to the questions “How can you be so blind? Don’t you care about the environment?” My response … I’m certainly not blind and I do very much care. We need to reduce pollutants significantly (CO2 is not a pollutant). We need to become energy independent much sooner that most believe we can – a good number is 10 years. We need to foster existing alternative energy technologies and put them into place immediately. But spending trillions on a laughable effort to change the world climate? If anything, it’ll distract us from doing the important things that will help to actually improve the environment.

So I proudly proclaim my apostasy and watch in wonder as people who condemn fundamentalist beliefs in other arenas fall into the same fundamentalist trap themselves.

A postscript: Bad science comes in many forms—“creationist science” promulgated by the Right who desparately wants it in the classroom (a really bad idea) and now, “climate change alarmism,” promulgated by the Left who really want it in the classroom (an equally bad idea). A California lawmaker has proposed a bill that would mandate teaching “climate change” in the classroom. That would be fine if all the science is presented, but I’ll bet what he’s really looking for is the introduction of the religion of Climate Change Alarmism. And as I've mentioned, that's a really bad idea.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Avatar of Change

Victor Davis Hansen offers an inciteful deconstruction of America’s “change” candidate when he writes:
Where did we get the notion that Obama is the avatar of change? The answer is again not just that he is part African-American. (A Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, for example, would go nowhere.) Or that he has new policies or ideas. In fact, to the extent Obama has laid out any details of a program, they aren't any more novel than those of his rivals.

Instead, he is the change candidate for two simple reasons. First, Obama is fresh, without the albatross of a long political career around his neck. We know little about him - and too much about the others. The more he sticks with generalities, the less he offends particular constituents - without having to make tough choices that day after day might keep offending 49 percent of the electorate.

Second, Obama is a stylish, inspirational speaker - a sort of elegant Adlai Stevenson of the 1950s and the hip, young Gary Hart of the 1980s all in one. He is wonderful in repartee, smart, full of good grace and without the shrillness of Clinton, or the occasional temper of McCain.

If anything, Obama resembles the handsome, well-spoken Robert Redford character Bill McKay, of the 1972 movie "The Candidate," but updated for the new millennium: brighter, more charismatic and multicultural.

In these divisive times of war and economic anxiety, a tired public apparently wants someone hip, upbeat, reassuring in talk and fresh in spirit, but not too specific in prescribing any painful remedies for our various maladies.

As it turns out, there are not all that many handsome, young natural speakers, with a hint of mystery and the promise of racial harmony - at least none who speak inspirationally, respond to criticism with humor and are genuinely nice guys.

At least in that cosmetic sense, Obama really is a rarity - a pleasant change in other words from what we're used to seeing and hearing, past and present.

If Obama can translate all that into true leadership and effective policy, that would be real change. If not, we'll be asking the same question posed by Robert Redford's character Bill McKay to end "The Candidate": "What do we do now?"

Just a few years after the release of The Candidate, another Washington outsider, similar in some ways to Barack Obama, ran for the Presidency. The man exhibited innate intelligence, arguing that change was what Washington needed. He was a speaker who could inspire (although not an orator in the same league as Obama), and a progressive thinker who was difficult to pin down on the issues. It was very hard to get a handle on how Jimmy Carter would govern, but many of us (myself included) decided to give him a chance.

During his 4-year Presidency, Carter presided over the worst stagflation in my lifetime (interest rates rose to 18% for a home mortgage). He encouraged the overthrow of the Shah of Iran (a staunch ally of the US) and supported the now infamous Ayatollah Khomeini. When Khomeini’s Islamofascist “students” invaded the US embassy and took our people hostages, Carter decided that talk and negotiation were the proper course. He talked for 444 days. By giving Khomeini the stature he never deserved, by refusing to act to put an end to Islamic aggression against US citizens, he buoyed a nascent Islamist ideology. We continue to live with the aftermath of his catastrophically bad decisions to this day.

Should we give Barrack Obama a chance? I’m forced to think back to Jimmy Carter.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice …

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tap, Tap

Since Barack Obama is now the front-runner for the Democratic ticket, it’s time to look beyond his soaring rhetoric and charismatic persona and examine his positions on important domestic and international issues. Because he has so little real experience, his past record is thin, making an assessment of the man difficult.

Yesterday, however, the Senate voted on the “warrantless wiretap bill” that allows the US to work with telecom companies to intercept communications between suspected terrorists and others. Many democrats decried this bill as an invasion of privacy, yet, most voted in favor of the measure. However, 31 Democrats voted again it. Had it failed, an important intelligence source would have been crippled.

The Wall Street Journal comments on Obama’s vote:
Now and then sanity prevails, even in Washington. So it did yesterday as the Senate passed a warrantless wiretap bill for overseas terrorists while killing most of the Lilliputian attempts to tie down our war fighters.

"We lost every single battle we had on this bill," conceded Chris Dodd, which ought to tell the Connecticut Senator something about the logic of what he was proposing. His own amendment -- to deny immunity from lawsuits to telecom companies that cooperated with the government after 9/11 -- didn't even get a third of the Senate. It lost 67-31, though notably among the 31 was possible Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama. (Hillary Clinton was absent, while John McCain voted in favor.)

It says something about his national security world view, or his callowness, that Mr. Obama would vote to punish private companies that even the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee said had "acted in good faith." Had Senator Obama prevailed, a President Obama might well have been told "no way" when he asked private Americans to help his Administration fight terrorists. Mr. Obama also voted against the overall bill, putting him in territory.

So, Barack Obama votes with the Democratic Left, allowing ideology to overcome common sense. No surprise, but telling.

I wonder if, as President of the United States, Barack Obama would be willing the fly blind, crippling a key source for intelligence. I wonder if as President, Barack Obama would allow lawsuits to be brought against those companies (or for that matter, individuals) who, acting in good faith, provided access and information to those who are trying to protect us all. It appears that he would.

But wait, the same ideology that Barack Obama applies also tells us that the threat has been overblown, that simple criminal procedures are all that are required to eliminate it, that it’s all about “fear” and not enough about “hope.” The same ideology that Barack Obama applies suggests that we can eliminate the threat (if there is one, mind you) via negotiation and concessions (think: appeasement).

It's time to move beyond the Bush doctrine, few would debate that. But do we replace it with a doctrine that is equally extreme, although at the opposite end of the political spectrum? Decisions have consequences, and Barack Obama has not yet proved that his decision-making skill is equal to his skills as a matinee idol.

Monday, February 11, 2008


We hear it mentioned on every media outlet. Barack Obama uses it on his campaign posters and talks about it endlessly, promising to ”change” Washington. All we have to do is “act now” and instill “hope.” His pitch, beautifully timed and charismatically delivered, hits a chord with younger people and the true idealists among us. Too bad it’s nonsense.

In a wonderfully honest article, former Congressman J.C. Watts states:
I would remind those among the remaining 56 percent that believe that a President [Obama?] can change Washington, having been there and done that as a member of Congress for eight years, I regretfully believe it will be difficult, if not impossible, to change Washington regardless of who the president is.

Please take your seats, class, as I give you a lesson in Washington 101. This isn't pretty.

First, we have an appropriations process that, by its very definition, is designed to spend money, not save money.

Ap?pro?pri?a?tion n. A legislative act authorizing the expenditure of a designated amount of public funds for a specific purpose.

The key word here is "expenditure." You will never hear of any group in America that receives appropriated dollars saying to any member of Congress, "Don't give me as much money this year as you gave last year," or "It's OK with me if you reduce my appropriations by 3 percent from last year."

Not going to happen. I've never seen any group -- liberal or conservative -- that receives government money show such magnanimity.

Add to that equation the legion of lobbyists who are paid millions of dollars every year to protect labor and corporate interests and make sure their clients' appropriations maintain an upward trajectory.

There is no incentive to reduce spending. How about this: incent members of congress to save money. Start with last year’s federal budget. If congress brings in next year’s budget with fewer dollars, they should share the savings with the taxpayer. Every member gets a cut. If that makes every member an instant multi-millionaire, we’d still be ahead of the game. Nah … that’s too easy, it can’t possibly work.

Watts continues:
Second, Washington plays a legalistic game of politics whereby the Left and the Right expect their candidates to stay in a certain box. If they venture out of their box, they become impure and unacceptable to their respective political gods.

I still cannot reconcile how some conservatives overlook Sen. John McCain as a presidential candidate in favor of Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani when McCain has a lifetime record of being anti-pork, pro-life and pro-marriage, while Giuliani and Romney have histories of supporting abortion and same-sex marriage, while remaining largely mute on the subject of pork for most of the presidential campaign.

Could it be that McCain is not as interested in protecting their deal?

Liberals and conservatives raise millions of dollars on push-button issues like life, marriage and tax cuts on the right; and choice, same sex marriage or higher taxes on the left. Money doesn't flow into their coffers if these issues are resolved.

It’s Watts’ last coment that goes to the truth of things. Liberal and conservatives need boogy men and they act like irrational idiots in order to maintain the hatred of the other side. It ain’t gonna change.

Watt’s final truth:
A final reason I find myself firmly ensconced in the 44 percent category [believing that "change" is not going to happen] is the fact that 65 percent of the money spent in Washington is mandatory spending. It is generously called "entitlement" spending.

The entitlement mentality is killing our government.

That means that 65 cents of every dollar we spend is on auto-pilot. It will be spent on 35- to 40-year-old models of delivering government services that are terribly outdated, wasteful and inefficient. But they are sacred-cow programs that few Republicans or Democrats are willing to touch.

Until we have the political courage to take on mandatory spending reforms -- which not many presidents are going to be willing to do -- there will never be change.

President Bush took a stab at reforming Social Security and got stabbed right back by Republicans and Democrats alike. So we continue to waste good money in bad models of delivery.

That’s the harsh reality of Washington. It’s also the reason why soaring claims that “change” will happen (if you elect me) are not only ridiculous, but dishonest. Worse, they play on the naïve idealism of those who are unaware of the realities of Washington and those who refuse to accept those realities because they’d rather wallow in self-delusion.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


As the vote totals for Super Tuesday begin to come in, I can’t help but feel that both the far-Right and the Left have become unhinged—but in different ways.

The far Right hates John McCain with an irrational fury that is almost comical. Rush Limbaugh calls him a liberal (he is not a liberal) and Ann Coulter states emphatically that she’d vote for Hillary Clinton if John McCain garnered the GOP presidential nomination.

Noemie Emery provides some insight:
The point is that the ideological right is filled with a vast, free-floating fury that can't find a target upon which to dump all this ire. At least, not one that either makes logical sense, or provides a psychologically satisfying object on which to unload all this feeling …

It appears that the Right needs a perfect conservative—a person who is so doctrinaire that the likes of Rush Limbaugh would beam with pride. Never mind that even the vaunted Ronald Reagan (who raised taxes and appointed moderate supreme court justices, among many ‘sins’) was considerably less than the perfect ideologue who exists only in right-wing fantasies. No matter. McCain is a “liberal” and that’s the end of the discussion. Unhinged.

And the left? It appears that many on the left have fallen in love (quite literally) with the idea of Barack Obama. No matter that the idea has almost no real correlation to the man. Like a teenager in love for the first time, the Left has become intoxicated with Obama and now projects its every fantasy on the candidate's call for "hope" and "change." Unhinged.

Fred Seigel comments:
Obama’s achievements in reaching out to moderate voters are largely proleptic: words aren’t deeds. And while he has few concrete achievements to his name, he does have a voting record that hardly suggests an ability to rise above Left and Right. In 2005, his first year in the Senate, the man who made a specialty of voting “present” in the Illinois State Senate refused—despite repeated entreaties—to join a bipartisan agreement among 14 senators not to filibuster President Bush’s judicial nominees. After his first two years in the Senate, National Journal’s analysis of roll call votes found that he was more liberal than 86 percent of his colleagues, and his voting record has only grown more liberal since then. The liberal Americans for Democratic Action now gives him a 97.5 percent rating, while National Journal ranks him the most liberal member of the Senate. By comparison, Hillary Clinton, who occasionally votes with the GOP, ranks 16th. Obama is such a down-the-line partisan that, according to Congressional Quarterly, he voted more often with the Democrats than did the party’s majority leader, Harry Reid.

This is the record that appeals to Ted and Caroline Kennedy and the aging boomers who have long nursed hopes for a renewal of Camelot. But now as then, a charismatic political personality carries more dangers than benefits. The “politics of meaning,” which emerged from the Kennedy years and has now resurfaced with Obama as its empty vessel of hope, is doomed to disappoint because it asks more from politics than politics can deliver.

The MSM’s aversion to explore Barack Obama's positions and associations provides an image of the man that is skewed toward the center. Talk radio’s aversion to provide an honest critique of John McCain provides an image of the man that is skewed to the Left.

One can only hope that thoughtful Democratic and Republican voters can sort it all out … before they make a mistake that the entire country may come to regret.

Monday, February 04, 2008


The stories appeared today across the AP wire, Reuters, and every newspaper from the NYT to USA today. As a typical example, here’s the USA Today account:
DJAMENA, CHAD (AP) — N'Chadian rebels renewed their assault on the capital of this oil-rich central African country Monday, and tens of thousands of people fled as gunfire crackled and artillery shells exploded across the city.

The third day of fighting in N'Djamena threatened to further destabilize an already violent swath of Africa that is home to hundreds of thousands of refugees and borders Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region.

Hours after the rebels went back on the attack following an overnight retreat, the U.N. Security Council authorized France and other nations to help Chad's government.

France has 1,800 soldiers backed by fighter jets based in its former colony, but French officials said there were no immediate plans to take on the insurgents. Referring to the U.N. authorization, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said, "I hope that we won't have to use it."

There were fears of a wider regional conflict. Chadian officials have repeatedly accused Sudan's government of supporting the rebels, and one senior general threatened to attack Sudan in retaliation. Sudan's leadership denied involvement.

There’s one key piece of information that’s missing in this USA Today report (as well as most others). Walid Phares presents the key facts [boldface is mine]:
On Saturday, February 2, 2008, and as French President Nicolas Sarkozy was getting married in Paris and Americans were shopping for food to enjoy the "super Bowl" on Sunday, Jihadi-backed military forces launched a blitzkrieg across Chad using one thousand 4 X 4 armed trucks. They reached the capital in few hours and started battling the Chadian Army isolating the President in his Palace and declaring victory to the international media. This so-called "opposition" has a Unified "Military Command" and includes: The Union of Forces for Democracy (UFDD) led by Mahamat Nouri, Rally of Forces for Change (RFC) led by Timane Erdimi, and the UFDD-Fundamental led by Abdelwahid Aboud Mackaye. At first sight a non-seasoned observer would conclude that this is yet another African troubled country with a bunch of "separatists," "rebels" and "insurgents." In fact it is not that simple. These forces have been backed by the Jihadi regime in Khartoum and some of its funding -according to the Chadian Government- has been sent from Saudi Arabia.

At the center of the confrontation is Darfur. This Black Muslim province inside Sudan has been the victim of Genocide at the hands of Arab fundamentalist forces known as the Janjaweed, essentially backed by the regime of Sudan. The people of Darfur have resisted the forced "Arabization" -turned ethnic cleansing- at the hands of the Janjaweed. Both neighboring Chad and the United Nations came to the help of Darfur since 2005. In return, the Salafists and Wahabis of the region came to the support of Sudan's regime against the Africans and the West. France dispatched some military units to Chad and soon a "Eurofor" (European Force) was set under UN auspices to be dispatched on the borders between Chad and Sudan to help the Darfur refugees. The Islamists of Khartoum opposed the international initiative and seems to have enlisted -although discretely- the backing of the Wahabi circles in Saudi Arabia, but also the Syrian and Iranian regimes. Hence the battlefield for Darfur became a fault line between the international community and the strange bed fellows of the Jihadi axis.

It appears as if the international MSM abhors adjectives. Particularly adjectives that properly characterize the ideological and national origins of violent individuals or groups. Hence, it purposely eliminates any reference to the Islamist nature of brutal violence in many parts of the world. It’s as if clearly stating the origins of a violent ideology will somehow illuminate the argument that a low-intensity global war is going on. More important, the war is often against non-Western (e.g., Darfur), non Judeo-Christian (e.g., Thailand) targets. It belies the Left’s contention that any violence is due to oppression and grievances precipitated by Western behavior.

And yet, adjectives do not appear. The public is best kept guessing or ignorant or both. Better to manipulate them with calls for “hope” and compromise, negotiation and concessions. Better to let them think that the “Rebels” in Chad or the Arabist Janjaweed militas in Darfur will “give peace a chance” – if only the right formula were offered up.

There are two adjectives to describe the MSM’s approach —dishonest and dangerous.


“No Amnesty!” — it appears that the Right now uses it as a litmus test for those who want the GOP presidential nomination. Even a carefully constructed process that over the long-term leads to citizenship won't mollify the anti-immigration crowd. It’s “amnesty,” they cry.

On the face of it, their complaint seems reasonable. Illegal immigrants should not be rewarded for behavior that has violated the law. But like many things in life, it’s not that simple.

By conservative estimates, there are over 12 million people living illegally in the US. The vast majority came here to work and live simple, productive lives.

Do those who argue that there should be no amnesty honestly believe that (1) we can hunt them all down; (2) once they are found, they can be imprisoned until their deportation is adjudicated; (3) the courts could handle the onslaught of litigation that would result; (4) the public would tolerate the ubiquitous images of families and lives being torn apart.

The hard truth is that any attempt at wholesale removal of illegals would make Guantanamo look like a Sunday picnic. I can see it now. The MSM would find thousands of hard working people, some who have lived in the US for decades, many contributing time to their communities, most with kids who are doing well in school. Pictures of crying parents, children being put on buses or planes heading south would flood the media mill—the outcome would not serve our country well.

Stated bluntly, it would be a disaster.

There’s no question that illegal immigation is a significant problem. Our borders are porous and must be secured, but the “no amnesty” meme is absurd. As a country, we must develop security measures and work-oriented policies (e.g., Bush's worker permit approach) that would stem the tide of illegals. But we must also develop a process that would allow those who are here to stay.

Is that fair to those who have followed the rules? No—it is not. But no one ever said that life is fair.