Saturday, October 24, 2009

Boston Terror Suspect: Just Another ‘Typical American Kid’ with Terror Aspirations

An exclusive report on the recent arrest of American Tarek Mehanna and the author's online monitoring of his jihadist activities.

by Rusty Shackleford
http://pajamasmedia.com/
October 23, 2009

By all accounts, Tarek Mehanna seems an unlikely aspiring terrorist. He grew up in the Boston suburb of Sudbury, went to private schools, and, following in his father’s footsteps, earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology. Given all the advantages of wealth, education, and freedom afforded in America, Tarek Mehanna had a bright future.

But a federal complaint against Mehanna describes aspirations of killing former President George W. Bush, mowing down shoppers with automatic weapons at a mall, and failed efforts at joining the ranks of terrorists abroad.

A former religious teacher described him as a “fun-loving, ordinary, typical American kid.” Mehanna would bring comics to class and was a big fan of Superman. A friend laughed at the notion that Mehanna could ever be a terrorist. At his court appearance on Wednesday, Mehanna’s father claimed that the charges against his son were “a show.”


This booking photo released by the Sudbury, Massachusetts Police Department shows Tarek Mehanna. Officials Wednesday charged Mehanna with plotting to attack US and allied forces in Iraq and strike at a shopping mall as he sought to wage "jihad" on American interests.
(AFP/SPD-HO)


An online acquaintance of Mehanna argued with me, saying that the charges had no merit. Mehanna, he claimed, was a “moderate” Muslim who had always argued against the killing of innocents. His arrest, his acquaintance told me, was evidence that Muslims in America are guilty until proven innocent — inferring that Mehanna’s arrest was just another in a larger, anti-Muslim conspiracy.

The shock of Mehanna’s friends and family is typical. Those acquainted with terrorists often insist that the accused was shy, polite, helpful, or empathetic. It juxtaposes with our natural inclination to want to believe that people aspiring to evil deeds should somehow manifest the true nature of their characters in their day-to-day behavior. That such people aren’t typically raving lunatics, overtly sociopathic, or belligerent fanatics doesn’t dawn on most. It makes us feel safer to assume that a potential terrorist will give us some sort of warning sign.

But in Mehanna’s case there were warning signs. If his friends’ shock is real, then Tarek Mehanna was living a compartmentalized and double life. For the Tarek Mehanna I knew online was not the “moderate” that his apologists portray him as. He was a fanatical Islamist, devoted to the same ideas as al-Qaeda. He spent countless hours translating Arabic texts into English in order to inspire others to become violent jihadists.

Mehanna went by the handle “Abu Sayaba” online. In addition to frequently commenting at radical forums and online discussion groups, “Abu Sayaba” also ran his own blog. His Iskandari blog posted translations of Arabic texts. Typical of the writings he posted were calls for the establishment of an Islamic state and Islamic law. He also encouraged violent jihad as a means of attaining these two goals.

Tarek Mehanna may seem to have been an unlikely terrorist candidate to some, but given his online support for violent jihad revealed through his “Abu Sayaba” persona, should it really come as a surprise that he would aspire to become a violent jihadist himself?

Online, Mehanna reveals that the arrest of Aafia Siddiqui — a woman married to Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s nephew — caused him so much anger that he felt obligated to make the trip to New York City to attend one of her hearings.

Ironically, Mehanna went to her hearing because he claimed to believe that she was innocent — a victim of the perceived vast conspiracy against Muslims. She must be innocent, he claimed, because those who knew her described her as a “very small, quiet, polite, and shy woman.”

If Mehanna’s online activities as “Abu Sayaba” were unknown to friends and family — and therefore an excuse for their ignorance about his extremism — then unless he was living a very compartmentalized life, it is difficult to see how his real-world activities wouldn’t raise alarms.

Among the unsavory characters in Mehanna’s clique is another homegrown jihad aspirant, Daniel Maldonado. Maldonado, who changed his name to “Al-Jughaifi” upon his conversion to Islam, is serving a 10-year sentence in a federal penitentiary. Like Mehanna, Maldonado also had an active online life. He worked at an Islamic forum giving advice to young people. Some of them followed that advice and are now serving prison sentences here in the U.S. and Canada.

It was this connection to Maldonado that first brought Mehanna to the attention of federal agents. Maldonado traveled to Somalia, where he received weapons training from al-Qaeda operatives. While there, he called his friend Mehanna and encouraged him to come and join the cause.

When questioned by the FBI about the call, Mehanna denied knowing his friend was in Somalia and claimed that he thought he was in Egypt. It was this lie to the FBI that led to his first arrest last year. It now appears that the underlying reason for the arrest was to prevent Mehanna from leaving the country as he was about to depart for Saudi Arabia.

The details in this week’s federal complaint against Mehanna reveal why authorities would use the rather minor charge of lying to the FBI to keep him from leaving. In 2004, Mehanna and an accomplice traveled to Yemen to “find a terrorist training camp to learn how to conduct, and to subsequently engage in, jihad,” with the hope that they would fight against their own countrymen: U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful. They found the training camps they were looking for closed and their intended contacts either away on a religious pilgrimage or already in jail.

Mehanna’s accomplice, named as Ahmad Abousamra, continued to seek the life of a jihadist. In Iraq, insurgents turned him down because they didn’t trust him as an American. In Pakistan, two different jihadist groups turned him down because he was an Arab. After being questioned about these trips by federal authorities, Abousamra fled the U.S.; he is now believed to be living in Syria.

In addition to Daniel Maldonado and Ahmad Abousamra, the federal complaint also claims that at least two other unnamed individuals plotted with Mehanna. The group frequently sat around discussing various acts of violence and justifications for killing civilians. They also watched propaganda videos. Many of these discussions might be chalked up to the world of fantasy, but on at least one occasion a group representative was sent to visit Maldonado in an attempt to acquire automatic weapons.

So who is the real Tarek Mehanna? Is he the typical American kid described by some friends and family as incapable of being a terrorist? Or is he the supporter of violent jihad as seen in his publicly available online writings and described in the federal complaint against him?

Those who believe that there must be some mutual exclusivity between acting in a typically American fashion and supporting terrorism have built a glass house of perception on which they hang their hopes of safety at their own peril. Mehanna is both typically American and a supporter of terror.

That is to say, there is no inherent contradiction in aspiring terrorists being outwardly typical of the larger community. I recall photos of a young Adam Gadahn wearing an L.A. Dodgers baseball cap. Gadahn is now a member of al-Qaeda and the only U.S. citizen indicted for treason.

Nor is there any temperamental requirement for terrorism. In my experience, people watching videos of Osama bin Laden for the first time are often confused by the fact that he is so soft-spoken. In their minds all nihilistic maniacs ought to give speeches like a frenzied Hitler at a Nuremberg rally.

Muslims are especially at peril of falling into this pattern of thought. While homegrown terrorism is not exclusively limited to the Muslim community — the KKK being our nation’s oldest terrorist organization, for example — it is a fact that the vast majority of terrorists today are Muslims inspired by the ideology of jihad. Denying that someone could possibly be involved in terrorism because “he is so nice” or “seems so normal” can lead to an atmosphere of denial and paranoia. Since it is assumed that person after person charged is innocent because of a lack of abnormal behavior, it is often concluded that many Muslims are being arrested due to racism, religious bigotry, or an even larger conspiracy.

The signs of terrorism are there, but you will not necessarily find them by searching for outwardly antisocial behavior. The common denominator to most would-be terrorists is a devotion to the jihad ideology. And ideologies are hard to detect. There are few, if any, T-shirts in the U.S. celebrating Osama bin Laden and no reports of a homegrown terrorist wearing one.

Dr. Shackleford is an educator and runs the Jawa Report.

Obama a tough guy, at least with Fox News

White House tries to intimidate U.S. media while being a pushover with our foreign adversaries.

By MARK STEYN
Syndicated columnist
Orange County Register
http://www.ocregister.com/opinion
Friday, October 23, 2009

Benjamin Disraeli's most famous advice to aspiring politicians was: "Never complain and never explain." For the greatest orator of our time, a man who makes Churchill, Lincoln and Henry V at Agincourt look like first-round rejects on "Orating With The Stars," Barack Obama seems to have pretty much given up on the explaining side. He tried it with health care with speech after speech after exclusive interview for months on end, and the more he explained the more unpopular the whole racket got. So he declared that the time for explaining is over, and it's time to sign on or else.

Meanwhile, to take the other half of the Disraeli equation, Obama and his officials and their beleaguered band of surrogates never stop complaining. If you express concerns about government health care, they complain about all these "racists" and "domestic terrorists" obstructing his agenda. If you wonder why the president can't seem to find time in his hectic schedule of international awards acceptance speeches to make a decision about Afghanistan, they complain that it's not his fault he "inherited" all these problems. And, if you wonder why his "green jobs" czar is a communist 9/11 truther, and his National Endowment for the Arts guy is leaning on grant recipients to produce Soviet-style propaganda extolling Obama policies, they complain about Fox News.

The most recent whine – the anti-Fox campaign – is, apart from anything else, unbecoming to the office. President Obama is the chief of state of one of the oldest free societies in the world, but his official White House Web site runs teasers such as: "For even more Fox lies, check out the latest 'Truth-O-Meter.'" It gives off the air of somebody only marginally less paranoid than this week's president-for-life in some basket-case banana republic ranting on the palace balcony because his interior security chief isn't doing a fast-enough job of disappearing his enemies.

George W Bush: Remember him? Of course, you do. He's the guy who's to blame for everything, and still will be midway through Obama's second term. It turns out he's in exile abroad. Presumably he jumped bail and snuck across the border on the roof of a box car. But, anyway, he was giving a speech in Saskatoon. That's a town in Saskatchewan. And Saskatchewan's a province in Canada apparently. And in the course of his glittering night playing the Saskatoon circuit, he was asked about media criticism of him, and he told the … Saskatoonistanies? Saskatchewannabees? Whatever. He told them the attacks never bothered him, although his dad used to get upset: "He'd read the editorial pages, he'd watch the nightly news, and I didn't. I mean, why watch the nightly news when you are the nightly news?"

That attitude, while raising a bunch of other issues, is psychologically healthier. If you're going to attack the press, you need a lightness of touch, not a ham-fisted crowbar such as the White House wielded Thursday, attempting to ban Fox from the pool interviews with the "pay czar." Another bit of venerable Disraelian insouciance, on the scribblers of Fleet Street: "Today they blacken your character, tomorrow they blacken your boots." For two years, the U.S. media have been polishing Obama's boots, mostly with their drool, to a degree unprecedented in American public life. But now it's time for the handful of holdouts to make with the Kiwi – or else.

At a superficial level, this looks tough. A famously fair-minded centrist told me the other day that he'd been taken aback by some of the near parodic examples of Leftie radicalism discovered in the White House in recent weeks. I don't know why he'd be surprised. When a man has spent his entire adult life in the "community organized" precincts of Chicago, it should hardly be news that much of his Rolodex is made up of either loons or thugs. The trick is identifying who falls into which category. Anita Dunn, the Communications Director commending Mao Zedong as a role model to graduating high school students, would seem an obvious loon. But the point about Mao, as Charles Krauthammer noted, is that he was the most ruthless imposer of mass conformity in modern history: In Mao's China, everyone wore the same clothes. So when Communications Commissar Mao Ze Dunn starts berating Fox News for not getting into the same Maosketeer costumes as the rest of the press corps, you begin to see why the Chairman might appeal to her as a favorite "political philosopher".

So the troika of Dunn, Emanuel and Axelrod were dispatched to the Sunday talk shows to lay down the law. We all know the lines from "The Untouchables" – "the Chicago way," don't bring a knife to a gunfight – and, given the pay czar's instant contract-gutting of executive compensation and the demonization of the health insurers and much else, it's easy to look on the 44th president as an old-style Cook County operator: You wanna do business in this town, you gotta do it through me. You can take the community organizer out of Chicago, but you can't take the Chicago out of the community organizer.

The trouble is it isn't tough, not where toughness counts. Who are the real "Untouchables" here? In Moscow, it's Putin and his gang, contemptuously mocking U.S. officials even when (as with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) they're still on Russian soil. In Tehran, it's Ahmadinejad and the mullahs openly nuclearizing as ever feebler warnings and woozier deadlines from the Great Powers come and go. Even Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is an exquisite act of condescension from the Norwegians, a dog biscuit and a pat on the head to the American hyperpower for agreeing to spay itself into a hyperpoodle. We were told that Obama would use "soft power" and "smart diplomacy" to get his way. Russia and Iran are big players with global ambitions, but Obama's soft power is so soft it doesn't even work its magic on a client regime in Kabul whose leaders' very lives are dependent on Western troops. If Obama's "smart diplomacy" is so smart that even Hamid Karzai ignores it with impunity, why should anyone else pay attention?

The strange disparity between the heavy-handed community organization at home and the ever cockier untouchables abroad risks making the commander in chief look like a weenie – like "President Pantywaist," as Britain's Daily Telegraph has taken to calling him.

The Chicago way? Don't bring a knife to a gunfight? In Iran, this administration won't bring a knife to a nuke fight. In Eastern Europe, it won't bring missile defense to a nuke fight. In Sudan, it won't bring a knife to a machete fight.

But, if you're doing the overnight show on WZZZ-AM, Mister Tough Guy's got your number.

©MARK STEYN

Friday, October 23, 2009

Girardi gaffes let Angels rally back into ALCS

By JOEL SHERMAN
New York Post
http://www.nypost.com
October 23, 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Mark Teixeira had finally awoken and Robinson Cano had actually registered a huge hit, and if that wasn't a sign of the Apocalypse, it was at least a sign of midnight moving perilously close for the Angels.


Charles Wenzelberg

Yankees manager Joe Girardi walks off the field during Game 5 of the ALCS.


The Yankees had done a 2009 Yankees thing. They had gone from scoreless and down four runs against John Lackey in ALCS Game 5 to knocking out the Angels ace and sending 10 men to the plate in the seventh inning, scoring six runs, and grabbing a two-run lead. The champagne was pushed into the visiting clubhouse, a 40th AL pennant for the Yankees was on ice and waiting.

And then manager Joe Girardi made another baffling pitching decision in this ALCS. The Yankees were off Wednesday and they are off today. So everyone in the bullpen was fresh and able to be pushed. A.J. Burnett had sat for a long time as Teixeira cleared the bases with a three-run double in the seventh and Cano delivered an RBI triple to put the Yankees ahead.

The bottom of the Angels order was due. Plus Girardi should know by now that Burnett is much more likely to press pitching from ahead then behind. And now the Yankees led 6-4.

The Yankees were nine outs away from the Phillies and the World Series. Girardi could have gone for the kill. He could have tried to use his best two relievers, Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera, to tag-team the final nine outs. Instead, he sent Burnett back out.

"If he is around 105 pitches, it's probably a different story," Girardi said. "But because his pitch count was low and he felt great we stuck with him."

So Girardi let Burnett's low pitch count (80) influence him more than the righty's history to squander good fortune. Burnett had done his job. He had put the Yankees behind 4-0 12 pitches into his effort, yet managed to bull through six innings. Now the Yankees led. It was time to get Burnett out. And after a postseason in which Girardi was incredibly quick to use his pen, this time he stalled. He waited long enough for Burnett to let the eight and nine hitters reach, inexcusably walking Erick Aybar to put the tying runs on base.

Now, Hughes did not distinguish himself. When he entered, there was a runner on third, two outs and the Yankees lead was 6-5. Would it have been different if Girardi had just begun the inning with Hughes? We will never know. In the situation in which he was deployed, Hughes crumbled, issuing a walk and then consecutive RBI singles.

"It is disappointing to get back into the game and then blow it on my shoulders," Hughes said.


Phil Hughes walks off the mound after Torii Hunter scored on Kendry Morales' RBI single giving the Angels a 7-6 lead in the 8th inning.

So rather than facing midnight, the Angels have life and the Yankees, well, they suddenly have some peril. The Angels won 7-6 and are within three-games-to-two in this best-of-seven.

The last time they were in an ALCS, in 2004, the Yankees led three-games-to-none and historically collapsed against the Red Sox. It is on their minds, no matter what the players and manager say.

There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow and if Game 6 is postponed, the Yanks very well may turn to CC Sabathia on full rest on Sunday. But if they are forced to use Sabathia again in this series -- for a Game 6 or 7 -- then even if the Yankees win, their ace would not be available for Game 1 of the World Series against the Phillies, and possibly not Game 2 either.

Girardi described this as "a missed opportunity." And maybe that is all this was. A hiccup on the way to Ryan Howard vs. Alex Rodriguez, on the way to a 27th title. But as Johnny Damon said, "nothing is set in stone until you get that fourth win [in a series]."

And the Yankees let the Angels get away because Girardi trusted Burnett for too long, because Hughes could not cut an Angels' rally short.

There was no relief and so there was no pennant. The champagne was wheeled away. The Yankees did not fly back East to ready for a World Series, but to try to ward off peril.

joel.sherman@nypost.com


YANKEES BLOG BOX SCORE

Fox Wars

The Obama administration wants to delegitimize any significant dissent.

By Charles Krauthammer
http://www.nationalreview.com/
October 23, 2009, 0:00 a.m.

Rahm Emanuel once sent a dead fish to a live pollster. Now he’s put a horse’s head in Roger Ailes’s bed.

Not very subtle. And not very smart. Ailes doesn’t scare easily.

The White House has declared war on Fox News. White House communications director Anita Dunn said that Fox is “opinion journalism masquerading as news.” Patting rival networks on the head for their authenticity (read: docility), senior adviser David Axelrod declared Fox “not really a news station.” And Chief of Staff Emanuel told (warned?) the other networks not to “be led (by) and following Fox.”

Meaning? If Fox runs a story critical of the administration — from exposing White House czar Van Jones as a loony 9/11 “truther” to exhaustively examining the mathematical chicanery and hidden loopholes in proposed health-care legislation — the other news organizations should think twice before following the lead.

The signal to corporations is equally clear: You might have dealings with a federal behemoth that not only disburses more than $3 trillion every year but is extending its reach ever deeper into private industry — finance, autos, soon health care and energy. Think twice before you run an ad on Fox.

At first, there was little reaction from other media. Then on Thursday, the administration tried to make them complicit in an actual boycott of Fox. The Treasury Department made available Ken Feinberg, the executive pay czar, for interviews with the White House “pool” news organizations — except Fox. The other networks admirably refused, saying they would not interview Feinberg unless Fox was permitted to as well. The administration backed down.

This was an important defeat because there’s a principle at stake here. While government can and should debate and criticize opposition voices, the current White House goes beyond that. It wants to delegitimize any significant dissent. The objective is no secret. White House aides openly told Politico that they’re engaged in a deliberate campaign to marginalize and ostracize recalcitrants, from Fox to health insurers to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

There’s nothing illegal about such search-and-destroy tactics. Nor unconstitutional. But our politics are defined not just by limits of legality or constitutionality. We have norms, Madisonian norms.

Madison argued that the safety of a great republic, its defense against tyranny, requires the contest between factions or interests. His insight was to understand “the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties.” They would help guarantee liberty by checking and balancing and restraining each other — and an otherwise imperious government.

Factions should compete, but also recognize the legitimacy of other factions and, indeed, their necessity for a vigorous self-regulating democracy. Seeking to deliberately undermine, delegitimize, and destroy is not Madisonian. It is Nixonian.

But didn’t Teddy Roosevelt try to destroy the trusts? Of course, but what he took down was monopoly power that was extinguishing smaller independent competing interests. Fox News is no monopoly. It is a singular minority in a sea of liberal media. ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, CNN, MSNBC vs. Fox. The lineup is so unbalanced as to be comical — and that doesn’t even include the other commanding heights of the culture that are firmly, flagrantly liberal: Hollywood, the foundations, the universities, the elite newspapers.

Fox and its viewers (numbering more than CNN’s and MSNBC’s combined) need no defense. Defend Fox compared to whom? To CNN — which recently unleashed its fact-checkers on a Saturday Night Live skit mildly critical of President Obama, but did no checking of a grotesquely racist remark CNN falsely attributed to Rush Limbaugh?

Defend Fox from whom? Fox’s flagship 6 o’clock evening news out of Washington (hosted by Bret Baier, formerly by Brit Hume) is, to my mind, the best hour of news on television. (Definitive evidence: My mother watches it even on the odd night when I’m not on.) Defend Fox from the likes of Anita Dunn? She’s been attacked for extolling Mao’s political philosophy in a speech at a high-school graduation. But the critics miss the surpassing stupidity of her larger point: She was invoking Mao as support and authority for her impassioned plea for individuality and trusting one’s own choices. Mao as champion of individuality? Mao, the greatest imposer of mass uniformity in modern history, creator of a slave society of a near-billion worker bees wearing Mao suits and waving the Little Red Book?

The White House communications director cannot be trusted to address high schoolers without uttering inanities. She and her cohorts are now to instruct the country on truth and objectivity?

Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2009, The Washington Post Writers Group

Thursday, October 22, 2009

THE GRATING COMMUNICATOR

By Ann Coulter
http://www.anncoulter.com/
October 21, 2009

The Obama administration has attacked Fox News in order to prevent government corruption stories broken on Fox from bleeding into the other media, which are all-consumed with daily updates on Levi Johnston's Playgirl spread and Carrie Prejean's breast implants.

That's understandable. But I think the administration should have picked someone other than David Axelrod to deliver the claim that Fox News is "not really news," inasmuch as Axelrod was behind the leak of scurrilous allegations in Jack Ryan's sealed divorce papers when he was running for a Senate seat against Obama. Talk about vicious personal gossip.

Now that Fox has been branded an untouchable, the teacher's-pet media are jubilant.

In Newsweek, Jacob Weisberg wrote a column saying liberals should refuse to appear on Fox News, pointedly concluding, "And no, I don't want to come on 'The O'Reilly Factor' to discuss it." Considering that Weisberg is a 107-pound weasel with a speech impediment, this is on the order of Weisberg's announcing that he's not interested in appearing in the next "Ocean's Eleven" movie with George Clooney.

The strangest thing about all the invective against Fox is that it is happening in a world that contains MSNBC. At least Fox News primetime hosts, and many of their guests, know something about politics. MSNBC's primetime lineup presents an array of people who sound like earnest college kids who just walked up to a Common Cause table, and the sum-total of what they know about politics is what they read in the brochures.

In the past week, both Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann have rolled out the Willie Horton ad, claiming that it marked the beginning of vicious personal attacks in politics, as opposed to what it was: The most devastatingly relevant campaign commercial in all of American history.

You can always astonish college kids by telling them the true story of Willie Horton. Among the jaw-dropping facts are:

-- In the '80s, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that a prison furlough policy had to be extended to convicted murderers, who were ineligible for parole.

-- Even the Massachusetts Legislature, which contained about three Republicans, realized this was insane, and quickly passed a bill excluding first-degree murderers from the weekend furlough program. But in a desperate bid for the ACLU's Brain-Dead Liberal of the Year Award, Gov. Michael Dukakis vetoed the bill.

-- Horton, who was later released under this program, was in prison for carving up a teenager at a gas station and then stuffing his body into a garbage can. (He had already been convicted of attempted murder in South Carolina -- through no fault of his own, the victim survived.)

-- Even after Horton used his Dukakis-granted furlough to rape and torture a Maryland couple in their home for 12 straight hours, the Greek homunculus issued a statement reaffirming his strong support for furloughing murderers.

-- The Bush campaign commercial about Dukakis' furlough program never showed a picture of Horton. In fact, the actors playing "criminals" passing through a revolving door in the ad were all white.

-- Voters considered it relevant that a candidate for president was so beholden to the ACLU that he backed an idiotic furlough program that released first-degree murderers.

Every informed student of the 1988 campaign knows that the Bush ad didn't show Horton's picture. And yet in Keith's discussion of Bush's allegedly vile, racist use of Willie Horton, he used a phony version of the ad, doctored to include a photo of Horton.

I don't blame Keith personally for this blatant distortion: He gets all his research material from Markos Moulitsas and other left-wing bloggers, so he can't be held responsible for the content of his show. Keith's principal contribution to the program is his nightly display of self-congratulation and pompous douche-baggery.

Remember, Keith, like his MSNBC colleague Contessa Brewer, majored in "communications" in college, not a research-related field, such as political science. In his coursework, he learned such skills as: Dramatically Turning to Camera, Hysterical Self-Righteousness, Pausing Portentously and Gravely Demanding Apologies/Resignations From Various Public Figures.

Given this background, it's understandable that Keith will make errors. As viewers witnessed recently, he can't even pronounce the name of prominent American economist and philosopher, Thomas Sowell. (Although he did spend three weeks at a Berlitz course in Arabic honing his pronunciation of "Abu Ghraib" to razor-sharp prissiness.)

The bloggers and Keith bring different skill sets to the game. They provide the tendentious half-truths, phony opinion polls and spurious social science, while Keith provides his booming baritone, gigantic "Guys and Dolls" suits and gift for ridiculous, fustian grandiloquence. Keith is far better equipped than, say, the pint-sized, girly-voiced, Frito Bandito-accented Markos Moulitsas to deliver the party line.

But here's the fly in the ointment: Keith has once again been victimized by left-wing blogs into thinking that the 1988 Bush ad showed Willie Horton's picture, when in fact, Horton's race was deliberately scrubbed from the ad.

Again, in fairness to Keith, he's never been a "content guy." He was a communications major. (The agriculture school Keith attended offered a degree in this field.) He lifts the material for his show from liberal blogs, overwrites it, and throws in his trademark smirking and snorts. But that's all he does because, again, he was a communications major.

COPYRIGHT 2009 ANN COULTER

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BRIDGE OF SIZE

Mark Steyn on America
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
HAPPY WARRIOR
from National Review

Single payer… Public option… Cap & trade… No, wait, is that health care or something else? It’s all so complicated, isn’t it? Which is the point. It’s so hard to follow we have to leave it to our betters – ie, Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi – to follow it for us. They don’t really follow it, either, but, while they may not actually write the legislate or even read it, they do have vast retinues of highly remunerated underlings tasked with reconciling the competing claims of various interest groups. And thus the republic, after a fashion, survives.

Health care isn’t really that complicated, not for you and your dependents. To be sure, if you need a particular operation or course of treatment, it can be a four- or five-figure sum. But, in the course of his life, the average American makes many four-, five- and even six-figure purchases: They’re called, just to cite the obvious examples, cars and homes. Very few of us stroll into the realtors with an attaché case containing a quarter-million dollars in small bills. Yet remarkably most of us manage to arrange the acquisition of houses and automobiles without routing the transaction through some vast federal bureaucracy. If you attempt to design a system for hundreds of millions of people, it’s bound to be complicated. Ask your nearest Soviet commissar, whose five-year plans we now seem to be emulating in both their boundless optimism and entirely predictable consequences.

A few weeks back I mentioned a couple of bridges in a neighboring town of mine, both on dirt roads serving maybe a dozen houses. Bridge A: The town was prevailed upon to apply for some state/town 80/20 funding plan, which morphed under the stimulus into some fed/state 60/40 funding plan. Current estimated cost: $655,000. The town’s on the hook for 20 per cent of the state’s 40 per cent – or $52,400. There’s no estimated year of completion, or even of commencement, and the temporary bridge the town threw up has worn out.

Bridge B: Following their experience with Bridge A, the town replaced this one themselves, in a matter of weeks. Total cost: $30,000.

Government is simple provided two conditions are met: You do it locally, and you do it without unions.

The first is the reason America is one of the few large countries that hasn’t disintegrated. If it were as centrally governed as the USSR or Yugoslavia, it would have bust up in the early 19th century. And, while the Obama Administration is certainly testing that proposition to the limits, they’re hardly starting from scratch. I’m a big fan of Laura Bush, and found her utterly charming on the one occasion we met, but I can think of no good reason why taxpayers should fund a “Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program”. Sample disbursement: $420,000 to the State Library of Illinois to fund a program to help its employees master “social networking” tools such as Facebook and Blogger. Across the land, every illiterate and innumerate Third Grader can master Facebook and Blogger without getting the best part of half a million taxpayer bucks. But apparently it would be unreasonable to expect a state library to get the hang of it without a massive federal program. What is it the eco-bores say? Think globally, act locally. Yet the global thinking is intended to impede genuine local action – or, at any rate, distort and corrupt its motivations.

The other obstacle to effective localism is unionization. The relative strength of organized labor is the key difference between America and most other developed nations: According to a Fraser Institute report, the least unionized state in America is North Carolina, at 3.9 per cent, whereas the least unionized province in Canada is Alberta, at 24.2 per cent. But, whatever the arguments for private sector unionization as a protection against the robber barons of capitalism red in tooth and claw, there is no justification whatsoever for public sector unions. After all, government is a monopoly: Even if it goes bankrupt, it’s never going to go out of business, much as one might long to see the “Final Liquidation. Everything Must Go” shingles hanging in the windows in Sacramento and Albany. A snapshot of America in the 21st century would show a motivated can-do,small businessman working round the clock till he’s 78 to pay for a government worker who retires at 52 with pension and other benefits the private sector schmuck could never dream of. That’s why Big Government produces no economies of scale. The bigger the government the more everything it does costs, whether it’s a Facebook workshop in Illinois or a bridge in New Hampshire.

The metastasization of the public-sector workforce eventually becomes an existential threat to democracy. One in every eight workers in New York State – or 1.2 million - is a unionized government employee, and thus a reliable vote for the Democrats, the Party of Government. Recently I heard Herbert London of the Hudson Institute put it this way – that, on the first day of any Empire State election campaign, the Democrat starts with those 1.2 million votes and the Republican starts with zero and attempts to play catch-up. It’s hardly surprising very few do.

Building a bridge is easy and affordable: America’s settlers did it all the time. What makes it complex and unaffordable is statism. A couple of seasons back, the preferred shorthand for government waste was “A Bridge To Nowhere”. In fact, the bridge leads somewhere quite specific, and, if you don’t like where it’s headed, you’d better do something about it before we’re any further across the river.

The year the dominoes fell

By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Columnist
http://www.boston.com/
October 21, 2009

IT WAS getting late one evening in Prague, a few months after the 1989 Velvet Revolution, and as we walked along Wenceslas Square, my companion began to weep. When I asked what was wrong, he composed himself and gestured at the streetscape around us. To my eye, it was a perfectly commonplace scene - a few couples out for a walk or sitting together and talking, some tourists window-shopping or looking into the stores that were still open, a cluster of passersby listening to street musicians playing jazz.

But for my friend, who had grown up in Prague, such agreeable normality was still anything but commonplace. Under the Communists, he told me, no one would have strolled along Wenceslas Square after dark. In a society in which police and informers were everywhere, people avoided calling attention to themselves, and at night Prague’s most famous public space was usually a cheerless no man’s land.

“To see it now like this - it makes me a little emotional,’’ he explained.

He was older than I was, a Czech physician in his 40s who had opposed the old regime and paid a steep professional price for his dissent. Like most people, he had come to see the Iron Curtain as a permanent fact of life. Over the years there had been attempts to dislodge the Communist governments Moscow maintained across Eastern Europe - the East Germans had tried it in 1953, the Hungarians in 1956, the Czechoslovaks in 1968 - but each uprising had failed, crushed beneath Soviet tanks.

“If you want a picture of the future,’’ says an official of the totalitarian government in George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,’’ which was published soon after the Stalinist night had fallen on Eastern Europe, “imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.’’ Communism was forever, or so it had seemed through much of the 20th century, as tyrannies calling themselves “people’s republics’’ scrupled at nothing - not tanks, not secret police, not torture, not relentless propaganda - to perpetuate their dictatorial rule and repress those who opposed it.

Early on, Lenin had characterized Communist governance as “power that is limited by nothing, by no laws, that is restrained by absolutely no rules, that rests directly on coercion.’’ Against such ideological ruthlessness, what chance did freedom and democracy have? Whittaker Chambers, a one-time Soviet spy, famously repudiated the Communist Party he had served and became one of its most eloquent opponents, but as he did so, he testified in 1948, he knew he was “leaving the winning side for the losing side.’’ Decades later the French thinker Jean-Francois Revel published “How Democracies Perish,’’ in which he explained sadly that democracy was simply not structured to defend itself against an enemy as implacable and deceitful as communism. “Perhaps in history democracy will have been an accident,’’ wrote Revel, “a brief parenthesis which comes to a close before our very eyes.’’

And yet, against all odds and to the astonishment of the world, it was communism that came to a close before our very eyes. Twenty years ago this season, Moscow’s Eastern European satellites threw off their chains. In a matter of months, the communist regimes in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania were consigned - as Ronald Reagan had foretold - to the ash heap of history. But not even Reagan had imagined that the dominoes would fall so quickly, or that Moscow would stand aside and let them fall.

“I learned in prison that everything is possible, so perhaps I should not be amazed,’’ said Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright who became Czechoslovakia’s first post-Communist president. “But I am.’’

We all were. And some of us still are. The collapse of the Iron Curtain was the most remarkable political development of my lifetime. Even now, the images from those days can take the breath away: East German youths dancing and drinking atop the hated Berlin Wall. The reappearance of Alexander Dubcek, 21 years after he was exiled for flirting with reform during the Prague Spring. Romanians flooding the streets of Bucharest, waving flags with the Communist emblem torn out of the center.

1989 exemplified with rare power the resilience of Western civilization. In our time, too, there are brutal despots who imagine that their power is unassailable: that their tanks and torturers can keep them in power forever. But the message of 1989 is that tyranny is not forever - and that the downfall of tyrants can come with world-changing speed.

Jeff Jacoby can be reached at jacoby@globe.com.

CC Sabathia wins Game 4, proves he's worth more than A-Rod to New York Yankees

By Mike Lupica
The Daily News
http://www.nydailynews.com/
Wednesday, October 21st 2009, 4:00 AM


Simmons/News

CC Sabathia enjoys laugher as he continues to earn every dime of contract. The Yankees beat the Angels 10-1 to come within one win of the World Series.

ANAHEIM - This continues to be the October of Alex Rodriguez, who hits the ball so hard and so often that he makes the way he can play baseball the lead paragraph of his own story again, his baseball back to being played ahead of steroids and strip clubs and all the scoring opportunities he wasted in all his other Yankee Octobers. He hit another home run Tuesday night, got three more hits and scored three more runs and the Yankees kept their manager in the dugout and are one win away from their first World Series in six years now.

But CC Sabathia gives you more October than anybody on the team. Sabathia went out Tuesday night on three days' rest at Angel Stadium and went to 3-0 for the postseason, with a 1.19 earned-run average, and continued to be the kind of star ace pitcher in games such as these that he was hired to be, that he was paid a fortune to be. And clearly relishes being. Even on a night when the Yankees scored all those runs, turned the thing into a jailbreak in the late innings, the big man put them on his back again. This is how you accept the responsibility of New York, and all the money.

"For me every game is a big game at this point," Sabathia said in the interview room later, in a white T-shirt that looked roomy enough to serve as a hospitality tent. "Whether we came into this game ahead three games to none or two games to one, it was a big game for me."

He is as much an ace at this time of year as the Yankees have had in what feels like about a hundred Octobers. He wants the ball, he wants this stage, he wants to make things right for himself after he could not pitch the Indians into the World Series two years ago.

"I had an opportunity and unfortunately didn't get it done," Sabathia said.

He gets it done now. Last Friday night, in a fierce cold at Yankee Stadium, he gave Joe Girardi eight innings. Last night, a night when the Yankees needed a big game from him to make Game 3 and the way it ended the day before go away, he pitched eight more innings, gave the Angels five hits and just one run, a home run by Kendry Morales.

There will always be more glamour for home run guys such as A-Rod, especially when the home runs and RBI come from him after years of postseason failures. This has been a stunning reversal of fortune for him, after the years when he became the poster boy for all those Yankee first-round losses. Now, three years after Joe Torre put A-Rod eighth in the order in a playoff game against the Tigers, the crowd goes wild at Angel Stadium when the Angels get him out once in a game.

A-Rod helped carry the offense again. Sabathia does even more to carry the Yankees right now. Joe Girardi had made 14 pitching changes in the last 18 innings before the start of Game 4. Then he gave Sabathia the ball, and that ended that, everybody stayed in the bullpen until Chad Gaudin entered the 10-1game in the ninth. Sabathia didn't throw his 100th pitch until the eighth inning of Game 1 against the Angels, didn't throw No.100 last night until he faced Torii Hunter in the eighth. No. 101 was a ground ball to second, and his work here was done.

Before the game Tuesday, he was in the lounge in the visitors clubhouse, eating Doritos - of course - and watching a replay of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series, Yankees against the Red Sox, the Aaron Boone game, the last time the Yankees played themselves into the World Series.

Mo Rivera was with him.

"How many innings did you pitch in that game?" Sabathia said.

"Just three," Rivera said.

He knew and Rivera knew and the Yankees knew Sabathia would be expected to pitch more than three innings last night. And he did. He sure did. The Yankees would give him a lot more stick than he needed in the baseball home of those annoying thundersticks. Sabathia didn't pitch as if he were working on short rest, he pitched the way he did for most of the second half of the season, the way he has pitched every time he has gotten the ball in this postseason. Try to remember the last time you trusted a Yankee ace starter such as this at this time of year.

"He was tremendous," Rivera said when it was over, 10-1 for the Yankees.

"He does what the ace is supposed to do," Jose Molina said. "He gives confidence to a whole team."

The Angels got two runners on after Morales' home run. Sabathia got out of it. They got their first two runners on in the sixth. Sabathia got a double play. He got the last eight guys he faced. Cliff Lee, his old teammate, has been something to see for the Phillies. Nobody throws better, has more stuff, than Sabathia right now in baseball.

The spotlight will always find A-Rod, found him in bad times, finds him now when they can't get him out in the playoffs. Down the freeway from Hollywood, he tries to write a Hollywood ending to a season that began with steroids. Gives you all this October. Almost as much as Sabathia.

No stopping Alex in his comfort zone

By BOB KLAPISCH
BERGEN COUNTY RECORD COLUMNIST
http://www.northjersey.com/sports/
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif. – There it was, another missile that was as good as gone the moment it left Alex Rodriguez’s bat. Listen closely enough and you hear the difference in those beasts – they’re not just hit, they’ve had damage inflicted upon them. They don’t just leave the ballpark, they seem to pick up speed on the way to Mars.

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 20: Alex Rodriguez(notes) #13 of the New York Yankees hits a double to left field during the ninth inning in Game Four of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 20, 2009 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)

None of this is supposed to be possible, but Rodriguez is too busy rewriting the record books to care. The slugger, who was 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in the Yankees’ 10-1 rout of the Angels, has now driven in a run in eight straight postseason games, tying him with Lou Gehrig for the most in Yankee history.

Crazy, isn’t it, that a little more than six months ago A-Rod was asking the world to forgive him for crossing the line on steroids. His reputation was shot, his place in Cooperstown was suddenly in doubt and then, as if his life couldn’t have been any more miserable, his hip blew out.

Rodriguez has since said the time he spent in Colorado rehabbing was the darkest of his career. He had doubts about returning to the game, or if he did, whether he’d ever be the same graceful athlete that he’d been in his 20s.

About to turn 34, Rodriguez had run smack into the wall of baseball middle age and there was no guarantee he’d win this war with time. A-Rod had admitted to cheating during his MVP years in Texas, so it was anyone’s guess whether he could flourish without the syringe.

The run-producing surge this October has been hailed by most as proof that A-Rod has found himself – finally at peace in a good relationship with Kate Hudson, finally free of the hangers-on and sycophants who’d turned him into a Hollywood diva.

Rodriguez has stopped hungering for bold-face mentions on Page Six. The third baseman now considers himself a Yankee instead of a celebrity who happens to wear pinstripes. His loyalty is to his teammates, or as one person in the organization said, “Alex finally stopped acting like he was always ‘on.’ He’s not on stage anymore.”

Rodriguez has discovered there’s no upside to giving extended interviews, so he’s stopped doing one-on-one interviews. He doesn’t make small talk with reporters anymore. Instead, A-Rod has limited his exposure to brief postgame sound bites, making sure to live within the boundaries of safe, Disney-rated quotes.

But what about the power, is what the doubters want to know, How can a confessed cheater ever be trusted again? Fair point. There are enough people who are convinced Rodriguez is still on something – anything – that’s turned October into his calisthenics.

Perhaps A-Rod never fully will escape the steady drizzle of suspicion. It’ll continue to soak him for years, maybe the rest of his career. It’s impossible to see his home runs tower into the air – seemingly higher and farther than anyone else’s – and not wonder what fuels the engine.

But Rodriguez has also had enough embarrassment for a lifetime. His need for steroids was rooted in his narcissism and his vanity, and the allegations in Selena Roberts’ book were like a wake-up call to him. So says one friend who believes “the all-about-Alex fantasy world Alex was living in is over.”

So is he clean? The Yankees believe it. So does Major League Baseball, which tests Rodriguez on a random basis. If A-Rod is using growth hormone, which is thus far undetectable by baseball’s testing regimen, he’s either stupid or a sociopath. Somehow, we suspect neither is true.

Rodriguez is carrying the Yankees because he was good enough to do so in the first place. All he needed were three essential components: health, self-confidence and his timing, all of which have been factors this month.

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 20: Alex Rodriguez(notes) #13 of the New York Yankees hits a two run home run during the fifth inning in Game Four of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 20, 2009 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

He blasted HR No.5 of this postseason in the fifth inning Tuesday night, a signature shot off reliever Jason Bulger. This time, it was Mike Scioscia, not Joe Girardi, who got burned moving the chess pieces, as the Angels’ skipper had pulled starter Scott Kazmir for the sole purpose of containing Rodriguez.

Bulger, a harder thrower than Kazmir, would have a better chance of winning the at-bat, especially since he’s right-handed. But Rodriguez calmly hit a two-run HR that gave the Yankees a commanding five-run lead, which would ultimately turn into a nine-run gap that all but ended the ALCS.

There was no preening or gloating as the ball cleared the wall. There was no Manny Ramirez moment of self-glorification. Instead, Rodriguez put his head down and started a fast, respectful trot around the bases, blowing a bubble as he rounded towards second.

“I’m in a good place, I’ve felt that way all year,” is what he says now, getting no argument or rolled eyes from anyone in the room. Even Reggie Jackson, who used to privately question Rodriguez’ courage, says, “You’re talking about a different player.”

Rodriguez even takes care of the smallest details, like covering home plate in the sixth inning when Jorge Posada thought Juan Rivera’s double play was the third out. The catcher jogged towards the dugout, leaving the plate uncovered with Torii Hunter on third.

A-Rod rushed to protect the gaping hole in the Yankees’ defense – a reflex that told you his head was in the game, not the clouds, and as is so often the case these days, not into himself, either.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

With bullpen, Joe Girardi manages to give one away for New York Yankees in Game 3

By Mike Lupica
The Daily News
http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/index.html
Tuesday, October 20th 2009



Keivom/News

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi relieves pitcher David Robertson in the 11th inning of Game 3 of the ALCS. It cost the Bombers big time.


ANAHEIM - Here came Joe Girardi to get David Robertson in the bottom of the 11th at Angel Stadium, the Angels fighting to keep a baseball season alive, no real prospects for them in the 11th, two outs and nobody on. We have talked a lot about the bad plays the Angels have made in this series, and they made two bad plays on the bases yesterday on a day when they were really playing for their season. Now here came Joe Girardi to do some bad managing, at a bad time, on a day when his team could have gone up three games to none on the Angels.

Everything had already happened in this game, the way everything had happened Saturday night and into Sunday morning in Game 2. The Yankees had gone ahead 3-0 on three home runs, come back to tie the game at 4-4 on Jorge Posada's home run in the eighth, nearly lost the game in the 10th.

Oh yeah, the Angels seemed to have the game in the bottom of the 10th after the kind of error from Mo Rivera on a bunt that you couldn't remember seeing in a big spot since Game 7 against the Diamondbacks in a World Series eight years ago. First and third after that, nobody out. Then bases loaded and one out. Somehow Rivera, being Rivera, got out of it.

Again, you thought the Angels were ready to go. One more time in this series the Angels had to be wondering what they had to do to get a game off the Yankees.

"We could have quit right there," Torii Hunter said, "but we didn't."

"Our guys just grabbed their gloves," Mike Scioscia said, "and let's play."

Played into the 11th, two outs and nobody on, Robertson having gotten a ground ball and a harmless fly to left. Howie Kendrick coming up. He had faced Robertson twice and couldn't even remember those two times when it was over yesterday. "Don't recall," Kendrick said. "Might have walked." Two at-bats, lifetime, one hit, one strikeout. But Girardi decided he liked Alfredo Aceves' stuff better than Robertson's against Kendrick, and maybe Jeff Mathis after that. You know why? Because managers always have their reasons when they're over-managing.

"It's just a different kind of stuff against those hitters," Girardi said. "And we have all the matchups, and all the scouting reports, and we felt, you know, it was a better match for us."

They always have their reasons. They have their reports and a lot of times they work like a charm. Or it doesn't matter how they work because of the way the Yankees hit and come back.
Monday the matchup reports did as much good for the Yankees as Aceves did.

Howie Kendrick - who often looks like the best hitter in the world against the Yankees no matter who is pitching - took Aceves up the middle. Then Mathis, Angels catcher, a guy who had started the Angels' big chance in the bottom of the 10th with a hard double to left-center, was up there against Aceves.

Mathis hit one harder in the 11th than he had in the 10th. Jeff Mathis was having the game of his life and so maybe it didn't matter who he was facing yesterday. "The postseason is about one thing," he would say in front of his locker later. "One big hit."

This one came off his bat, high and deep to left-center, splitting Melky Cabrera and Jerry Hairston. It looked like it might go out. Didn't. Didn't matter. Because with two outs Kendrick was running all the way, all the way home with the run that made it 5-4 for his team and started the fireworks at Angel Stadium. Finally the Angels got a game against the Yankees, the hard way.

"Why'd they change pitchers there?" one of the Angels said. "Ask them."

A half-hour after the game, Robertson was standing at the bottom of some stairs near the Yankees clubhouse as Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine, the team president, slowly walked past him. Robertson watched them pass, smiled and said in a quiet voice, "Another game tomorrow."

It didn't matter in the end that Derek Jeter led this one off with a home run, that Alex Rodriguez hit his fourth homer of the postseason, that Johnny Damon followed with one of his own and the Yankees were up 3-0 in Game 3. Or that Bobby Abreu looked like an idiot on the bases leading off the eighth with what should have been a triple. But Abreu stopped after a huge turn around second, scrambled back, Jeter took the cut-off throw, threw to Mark Teixeira, over covering second because he's never in the wrong place on the field.

It didn't matter that Hunter got thrown out at second after nearly getting picked off first in the fourth, or that Rivera somehow got out of the 10th or that the Angels looked as if they'd blown Game 3 the way they blew Game 2 at the Stadium.

"We didn't crumble," Mathis said.

They didn't, even after the way the 10th ended, even with two outs, nobody on in the 11th. Stayed in there in the 11th even as the kid - Robertson - was breezing along. A kid who wants the ball. Had it Monday. Until the Yankee manager took it away from him. One move too many.
One game for the Angels now. And Howie Kendrick is 1-for-1 lifetime against Aceves now.

What Is Victory?

If defeating the Taliban is not our goal, what is?

By Andrew C. McCarthy
http://www.nationalreview.com/
October 20, 2009, 0:00 p.m.

Rarely has there been such a dramatic disconnect between rhetoric and reality. On Afghanistan, the national-security Right talks about “victory,” concerned Democrats talk about “success,” and Obama allies such as Sen. John Kerry talk about the “fulfillment of our mission.” They aren’t talking about the same thing. The somnolent press is content to court, rather than clarify, this confusion, but that’s no reason for the rest of us to go along for the ride.

What is “victory” or “success”? What is this “mission” of ours that must be fulfilled?

Staunch supporters of our military are seething as President Obama dithers over Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for an additional 40,000 troops. Their frustration would be justifiable if the main issue were Obama’s inconstancy. Months ago, the president endorsed the counterinsurgency strategy of McChrystal, his hand-picked commander. Now, he is balking. In what has become a habit for Obama, he changes the rationale for his temporizing almost daily: from the need to study further a situation he had purportedly studied plenty before backing McChrystal; to the notion that a counterterrorism strategy, rather than counterinsurgency, may be the way to go; to the latest excuse, floated this weekend by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, that the uncertainty hovering over Afghanistan’s fraud-ridden election makes a deployment decision premature.

Whatever the explanation on offer, the conservative reaction is always the same: “Isn’t this the war Obama said we had to win?” Nothing has changed, the national-security Right reasons: The Taliban are still our enemies; if they take over Afghanistan they will give safe haven to al-Qaeda, and we will be in grave danger of another 9/11. So why won’t Obama just give McChrystal what he needs to defeat the Taliban?

That would be enough for me, too, if General McChrystal’s plan were to defeat the Taliban. But it’s not.

The issue is not Obama’s inconstancy; it is the dubious nature of the mission. And I don’t mean the “mission” implied by the Right’s rhetoric; I’m talking about the mission as it is conceived by the theater commander. In a lengthy essay for the magazine section of last Sunday’s New York Times, Dexter Filkins, who was granted extraordinary access to General McChrystal, states the matter succinctly:

What McChrystal is proposing is not a temporary, Iraq-style surge — a rapid influx of American troops followed by a withdrawal. McChrystal’s plan is a blueprint for an extensive American commitment to build a modern state in Afghanistan, where one has never existed, and to bring order to a place famous for the empires it has exhausted.

Do you favor such a proposal? Is this what you thought American troops were being sent to Afghanistan for? Is this the mission we thought we were setting out to accomplish when American military force was unleashed after the September 11 attacks?

On the right, we like to pride ourselves on seeing things as they are. Abortion is the killing of the unborn, not the “right to choose.” Illegal aliens are illegal aliens, not “undocumented immigrants.” “Reform” is not a term we would ever use for a government grab of a sixth of the private economy — and if this “reform” of health care consists of rationing and death panels, we say, “Hey, this consists of rationing and death panels.” We don’t usually abide a situation in which Robert “We’re Gonna Let You Die” Reich is the only guy in the room calling a spade a spade.

So why are we pretending that the mission in Afghanistan is something it is not? McChrystal is not trying to defeat the Taliban. Indeed, McChrystal tells Filkins it would be useless to attempt that. “You can kill Taliban forever,” he says, “because they are not a finite number.”

And here is the not-so-secret dirty little secret: Islamic militancy, whether in the form of the Taliban or its many other varieties, is “not finite.” That is because neither its source nor its center of gravity is confined to Afghanistan. Nevertheless, we have chosen not to address the source, which is Islamist ideology, and we have chosen to fight only in Afghanistan, as opposed to the many places where the enemy rolls new fighters off the assembly line. We have made these choices because we lack the will for a broader fight.

Unwilling to admit that, we miniaturize the challenge. Thus, the war is said only to be in Afghanistan. The “challenge” is framed as isolating a relative handful of aberrant Takfiris — the Muslims who claim the right to declare other Muslims apostates and kill them — rather than confronting the fact that tens of millions of Muslims despise the West. And the mission is portrayed as high-minded nation-building, not anything so jingoistic as pursuing America’s national interests, vanquishing the militants who’ve taken up arms against our country, and demonstrating to jihadist sympathizers the dire consequences of joining the militant ranks.

Here’s Filkins again: “At the heart of McChrystal’s strategy are three principles: protect the Afghan people, build an Afghan state, and make friends with whomever you can, including insurgents. Killing the Taliban is now among the least important things that are expected of NATO soldiers.”

Listening only to the critique from the right, one could be forgiven for being under the misimpression that killing the Taliban is — besides killing al-Qaeda — the only important thing expected of NATO soldiers. Filkins, however, is right: Killing the Taliban is not a McChrystal priority. To his credit, the general is not hiding the ball. His written proposal elucidates what he believes he is in Afghanistan to do: build a nation. But if there had been any doubt, the game would have been given away by the slick-talking Emanuel.

The question, Obama’s top aide told the Sunday shows, is not “how many troops you send, but do you have a credible Afghan partner for this process that can provide the security and the type of services that the Afghan people need?” If we were in Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda, having “a credible Afghan partner” would be irrelevant — as it was in October 2001, when we first invaded. We only need a “partner” because our purpose is not victory. Our purpose is “this process” of ensuring Afghans’ security and government services — neither of which they have ever had; neither of which it ever ought to be thought our obligation to provide.

“This process” is the gargantuan burden of building, from scratch, an oxymoronic sharia-democracy in a backwards, corrupt, fundamentalist Islamic armpit. And as if we’d learned nothing from the ravages against us, the process absurdly assumes that Islam — rather than being a major part of the problem — is an asset that we can turn to our advantage. If such a process could work (it can’t), it would take decades, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and cause an unknowable number of American casualties.

But that is the McChrystal plan. The idea is not to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda but to build a modern nation-state that will eventually be both competent to fight and interested in fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda on its own.

Here is the irony. Those who favor McChrystal’s proposal argue, with great force, that a counterterrorism strategy — i.e., attacking terror nests from remote bases — cannot work. For that conclusion, they cite no less an authority than General McChrystal, who is the nation’s leading expert on military counterterrorism. But if “cannot work” is our criterion, then why would anyone favor a democracy-building effort in Afghanistan?

The real dirty little secret is that there is only one way to win the war, and that is to attack our militant enemies and their abettors globally. This being the case, our unwillingness to do that necessarily means anything else we try “cannot work.” We have taken real victory off the table. What is left is a series of “cannot work” options, and our burden is to pick the least bad one.

So can we go back to what is best in us, forthrightness, and stop talking about “victory”? Those who favor the McChrystal plan should be prepared to tell us how many lives, years, and hundreds of billions they are prepared to sacrifice on an experiment in Afghan democracy building that will not defeat our global enemies — and, in fact, will discourage the pursuit of our global enemies since, under our new doctrine, we can’t unleash American might without making a similar sacrifice wherever we go.

The question is not whether counterterrorism can work. It cannot — any more than having a police station a hundred miles away could guarantee that the local bank would never be robbed. The question is why we should think nation-building — the equivalent of lavish government welfare programs to address the “root causes” of bank robbery — is a better solution.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Illegals: Welcome!

By Heather Mac Donald
http://corner.nationalreview.com/

The United States is apparently facing a critical shortage of illegal aliens. If you’ve spent any time in Tucson or Los Angeles, you might not recognize this emergency situation. But the illegal-alien deficit is so dire that special accommodations must be given to petty criminals, to make sure that they don’t depart our shores. Acceding to pressure from illegal-alien advocates, the Obama administration has clarified that local law-enforcement agencies that have been deputized to enforce immigration law (this enforcement power is known as 287(g) authority) should focus on so-called “dangerous” illegals “who are a threat to local communities” — and not, by implication, on illegals who disobey misdemeanor and public-order laws.

Who are these precious assets who must be reassured of their secure place in American communities? The Los Angeles Times has dug up some victims of local immigration enforcement that it considers particularly sympathetic. They are people like Diana and Yolanda Diaz, arrested for assault and disorderly conduct during a high-school fight in Raleigh, N.C. When officials at the Wake County jail learned that the Diaz sisters were illegal, they handed the brawlers over to federal immigration authorities. The Diaz sisters are incensed that their right to live illegally in the United States has been disrupted. “It's not fair,” the 16-year-old Diana told the Times. And indeed, American high schools are far too quiet and disciplined. We need girls like the Diaz sisters to liven things up.

Other victims include people like Luis Cruz Millan, who blasted his car stereo at high decibels in the middle of the night while parked on a residential street in Raleigh, prompting a neighbor to call the police. Millan’s illegal status having thus come to the attention of the authorities, he is now facing deportation, to the undoubted consternation of his neighbors, who won’t want to lose such a pillar of respectability. Further potential victims include the tens of thousands of illegals who drive drunk, drink in public, drive without licenses, and shoplift, and who, the illegal-alien advocates tell us, must be shielded from the immigration laws.

Illegals, of course, have no valid argument against deportation in any circumstance — they chose to enter the country illegally and assumed the risk that their law-breaking would be punished. But illegals who continue to break the law once here should be doubly inhibited from protesting against deportation. Moreover, it is precisely such “petty” crimes and quality-of-life offenses — school violence, litter, public urination, drunk driving — that most upset neighborhood stability and trigger resentment against illegals, as Peter Skerry has observed. The breakthrough insight of 1990s policing was that lower-level offenses against public order create a sense of fear and civic disengagement that breeds further crime. The perpetrators of such lower-level crimes often are engaged in more serious offenses as well.

The illegal-alien advocates could take a different tack in their campaign to guarantee that no illegal ever get deported: Instruct illegals to scrupulously obey the domestic laws so as not to come to the attention of the police. But such advice never issues from La Raza or the phalanx of immigration attorneys who howl at every deportation of an illegal criminal.

Though this tightening of 287(g) authority comes under the Obama administration, the Bush administration was no fan of the statute, either, and resisted allowing sheriff’s deputies to enforce immigration law on the streets against gangbangers. The trend is clear. When amnesty finally rolls around, among those millions of illegals allowed to jump the queue ahead of people who intend to be legal immigrants will be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of criminals whose residency in the U.S. has been carefully protected to guarantee their ability to take advantage of the inevitable amnesty.

Heather Mac Donald is the John M. Olin fellow at the Manhattan Institute and co-author of The Immigration Solution.
10/19 08:00 AM
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America's Cross

America's Cross
By on 10.19.09 @ 6:08AM
The American Spectator
http://spectator.org/

So, the ACLU is at it again. They are suing to take down a cross on a huge public swath of desert in Southern California. The cross is a memorial to Americans who died in war. It has been there for decades although now it's wrapped up in a box. As you might guess, the ACLU says the cross offends Jews and Moslems and atheists. The issue is before the Supreme Court as a First Amendment Freedom of Religion issue. To the ACLU this means "a right of the atheists to dominate everyone else" issue. And, of course, the Supreme Court makes whatever law it chooses to make so there is no controlling precedent except what the Court makes up. So, in that spirit, a few humble thoughts....

Here are a few reasons why the cross should stay:

The great majority, the overwhelming majority, of the Americans who have died to keep us free were and are Christians. Take a look at Arlington National Cemetery or the American graveyard at Normandy, France. What you see are almost all crosses or crosses on monuments. It is an insult to the memory of those people for some lawyers to take down the symbol of the faith they believed in as they fell. Are we going to take all of those crosses down and replace them with meaningless rectangles? Those crosses represent Christians who died to keep America free for us Jews and everyone else. Are we now going to thank them by taking down their crosses? That would be revolting.

Anyway, if we head down this path, is there any stopping point short of state-ordered atheism? Will we bar chapels at military bases? Will we close the chapels at West Point and Annapolis and Colorado Springs? Will we fire all the military chaplains and replace them with peoples' commissars? Will we end prayers at Congress? Where in the history of this country is there any precedent for such an attack on religion?

Look, this is a nation founded on faith. The dominant faith is Christianity and I am happy it is. It is a generous, tolerant faith that has been incredibly good to every other faith and to atheists. Those of us who are not Christians might want to stop pushing Christians around. They don't deserve it. It won't be pretty if they are ever start pushing back. Not only that, I will tell you when I start to worry: when this country no longer is a Christian country. That will be bad times for everyone, and really, the end of America. The cross out there in the desert is not hurting anyone and it helps some. There is no reason to take it down except for pure trouble making and meanness of spirit.

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Global Warming And The Second Battle of Copenhagen

By Patrick J. Buchanan
http://www.vdare.com/
October 15, 2009

Before President Obama even landed at Andrews Air Force Base, returning from his mission to Copenhagen to win the 2016 Olympic Games, Chicago had been voted off the island.

Many shared the lamentation of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, "What has become of America, when Chicago can't steal an election?"

A second and more serious battle of Copenhagen is shaping up, in mid-December, when a world conference gathers to impose limits on greenhouse gases to stop "global warming." Primary purpose: Rope in the Americans who refused to submit to the Kyoto Protocols that Al Gore brought home in the Clinton era.

The long campaign to bring the United States under another global regime -- the newest piece in the architecture of world government -- has been flagging since 2008. Then, it seemed a lock with the election of Obama and a veto-proof Democratic Senate.

Why has the campaign stalled? Because global warming has stalled. The hottest year of modern times, 1998, came and went a decade ago.

As BBC climate correspondent Paul Hudson writes: "For the last 11 years, we have not observed any increase in global temperatures. And our climate models did not forecast it, even though manmade carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise."
What this powerfully suggests is that what man does and does not do is far less responsible for climate change, if it is responsible at all, than other factors over which he has no control.

Consider. Though the emissions of carbon dioxide rose constantly throughout the 20th century -- with the industrialization of the West, Japan, Southeast Asia and, finally, China and India -- global temperatures have not risen steadily at all. They have fluctuated.

John Sununu, writing in the St. Croix Review, says the Earth underwent "cooling in the 1920s, heating in the 1930s and 1940s, cooling in the 1950s and 1960s and 1970s, warming in the 1980s and 1990s, and cooling in the past decade."

But if there is no crisis, why are we even going to Copenhagen? And if there is no causal connection between carbon dioxide and global warming, what is the true cause of climate change?

Some scientists say that 98 percent of the Earth's temperature can be explained by the sun. When the sun's energy increases, a matter over which man has zero control, the Earth's temperature rises. When the sun's energy diminishes, the Earth's temperature falls.

One solar scientist, Piers Corbyn, claims to have found a link between solar charged particles hitting the Earth and global warming and cooling.

Others, like professor Don Easterbrook of Western Washington University, contend that the oceans explain climate change. As they heat and cool cyclically, the Earth heats and cools. And where the oceans were cooling for 40 years before the 1990s, they have lately been heating up. Easterbrook says these cycles tend to last for 30 years.

As Hudson notes, there are scientists who claim they have taken all these factors into consideration and insist that the Earth, over the long haul, is warming. But Hudson cites Mojib Latif of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who says we are in the first stage of a long-term cooling trend that will last another 10 to 20 years.

The anecdotal evidence almost daily contradicts Al Gore and the end-of-times environmentalists. Lately, there have been record-breaking cold spells in the Midwest and West. Snow came to Colorado this October, postponing a baseball playoff game. The hurricane season turned out to be among the mildest on record. Contrary to predictions, the polar bear population seems to be doing fine.

While the ice cap at the North Pole is receding, the Antarctic ice cap, which contains 90 percent of the world's ice, is expanding.

Moreover, receding ice in the Arctic is opening up a northwest passage from Europe to Asia. The Russians believe the immense mineral resources of the Arctic may soon be accessible. While we wring our hands, they are rushing to get them.

The mounting evidence that global warming has halted and man is not responsible for climate change has thrown the Kyoto II lobby into something of a panic. Barbara Boxer and John Kerry are re-branding the Senate cap-and-trade bill as a national security measure.

If, however, cap-and-trade, which the Congressional Budget Office says will be another blow to economic growth, can be stopped before the Copenhagen summit in December, the republic may have dodged another bullet. And the goal of the globalists -- an end to the independence and sovereignty of the United States, and the creation of a world government -- will have sustained yet another welcome postponement.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

- Patrick J. Buchanan needs no introduction to VDARE.COM readers; his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book is Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, reviewed here by Paul Craig Roberts.

A Dynamite Prize

The Nobel Prize for peace that passeth understanding.

by P. J. O'Rourke
The Weekly Standard
10/26/2009, Volume 015, Issue 06
http://www.weeklystandard.com/

Once the sniggering is over and the king of Norway has had his smoked salmon spit-take toweled off, everyone will realize that giving Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize was an inspired choice.

The peace prize committee members have achieved what Buddhists call satori. Enlightenment came to them through contemplation of an ancient Zen koan, "What is the sound of one American president doing *$@#-all?" The answer is "ka-ching"--a $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize.

The five members of the prize selection committee (chosen by the Norwegian Parliament, apparently at random from the local methadone clinic) will now travel the world offering all of humanity release from the endless cycle of death and rebirth. Or did the 1989 peace prize winner, the Dalai Lama, do that already?

The Nobel Peace Prize has always been a joke--albeit a grim one. Alfred Bernhard Nobel famously invented dynamite and felt sorry about it. In fact, he was a good deal worse than that. Dynamite's okay--clearing beaver dams, blowing stumps, blasting hillsides to spend Obama stimulus money on pointless HOV interstate lanes. But Nobel was the experimental progenitor of all modern high explosives. Nobel was the man who transformed the cannon from a pirate-ship pop gun to an airmail express delivery system for slaughter. Nobel was the fellow who allowed assassins to make the evolutionary leap from cloak and dagger Caesar-stickers to Timothy McVeigh. Plus Nobel invented smokeless gunpowder, which dispelled the fog of war and turned the modern battle into a pellucid field of fire. As murderous -industrial magnates go, Alfred Nobel is right up there with Ray Kroc, franchiser of McDonald's.

Nobel left most of his huge fortune to an endowment that funds the prizes named after himself. Beginning in 1901 five Nobels have been awarded pretty much annually. They are given for chemistry, physics, medicine, literature "of an ideal tendency," and peace. Since 1969 there's been a sixth prize, for economics--to no good effect, judging by my 401(k). I don't know enough about chemistry, physics, medicine, or literature of an ideal tendency to say whether these prizes have done harm. But the peace prize stinks.

Theodore Roosevelt got the 1906 prize for ending the Russo-Japanese War after it was over. Never mind his role in starting the Spanish-American War, an altogether less worthwhile conflict. We conquered Puerto Rico! And the 1919 honoree, Woodrow Wilson, gave us America's participation in World War I, and then, with his Versailles Treaty, he gave us everybody's participation in World War II. "Woody's World" is with us right down to the present day in places such as Kosovo. Thus, with President Wilson alone, the Nobel Peace Prize death toll is over 50 million and counting.

Occasionally the peace prize has gone to actual peace negotiators but usually, per Teddy Roosevelt, when there was nothing left to negotiate. Carlos Saavedra Lamas got his in 1936 for mediating between Bolivia and Paraguay in the Chaco War (1932-35). Both nations were exhausted, 100,000 soldiers were dead, and the Chaco was--as it had been and remains--a vast, useless weed patch. Likewise, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan (1976) and John Hume and David Trimble (1998)--the four of them were standing around when, after 500 years, the fool residents of my ancestral homeland ran out of ammo and beer.

Nelson Mandela (1993) and Menachem Begin (1978) didn't negotiate peace; they negotiated their manner of winning. Martin Luther King (1964) was a pacifist, perhaps, but his real genius was showing how, in a democracy (however imperfect), under rule of law (ditto), violence is counterproductive. The rioting after his death proved his point.

Other peacemakers were even less effective. William McKinley's secretary of war (sic), Elihu Root, was honored for advocating a League of Nations, rather prematurely, in 1912. Worse yet was the timing of Henri La Fontaine, a member of Parliament in gallant little Belgium. He received a prize for being president of the Permanent International Peace Bureau in 1913. Aristide Briand (1926) and Frank B. Kellogg (1929) forged the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 in which Germany, France, Great Britain, the United States, Italy, Japan, and nine other nations forswore "recourse to war for the solution of international controversies." But the Japanese ate their Wheaties and invaded Manchuria.

Ralph Bunche (1950) attempted to soothe the hard feelings between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Thanks "a Bunche," Ralph. Lester Pearson (1957) tried to end the Suez conflict (though it was Dwight Eisenhower--no prize--who ended it). Dag Hammarskjold (1961) brought lasting harmony to the Congo or surely would have if his plane hadn't crashed. Kim Dae-jung (2000) created the concord and amity with North Korea that we enjoy today. Kofi Annan (2001) left us with--I quote the prize committee--"a better organized and more peaceful world." And there's no end to the good that Jimmy Carter (2002) did--for Republicans.

Some peace prize winners experienced precious little peace at the time of their winning: Andrei Sakharov (1975), Lech Walesa (1983), Desmond Tutu (1984), Aung San Suu Kyi (1991).

Of course, if you go around giving prizes left and right (mostly left) for more than a century, you're bound to give some to worthy people once in a while. With the Nobel committee this usually involves the Red Cross (1901, 1917, 1944, 1963). But the Red Cross doesn't bring peace, it brings bandages. Then there are such estimable folks as Albert Schweitzer (1952), Mother Teresa (1979), Elie Wiesel (1986), and micro-credit banker Muhammad Yunus (2006). I'm glad they had a payday. I'm a fan of their work. But, huh?

Lately the peace prize committee is just messing with our heads. They honored Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2005, by which time India, Pakistan, Iran, and hence every cab driver in New York had the bomb. In 2008 they gave the prize to "Martti Ahtisaari," supposedly a former president of Finland, "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts." They're pulling that out of their boxer shorts. And let's not mention Al Gore (2007) except to note that Abraham Lincoln did not urge us, in his Second Inaugural Address, to "achieve and cherish a just and lasting cap on carbon emissions among ourselves and with all nations."

Speaking of justice, where in the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners are the men and women of Lincoln's mettle, who brought just and lasting peace to whole continents? Where is Winston Churchill? Franklin Roosevelt? Harry Truman? Margaret Thatcher? Ronald Reagan? Instead what we get is Mikhail Gorbachev (1990) and Barack Obama.

Paddy walks into the bar and shouts, "Drinks all around! Me wife's next in line for the Nobel Peace Prize!"

"Paddy," says the barkeep, "Yer wife's been in a coma since January."

"Ah!" says Paddy, "Isn't peace grand!"

P. J. O'Rourke is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.