Saturday, August 09, 2008

Murderer Medellin Executed At Last—No Thanks To Bush Administration

By Brenda Walker
August 06, 2008

Brenda Walker Archive

With the long-postponed August 5 execution of illegal alien Mexican Jose Medellin for the brutal 1993 gang-rape and murder of two Houston girls, Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16, in 1993, a sense of relief has passed throughout Texas and beyond.

Medellin lived in jail for longer than at least one of his victims lived on earth—15 years. Too long, if you believe that justice delayed is justice denied.

Jose Medellin

Not only was Medellin a depraved gangmember of the worst kind, he had become a poster Mexican martyr—revealing much that is wrong with the White House, where the Mexichurian President took the side of the killer and worked against the families of the murdered girls. Bush leaned hard on the Texas courts to consider the objection of the International Court of Justice—that Medellin's arrest did not include informing him of his right to contact the Mexican Consulate under the Vienna Convention—yet another instance of his energetic pursuit of the well-being of Mexicans to the detriment of American citizens.

Bush's meddling was a clear violation of the separation of powers, one of the basic principles of our system of government. As Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX, and a former judge) remarked on CNN (Oct 10, 2007), "...under the separation of powers, the president hasn't—does not have any authority over any court to tell them what to do. And the highest court in Texas recently ruled, in all respect to the president, that he has no jurisdiction in this matter at all."

The Supreme Court agreed with Rep. Poe in March. It ruled in a 6-3 vote that US State courts are bound neither by the President's whim nor the dictates of European jurists. (Read Chief Justice Roberts' majority opinion.)

Back in Bush's pre-globalist days, when he was Governor of Texas, he presided over the execution of 152 inmates during six years. But as President, he has acted more like a Citizen of the World than Americans' #1 advocate, which he has never been.

Texans, from Governor Rick Perry to average folk, remained unimpressed throughout with the demands of the self-important World Court. As Sam Houston remarked: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."

Bush dispatched some Washington lawyers to convince the stubborn Texans that the big picture of international relations required an attitude adjustment. No deal.

“But Gov. Perry remains resolute. Spokesman Robert Black admits the federal government has ‘a big sort of dilemma’ because the United States as a whole is obligated to abide by international treaty obligations, but individual states are not.

“Still, ‘the governor isn't feeling any pressure on this simply because he is here to uphold the laws of the state of Texas and not some foreign court in Europe,’ he said.

" ‘Two young girls were brutally gang raped and murdered, and the governor is not willing to say that any foreign national is going to get any additional protection under the law than a Texas citizen would,’ Mr. Black said.” [Federal officials try to block Texas execution to allow review of case, By Diane Jennings, Dallas Morning News, July 28, 2008]

The snooty scribblers at the Wall Street Journal [Looming Texas Execution Gets Spotlight, By Ashby Jones, August 1, 2008] typified the elite, international relations view:

"The Medellín case has become about more than whether a Mexican national is executed. To some, the case highlights the enduring strength of the U.S.'s federalist system; that states do not have to yield to interpretations of law made by foreign courts. To others, the case represents a chance for the U.S. to burnish its credibility in the international community or, alternatively, to risk the diminution of its citizens' rights overseas. To others still, the case is a referendum on the death penalty. "

The WSJ noted every aspect of the case but one—that it was a crime of the most terrible violence against two real victims, who are no longer alive.
Furthermore, had the Supreme Court not swatted down the World Court busybodies and upheld American sovereignty, the case would have been a new extreme for globalist legal intrusion and a very bad precedent. As Richard Samp of the Washington Legal Foundation observed on CNN August 4, "The World Court has never before this case tried to interfere with an individual criminal case going on within some country around the world, and there's no reason under United States law to make this the first case."

The word should go out to Mexico and other permissive backwaters: if you sodomize and strangle a girl in Texas—Medellin admitted killing one of the girls with his shoelace—you will eventually face the needle and be put down like a mad dog.

The Attorney General of Texas, Greg Abbott, issued a media advisory July 29 to remind people of the grim facts of the case:

"Subsequent boastful statements of Medellin and other gang members revealed that what ensued was a brutal gang rape of both girls by the gang members. After the assault, Medellin, Raul, Efrain, and Peter met at Peter's house where he lived with his brother and sister-in-law, Joe and Christina Cantu, to brag about their exploits. Christina noticed that Raul was bleeding and that Efrain had blood on his shirt. She asked the group what had occurred and Medellin responded that they ‘had fun’ and that their exploits would be seen on the television news. Medellin was hyper, giggling, and laughing. He boasted to Joe and Christina that the group had met two girls and had sex with them. He also told the couple that the two girls had been talking to them and that he punched one of the girls because she had started screaming after he grabbed her. "

One of the convicted killers, Derrick O'Brien, [ note: Picture here.] was executed in 2006. He at least had the decency to make what sounded like a sincere apology to the Ertman and Pena families.

"‘I am sorry. I have always been sorry,’ O'Brien said as he lay on the gurney, waiting for the lethal flow of drugs to begin. ‘It is the worst mistake that I ever made in my whole life. Not because I am here, but because of what I did. I hurt a lot of people—you and my family.’” [O'Brien executed for rape-murders, Houston Chronicle, July 12, 2006]

Remorse for a heinous crime doesn't help the families, who can never be made whole. But at least we in the public are reassured somehow that the recognition of right and wrong has not been completely obliterated in modern society, even in prison.

In comparison, see the remarks of a death-row do-gooder in a letter to the editor (responding to an editorial, Gov. Perry should halt this execution) in the Dallas Morning News, August 3, 2008, This man changed my mind:

"I have met José Medellín. I wrote him. I have run a death row ministry in Texas for years.

“He has never shown any remorse. He has proudly confessed. I used to be opposed to the death penalty until I met José.

“Where is your respect and sympathy for the victims and their families? You have not even mentioned the two girls this sick creep murdered, or their families.

“José Medellín found it convenient to be a Mexican citizen when he found out it could save him. What a disgrace to all the good, honest, law-abiding Mexicans.

“Execute him already. The girls, along with their families, deserve justice."

Michael Denson, founder, Catholic Death Row Ministry, Frisco

That's quite a reversal coming from someone dedicated to ministering among prisoners.

And Denson was correct that the case had been dragged out for far too long already. A Texas Department of Criminal Justice fact sheet reports that the average length of stay prior to execution is 10.26 years. So Medellin overstayed his welcome by half.

Meanwhile in gentle Mexico (with its #6 world ranking in murders per capita and general uptick in failing state syndrome caused by criminal drug cartels that act like armies), the official view is disapproval of capital punishment. Particularly so when members of its tribe are threatened with justice for their brutal crimes in the United States.

However, in a huge anti-crime march in Mexico City attended by a quarter million unhappy citizens in 2004, many carried banners demanding the death penalty. A 2007 AP-Ipsos poll in Mexico found 71 percent supported life termination as a punishment choice. Perhaps the anti-execution viewpoint is an elite opinion only—and one useful against the hated Americans.

At any rate, Mexicans need to hear the message that American laws continue to rule in the United States despite the objection to sovereignty from internationalist one-worlders and Raza Marxicans. That intent cannot be repeated often enough.

The final curtain for Medellin did not come down until the usual last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court, which slowed the wheels of justice for a few more hours.

But finally the execution was carried out—to the satisfaction of still-grieving father Adolfo Pena who attended the execution and remarked, "We feel relieved. Fifteen years is a long time coming." (Mexican-born inmate executed for deaths of 2 Houston teenagers, KLTV, Tyler Texas)

The other father, Randy Ertman, has never minced words about the case, the politics slowing justice or his opinion of Mexico (Texas executes Mexican-born killer, Google AP, August 5, 2008).

“Randy Ertman, who lost his daughter in the attack, said Medellin's supporters were misguided.

" ‘Mexico has a big yard down there full of filth and murders and gangs and drug cartels and they're not mentioning anything about that,’ he said. ‘There's where they need to start their work.’"

There's no argument with that sentiment. But it is a hard-won wisdom—one that no parent should have to learn in such a cruel way.

- Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, and Even though Phil Sheridan said, "if I owned Hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell”, she thinks Texas looks pretty good right now.

Today's Tune: Merle Haggard - Ramblin' Fever (Live)

(Click on title to play video)

Bernie Mac dies at 50

Comedian Bernie Mac died this morning in a Chicago hospital

By Kelley L. Carter and Glenn Jeffers
Chicago Tribune reporters
9:43 AM CDT, August 9, 2008

Comedian and actor Bernie Mac (Bob Fila, Chicago Tribune / December 6, 2000)

Comedian and Chicago native Bernie Mac died early Saturday morning from complications due to pneumonia, his publicist confirmed.

Mac, 50, had been hospitalized for about a week at Northwestern Hospital, according to his spokeswoman. A few years ago, Mac disclosed that he suffered from sarcoidosis, a rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in tissue, most often in the lungs.

The comic born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough could cut an imposing figure. He stood 6-foot-3, was built like a fullback and carried himself with a bouncer's reticence. But perhaps the strongest weapon in the Chicago comedian's arsenal was that voice, that amalgam of thought and a delivery that could rise like a tidal wave, outpace a Gatling gun and remained, to his last days, loud and unapologetic.

He wasn't scared, he told us time and again, to tell anyone what he thought, to say what others were afraid to say. That fearlessness wasn't always welcome, considering Mac didn't get his big break until his 30s. But when he did, the comic skyrocketed to success in stand-up, television and the big screen.

(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images / September 8, 2004)
Bernie Mac attends the film premiere of "Mr. 3000" at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Mac shared screen time with some of Hollywood's larger-than-life leading men, co-starring with Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon in the "Ocean's 11" remake and subsequent sequels.

Most recently, Mac garnered attention for making unsavory comments at a Barack Obama benefit that the presumptive Democratic candidate had to distance himself from.

Growing up on the South Side a hard-core White Sox fan, Mac discovered early on that he wanted to make a go at being a comedian.

Before his 10th birthday, Mac was performing comedy standup, honing his skills on CTA trains and parks before graduating to well-known haunts like the Regal Theater and the Cotton Club. He came to a realization during those first years as a struggling comic: If he could kill in front of a black crowd, he could kill in any crowd.

"Black audiences are hard," he told the New York Times in 2002. "You got to come with a little extra to satisfy them."

(Bob Marshak/Warner Bros / December 4, 2001)
Eddie Jemison as Livingston Dell, Don Cheadle as Basher Tarr, Carl reiner as Saul Bloom and Bernie Mac as Frank Catton in "Ocean's Eleven."

He also learned that comedy isn't a lucrative business when you are starting out. During those lean years in the '80s, Mac drove a Wonder Bread delivery truck to pay the bills.

Life changed dramatically for Mac when he was 32. He won the Miller Lite comedy search that year and that performance took him to the standup stage, which ultimately led to regular performances on popular shows like HBO's "Def Comedy Jam."

In a few short years, he was able to put a stamp on this tell-it-like-it-is brand of comedy that audiences had come to know him for. He was a hit on the stage, delivering sordid tales of his early life growing up on Chicago's South Side.

His work hit home to the African American audience -- his aggressive, brash comedy had a down home feel to it, tackling everything from family life to black romantic relationships -- yet Mac was able to cross it over, connecting with a majority entertainment scene.

"When I started in comedy in the clubs in 1977, blacks couldn't do certain clubs -- not because they were segregated. They just didn't want to put the [black comics] out there. In Los Angeles, the clubs would have a black night. People would say, 'Why don't you come by and do something?' I would say, 'I'm a comedian -- don't put a title on me.' Don't limit yourself. How you start is how you finish," he told the Tribune in 2007. "If you let people put tags on you, you'll never be able to remove them. You've got to make people respect you. Respect is bigger than dollars and cents."

(Doug Hyun/FOX / November 12, 2001)
Bernie Mac and Jeremy Suarez in "Bernie Mac" on FOX.

Mac got his respect and he gained national attention after his set on HBO's popular late-night series Def Comedy Jam in 1992. Decked out in a pair of jeans with his face illustrated, graffiti-style, on the right pants leg, Mac expounded on one taboo subject after another, from the benefits of snitching to his prowess in the bedroom.

"I ain't scared of you [expletive]!" became his signature tagline.

Many took note of the blue comic's performance, which later led to a bit part in 1992's "Mo' Money," and later an HBO Special, "Midnight Mac."

In 1995, Mac earned a spot in the cult-classic "Friday," and the film helped Mac break out. His portrayal of Pastor Clever was one of the film's highlights, however small it was. He followed it up with bit roles in other films, including "Booty Call," and "Def Jam's: How to Be a Player."

But he wanted more.

Mac sowed the seeds for his success on a cloudy day in North Carolina while taping the 2000 Spike Lee concert film, "The Original Kings of Comedy." There, on a rain-soaked basketball court, buttressed by co-stars Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley and Steve Harvey, Mac issued a challenge to Hollywood:

"Do I have a television show? Nah," Mac told the cameras. "Why? 'Cause you scared of me, Scared I'm a say something. You [expletive] right. Think I won't say something?!"

(AP photo/ Darren Michaels / June 20, 2003)
Lucy Liu, Bernie Mac, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz star in "Charlies Angels: Full Throttle."

A year later, Mac got his chance. "The Bernie Mac Show" debuted on Fox in November 2001, drawing critical acclaim, numerous awards, including two Emmy nominations for Mac and, most important, high ratings. Its premiere episode drew 11.4 million viewers. The second episode, which immediately followed the first, drew 12.4 million.

For the next four years, Mac spoke to the American public--via a break in the fourth wall a la Dobie Gillis--with all the befuddlement of a 40-something taskmaster father lost in a sea of talk therapy and "timeouts." "Now, America," Mac would often begin before going into a rant about undisciplined children, cuddling parents or, one of his favorite topics, the differences between black and white people.

But in 2005, the show went off the air. Several reasons contributed to cancellation: The show's ratings had dropped, Mac was getting more lucrative offers from the movie studios. Before the 2000 concert film, Mac's biggest credit was a recurring role on "Moesha."

But Mac's health was also a factor. In 2004, he halted production on the show while recovering from exhaustion. A year later, he disclosed that he suffered from sarcoidosis, a rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in tissue, most often in the lungs.

In spite of that, his star had risen a great deal. In addition to the highly popular "Oceans" films, he co-starred with Ashton Kutcher in a reverse remake of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in 2005.

(Handout / August 23, 2004)
Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac in a scene from "Guess Who."

Last spring, Mac said that he was hanging up his standup career, and instead would focus more on movies. In 2007, he co-starred in "Ocean's Thirteen," "Pride" and had a role in the blockbuster "Transformers."

Scheduled for release is "Soul Men," with Samuel L. Jackson, which will be released this year, and "Old Dogs," with Robin Williams, which is due next year.

Mac is survived by his wife Rhonda McCullough, their daughter, Je'Niece, a son-in-law and a granddaughter, Jasmine.

Related links

Bernie Mac's life, career Photos
Your thoughts on Bernie Mac
Bernie Mac dies at 50
Bernie Mac had sarcoidosis, but what is it?
Comedian Mac in Chicago hospital
Obama camp on defensive after salty Bernie Mac riff
Bernie Mac, Barack Obama
Bernie Mac



By Ralph Peters
New York Post
Posted: 3:54 am
August 9, 2008

As I write, Russian tanks grind into a brave and isolated democratic state.
Assuming that the world's attention would focus on Beijing, Moscow stage-managed an elaborate act of aggression against Georgia.

But the world has changed since Soviet tanks rolled unchallenged into Afghanistan at Christmastime 29 years ago. Global communications now spotlight aggression instantly.

Yesterday, the world didn't watch the Olympic opening ceremonies (the Chinese must be furious at the Russians). Instead, we saw images of Soviet - sorry, I meant Russian - aircraft pounding Georgian territory as Russian armor rolled over the Caucasus Mountains.

The Kremlin is determined to break Georgia's will - and keep the feisty republic out of NATO.

Putin: Clearly had tanks set for invasion.
Russia, you see, still believes it's entitled to all of its former empire. And, tragically, "Old Europe" is back: Yesterday, Germany and other nervous European states bought the Russian line that Georgia is the aggressor. Wouldn't want to anger Moscow . . .

The background: When a fellow officer and I drove through the region in 1991, Georgian patriots and Russian "peacekeepers" were already facing off. As the USSR collapsed, its security services leapt to foment separatist (pro-Moscow) movements in the newly independent states. In Georgia's case, that meant instigating rebellions in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and - unsuccessfully - Adjaria (the Caucasus is a crazy quilt of obscure identities). If Georgians insisted on independence, the Kremlin intended to dissect the country.

But then Russia found itself bogged down in a series of botched wars in Chechnya as its military rotted and the Yeltsin government floundered.

Now, however, the petrodollar-powered Russia of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his straight man, President Dmitri Medvedev, is swaggering - and determined to punish Georgia, to make it an example to other defiant neighbors.

What just happened? The Kremlin decided it was time to act, since Georgia was only growing stronger under its democratically elected government. Although NATO has been hemming and hawing about admitting Georgia, the Russians didn't want to take any chances. (Just last month, 1,000 US troops were in Georgia for an exercise.)

Calculating that the media and world leaders would be partying in Beijing, the Russians ordered North Ossetian militiamen, backed by Russian "peacekeepers" and mercenaries, to provoke the Georgians earlier this month.

Weary of the Russian presence on their soil, the Georgians took the bait. President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered his US-trained military to respond.
That was the excuse the Kremlin wanted. Immediately, a tank brigade from Russia's 58th Army (the butchers of Chechnya) crossed the international border into Poland - sorry, I meant Georgia.

How do I know that the Russians set a trap? Simple: Given the wretched state of Russian military readiness, that brigade could never have shot out of its motor pool on short notice. The Russians obviously "task-organized" the force in advance to make sure it would have working tanks with competent crews.

Otherwise, broken-down vehicles would've lined those mountain roads.
The Russians planned it. And they hope to push it to the limit.

What happens next? This is a fight between a very small David and a very large Goliath. That said, the Russians may be surprised at how fiercely the Georgians defend their homeland. At least two, and possibly four, Russian jets have been shot down while attacking Georgian bases close to the capital city, Tbilisi.

As of last night, the Georgians had retaken Tskhinvali, South Ossetia's capital. I'd bet American veterans helped Georgia with contingency planning for just such a situation (it worked in Bosnia).

Meanwhile, hundreds of civilians and dozens of militiamen, Kremlin-funded mercenaries and Russian "peacekeepers" have been killed, along with tens of Georgian troops. This fighting is serious. And, unless Moscow pulls out all the stops, its forces just might take a surprise beating.

The Russian view: If I were a Russian staff planner (and sober), I wouldn't expect to drive all the way to the Georgian capital - that would be too much for the West to stomach (although Russia's greatest strength today is that it doesn't care about world opinion).

My objective would be to retake Tskhinvali, then strike due south to cut Georgia's lifelines to the world - the strategic highway, parallel rail line and international pipeline that connect Georgia's eastern interior with its western ports.

(Incidentally, such an offensive would take the Kremlin's tanks to the aptly named city of Gori, birthplace of Josef Stalin.)

If the Russian invaders can sever those links, they'll cut Georgia in half. Control of that road-rail-pipeline complex would not only bring the Georgian economy to a standstill - it would also allow the Kremlin's other clients in Abkhazia, on the Black Sea, to renew their attempt to devour Georgian territory.

Russian generals have always been good planners. The problems crop up in the execution.

And the Russians have several vulnerabilities:

* They have only a single route over the rugged Caucasus range. If Georgian commandos interdict it, the Russians will feel the supply pinch quickly. And any major Russian military operations need to be wrapped up before autumn snows close the passes - if there isn't a cease-fire sooner.

* The Russians also need a local airfield to sustain their efforts - that could lure them closer to Georgia's capital.

* Finally, the Russian army still relies on brute force - sophisticated combat operations are not its specialty.

We don't know how this will develop. A Russian humiliation? A Kremlin success as the world wrings its hands but looks away? A destructive, bloody standoff?

The only thing that's 100 percent clear is which side we should be on.

Ralph Peters' latest book, "Looking For Trouble," takes readers through Georgia.


By Kirsten Powers
New York Post
Posted: 3:54 am
August 9, 2008

John Edwards "shocked" the political world yesterday by admitting he'd cheated on his wife of 30 years with a campaign aide, Rielle Hunter.

If it looks like a phony, walks like a phony, quacks like a phony, it's a phony.

There's nothing particularly shocking about a politician cheating, and there's even less shock in learning that Edwards has been lying through his teeth about his own affair. In fact, we should assume that his detailed timeline about the affair is likely just another lie.

Edwards: Philanderer shamelessly ran as a family man.

As is usual with people who've been unfaithful, he's already told a string of lies. On July 23, Edwards denied the recent allegations and called the National Enquirer story "tabloid trash."

Last October, he said: "It's completely untrue, ridiculous. I've been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years and, as anybody who's been around us knows, she's an extraordinary human being, warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known. So the story's just false."

There are many honorable people in politics who aren't cheaters - but the ones who rise to the top have a disproportionate problem with staying true to their spouses: FDR, Bill Clinton, John Kennedy, Woodrow Wilson, Lyndon Johnson to name a few. Even the "honorable" John McCain cheated on his first wife with his current wife Cindy - earning him the ire of the Reagans, who excommunicated him from their circle of friends.

But something about Edwards always seemed uniquely phony, even by the standards of politics. Actually, nothing about him seemed authentic.

Who was he? Apparently, whatever he thought people wanted him to be. In 2000, he helped found the "New Democrat Coalition" for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) along with Sen. Joe Lieberman and others. Then, for his 2004 presidential run, he staked out the populist "Two Americas" theme. By 2008, he'd completed a total morph into a class warrior who pandered to the farthest reaches of the Democratic Left.

The poor suddenly became a great concern to him after his 2004 loss - yet he saw no disconnect in building a massive mansion as he crusaded for the poverty-stricken. He discovered New Orleans when he wanted to make his 2008 campaign announcement, but was nowhere to be seen back when the tragedy occurred.

In campaign focus groups, people would say something about him was "too perfect," that there must be "something wrong with him." A YouTube clip of him obsessing over his hair captured what so many felt: He was more concerned with appearances than anything else.

Edwards' statement yesterday explained: "In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic." Is he really past the narcissism bug? In an ABC interview airing last night, Edwards took great care to explain that he only cheated on Elizabeth when she was in remission - not when her cancer was full blown.

What a relief.

By the way, Edwards isn't the only one dishonored. The media accepted his denials of any affair - while holding at least one other candidate to a different standard. The New York Times insinuated in a front-page story that McCain had had an affair with a lobbyist - an allegation utterly without evidence. And MSNBC's Keith Ollberman broke into scheduled programming to hawk the story.

But it's Edwards who most deserves our disgust.

Normally, cheating on your spouse is a private matter. Many Americans wind up facing it; many families stay intact and recover. I hope that's so for the Edwards family.

But this is not a private matter: Following his affair, Edwards chose to run for president, using his family as a centerpiece for his campaign. In June of last year, he accepted the Father of the Year Award from Father's Day/Mother's Day Council. Shortly afterward, he renewed his vows with his wife and provided pictures to People magazine.

And in December, Katie Couric asked the candidates about the importance of marital fidelity in assessing a presidential candidate. True to form, Edwards said that it was a "fundamental" way to "judge people and human character" - but shouldn't be a "controlling factor" in choosing a president.

Unfortunately she didn't ask him what it would tell you about a politician if he used his family as a campaign prop and then lied to the public repeatedly about an affair.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Comrade Lenin: Alive and Well

By Daniel Silva
July 9, 2008

The New Russia may have finally embraced free-market capitalism, but Vladimir Lenin, founder of Soviet communism and one of the great murderers of the twentieth century, still casts a long shadow across the Russian landscape. Indeed, when I journeyed to Russia with my family last summer to research my forthcoming novel, Moscow Rules, it seemed Lenin was our constant companion. His statue still looms over the gates of the city that once bore his name, with its arm heroically extended as if poor Vladimir were forever trying to hail a cab. Streets still bear his name, as do squares, schools, parks, and sports clubs. And he still snoozes peacefully in his little rose-colored mausoleum at the edge of Red Square, a waxen figure in a bottle, well-dressed and neatly groomed.

Lenin statue at the October square, Moscow, Russia.

One cannot enter a tourist bazaar without stumbling across all manner of Lenin paraphernalia, including ubiquitous metallic busts of the great man that peer inscrutably from dusty shelves. Sometimes, the head of his accomplice and successor, Joseph Stalin, stands next to him. In one market on the outskirts of Moscow, I saw a fine little statuette of Lenin seated in a chair, clearly thinking deep thoughts. I wondered what weighty matter was he pondering at the moment the artist conceived this iconic image. The annihilation of a village that would not bend to his will? The murder of a rival? Or perhaps he was thinking about killing a few meddlesome shopkeepers who didn’t quite see the wisdom in submitting themselves to “the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

Imagine if the scene were Berlin instead of Moscow. Imagine if, near Brandenburg Gate, there stood a hundred-foot-tall statue of Adolph Hitler with his arm raised in a Nazi salute. Imagine if one could buy a bronze-plated bust of Hitler in a flea market in the Tiergarten. Imagine if one could window shop in the Hilter-Strasse or take lunch at an outdoor café in the Hitler-Platz. Or if one could view Hitler’s body—or his ashes, perhaps—in a sacred tomb at the edge of the Alexanderplatz. Editorial pages, interest groups, and political leaders throughout the civilized world would surely howl with indignation and anger. And rightly so.

Fortunately, the idea of a giant Hitler statue standing in the heart of Berlin is laughable. So why is this not the case in modern Russia? Why are there no howls of righteous indignation from Western shapers of opinion over the display and sale of symbols of a murderous, totalitarian system? And why don’t the leaders of the New Russia remove the statues of Lenin, change the names of the streets and squares that still bear his name, and give his poor old carcass a proper burial?

The silence in many quarters of the West is, sadly, easy to understand. During the Cold War, many of the opinion leaders in Western Europe—the academics, the essayists and novelists, the campaigners for peace and human rights—were too often willing to overlook the Soviet Union’s inexhaustible list of crimes against humanity because they were adherents of Marxist-Leninist bilge themselves. Lenin was to be forgiven his sins because, in their eyes, his cause was just. As for Stalin, yes, he was a monster, but he was also a hero, the man who single-handedly fought Nazi Germany to a stalemate until the American and British could join the fight. Many conveniently overlook the fact that, by agreeing to the infamous Non-Aggression Pact with Hitler in 1939, Stalin was the one who made the Second World War possible in the first place.

The answer to the second part of the question is, in my opinion, far more perilous for Russia’s newly free neighbors and the West. Vladimir Putin, the man now running Russia, is a child of the system Lenin and Stalin created. A former KGB officer and Party member, he surely studied their writings, as a seminarian studies the sacred texts. Moreover, an estimated seventy-five percent of the senior members of his regime also came from the KGB and its successor services. Putin and his cabal surely cannot permit a full and honest exploration of the crimes of the Soviet state, because to do so would discredit the system and the organization—i.e., the KGB—that produced them.

Edward Lucas, a reporter for the Economist, argues in a persuasive new book, The New Cold War, that Putin and his cronies are engaged in a carefully orchestrated effort to “sanitize” the more repulsive elements of Soviet history while honoring its achievements, which is to say, its military might and its empire. In 2005, Putin made his feelings abundantly clear when, in his state of the nation speech, he referred to the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.” And he even managed to say it with a straight face.

Let us return to Germany for a moment. Let us imagine that Chancellor Angela Merkel was a former officer of the SS rather than a former professor of physical chemistry. And let us imagine she went before her parliament and people and proclaimed the collapse of Nazi-occupied Europe the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century. Such a remark would have produced a furious response from the German press, the German political opposition, and the German people. Germany’s neighbors would have twitched with anxiety. Ambassadors would have been recalled. Editorial writers would have wondered whether the Nazi beast was reawakening.

And imagine, too, that the SS and the Gestapo, under new, benign-sounding names, were still responsible for internal German security. And that they still worked from their old headquarters buildings. That scenario, as preposterous as it sounds, is exactly the situation in Russia today. The FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service, occupies the KGB’s old headquarters building in Lubyanka Square. Many Russians don’t even bother to call the FSB by its new name. They still refer to it as the KGB.

While researching Moscow Rules, my family and I were invited to visit FSB headquarters. A former KGB colonel with an amiable face and glittering eyes gave us a private tour of the building. It ended in a small, private KGB museum, where we spent several hours, carefully reviewing the organization’s remarkable history. It was a surprisingly honest place, though distinctly lacking in any evidence that the Soviet Union had ever tried to spy on the United States. A particularly telling moment occurred when we paused to examine a photo album of all the KGB’s leaders. There was Vladimir Putin, proudly displayed with all the great murderers and oppressors of the past. Our guide flipped through the pages, giving us highly abbreviated biographies of each chief. “He was shot,” he said of one. “He was shot,” he said of the next. “He was shot, too.” Flipping to the next page, he paused and smiled. “Ah, this one was different,” he said. “He was poisoned.”

The overall message of the museum was unmistakable: the course of Soviet history would have proceeded much differently if the KGB had been running the regime instead of serving has its guardian. Now, nearly two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, the KGB has finally gotten its wish. Putin and his cabal want their empire back, and they want to be a great power again. And they are using Russia’s newfound oil wealth to achieve those goals. As for taking an honest look into the Russian past, there isn’t time for that. Nor is there any appetite. Lenin once said: “There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience.” Vladimir Putin would surely agree. Perhaps that is why Lenin the murderer still stands at the gates of the city that once bore his name. And why Lenin the murderer still sleeps peacefully in Red Square.

Edwards admits affair

Raleigh News & Observer
From Staff and Wire Reports
August 8, 2008

John Edwards acknowledged Friday that he had an extramarital affair with a campaign filmmaker while running for president, ending months of denials of what he had dismissed as “tabloid trash.”
Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, went on ABC’s “Nightline” to deliver a stunning admission: Yes, he had sex with Rielle Hunter, a 44-year-old videographer hired by his campaign. No, he said, he did not father her child.

ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff (L) interviews former U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate and former Senator John Edwards in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, August 8, 2008. Edwards has admitted to having had an extramarital affair with a woman he met in a New York City bar in 2006, ABC News reported on Friday. REUTERS/ABC News/Handout (UNITED STATES).

“In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs,” Edwards said in a statement issued after ABC News reported the news Friday afternoon on its Web site.

“I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman, and I asked for her forgiveness. Although I was honest in every painful detail with my family, I did not tell the public.”

In apologizing, Edwards said: “In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic. If you want to beat me up — feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help.”

The admission likely ends Edwards’ once-meteoric political career — which saw him rise from a prominent Raleigh trial lawyer to the U.S. Senate, two serious presidential campaigns and a place on the 2004 ticket as a vice presidential candidate.

Wade Smith, a former law partner in Raleigh, said the scandal would likely “have a profound impact on his ability to go forward with a public life.”

“I hope that in the long run people will remember the good things he did,” Smith said.

The disclosure is likely to have little effect on the presidential race in North Carolina, where polls suggest that Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are in a competitive contest. Edwards did not have a large political organization in the state. His popularity had diminished in the Tar Heel state as he moved to his political left to win the Democratic presidential primaries.

But the acknowledgment tarnished Edwards’ image as a clean-cut family man who stood by his wife through the loss of their son in an automobile accident in 1996, and during her continuing battle with breast cancer.

“One of the very strong pieces of John Edwards was his relationship with his wife,” said Wayne Lesperance, a professor at New England College in New Hampshire, where Edwards gave the commencement address last year. “He was seen as the kind of husband that a lot of men would like to be in those situations and that a lot of wives would like to have. He became a model husband in that circumstance.

“This is the kind of thing that is really gut-wrenching.”

‘What kind of mess?’

Supporters reacted with sadness and anger.

Edwards’ former campaign manager, former U.S. Rep. David Bonior of Michigan, said Edwards betrayed thousands of supporters’ faith and confidence.

“What if he had won the nomination? What kind of mess would that have put this party in?” Bonior said in a phone interview.

Edwards denied that he had fathered Hunter’s baby girl, Frances Quinn, who was born Feb. 27 in Santa Barbara. He said the timing of his affair in 2006 made it impossible for him to be the father. He offered to take tests to prove he was not the girl’s father.

The National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, first reported the story last October.

The allegations resurfaced this month when the Enquirer reported that Edwards had visited Hunter in the Beverly Hills Hilton and the tabloid printed a grainy photograph of Edwards holding a baby. Edwards told ABC that he met with Hunter to keep the scandal from becoming public. He questioned the authenticity of the photograph showing him with the baby.

Andrew Young, a married, long-time Edwards aide, has said he fathered the child with Hunter. Young and his wife were living in a Governor’s Club house in Chapel Hill last year. Hunter was living in the same development, according to the Enquirer. Hunter and the Youngs later moved to Santa Barbara.

How Hunter and Young and his wife were paying for their accommodations had been a mystery. Fred Baron, a wealthy Dallas trial lawyer who was Edwards’ finance chairman, shed some light on it Friday.

“I decided independently to help two friends and former colleagues rebuild their lives when harassment by supermarket tabloids made it impossible for them to conduct a normal life,” Baron said in a statement.

“John Edwards was not aware that assistance was provided to anyone involved in this matter. I did it of my own volition and without the knowledge, instruction, or suggestion of John Edwards or anyone else. The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.”


The affair took place after Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of the 2004 election. Edwards said it ended before the couple announced in March 2007 that her cancer had returned.

Edwards told ABC that his wife was angry when he told her in 2006 about the affair: “I think furious would be a good way to describe it.” Friends and supporters were sorting through their feelings on Friday.

Edwards’ next-door neighbor Carol Jenkins, 61, said she didn’t see the need for such fuss. Television crews and reporters swarmed outside of Edwards’ Orange County home Friday afternoon.

“I don’t know that it’s really as newsworthy as everybody’s making it out to be,” she said as a news helicopter buzzed over her home. “I mean, Russia invaded Georgia today.”

David Kirby, a friend and former law partner, said the affair was out of character.

“You can disapprove of conduct, but you don’t abandon a person who is a wonderful and gifted person who has done a lot for others and can still do a lot for others in the future,” said Kirby, who has been a friend of the couple since law school. “I know both of them well enough to know they will somehow move past this.”

Contributing to this story were staff writers Ryan Teague Beckwith and Matt Dees; and Jim Morrill, David Ingram and Lisa Zagaroli of The Charlotte Observer.

Disgraceful Hamdan Sentence Calls Military Commissions Into Question

Six months for helping bin Laden kill Americans? What’s the point?

By Andrew C. McCarthy
National Review Online
August 08, 2008, 6:00 a.m.

In an astounding finale to the first military-commission trial, Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s personal aide, has been sentenced by a military commission to five-and-a-half years in prison — five-and-a-half years — upon conviction for the war crime of providing material support to al-Qaeda.

It gets worse. The military judge, Naval Captain Keith Allred, has decided that Hamdan should be credited with the five years he has already spent in custody.

This undated file photo shows Salim Hamdan. America's first war crimes trial since World War II went to the jury Monday Aug. 4, 2008 as a panel of six U.S. military officers began deliberating whether to send Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver away for life.
(AP Photo/Photo courtesy of Prof. Neal Katyal, File)

In effect, the jury's shameful 66-month sentence is thus reduced to a shocking six months — for key assistance to a terror network that has killed thousands of Americans and continues plotting to kill more.

I erred in a post Thursday evening on NRO’s main blog, “The Corner,” by suggesting that Judge Allred was singularly responsible for the disgraceful sentence.

The error owes to my misunderstanding of commission sentencing procedure. To wit, I thought that upon finding Hamdan guilty of providing material support to our enemies, the jury (a panel of six military officers) would hear evidence at a hearing and then make a sentencing recommendation. The judge, I incorrectly believed, would then be free to follow that recommendation or not — imposing sentence in his discretion for any term of years between no time and life imprisonment.

In fact, the sentence in a commission case is imposed by the jury. As the commission rules stipulate (see here), “If there is a finding of guilt, the military commission members may impose any appropriate sentence, including death if the case is referred as a capital case[.]” (Emphasis added.) The military commission members are the jurors.

The military judge’s role at sentencing is not unimportant, but it is subsidiary. The judge may force corrections if the jury sentences outside the scope of legal authority (e.g. if the panel were to impose 30 years for a crime that carries only a 10-year sentence). More importantly for present purposes, the judge decides such matters as whether any jail time the defendant has already served gets counted against the sentence pronounced by the jury.

In Hamdan’s case, we thus have a double problem. First, the jury of military officers somehow decided that material support to our enemies, by a guy who actually protected bin Laden and transported weapons for al-Qaeda, was worth only five-and-a-half years in jail. Second, the judge then made matters incalculably worse by effectively giving Hamdan what everyone (including the judge) must know will be taken as a get-out-of-jail card: i.e., full credit for the five years Hamdan has already been in custody as an enemy combatant. That turns the 66 months into six months.

Understand: there is no requirement to try captured enemy combatants for war crimes. As the laws of war have long provided, and as the Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed, wartime enemy combatants may be held without trial for the duration of hostilities. War crimes charges are an additional measure against combatants who commit egregious law-of-war violations.

Yet, that distinction has been lost in the media’s coverage. Absurdly, Hamdan is now in a better position as a convicted war-criminal than those who have merely been detained as enemy combatants without war crimes charges. The American military has managed to value terrorist war crimes as a less serious impropriety than terrorist war participation. Instead of highlighting Hamdan’s conviction, the government will now spend its time explaining why he is still being held after his sentence is over.

Look, I’m a longtime veteran of the civilian-justice system. I have seen what it does in terrorism cases: the daily risks and realities of disclosing and generating sensitive national-defense information — in the middle of a hot war, provided for the benefit of the jihadists trying to kill us. Terrorists go to school on what we disclose to them. That markedly increases the risk of additional terrorist attacks and it similarly creates more risk for our soldiers in harm’s way. That ought to be unacceptable. The United States government’s first obligation is the security of the governed, not due process for the enemy.

But all that said, how does a serious person continue to defend the military system after Hamdan?

I’ve always maintained that we should withhold judgment on the relative merit of the military commissions until we have a concrete record of what an actual commission looks like. I admit that my expectations in saying that were that the military-justice system would perform well. But expectations aside, I didn’t mean the “withhold judgment” caution as a rhetorical tool with which to beat the Left. I meant it for myself, too. All of us would need to evaluate the military system honestly on the basis of how it actually performed, rather than how its fans and critics predicted it would perform.

And now it has performed.

Hamdan's commission has produced a trial that seems to have bent over backwards to be fair to the defendant — so much so that dubious evidentiary rulings and jury instructions may have caused an unmerited acquittal on one of the two charges. More significantly, it has resulted in a sentence that is stunningly unjust, by any measure, given the magnitude of the crime of conviction.

In this file photograph of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by the U.S. Military, defendant Salim Hamdan sits during his trial inside the war crimes courthouse at Camp Justice, the legal complex of the U.S. Military Commissions, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, in Cuba, July 24, 2008. Hamdan, the former driver for Osama bin Laden, was found guilty on August 6, 2008 on charges of providing material support for terrorism, but acquitted on charges of providing material support for al Qaeda in the first U.S. war crimes trial since World War II.

As a federal prosecutor, my first trial involved a repeat, non-violent offender who escaped from custody (a halfway house) a week before he would have been released. Given his long rap-sheet and smug lack of contrition, the judge sentenced him to ten years in prison. Any judge would have given him at least 5 years; most would have given him 10 or close to 10. He was an incorrigible fraudster.

But there was no chance he’d actually ever murder someone, or help people murder someone. There was even less than no chance that he’d ever make war on the United States — let alone put his life on the line to protect the top leader of an international terror network that has killed thousands of Americans and continues plotting to kill more. Still, five to ten years was an appropriate sentence.

By contrast, Salim Hamdan got what will amount to about six months for a war crimes conviction (i.e., a violation of the laws and customs of civilized warfare) involving the day-in and day-out protection, for years, of the terrorist enemy’s commander-in-chief.

How can I possibly, in good conscience, say that is better than what would have happened if Hamdan had been tried in a civilian court before an experienced federal judge?

The principal job of a civilian federal judge is to ensure that the parties before the court receive due process. Judges are not there to protect national security — though the ones I have been privileged to appear before have cared deeply about it. In light of their institutional responsibilities, it is only natural that judges elevate due process concerns over public safety. That means when we try national security cases before them, we run a serious risk of disclosing more intelligence than is prudent to reveal during a hot war against an enemy that uses information to become better at striking us.

Yet, unlike military courts, civilian federal judges have for years exhibited an appreciation of the seriousness of terrorism crimes. Unlike the Pentagon, they don’t take seven years to get a case done. Unlike Judge Allred, they don't have trouble instructing a jury about the main issues in a trial. And unlike the Hamdan commission members, when sentencing time comes, they slam terrorists.

I still think that the best system would be one that combines the demonstrated strengths of the civilian courts with the military system’s potential of protecting intelligence. Congress should get busy crafting such a system.

But if we're not going to have such a system, if our choice is civilian or military, the case for the military system is much weaker today than it was yesterday. Did we really fight for seven years so a top aide to Osama bin Laden could get six months?

— National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy chairs FDD’s Center for Law & Counterterrorism and is the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Film Trailer: "Appaloosa"

[I'll be doggoned but if this here movie don't look like it'll be right up my doggoned alley...I sure do like a mean Western. - jtf]

[Click on title to play video]

No winners in Favre-Packers divorce

Chicago Sun-Times Columnist
August 7, 2008

So how does a country boy from Kiln, Miss., where the "n'' is silent and the Confederate flag hangs in the local bars, wind up in New York City with the secondary NFL franchise? That's easy. One absurdity begets another.

If the Packers were so maniacally insistent on mistreating and ultimately dumping Brett Favre, it stands to reason that his next team would be one drunkenly serenaded as the "J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!'' This is one of sports's most non-descript organizations, a team that hasn't done boo since Joe Willie Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl upset 39 years ago and damn well pulled it off. What are the Jets best known for lately? Oh, some of their fans have a halftime ritual where they pack the spiral ramps of Gate D at Giants Stadium -- yes, they have to borrow the field of the bigger team in town -- and encourage women to lift their shirts.

Welcome to the afterworld, Brett. Maybe you should have stayed retired.

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 7: Brett Favre holds up his New York Jets jersey alongside Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson (L) and Executive Vice President/General Manager Mike Tannenbaum (R) during a press conference on August 7, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio. The press conference was held prior to a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

At least the debacle has ended, the ridiculous thought that a legend could wear a ballcap, hold a clipboard and have his 275-consecutive-starts streak snapped by raw Aaron Rodgers. At least we'll continue to watch him roll out, improvise, shake, jive and somehow find a receiver 40 yards downfield with an arm that still has zip. But for all the millions spent in the offseason by owner Woody Johnson, the Jets will have difficulty making the playoffs in the more difficult AFC, much less reach a Super Bowl as Favre could have done in Green Bay. And seeing him fall short with a mediocre team would be an even bigger shame, knowing what he has meant to football, knowing his folk-hero status in a nation that doesn't trust a lot of star athletes these days.

Sure, Favre's image took a hit during his diva-like final days in Wisconsin. Outperforming Rodgers and making the playoffs would melt the ice and give him a happier ending, but realistically, he stands to go out like many icons who finish careers in odd places. How did it work out for Michael Jordan in Washington? Wayne Gretzky during his multi-city U.S. tour? Willie Mays with the Mets? Joe Montana in Kansas City? The original-city experience never can be replicated, and in the end, the legend's legacy is smudged a bit.

Shame on the Packers for smearing him, not granting an olive branch and remaining stubborn when he briefly returned to camp the other day. If they can't realize Favre gives them a decidedly better shot to win than Rodgers, then they don't deserve him. "The players want resolution, they want what everybody wants,'' said coach Mike McCarthy, passing off he Favre saga as a locker-room issue when management prolonged the drama. "To come out here every day and talk about somebody that is not here and then shows up, it's gone on too long, and understandably so. They want to play football.
"The train has left the station, whatever analogy you want.''

Actually, the icon has left the Packers with a weaker football team. But then, the icon also has left for a weaker football team. There are no winners here, just a sad realization that even the great Favre -- who symbolized the Packers like few athletes have symbolized a franchise -- is vulnerable to front-office political games. In the end, the Packers won the staredown, but they did so without explaining why they led Favre to believe he'd be able to compete for the starting quarterback job. All they were doing Monday was setting him up for a boot out the door.

"They wanted to know if I'm committed, but I want to know if they're 100 percent committed,'' Favre told ESPN. "The problem is that there's been a lot of damage done and I can't forget it. Stuff has been said, stories planted, that just aren't true. Can I get over all that? I doubt it."

So one of football's most colorful figures and wonderful performers, a man coming off one of his better seasons and an NFC title game berth, is leaving the little town where he had become the perfect fit. Does he have any idea what awaits him in New York if he and the Jets stumble? If he plays at least 80 percent of the game snaps, the Jets will receive a first-round pick; if he plays 50 percent or less, the pick becomes a fourth-rounder. That challenge alone will make him a riveting focus in New York sports, a conversation piece to rival the Super Bowl champion Giants and their quarterback, Eli Manning.

Anyone in Green Bay -- and Chicago -- who is concerned Favre will be traded can relax. According to the NFL Network, a clause requires the Jets to send a whopping three No. 1 picks to the Packers if Favre were traded to the Minnesota Vikings. He's a Jet now, for better or worse. As for the pipedream that he might have ended up in Minnesota or Chicago, the Packers avoided those nightmare scenarios like the plague.

"Brett has had a long and storied career in Green Bay, and the Packers owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for everything he accomplished on the field and for the impact he made in the state," the team annouced in a statement. "It is with some sadness that we make this announcement, but also with the desire for certainty that will allow us to move the team and organization forward in the most positive way possible."

To the last drop, they had to get in their digs by suggesting Favre wasn't a "positive.'' In contrast, the Jets are thrilled. "We just felt like this was an opportunity to get somebody of Brett's stature and what he's accomplished," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "We felt it was in the best interest of the team, and when the opportunity presented itself, we felt it was the right move for us to make and we went ahead and did it."
Not an hour after the trade became official late Wednesday night, the Jets were selling FAVRE jerseys on their web site. The number is the same, 4.
The color is the same, green.

Otherwise, this is as bizarre and surreal as it is stupid.

Extradition Delayed Is Justice Denied

Britain’s Home Office runs interference for jihad’s “Captain Hook.”

By Andrew C. McCarthy
National Review Online
August 6, 2008

He arrived in Europe with great fanfare: an inspiring young leader from a foreign land who spoke with passion about change and social justice. And Europe answered the call, taking him to her bosom. He is, after all, every bit a “citizen of the world,” seizing on the bright promise of international tribunals to overcome the imperialist Anglo-American unilateralism of the past. And no one is more certain that dealing with terrorism through the maze of judicial processes is far preferable to George Bush’s cowboy-style militancy.

He’s not Barack Obama, though.

He is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa: Egyptian by birth, Briton by dubious marriage, and better known as Abu Hamza al-Masri. Shorn of an eye and armed with a curled prosthesis where his right hand once was — one of those unfortunate “mine-clearing accidents” in Afghanistan — he is the jihad’s very own “Captain Hook.”

Abu Hamza al-Masri

He is the kind of terrorist who has customarily been killed, captured or otherwise neutralized on President Bush’s watch.

He is the kind of terrorist who would snicker and live to fight another day … and another … and another, if a President Obama were to make good on his promise to “restore America’s image in the world” — i.e., prostrate ourselves in the futile hope that the planet’s barbarians and parasites will like us better. Just look where that approach has gotten Great Britain.

According to American officials, Abu Hamza is responsible for the 1998 abduction by Yemeni jihadists of 16 Western tourists (including two Americans), four of whom were killed when the terrorists used them as human shields during a rescue attempt.

He sent emissaries to Oregon to establish a jihadist camp at which trainees were instructed on how to slit their victims’ throats, hijack trucks, and construct bombs and poisons.

He used his position as imam of London’s infamous Finsbury Park Mosque to recruit Muslims for jihadist training in Afghanistan — the same type of training undergone by the 9/11 hijackers, the 1998 American embassy bombers, the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, and countless other Muslim militants.

He has been under indictment by the Justice Department since 2004 for conspiring to support terrorists, and to kidnap, kill, and maim Americans. He has also, for years, been wanted in Yemen for the 1998 hostage-taking operation, which he facilitated from London.

And there’s the rub: The maestro conducts from today’s United Kingdom.

The U.K. has not only put out the welcome mat for jihadists of other nations. It gives them uncontested space to radicalize other disgruntled Muslims. It swaddles them in the majesty of British civil rights (that would be the liberties forged by the people they are sworn to vanquish). It runs interference for them against the nations on which they prey. It denies Islam could possibly have anything to do with Islamic terrorism. And when all else fails, being a paragon of the post-sovereign order, it punts to the “international community,” whose tribunals — under the laughable banner of “human rights” — are even more indulgent of those pledged to kill as many humans as possible.

In Abu Hamza’s case, the U.S. has been trying to navigate the labyrinth of British extradition for four years. But the Brits — even as they demanded the return from Guantanamo Bay of non-British enemy combatants who had previously resided in the U.K. — have declined to send him here for trial.

Think that’s a product of fear that he’ll be consigned to Cowboy Bush’s Gitmo torture chamber? Guess again. We are still waiting, a decade later, for England to extradite a number of al-Qaeda operatives who, in 1998, bombed the U.S. embassies in Africa.

The blunt fact is British authorities were allowing their laws to shield jihadists from American justice before there ever was a 9/11, a Bush administration, a Gitmo, or a military commission trial process. The United States, moreover, has solemnly committed that Abu Hamza will not be sent to Gitmo and will not face that bane of European sensibilities, the death penalty. We just want him for one of those regular old civilian trials — the full flower of due process that Bush-bashers so profess to love. And still they have resisted sending him.

Indeed, their fashionable Islamophilia notwithstanding, the Brits have even refused to send Abu Hamza to Yemen. Couldn’t be sure he’d get a fair trial there despite Yemen’s venerable Muslim culture and scrupulous adherence to those rich principles of sharia that the Archbishop of Canterbury expects will soon be imported into English law — principles under which terrorists were acquitted in 2006 by a Yemeni judge who reasoned that jihad against infidel occupiers in Iraq was a duty, not a crime.

British police arrested Abu Hamza in 2004 based on the American charges. Yet, rather than risk extraditing him while British public opinion was turning sharply against the Blair government and the U.S. over the war in Iraq, the Brits elected to prosecute him themselves (based on the very evidence they’d demanded to support his extradition). He was convicted in 2006 of inciting race hatred and soliciting murder. In England, this was worth a whopping seven years in prison. With parole and time already served, the real sentence stood to be considerably less.

The Justice Department thus continued to press the American extradition request. Knowing her approval would merely trigger months of additional litigation rather than an actual transfer, the Right Honorable Jacqui Smith, newly minted as home secretary, signed off on the request this past February. Months later, Abu Hamza’s appeal to the high court was rejected. In fact, it was so patently meritless that, on July 23, he was denied leave to appeal to the House of Lords. It appeared that the years of avoiding American prosecution were finally at an end.

But not for a citizen of the world. Abu Hamza may have been in England, but England doesn’t run England anymore. Europe does, with the gushing subservience of New Labor lackeys.

Without giving any notice to the Justice Department, Home Secretary Smith promised Abu Hamza’s lawyers there would be no extradition for two weeks so they could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The convicted terrorist told the ECHR that American prosecutors and prison conditions would surely violate his human rights. Gravely concerned, the ECHR immediately ordered Great Britain to halt the extradition until it could study the matter. Smith informed the Justice Department that she fully intends to comply.

The Home Office decision means it may be years before Abu Hamza is transferred to the United States — if ever. As Smith well knew, the ECHR has a backlog of several hundred thousand cases. Why, just in 2007 the Home Office permitted Haroon Aswat, an Abu Hamza associate also long sought by the United States, to petition the ECHR for a stay of extradition. The stay was promptly granted and has been languishing for fourteen months with no resolution in sight. (The ECHR apparently makes time to expedite only stays of extradition for terrorists; actual extraditions wait until the judges get around to them.)

There are no secrets after so many years. The Brits know the U.S. case against Abu Hamza depends critically on witness testimony. Over time, witnesses’ memories often fade, they get sick or die, they flee out of fear, or they commit new crimes making it impractical to seek their testimony. This has already occurred here: one witness against Abu Hamza has committed a murder in the years while extradition has been pending, and another has fled.

This is what happens when you pretend your national-security threats are mere legal problems: Cases slowly disintegrate while your enemies disarm you, using the legal processes designed to protect the citizens they seek to kill. This is what happens when you subordinate the security of your own nation to the approbation of an “international community” that sees self-defense as a bigger threat than jihadism — which it cannot even bring itself to call “jihadism.”

Did England have to let Abu Hamza appeal to the ECHR? Smith’s office says the U.K. was simply honoring its European treaty obligations. But Spain, Germany, and the Czech Republic, which operate under the same obligations, have had no problem extraditing defendants to the United States without permitting them to seek a stay.

At his 2006 British trial, Abu Hamza matter-of-factly claimed his actions were compelled by Islamic scripture and — whaddya know — pointed the court to verses of the Koran that unambiguously command violence. In 2007, as Britons were horrified by the specter of yet more Muslim immigrants attempting yet more bombings, Jacqui Smith was quick to pronounce that “[a]ny attempt to identify a murderous ideology with a great faith such as Islam is wrong and needs to be denied.”

Citizens of the world sure spend a lot of their time in the denial business.

— National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy chairs FDD’s Center for Law & Counterterrorism and is the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.


By Ann Coulter
August 6, 2008

The mainstream media's reaction to the National Enquirer's reports on John Edwards' "love child" scandal has been reminiscent of the Soviet press. Edwards' name has simply been completely whitewashed out of the news. Say, why isn't anyone talking about John Edwards for vice president anymore? No, seriously –- hey! Why are we going to a commercial break?

I suspect that if I tried to look up coverage of the Democratic primaries in Nexis news archives, Edwards' name will have disappeared from the debates. By next week, Edwards won't have been John Kerry's running mate in 2004.

Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards from North Carolina gives a news conference held with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, not pictured, announcing the creation of the New Generation Fund, a $100 million addition to the city's affordable housing finance system, on Monday, July 21, 2008 downtown Los Angeles. In the background are photos of the Yankee building before and after being transformed into low income apartments.
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Do you know what this means? At this precise moment in time, I could call Edwards a name that would send me to rehab, and the media wouldn't be able to report it!

A Washington Post reporter defended the total blackout on the National Enquirer's John Edwards' love child story, telling the Times of London: "Edwards is no longer an elected official and he is not running for office now. Don't expect wall-to-wall coverage." This was the perfect guy to talk to because if there's one thing they're careful about in London, it's tabloid excess.

Isn't there some level of coverage between "wall-to-wall" and "double-secret probation, delta-force level total news blackout" when it comes to a sex scandal involving a current Democratic vice presidential and Cabinet prospect?

Hey, what sort of "elected official" was Ted Haggard again? He was the Christian minister no one outside of his own parish had ever heard of until he was caught in a gay sex scandal last year. Then he suddenly became the Pope of the Protestants. And yet, despite the fact that Haggard was not an "elected official," the Post gave that story wall-to-wall coverage. And what sort of "elected officials" were Mel Gibson, Rush Limbaugh and Bill Bennett?

The MSM justify banner coverage of the smallest malfeasance by any Christian or conservative, with or without independent verification, with the lame excuse of "hypocrisy." Hey, why didn't you say so! If all it takes to get the Edwards story into the establishment press is a little hypocrisy, boy, have I got a story for you!

Based on information currently saturating the Internet: (1) The entire schmaltzy Edwards campaign consisted of this self-professed moralist telling us how much he loved the poor and loved his cancer-stricken wife; (2) the following was Edwards' response to CBS News anchor Katie Couric's question about whether voters should care if a presidential candidate is faithful to his spouse:

"Of course. I mean, for a lot of Americans -- including the family that I grew up with, I mean, it's fundamental to how you judge people and human character -- whether you keep your word, whether you keep what is your ultimate word, which is that you love your spouse, and you'll stay with them. ... I think the most important qualities in a president in today's world are trustworthiness -- sincerity, honesty, strength of leadership. And -- and certainly that goes to a part of that."

There you have it, boys: Go to town, MSM!

Moreover, the National Enquirer reports that Edwards is paying Rielle Hunter -- the former "Lisa Druck" -- $15,000 a month in "hush money." Shouldn't the IRS be investigating whether Edwards is deducting those payments as a "business expense"?

Maybe The Washington Post didn't hear about the Enquirer catching Edwards in a hotel with his mistress and love child since it happened way out in the sleepy little burg of Los Angeles near the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards -- you know, the middle of nowhere. But surely the public can count on the Los Angeles Times to report on a tabloid scandal occurring under its very nose.

Kausfiles produced this e-mail from an L.A. Times editor to its bloggers soon after the Enquirer's stakeout of Edwards visiting the alleged mistress and love child at the Beverly Hilton:

From: "Pierce, Tony"
Date: July 24, 2008 10:54:41 AM PDT
Subject: john edwards

Hey bloggers,

There has been a little buzz surrounding John Edwards and his alleged affair. Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.

If you have any questions or are ever in need of story ideas that would best fit your blog, please don't hesitate to ask.

Keep rockin,

Hey, I have a story idea I think the L.A. Times might like: How about something on the glorious workers' revolution that will restore the means of production to the people and create a workers' paradise right here on Earth, free of the shackles of capitalism?

I assume it would be jejune to point out that the MSM would be taking the wall-to-wall approach, rather than the total blackout approach, to the love child story if it were a story about Mitt Romney's love child or, indeed, Larry Craig's love child. They'd bring Ted Koppel out of retirement to cover that. Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Charles Gibson would be anchoring the evening news from Romney's front yard. They might even get Dan Rather to produce some forged documents for the occasion.

But with a Democrat sex scandal, the L.A. Times is in a nail-biting competition with The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC, NBC and CBS for the Pulitzer for "Best Suppressed Story."

Today's Tune: The Last of the Mohicans - Soundtrack Selections

(Click on title to play video)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Speak Up, and Get Shut Down

By Sally Jenkins
The Washington Post
Wednesday, August 6, 2008; E01

BEIJING- The slow strangling death of the Olympics at the hands of the Chinese officials continues. Their Olympic motto of "One World, One Dream" is beginning to take on an ominous tone, what with the gagging of athletes, and the censorship of the press, and the basic all-around stamping out of Olympic spirit. The only vision of the world that's permitted is their own, judging by the fact that gold medalist Joey Cheek was denied admittance to these Summer Games for the following offense: He spoke.

Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek raised awareness over China's dealings with Sudan. (By Susan Walsh -- Associated Press)

Darfur. That's the word that so alarmed Chinese officials that they revoked Cheek's visa, a day before he was to fly to Beijing. We'll see how quickly the Chinese surveillance blocks the word from the Internet, or whether the cops show up and invite me to the departure lounge at the airport for writing it. The Olympics are supposed to be apolitical, Chinese officials continually bray; they will not allow any signs, or protests. And now it seems they've issued another edict: no humanitarians.

These Olympics might have been China's chance to present a new face to the world. Instead, the main impression one has so far is of the immense egotism of the Chinese state, which issues a stream of absurdities and can't bear to be contradicted. It's an impression that overwhelms everything: the sweet welcomes of the Chinese volunteers, the magnificent topiary and the effusions of flowers, and the titanic architecture of the capital.

The Olympics are supposed to be generally apolitical, yes, but the Olympic charter was never meant to be anti-humane. Cheek is no political figure, and he's not even a particularly controversial activist. Following his retirement from speedskating, he co-founded Team Darfur, an organization that aims to publicize the plight of children in the troubled region. The organization basically is a membership of athletes who are committed to drawing attention to and raising aid for victims of the war-torn region in Sudan. Cheek put his money where his mouth was, to the deep admiration of his fellow Olympians, when he donated his $40,000 bonus from the U.S. Olympic Committee to Right to Play, an organization founded to use sports as a platform to help needy children in Sudan.

Cheek has been exceptionally careful to frame his organization as more of a charitable and humanitarian endeavor rather than a political one, and unlike the most passionate Darfur advocates, he never has advocated a boycott of the 2008 Games. He's not a firebrand, he's just a do-gooder -- and an intelligent, committed one at that.

But when his visa was suddenly revoked Tuesday -- without a reason -- Cheek spoke out boldly. "The denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur," he said.

Cheek is just one athlete from Team Darfur who has been denied a visa. Synchronized swimmer Kendra Zanotto, a 2004 bronze medalist, planned to attend the Beijing Games as a freelance journalist, but was denied a visa. Most disturbing, a number of athletes from other countries who belong to Team Darfur have quietly called to drop out of the group in the run-up to these Games, because they were pressured by their Olympic committees to disassociate from the group.

The Chinese government has continually called for the world to suspend its judgments of its international policies -- from its support for the Sudanese regime to its crackdown on Tibetan monks -- during the Games. And yet it's the Chinese state that continually throws us all into a political cauldron with actions like this one. All we have to go on in forming impressions of China is the behavior of its government. "I believe we must assess a governing power not by what it says it is, or by what it intends, but by what it does," Harold Pinter once wrote. "It can call itself what it likes."

Ironically, the more the Chinese government tries to control speech at these Games, the more it flexes its power and enforces silence, the weaker it seems. "Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said. When a government bans the presence of a gentle-voiced man like Joey Cheek, you wonder what it's really afraid of.

Beneath the Surface, Something in the Air

By Thomas Boswell
The Washington Post
Sunday, August 3, 2008; D01

BEIJING- You don't have to be here long to grasp the plot line of these Olympics. It's writ large everywhere. A few days give you the message. From the moment you land at Terminal 3 in the largest and perhaps most beautiful airport in the world, from the instant you glimpse the seminal, glowing-red "Bird's Nest" stadium and the translucent, heart-catching Water Cube, you know that China is about to knock the world's eyes out.

For 17 days starting Friday, viewers around the world, and millions here, will be riveted by what should be the most vividly spectacular and maniacally efficient Olympics ever organized. From the day in '01 when Beijing was awarded the Games, this has been conceived as the ultimate TV extravaganza and subliminal political infomercial. That's why NBC paid $2 billion to show it and China spent $40 billion to stage it.

That is one Olympics -- so visible that 4 billion will watch it.

However, there is another Olympics that no one will see because it is invisible, hidden, abstract. It is, rather, a contest of ideas, a comparison of systems, a contemplation of two versions of the future.

To pretend that these Games are primarily about the 100-meter dash, or an American swimmer who wants to win eight gold medals, or a glamorous Chinese hurdler would be incredibly obtuse. We can, and will, enjoy all that. But this month is about China. This Olympics will be remembered as a worldwide multi-week debate on the historic experiment that evolved by accident here over the past 25 years.

In that quarter century, China has improvised a hybrid political and economic system that the world has never before seen, at least not on such scale -- authoritarian capitalism.

The largest nation on earth has unexpectedly evolved to the point where it is capitalist in every practical sense, including an entrenched elite every bit as ruthless as America's robber barons. Yet China has kept its strict, one-party, often-thuggish Communist rule.

Here, the billionaires and the party bureaucrats are in bed together while human rights, freedom of the press, the environment -- make your own list of issues -- go by the boards. This stuns proponents of democracy, yet fascinates other nations that weigh what seems a devil's bargain between freedom or fortune.

"The West has assumed that capitalism must lead to democracy, that free markets inevitably result in free societies," Philip P. Pan wrote in "Out of Mao's Shadow." "But by embracing market reforms while continuing to restrict political freedom, China's Communist leaders have presided over an economic revolution without surrendering power."

From Darfur to Tibet to the pollution engulfing this city, we see the harsh implications. But in many other ways, which Olympic viewers will recognize at the most basic human level, this society has gone from poverty to boom times. Is the much-publicized, ever-growing list of Chinese billionaires, now up to 106 (measured in the Chinese currency known as RMB) simply a measure of an immature McMansion society that has wealth but not weight?

No answers provided. But prepare yourself for two entirely different Olympics -- one about sport, splendor and profit; the other about China's impact on 21st-century politics and economics. The stakes are that high.

How much should democracies engage such a one-party state? Has giving Beijing the Olympics helped open Chinese society a notch, as many believe, or has it merely given a rising power a chance to ignore promises to Olympic officials about greater "openness" and do as it pleases?

With every step you take here, you feel the undercurrent of that other ideological Olympics. The instant you step into an authoritarian state, whether it's China or Cuba, you know the feeling. Everybody's nice. Nobody dresses very differently from anyone else. The entire atmosphere in Olympic Beijing feels as wholesome as a Rotary convention in Omaha. Well, a convention for 15 million people. Yet you know that someone may be watching you, monitoring your e-mails or, at least, influencing all that you see with the omnipresent machinery of the state.

If there is a metaphor for this ambiguous double-edged Olympics, it is Beijing's polluted, throat-burning air. High-handed environmental indifference is China's trademark; hyper-growth, at this stage of China's economic life, is essential, so the argument goes. Later, there'll be time to grow a conscience. And the devil take any biased foreigner who disagrees.

Some days, like Thursday of this past week, you can literally see the air. It looks gray. It tastes metallic, seasoned with -- is that sulfur? You can't see far or clearly. The sun is a rumor. In the slightest breeze, you can feel the air pecking at your eyes, coating your throat. No day in Los Angeles that I've ever experienced approached it.

Yet that day's pollution reading was only 69. Beijing says less than 100 is okay. So a beach day hereabouts! However, by the Opening Ceremonies, the world may witness what a state-controlled country can do, even to its air. As we landed, eight days before the Games, the roads near Beijing at noon were as deserted as 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning in Kansas. All those filthy cars? Gone. Once in the city, only half the city's autos -- divided by odd-even license plate numbers -- were allowed to drive.

Do such restrictions on cars and factories actually work in such a short time frame? You wouldn't think so. But on our second day here, you could see the sky. It didn't hurt to breathe -- much. And by Saturday, we might as well have awakened on a Caribbean island. Warm, cloudlessly sunny. Let the Games begin?

This is the China conundrum. With luck and the right wind patterns, the world may think Beijing is a health spa, inhabited by helpful smiling citizens, many of whom appear affluent, if not rich.

What don't you see? All the migrant workers -- there are 100 million in China -- who have been swept out of town like unsightly litter. Nor do you see all the homes knocked down by edict to make room for venues.

What we also may not see is very much protesting. For decades, who has repressed dissent better than Chinese Communists? Now, they forgot how? At one level, the only response to China's accomplishment in preparing these Games is amazement and respect. To a vast nation, these Olympics are nothing less than vindication for hundreds of years of humiliation, often at foreign hands. Far from hiding this motivation, this country rejoices in it. For great China, with its 5,000 years of history, this is no coming-out party but the greatest imaginable "coming back" to prominence as a civilization.

The British colonialists and the Japanese occupiers are gone. Memory of the famine of 1959-61 that may have killed 35 million has receded. The purges of the Cultural Revolution officially have been erased from public discourse. Don't mention the Tiananmen Square massacre; scapegoats were found.

Perhaps no people can match the Chinese for their anguished ability to forget a painful past and instantly create an utterly different present. If China's history were a massive manuscript, then it might be a medieval palimpsest -- a parchment off which an earlier text had been scraped away to allow a new text to be written on top.

The current incarnation of Chinese culture has so many such layers of rewritten text, with hidden taboo histories underneath, that it makes the mind swim. Which former leaders' names can be mentioned safely? How much enthusiasm for democracy is it safe to express? Or is China breeding a cynical narcissistic generation, obsessed with mimicking Western fashion? For money-mad materialists, they sure seem friendly.

As great nations rise to power they often leave a moral mess in their wake. That doesn't mean their sins should be ignored or tolerated. But in the long arc of history, much that distracts us now will probably fade. And the broad profound outlines of this Olympics will emerge.

In New York City from the 1880s into the Roaring Twenties, the city's population, wealth and iconic architecture exploded. The time frame and pace of growth is not so different from Beijing's.

Now, a hundred years and half a world away, another city is bursting at the seams, feeling its power, changing its shape before our eyes. The world arrives here this month -- in the form of 4 billion pairs of eyes -- to inspect the behemoth that is being born.

Everything you see will blow you away. Everything you don't see should make you think.