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10851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 23, 2008, 09:34:52 AM
What Crafty said....

I'd say more but work was long and I gotta sleep.
10852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: July 23, 2008, 09:32:22 AM
It's difficult to gauge the degree of threat China faces given the opaque nature of the PRC's gov't. Still, all the steps China is taking strikes me as being fueled by real concern rather than opportunistic moves to tighten it's control of dissidents within it's borders.

If the jihadis are successful in completing a mass casualty attack on the olympics, then I will feel as Churchill was to have felt, hearing about America's entry into WWII.
10853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: July 23, 2008, 09:25:29 AM
http://68.178.224.54/udayavani/showstory.asp?news=0&contentid=554897&lang=1

Beijing transport on high alert as terror threat looms large

Beijing, July 23: In view of the "unsurpassed" terror threat to the Beijing Olympics to kick off next month, security of air, rail and long-distance bus transport have been put on high alert in the city.

China Civil Aviation Administration has announced that no plane would be allowed to take off or land at the Beijing International Airport from 7 pm to midnight on the opening day of the Olympic ceremony on August 8.

Domestic and foreign airlines had been notified about the move and flights would be rescheduled to minimize inconvenience to passengers, an Administration spokesman said.

Taking the security to a higher level, armed policemen with dogs began patrolling round the clock at the capitals four railway stations, including the yet-to-be-opened one in the southern district.

China says terror is the biggest threat to the Beijing Olympics and it is even "unsurpassed" in the Olympic history. A raft of measures is already in force but they were being reinforced in recent weeks.

At the Beijing West Railway Station, a major terminal, passengers were asked to taste liquids they were carrying or were being inspected with a special detector handset to
identify their contents.

"The detector will show if the liquid is alcohol or gasoline," a police officer in charge of the security check was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

Security checks are carried out at the entrance to the subway station with every piece of baggage X-rayed and banned substances like banana oil and paint taken out.
10854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 22, 2008, 09:08:23 PM
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-daily16feb16,1,4976271,full.story

"Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans have a responsibility to the oppressed. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction."
10855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 22, 2008, 08:48:57 PM
Who Really Cares?

By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | 1/2/2007

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Arthur C. Brooks, Professor of Public Administration and Director of the Nonprofit Studies Program at Syracuse University 's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. In 2007, he will be a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks earned his PhD in Public Policy Analysis from the Rand Graduate School in 1998, and also holds an MA and BA in economics. He is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His latest book is Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism.



FP: Arthur C. Brooks, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Brooks: Thanks very much. It's a pleasure to be with you.

FP: What inspired you to write this book?

Brooks: For years I did research on the economics of charity and philanthropy, looking at important -- but fairly dry -- topics like tax deductibility. The trouble was, I always felt I was missing the real story about why people give. When I discussed giving with donors, they never talked about their taxes; they talked about their values. I saw that I needed to investigate giving as a cultural issue, and that's what this book does. It asks who is really giving in America , and why. As a result of what I found, my views on charity have changed a lot.

FP: So how do myths about charity in America differ from reality?

Brooks: The biggest myth about charity today stems from the stereotype that conservatives are less compassionate than liberals. Here in Syracuse , New York , the most popular campaign sign before the 2004 presidential election proclaimed, "Bush Must Go! Human Need, not Corporate Greed." Now, keep in mind that New York was not a state in play in the election (Bush lost the state by more than a million votes), so this was nothing more than a moral statement about Bush and his supposedly-selfish supporters.

Conservatives are less supportive than liberals of government income redistribution, which is typically how progressives define economic compassion. (Conservatives, we should note, often argue that redistribution is not compassionate when it leads to dependency by recipients, but that's another story.) But another -- perhaps more obvious -- measure of compassion is private, voluntary sacrifice: charity. And conservatives tend to give more, not less, than liberals and moderates. For example, one major survey from the year 2000 showed that the average conservative-headed household in America gave 30% more money to charity than the average liberal household, despite earning, on average, 6% less in income.
This said, the evidence shows that the charity gap between conservatives and liberals is not a function of politics per se -- being a conservative by itself doesn't make somebody virtuous -- it is the values and culture typically associated with a conservative worldview: especially religion and attitudes about the government's role in our lives.
 
FP: I have always noticed that leftists like to talk a lot about the importance of the redistribution of wealth but that they themselves have a big problem redistributing their own wealth. Can you talk a bit about the pathology that lurks between the discrepancy between leftists' social criticism and the ingredients of their private lives?
 
Brooks:  The data do in fact show that people who think the government should redistribute income and wealth give a lot less, privately, than do people who not believe this. For example, in 1996, people who said the government should not take greater measures than at present to reduce income inequality gave, on average, four times as much money to charity each year as those who believed the government should equalize incomes more.

I think this charity gap comes down to a difference in how the two groups see the rights and responsibilities of individuals. Conservatives believe that everything starts with individual behavior; liberals often view large groups as the only effective vehicle for meaningful social progress. Sometimes, this translates into a neglect for private voluntary action on the left, and a focus instead on laws and regulations which apply to huge groups.

There is an old joke, that a socialist is a man who loves humanity in groups of one million and above. That's unfairly harsh, of course -- there are lots and lots of charitable liberals out there. But it's pretty amusing nonetheless.
 
FP: Absolutely, the Left depersonalizes real people and individuals. It pretends it loves humanity as a whole, but when it comes to really caring for and loving the individual up close, leftists are, in my own personal experience, frighteningly callous and indifferent.
 
So, in other words, Conservatives believe more in the value of personal generosity, correct? Because they believe in big government and little (or no) individual responsibility, leftists are more prone to seeing human suffering and getting upset that something isn’t being done by someone else (i.e. the government) about it, rather than doing something themselves as individuals about it.
 
And, let’s be honest, socialism is based on theft anyway. The people who believe in stealing from others who have earned wealth to give it to those who haven’t aren’t really going to be the kind of people who are symbols of personal generosity.
 
Just provoking a bit of discussion here to get some more wisdom from you. What do you say?
 
Brooks: I think many conservatives simply find it easier than liberals to give privately because they have more opportunities to give in their daily lives, and have had the importance of charity wired into them throughout their lives. I'm talking about religion, of course: Conservatives are much likelier to practice a religion than liberals are, and this gap is widening, not narrowing. (Presently, there are about three times more religious conservatives in America than there are religious liberals.) Houses of worship are great for stimulating both the supply and demand for charity -- and not just religious charity; secular charity as well. Religious folks -- irrespective of the actual religion, incidentally -- give far more time and money than secularists to all kinds of charities, including to totally secular causes like the United Way or the PTA. The data on this point are just stunning.

And as we have discussed, it is also true that conservatives generally have a more individualistic worldview than most liberals do, which is good for stimulating private service to others. (Incidentally, I'm working on a new book right now on happiness. It appears that this individualistic worldview is quite important for life satisfaction, and part of the reason conservatives tend to be happier than liberals.)

None of this is destiny, of course. Many liberals -- especially religious liberals -- take individual responsibility very seriously and give as much as religious conservatives do. In addition, there are plenty of conservatives who, despite the giving culture, are not generous. In fact, the least charitable group in America today is made up of secular conservatives, although this fact doesn't hurt the overall conservative giving stats much because this group is relatively small. But in general, the biggest giving challenge is on the political left today, in my view -- particularly as the left continues to secularize and advocate government income redistribution. This is something progressive leaders need to take very seriously if they wish to avoid a widening (and unnecessary) political charity gap.

FP: Why does it matter whether Americans give to charity or not?
   
Brooks: One of the most exciting areas of research in economics and psychology looks at the benefits of giving to givers themselves, as well as their communities and our nation as a whole. There is strong evidence -- detailed in my book -- that these benefits are just enormous. In a nutshell, giving makes us richer, happier, and healthier than we would be if we didn't give. Givers are more effective in their jobs after they give; they are happier and feel more in control; they are better citizens; they even suffer less from physical and psychological ailments. In point of fact, voluntary charity is a major source of American strength and vitality. Giving is not just about the time and money charities get -- it is also crucially about what we all get because we and our neighbors are givers.

This has big implications. For example, we displace privately-funded charities with government programs at our peril. Not that there is no role for government spending on certain activities, but private giving has no substitute, and we need to protect and nurture it. Ralph Nader once said, "A society that has a more justice is a society that needs less charity." This stems from the common misconception that charity is just about cash, so the government might as well just raise taxes and pay for everything.
 
FP: Is it worth it in academia to write a book that is "subversive"?

Brooks: I've been told that this book is a bit subversive indeed. But I think it's part of my job, especially as a full professor with tenure, to question assumptions and follow the evidence where I believe it leads. When academics don't question our assumptions, we are doing society a tremendous disservice. We are a privileged, protected class of professional thinkers. This system can be abused, as we all know, but it can also be used for good, when we try and uncover hard truths in the data, and carry knowledge forward.

Of course, there is a prevailing political and social ideology in academia that we all know about, and doing research that goes against the established dogma can sometimes be a little disconcerting. It doesn't necessarily provoke a lot of high-fives around the office. But honest inquiry and academic freedom are not about being part of the academic amen corner.
 
FP: I can tell you that when I was doing my doctorate in academia I was quite open about being a Conservative and the fact that Ronald Reagan was my favorite president.
 
You can just imagine the reception I received.
 
I was, to put it mildly, shunned, ostracized and made into a non-person by many in the academic establishment. Not that I cared in the least, because those aren’t the friends I seek anyway. But that was the reality.
 
In my own experience, leftists make friends according to how people fit into the structure of their ideas, not according to what they like about people themselves. Look at the long list of ex-leftists who were abandoned by their communities after they changed their politics.
 
What is your experience? Do you think you might lose some friends over this? Might you be hurt in some other way in academia?
 
Brooks: The book is brand new, so the full effect remains to be seen. Wish me luck! The Wall Street Journal called it a "tidy time-bomb of a book," which I loved, but which made me think I had best run away before it blows up.

Seriously, though, I have no doubt I'll be harangued here and there. I've already had the experience of showing up to give a scholarly talk at a university, and finding a few folks looking for a fight before I even open my mouth because I'm supposedly a right-winger. But that sort of thing is simply a cost of doing business if I want to do work that has an impact on the national conversation.

I'm lucky to be stationed at a university where the leadership is supportive of my work. Also, I sit in a school of public policy, which tends to be a less ideologically-rigid environment than many other parts of academia. In fact, most of today's top policy schools are making noises about taking all reasonable worldviews more seriously -- even those of conservatives and religious people. We haven't achieved anything like "balance" yet, but I think it is probably getting less scary for grad students and junior faculty to do policy-oriented research that doesn't support a particular political or social agenda. Academic entrepreneurs and sincere scholars on both the left and right need to push this progress along, and to help it spread around the academy.

FP: What do you hope this book will achieve?

Brooks: I really hope this book will do two things. First, I hope people will read it, examine their own giving, and give more as a result -- for everyone's good, including their own. Second, I hope researchers will see this book as a conversation-starter and undertake new work on charity. This book is not the last word on these issues by any means; there is a lot more research to be done. Some of that might come to different conclusions than mine, and that's fine. We need more thinking about charity from all perspectives.
 
FP: Arthur Brooks, thank you for joining us.

Brooks: It's been a pleasure. Happy New Year to you and FrontPage's readers.
10856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 22, 2008, 08:31:14 PM
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-06-25-charitable_N.htm

Americans give record $295B to charity



NEW YORK (AP) — Americans gave nearly $300 billion to charitable causes last year, setting a record and besting the 2005 total that had been boosted by a surge in aid to victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the Asian tsunami.
Donors contributed an estimated $295.02 billion in 2006, a 1% increase when adjusted for inflation, up from $283.05 billion in 2005. Excluding donations for disaster relief, the total rose 3.2%, inflation-adjusted, according to an annual report released Monday by the Giving USA Foundation at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy.

Giving historically tracks the health of the overall economy, with the rise amounting to about one-third the rise in the stock market, according to Giving USA. Last year was right on target, with a 3.2% rise as stocks rose more than 10% on an inflation-adjusted basis.

"What people find especially interesting about this, and it's true year after year, that such a high percentage comes from individual donors," Giving USA Chairman Richard Jolly said.

Individuals gave a combined 75.6% of the total. With bequests, that rises to 83.4%.

The biggest chunk of the donations, $96.82 billion or 32.8%, went to religious organizations. The second largest slice, $40.98 billion or 13.9%, went to education, including gifts to colleges, universities and libraries.

About 65% of households with incomes less than $100,000 give to charity, the report showed.

"It tells you something about American culture that is unlike any other country," said Claire Gaudiani, a professor at NYU's Heyman Center for Philanthropy and author of The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism. Gaudiani said the willingness of Americans to give cuts across income levels, and their investments go to developing ideas, inventions and people to the benefit of the overall economy.

Gaudiani said Americans give twice as much as the next most charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison done by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the U.S. ranked first at 1.7%. No. 2 Britain gave 0.73%, while France, with a 0.14% rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany.

Mega-gifts, which Giving USA considers to be donations of $1 billion or more, tend to get the most attention, and that was true last year especially.

Investment superstar Warren Buffett announced in June 2006 that he would give $30 billion over 20 years to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Of that total, $1.9 billion was given in 2006, which helped push the year's total higher.

Gaudiani said that gift reflects a growing focus on using donated money efficiently and effectively.

"I think it's also a strategic commitment to upward mobility exported to other countries, in the form of improved health and stronger civil societies," she said.

The Gates Foundation has focused on reducing hunger and fighting disease in developing countries as well as improving education in the U.S. Without Buffett's pledge, it had an endowment of $29.2 billion as of the end of 2005.

Meanwhile, companies and their foundations gave less in 2006, dropping 10.5% to $12.72 billion. Jolly said corporate giving fell because companies had been so generous in response to the natural disasters and because profits overall were less strong in 2006 over the year before.

The Giving USA report counts money given to foundations as well as grants the foundations make to non-profits and other groups, since foundations typically give out only income earned without spending the original donations.
10857  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 22, 2008, 07:28:59 PM
There is no policy decision that won't result in ugly spinoff consequences. The legalization of drugs will create a loss of life and impact the social fabric of the US, still not to the degree that a drug money-fueled global jihad will. Not a happy choice, but one that needs to be examined.
10858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 22, 2008, 07:20:54 PM
As we appropriately leave it to the people/gov't of Iraq to decide their fate, I think one should remember that so too was the Vietnam War left to the people.  The American people voted overwhelmingly to get out of Vietnam. 

**After having been throughly mislead by the MSM and the "peace" movement, i'd cite the misreporting of the Tet offensive as a perfect example, the public opinion was affected by the psyops. It's the same steady drumbeat of doom that was tried to undercut this war. Do you really think the public would have supported cutting off aid to South Vietnam if they knew the horrors that would follow?**

It was democracy in action.  Of course we have a right to speak and to disagree with policy - that's what people do in a democracy.

As for the Khmer Rouge reference, I am a bit confused.  The Khmer Rouge were in Cambodia, not Vietnam.  They never killed Vietnamese and no "power vacuum" was left in Cambodia since we had no power in Cambodia.  No doubt the Khmer Rouge were terrible; but note it was the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (the same army we fought) in 1979 who attacked and destroyed the Khmer Rouge; let's be fair; it was the Vietnamese were the saviors of Cambodia, not the U.S.

**After the democrats cut off funding and support to Lon Nol's forces in Cambodia and South Vietnam the communists began the mass murders that were warned about.**


10859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 22, 2008, 12:56:15 PM
**A bit of historical perspective on how the dems are the best friends are enemies could ever ask for.**

Al-Qaeda's No. 2 Applauds Democrat War Bill
By Amanda B. Carpenter (more by this author)
Human Events
Posted 05/08/2007 ET
Updated 05/08/2007 ET

Over the weekend, the second-highest ranking member of al Qaeda called Democrat-led initiatives to end the war symbols of American defeat in Iraq.

In a 67-minute interview released on May 5, known terrorist Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri said legislation to tie war funding with a timetable for withdrawal, “reflects American failure and frustration.”

Last week, President Bush vetoed a bill delivered to him from the Democrat Congress that did this. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D.-Calif.) House has since failed to overturn his veto and now negotiations to proceed appear to be in a stalemate.

Zawahiri lamented that “this bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in this historic trap” but said it proved jihad “is moving from the stage of defeat of the Crusader invaders and their traitorous underlings to the stage of consolidating Mujahid Islamic Emirate.”

Zawahiri said the withdrawal legislation helped to “raise the banner of Jihad as it makes its way through a rugged path of sacrifice.”

A senior government official said it was “stunning” that Zawahiri was watching Congress so closely.

The video was likely encouraged by comments from Democrat leadership. In an April 19 press conference Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) told media, “This war is lost.”

Two days later, in a statement issued from the Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda used Reid’s declaration as evidence of their success. “In the past few days it became clear to every watcher and observer the magnitude of damage that hits the American administration and the defeated declarations of its leaders about the situation in the field in Iraq,” it said. “A serious statement came from ‘Harry Reid’ the Democrat majority leader in the Congress who said: "'the war is in Iraq is hopeless and that the situation in Iraq is similar to Vietnam War.'”

The Vietnam War was ended with the 1973 Foreign Assistance Act that cut funding for operations in the region. The end effect of the Foreign Assistance Act was best captured in a photograph taken by Hubert Van Es that showed hundreds of Vietnamese civilians queuing up for the last American helicopter out of Saigon. Soon, without American troops or any resources to protect the Vietnamese, the Communists took over South Vietnam and millions were killed by the Khmer Rouge communist regime in the power vacuum left by American withdrawal.

Similar actions could be taken by al Qaeda forces, who have failed to hold territory in Iraq and Afghanistan or disrupt American-led political processes there, should U.S. troops withdraw from the region.

Throughout the 2004 presidential election, Democrat candidate Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) was also quoted by name in communications from Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri.


Miss Carpenter is congressional correspondent & assistant editor for HUMAN EVENTS. She is the author of "The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy's Dossier on Hillary Rodham Clinton," published by Regnery (a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).
10860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 22, 2008, 11:41:50 AM
http://www.vanityfair.com/online/politics/2008/07/is-the-media-trying-to-elect-obama.html?printable=true&currentPage=all

POLITICS AND POWER
The 2008 Election
Is the Media Trying to Elect Obama?
by Dee Dee Myers
July 21, 2008, 5:15 PM

Tomorrow, CBS’s Katie Couric will interview Barack Obama from Jordan. On Wednesday, ABC’s Charlie Gibson will chat with him from Israel. And on Thursday, NBC’s Brian Williams will do the honors from Germany. Call it the presidential campaign equivalent of Shooting the Moon.
And to think, a few short months ago the Washington establishment was buzzing about the press’s pending dilemma: With Obama and John McCain looking like the all-but-certain nominees of their respective parties, how would the media choose between its new crush, Obama, and its long-time paramour, McCain? The Illinois senator has been a media darling since he burst onto the scene at the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2004, and during the Democratic primary season, he bested Hillary Clinton in both quantity of coverage (he got more) and tenor (his was way more positive). But McCain has gotten so much favorable media attention over the years that he often joked that the press was his political base. In a head-to-head competition, who would win?
So far, the answer is clear: Obama is The One. In the first quarter of the general election, he has simply gotten more and better coverage than McCain. For those who need more evidence than the enormous press entourage that is treating Obama’s current trip not like the campaign swing of a presidential candidate, but like the international debut of the New American President, there are several new studies which help quantify the disparity.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism, which evaluates more than 300 newspaper, magazine, and television stories each week, found that from June 9 (after Obama had wrapped up the Democratic nomination) until July 13, Obama was more prominently covered every single week. During one particular week, July 7–13, McCain was a significant presence in 48 percent of the stories—but Obama met that mark in 77 percent of the pieces. Similarly, the Tyndall Report, a media monitoring group, found that Obama received substantially more media attention.
I can only imagine what the gap must be like this week, as Obama continues to meet with world leaders and adoring crowds, while the mere presence of media’s biggest and brightest stars stamps each and every event as important!
Given all that, it’s not surprising that voters, particularly those of the Republican persuasion, think the media is more or less in Obama’s pocket. A recent survey by Rasmussen found that 49 percent of the likely voters they talked to believed that reporters would favor Obama in their coverage, while just 14 percent said the same about McCain. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans thought the press would try and help Obama win, while only 21 percent of Democrats thought journalists were in bed with McCain. Complaints about bias are only exacerbated when the New York Times (the bête noire of the right) rejects an opinion piece written by McCain comparing his position on Iraq to Obama’s—just days after the Times ran a similar piece by Obama.
Suspicions of pro-Obama bias began in the primaries. A Pew survey in late May and early June found that 37 percent of Americans believed that Obama received preferential coverage; only eight percent said the same about his principal opponent, Hillary Clinton.
There are lot of “explanations” for the lopsided coverage: Obama is new and what’s new is “news.” As the first African-American to run a serious race, let alone win a major party’s nomination, Obama is running an historic campaign. Obama has created a “movement,” and Americans are simply more interested in him than in his opponents. Obama is running a smarter campaign, and he knows how to court media attention. It’s also true that intense media coverage is a double- edged sword: the attention is great when things are going well, but it can doom a candidate if and when things start to go badly. And so far, Obama has had way more good days than bad days. Each of those rationales is largely true—and somewhat less than satisfying.
At the end of the day, this will be a long campaign, and what’s true in July may not be true in November. But what seems indisputably true—to quote another dazzling young Democrat who received disproportionately favorable media attention, John Kennedy—is this: “Life is unfair.”
10861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 22, 2008, 11:37:03 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/22/new-mccain-ad-the-medias-got-a-crush-on-obama/

Crush on Obama.
10862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 22, 2008, 11:31:06 AM
http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=a6a9bbad-4eb6-4f77-b092-b96362aad330   
 
Dear Barack Obama
A letter from an anxious Israeli to the presidential candidate on the eve of his visit to Jerusalem.

Yossi Klein Halevi,  The New Republic  Published: Saturday, July 19, 2008



Barack Obama
Dear Senator Obama,

Welcome to Israel. When you arrive here on July 22, you will encounter a people intrigued by your candidacy and, given the current crisis of Israeli leadership, envious of your capacity to inspire. Issues that have worried some Americans about your background have scarcely been noted here. The whispering campaign labeling you a Muslim wasn't taken seriously by mainstream Israelis. Nor are we fazed by your middle name: Half of Israel's Jewish population has origins in Muslim cultures. Despite black-Jewish tensions in America, your color evokes little concern here; Israel rescued tens of thousands of African Jews and turned  their arrival into a national celebration. Even Rev. Wright didn't cause much of a stir, maybe because we're used to being embarrassed by our own religious leaders.

Still, as much as Israelis want to embrace you, there is anxiety here about your candidacy. Not that we doubt your friendship: Your description of Israeli security as "sacrosanct," and your passionate endorsement of Israel's cause at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, were greeted with banner headlines in the Israeli press. Instead, Israelis worry that, as president, you might act too hastily in trying to solve the Palestinian problem, and not hastily enough in trying to solve the Iranian problem.

 

On the surface, the Israel you will encounter is thriving. The beaches and cafes are crowded, the shekel is one of the world's strongest currencies, our high-tech companies are dominating NASDAQ, our wineries are winning international medals, and we even export goat cheese to France.

But beneath the exuberance lies a desperate nation. The curse of Jewish history--the inability to take mere existence for granted--has returned to a country whose founding was intended to resolve that uncertainty. Even the most optimistic Israelis sense a dread we have felt only rarely--like in the weeks before the Six Day War, when Egyptian President Gammal Abdul Nasser shut down the Straits of Tiran, moved his army toward our border, and promised the imminent destruction of Israel. At the time, Lyndon Johnson, one of the best friends Israel ever had in the White House, was too preoccupied with an unpopular war to offer real assistance.

We feel our security unraveling. Terror enclaves have emerged on two of our borders, undoing a decades-long Israeli policy to deny terrorist bases easy reach to our population centers. The cease-fire with Hamas is widely seen here as a defeat--an admission that Israel couldn't defend its communities on the Gaza border from eight years of shelling, and an opportunity for Hamas to consolidate its rule and smuggle in upgraded missiles for the inevitable next round of fighting. The unthinkable has already happened: missiles on Haifa and Ashkelon, exploding buses in Jerusalem, hundreds of thousands of Israelis transformed into temporary refugees. During the first Gulf War in 1991, when Tel Aviv was hit with Scud missiles, residents fled to the Galilee. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the Galilee was hit with Katyushas, residents fled to Tel Aviv. In the next war, there will be nowhere to flee: The entire country is now within missile range of Iran and its terrorist proxies.

 

Above all else, we dread a nuclear Iran. With few exceptions, the consensus within the political and security establishment is that Israel cannot live with an Iranian bomb. In the U.S., a debate has begun over whether the Iranian regime is rational or apocalyptic. In truth no one knows whether the regime, or elements within it, would be mad enough to risk nuclear war. But precisely because no one knows, Israel will not place itself in a position to find out. As we contemplate the possibility of an Israeli military strike, we worry about the extent of support from you at what could be the most critical moment in our history. When Israelis discuss the timing of a possible attack, they often ask: If Obama wins the election, should we hit Iran before January?

True, you told AIPAC that "we should take no option, including military action, off the table." But that was the one moment in your speech that failed to convince. Last December you appeared to endorse the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which broadly hinted that Iran may not be seeking a nuclear bomb after all--a claim that may have soothed Americans worried about Dick Cheney launching another preemptive war, but appalled not only Israeli intelligence but also French and British intelligence (and that has since been at least partially retracted). In the Iowa debate, you responded to a question about the NIE by stating that "it's absolutely clear that this administration and President Bush continues to not let facts get in the way of his ideology...They should stop the saber-rattling, should have never started it, and they need now to aggressively move on the diplomatic front."

From where Israelis sit, it's clear that Iran temporarily suspended its weaponizations program--which is, in fact, the least important part of its effort to attain nuclear power--for the same reason that Muamar Qadaffi abandoned his nuclear program: fear of America after the Iraq invasion. A senior European Union official told me last year how grateful he was to America and Israel for raising the military threat against Iran. "You make our job easier," he said, referring to European-Iranian negotiations.

I am convinced that you regard a nuclear Iran as an intolerable threat, as you put it to AIPAC, and that, under your administration, negotiations with Iran would be coupled with a vigorous campaign of sanctions. And you've made the convincing argument that you could summon international goodwill far better than the current administration. No nation would be more relieved by an effective sanctions campaign than Israel. We know what the consequences are likely to be of an attack on Iran--retalitory missiles on Tel Aviv, terrorism against Jewish communities abroad, rising anti-semitism blaming the Jews for an increase in oil prices.

We worry, though, that the sanctions will be inadequate and that the Iranians will exploit American dialogue as cover to complete their nuclearization. Unless stopped, Iran's nuclear program will reach the point of no return within the early phases of the next administration. We need to hear that under no circumstances would an Obama administration allow the Iranian regime to go nuclear--that if sanctions and diplomacy fail, the U.S. will either attack or else support us if we do.

 

The rise of Hamas has only confirmed what Israelis have sensed since the violent collapse of the peace process in September 2000: that the Palestinian national movement is dysfunctional. The bitter joke here is that we're well within reach of a two-state solution--a Hamas state in Gaza and a Fatah state in the West Bank.

In your speech to AIPAC, you intuited an understanding of the Israeli psyche--hopes for peace, along with wariness. But our wariness isn't only a response to terrorism. More profoundly, we fear being deceived again by wishful thinking, by our desperation for peace, as we allowed ourselves to be during the years of the Oslo process. At that time, many Israelis began a painful, necessary process of self-reckoning, asking ourselves the crucial question of how Palestinians experienced this conflict, in effect borrowing Palestinian eyes. Many of us forced ourselves to confront the tragedy of a shattered people, one part dispersed, another part occupied, yet another uneasy citizens in a Jewish state.

Most of all, we allowed ourselves the vulnerability of hope. We lowered our guard and empowered Yasser Arafat, convincing ourselves that he had become a partner for peace. The subsequent betrayal wasn't Arafat's alone: Even now Fatah continues to convey to Palestinians the message that Israel is illegitimate and destined to disappear. Many Israelis have become so wary of being taken for fools again--which this generation of Jews had vowed would never happen to us--that talk of hope seems like unbearable naivete.

Most Israelis want a solution to the Palestinian problem as keenly as does the international community, and understand, no less than our critics abroad, that the occupation is a long-term disaster for Israel. The Israeli irony is that we have shifted from dreading the creation of a Palestinian state to dreading its failure. Fulfilling the classical Zionist hopes for a democratic Israel with a Jewish majority, at home in the Middle East and an equal member of the international community, ultimately depend on resolving the Palestinian tragedy. The Jewish return home will not be complete until we find our place in the Middle East.

But empowering the Palestinians requires renewing the trust of the Israeli public toward them. And that, in turn, requires some sign from Palestinian leaders that Israel's legitimacy is at least being debated within Palestinian society rather than systematically denigrated. Repeating a commitment to "peace" is meaningless: Peace, after all, can include a Middle East without a Jewish state.

For many years, Israelis denied the right of the Palestinians to define themselves as a nation, considering Palestinian nationalism an invention by the Arab world to undermine Israel. We experienced our conceptual breakthrough in the 1990s. Now it's the Palestinians' turn. Admittedly, Israelis, as the powerful protagonists, could more readily develop a nuanced understanding of the conflict. Psychologically, though, we too are the underdog: Israel may be Goliath to the Palestinian David, but we are David to the Arab world's (and Iran's) Goliath. We cannot empower the Palestinians while fearing our consequent diminishment.
You can be a crucial voice in encouraging the transformation of Palestinian consciousness. Perhaps parts of Palestinian society and of the broader Arab world would be able to hear from you what it cannot hear from us: that the Jews aren't colonialist invaders or crusaders but an indigenous people living in its land. Perhaps you can help the Middle East reconcile itself to our existence, and in so doing, help us complete our return home.

As you go through the requisite visits to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the President's House, the Israeli public will be hoping to hear, beyond affirmations of your commitment to Israeli security, that America under President Obama will understand what maintaining that security involves. We hope that you will insist on a peace based on acceptance of the permanent legitimacy of a Jewish state, and on a Middle East free of the apocalyptic terror of a nuclear Iran. We, too, need the hope that you have promised America.

Yossi Klein Halevi is a contributing editor of The New Republic and a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerualem. He is author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for Hope with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.
10863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 22, 2008, 10:54:18 AM
Then again, this does give some political cover for a military strike as "we've now bent over backwards" to get them to comply, with no success.
10864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 22, 2008, 10:51:02 AM
We've chosen to pursue our anti-drug agenda, thus ensuring AQ and the Talibs have a sufficient money supply to continue their jihad in the Stans and globally.
10865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 21, 2008, 09:57:31 PM
As posted on another board, the right mindset needed:


I was asked in a couple of PM's to write up some examples of "spontaneous jihad".

Spontaneous jihad is when a lone muslim gets the idea to go and an act of murder as party of an isolated terrorism.

Case #1

In the first incident I was driving an unmarked jeep from Jerusalem to the north of Israel to teach a week long in service training for snipers. In Israel we have different colored license plates for our vehicles. Yellow and black plates for Israeli citizens both Arab and Jews, blue or green for Palestinians, red plates for police vehicles, Black with white letters for IDF and white with black letters for diplomatic vehicles. The jeep I was driving had yellow and black plates on it and inside the jeep I had green plates and also red plates that I could put on the Jeep if I saw the need. The jeep had a siren and pa system and a kojack blue light, along with two sets of radios law enforcement and IDF radios.

I left Jerusalem heading north through Ramallah in Samaria AKA northern part of the so called west bank. As I had a bunch of equipment related to the teaching of the course, I didn't want to be bothered by taking either my sniping rifle or my M16 rifle, so I was armed with a mini Uzi and a Glock 21 pistol which happened to be the first one that entered Israel.

Since I was going to be in for a long drive I was wearing the Glock in an IWB holster carried cross draw and was wearing the mini Uzi with the stock folded and the sling around my neck carried muzzle down between my legs. The Uzi had two mags in it and I carried four more if I remember correctly more in my left cargo pocket of my pants.

The weather was warm and while I drove I was drinking water to keep hydrated and about 30-45 minutes north of Ramallah I felt the need for a pit stop so I pulled the jeep over and walked away from the jeep which was parked along side the two lane country road. I walked away from the jeep into the brush as a means of concealment so if the jeep attracted unwanted attention I was away from it and hidden so I could then take the correct action if need be.

As I got ready to do my business I moved the Uzi from around my neck hanging down like a neck tie would, so I moved the weapon to my left shoulder, The reason being if it should happen to slide of my should it would not effect my aim, which could have resulted in wet pants.

I had just started when a Hamas looking Arab approached me from the right side asking me if I needed help. I replied that I was fine and he should freeze or suffer bad things to come. He kept walking towards me starting in on the usual BS we are family, we are cousins let me help you.

I told him that just because my forefather Avraham slept with some arab whore did not in my mind make us family and we all should learn that having sex with arab whores is not the thing to do.

My response was not what he thought he would get as it was far outside the norms of the middle east, which by the look on his face caused his thought process to short circuit which gave me time to finish and get myself together as it were. He then started to walk towards me again.

I told him he was either a terrorist looking for a victim or he was a fag but the end result would be the same that I would kill him where he stood. I then pivoted so he could see I was armed, which made him freeze.

He then got this grin on his face and said Yahud, Jew if every Jew was like you their would never be a Palestinian state but most Jews were week and they would get their state in the end and then he walked off.

He was latter found by the IDF and had a large knife.

Case #2

I was going to meet a friend from Sweden in the old city of Jerusalem for lunch and then to take him around the old city. I was dressed in civilian cloths i.e jeans t shirt and sandals and kippah on my head. I was armed with a micro Uzi and a Hi Power that I carried cocked and locked but under my t shirt.

I had just entered the old city via the Yaffo gate and was walking across the open area that is just inside the gate before you get to the maze that is the old city.

I was walking toward the east for those of you that have been in the old city and to the north was 3 or 4 members of the "blue" police civilian police and to my right was a group of 8-10 arab males aged 18-25.

One of the arabs walked away from the group and approached me asking if he could see the micro uzi, I told him he was insane and to get away from me. He again started with the family crap as he started to walk with me. I told him to get the hell away from me.

The arab the lunged at me grabbing for the Uzi, I gave him an elbow strike to the side of the head and grabbed him with my left arm wrapping him up and talking him down with me to the street while I drew the Hi Power from under my shirt.

I stuck the pistol into his face and thumbed the safety off, he was stunned by the blow to the head and before I could blow his head off out of my periphery vision I saw people running towards me. Thinking I was about to gt swarmed by his friends I raised the pistol towards the people running at me.

The people running towards me happened to be the police, I ordered them to grab the group of arab males and to get a pair of cuffs so we could cuff up the asshole I was sitting on.

The whole time I had in my right hand a cocked and unlocked Hi power which was loaded with hollowpoint ammo, at a time 99% of Israeli government and civilians were still using ball ammo.

We cuffed up the now bleeding arab and then I knew that virtue was the better part of valor so I removed the mag from my Hi Power and removed the round from the chamber and since I carried the `13 round mags down one round I just topped off the mag.

The cops were amazed at how fast I had been able to draw and chamber a round since at the time most of the people carried condition 3. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I carried with one up the tube and cocked and locked.

From the group of arabs we learned that when he saw me and the micro uzi he wanted to try to take it since with such a weapon he could murder a lot of Jews.


The thing that both incidents have in common is spontaneous jihad, since both attacks were unplanned and were done at the spur of the moment. The question is how can we identify those hadji's that might be leaning to spontaneous jihad, we can't.

So how do we defend against it?

By never letting your guard down and being ready to be as un PC as you can be if their is a verbal dialog leading up to their desired attack.

I have noticed that by being very crude about the family connection and other things tends to short circuit their thought process, it is the mental version of getting of the X.

Yoni

10866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 21, 2008, 09:34:53 PM
Rachel,

You are free to be angry at me. My intent was not to anger you, just to emphasize what's at stake and how stupid trading terrorists for corpses is. Showing weakness to the savages just encourages them, and the clock is ticking to the time when they'll have nuclear weapons.

Both America and Israel face the same enemy. This enemy has no rules. This enemy loves to target children. This enemy will destroy both nations if given the chance. They cannot be negotiated with, cannot be reasoned with. You can't teach them to love. There is no choice but to teach them to fear. The "old school Israelis" understood this. Somehow this seems to have been lost to many Israelis and Americans today.
10867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 21, 2008, 07:43:09 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/21/medal-of-honor-recipient-and-fellow-pow-endorses-mccain/

I wonder if Barry-O will be getting any MOH winner's endorsement.....

10868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: July 21, 2008, 05:28:46 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/21/video-mother-weeps-over-family-murdered-by-illegal-alien-gang-member/

Border security IS homeland security.
10869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 21, 2008, 05:21:22 PM
http://www.iht.com/bin/printfriendly.php?id=14665033

McCain to Israeli TV: Sanctions might stop Iran, but US will not allow 2nd Holocaust

The Associated Press
Monday, July 21, 2008

JERUSALEM: American presidential candidate John McCain told an Israeli TV station that stiffer sanctions might stop Iran's threats against Israel. In an interview broadcast Monday, the Republican candidate said that in any event, the U.S. would not allow Iran to try to destroy Israel.

McCain's interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV aired just before Democratic candidate Barack Obama is due to arrive in Israel.

Asked about Israel feeling the need to attack Iran, McCain replied, "I would hope that would never happen, I would hope that Israel would not feel that threatened, " saying the U.S. and Europe could impose "significant, very painful sanctions on Iran which I think could modify their behavior."

He added, "But I have to look you in the eye and tell you that the United States of America can never allow a second Holocaust."

Israel considers Iran a strategic threat, discounting reports that Iran has dropped efforts to build nuclear weapons. Iran is developing long-range rockets and has called often for Israel's destruction.

Asked about possible military actions against Iran, McCain said, "I think we have a lot of options to explored before we seriously explore the military option, and I don't think we have exercised those enough.

McCain said he favors low-level contacts with Iranian officials, but not a meeting of presidents without preconditions. He said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would take advantage of such a meeting and its media coverage to call for the destruction of Israel.
10870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: July 21, 2008, 05:06:43 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/2310981/Beijing-Olympics-2008-Two-dead-in-China-bus-bombs-amid-terror-fears-ahead-of-Games.html

Beijing Olympics 2008: Two dead in China bus bombs amid terror fears ahead of Games
By Richard Spencer in Beijing
Last Updated: 3:39PM BST 21/07/2008

At least two people have been killed by bus bombs in southern China, heightening fears over terrorism less than three weeks before the start of the Olympics.

Police gave no motive for the two rush-hour attacks in Kunming, a city of six million that is a popular base for tourists.

But they said they were clearly planned. "According to preliminary investigations, the explosions were cases of man-made, deliberate sabotage," a spokesman said.

A witness said that he saw a "thin, short man" get off one of the buses at a stop and run off down the street 20 seconds before it exploded.

The Chinese authorities have repeatedly warned of the threat to the Olympics from attacks, including home-grown ones.

They have singled out Uighurs, a Muslim group from the far western province of Xinjiang, and radical Tibetans as "splittists" and potential terrorists.

They claim one shadowy Uighur group, known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and accused of a number of attacks including bus bombings in the 1990s, is linked to al-Qaeda.

But small explosions set off by aggrieved local residents are also not unknown in Chinese cities.

Kunming is the capital of Yunnan province, which borders Tibet and Burma and where a violent riot about the price of rubber over the weekend was put down by police, who shot two people dead.

The first explosion yesterday around 7.05am local time on board a bus at a stop on People's Road West, one of Kunming's main thoroughfares.

One person was killed and another ten injured, according to local media. The bus was left with a gaping hole in its side, its windows shattered.

The second explosion happened on another bus on the same road about an hour later. Another person was killed and a further four injured.

According to some reports, there was a third explosion later in the morning, in which two people were killed and one injured, but this was discounted by local officials. There was also no confirmation of a report that another victim of the first bombing died on the way to hospital.

The first victim was named as Wang Dezhi, 30, who was with her husband going home to rejoin their daughter and celebrate her birthday. Her husband, Han Guangming, was also injured.

"My wife is gone, and I'm injured - I feel it is the end of the world," the state news agency quoted Mr Han as saying.

The second victim was Chen Shifei, 26, from the town of Lijiang, also in Yunnan.

Police sealed off the area, checking cars for potential culprits, according to local residents.

"We are all talking and guessing about the reason," a waitress at the nearby Garden Restaurant told The Daily Telegraph. "But people have no clue at all. The road where the buses exploded has been sealed off, for a distance of about 500 yards."

One witness, a warden at a nearby bicycle parking zone, said: "The explosion was only ten yards away from me. It was so loud I felt dizzy for a few seconds. Then I saw black smoke coming out of a bus.

"I worried that the bus would explode and ran back a little. About ten minutes later, police and ambulances came. Lots of people were carried out of the bus, dripping blood."

Yunnan is an ethnically diverse province, home to large numbers of both Tibetans and Muslims, and is a popular tourist destination for its spectacular scenery.

Kunming also has a growing population of resident foreigners, attracted to its sunny, moderate climate and a way of life considered more relaxed than elsewhere in China.
10871  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Link Between Fighting & Fornicating on: July 21, 2008, 04:54:27 PM
The line between the F's is there for a reason. Having dealt with those who do not have this inhibition, I can tell you they are some of the scariest bipeds you'll ever see. Those who get sexual stimulation from stabbing or shooting are known as "piquerists". A certain percentage of serial killers/sex offenders have this paraphilia.
10872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 21, 2008, 04:18:55 PM
Where do you get the idea that the Iraqis clearly and unequivocally want us out?
10873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: July 21, 2008, 09:32:15 AM
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/olympics/2008-07/21/content_6861817.htm

Terror groups still pose a 'threat' to Games

China Daily
Updated: 2008-07-21 06:44

 


 
Police arrest "terrorists" during the "Taishan Mountain 2008" drills in Jinan, East China's Shandong province in this June 30, 2008 file photo. [Xinhua]


The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) poses a real threat to the Beijing Olympics because investigations show it has been plotting terror attacks on venues, a senior security official has said.

"It's not imaginary. We have been focusing on the ETIM and it has been labeled a terrorist group not only by our country, but also the international community," Ma Zhenchuan, director of the security command of the Beijing Games, said.


Ma Zhenchuan
"Intelligence reports show the group has been planning to carry out terrorist attacks during the Games," Ma told China Central Television (CCTV) over the weekend, stressing that his command had already worked out detailed counter-terrorism plans.

Police in Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region said last week that they had busted 12 wings of transnational terrorist groups, including the ETIM and the Hizb-e-Tahrir, this year.

Earlier this month, the public security bureau in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, held a press conference to announce that five "terrorist groups" that were hatching plots to attack Games venues had been smashed and 82 people detained.

Police have destroyed 41 bases where Islamic militants used to get training, too, the bureau said.

Related readings:
 Beijing airport to adopt special security checks
 Olympic co-host city implements special airport security checks
 Olympic co-host city implements special airport security checks
 Three 'defence lines' set up to tighten Olympic security

Ma, however, warned that thwarting the ETIM does not mean safety because it is just a part of the terrorist threat to the Olympics.

"We have been cooperating with the security authorities of all participating countries" to thwart any plot to disrupt the Games.

Security and information officials of more than 80 countries have been collaborating with their Chinese counterparts to counter possible terrorist threats, the Beijing Daily has quoted an Olympic security official Kou Bo as saying.

Beijing has beefed up its security measures, including forming 40 anti-terrorism units with 188 members in the city alone.

The major tasks of the units will be to prevent terrorists from launching biological, chemical, nuclear or other radioactive attacks and bombings, Xinhua has reported. The units are on 24-hour duty from July 1.

The city has mobilized about 110,000 security guards plus more than 1 million residents and installed 300,000 cameras to help detect security threats, Ma said.

Armed policemen will patrol downtown and suburban Beijing to deter terrorists from launching any attack.

Security checks have also been tightened in all provinces, regions and other cities, as well as airports, train stations, bus depots and all entry and exit points.
10874  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: July 20, 2008, 11:06:37 PM
http://localtechwire.com/business/local_tech_wire/opinion/story/2334347/

Army Video Game Helps Save a Life in Raleigh
By John Gaudiosi, Special to WRAL LTW
Posted: Jan. 21, 2008

Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi is a national journalist who has been covering the video game business for more than a decade. In addition to blogging for WRAL.com at Gaming Guru and covering the video games industry for WRAL Local Tech Wire, he also writes about gaming for Wired Magazine, The Washington Post, Xbox.com and Yahoo! Games.

CARY - For the most part, mainstream media only reports negative video game stories--usually lamely blaming some real-world tragedy on some dated game like Doom. But here's a positive story involving the free online game, America's Army developed by RTP-based Virtual Heroes, and how a player was able to use his virtual medic knowledge to rescue a car accident victim.

Twenty-eight year old Paxton Galvanek credited the combat medic training he completed in the popular America's Army with teaching him the critical skills he needed to evaluate and treat the victims at the scene. This is the second time an America's Army player has reported successfully using medical skills learned through playing the game to respond in a life-threatening situation.

In order to assume the role of combat medic in the America's Army game, players must go through virtual medical training classes based on the actual training that real soldiers receive. The creators of America's Army developed the training scenarios with young adults in mind, recognizing their need to be able to respond in emergency situations. Through the game, players learn to evaluate and prioritize casualties, control bleeding, recognize and treat shock, and administer aid when victims are not breathing.

On Nov. 23, 2007, Galvanek was driving West-bound on I-40 in North Carolina with his family. About 25 miles south of Raleigh he witnessed an SUV on the east-bound lanes lose control of the vehicle and flip about five times. While his wife called 911, he stopped his vehicle and ran across the highway to the scene of the accident.

Assuming the role of first responder, he quickly assessed the situation and found two victims in the smoking vehicle. Needing to extract them quickly, he helped the passenger out of the truck and noticed he had minor cuts and injuries. He told the man to stay clear of the smoking car and quickly went to the driver's side where he located a wounded man. He pulled the driver to safety on the side of the road.

Galvanek immediately noticed the man had lost two fingers in the accident and was bleeding profusely. The victim had also suffered head trauma. Galvanek located a towel, put pressure on the man’s hand, and instructed him to sit down and elevate his hand above his head while pressing the towel against his lost fingers. Galvanek then attended to his head cut and determined that injury was not as serious as his hand.

Roughly five minutes later, an Army soldier in plain clothing arrived on the scene of the accident and informed Galvanek that he was medically trained and could take over until the paramedics arrived. He looked over the injured men and told Galvanek that he had done a great job. Once the soldier assured Galvanek that the two men were in stable condition and there was nothing more he could do to assist until the paramedics arrived, Galvanek left the scene and continued on his journey.

Since America's Army launched on July 4, 2002, users have invested over 211 million hours virtually exploring the Army from Basic Training to operations in the War on Terrorism. America's Army ranks among the Top 10 online PC action games played worldwide. The game provides a unique, interactive experience allowing players to gain a perspective into Army occupations and values by assuming virtual roles as U.S. Army Soldiers. Players navigate through challenges real Soldiers confront. As they dominate these challenges, they expand opportunities for advancement and development in roles from Special Forces to combat medic.
10875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: July 20, 2008, 10:46:13 PM
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/30709_Just_Another_Blatantly_Antisemitic_Post_at_the_Obama_Blog_Site_Thats_All

Progressive! Glad to see Obama's webmasters are so dilligent.  rolleyes
10876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: July 20, 2008, 03:26:20 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/18/AR2008071802612_pf.html

Snubbed by Obama
By Christoph von Marschall
Sunday, July 20, 2008; B07

Barack Obama is on his way to Europe, where an adoring public awaits. But I wonder if the reception would be quite so enthusiastic if Obama's fans across the Atlantic knew a dirty little secret of his remarkable presidential campaign: Although Obama portrays himself as the best candidate to engage the rest of the world and restore America's image abroad, and many Americans support him for that reason, so far he has almost completely refused to answer questions from foreign journalists. When the press plane leaves tonight for his trip, there will be, as far as I know, no foreign media aboard. The Obama campaign has refused multiple requests from international reporters to travel with the candidate.

As a German correspondent in Washington, I am accustomed to the fact that American politicians spare little of their limited time for reporters from abroad. This is understandable: Our readers, viewers and listeners cannot vote in U.S. elections. Even so, Obama's opponents have managed to make at least a small amount of time for international journalists. John McCain has given many interviews. Hillary Clinton gave a few. President Bush regularly holds round-table interviews with media from the countries to which he travels. Only Obama dismisses us so consistently.

This spring Obama allowed at least one foreign reporter on trips to Ohio and Texas. But as the campaign has progressed, access has become more difficult for foreign correspondents. E-mail inquiries get no reply, phone calls are not returned. My colleagues and I know: We are last in line. We don't matter.

In September 2007, I gave a lecture in Iowa titled "The U.S. in the World: How They See Us." People in the audience asked me about the working conditions of foreign journalists and were surprised to learn how little access Obama had given us. Several Iowans wrote to his campaign to protest. In contrast to me, they did hear back: In a letter dated Nov. 24, the campaign assured one of these people that Obama cares about the foreign media and wants to increase openness. The letter even said that my contact information had been forwarded to the campaign's communications department.

There was no follow-up.

Since I followed the Obama campaign in its early stages and published a sympathetic (and widely read) book in German about the Illinois senator, I probably have more access than most. I know the Obama "policy advisers" in Washington think tanks and the like; sometimes I manage a fleeting encounter with the senator's press staff at campaign events. Yet I can only dream of an interview with the candidate. To my knowledge, no foreign journalist has had one. A reported interview in France's Politique Internationale last summer turned out to be a fake. In February, Obama gave Israel's Yediot Ahronot written answers to written questions about his views on Israel and the Middle East.

Perhaps Obama considers members of the foreign media a risk rather than an opportunity. His campaign learned the hard way how comments to foreigners can resonate at home -- recall adviser Austan Goolsbee's hints to a Canadian diplomat that Obama's critique of NAFTA was just campaign rhetoric, or former aide Samantha Power's "monster" remark about Hillary Clinton to the Scotsman. Or perhaps we're witnessing the arrogance that comes from being so close to power. One of his campaign advisers told me recently: "Why should we take the time for foreign media, since there is Obamania around the world?"

Obama is indeed popular in my country and elsewhere in Europe. But Europeans have the same questions about his experience and character that Americans do. Unlike U.S. citizens, we can't vote in the election; its results, though, will affect our lives, much as it will affect theirs. Surely a man who has said he would talk with U.S. adversaries such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can spend a few moments with journalists from friendlier countries.

The writer is Washington bureau chief of Der Tagesspiegel, a Berlin-based daily newspaper.
10877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: July 20, 2008, 03:13:26 PM
Higher Folly
Diplomas won’t make jihadis go away.

By Michelle Malkin

In all the brouhaha over the New Yorker’s satirical cover cartoon of Barack and Michelle Obama, a truly “tasteless and offensive” passage in the magazine’s feature article got lost. The magazine piece quotes Obama’s recommendations for how to stop jihad, which he had previously published in a local Chicago newspaper eight days after 9/11. It’s a self-parody of blind, deaf, and dumb Kumbaya liberalism:

We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.

Is this man for real? Osama bin Laden’s murderous legions are plenty able to “imagine” the “suffering of others.” Go watch an al-Qaeda beheading snuff video. Just Google it or surf YouTube. Imagining the suffering of infidels is covered amply in basic Jihadi Training 101.

You’ll note, too, that Obama’s fresh instinct in the week after the 9/11 attack was to diagnose it as a “tragedy” stemming from lack of “empathy” and “understanding” — instead of as the deliberate, carefully planned evil act of the long-waged Islamic war on the West that it was.

As for Obama’s continued delusion about the “climate of poverty and ignorance” that supposedly breeds Muslim terrorists, can American politicians ever rid themselves of this unreality-based trope? This belief is part and parcel of the same idiocy that led the State Department to embrace “spa days” for Muslims to “build bridges” with the Arab world and President Bush to open up our aviation schools to more Saudi students to “improve understanding.”

John McCain also alluded to education-as-cure for Islamic terrorism at the L.A. World Affairs Council in March, when he declared, “In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs.” Just what we need: more student visas for the jihadi-infested nation that sent us the bulk of the 9/11 hijackers.



Author and National Review Online blogger Mark Steyn’s sharp rejoinder to McCain then applies to Obama now: “There’s plenty of evidence out there that the most extreme ‘extremists’ are those who’ve been most exposed to the west — and western education: from Osama bin Laden (summer school at Oxford, punting on the Thames) and Mohammed Atta (Hamburg University urban planning student) to the London School of Economics graduate responsible for the beheading of Daniel Pearl. The idea that handing out college scholarships to young Saudi males and getting them hooked on Starbucks and car-chase movies will make this stuff go away is ridiculous — and unworthy of a serious presidential candidate.”

Ayman al-Zawahiri didn’t need more education or wealth to steer him away from Islamic imperialism and working toward a worldwide caliphate. He has a medical degree. So does former Hamas biggie Abdel al-Rantissi. Seven upper-middle-class jihadi doctors were implicated in the 2007 London/Glasgow bombings. Suspected al-Qaeda scientist Aafia Siddiqui, still wanted by the FBI for questioning, is a Pakistani who studied microbiology at MIT and did graduate work in neurology at Brandeis.

And as I’ve reported before and must reiterate for the hard of hearing in Washington, lowering academic standards at American colleges helped al-Qaeda mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed further the jihadi cause. In the early 1980s, he enrolled at tiny Chowan College in Murfreesboro, N.C., which had dropped its English requirements to attract — ahem — wealthy Middle Easterners.

At Chowan, Mohammed bonded with other Arab Muslim foreign students known as the “Mullahs” for their religious zeal. Mohammed then transferred to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where he earned his degree in mechanical engineering along with 30 other Muslims.

Mohammed applied his Western learning to oversee the 1993 World Trade Center bombing plot (six Americans dead), the U.S.S. Cole attack (17 American soldiers dead) and the 9/11 attacks (3,000 dead). He has also been linked to the 1998 African-embassy bombings (212 dead, including 12 Americans), the plot to kill the pope, the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl and the Bali nightclub blast that killed nearly 200 tourists, including two more Americans.

Perhaps bleeding-heart Obama thinks a master’s degree in social work would have convinced poverty-stricken, helpless, ignorant, despairing Mohammed to change his mind?

© 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZDM4MWE4NDA1NjRiYTY5MjFkM2RiOGQ5MDdjY2IzYmE=
10878  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: July 20, 2008, 01:08:45 PM
Ahhh GM, this is getting fun.

Taking in order:

1.  Don't get your first point regarding treatment of GI's (it was bad) in relationship to my point about targeting a military target.  My point was that the Japanese didn't target civilians like the USA did.

**Really? WWII started with Pearl Harbor? That's a very ethnocentric position to take. Let me help you out. Most scholars point out the start of the 2nd Sino-Japanese war on 7/7/1937, which would eventually expand throughout asia and the pacific. America entered the war after Pearl Harbor. You might want to read up on Japan's targeting and treatment of the peoples it conquered long before the US fired a single shot in the war. It won't exactly fit your "It's all America's fault" paradigm, but it would serve you to learn more than the typical leftist talking points if you wish to make your case.**

2. "Masses of brown people" (I haven't heard that in a while) "in mass graves don't bother the left..."  actually it does, but at that point, the war was over - we had our butts kicked.  As for "mass graves" what do you think Napalm does?  Or fire bombing?  Or nuclear war?  It leaves mass graves of civilians.

**Again, more missing history. Where were the anti-war protesters when the communists murdered roughly 2.5 million innocents after the democrats in congress cut off funding to the South Vietnamese and Cambodia's Lon Nol governments? Ever hear Jane Fonda or any other leftist luminary weep for the innocents they helped murder and oppress? Where was the concerned then? Why don't you know about the Japanese atrocities in asia? The racism you wish to project on others?

The US won every military engagement in Vietnam. The left in America was all the NVA had going for them. At the worst, we could have had a partitioned Vietnam like we have a partitioned Korea, with at least half of the nation free. Not good enough for the "peace movement". Where is the remorse? Where is the regret?**


3. Yep, war is brutal; no disagreement there.  A better option?  Find someone smarter than me.  But I think it was/is wrong to focus on killing civilians like America did through fire bombing and nuclear.  Why not stick to the military targets?  It's a little more humane.

**The US fights it's wars with the resources and technology it has. No other nation in history has gone to the lengths the US has in modern times to try to spare, feed and treat innocents while engaging in war. Don't agree? Who, when and where?**

4. "choose between dead enemy civilians and dead US Troops, I'd choose for dead enemy civilians.   I make no apologies if that's the only choice."  I guess this is the main difference between you and I.  I mean why not kill the woman and children in Iraq on sight if it saved a few American soldiers?  Heck, by your definition if it helps the war effort, maybe we should target woman and children if it saves a American lives.  Do anything to win, huh?  If we lost WWII who do you think would have been on trial as war criminals.  We are lucky, we either win and act noble, or we lose (Vietnam) and run fast.

**Exactly my point. It would have been easier to subdue Iraqi villages by using Saddam's playbook of cutting off food, water, electricity and then mass killings until resistance ended. No Iraqis need be alive to pump oil. Yet instead we build schools, infastructure and treat the sick and wounded and created a semi-decent government instead of tyranny. Why go to such trouble if America is just a machivellian brute?

The US military didn't lose Vietnam. The left undercut the war and the Vietnamese paid dearly. Not that it seems to bother you.**


5. We rebuilt German and Japan and western Europe...  Hmmm, and you think we did that only out of love and kindness???  Please... We, the USA needed the deterrence against Russia. 

**In 1945, the US was in full wartime economy mode. US forces spanned the world. Only America had the bomb. Patton had wanted to move to finish off the shattered soviets, yet instead we de-militarized to such a degree that by 1950 we were barely able to deal with the Korean war. Not exactly what an empire would do, right?**

Also, we needed trading partners; who was left?  And we needed military bases to protect the US.  We never gave a hoot about Japan's defense; it was mostly for our benefit to stop Communism.  I mean look at Japan; if it wasn't for our demanding (spoils of war?) huge property worth billions of dollars in Japan for our military bases right after WWII we would have been kicked out a long time ago.  Would you believe it; Japan even pays us billions of dollars to keep our troops there - we are sort of like mercenaries.  And this was all done from agreements enforced upon them after the war 50+ years ago.  And our troops still can't keep their pants on off base.  If the Japanese people voted today, we would be sent packing. 

**The Japanese DO vote today. Do you know anything about asia at all? You seem very comfortable smearing our troops. Let's examine the facts:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20080716a5.html

High crime rate a 'misperception': U.S. commander

By REIJI YOSHIDA

Staff writer
The rate of off-base crimes committed by members of the United States military in Japan is much lower than the rate for Japanese in general, but a "misperception" that the opposite is true still persists, the commander of U.S. Forces Japan said Tuesday.

 
Meet the general: Lt. Gen. Edward Rice, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, gives a group interview in Tokyo on Tuesday. REIJI YOSHIDA PHOTO
"We are able to keep the off-base serious crime rate for U.S. service members to approximately half that of the overall Japanese population," Lt. Gen. Edward Rice told reporters in a group interview in Tokyo.

Rice emphasized that "a balanced view" is needed to discuss crimes involving U.S. service members in Japan.

The U.S. Air Force later released a statement saying the crime rate among U.S. forces personnel in Japan is in fact less than one-third of the overall rate in the country. The figures for the U.S. military personnel cover crimes committed outside the bases.

During the interview, Rice also stressed that U.S. forces have been implementing a number of programs to ensure correct behavior by U.S. military personnel since the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa by a marine in February.

U.S. forces have been coming under particularly strong criticism from the opposition parties in the Diet, which now control the House of Councilors. In April, the upper chamber made a decision to reject a budget bill for host-nation support, the first time it had ever done so. The budget eventually went into effect in May because it had already been approved by the more powerful Lower House, whose decisions on foreign treaties prevail under the Constitution.

Rice declined to make any direct comments on the political situation in Japan but said he believes spending for the U.S. military here is "a good investment" for Japan's security and that of the region.

"It would cost many times more . . . to be able to provide the equivalent level of security for Japan and Japanese people," Rice said. "I think it becomes clear that at the end of the day this is really a bargain for the Japanese people."

According to a 2004 report compiled by the U.S. Department of Defense, Japan contributed direct financial support worth $3.23 billion and indirect support worth $1.18 billion to the U.S. military in fiscal 2002.

The Japan Times: Wednesday, July 16, 2008


   As for my "noble" comment, what would America do?  Would WE allow a foreign power to station troops on our property?  Ha, we don't even allow them in our hemisphere. 

**Really? Which hemisphere would you find Cuba in?**

We like two sets of rules, one for us and one for everyone else.  Russia is recently upset we are planning a missile system in their backyard, but we say, "don't worry...." but if they tried to do that in Mexico we would send troops to stop them if necessary.  Again, two sets of "convenient" rules.  Again, a benefit of being the biggest kid in the sandbox, but that doesn't make it right.

6. Japanese American Citizens in Prison camps.  Actually, a lot of Democrats and Republicans supported putting the Japanese in prison camps. 

**Yes, but FDR authorized and signed Executive Order 9066.**


 But the German's were safe in America despite all their atrocities during the war.  Now that's true racism. 

** http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/immigration/enemy-aliens-overview.html You must have missed this part of WWII history as well.**

 And yes, other countries have racism too, they just don't deny it or ignore it like we do and act noble about it. 

**Really? Please give some examples of countries you admire and would cite as examples of your point.**

 It's the hypocrisy I hate.

**You mean hypocrisy, like someone who enjoys the wealth and freedoms of America while bashing the military and the nation?**

7.  "Too old" That sounds like blatant ageism to me".  I love old people, but Yep, I think he is too old to be our President.  And yep, it is blatant ageism.  IBM wouldn't hire him to be their president; he's too old.   Microsoft wouldn't hire him to be their president, he's told old....... Heck, no major USA or International Company or Consulting firm would hire him to be their president because he is too old.  Simply put, he's past his prime for the job.  And I can't think of a job that is more important.  We need someone at their best.  So why would America hire him to be our President?




Funny, my wife's asian culture, and my Native American culture teach respecting our elders. You wish to use the modern corporate culture as your yardstick. Interesting.
10879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: July 20, 2008, 10:06:40 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/20/obama-flunks-history-again/

Obama uber alles.
10880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: July 20, 2008, 09:53:15 AM
JDN,

Before you defend Imperial Japan, you might want to read up on the "Rape of Nanjing/Nanking".

You are right.

But, if you want to bring the subject up, Pearl Harbor was an attack on a Naval Base...a military
operation against military personnel.

**So what? Ask the people of any place occupied by the Japanese during WWII how they were treated. See how the Japanese treated western POWs.**

But what was My Lai...etc..............And from what I heard from my slightly older friends,
who did serve in Vietnam, we didn't follow the Geneva Convention....And do you really
think Naplam discriminated between troops and woman and children???

**It's funny how the left gets so excited about innocents killed by the US in combat, yet is so deliberately ignorant of masses of people murdered by communists. Once the democrats forced the abandonment of the S. Vietnamese and the communists took over, the "peace movement" gave a collective shrug. Masses of brown people in mass graves don't bother the left, unless it can be used as a propaganda weapon against America.**

And the fire bombing of Tokyo??? 250,000 mostly women and children dead???
Were pretty good at killling woman and children.  But maybe that's just war?

**Maybe it is. War is brutal and horrible. Do you have a better option?**

And the atomic bombs, again 500,000 dead, again mostly woman and children???
There were few if any troops in Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  There was no industrial complex there.........
Just families.

**If I have to choose between dead enemy civilians and dead US troops, i'd choose for dead enemies. I make no apologies if that's the only choice.**

Please don't act so noble.  We do what it takes to win, but we are no better than anyone
else.

**Doing what it takes to win doesn't mean we are like everyone else. We rebuilt Germany and Japan and western europe and protected them from the soviets as well.**

Not to mention putting in prison American Citizens by the thousands whose only "crime"
was that they were of Japanese ancestry.  Odd, my Grandfather (a doctor) was a German
living in Wisconsin but he never go arrested.  Nor did my Mother.  A little bit of racism again???
America likes to blame the "other guy" especially if they are Black or Asian or Islamic or Mexican.

**You'll note that this was done by that liberal icon FDR, over the objections of J. Edgar Hoover. Are you asserting that only America has racism?**

America likes to to take the high road, but usually (WWII Europe was different) we have
a monetary self interest, not idealism at heart.  We just like to "justify" our wars, paint the
other guy as the "bad guy" rather than calling a spade a spade.  It's more politically correct.
And it sure sells better.

**WWII, pacific theater wasn't justified? What other wars do you not find justified?**

As for Obama, I am not saying he is a panacea.  But McCain?  Too old, that is a big deal to me,
and frankly, if his daddy wasn't an high ranking admiral, McCain would be a nobody. 

**McCain could have done anything, including a safe career in the navy without flying dangerous missions over N. Vietnam. He could have been released early from NVA captivity, but chose to stay with his men. His son chose to enlist with the Marines and has seen combat in Iraq, yet McCain has never discussed this in public. Too old? That sounds like blatant ageism to me.**

 He is
an opportunist.  He dumps his wife for a younger and more important, richer (and smart) woman. 
All his life he has succeeded through using people.  Yes, he has experience, and frankly,
he is not a bad guy, but.....couldn't the Republicans do better???

**Yeah, let's not examine Obama's opportunism. The grandmother that raised him after his father abandoned him was "just a typical white person", right? His pastor and spiritual mentor "God damn America" Wright fit neatly under his bus when he found too much political liability. Does Tony Rezko's creative financing of Obama's home bother you at all?**

But back to America.  Nothing wrong, we simply do what we need to do that being what's good for
America.  But please don't cloak it behind righteousness, goodness, and democracy.  We do it
because it benefits America.  Period.  As does everyone else; we just happen to be the biggest
and baddest kid on the block.  That doesn't always make us right.

**We have done, and do many things for the cause of freedom. Many people across the world have a better life because of America. No nation in human history has had more power and has used it more justly than this nation. If there is a better country, why aren't you living there?**

As for CCP I take full credit; don't blame OR give credit to Obama   smiley

Again, as for CCP I agree, I don't know what in the world Obama is doing giving a major speech in Germany.
I agree, maybe he should win the election first???  By no means a given - I think it will be close.

Again, as for CCP, you got to love it; Obama as President, Hilary as the Vice President, and
Bill (Mr. President) as the VP's wife.  Would you want to be President???   rolleyes




10881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 19, 2008, 10:54:05 PM
I'm glad to see that NPR is all over the wave of hunger in America.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92592545

I blame Bush!
10882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 19, 2008, 10:19:40 PM
Crafty,

Don't believe tha' hype: http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/19/maliki-obamas-16-month-timetable-sounds-good/


In addition, Barry-O has had so many different positions on Iraq, sooner or later he might be correct having covered the entire spectrum of options.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVy5REoiDJo

Edited by Marc to add the content:

Maliki: Obama’s 16-month timetable sounds good; Update: Spiegel changes quoteposted at 12:15 pm on July 19, 2008 by Allahpundit
Send to a Friend | printer-friendly Here’s the exchange from Spiegel’s English translation, duly hyped by Reuters as tacit evidence of Liberal Jesus’s foreign-policy sagacity.
SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?
Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. US presidential candidate Barack Obama is right when he talks about 16 months. Assuming that positive developments continue, this is about the same time period that corresponds to our wishes.
The unasked follow-up question: How about the 14-month timetable that Obama wanted to set in January 2007 to start pulling troops out before those positive developments could occur? How keen does that look in hindsight? To repeat a point made yesterday, the only reason a timetable or “time horizon” is arguably a responsible strategy now is because it was properly rejected as being irresponsible then. Maliki hints at that in another part of the interview:
So far the Americans have had trouble agreeing to a concrete timetable for withdrawal, because they feel it would appear tantamount to an admission of defeat. But that isn’t the case at all. If we come to an agreement, it is not evidence of a defeat, but of a victory, of a severe blow we have inflicted on al-Qaida and the militias.
Exactly, which at least partly explains why Bush is more willing to compromise now on some sort of informal schedule. Compare Maliki’s justification for the timetable to Obama’s justification in his big Iraq speech. The pacification of the country is almost incidental, something to congratulate Petraeus on and then quickly move past. To the extent conditions in Iraq seem to affect his rationale at all, he offers this: “In the 18 months since the surge began, as I warned at the outset – Iraq’s leaders have not made the political progress that was the purpose of the surge. They have not invested tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues to rebuild their country. They have not resolved their differences or shaped a new political compact.” I.e. it didn’t work, so let’s get out. Back to Maliki for a rebuttal:
SPIEGEL: In your opinion, which factor has contributed most to bringing calm to the situation in the country?
Maliki: There are many factors, but I see them in the following order. First, there is the political rapprochement we have managed to achieve in central Iraq. This has enabled us, above all, to pull the plug on al-Qaida. Second, there is the progress being made by our security forces. Third, there is the deep sense of abhorrence with which the population has reacted to the atrocities of al-Qaida and the militias. Finally, of course, there is the economic recovery.
He’s exaggerating the extent of the reconciliation, but not entirely.
One more quote from the interview which I dare say won’t be making it into the inevitable Team Barry press release. The fact that Maliki thinks the war was good for Iraqis doesn’t mean it was good for America, needless to say, but Obama fans eager to exploit the timetable bit may want to mull this before baptizing his judgments with Absolute Moral Authority:
SPIEGEL: Mr. Prime Minister, the war and its consequences have cost more than 100,000 lives and caused great suffering in your country. Saddam Hussein and his regime are now part of the past. Was all of this worth the price?
Maliki: The casualties have been and continue to be enormous. But anyone who was familiar with the dictator’s nature and his intentions knows what could have been in store for us instead of this war. Saddam waged wars against Iran and Kuwait, and against Iraqis in the north and south of his own country, wars in which hundreds of thousands died. And he was capable of instigating even more wars. Yes, the casualties are great, but I see our struggle as an enormous effort to avoid other such wars in the future.
For context, here’s Petraeus on MSNBC yesterday afternoon (before the Spiegel interview was published) responding to reports that Maliki wants a timetable. He fudges a bit with the “time horizon” terminology, but note well the point about domestic politics and assertions of sovereignty. Another “positive development.” Exit question: What do we do now with that NYT piece from the other day about Iraqis who love Obama for bringing Hope but pray that the U.S. security presence doesn’t Change?

Update: Spend some time with this AP story about U.S. troops — who would have been reduced to a small Baker/Hamilton token force by now if Obama had had his way last year — helping Iraqi villagers rebuild after purging Al Qaeda. Quote: “It reveals how drastically American troops have shifted their focus from combat to helping Iraqis build on a newfound, if fragile, peace. And it reflects a continuing concern among U.S. commanders that the security gains could slip.” Not just among U.S. commanders, per the NYT piece.
Update: A commenter notes that Spiegel has rewritten the translation of the exchange about withdrawal to read as follows. There’s nothing in the article calling attention to the change; they’re trying to put one over on their readers, it seems.
SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?
Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.
They’ve dropped the contingency about positive developments continuing, although it’s still implied by the part about potentially changing the plan. Did Maliki contact Spiegel and ask them to drop that part so that the quote would sound more assertive back home? Hard to believe the original translation would have been so off as to include a bit about “positive developments” that he never said.
10883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: July 19, 2008, 03:52:49 PM
JDN,

Before you defend Imperial Japan, you might want to read up on the "Rape of Nanjing/Nanking".
10884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 19, 2008, 03:16:30 PM


Maybe that is because Sen. McCain is soooooo boring???  I mean listen to him speak; even his supporters
fall asleep.  The networks are a business.  They go where the ratings will be.  Who/What does
America want to watch???  What will drive ratings?  And it isn't McCain.

**Is Obama more interesting than McCain? Sure. Should we as a people select a president using the same criteria we'd use to select a talk show host? Especially in a time of war and loose nukes? Should the MSM have at least try for a superficial attempt at impartiality?**

And good grief, McCain is over 70 years old!  Most people retire at 65; most top investment firms
and nearly all top accounting firms have mandatory retirement at 60 - they want fresh new ideas
and energy from people at their prime.  I mean we all should love and respect our Grandfather, but ...

**Obama's ideas aren't new. Some of them date back to the Carter administration. His pursuit of an American defeat in Iraq is very 60's. Perhaps having seen the impact of those ideas firsthand, McCain is in a better position to avoid the repeat of those mistakes.**

ps  Didn't Sen. McCain earlier criticize Obama for not going overseas and on at least two occassions didn't he taunt
Obama to do so?  I guess Obama just listened and followed his advice.  And now McCain complains that Obama
gets all the attention???  hmmm 
[/quote]

**I'm glad Obama is traveling overseas. Sadly, the trip is probably now one of the more important accomplishments in his wafer thin resume, not that the anchors will be pointing this out in the midst of their fawn-fest.**
10885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 18, 2008, 09:02:58 PM
http://www.theonion.com/content/news/time_publishes_definitive_obama

Exactly!
10886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 18, 2008, 03:49:22 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/17/are-the-media-airbrushing-obamas-speeches/

Fsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!
10887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 18, 2008, 03:43:28 PM
http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=301187812262475

Anchors Away!

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, July 17, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Journalism: Barack Obama is headed overseas, with the three network anchors trailing behind him like groupies ga-ga over a rock star. And they say that media bias is just a myth.


Obama will begin his travels Friday with a visit to Europe and continue on to the Middle East. These are not normal campaign stops for a man running for president. But Obama is no common man — at least as the media see him.
They have uncritically anointed him a savior and are eager to be in his presence as he makes his "historic" trip. NBC News anchor Brian Williams, ABC anchor Charles Gibson and CBS anchor Katie Couric will be on hand, and they'll scratch and claw each other to get that exclusive interview.
Obama's arrogance — playing president and planning to speak in front of Berlin's symbolic Brandenburg Gate — is unseemly enough. But the media fawning is a disgrace. Other than those reporters assigned to John McCain, do they even know that Obama's opponent in the fall has made not one, but three trips overseas since March?
Not only did the anchors pass on those tours, their respective networks "provided little if any coverage of any of them," according to an analysis by the Media Research Center. When McCain was in Europe and the Middle East for a week in March, the networks that will immortalize Obama's triumphant tour carried only four full stories on the trip.
"CBS did not even send a correspondent along" and offered "only one report consisting of only 31 words" over 10 seconds for "the entire week Sen. McCain was abroad," the MRC reports.
The media, which seem endlessly interested when Obama downs a hot dog or picks up a basketball, and which feel a collective tingle in their legs whenever he speaks, couldn't even limit their description of the junior senator's haircut to 31 words.
Network chiefs say they need to be with Obama on this trip to record how he performs on the world stage. That's plausible. We'll believe it, though, only if Obama commits a gaffe and the press actually does more than gloss over it.
The liberal national media are free to put all their resources into Obama coverage, encourage Americans to vote for him and ignore McCain entirely. Our Constitution gives them the liberty to do just that. What rankles us is the facade of objectivity they put up. All we're asking for is some honesty.
10888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 18, 2008, 03:40:42 PM
SB,

I think that's like saying there is some anti-semitism found at a "nation of islam" gathering....

http://michellemalkin.com/2008/07/17/reminder-what-we-can-expect-from-the-traveling-obamedia/
10889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Empty suit alert! on: July 18, 2008, 09:34:37 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/18/gaffemaster-alert-the-pearl-harbor-bomb/

Gaffemaster Alert: The Pearl Harbor Bomb
POSTED AT 10:10 AM ON JULY 18, 2008 BY ED MORRISSEY   


Barack Obama must have gone off script again in West Lafayette, Indiana on Wednesday.  When addressing the crowd on national security, Obama mangled the attack on Pearl Harbor.  For a Hawaii native, this tops the Young Gaffer list of historical fumbles (via Dean Barnett):

But it is wonderful to be back in Indiana. In a few moments, we’ll open up the discussion. But I want to offer a few comments about some of the emerging threats that we face in the 21st century and offer some ideas about how we can face those threats.

Throughout our history, America’s confronted constantly evolving danger, from the oppression of an empire, to the lawlessness of the frontier, from the bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor, to the threat of nuclear annihilation. Americans have adapted to the threats posed by an ever-changing world.

Just to clarify: a whole lot of bombs fell on Pearl Harbor.  And the threat wasn’t the bomb, it was the empire that send massive waves of planes to drop them on our Pacific Fleet.  Those bombs fell because we didn’t adapt to the threat, and in fact we kept telling ourselves that we could talk the Japanese out of their policy of aggression and empire.  We came within a few aircraft carriers of losing the Pacific out of our willful blindness to the nature of the Japanese.

The same can be said for the “nuclear annihilation” Obama also mentions.  The threat wasn’t nuclear annihilation as such; that was part of the threat, not the entire threat itself.  The real threat came from another kind of empire, one that wanted to conquer from within as well as without — and the American Left after 1969 spent most of its time arguing that they threat didn’t really exist, that Soviet Communism wanted peaceful coexistence, and that socialism and Communism was the achievement of Utopia.  After Jimmy Carter’s disastrous cheek-kissing with Leonid Brezhnev and the invasion of Afghanistan that followed, America woke up and put adults in charge - and within a decade, the Soviet Union collapsed of its own contradictions and rot.

This gaffe goes beyond placing Auschwitz and Treblinka in western Germany or putting American troops in Poland during World War II.  It speaks to a fundamental superficiality of Obama, a man who seizes tropes and themes with little understanding of their significance or their details.   Obama reveals himself as a man who doesn’t understand threats at all, and whose instinctive responses would make them far worse.
10890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 18, 2008, 09:29:12 AM
I don't mind, as long as they wear "Obama 2008" t-shirts while broadcasting.
10891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: July 18, 2008, 09:24:02 AM
Yeah, I'm already sick hearing all the defenders justifying the Rev-uh-rund, with the "It's ok for black people...." double standard.  rolleyes
10892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: July 18, 2008, 09:10:50 AM
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i3uIGU_Clf36waqYlsaWDls9HP2gD91VURDO0

Chertoff: European terrorists trying to enter US
By EILEEN SULLIVAN – 13 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — European terrorists are trying to enter the United States with European Union passports, and there is no guarantee officials will catch them every time, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday.
Chertoff's comments on Capitol Hill comes as the country is entering a potentially vulnerable period with the presidential nominating conventions coming up next month; the presidential election in November; and the transition to a new administration in January — all of which may be attractive targets for terrorists.
In his last scheduled appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee, Chertoff said that the more time and space al-Qaida and its allies have to recruit, train, experiment and plan, the more problems the U.S. and Europe will face down the road.
"The terrorists are deliberately focusing on people who have legitimate Western European passports, who don't appear to have records as terrorists," Chertoff told lawmakers. "I have a good degree of confidence we can catch people coming in. But I have to tell you ... there's no guarantee. And they are working very hard to slip by us."
Chertoff and other intelligence officials have delivered similar warnings before, and he offered no new information about specific threats or an imminent attack.
Chertoff reiterated his concern that terrorists could sneak radiological material into the country on small boats or private aircraft. This material could be used to create an explosive device known as a "dirty bomb."
The Homeland Security Department has a strategy to protect against this small boat vulnerability and is testing radiation detection equipment in Seattle and San Diego ports.
Chertoff said that getting out a regulation to prescreen and enhance security of general aviation aircraft coming to the U.S. from overseas is one of his top priorities.
He also said he expects to approve new radiation detection technology this fall.
Responding to a question from Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, Chertoff dismissed any rumor that he is on a list of potential running mates for Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Chertoff quipped that the only list he has for next year is a list of vacations.
Chertoff's term as the country's second Homeland Security Secretary ends when a new administration takes over the White House in January.
10893  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 18, 2008, 09:05:41 AM
The only thing the savages understand is violence. The weakness the idiot author lionizes is the way of those that passively shuffled into the death camps without protest, it's the making of the next shoah.
10894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: July 17, 2008, 07:33:47 PM
http://formerspook.blogspot.com/

Obama’s Nuclear Mission

On the same day that the Washington Post berated Barack Obama for his arbitrary deadline for getting out of Iraq, the Democratic presidential nominee again demonstrated why he’s unqualified to serve as commander-in-chief.

Participating in a round table discussion at Purdue University, Mr. Obama warned about the dangers of “fighting the last war,” and pledged to focus on emerging nuclear, biological and cyber threats, if he’s elected in November.

From Brietbart and the Associated Press:

Two goals of his administration would be to secure all loose nuclear material during his first term and to rid the world of nuclear weapons, Obama told an audience before the round table discussion at Purdue.

Obama said adhering to nonproliferation treaties would put pressure on nations such as North Korea and Iran. North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon and Iran has an energy program the Bush administration warns could be a precursor to nuclear weapon development.

"As long as nuclear weapons exist, we'll retain a strong deterrent. But we will make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy," Obama said.

He added, "The danger ... is that we are constantly fighting the last war, responding to the threats that have come to fruition, instead of staying one step ahead of the threats of the 21st century."

Like many of Obama’s ideas, this one certainly sounds reasonable. After all, how could any right-minded individual oppose the elimination of nuclear weapons, and efforts to secure material that could be used in an atomic bomb?

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama’s nuclear proposal is little more than pie-in-the-sky fantasy, for several reasons. First, there’s his reliance on nonproliferation treaties to “pressure” nations like North Korea and Iran into compliance on their nuclear programs. Perhaps Senator Obama hasn’t noticed, but that sort of “pressure tactic” hasn’t worked very well with Pyongyang and Tehran.

In fact, decades of compliance and direct diplomacy have resulted in…a nuclear-capable North Korea (emphasis mine), and an Iranian regime that is on track to get the bomb in as little as two years. Quite a victory for non-proliferation, wouldn’t you say?

Fact is, irrational players like the DPRK and Iran will follow non-proliferation agreements only its suits their needs. Consider the case of North Korea; in 1994, Pyongyang entered into the infamous “Agreed To” framework with the United States and South Korea, a move that was hailed as a triumph for non-proliferation and direct diplomacy. In exchange for fuel oil and other forms of economic aid, Kim Jong-il was supposed to give up his nuclear weapons program.

What happened? Food and fuel shipments began flowing to North Korea; cameras and U.N. inspectors were installed at the DPRK’s “declared” nuclear facility (Yongbyon), and the lack of activity was duly recorded. Meanwhile, work on Pyongyang’s nuclear program continued in secret, producing the technical breakthroughs that resulted in the detonation of a crude nuclear device in 2006.

Undeterred, the Bush Administration stuck with the diplomacy option, sponsoring “Six-Party” regional talks that yielded a new agreement last year. Never mind that North Korea’s record in such matters is abysmal; or that Pyongyang dragged its feet on issuing required declarations of its nuclear activities. Or, that Kim Jong-il provided nuclear technology to Syria while he was finalizing the Six Party accord. Or that the DPRK may yet retain a covert program, still capable of producing nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, Iran’s compliance record is no better than North Korea’s. Years of effort by the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have failed to produce a full accounting of Tehran’s nuclear program, or an agreement aimed at curbing those efforts.

But Mr. Obama believes that adhering to non-proliferation protocols will bring the Iranians and North Koreans in line; you can almost hear the laughter from Pyongyang and Tehran. So, why does the presumptive Democratic nominee believe that the failed policies of the past would be more successful under his administration? Obama has never explained, and (apparently) no one bothered to broach that subject during the Purdue forum.

There are other problems with Senator Obama’s proposal. He vows to retain a “strong” U.S. nuclear deterrent, while pursuing the elimination of those weapons. But what type of deterrent is Mr. Obama proposing? A flexible, robust arsenal, combining adequate numbers of strategic and tactical warheads, or a token nuclear force, along the lines of Great Britain and France?

Additionally, Mr. Obama has dodged another essential question related to the nuclear issue. Would he be willing to pursue unilateral cuts in our nuclear stockpile, as other Democrats have suggested in the past? If you follow that line of thinking, reductions in our inventory would (supposedly) prompt other nuclear powers to do the same. It’s a fool’s errand.

The Obama policy also ignores another, salient fact. Any reduction (or elimination) of nuclear weapons must be accompanied by significant increases in conventional forces, to provide the same deterrent value. One reason the U.S. invested so heavily in nuclear weapons during the 1950s was to offset the Soviet Union’s overwhelming advantage in conventional forces. As he reduces the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, how would Mr. Obama compensate for the decrease in our defensive posture?

Oh, that’s right. Since everyone would be part of that expanded non-proliferation regimen, there would be no need for an increase in our military forces, beyond those already outlined by the candidate. The naiveté of that “logic” is simply astounding.

That’s why we can’t resist taking a shot at Senator Obama’s thoughts on “fighting the last war.” Given the overwhelming success of the troop surge in Iraq, it would appear that our military has made the necessary adjustments for fighting a new type of enemy.

Beyond that, Pentagon planners have been working on future threats for generations—that’s why new weapons systems are developed, and strategy and tactics are continuously refined. Mr. Obama might be interested to know that the Air Force already has a cyber command, and its first, dedicated information warfare unit (which had an extensive cyber warfare mission) was established in 1992. Despite the military's legendary resistance to change, there are a few visionaries left in uniform and they were thinking about the "next war" long before Barack Obama.

***
To his credit, Senator Obama has worked on the nuclear non-proliferation issue in the past. Shortly after arriving in Washington, he signed on with the Senate expert in those matters—Indiana’s Richard Lugar—in sponsoring new legislation, aimed at dismantling a wider range of “leftover” weapons. The measure was based on the successful Nunn-Lugar bill of 1991, which provided money and expertise to help former Soviet republics dismantle their nuclear arsenals.

Along with role in authoring the bill, Obama also traveled with Mr. Lugar to Russia in 2005, inspecting “junkyards” of weapons that could be easily stolen or sold to terrorists. Mr. Lugar has been making these visits for more than a decade, but we can’t find any evidence that Senator Obama has been back to Russia since 2005. As with other Obama efforts, the initial flurry of activity suggests that the senator’s interest was aimed at filling a “foreign policy” square on his resume; once the bill became law (with his name prominently attached), Mr. Obama was ready to move on.
10895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 17, 2008, 10:39:47 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/07/17/iraqis-torn-on-troop-withdrawal/

Iraqis torn on troop withdrawal
POSTED AT 11:15 AM ON JULY 17, 2008 BY ED MORRISSEY   


The New York Times has a balanced and interesting article on how Iraqis view proposals to get American troops out of Iraq.  Most of them would like to see American combat troops out of the country, but many of those fear a too-rapid withdrawal and the chaos that would follow.  And while Iraqis see Barack Obama as a breath of fresh air, they don’t appear to like his military strategy anywhere near as much:

A tough Iraqi general, a former special operations officer with a baritone voice and a barrel chest, melted into smiles when asked about Senator Barack Obama.

“Everyone in Iraq likes him,” said the general, Nassir al-Hiti. “I like him. He’s young. Very active. We would be very happy if he was elected president.”

But mention Mr. Obama’s plan for withdrawing American soldiers, and the general stiffens.

“Very difficult,” he said, shaking his head. “Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: for now, we don’t have that ability.”

Thus in a few brisk sentences, the general summed up the conflicting emotions about Mr. Obama in Iraq, the place outside America with perhaps the most riding on its relationship with him.

Withdrawal itself is not unpopular among Iraqis; a lot of them would like Americans to leave.  Most of them recognize, though, that the Iraqi Army won’t be ready to replace US troops for quite some time.  In some Sunni neighborhoods, the mainly Shi’ite IA can’t or won’t patrol to avoid provocations.  And while the numbers of IA troops have grown significantly, most of them need a lot of training and seasoning before they can operate completely independently of American leadership and logistics — and the Iraqis have no air power at all.

What they do not want to do is to provide an opening for al-Qaeda or militias to start another round of violence.  Another Golden Mosque bombing could touch off more sectarian and tribal feuding, and without the American troops nearby, the IA would still be unlikely to contain it.  As General Hiti understands, the nation needs stability for the next several years while all of the elements of security get developed to independent status, including air and naval power, both of which the Iraqis have had to postpone in order to get its army and police reconstituted.  Otherwise, all of the gains made in the last year will evaporate, and the Iraqis will have to go back to a bunker existence.

The article doesn’t break new ground as much as it gives background for the question which will remain primary in the upcoming American and Iraqi elections.  When can the Americans end its combat stance in Iraq, and what comes afterwards?    Even the Iraqis have no clear conception of the answers, but as one said, the Americans have a moral obligation to finish what we started and make sure the job gets done right.
10896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 17, 2008, 10:23:14 AM
**Even the "Associated with terrorists Press" has to agree**

Iraq's al-Qaeda fighters now ‘furtive terrorists’

Article posted July 17, 2008 - 04:10 PM

COMBAT OUTPOST COPPER, Iraq - It's quiet around here in farm country, south of Baghdad where al-Qaeda once held sway. Just months ago US foot patrols through the wheat fields nearby would regularly draw fire — if the soldiers managed first to elude al-Qaeda-planted roadside bombs.

"The difference is night and day," says Capt. George Morris, 26. He and his soldiers in Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division walked the area this week to visit a handful of farm families five miles east of the town of Latifiyah, not far from the Tigris River.

And it's not just here. Throughout the country, al-Qaeda in Iraq, an insurgent organization thought to be affiliated with the global terrorist network but comprised mainly of Iraqis, has lost so much clout it is close to becoming irrelevant to the outcome of the war. The group has not been eliminated, however, leaving open the possibility of resurgence if the Iraqi government fails to follow up the military gains with civilian services like the irrigation that's badly needed here.

When President Bush announced in January 2007 that he was sending more than 21,000 extra US combat troops to Iraq — mostly to the Baghdad area — as part of a new approach to fighting the insurgency, commanders said their No. 1 focus was degrading al-Qaeda's ability to foment sectarian violence.

In the Latifiyah area, it's not hard to see that goal appears to have been achieved — an accomplishment that adds to the expectation that Bush will be able to further reduce US troop levels this fall.

Iraqi Army Capt. Jassim Hussein al-Shamari, whose men were part of Morris' foot patrol, has one explanation for al-Qaeda's fall.

"The people themselves will turn over the terrorists" if they show themselves, says al-Shamari. He's speaking through an interpreter to Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, a deputy commander of U.S. forces in the swath of once-violent territory stretching south of Baghdad from the Iranian border to Anbar province.

Buchanan sees it much the same way.

"The people are fed up with what they experienced under (al-Qaeda's) presence," Buchanan said, adding that the key to keeping the terrorist group down is having the government in Baghdad step in and provide more essential services, like the irrigation that farmers in the Latifiyah area find in short supply.

And there is a troubling disconnect between the central government and local leaders.

"The link to the government of Iraq is almost nonexistent here," Morris said.

So it remains an open question: Once US combat forces depart, whenever that may be, will al-Qaeda find an avenue for resurgence? It is generally accepted among US officers and intelligence specialists that despite its decline, al-Qaeda will remain in Iraq at some level long after the Americans are gone. The group had no meaningful foothold in the country before US forces invaded in March 2003.

There is no available official estimate of the number of al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq. A US intelligence estimate early this year put it at a maximum of 6,000, although it probably has fallen far lower recently. Perhaps more importantly, US officers said in a series of Associated Press interviews over the past 10 days that so many al-Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed that its remnants are ineffective.

Col. Al Batschelet, chief of staff for the US command overseeing military operations in the Baghdad area, said that once the leadership began disappearing, lower-level technicians were pressed into duty.

That had the effect of accelerating the group's decline: the technical experts were not as good at organizing and executing attacks, and by taking the lead they exposed themselves to being captured or killed. That, in turn, has left even less-technically skilled fighters to perform the specialized work of assembling bombs like al-Qaeda's signature weapon, the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, officers said.

The triggering mechanisms of al-Qaeda's bombs have become less sophisticated and less effective, Batschelet said. Also, vehicle-borne IEDs used to contain hundreds of pounds of explosives, but they now typically are only 25 pounds.

"They just can't get the material any more to do what they want to do," Batschelet said. "But they still try. So we are unable to say that we've defeated their will" to continue their acts of violence.

Col. Bill Hickman, commander of 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, sees much the same thing in the neighborhoods of northwest Baghdad where his soldiers have witnessed a dramatic decline in violence this year.

"There are still disrupted cells of al-Qaeda in our area," he said in an interview. "So they're active, but they're not as effective as they used to be. And their IEDs are small IEDs now."

As for eliminating al-Qaeda entirely in Iraq, "That's probably not achievable," said Batschelet.

Although US and Iraqi forces have put enormous pressure on al-Qaeda by pursuing its leaders with relentless raids informed by improved intelligence this year, an even more important factor, arguably, was the decision by Sunni Arabs who had opposed the US occupation to ally with the Americans against al-Qaeda.

Whether those newfound allies — dubbed Sons of Iraq by their Americans benefactors — remain in opposition to the Sunni extremists, or decide to switch sides again, will tell much about al-Qaeda's future in Iraq.

Either way, however, the moment seems to have passed when al-Qaeda could prevail in this conflict. It has been forced out of its original strongholds in Anbar province, and more recently it has lost Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul, although it still can pull off a deadly attack there and elsewhere.

Stephen Biddle, an Iraq watcher in Washington at the Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview that without an urban hideout, al-Qaeda is reduced to the role of being "furtive terrorists."

"If they don't have an urban area with a friendly population that can enable them to operate" — and from which to recruit fighters — "then they're going to be isolated terrorist actors," Biddle said. Thus, eliminating them entirely need not be the goal of US commanders and the Iraqi government.

"That's not central to the outcome of the war," Biddle said. - AP
10897  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: July 16, 2008, 11:04:06 PM
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/is-the-war-over--11599

Over?
10898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 16, 2008, 08:35:12 PM
Rachel,

Funny, I feel worse about Israel's security situation. A nuclear Iran is a mortal threat that has a chance to be stopped, but the window gets smaller daily.
10899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: July 16, 2008, 09:39:38 AM
Mexico: The Early Signs of a Failed State?   
By Congressman Tom Tancredo
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mexican law enforcement officials are walking into U.S. ports of entry in increasing numbers to seek political asylum, and the flow may soon become a flood as Mexico's battle with the drug cartels intensifies. Our first instinct is to welcome them, but there is more at stake than humanitarian sentiments.
 
The problem is that if our immigration laws are stretched to grant asylum to law enforcement personnel on the grounds that their own government cannot protect them, any Mexican threatened by these violent criminal gangs can claim the same right of asylum.
 
U.S. immigration law does not easily accommodate these law enforcement cases because they are fleeing threats from organized crime – the Mexican drug cartels – not political persecution by their government. If our laws are stretched to accept thousands of refugees from drug cartel violence, it will only exacerbate Mexico's problems.
 
We can sympathize with the Mexican police chief or prosecutor who lands on a cartel hit list because he will not play ball with them. The Mexican federal government seemingly cannot protect him and his family, so he flees to El Paso or Nogales and seeks asylum. The number of such asylum applications more than doubled in the first six months of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007, but very few have been approved. What will happen if we do not accept these asylum applications as a humanitarian gesture? What will happen if we do?
 
The rising number of asylum seekers from Mexican law enforcement and the professional classes is a new phenomenon, not merely another facet of our open borders fiasco. These people are not swimming the Rio Grande or sneaking across the Sonora desert. They are walking into our border ports of entry from Texas to California and asking for protection. We must respect them for following our laws and doing it the right way. But we must also ask some hard questions before throwing open our gates. Humanitarian concerns must be balanced against other considerations – because the fate of Mexico hangs in that balance.
 
What happens to Mexico if all the good cops flee to the U.S. or Europe and the only ones left are working hand-in-glove with the criminals? What are the consequences if all the honest judges and prosecutors flee and only dishonest ones are left in charge of the courts? What happens if honest businessmen find it easy to flee to San Diego, Houston or Phoenix and only those who will do the cartels' money laundering are running the nation's trucking companies, farms, and banks?
 
The unpleasant truth is that this new refugee problem is the sign of a deep crisis not in the Mexican economy but in the Mexican political system itself. Mexico exhibits mounting signs of a "failed state," a political system that cannot satisfy the most basic conditions of civic order such as safety in one’s streets, home, school, and workplace. Failing states begin to hemorrhage people and their assets. The middle class begins to flee – doctors, lawyers, accountants, business owners, teachers, and of course, law enforcement officials, who are the first targets of criminal organizations.
 
These new "civic disorder refugees" are not like the millions of unemployed or underemployed who leave Mexico to a find a job and a better life. These middle class citizens have jobs – often good jobs by Mexican standards – but they do not have security for themselves or their families. They would much prefer to stay in Mexico but they cannot do so safely, so they flee.
 
If police chiefs and judges cannot be protected from the cartels, then how can ordinary citizens feel safe? If we open the gates to everyone who has a "credible fear" of the cartels, the Border Patrol will no longer have to worry only about people jumping the fence. Thousands will be waiting in line at one of over 300 ports of entry.
 
This new "emigration from fear" poses an urgent challenge for Mexico. If Mexico wants to win its battle against the drug cartels, it must begin by reforming its police and criminal justice systems so that honest cops, judges and mayors – and journalists – can do their jobs without undue fear of retaliation. To his credit, President Calderon has begun to tackle this problem.
 
Military operations against the cartel strongholds are probably necessary, but they can never be a substitute for a functioning criminal justice system. Mexican citizens must be able to trust the local police, and local police must be able to trust their government to protect them from gangster-terrorists.
 
The United States must not become an automatic escape valve for honest officials threatened by cartel violence. If that happens, Mexico will lose its most valued civil servants and become increasingly a militarized (and polarized) society.
 
Mexico is not yet a failed state, but if humanitarian sentiment and special interest pleadings in the U.S. block sound immigration policy – as happens all too often in American law and politics – we will hasten that tragic development.
10900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 16, 2008, 09:31:15 AM
http://HTTP://WWW.impact-se.org/

Why peace isn't possible.
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