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11701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 16, 2008, 09:24:19 AM
- Pajamas Media - -

Obama’s Very Bad Start
Posted By Stephen Green On November 14, 2008 @ 12:00 am In . Most Popular 05, . Positioning, Elections 2008, Gun Control, Opinion, Politics, US News | 220 Comments

Monday, our own Jennifer Rubin wrote a column called “[1] The GOP Gets Off to a Bad Start.” Let’s take a look at the other side of the issue. It seems like our president-elect is keeping himself busy picking unnecessary fights. Is this the way Obama will conduct business with Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, or is it just a case of a new president finding his footing?

Obama vs. Pelosi/Green Machine vs. Jobs

On the Detroit bailout, Obama has hinted that he wants to make sure the money goes to retooling for [2] clean, fuel efficient cars. Just like the original $25 billion Department of Energy bill was supposed to do. Nancy Pelosi is most worried about the UAW and jobs and would probably pump fresh blood into an entire city of the dead to save a single union job. So it looks like Obama and Pelosi are going to clash — and soon. Some reports indicate that GM will be down to its minimum operating cash before the end of the year — and that would make Chapter 11 all but a foregone conclusion. Detroit needs cash, but for what? The Obama Plan or the Pelosi Plan?

Obama vs. Southern Democrats on Guns

Obama is also gearing up for a fight with southern Democrats. After being mostly silent on guns during the campaign, Obama’s Web site has recently added or restored language indicating the return of the “[3] assault weapons ban” on scary-looking rifles. Southern Democrats paid with their jobs for Clinton’s ban back in 1994. You might expect the new Blue Dog Dems to join hands and sing Kumbaya with House and Senate Republicans to block a new Scary Looking Rifles Law.

Obama vs. Republicans

OK, so maybe this item is no real shocker, but it still seems a little early in the game for Mr. Post Partisan to be dissing Republicans. And yet, Obama has already soiled relations with the GOP, thanks to [4] leaks from his meeting with President Bush on Monday. Obama might just give us the most ethical administration ever — I mean, anything can happen. But it’s already shaping up to be the most indiscrete. If Obama wants to reach across the aisle, that’s great. He just shouldn’t do so with a joy buzzer in his hand.

Obama vs. Europe

Speaking of indiscretion, Obama doesn’t seem to have a clue on how to treat American allies. During the primary race, he threatened to crack down on major threats like Canada — a position he probably/maybe/sort of backed off from in backdoor talks with the Canadian government. In Europe, Obama is already to the left of most every major EU leader. Then last week, Obama [5] told Poland one thing about missile defense in private and told Russia quite another thing in public. In other words, he’s doing his best to spoil relations with Poland, which will have repercussions throughout Eastern Europe, too. Our allies have got to wonder where Obama stands. I think we all do.

Obama vs. Everybody (Eventually) on Taxes

Obama promised to raise taxes only on the lower-upper class on up. Then we got hints that taxes would go up for the upper middle class, too. And now we’re learning that Team Obama has plans to raise taxes on people who do evil things like [6] own cars. Or just drive them. Which by my count is … pretty much everybody.

More ominously, unless we get middle class entitlement reform out of the Democrats, then eventually everybody’s taxes are going up. Way up. And “eventually” comes closer every year, as the Baby Boomers have begun to retire and place new financial strains on our retirement and health care transfer-payment systems. Alternately, Washington can give us a big round of inflation — a hidden tax which will do for your 401(k)… what Washington has already done to your 401(k).

So it’s true — Obama really is bringing people together. He’s bringing them together … against Barack Obama. While it’s true that Republicans got off on the wrong foot this week and last, so did Obama. And if he keeps it up, then the Republicans might not be the minority party for too very much longer.

Article printed from Pajamas Media:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:
[1] The GOP Gets Off to a Bad Start:
[2] clean, fuel efficient:

[3] assault weapons ban:
[4] leaks from his meeting:
[5] told Poland one thing about missile defense in private and told Russia quite another thing in public:
[6] own cars:
11702  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 16, 2008, 09:07:33 AM

November 7, 2008

The Reagan Counterrevolution

In 1980, when the U.S. economy was last in serious trouble, Ronald Reagan offered the correct diagnoses that government was the problem and not the solution. His message resonated with voters, propelling him into the White House to implement an agenda of lowering marginal tax rates, reducing government spending and business regulations, restoring sound money, abolishing entire government departments, and basically allowing free market vibrancy to unshackle an economy burdened by big government. Though in practice much of the Reagan revolution never materialized, at least in theory his basic premise was sound.

In contrast, the country has now hitched its wagon to the views of Barack Obama. We don’t know much about what he truly believes about economics, but the little that we do know is not encouraging. Obama has repeatedly heaped the blame for the current crisis on the excesses of unregulated capitalism and the greed of the wealthy. For him, the free market is the problem and government is the solution.

The President-elect has promised to cage the destructive forces of capitalism, impose more regulation, raise marginal tax rates, increase government spending, and restore prosperity by redistributing wealth from those who earned it to those considered to be more deserving. Like most of his generation, Obama believes that economic growth results from consumer spending, primarily from the middle class. Any policy that keeps the consumers headed to the mall will be promoted.

Unfortunately, while Reagan had a hard time getting his full agenda through Congress, Obama will likely be much more successful. The effort to concentrate more power in Washington will be far more appealing to Congress then Reagan’s idea of restoring it to the people.

This sharp contrast in philosophy should not be taken lightly. Reagan looked to unleash the pent-up free market forces that had been smothered by a generation of Great Society reforms and uninterrupted Democratic control of Congress. Today, the public is looking for the Obama Administration to create the growth that the free market has apparently destroyed. The hope that our economy will grow as a result of government spending and micro-management is the most seminal shift in political philosophy since the New Deal.

Despite the absence of Reagan’s promised spending cuts, the economy generally did well during his presidency (The growth would have been more genuine if the cuts had been delivered). However, Obama’s policies will immediately make the current situation worse and the nation will suffer severely as a result. Rather than a sharp recession at the beginning of his term followed by a significant expansion (as occurred under Reagan), the recession that Obama inherits will be far worse when his first term ends.

What nearly all politicians on both sides of the aisle fail to understand is that the current contraction and credit crunch is necessary to restore order to an economy that is horribly out of balance. Years of misguided fiscal and monetary policy and market-distorting regulations have resulted in reckless borrowing and spending on Main Street, pervasive gambling on Wall Street, and rampant fraud and corruption at every intersection. America’s borrow and spend economy, and the bloated service sector that evolved around it, must be allowed to topple, so that a more sustainable economy grounded in savings and production can rise in its place. Any government efforts to delay the adjustment and spare us the pain will backfire, turning this recession into an inflationary depression.

Of broader concern however is the sharp turn in ideology, and what it means for the future of our nation. If this is a permanent shift, then America will lose any resemblance to the economic titan it was in the 20th Century. Our standard of living will decline sharply, our economy will be ravaged by inflation, tens of millions will be unemployed, more individual liberties will be surrendered, and rugged individualism will be supplanted by the nanny state. In short, Latin America may extend north to the Canadian border.

However, if this shift proves temporary and Obama’s reign either ends in one term, or he summons the intelligence and courage to reverse course once the situation deteriorates, then perhaps one day there will be light at the end of a very long tunnel.

While all of us can certainly hope for the best, prudence suggests that we had better prepare for the worst. Not only does that mean divesting our portfolios of U.S. dollar denominated investments but preparing for the possibility of emigration. With economic conditions at home becoming increasingly intolerable, the call of freer economies and greater prosperity abroad may be too tempting to resist.
11703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What's Your View on Prop 8? on: November 15, 2008, 09:53:05 AM

More leftist "tolerance".
11704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What's Your View on Prop 8? on: November 15, 2008, 09:43:03 AM

Teen told to 'burn' for McCain T-shirt
Peers call 8th grader 'stupid,' say she should be 'killed' for supporting Republican
Posted: November 13, 2008
10:30 pm Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily

When a 14-year-old girl wore a "McCain girl" T-shirt to school, students told her she should be "crucified" or "burned" for supporting the Republican – but when she wore an Obama T-shirt, everyone complimented her.

Illinois 8th grader Catherine Vogt's mother supported Obama, while her father supported McCain. The teen conducted an experiment to test tolerance among her peers and teachers, the Chicago Tribune reported. But she was surprised by their strong reactions.

Vogt began the experiment by wearing a white T-shirt with "McCain girl" painted in red across the front to Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park. She wrote her observations in a journal.

"I was just really curious how they'd react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters," Catherine told the Chicago Tribune. "I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be."

The students were openly hostile, criticizing her support for McCain.

"People were upset," Vogt said. "But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn't be wearing it."

The harsh words didn't stop there.

"One person told me to go die," she said. "It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed."

Even Vogt's teachers chimed in.

"In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain," the teen said. "Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said."

One boy said Vogt should be killed for wearing the T-shirt.

"He said, 'You should be crucifixed,'" she told the Tribune. "It was kind of funny because, I was like, don't you mean 'crucified?'"

Classmates told Vogt she deserved to be "burned with her shirt on" for "being a filthy-rich Republican," while others accused her of backing homicidal skinheads who sought to kill Obama by supporting McCain.

Vogt never said a word about her experiment. She let the comments continue and carefully recorded each one.

"I couldn't show people really what it was for," she told the Tribune. "I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing."

Few students complimented her on the McCain T-shirt, and when one did, the girl discretely pulled her aside and whispered, "I really like your shirt."

The next day, Vogt decided to complete her experiment by wearing an identical white T-shirt to school – but this time it had the blue words "Obama girl" painted on the front.

"People liked my shirt. They said things like my brain had come back, and I had put the right shirt on today," she told the Tribune.

A few students were confused about Vogt's loyalties.

"A lot of people liked it," she said. "But some people told me I was a flip-flopper. They said, 'You can't make up your mind. You can't wear a McCain shirt one day and an Obama shirt the next day.' "

When Vogt used her findings to write a report, her history teacher, Norma Cassin-Pountney, gave her extra credit.

When a Chicago Tribune reporter asked Cassin-Pountney why Obama supporters would hassle Vogt in a community filled with people who pride themselves on their "tolerance," the teacher said she held a discussion about it after the experiment was completed.

"I said, here you are, promoting this person [Obama] that believes we are all equal and included, and look what you've done?" the teacher said. "The students were kind of like, 'Oh, yeah.' I think they got it."

Vogt said the criticism was difficult to handle when she showed support for McCain.

"Just being on the outside, how it felt, it was not fun at all."
11705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What's Your View on Prop 8? on: November 15, 2008, 09:37:09 AM
The left is very tolerant, just so long as you march in ideological lockstep with them.
11706  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What's Your View on Prop 8? on: November 15, 2008, 09:05:34 AM
Marriage means 1 man and 1 woman. Consenting adults that live outside that definition don't bother me. What bothers me is judicial tyranny that tries to alter this key element in our social structure despite the wishes of the majority in our society, even in deep blue California.
11707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How bad will this get? on: November 15, 2008, 08:51:12 AM

Recession, Depression, TEOTWAWKI?

Where will we be a year from now?
11708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 14, 2008, 07:47:52 PM
Since I started my study of islam, on 9/12/01, I've read of many instances of "acid to the face" throught the muslim world. During that time, I've seen lots of apologetics for islamic terror and abuse from the left under the guise of multiculturalism and very little, if any condemnation from feminists for the "rape culture" inherent in islam.
11709  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 14, 2008, 03:18:00 PM
Acid to the face of improperly garbed or less than submissive women, is popular around the islamic world.
11710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 14, 2008, 01:31:12 PM
**The MSM has been propagandizing for dictators and hurting American interests long before the pentagon papers.**

May 7, 2003 8:45 a.m.
Prize Specimen
The campaign to revoke Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer.

We will never know how many Ukrainians died in Stalin's famines of the early 1930s. As Nikita Khrushchev later recalled, "No one was keeping count." Writing back in the mid- 1980s, historian Robert Conquest came up with a death toll of around six million, a calculation not so inconsistent with later research (the writers of The Black Book of Communism (1999) estimated a total of four million for 1933 alone).

Four million, six million, seven million, when the numbers are this grotesque does the exact figure matter? Just remember this instead:

The first family to die was the Rafalyks — father, mother and a child. Later on the Fediy family of five also perished of starvation. Then followed the families of Prokhar Lytvyn (four persons), Fedir Hontowy (three persons), Samson Fediy (three persons). The second child of the latter family was beaten to death on somebody's onion patch. Mykola and Larion Fediy died, followed by Andrew Fediy and his wife; Stefan Fediy; Anton Fediy, his wife and four children (his two other little girls survived); Boris Fediy, his wife and three children: Olanviy Fediy and his wife; Taras Fediy and his wife; Theodore Fesenko; Constantine Fesenko; Melania Fediy; Lawrenty Fediy; Peter Fediy; Eulysis Fediy and his brother Fred; Isidore Fediy, his wife and two children; Ivan Hontowy, his wife and two children; Vasyl Perch, his wife and child; Makar Fediy; Prokip Fesenko: Abraham Fediy; Ivan Skaska, his wife and eight children.

Some of these people were buried in a cemetery plot; others were left lying wherever they died. For instance, Elizabeth Lukashenko died on the meadow; her remains were eaten by ravens. Others were simply dumped into any handy excavation. The remains of Lawrenty Fediy lay on the hearth of his dwelling until devoured by rats.*

And that's just one village — Fediivka, in the Poltava Province.

We will never know whether Walter Duranty, the principal New York Times correspondent in the U.S.S.R., ever visited Fediivka. Almost certainly not. What we do know is that, in March 1933, while telling his readers that there had indeed been "serious food shortages" in the Ukraine, he was quick to reassure them that "there [was] no actual starvation." There had been no "deaths from starvation," he soothed, merely "widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition." So that was all right then.

But, unlike Khrushchev, Duranty, a Pulitzer Prize winner, no less, was keeping count — in the autumn of 1933 he is recorded as having told the British Embassy that ten million had died. ** "The Ukraine," he said, "had been bled white," remarkable words from the journalist who had, only days earlier, described talk of a famine as "a sheer absurdity," remarkable words from the journalist who, in a 1935 memoir had dismayingly little to say about one of history's greatest crimes. Writing about his two visits to the Ukraine in 1933, Duranty was content to describe how "the people looked healthier and more cheerful than [he] had expected, although they told grim tales of their sufferings in the past two years." As Duranty had explained (writing about his trip to the Ukraine in April that year), he "had no doubt that the solution to the agrarian problem had been found".

Well, at least he didn't refer to it as a "final" solution.

As the years passed, and the extent of the famine and the other, innumerable, brutalities of Stalin's long tyranny became increasingly difficult to deny, Duranty's reputation collapsed (I wrote about this on NRO a couple of years ago), but his Pulitzer Prize has endured.

Ah, that Pulitzer Prize. In his will old Joseph Pulitzer described what the prize was designed to achieve: " The encouragement of public service, public morals, American literature, and the advancement of education."

In 1932 the Pulitzer Board awarded Walter Duranty its prize. It's an achievement that the New York Times still celebrates. The gray lady is pleased to publish its storied Pulitzer roster in a full-page advertisement each year, and, clearly, it finds the name of Duranty as one that is still fit to print. His name is near the top of the list, an accident of chronology, but there it is, Duranty, Times man, denier of the Ukrainian genocide — proudly paraded for all to see. Interestingly, the list of prizewinners posted on the New York Times Company's website is more forthcoming: Against Duranty's name, it is noted that "other writers in the Times and elsewhere have discredited this coverage."

Understandably enough, Duranty's Pulitzer is an insult that has lost none of its power to appall. In a new initiative, Ukrainian groups have launched a fresh campaign designed to persuade the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke the award to Duranty. The Pulitzer's nabobs do not appear to be impressed. A message dated April 29, 2003 from the board's administrator to one of the organizers of the Ukrainian campaign includes the following words:

The current Board is aware that complaints about the Duranty award have surfaced again. [The campaign's] submission…will be placed on file with others we have received. However, to date, the Board has not seen fit to reverse a previous Board's decision, made seventy years ago in a different era and under different circumstances.

A "different era," "different circumstances" — would that have been said, I wonder, about someone who had covered up Nazi savagery? But then, more relevantly, the Pulitzer's representative notes that Duranty's prize was awarded "for a specific set of stories in 1931," in other words, before the famine struck with its full, horrific, force. And there he has a point. The prize is designed to reward a specific piece of journalism — not a body of work. To strip Duranty of the prize on the grounds of his subsequent conduct, however disgusting it may have been, would be a retrospective change of the rules, behavior more typical of the old U.S.S.R. than today's U.S.A.

But what was that "specific set of stories?" Duranty won his prize " for [his] dispatches on Russia especially the working out of the Five Year Plan." They were, said the Pulitzer Board "marked by scholarship, profundity, impartiality, sound judgment and exceptional clarity…."

Really? As summarized by S. J. Taylor in her excellent — and appropriately titled — biography of Duranty, Stalin's Apologist, the statement with which Duranty accepted his prize gives some hint of the "sound judgment" contained in his dispatches.

""Despite present imperfections," he continued, he had come to realize there was something very good about the Soviets' "planned system of economy." And there was something more: Duranty had learned, he said, "to respect the Soviet leaders, especially Stalin, who [had grown] into a really great statesman.""

In truth, of course, this was simply nonsense, a distortion that, in some ways bore even less resemblance to reality than "Jimmy's World," the tale of an eight-year-old junkie that, briefly, won a Pulitzer for Janet Cooke of the Washington Post. Tragic "Jimmy" turned out not to exist. He was a concoction, a fiction, nothing more. The Post did the right thing — Cooke's prize was rapidly returned.

After 70 years the New York Times has yet to do the right thing. There is, naturally, always room for disagreement over how events are interpreted, particularly in an era of revolutionary change, but Duranty's writings clearly tipped over into propaganda, and, often, outright deception, a cynical sugarcoating of the squalor of a system in which he almost certainly didn't believe. His motivation seems to have been purely opportunistic, access to the Moscow "story" for the Times and the well-paid lifestyle and the fame ("the Great Duranty" was, some said, the best-known journalist in the world) that this brought. Too much criticism of Stalin's rule and this privileged existence would end. Duranty's "Stalin" was a lie, not much more genuine than Janet Cooke's "Jimmy" and, as he well knew at the time, so too were the descriptions of the Soviet experiment that brought him that Pulitzer.

And if that is not enough to make the Pulitzer Board to reconsider withdrawing an award that disgraces both the name of Joseph Pulitzer and his prize, it is up to the New York Times to insist that it does so.

*From an account quoted in Robert Conquest's The Harvest of Sorrow.
** On another occasion (a dinner party, ironically) that autumn Duranty talked about seven million deaths.

— Mr. Stuttaford is a writer living in New York.




11711  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 01:14:48 PM

November 14, 2008
C.I.A. Chief Says Qaeda Is Extending Its Reach

WASHINGTON — Even as Al Qaeda strengthens its hub in the Pakistani mountains, its leaders are building closer ties to regional militant groups in order to launch attacks in Africa and Europe and on the Arabian Peninsula, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency said Thursday.

The director, Michael V. Hayden, identified North Africa and Somalia as places where Qaeda leaders were using partnerships to establish new bases. Elsewhere, Mr. Hayden said, Al Qaeda was “strengthening” in Yemen, and he added that veterans of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan had moved there, possibly to stage attacks against the government of Saudi Arabia.

He said the “bleed out” from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also extended to North Africa, raising concern that the countries there could be used to stage attacks into Europe. Mr. Hayden delivered his report in a speech to the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, and it offered a mixed assessment of Al Qaeda’s ability to wage a global jihad.

He drew a contrast between what he described as growing Islamic radicalism in places like Somalia and what he said had been the “strategic defeat” of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia — the network’s affiliate group in Iraq.

Still, Mr. Hayden said that Pakistan’s tribal areas remained Al Qaeda’s most significant operations base because the group’s close ties to Pashtun tribes in the region gave Qaeda militants a sanctuary to plan attacks on Western targets.

“Today, virtually every major terrorist threat my agency is aware of has threads back to the tribal areas,” he said.

His remarks were the first public appraisal of Al Qaeda’s Pakistan sanctuary since the C.I.A. escalated what had been a secret campaign of airstrikes in the tribal areas over the summer.

President Bush signed orders in July allowing the C.I.A. to broaden the campaign.

The C.I.A. used to focus remotely piloted Predator aircraft attacks on a relatively small number of Arab fighters in the tribal areas, but it has begun striking Pakistani militant leaders as well as convoys bound for Afghanistan to resupply militant fighters there.

Mr. Hayden pointedly refused to give details about the strikes by remotely piloted aircraft, or even to acknowledge that they occurred. He did say that the recent killing of senior Qaeda operatives had disrupted the group’s planning and isolated its leadership.

In mid-October, a missile fired from an American drone killed Khalid Habib, the latest senior Qaeda planner to be killed this year in Pakistan.

“To the extent that the United States and its allies deepen that isolation, disturb the safe haven, and target terrorist leaders gathered there, we keep Al Qaeda off balance,” Mr. Hayden said.

The radicalization of Pashtun tribes, and their strengthening ties to Qaeda operatives, date in part to the decision by the Pakistani president at the time, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to raid the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad in July 2007, the C.I.A. director said. That raid, at the end of an eight-day siege of the mosque by government troops, killed scores of Pakistani militants.

At the end of his remarks, Mr. Hayden deflected questions about whether he would consider remaining at the C.I.A. during the Obama administration and declined to say whether President-elect Barack Obama had asked him to extend his tenure.

“This is the business of the transition team,” Mr. Hayden said. “This is the business of the president-elect.”
11712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 14, 2008, 12:46:15 PM
Answer: They don't consider it. The only stories they'll bury is anything that might harm Barack Obama. They are fine with getting SpecOps soldiers killed. They'll then run an op-ed bemoaning the loss of the soldiers, blaming President Bush all the while.
11713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:38:36 PM
Now, with the new and weak US of Obamica, watch the sunni AQ align with Hezbollah/Iran to smite the unbelievers. AQ hates the Saudi royal family, Iran hates the Saudi royal family. Oil prices surge and the pursuit of OBL into Pakistan may have to be shelved for lack of funds.

Just a scenario. If I could see the future, I'd be in Vegas right now.
11714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:33:03 PM

Saudi Arabia is also worried about the possibility of unrest instigated by Iran in its oil-rich Eastern province, the home to the kingdom’s minority Shia — and its oil wealth. Riyadh seems to have begun taking measures to ensure that such unrest does not disrupt the booming Saudi oil-based economy. The latest announcement by the Saudi authorities Dec. 18 that a government delegation will listen to the grievances of the kingdom’s Shiite minority is a move to pre-empt any such uprising. According to an Agence France-Presse report, the head of the commission, a Saudi minister, acknowledged that Shia “often suffer from discrimination in the judicial field” — the first senior Saudi official to make such an admission. In April, King Abdullah warned Saudis against sectarian frictions, which he said threatened the unity and security of the kingdom.

Until recently, the Gulf Arab states could count on the United States working with them to contain the rise of Iran. Emerging signs of an understanding between Tehran and Washington over Iraq, however, mean the United States could reduce its military presence in the region in the not-so-distant future. The Arab states know that if and when that day comes, they will have to live with an emergent Iran and and empowered Shia in Iraq.

Despite recent efforts on the part of the Gulf Cooperation Council member countries to engage Iran in a positive manner, countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain remain only too aware of Iran’s increasing ability to inflame internal sectarian tensions in their countries as its influence continues to rise in the region vis-a-vis Iraq.
11715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:21:34 PM

Saudi Hezbollah

In June 1996, terrorists exploded a huge truck bomb at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, a housing complex for U.S. airmen. Nineteen Americans were killed and more than three-hundred seventy were wounded. The American airmen were stationed in Saudi Arabia to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. Thanks to their courageous efforts, the former Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein was unable to use his air force to attack Shia Muslims and others in southern Iraq.

In June 2001, a U.S. federal grand jury indicted fourteen people in connection with the Khobar Towers bombing. Some are in custody and others are still at large. According to the U.S. Justice Department, thirteen of those indicted are connected to the pro-Iran Saudi Hezbollah terrorist group. The fourteenth is linked to Lebanese Hezbollah, also supported by Iran. The indictment makes clear, said Attorney General John Ashcroft, "that elements of the Iranian government inspired, supported, and supervised members of Saudi Hezbollah" as they planned the bombing.

Hezbollah is not the only terrorist group supported by Iran's extremist Muslim clerical regime. Iran also provides Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command with funding, safe haven, training, and weapons.
11716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:14:35 PM

Is there a link between Mugniyah and al-Qaeda?

Mugniyah met with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the mid-1990s, according to the court testimony of Ali Abdelsoud Mohammed, a naturalized U.S. citizen and former U.S. army sergeant who later became a senior aide to bin Laden. After his arrest in 1998 in connection with the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Mohammed testified that he arranged several meetings between bin Laden and Mugniyah in Sudan. Bin Laden reportedly admired Mugniyah's tactics, particularly his use of truck bombs, which precipitated the United States' withdrawal from Lebanon. According to Mohammed, bin Laden and Mugniyah agreed Hezbollah would provide training, military expertise, and explosives in exchange for money and man power. It is not known, however, whether this agreement was carried out. The relationship between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda is not entirely friendly, as explained in this Backgrounder.
11717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:06:58 PM
Much of AQ's VBIED knowledge base probably came from Imad Mugniyah.
11718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 14, 2008, 09:27:27 AM
The only time the nations of the world howl louder than when they scream their hatred for us, is when they need us to rescue them.
11719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 09:24:42 AM
You can always harden the security of anything, however you can never harden to the point where it is truly invulnerable. In addition, it's very difficult to protect against attacks from trusted insiders gone jihadi.

A key element in contemplating AQ, they think long term and plan around redundancies and failsafe their attacks by launching multiple ones at once to ensure at least one succeeds. An additional aspect is that once the find a viable target, they will return to it until they succeed. See the first WTC attack in 1993, failed until 2001. The failed attack on the USS Sullivans was successful on the USS Cole.

In addition, Iran has a pre-existing alliance with AQ and may well have Saudi Hezbollah assets to lend to any effort.
11720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 08:52:30 PM

Volume 4, Issue 4 (February 23, 2006)

Saudi Oil Facilities: Al-Qaeda's Next Target?

By John C. K. Daly

At a time of record-high oil prices, analysts are beginning to consider the implications of possible terrorist attacks on Middle Eastern oil facilities. The crown jewel of these facilities is Saudi Arabia's oil production infrastructure. It is worth noting that Saudi Arabia possesses 261.9 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

On January 19, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden broke a 14-month-long silence to warn that his organization is preparing further attacks against Western targets. Bin Laden said, "The war against America and its allies will not be confined to Iraq…As for similar operations taking place in America, it's only a matter of time. They are in the planning stages, and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete" (al-Jazeera, January 19).

Saudi Arabia and its oil have long been in bin Laden's thoughts; in 1996, he said, "The ordinary Saudi knows that his country is the largest oil producer in the world, yet at the same time he is suffering from taxes and bad services…Our country has become a colony of America…Saudis know their real enemy is America" (UPI Intelligence Watch, March 21, 2005).

Neighboring Iraq demonstrates the crippling effects of an insurgency on oil installations. Since June 2003, there have been 298 recorded attacks against Iraqi oil facilities (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, As of December 2005, Iraqi production was averaging around 1.9 million barrels per day as compared with its January 2003 2.58 million barrels per day production rate (U.S. Energy Information Administration, December 2005). Moreover, the costs of infrastructure attacks are becoming staggering, with the Iraqi oil ministry announcing on February 19 that insurgent attacks had cost the oil industry $6.25 billion in lost revenue during 2005.

Aside from Saudi crude oil production capacity being the world's largest, at 10.5-11 million barrels per day, Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, controls the world's only significant excess production capacity, an extra 2.5-3 million barrels per day. This makes the kingdom the world's only guarantor of liquidity in the oil market. The Saudi economy is heavily dependent on energy, with oil export revenues bringing in around 90-95 percent of total Saudi export earnings, and generating around 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

The country's hydrocarbon infrastructure, with its massive production fields, ports and 10,000 miles of pipelines, presents a number of opportunities for potential attackers, whose success would have implications far beyond the kingdom, driving the world into recession or depression as energy costs soar.

Over half of Saudi Arabia's oil reserves are contained in just eight massive fields, including the huge 130-mile long, 20-mile wide Ghawar field, covering 2,600 square miles. Ghawar alone accounts for nearly half of Saudi Arabia's total oil production capacity. Aramco's skein of pipelines depends on 30 pumping stations, powered by six generators, which would shut down the flow if destroyed. Port facilities are concentrated on a 20-mile stretch of Persian Gulf shoreline from Juaymah to al-Khobar.

Saudi Arabia's offshore Safaniya oilfield is the largest of its kind in the world, with estimated reserves of 35 billion barrels. Continuing the trend toward gigantism, the Abqaiq refinery 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Bahrain processes about two-thirds of Saudi Arabia's crude oil. On the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia's Ras Tanura facility is the world's largest offshore oil loading facility, accounting for a tenth of the world's daily oil supply. A second loading facility is at Ras al-Juaymah, while Yanbu terminal is located on the Red Sea, supplied from Abqaiq via the 750-mile East-West pipeline.

Terrorist attacks could be easily launched against onshore facilities and tankers. Over 60 percent of the world's oil is shipped on 3,500 tankers through a small number of "chokepoints" including the Strait of Hormuz, which alone transits 13 million barrels of oil per day.

Al-Qaeda has already carried out maritime attacks on both warships and tankers. On October 6, 2002, the 299,364 DWT-ton French Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) tanker Limburg, carrying a cargo of 397,000 barrels of crude from Iran to Malaysia, was rammed by an explosives-laden boat off the port of Ash Shihr at Mukalla, 353 miles east of Aden. A crewman was killed and the double-hulled tanker was breached. The impact on the Yemeni economy was immediate, as maritime insurers tripled their rates.

Al-Qaeda issued a statement following the attack warning that it "was not an incidental strike at a passing tanker but...on the international oil-carrying line in the full sense of the word," prompting the U.S. Navy's Maritime Liaison Office in Bahrain to issue a warning stating that "Shipmasters should exercise extreme caution when transiting...strategic chokepoints such as the Strait of Hormuz, or Bab el-Mandeb, or...traditional high-threat areas such as along the Horn of Africa."

Al-Qaeda's cadre of maritime specialists recently received a boost when on February 3, 23 prisoners escaped from a jail in Sanaa. Five days later, Interpol issued a global security alert, a Red Notice, to its 184 member states, as law enforcement officials believe that at least 13 of the fugitives have links to al-Qaeda. Among those who broke out of the prison was Jamal al-Badawi, who was serving a 10-year sentence for his part in the October 12, 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor during a refueling stop; 17 sailors died and 39 more were injured in the attack.

The most worrisome scenario revolves around al-Qaeda crashing a hijacked commercial passenger jet into an oil installation. To consider just one scenario, a jetliner crashing into the Ras Tanura facility could remove 10 percent of the world's energy imports in one shot.

Former CIA agent Robert Baer has considered the implications of terrorist attacks on Saudi oil facilities, writing, "At the least, a moderate-to-severe attack on Abqaiq would slow average production there from 6.8 million barrels a day to roughly a million barrels for the first two months post-attack, a loss equivalent to approximately one-third of America's current daily consumption of crude oil. Even as long as seven months after an attack, Abqaiq output would still be about 40 percent of pre-attack output, as much as four million barrels below normal—roughly equal to what all of the OPEC partners collectively took out of production during the devastating 1973 embargo" (see Robert Baer's Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold our Soul for Saudi Crude). An al-Qaeda assault on Abqaiq would have the added propaganda effect of killing Americans. Abqaiq is an oil-company town; in 2005, nearly half of its approximately 2,000 inhabitants were U.S. citizens.

In the last few years, the Saudis have moved to tighten security around their oil installations. Unlike in Iraq, where insurgent attacks are focused mainly on the country's hydrocarbon infrastructure, thus far al-Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia have focused on "soft targets," namely the 3,000 foreign oil workers employed in the kingdom.

On December 16, 2004, bin Laden released an audiotape making an explicit connection between U.S. forces in Iraq and the region's oil reserves; in the audiotape, he praised the terrorists who attacked the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah. Bin Laden said, "Targeting America in Iraq in terms of economy and losses in life is a golden and unique opportunity. Do not waste it only to regret it later. One of the most important reasons that led our enemies to control our land is the theft of our oil. Do everything you can to stop the biggest plundering operation in history—the plundering of the resources of the present and future generations in collusion with the agents and the aliens...Be active and prevent them from reaching the oil, and mount your operations accordingly, particularly in Iraq and the Gulf, for this is their fate" (BBC, December 16, 2004). Three days later, the "al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula" posted a message on its website urging its members "to strike all foreign targets and the hideouts of the tyrants to rid the peninsula of the infidels and their supporters. We call on all the mujahideen to target the sources of oil which do not serve the Islamic nation but serve the enemies of the nation" (Agence France Press, December 19, 2004).

Judging by al-Qaeda's pronouncements, an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities seems to be only a matter of time. In terms of the global impact of such a strike, Robert Baer provides an extreme but not altogether improbable scenario: "Such an attack would be more economically damaging than a dirty nuclear bomb set off in midtown Manhattan or across from the White House in Lafayette Square…[and] would be enough to bring the world's oil-addicted economies to their knees, America's along with them."
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11721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 07:32:18 PM
The global energy infrastructure has key points of vulnerability which can be readily struck by low cost, high impact, asymmetrical warfare attacks. This vulnerability of nation-states is understood both by the nation-states as well as the non-state actors, and al qaeda has discussed and made attempts at launching this attack on the Saudi oil production centers in the past.

The ripple effect of such an attack would negativly impact the global economy and potentially cause confrontations between nation-states. The plan for such an attack may be referred to below:

 According to the report, bin Laden is himself closely following preparations for an attack against the US and aims to "change the face of world politics and economics".
11722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 04:01:54 PM
The following occurred as a result of the disruptions.

Six million barrels per day of oil production has stopped.
Fifteen million barrels per day can no longer be shipped through the most direct routes.
Saudi Aramco insists on being the only contractor for repairs at the damaged facilities.
The U.S., U.K., Japan, India, China, and Australia deploy naval and special forces operations to the Strait of Malacca to hunt down sea-borne and land-based terrorist teams and to conduct de-mining operations. This takes three months.

Conduct of the Exercise

After the players read and discussed the initial scenario and its effects on their nation or organization, they separated into break-out groups. In the first break-out, each team of nation players further discussed and recorded its short-term actions. Limited communication was allowed between nation players to replicate diplomatic dialogue.

After the first break-out discussion, all teams of nation players reconvened to brief each other on their respective actions. Nation players were not required to reveal their diplomatic dialogue. Once the actions were discussed by Heritage staff, the teams returned to their break-out groups to determine long-term actions.

Player responses were organized into three subcategories:

Diplomatic. The actions of a nation player have a dominant diplomatic component if, for example, they encourage actions primarily by other nations or organizations. Encouraging imposition of economic sanctions, for instance, is listed as a diplomatic action in spite of its obvious economic effects and possible military implications necessary for enforcement.
Economic. These responses have a dominant economic component, such as modifying production quotas, price controls, or rationing.
Military. Actions include those that directly involve a nation's military assets, or intelligence assets normally under military control.
Table 1 summarizes the actions taken.

Click to view Table 1
Outcome Trends

In exploring how crisis decisions might be made in a multi-player environment, the following practices and trends emerged over the course of the game:

Nation players tended to seek cooperation with other nation players and took few unilateral actions to secure energy resources. Not one nation player stated he would take military action to seize or capture additional energy resources.
Several non-U.S. players advocated engagement with Iran in order to fill supply void.
Only India and Japan mentioned possible domestic social or political tensions created by energy scarcities and rapid price increases.
Most nation players sought actions to develop more diverse sources of energy supply, also greater efficiency measures and technology leaps. The exception was OPEC.
Nations with pre-existing pipelines to developed supplies will have a distinct competitive advantage over those who rely on seaborne tankers to import energy. The United States and the European Union have more secure energy supplies than do China, Japan, or Asia. This may produce tensions among competing consumers in the Asian region. It may also produce military alliances that have energy security as their basis.
Global Economic Effects

The interruption of the energy supply results in a dramatic increase in the world prices of petroleum. Absent any credible national and multi-national policies, there will be major declines in the economic output of the United States and other industrial countries, as well as rapid impoverishment of developing economies. Without enough energy to maintain current GDP levels, 592,000 workers lose their jobs at the outset and household income falls by $309 billion in the quarter with the lowest income. These effects were simulated using the Global Insight model. Heritage analysts worked with energy specialists at Global Insight, a prominent forecasting company, to determine what the reduced supply would mean for the world price of crude oil. The analysts then set up a simulation experiment to forecast the effects on some of the major U.S. macroeconomic variables.[6]

The U.S. and other countries' responses were then analyzed by the Heritage team in terms of their likely economic impact. Oil withdrawals from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves made up for part of the lost world supply and mitigated the increase in the world price of oil. The simulation experiment was then re-run with the effects of these economic responses incorporated. The effectiveness of the players' responses to the crisis are illustrated in Chart 1. The graphs show both the devastating economic impact of the attacks on the U.S. economy without any policy response, and the less severe economic decline with a policy response.

The combined effect of responses by the U.S. and other participating countries helps to counter some of the effects of the attack.

Job losses recover a year after the attack--compared to continued significant job losses two years after the attack if the U.S. and other countries do not respond.
Inflation-adjusted GDP recovers within a year-- compared to persistently lower output for two years after the attack.
Inflation-adjusted disposable income recovers within two years after the attack--compared to continued lowered inflation-adjusted income two years after the attack.
The immediate and effective economic responses of the various countries make it possible for them to accommodate much of the short-term energy demands, while investment is mobilized for swift recovery efforts in the meantime. The military deployments in conjunction with all the investments made to rebuild damaged infrastructure help contain job losses by mobilizing the labor force for these reconstruction projects. Without these economic, diplomatic, and military responses, an average of 406,000 jobs are lost in the first year compared to an average of 164,000 jobs lost with the response. These investments allow inflation-adjusted GDP to grow, and finally real-income growth as investments start to pay off in positive returns around two years after the attack.

Lessons Learned

The consequences of an energy disruption on a scale depicted in this exercise were devastating and would no doubt have a profound and lasting impact on the global economy. Without question, the United States and its allies would have to exercise decisive and effective leadership to deal with the crisis. The results of this exercise illustrate the magnitude of the challenge:

As governments and the private sector direct national resources to deal with the second- and third-order effects, they will have more success following the market than with a command economy. That is, the more that nations rely on market principles to direct resources, the faster the global economy will recover. But reliance on market principles is unlikely. Expecting market-based responses ignores most of recorded history, and is counterintuitive to human nature. All nations will have domestic constituencies that advocate greater centralized control of national assets for the sake of national security. Contrary to the game's players, it will be extraordinarily difficult for national leaders who advocate liberal economic policies to survive their own internal politics. After the crisis begins, it will be too late to educate the general population about market principles. They must have this understanding beforehand. Public information on handling energy crises needs to be developed in advance and promptly implemented as the crises erupt.
While nations contemplate short-term and long-term economic and diplomatic responses, military contingences, such as destroying the most dangerous terrorist organizations' cells, deploying naval assets to conduct mine-sweeping operations, and escorting tankers through maritime choke points, need to be implemented.
During a period of crisis, non-Mideast petroleum exporters, such as Russia, Norway, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Brazil, could well have greatly increased influence as consumer nations compete for scarce energy supplies.
Global economic disruptions would make many long-term actions improbable, such as Japan's proposed regional strategic reserve in northeast Asia, or India's proposed pipelines to connect to Central Asian energy reserves through Pakistan.
Nations will contend for breakthrough energy research and development (R&D), but will have fewer national resources to allocate to development given declining economies. Thus, looking to a crisis to spur the drive for alternative energy sources appears an impractical strategy. Alternative energy R&D needs to be undertaken during peacetime and relative economic prosperity.

The Heritage game demonstrated the vulnerabilities of the global system's capacity to produce and deliver oil supplies to a concerted transnational terrorist threat. This exercise also suggests that major producer and consumer nations and key geo-strategic allies acting in concert with one another while protecting their own national interests could ameliorate the severity of long-term disruptions. Reliance on market forces and coordinated security activities did much to help restore the confidence of markets and consumers.

William W. Beach is Director of the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation; James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Assistant Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and Senior Research Fellow for National Security and Homeland Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation; Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies; David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D., is Senior Policy Analyst for Energy Economics and Climate Change in the Center for Data Analysis; Karen A. Campbell, Ph.D., is Policy Analyst in Macroeconomics in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation; and Hopper Smith is a consultant to The Heritage Foundation.


Simulation Methodology

This energy simulation was built on the simulation of a previous game, during which the impact of the U.S. response was estimated. The technique used to introduce the effects of the oil price shock and the contribution to domestic oil supply from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) can be found in the report by James Carafano and William Beach. [7] The procedure for the initial simulation on which this current simulation is based was performed in three steps. Each step produced a new state of the economy (from the original baseline) in order to simulate the new economic reality the U.S. economy would face if such a crisis occurred. Given this new state, policy recommendations from the participants were implemented and the impact of these recommendations on the "crisis state" of the economy could thus be studied. Following is a description of this process from the original report [8] and then the method used in the present study for incorporating the policy recommendations from the rest of the world and assessing their impact.

Step 1. To simulate the effects of the oil price shock, the Heritage Foundation economics team introduced the change in oil prices and the contribution to domestic oil supply from the SPR into the Global Insight model. They then directly changed three separate oil prices in the model: the weighted average price of imported crude, the weighted average price of domestic crude, and the average price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude. All three were assumed to deviate from baseline levels by the same amount; namely, the change in WTI crude oil prices forecast by Global Insight.

The contributions to the domestic oil supply from the SPR were also calculated by Global Insight. They were converted to quadrillion BTU before they were input into the GI model.

In Step 1, the team assumed that the Federal Reserve would adjust the effective federal funds rate in response to changes in the civilian unemployment rate and the rate of Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation. They next imposed the model's monetary reaction function that mimics the actions of the Federal Reserve.XREF Heritage economists excluded the GI model's exchange rate variables, solved the model, and used this new forecast as the starting point for Step 2.

Step 2. The team adjusted the response of real non-residential investment in mines and wells on the advice of economists at Global Insight. Global Insight recommended this move because in the current version of the Global Insight model, this variable is very responsive to oil price shocks. As a result of these discussions, the team cut the mines and wells variable by half from the baseline forecast. They then ran the model again with these adjustments, and the new forecast was used as a starting point for Step 3.

Step 3. Next, the team neutralized the relative price effects of oil-related energy products and adjusted world GDP to be consistent with these prices. U.S. trading partners would likely face the same price changes as the U.S. and take similar hits to their GDP from an oil price shock. Neutralizing the relative price effects and adjusting world GDP helped to ensure that the final simulation results reflect these shared effects.

The team neutralized the relative price effects by adjusting the baseline. They made adjustments, first, by calculating the deviation from baseline in the Global Insight model's variable for the U.S. Producer Price Index excluding energy and, second, by applying that deviation to the model's two variables for foreign producer price indices.

They adjusted foreign GDP in the model by modifying key indices of the real trade-weighted GDP of U.S. trading partners. The team then solved the model and saved the forecast. This new forecast was used to generate the summary results spreadsheets.

The policy prescriptions of all teams were analyzed for quantifiable impacts on the U.S. economy. These impacts came from two main areas: 1) policies that affect petroleum price and 2) domestic policies that change U.S. government spending. The economic impact of the world's response in conjunction with the U.S. response on the U.S. economy was simulated using the Global Insight 30-year macroeconomic model as follows:[9]

a) Building on the previous simulation, the Heritage team estimated the impact of the world's increased supply response on the import price of oil by assuming a short-run vertical supply curve and an elasticity of demand equal to 0.08. The effect of 3 million barrels per day released into the world market lowered the import price of oil by 15 percent. The previous import price (estimated from the reduction in supply from the attack) is also reduced by 15 percent and made exogenous.

b) The United States military response has an economic impact since higher military involvement will increase government spending. This increased spending was estimated by the team to be $30 billion per quarter for 10 quarters (until the end of 2010). The national defense spending variable was increased by this amount and made exogenous.

c) The model was solved and results obtained with and without the national responses. The forecast was used to generate the summary results reported above.

[1] James Jay Carafano, William W. Beach et al., "If Iran Provokes an Energy Crisis: Modeling the Problem in a War Game," Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report No. 07-03, July 25, 2007, at
[2] International Energy Agency, "World Energy Outlook 2007: China and India Insights," 2007, p. 48.

[3] Figures for individual and regional petroleum production, transportation, and consumption taken from: International Petroleum Encyclopedia 2007, Joseph Hilyard, ed. (Tulsa, Okla.: PennWell Corporation, 2007). Table 7, World Oil Trade Movements, on page 418 was particularly useful.

[4]While these nations certainly have a significant interest in the flow of global petroleum, they were not in proximity to the Straits of Hormuz or Malacca. For the purpose of the exercise, their reactions were assumed to be rational, and that they would continue maximum petroleum production at elevated prices.

[5] The 2002 Bali bombing was conducted by Jemaah Islamiyah in support of al-Qaeda's strategic goals. It targeted Australian tourists vacationing in Indonesia, resulting in 202 civilian deaths. For more information, see numerous articles by Dana Robert Dillon including, "Bali Bombings: Self Inflicted Wounds?" Heritage Foundation Press Commentary, October 18, 2002, at Also see "Bali Nightclub Bombing,", at (October 16, 2008).

[6]See the Appendix for the experiment methodology.

[7] Carafano and Beach, "If Iran Provokes an Energy Crisis: Modeling the Problem in a War Game."

[8] Ibid.

[9] The methodologies, assumptions, conclusions, and opinions presented here have not been endorsed by and do not necessarily reflect the views of the owners of the Global Insight model or their employees. Fortune 500 companies and numerous government agencies use Global Insight's Short-Term Macroeconomic Model to forecast how changes in the economy and public policy will likely affect major economic indicators. Additional information on the simulation methodology is available upon request.
11723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 03:59:56 PM

Responding to a Terrorist Energy Crisis   

By William W. Beach, James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., David Kreutzer, Ph.D. and Karen Cam
Heritage Foundation | Thursday, November 13, 2008

In June 2008, The Heritage Foundation invited energy scholars and policy experts to participate in a computer simulation and gaming exercise assessing the economic effects of a global petroleum energy crisis. The exercise was similar to the previous energy study conducted from 2006 to 2007, but larger in geographic and economic scope.[1]

The Heritage team simulated the effects on world oil supplies, demand, and prices after a major terrorist attack on oil exports from Saudi Arabia and resulting disruption of oil shipping lanes between the Middle East and major Asian economies. Analysts at The Heritage Foundation's Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies developed the crisis scenario, while analysts in Heritage's Center for Data Analysis (CDA) measured the effects of these disruptions on the U.S. economy and found:

The price of petroleum in the U.S. spiked very quickly from the price of $127 per barrel on the day of the game to a high of $244 per barrel just days later.
This price increase caused a rapid slowing of the U.S. economy, seen in a drop in employment of approximately 1.5 million jobs in the first year and an average drop in inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) in the first year of $119 billion.
The scholars and policy experts recommended steps the U.S. and other countries could take to mitigate such adverse economic effects. CDA members analyzed these policy recommendations with the same economic model used to make the initial impact estimates. They found that:

Petroleum prices fell by 15 percent after implementation of the recommendations.
The U.S. economy recovered approximately 970,000 jobs in the first year and recovered $112 billion of output in the first year.
The results of this second game are described in detail in the following sections:

Situation and Strategic Environment
The Crisis Scenario
Conduct of the Game
Outcome Trends
Global Economic Effects
Lessons Learned and Conclusion
This project was a "proof-of-principle" investigation. It combined computer modeling and gaming to capture the economic impact of a sudden petroleum-supply disruption. By design, the magnitude of the disruption was to be catastrophic--well beyond what excess petroleum capacity and strategic petroleum reserves could easily absorb.

The purpose of the gaming exercise was to provide input data for an economic model to estimate net impacts of 1) the shock (the terrorist actions) and 2) the policy responses. As such, the study focused on the economic and diplomatic reactions of the player nations, and the subsequent implications. Military reactions by players were minimal. The exercise incorporated a plausible scenario that caused an immediate petroleum-supply interdiction of approximately 10 to 15 percent of global production, or 8 to 12 million barrels per day (mbd), with residual effects that would disrupt approximately 4 mbd for several months.

The project demonstrated the feasibility of modeling the economic consequences of crisis decision making and responses during an oil-price shock induced by a terrorist attack. At the same time, the game emphasizes that much more exploration is needed of how various combinations of political, military, diplomatic, and economic initiatives might affect the course of a global energy crisis. The Heritage Foundation plans to expand and refine its simulation and modeling tools to evaluate international responses, environmental consequences, and private- and public-sector responses to other foreign policy challenges.

Why This Exercise?

Demand for oil is no longer driven exclusively by developed economies like the United States. China, India, other developing countries, and energy producers themselves are transforming global energy markets through their sheer size and pace of growth. According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), between now and 2030, China and India will account for 70 percent of the new global oil demand; their combined oil imports will skyrocket from 5.4 mbd in 2006 to 20 mbd in 2030--overtaking the current combined imports of Japan and the United States.[2] Thus, an evaluation of any potential responses to an energy crisis must include exploration of the actions of major consumer nations, energy producers, and geo-strategic powers as well as of sub-state and transnational non-state actors that will shape the military and diplomatic agendas, as well as energy policies. The goal of this proof-of-principle exercise was to model a multi-player response to an energy crisis.

Situation and Strategic Environment. Catastrophic destruction of the Ras Tanura port and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia would achieve a loss of more than 4 mbd for at least several months, and as long as the terminal remains non-functioning. Two principal choke points--the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia--transport a combined 28 million barrels of petroleum per day. Interdicting either of these choke points would cause a short-term loss of global petroleum supply on the order of 8 to 12 mbd. Together, these events achieved the desired results for the purpose of the exercise and study.

Represented in the game were the United States, the European Union, China, Japan, India, Australia, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). They were chosen both because they represented major energy-producing and -consuming nations, and because they are key geo-strategic players in responding to regional events in the Middle East and South Asia. In particular, each player is a significant energy consumer or producer, with the exception of Australia, which was chosen due to its strategic proximity to the Strait of Malacca.[3] During the game, the players were represented by teams of policy and academic experts. Each national player was represented by a team of two to four subject-matter experts. In some cases, the teams represented more than one nation, such as OPEC or the European Union. To limit the complexity of the exercise, several nations, including Russia, Brazil, and Venezuela, were omitted.[4]

The United States was among the most important of the players. The United States receives most of its imported petroleum from Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela, and less than 20 percent of U.S. imports are from the Middle East. But as the world's largest consumer of petroleum, the United States would be affected by any loss of global supply that cannot be absorbed by the limited excess capacity. Oil prices around the world are set by the globalized markets. Any reduction in global supply will elevate prices for all consumers, including those in the Western Hemisphere.

European nations import slightly more than 3 mbd from the Middle East. Like the United States, they would be affected by any supply interruption, since a reduction in global supply affects all consumers as prices increase. This is especially true for the EU, since its other major supplier is Russia (6 mbd), which has shown no reluctance to raise prices for oil and natural gas exports when given the opportunity.

Japan and China are heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil, specifically on petroleum transported by tanker through the Strait of Malacca. China imports approximately 4 mbd, of which 2.2 mbd traverse the Strait; while 4.2 mbd of Japan's imported 5.4 mbd traverse the Strait. The energy vulnerability of Japan and China is also mirrored by other developed nations in the Asia-Pacific region, such as South Korea and Taiwan.

India imports nearly 2 mbd of the 2.5 mbd it consumes. Most of this petroleum comes from the Middle East through the Strait of Hormuz. India is also dependent on Mideast liquefied natural gas (LNG) for electric energy generation to fuel its rapidly growing economy. India has one of the largest economies in the world and would be doubly affected by production degradation in the Persian Gulf and by supply interdiction of the Strait of Hormuz.

Australia plays a unique role in the Asia-Pacific region. It is the largest Western nation near the Strait of Malacca, it maintains close diplomatic and economic ties to other developed nations in the region, especially China, and it has been the previous target of attacks by the Islamist terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.[5] Australia is very active in offshore exploration and production of oil and natural gas, and has recently started importing small amounts of crude oil due to a growing economy. Tankers that bypass the Straits of Malacca and Sunda must travel by the island of Bali, much closer to Australia.

OPEC remains an influential organization with a pivotal role in the global economy. Members of OPEC provide approximately 41 percent of global oil production with key members located in the Middle East, and much of its petroleum exports flowing through the Strait of Hormuz. The most prominent member of OPEC is Saudi Arabia--the largest exporter of crude oil and the historic provider of global excess capacity, the production "cushion," that has kept oil prices relatively stable for decades. Of the 86 mbd of global production, 17 mbd (nearly 20 percent) flow through the Strait of Hormuz from OPEC nations.

The Crisis. For this exercise, players were given a supply-disruption scenario that was caused by a plausibly successful coordinated terrorist attack conducted by the remnants of al-Qaeda and an affiliated political group operating in Pacific Asia, Jemaah Islamiyah. The intent of the attack is to cause an immediate shock to the global petroleum transportation system, with persistent effects that reduce petroleum throughput from producing nations to consuming nations. The desired result of this coordinated attack is to cause economic failure of oil-consuming nations, fracture Western alliances, and cause economic and political confrontation between Western nations and the Middle Eastern Islamic states. This result is consistent with al-Qaeda's previously established strategic goals.

The Road to Crisis

Al-Qaeda takes 300 pupils hostage at the Ras Tanura Middle School. The next morning the hostage-takers begin executing students.
While Saudi security forces are distracted, al-Qaeda launches simultaneous attacks on oil-processing and shipping facilities. These are thermobaric explosive attacks on the Ras Tanura and Abu Qaiq facilities, destroying parts of each. (Improvised thermobaric weapons are containers of fine explosive particles or liquids that burst open the container and disperse the contents in a cloud and then ignite, creating a downward destructive wave of over-pressure.)
An explosives-laden plane attacks the Saudi Aramco headquarters, destroying the Intenet facilities there and killing portions of the company's leadership.
Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah begins speedboat attacks on oil tankers crossing the Strait of Malacca.
Jemaah Islamiyah places EM-52 mines in the Strait of Malacca (near Singapore). The mines are coated with polymer to reduce the likelihood of detection.
All oil traffic through the Strait of Malacca is stopped because insurers will not give coverage to hydrocarbon cargo.
Al-Qaeda affiliates place mines in the Strait of Sunda to further disrupt traffic.
The results of the coordinated attack were: 1) the catastrophic destruction of the Ras Tanura terminal and subsequent reduction in traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, and 2) the closure of the Straits of Malacca and Sunda with traffic detouring more than 1,000 kilometers to reach the refineries and terminals of Southeast Asian consumers. Transportation delays and costs increase across the globe as producer and consumer nations implement increased security measures in order to cope with the new types, sophistication, and brutality of al-Qaeda- Jemaah Islamiyah attacks.

11724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 13, 2008, 03:38:47 PM

Waiting for all the moderate muslims to take to the streets to protest this mindset. Any second now....
11725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 03:25:52 PM
The smartest thing Obama could do is be very centrist and curb the worst impulses of the left. The Kossacks will gurantee he's a one term president if he continues to pander to them now.
11726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 09:09:31 AM

A nifty demonstration of Democratic fiscal management
posted at 9:55 am on November 13, 2008 by Ed Morrissey   

Those of us on Barack Obama mailing lists have wondered why the masters of fundraising haven’t stopped pushing for more donations.  After all, Obama won … last week.  Recounts won’t affect the substantial victory; this isn’t 2000.  Yet we keep getting e-mails, supposedly from people like Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and especially David Plouffe, telling us that Obama and the DNC desperately need more of our money — and Andrew Malcolm does the math.  He reprints the missive from Plouffe:

Here’s what he said:

“We’ll get to work transforming this country. But first, we need to take care of the DNC.”

Did we hear that right? Now that Obama’s the president-elect, the top priority is the Democratic National Committee?

To drive home the point elsewhere in the same e-mail Plouffe adds: “Before we do anything else, we need to pay for this winning strategy.”

Don’t worry, you still get the Victory T-shirt for this $30. But it sounds like pretty much everything else is on hold. This change stuff is looking to be an expensive process, even before it gets started.

The DNC raised $100 million dollars on top of the $600+ million raised by Obama.  The latter was a record-breaking number, and the DNC’s wasn’t too bad, either.  Instead of simply spending what they raised, though, Howard Dean took out massive loans that left the Democrats in the red by $15 million.

In government, we call that deficit spending, something Democrats decried during the 2006 elections.  And who gets to pay for all the overspending and fiscal mismanagement?  The contributors who already coughed up record amounts of money for Hope and Change, that’s who.  And the new administration will hold the Hope and Change hostage until it gets all of the loose change possible first, Plouffe tells us.

In a way, this is truth in advertising.  The Democrats have given us a clear example of how they will govern for at least the next two years.  In fact, we may all wind up wearing shirts that say, “The government took all of my wealth, and all they shared was this lousy T-shirt.”
11727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 08:55:44 AM
**Iran, Russia and others can't withstand a prolonged drop in the global price of oil, so they will be forced to act soon.**

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Gathering Storm

An Iranian Sajjil missile is launched from a test site west of Tehran (Associated Press photo via Fox News)

Barack Obama's first international "test" moved a bit closer to reality today, with Iran's test of a new, solid-fuel missile that can strike targets in Israel--and southeastern Europe--more accurately (and with less warning) than other missiles in Tehran's inventory.

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar identified the missile as the Sajjil, which was launched from a test complex western of Tehran. The two-stage system has a reported range of 1,200 miles, allowing it to reach targets as far away as Greece and Israel. Iranian officials claim that the Sajjil is Iran's first medium-range missile to use solid fuel technology, similar to that found in more advanced systems produced by Russia, China and the West.

While the test launch was a major step for Iran's missile program, it also represented another failure. U.S. defense officials report that th Sajjil suffered an engine failure in the early stages of its flight and traveled only 180 miles, less than 20% of its advertised range. Similar failures have also occurred in past launches of extended range versions of the Shahab-3, Tehran's first medium-range ballistic missile.

Unlike the Sajjil, the Shahab-3 uses liquid fuel to power its engines. While liquid-fuel engines represent proven technology, they also pose operational problems. The missile must be fueled before launch, raising the potential for accidents--or detection by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems. It can take up to an hour to fuel an older Iranian SCUD or Shahab-3 and in some cases, the missile must be elevated to firing position before the propellant and oxidizer can be loaded.

By comparison, solid fuel is stable and can be stored in the missile for extended periods of time. That decreases the "signature" associated with operations--you don't need oxidizer and propellant trucks following your launcher vehicle around the countryside. With a smaller signature, it becomes more difficult to spot (and interdict) missile operations.

That problem is further compounded by the rapid response time of solid fuel missile systems. With liquid fuel missiles, there is often a lag between the receipt of launch orders and the actual event, increasing the vulnerability of the weapon--and its crew--to enemy interdiction efforts. The problem is particularly acute in Iran's ballistic missile force; many of its Shahab-3 launchers cannot raise a fully-fueled missile, meaning that the airframe must be elevated prior to fueling operations.

Those difficulties are largely eliminated by the use of solid-fuel missiles. With the propellant (and warhead) already on-board, a solid-fuel system can respond much more rapidly to operational tasking. Using standard "shoot-and-scoot" tactics, a Sajjil crew could fire their missile and move to an alternate site for re-loading and new tasking. That makes the job of "Scud hunting" (or, in this case, MRBM hunting) that much more difficult.

Additionally, Iran has taken steps to help conceal its missile and rocket forces, improving their prospects for survivability. In the spring of 2005, for example, western intelligence analysts were surprised to find pre-surveyed launch sites for SCUDs and battlefield rockets near the Persian Gulf coastline. The sites had been used in a late-winter exercise involving Iranian missile units, but the deployment locations weren't discovered until well after the training ended. That discovery underscores the difficulty associated with finding ballistic missiles and rockets in the field.

Tehran has also developed a concealed launch site which could support a surprise attack against Israel, U.S. targets in the Gulf region, or locations in southeastern Europe. When Iran's missile base at Bakhtaran was built several years ago, analysts noted a rather unusual feature in one of the underground bunkers. Iranian engineers left a rather wide opening in the top of the bunker, which was burrowed beneath a hill.

More detailed analysis revealed the opening was actually a launch shaft for Shahab-3 missiles, which are based at the facility. The underground cavern was large enough to allow a missile to be elevated to launch position and fired through the shaft. Using the subterranean complex, Iranian crews could prepare and fire the missile with little chance of detection. It was an ideal facility for staging a "bolt from the blue" strike against one of Iran's enemies.

Development of the Sajjil will make that scenario even more likely. A solid-fuel system is a much safer option for an underground launch, since the missile uses a more stable propellant. Couple that with improved reaction times, and you have an ideal weapon for the Bakhtaran complex. Clearly, Iran's new missile has significant technical hurdles to overcome, but those challenges are not insurmountable.

And, of course, Tehran is continuing its quest to develop a nuclear warhead, capable of delivery by medium and long-range missiles. That represents the ultimate weapon for for a first-strike system, like the one tested today in the Iranian desert.


ADDENDUM: So, how does the missile launch figure into the "challenge" for Mr. Obama? Consider this possibility: Iran would benefit from a crisis that sends oil prices spiraling. Tehran typically stages major military exercise in the late winter/early spring that includes ballistic missile units. The next Sajjil test could well occur during that time frame, part of an Iranian effort to provoke the U.S. and test the mettle of the new commander-in-chief. This won't be the last time that Mr. Obama (and his advisers) have to deal with Tehran's new missile.

Today's event also underscores the importance of the recent deployment of a U.S. X-band radar to Israel. Capable of detecting missile launches at long range, the radar will give Israeli officials an additional 60-70 seconds of warning time, critical in any "surprise attack" scenario.
11728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 13, 2008, 08:49:36 AM

- Pajamas Media - -

Media Freedom to Suffer Under Dems
Posted By Bernard Chapin On November 3, 2008 @ 12:30 am In . Positioning, Blogosphere, Computers, Elections 2008, Free Speech, Internet, Media, Politics, Science & Technology, US News | 61 Comments

The main question in light of the coming election is “what will Barack Obama do?” Should he become president, great — and totally undesirable — change awaits America. Brian Anderson and co-author Adam Thierer in their newly released book, [1] A Manifesto for Media Freedom, answer this question. The authors elucidate the impact a Democrat-dominated government will have on our personal freedoms. The portrait they paint is reminiscent of Titian’s [2] Salome with the Head of John the Baptist — except the head of conservatism appears in John’s place. They warn that the damage to free speech arising from leftist domination of our government will be both severe and oppressive. Thankfully, Mr. Anderson found time to answer a few queries about our haunted future. Mr. Anderson is the editor of [3] City Journal, which is among the most insightful and generative of conservative publications. Previously, he wrote [4] Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents and [5] South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias.

BC: Congratulations on the release of your new book, Mr. Anderson. It’s your second release in a year’s time. First off, what is the Fairness Doctrine and how close are we to its becoming viable?

Brian Anderson: Thanks, Bernard. The Fairness Doctrine was an old regulation of the Federal Communications Commission dating back in various forms to 1929 and officially codified in the late 40s. It would rule broadcast media until Ronald Reagan’s FCC got rid of it in 1987, seeing it as suppressing free speech. It required radio and later broadcast television stations to cover issues of interest to the community in which it could be heard or watched and to provide airtime to opposing viewpoints. Lack of compliance meant potential fines and ultimately loss of license.

When the Fairness Doctrine was gone, talk radio exploded — going from only 100 or so talk shows of any kind in the early 80s to the thousands that exist today and that draw big audiences. It turns out that the doctrine did suppress speech on the airwaves. Stations didn’t want the hassle of government regulators looking over their shoulder and so they shied away from controversial opinion. Adam Thierer and I show in the book how, from the outset, the Fairness Doctrine was used by politicians to harass their critics on radio and TV. It is a too-tempting power to abuse.

Its reintroduction — an idea supported enthusiastically by Democratic Party leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and Al Gore — would destroy talk radio, the one medium that conservative and libertarian voices dominate. Obama claims not to want to restore it, but it is hard to imagine him vetoing a bill if Congress delivered him one. And the media reforms he does aggressively support, including imposing new local accountability measures on broadcasters, would amount to much the same thing. As sketched out by Democrats, stations would be subjected to renewing their license every two years, instead of eight, which is today the case, and would have to include in the re-licensing process the input of local community monitoring boards, which would swiftly be taken over by activists, since other people actually have to work.

BC: Is there a difference between the political left and the political right’s approach to free speech?

Brian Anderson: Conservatives have traditionally sought to suppress pornography and vulgarity, of course; the political left has done this too — one of the leading advocates of regulating the video game industry, for example, is Hillary Clinton — but it adds to that a scary desire to control political speech completely at odds with the ideals of the American Founders. Controlling political speech is to suppress criticism. A world in which conservative talk radio was a diminished presence would be a world in which liberals could enact their preferred legislation more easily, whether this was higher taxes, further restrictions on campaign finance — which John McCain has always promoted, but which the left has been the prime driver of — and on and on. A clampdown on talk radio would empower the unregulated print media, which leans left; there are many liberals today who long for the pristine time when all those nasty voices weren’t on the air and everyone got up and read their New York Times and had dinner with CBS News. There’s a play getting good reviews in New Jersey, Fair and Decent, which, believe it or not, is all about how the Fairness Doctrine was defeated, giving birth to what the playwright, Thomas Diggs, sees as a new dark era of Limbaughs and Hannitys.

BC: You’ve no doubt witnessed the tactics of the Obama campaign in relation to its foes. For example, they attempted to take Chicago talk show host Milt Rosenberg off the air when he dared to interview Obama critics David Freddoso and Stanley Kurtz — not to mention its ongoing and fervent war against Dr. Jerome Corsi. Has his strategy on the election trail foreshadowed what he’ll do should he get into office?

Brian Anderson: I think it very much does. When the NRA released some ads in Pennsylvania taking Obama to task for his gun voting record, his campaign’s lawyer fired off letters to the stations that carried the ad charging that they had violated public interest obligations. When a 527 group, the American Issues Project, released a commercial linking Obama to Bill Ayers, the campaign unsuccessfully complained to the Justice Department that AIP had broken campaign finance laws — and it spooked several stations away from carrying the spots. You’ll see lots, lots more of this radiating out of an Obama/Democrat-controlled Washington.

BC: Net neutrality sounds like a fair concept, but what are its actual effects? Is it an attempt to fix a problem that does not exist?

Brian Anderson: Mandated neutrality, which the Democrats embrace, is a very bad idea. What it would amount to is giving government overseers at the FCC the power to force Internet providers to treat equally all the traffic that moves through their conduits — the fiber optic cable, the phone lines, the wireless connections, and so on. Thus the provider couldn’t slow down or speed up any traffic — slow down the bandwidth hog downloading huge movie files, say, so as to let email users check their emails quickly. The provider certainly couldn’t offer new super-fast services for a fee, just as FedEx accelerates delivery of a package for a fee, or other services that might treat Internet users unequally. No digital discrimination! This makes zero economic sense — it is a kind of infrastructure socialism — in that we’re telling the firms actually building the bandwidth capacity of the future that they can’t run their own cables as they see fit. But why should they keep building it then? If they don’t build it, however, the Internet in the U.S. will slow as more and more information surges online, including massive visual files.

But our deeper worry is that once the Federal Communications Commission starts mucking about, talking about digital discrimination and equality, we’ll see the first steps toward establishing a Fairness Doctrine for web opinion sites. The FCC commissioner Robert McDowell recently warned of this possibility; an advisor to the Democrats on regulatory issues, Cass Sunstein, has in the past argued in favor of such a measure; the EU has looked at implementing it. This isn’t a science fiction scenario, though implementing it would generate a firestorm.

BC: What’s been the impact of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act?

Brian Anderson: What we show in the book is how campaign finance restrictions are beginning to encroach on the media. One example we discuss: when a conservative group tried to counter Michael Moore’s anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 back in 2004, the Federal Election Commission ruled that they couldn’t show or advertise it anywhere close to the election, lest penalties apply. Moore’s film — equally political, of course — got a pass because the commission viewed him as a legitimate filmmaker, not an activist. This is just crazy — we begin approaching a world of completely regulated politics. That’s wildly un-American.

BC: Where will the war on political speech end? How much can the First Amendment be distorted before it has no meaning whatsoever? Will the political left eventually attempt to control conservative publishing houses and all of our publications?

Brian Anderson: I worry deeply about how far this will go. Killing or reducing the influence of talk radio would actually harm conservative publishing, since talk radio is the number one way right-of-center authors can get the word out about something they have written. Our First Amendment jurisprudence would be hard for the Founders to recognize — finding protections for virtual kiddie porn but eroding the political speech rights that the Framers viewed as essential to a flourishing free society.

BC: Thanks so much for your time, Mr. Anderson.

Article printed from Pajamas Media:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:
[1] A Manifesto for Media Freedom:

[2] Salome with the Head of John the Baptist:
[3] City Journal:
[4] Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents:
[5] South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias:
11729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 12, 2008, 10:55:53 PM
Thanks Doug.
11730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 12, 2008, 10:53:26 PM
I would expect the net to be regulated as well.
11731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 10:50:20 PM
I get that too many US dollars translate to a loss in the value of the currency, but I'm not sure I grasp every element of the impact that makes on our economy, aside from the "wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread" from 1920's Germany scenario.
11732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 01:30:13 PM
Ok, why is this bad?
11733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: November 12, 2008, 10:09:38 AM
It's my understanding that Israeli pornographic websites are viewed more frequently by arab nation based browsers rather than from Israel.
11734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 09:49:01 AM
Ron Paul is ok domestically, but to pretend that we can withdraw from the fight with the global jihad is suicidal.
11735  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 12, 2008, 09:38:17 AM
Most all of the bad decisions from the dems are problems, but survivable. The FD seriously threatens our core freedoms.
11736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: November 12, 2008, 09:22:13 AM
Like it or hate it, the pandora's box of technology is wide open. We live in the age of the panopticon.
11737  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: November 12, 2008, 09:16:33 AM
Very emotional and very unrooted in reality.
11738  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: November 11, 2008, 11:53:01 AM
Abuses and illegal acts by public officials happened long before the first computer was ever invented.
11739  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 11, 2008, 11:38:23 AM
Happy Veterans' Day   
By Robert Spencer | Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not too long ago Ayaan Hirsi Ali was being interviewed by a Canadian tool (who ultimately went to work for Al-Jazeera), and he kept asking her why she didn't seem to think that American militarism and imperialism and such were just as dangerous as the threat of Islamic jihad and Islamic supremacism. Finally, after several go-rounds about this, she told him that since he had grown up with freedom, he didn't value it, or understand how seriously it was being threatened.

And it was true: for him, and for so many in the U.S. today, Constitutional law, including the non-establishment of religion, is as certain as the air we breathe, and we cannot conceive of the possibility that anything could weaken the principles upon which this nation was founded. The freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law -- all these things are unassailable, aren't they?

No, they are being assailed today by increasingly assertive global forces, even as many in the U.S. who once had been aware of the threat turn to other matters. Some have lost interest, others have decided that other issues are more important. Still others have even turned on former allies and comrades-in-arms, opting to pursue imaginary threats rather than actual ones -- or, maybe because they see the way the wind is blowing, they have switched sides. Very few people today are even aware of, much less interested in, the Muslim Brotherhood's "grand jihad" to eliminate and destroy Western civilization "from within, sabotaging its miserable house." And that unawareness and indifference allows this endeavor to proceed apace.

Today, then, we should remember and be grateful to those who gave their lives to secure and protect these freedoms for us -- as if our gratitude could ever be sufficient or adequate. We should ponder the fact that they had to give their lives in order to secure these freedoms. We should remember that if we are not willing to give our own lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to protect the unalienable rights enumerated at the founding of this Republic, we will most assuredly lose both them and the Republic itself -- lose them for ourselves and for our children.

Let us never shrink from the task before us: the great struggle to defend human rights, human dignity, and freedom from oppression and injustice -- particularly the oppression and injustice, and assaults to human dignity that are enshrined in the Sharia that is coming, step-by-step, steadily and apparently inexorably, to a willfully ignorant and indifferent West.

Happy Veterans' Day.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His next book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is coming this November from Regnery Publishing.
11740  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 11, 2008, 10:43:10 AM

I wasn't firing a shot at you, I just figured you'd be able to ask more relevant questions than I, given your ground truth experiences in the region.

Either way, I'm sure we'll know Malley's status soon enough.
11741  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 11, 2008, 02:49:24 AM
**Rachel, why don't you email the author of this article and get his sourcing for this meeting between Malley and Assad.**

Obama’s Road to Damascus   
By John Perazzo | Tuesday, November 11, 2008

History will record that Barack Obama’s first act of diplomacy as America’s president-elect took place two days after his election victory, when he dispatched his senior foreign-policy adviser, Robert Malley, to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—to outline for them the forthcoming administration’s Mideast policy vis-à-vis those nations. An aide to Malley reports, “The tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests” than has President Bush. The Bush administration, it should be noted, has rightly recognized Syria to be not only a chief supporter of the al Qaeda insurgency in Iraq, but also the headquarters of the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the longtime sponsor of Hamas—the terrorist army whose founding charter is irrevocably committed to the annihilation of Israel. Yet unlike President Bush, Obama and Malley have called for Israel to engage in peace negotiations with Syria.

A Harvard-trained lawyer and Rhodes Scholar, Robert Malley is no newcomer to the Obama team. In 2007, Obama selected him as a foreign policy adviser to his campaign. At the time, Malley was (and still is today) the Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group (ICG), which receives funding from the Open Society Institute of George Soros (who, incidentally, serves on the ICG Executive Committee).

In his capacity with ICG, Malley directs a number of analysts who focus their attention most heavily on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the political and military developments in Iraq, and Islamist movements across the Middle East. Prior to joining ICG, Malley served as President Bill Clinton’s Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs (1998-2001), and as National Security Adviser Sandy Berger’s Executive Assistant (1996-1998).

Robert Malley was raised in France. His lineage is noteworthy. His father, Simon Malley (1923-2006), was a key figure in the Egyptian Communist Party. A passionate hater of Israel, the elder Malley was a close friend and confidante of the late PLO terrorist Yasser Arafat; an inveterate critic of “Western imperialism”; a supporter of various revolutionary “liberation movements,” particularly the Palestinian cause; a beneficiary of Soviet funding; and a supporter of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. According to American Thinker news editor Ed Lasky, Simon Malley “participated in the wave of anti-imperialist and nationalist ideology that was sweeping the Third World [and] … wrote thousands of words in support of struggle against Western nations.”

In a July 2001 op-ed which Malley penned for the New York Times, he alleged that Israeli—not Palestinian—inflexibility had caused the previous year’s Camp David peace talks (brokered by Bill Clinton) to fall apart. This was one of several controversial articles Malley has written—some he co-authored with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to Arafat—blaming Israel and exonerating Arafat for the failure of the peace process.

Malley’s identification of Israel as the cause of the Camp David impasse has been widely embraced by Palestinian and Arab activists around the world, by Holocaust deniers like Norman Finkelstein, and by anti-Israel publications such as Counterpunch. It should be noted that Malley’s account of the Camp David negotiations is entirely inconsistent with the recollections of the key figures who participated in those talks—specifically, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, and then-U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross (Clinton’s Middle East envoy).

Malley also has written numerous op-eds urging the U.S. to disengage from Israel to some degree, and recommending that America reach out to negotiate with its traditional Arab enemies such as Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah (a creature of Iran dedicated to the extermination of the Jews and death to America), and Muqtada al-Sadr (the Shiite terrorist leader in Iraq).

In addition, Malley has advised nations around the world to establish relationships with, and to send financial aid to, the Hamas-led Palestinian government in Gaza. In Malley’s calculus, the electoral victory that swept Hamas into power in January 2006 was a manifestation of legitimate Palestinian “anger at years of humiliation and loss of self-respect because of Israeli settlement expansion, Arafat’s imprisonment, Israel’s incursions, [and] Western lecturing …”

Moreover, Malley contends that it is both unreasonable and unrealistic for Israel or Western nations to demand that Syria sever its ties with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or Iran. Rather, he suggests that if Israel were to return the Golan Heights (which it captured in the 1967 Six Day War, and again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War—two conflicts sparked by Arab aggression which sought so permanently wipe the Jewish state off the face of the earth) to Syrian control, Damascus would be inclined to pursue peace with Israel.

Malley has criticized the U.S. for allegedly remaining “on the sidelines” and being a “no-show” in the overall effort to bring peace to the nations of the Middle East. Exhorting the Bush administration to change its policy of refusing to engage diplomatically with terrorists and their sponsoring states, Malley wrote in July 2006: “Today the U.S. does not talk to Iran, Syria, Hamas, the elected Palestinian government or Hezbollah…. The result has been a policy with all the appeal of a moral principle and all the effectiveness of a tired harangue.”

This inclination to negotiate with any and all enemies of the U.S. and Israel—an impulse which Malley has outlined clearly and consistently—clearly has had a powerful influence on Barack Obama.

It is notable that six months ago the Obama campaign and Malley hastily severed ties with one another after the Times of London reported that Malley had been meeting privately with Hamas leaders on a regular basis—something Obama had publicly pledged never to do. At the time, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt minimized the significance of this monumentally embarrassing revelation, saying: “Rob Malley has, like hundreds of other experts, provided informal advice to the campaign in the past. He has no formal role in the campaign and he will not play any role in the future.”

But indeed, within hours after Obama’s election victory, Malley was back as a key player in the president-elect’s team of advisors—on his way to Syria. Mr. Obama, meanwhile, received a most friendly communication from Hamas, congratulating him on his “historic victory.”

John Perazzo is the Managing Editor of DiscoverTheNetworks and is the author of The Myths That Divide Us: How Lies Have Poisoned American Race Relations. For more information on his book, click here. E-mail him at
11742  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: November 10, 2008, 06:25:53 PM

Where is the outrage? Where is the MSM?
11743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 10, 2008, 06:04:14 PM

October 01, 2008
The Long Road to Slack Lending Standards

By Steven Malanga
In the early 1990s I attended a conference designed to teach journalists the tools of an emerging field known as computer-assisted investigative reporting. One of the hottest sessions of the conference explained how journalists could replicate stories that other papers had done locally using computer tools, including one especially popular project to determine if banks in your community were discriminating against minority borrowers in making mortgages. One newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, had already won a Pulitzer Prize for its computer-assisted series on the subject, and others, including the Washington Post and the Detroit Free Press, had also weighed in with their own analysis based on government loan data. Everyone sounded keen to learn if their local banks were guilty, too.

Although academic researchers leveled substantial criticisms against these newspaper efforts (namely, that they relied on incomplete data and did not take into account lower savings rates, higher debt levels, and higher loan defaults rates for many minority borrowers), bank lending to minority borrowers still became an enormous issue?"mostly because newspaper reporters and editors in this pre-talk radio, pre-blogging era were determined to make it so. Editorialists called for the government to force banks to end the alleged discrimination, and they castigated federal banking regulators who said they saw no proof of wrongdoing in the data.

Eventually, the political climate changed, and Washington became a believer in the story. Crucial to this change was a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston study which concluded that although lender discrimination was not as severe as suggested by the newspapers, it nevertheless existed. This, then, became the dominant government position, even though subsequent efforts by other researchers to verify the Fed’s conclusions showed serious deficiencies in the original work. One economist for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. who looked more deeply into the data, for instance, found that the difference in denial rates on loans for whites and minorities could be accounted for by such factors as higher rates of delinquencies on prior loans for minorities, or the inability of lenders to verify information provided to them by some minority applicants.

Ignoring the import of such data, federal officials went on a campaign to encourage banks to lower their lending standards in order to make more minority loans. One result of this campaign is a remarkable document produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in 1998 titled “Closing the Gap: A Guide to Equal Opportunity Lending”.

Quoting from a study which declared that “underwriting guidelines…may be unintentionally racially biased,” the Boston Fed then called for what amounted to undermining many of the lending criteria that banks had used for decades. It told banks they should consider junking the industry’s traditional debt-to-income ratio, which lenders used to determine whether an applicant’s income was sufficient to cover housing costs plus loan payments. It instructed banks that an applicant’s “lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor” in obtaining a mortgage, even though a mortgage is the biggest financial obligation most individuals will undertake in life. In cases where applicants had bad credit (as opposed to no credit), the Boston Fed told banks to “consider extenuating circumstances” that might still make the borrower creditworthy. When applicants didn’t have enough savings to make a down payment, the Boston Fed urged banks to allow loans from nonprofits or government assistance agencies to count toward a down payment, even though banks had traditionally disallowed such sources because applicants who have little of their own savings invested in a home are more likely to walk away from a loan when they have trouble paying.

Of course, the new federal standards couldn’t just apply to minorities. If they could pay back loans under these terms, then so could the majority of loan applicants. Quickly, in other words, these became the new standards in the industry. In 1999, the New York Times reported that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were easing credit requirements for mortgages it purchased from lenders, and as the housing market boomed, banks embraced these new standards with a vengeance. Between 2004 and 2007, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became the biggest purchasers of subprime mortgages from all kinds of applicants, white and minority, and most of these loans were based on the lending standards promoted by the government.

Meanwhile, those who raced to make these mortgages were lionized. Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies even invited Angelo Mozilo, CEO of the lender which made more loans purchased by Fannie and Freddie than anyone else, Countrywide Financial, to give its prestigious 2003 Dunlop Lecture on the subject of "The American Dream of Homeownership: From Cliché to Mission.” A brief, innocuous description of the event still exists online here.

Many defenders of the government’s efforts to prompt banks to lend more to minorities have claimed that this effort had little to do with the present mortgage mess. Specifically they point out that many institutions that made subprime mortgages during the market bubble weren’t even banks subject to the Community Reinvestment Act, the main vehicle that the feds used to cajole banks to loosen their lending.

But this defense misses the point. In order to push banks to lend more to minority borrowers, advocates like the Boston Fed put forward an entire new set of lending standards and explained to the industry just why loans based on these slacker standards were somehow safer than the industry previously thought. These justifications became the basis for a whole new set of values (or lack of values), as no-down payment loans and loans to people with poor credit history or to those who were already loaded up with debt became more common throughout the entire industry.

What happened in the mortgage industry is an example of how, in trying to eliminate discrimination from our society, we turned logic on its head. Instead of nobly trying to ensure equality of opportunity for everyone, many civil rights advocates tried to use the government to ensure equality of outcomes for everyone in the housing market. And so when faced with the idea that minorities weren’t getting approved for enough mortgages because they didn’t measure up as often to lending standards, the advocates told us that the standards must be discriminatory and needed to be junked. When lenders did that, we made heroes out of those who led the way, like Angelo Mozilo, before we made villains of them.

Now we all have to pay.

Steven Malanga is an editor for RealClearMarkets and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute
Page Printed from: at November 10, 2008 - 06:01:24 PM CST
11744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 10, 2008, 05:13:41 PM
**The dems will do for America, what they've done for California**

Lawrence J. McQuillan
Californians Voting with Their Feet

The state government’s stifling economic policies are worsening the downturn and driving citizens elsewhere.
23 October 2008
With the implosion of its storied investment banks and the future of Wall Street in doubt, New York will suffer the effects of the financial crisis more acutely than many states. But the crisis reaches epicenters outside of Manhattan as well. Chief among them is the world’s eighth-largest economy: California.

Several key economic indicators point to grim news for the Golden State in the aftermath of the Wall Street meltdown. The state’s unemployment rate has jumped to 7.7 percent, its highest rate in 12 years and the third-worst in the United States. In Riverside County, 40 percent of homes sold in the past year are in foreclosure. Unfortunately, California’s government doesn’t seem interested in solving the state’s economic problems.

California continues to be burdened with high taxes, punitive regulations, huge wealth-transfer programs, out-of-control spending, and lawsuit abuse. And there’s no end in sight to the state’s fiscal madness. The “balanced budget” signed only a few weeks ago by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger already runs a deficit of as much as $5.5 billion. Last week, to cover state expenditures for the rest of the fiscal year, the state sold $5 billion in short-term notes. Schwarzenegger bought $100,000 worth himself.

Analysts already project that next fiscal year’s budget will be billions in the red. State spending has increased at a faster rate under Schwarzenegger than under his predecessor, Gray Davis. Every year, California puts taxpayers on the hook for yet more spending without any reform of the government’s boneheaded economic policies. It’s not surprising, then, that California ranks fourth-to-last in the Pacific Research Institute’s 2008 U.S. Economic Freedom Index, published in association with Forbes. The Index measures how friendly or unfriendly each state’s government policies are toward free enterprise and consumer choice. Its rankings derive from a comprehensive evaluation of fiscal, judicial, and regulatory indicators such as tax rates, state spending, occupational licensing, environmental rules, income redistribution, tort reform, and prevailing-wage laws.

When he arrived in Sacramento, Schwarzenegger promised to end government overreach. He pledged to “blow up” boxes in the state’s organizational chart, “tear up the credit card” for state legislators, and curtail taxes. Thus far, though, any “Schwarzenegger effect” on state governance has been difficult to discern. Since 2004—Schwarzenegger’s first full year in office—California’s economic-freedom ranking in the PRI index improved only two places, from an abysmal 49 to 47. And $5 billion of new debt will do nothing to bolster the Governator’s self-proclaimed reputation as a fiscal hawk.

By contrast, Nevada, California’s neighbor to the east, boasts a much more favorable economic environment. Nevada ranked sixth among the states in economic freedom, an improvement from 2004, when it placed twelfth. But the model of economic freedom among the states is slightly further east—South Dakota. The Mount Rushmore State imposes no corporate-income tax, no personal-income tax, no personal-property tax, no business-inventory tax, and no inheritance tax. States in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains tend to be the most economically free. States in the Northeast tend to be the least free. (New York has ranked dead last since 1999.)

Americans vote with their feet, and strong economic freedom draws workers and businesses. According to United Van Lines, South Dakota ranked seventh in inbound migration in 2007. That’s one way of saying that lots of people are moving there. Nevada ranked second. By contrast, California tallied more outbound shipments than inbound. People are fleeing California partly because of economic aggravation. For every one-place improvement in a state’s Index ranking of economic freedom, its net migration per 1,000 people typically increases by one person. This means that for Michigan, the top-ranked outbound state, a one-spot improvement in economic freedom would result in a net increase of about 10,000 people moving into the state—resulting in much-needed new consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and investors.

Economic freedom—or the lack thereof—affects states in multiple ways. Migration alters the political map through congressional apportionment. Current projections suggest that California’s mass exodus will deprive it of a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2010 census. Economic freedom also impacts pocketbooks. In 2005, per-capita income in the 15 most economically free states grew 31 percent faster than in the 15 states with the lowest levels of economic freedom. Policies friendly to economic freedom help states shore up their finances, too. The 15 freest states saw their general-fund tax revenues grow at a rate more than 6 percent higher than the 15 states with the least economic freedom. California lawmakers should keep these figures in mind as they grapple with the state’s yawning budget deficit.

In short, economic freedom is not an academic exercise or a zero-sum game. It benefits workers, businesses, and governments alike. When one state expands economic freedom, it puts pressure on its neighbors also to improve, or risk competing at a disadvantage for people and capital. With luck, Nevada’s example will spur California to embrace serious reforms. Otherwise, a stagnant economy brought on by the financial crisis will plague the Golden State far longer than necessary.

Lawrence J. McQuillan is director of business and economic studies at the Pacific Research Institute and coauthor of the 2008 U.S. Economic Freedom Index.
11745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: November 10, 2008, 05:00:55 PM
GSE= Government Sponsored Enterprise
11746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 10, 2008, 10:07:34 AM


A'jad: Sees Obama as potential roadkill.

Posted: 4:54 am
November 10, 2008

THE American people have spoken, and whatever our personal preferences, our duty as citizens is to support our next president. And he's going to need support: The international vultures are already circling.

Immediately upon his inauguration, President Obama will have to demonstrate to allies and enemies alike that he won't be a pushover. Justified or not, the international perception of Obama is that he'll be both passive and a pacifist.

He's going to have to show some Southside Chicago street grit. Fast.

Our enemies haven't wasted any time. The day after our election, President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia, speaking for Vladimir Putin, gave a Gucci-loafer version of Premier Nikita Krushchev's shoe-heel-on-the-podium rant of a half-century ago.

In a direct challenge to our president-elect, Medvedev announced that Russia would deploy its latest-generation battlefield missiles to the Kaliningrad exclave between Lithuania and Poland. The Russian president made it clear that the target would be the US ballistic-missile interceptors to be based on Polish soil.

Medvedev's speech then elaborated on the Putin Doctrine: Russia will do what it wants, when it wants, where it wants in the territories that once belonged to the czars.

A day later, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran played good cop to the Russian bad cop, inviting the new US administration to enter direct talks with Tehran. Now, negotiations can be useful - but only when conducted from a position of strength. Unfortunately, the Iranians view our election results as reflecting a greatly weakened American will.

They assess Obama as the perfect patsy, a man who believes in his own powers of persuasion. Drawing out fruitless talks year after year has been Iran's primary technique to protect its pursuit of nukes. Persians are brilliant negotiators. Their position is always, "Well, we might sleep with you . . . next time . . . if you just give us one more present . . ."

And we rush off to Tiffany & Co.

Only the Chinese come close to the Iranian genius for castrating opponents under the negotiating table. Of course, our European allies show up already missing key parts.

By the end of last week, even the Iraqis had swooped down for a bite of roadkill. Brushing President Bush aside (as the Russians, Iranians, Venezuelans and others already have done), Iraqi representatives working on the status-of-forces agreement for our troop presence balked at the previously agreed terms, expecting a better deal from an Obama administration.

One key demand of radical Iraqis is the right to try our troops in Iraqi courts for alleged crimes. Given the present politicized state of the Iraqi legal system, accepting such terms would betray our soldiers.

As a candidate, Obama praised our troops. Will he stand up for them now? Or was his praise pure hypocrisy?

There's much more to come. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez and the Castro regime in Cuba have welcomed the election results, anticipating an American retreat from the fight for freedom. As president, it will be Obama's duty to disappoint them. China is facing a serious internal crisis, while terror-tormented Pakistan is broke and begging. A bumper crop of crises is sprouting on every side.

At home, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates - a magnificent public servant - has tried to sound the warning that our nuclear arsenal, the ultimate backbone of our national security, has deteriorated badly and must be renewed (not expanded, just updated).

May we hope that the Obama administration, indebted to an extreme left-wing base, will have the audacity to do what is necessary and upgrade our nuclear weapons so that our deterrent remains dependable? The grim paradox of the last 60 years is that humankind's worst weapons were all that prevented another world war.

Today, with faith-drunk fanatics pursuing nukes and old adversaries resharpening their atomic swords, we had best remember that peace is only preserved through evident strength.

President Obama isn't going to enjoy a honeymoon with terrorists, rogue states or opportunistic vultures around the globe. He'll have to establish his leadership credentials immediately, to make it clear that he's America's president, not our liquidator-in-chief.

What could he do to help himself? Three things:

* First, make it clear to all that while America is willing to talk with serious counterparts, we'll expect results, not endless obfuscation.

* Second, beg Secretary Gates to stay on at the Pentagon for at least the first year of transition.

* Third, Obama should nominate that brilliant thug, Richard Holbrooke, as secretary of State. Holbrooke may be the most arrogant man ever to serve in our diplomatic corps (where arrogance has long substituted for competence). But he's also tough, superbly capable and the savviest star in the Democratic constellation when it comes to global affairs.

If Obama wants to project an idealist's image to the world, he's going to need a realist at Foggy Bottom. And someone's going to have to clean up Vice President Joe Biden's inevitable messes. The next four years are going to be interesting.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."
11747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: November 10, 2008, 09:50:50 AM
**Hope will be what passes for Homeland Security.**

The return of The Wall?
posted at 9:45 am on November 10, 2008 by Ed Morrissey   
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The New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau takes a look at a potential Attorney General nominee in the nascent Barack Obama administration — and it’s a familiar face.  Jamie S. Gorelick may be on Obama’s short list for AG, but she has been a familiar face during the Bush administration, too.  Gorelick served under Janet Reno during the Clinton administration and played a critical role in blinding counterterrorism efforts prior to 9/11:

Would bring to the job: A wide-ranging Washington résumé that spans corporate, legal and national security affairs. Ms. Gorelick (pronounced Guh-REH-lick) was the No. 2 official at the Justice Department in the Clinton administration, from 1994 to 1997, and if chosen would be the second woman to be named attorney general, following her former boss, Janet Reno. Ms. Gorelick would also bring corporate experience to an Obama administration at a time of financial crisis.

Is linked to Mr. Obama by: Deep contacts in Democratic circles and a background in civil rights. But Ms. Gorelick backed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries and contributed early on to her campaign, which could work against her as a contender. She contributed $10,000 to Mr. Obama’s presidential political action committee in August, after his nomination was all but assured.

Gorelick would bring corporate experience to an Obama administration — in the same way Rahm Emanuel did.  Gorelick was vice chairman at Fannie Mae in the years when the GSE fraudulently reported its income.  She got a Friends of Angelo sweetheart mortgage for almost a million dollars in 2003, and is currently under investigation by the department she would run if nominated for AG.

But even without that taint of corruption, Gorelick would signal a return to incompetence and infighting.  Gorelick played a major role in keeping counterterrorist and law-enforcement agents from sharing information and “connecting the dots” before 9/11.  In a series of judgments at the DoD and at Justice during her tenure in the Clinton administration, Gorelick hamstrung our efforts to find and disarm terrorist infiltrators by discouraging any cooperation between intelligence and enforcement efforts by making “the wall” much more significant than Congress ever intended.

Gorelick wound up serving as a panelist on the 9/11 Commission, but she should have been served a subpoena instead.  Two memos from Clinton-appointed US Attorney Mary Jo White made this point crystal clear, as did an explanation from someone involved for years in the counterterrorist effort.  Gorelick imposed an unrealistic standard on intelligence gathering that led directly to the 9/11 attacks.  As AG, she would have even more power to reimpose those same limitations, and leave us just as blind as we were before those attacks.

Obama ran on “hope and change”, but if Gorelick is what he had in mind, then he sold the US a bill of goods.  It would make the second former GSE board member nominated to a high position in his administration, one who already has connections to Countrywide’s corruption and a federal probe into her actions.  Gorelick also has failed in developing policies and strategies to keep the nation secure.  She would be a disaster as AG, and if she really is on the short list, it shows how clueless Barack Obama is about the threats to this nation.

11748  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 09, 2008, 11:15:53 AM
Conservatives should never say to voters, "We can lower your taxes." Conservatives should say to voters, "You can raise spending. You, the electorate, can, if you choose, have an infinite number of elaborate and expensive government programs. But we, the government, will have to pay for those programs. We have three ways to pay.

"We can inflate the currency, destroying your ability to plan for the future, wrecking the nation's culture of thrift and common sense, and giving free rein to scallywags to borrow money for worthless scams and pay it back 10 cents on the dollar.

"We can raise taxes. If the taxes are levied across the board, money will be taken from everyone's pocket, the economy will stagnate, and the poorest and least advantaged will be harmed the most. If the taxes are levied only on the wealthy, money will be taken from wealthy people's pockets, hampering their capacity to make loans and investments, the economy will stagnate, and the poorest and the least advantaged will be harmed the most.

"And we can borrow, building up a massive national debt. This will cause all of the above things to happen plus it will fund Red Chinese nuclear submarines that will be popping up in San Francisco Bay to get some decent Szechwan take-out."

Yes, this would make for longer and less pithy stump speeches. But we'd be showing ourselves to be men and women of principle. It might cost us, short-term. We might get knocked down for not whoring after bioenergy votes in the Iowa caucuses. But at least we wouldn't land on our scruples. And we could get up again with dignity intact, dust ourselves off, and take another punch at the liberal bully-boys who want to snatch the citizenry's freedom and tuck that freedom, like a trophy feather, into the hatbands of their greasy political bowlers.

But are we men and women of principle? And I don't mean in the matter of tricky and private concerns like gay marriage. Civil marriage is an issue of contract law. A constitutional amendment against gay marriage? I don't get it. How about a constitutional amendment against first marriages? Now we're talking. No, I speak, once again, of the geological foundations of conservatism.

Where was the meum and the tuum in our shakedown of Washington lobbyists? It took a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives 40 years--from 1954 to 1994--to get that corrupt and arrogant. And we managed it in just 12. (Who says Republicans don't have much on the ball?)

Our attitude toward immigration has been repulsive. Are we not pro-life? Are not immigrants alive? Unfortunately, no, a lot of them aren't after attempting to cross our borders. Conservative immigration policies are as stupid as conservative attitudes are gross. Fence the border and give a huge boost to the Mexican ladder industry. Put the National Guard on the Rio Grande and know that U.S. troops are standing between you and yard care. George W. Bush, at his most beneficent, said if illegal immigrants wanted citizenship they would have to do three things: Pay taxes, learn English, and work in a meaningful job. Bush doesn't meet two out of three of those qualifications. And where would you rather eat? At a Vietnamese restaurant? Or in the Ayn Rand Café? Hey, waiter, are the burgers any good? Atlas shrugged. (We would, however, be able to have a smoke at the latter establishment.)

To go from slime to the sublime, there are the lofty issues about which we never bothered to form enough principles to go out and break them. What is the coherent modern conservative foreign policy?

We may think of this as a post 9/11 problem, but it's been with us all along. What was Reagan thinking, landing Marines in Lebanon to prop up the government of a country that didn't have one? In 1984, I visited the site where the Marines were murdered. It was a beachfront bivouac overlooked on three sides by hills full of hostile Shiite militia. You'd urge your daughter to date Rosie O'Donnell before you'd put troops ashore in such a place.

Since the early 1980s I've been present at the conception (to use the polite term) of many of our foreign policy initiatives. Iran-contra was about as smart as using the U.S. Postal Service to get weapons to anti-Communists. And I notice Danny Ortega is back in power anyway. I had a look into the eyes of the future rulers of Afghanistan at a sura in Peshawar as the Soviets were withdrawing from Kabul. I would rather have had a beer with Leonid Brezhnev.

Fall of the Berlin wall? Being there was fun. Nations that flaked off of the Soviet Union in southeastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus? Being there was not so fun.

The aftermath of the Gulf war still makes me sick. Fine to save the fat, greedy Kuwaitis and the arrogant, grasping house of Saud, but to hell with the Shiites and Kurds of Iraq until they get some oil.

Then, half a generation later, when we returned with our armies, we expected to be greeted as liberators. And, damn it, we were. I was in Baghdad in April 2003. People were glad to see us, until they noticed that we'd forgotten to bring along any personnel or provisions to feed or doctor the survivors of shock and awe or to get their electricity and water running again. After that they got huffy and began stuffing dynamite down their pants before consulting with the occupying forces.

Is there a moral dimension to foreign policy in our political philosophy? Or do we just exist to help the world's rich people make and keep their money? (And a fine job we've been doing of that lately.)

If we do have morals, where were they while Bosnians were slaughtered? And where were we while Clinton dithered over the massacres in Kosovo and decided, at last, to send the Serbs a message: Mess with the United States and we'll wait six months, then bomb the country next to you. Of Rwanda, I cannot bear to think, let alone jest.

And now, to glue and screw the lid on our coffin, comes this financial crisis. For almost three decades we've been trying to teach average Americans to act like "stakeholders" in their economy. They learned. They're crying and whining for government bailouts just like the billionaire stakeholders in banks and investment houses. Aid, I can assure you, will be forthcoming from President Obama.

Then average Americans will learn the wisdom of Ronald Reagan's statement: "The ten most dangerous words in the English language are, 'I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to help.'?" Ask a Katrina survivor.

The left has no idea what's going on in the financial crisis. And I honor their confusion. Jim Jerk down the road from me, with all the cars up on blocks in his front yard, falls behind in his mortgage payments, and the economy of Iceland implodes. I'm missing a few pieces of this puzzle myself.

Under constant political pressure, which went almost unresisted by conservatives, a lot of lousy mortgages that would never be repaid were handed out to Jim Jerk and his drinking buddies and all the ex-wives and single mothers with whom Jim and his pals have littered the nation.

Wall Street looked at the worthless paper and thought, "How can we make a buck off this?" The answer was to wrap it in a bow. Take a wide enough variety of lousy mortgages--some from the East, some from the West, some from the cities, some from the suburbs, some from shacks, some from McMansions--bundle them together and put pressure on the bond rating agencies to do fancy risk management math, and you get a "collateralized debt obligation" with a triple-A rating. Good as cash. Until it wasn't.

Or, put another way, Wall Street was pulling the "room full of horse s--" trick. Brokerages were saying, "We're going to sell you a room full of horse s--. And with that much horse s--, you just know there's a pony in there somewhere."

Anyway, it's no use blaming Wall Street. Blaming Wall Street for being greedy is like scolding defensive linemen for being big and aggressive. The people on Wall Street never claimed to be public servants. They took no oath of office. They're in it for the money. We pay them to be in it for the money. We don't want our retirement accounts to get a 2 percent return. (Although that sounds pretty good at the moment.)

What will destroy our country and us is not the financial crisis but the fact that liberals think the free market is some kind of sect or cult, which conservatives have asked Americans to take on faith. That's not what the free market is. The free market is just a measurement, a device to tell us what people are willing to pay for any given thing at any given moment. The free market is a bathroom scale. You may hate what you see when you step on the scale. "Jeeze, 230 pounds!" But you can't pass a law making yourself weigh 185. Liberals think you can. And voters--all the voters, right up to the tippy-top corner office of Goldman Sachs--think so too.

We, the conservatives, who do understand the free market, had the responsibility to--as it were--foreclose upon this mess. The market is a measurement, but that measuring does not work to the advantage of a nation or its citizens unless the assessments of volume, circumference, and weight are conducted with transparency and under the rule of law. We've had the rule of law largely in our hands since 1980. Where is the transparency? It's one more job we botched.

Although I must say we're doing good work on our final task--attaching the garden hose to our car's exhaust pipe and running it in through a vent window. Barack and Michelle will be by in a moment with some subsidized ethanol to top up our gas tank. And then we can turn the key.

P.J. O'Rourke is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
11749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 09, 2008, 11:14:59 AM
**I don't agree with every point, but his take on the size of gov't is right on.**

We Blew It
A look back in remorse on the conservative opportunity that was squandered.
by P.J. O'Rourke
11/17/2008, Volume 014, Issue 09

Let us bend over and kiss our ass goodbye. Our 28-year conservative opportunity to fix the moral and practical boundaries of government is gone--gone with the bear market and the Bear Stearns and the bear that's headed off to do you-know-what in the woods on our philosophy.

An entire generation has been born, grown up, and had families of its own since Ronald Reagan was elected. And where is the world we promised these children of the Conservative Age? Where is this land of freedom and responsibility, knowledge, opportunity, accomplishment, honor, truth, trust, and one boring hour each week spent in itchy clothes at church, synagogue, or mosque? It lies in ruins at our feet, as well it might, since we ourselves kicked the shining city upon a hill into dust and rubble. The progeny of the Reagan Revolution will live instead in the universe that revolves around Hyde Park.

Mind you, they won't live in Hyde Park. Those leafy precincts will be reserved for the micromanagers and macro-apparatchiks of liberalism--for Secretary of the Department of Peace Bill Ayers and Secretary of the Department of Fairness Bernardine Dohrn. The formerly independent citizens of our previously self-governed nation will live, as I said, around Hyde Park. They will make what homes they can in the physical, ethical, and intellectual slums of the South Side of Chicago.

The South Side of Chicago is what everyplace in America will be once the Democratic administration and filibuster-resistant Democratic Congress have tackled global warming, sustainability, green alternatives to coal and oil, subprime mortgage foreclosures, consumer protection, business oversight, financial regulation, health care reform, taxes on the "rich," and urban sprawl. The Democrats will have plenty of time to do all this because conservatism, if it is ever reborn, will not come again in the lifetime of anyone old enough to be rounded up by ACORN and shipped to the polling booths.

None of this is the fault of the left. After the events of the 20th century--national socialism, international socialism, inter-species socialism from Earth First--anyone who is still on the left is obviously insane and not responsible for his or her actions. No, we on the right did it. The financial crisis that is hoisting us on our own petard is only the latest (if the last) of the petard hoistings that have issued from the hindquarters of our movement. We've had nearly three decades to educate the electorate about freedom, responsibility, and the evils of collectivism, and we responded by creating a big-city-public-school-system of a learning environment.

Liberalism had been running wild in the nation since the Great Depression. At the end of the Carter administration we had it cornered in one of its dreadful low-income housing projects or smelly public parks or some such place, and we held the Taser gun in our hand, pointed it at the beast's swollen gut, and didn't pull the trigger. Liberalism wasn't zapped and rolled away on a gurney and confined somewhere until it expired from natural causes such as natural law or natural rights.

In our preaching and our practice we neglected to convey the organic and universal nature of freedom. Thus we ensured our loss before we even began our winning streak. Barry Goldwater was an admirable and principled man. He took an admirably principled stand on states' rights. But he was dead wrong. Separate isn't equal. Ask a kid whose parents are divorced.

Since then modern conservatism has been plagued by the wrong friends and the wrong foes. The "Southern Strategy" was bequeathed to the Republican party by Richard Nixon--not a bad friend of conservatism but no friend at all. The Southern Strategy wasn't needed. Southern whites were on--begging the pardon of the Scopes trial jury--an evolutionary course toward becoming Republican. There's a joke in Arkansas about a candidate hustling votes in the country. The candidate asks a farmer how many children he has.

"I've got six sons," the farmer says.

"Are they all good little Democrats?" the candidate asks.

"Well," the farmer says, "five of 'em are. But my oldest boy, he got to readin'??.??.??.??"

There was no need to piss off the entire black population of America to get Dixie's electoral votes. And despising cracker trash who have a laundry hamper full of bedsheets with eye-holes cut in them does not make a man a liberal.

Blacks used to poll Republican. They did so right up until Mrs. Roosevelt made some sympathetic noises in 1932. And her husband didn't even deliver on Eleanor's promises.

It's not hard to move a voting bloc. And it should be especially easy to move voters to the right. Sensible adults are conservative in most aspects of their private lives. If this weren't so, imagine driving on I-95: The majority of drivers are drunk, stoned, making out, or watching TV, while the rest are trying to calculate the size of their carbon footprints on the backs of Whole Foods receipts while negotiating lane changes.

People are even more conservative if they have children. Nobody with kids is a liberal, except maybe one pothead in Marin County. Everybody wants his or her children to respect freedom, exercise responsibility, be honest, get educated, have opportunities, and own a bunch of guns. (The last is optional and includes, but is not limited to, me, my friends in New Hampshire, and Sarah Palin.)

Reagan managed to reach out to blue collar whites. But there his reach stopped, leaving many people on our side, but barely knowing it. There are enough yarmulkes among the neocons to show that Jews are not immune to conservatism. Few practicing Catholics vote Democratic anymore except in Massachusetts where they put something in the communion wafers. When it comes to a full-on, hemp-wearing, kelp-eating, mandala-tatted, fool-coifed liberal with socks in sandals, I have never met a Muslim like that or a Chinese and very few Hispanics. No U.S. immigrants from the Indian subcontinent fill that bill (the odd charlatan yogi excepted), nor do immigrants from Africa, Eastern Europe, or East Asia. And Japanese tourists may go so far as socks in sandals, but their liberal nonsense stops at the ankles.

We have all of this going for us, worldwide. And yet we chose to deliver our sermons only to the faithful or the already converted. Of course the trailer park Protestants yell "Amen." If you were handling rattlesnakes and keeping dinosaurs for pets, would you vote for the party that gets money from PETA?

In how many ways did we fail conservatism? And who can count that high? Take just one example of our unconserved tendency to poke our noses into other people's business: abortion. Democracy--be it howsoever conservative--is a manifestation of the will of the people. We may argue with the people as a man may argue with his wife, but in the end we must submit to the fact of being married. Get a pro-life friend drunk to the truth-telling stage and ask him what happens if his 14-year-old gets knocked up. What if it's rape? Some people truly have the courage of their convictions. I don't know if I'm one of them. I might kill the baby. I will kill the boy.

The real message of the conservative pro-life position is that we're in favor of living. We consider people--with a few obvious exceptions--to be assets. Liberals consider people to be nuisances. People are always needing more government resources to feed, house, and clothe them and to pick up the trash around their FEMA trailers and to make sure their self-esteem is high enough to join community organizers lobbying for more government resources.

If the citizenry insists that abortion remain legal--and, in a passive and conflicted way, the citizenry seems to be doing so--then give the issue a rest. Meanwhile we can, with the public's blessing, refuse to spend taxpayers' money on killing, circumscribe the timing and method of taking a human life, make sure parental consent is obtained when underage girls are involved, and tar and feather teenage boys and run them out of town on a rail. The law cannot be made identical with morality. Scan the list of the Ten Commandments and see how many could be enforced even by Rudy Giuliani.

Our impeachment of President Clinton was another example of placing the wrong political emphasis on personal matters. We impeached Clinton for lying to the government. To our surprise the electorate gave us cold comfort. Lying to the government: It's called April 15th. And we accused Clinton of lying about sex, which all men spend their lives doing, starting at 15 bragging about things we haven't done yet, then on to fibbing about things we are doing, and winding up with prevarications about things we no longer can do.

When the Monica Lewinsky news broke, my wife set me straight about the issue. "Here," she said, "is the most powerful man in the world. And everyone hates his wife. What's the matter with Sharon Stone? Instead, he's hitting on an emotionally disturbed intern barely out of her teens." But our horn rims were so fogged with detestation of Clinton that we couldn't see how really detestable he was. If we had stayed our hand in the House of Representatives and treated the brute with shunning or calls for interventions to make him seek help, we might have chased him out of the White House. (Although this probably would have required a U.S. news media from a parallel universe.)

Such things as letting the abortion debate be turned against us and using the gravity of the impeachment process on something that required the fly-swat of pest control were strategic errors. Would that blame could be put on our strategies instead of ourselves. We have lived up to no principle of conservatism.

Government is bigger than ever. We have fattened the stalled ox and hatred therewith rather than dined on herbs where love (and the voter) is. Instead of flattening the Department of Education with a wrecking ball we let it stand as a pulpit for Bill Bennett. When--to switch metaphors yet again--such a white elephant is not discarded someone will eventually try to ride in the howdah on its back. One of our supposed own did. No Child Left Behind? What if they deserve to be left behind? What if they deserve a smack on the behind? A nationwide program to test whether kids are what? Stupid? You've got kids. Kids are stupid.

We railed at welfare and counted it a great victory when Bill Clinton confused a few poor people by making the rules more complicated. But the "French-bread lines" for the rich, the "terrapin soup kitchens," continue their charity without stint.

The sludge and dreck of political muck-funds flowing to prosperous businesses and individuals have gotten deeper and more slippery and stink worse than ever with conservatives minding the sewage works of legislation.

Agriculture is a business that has been up to its bib overalls in politics since the first Thanksgiving dinner kickback to the Indians for subsidizing Pilgrim maize production with fish head fertilizer grants. But never, since the Mayflower knocked the rock in Plymouth, has anything as putrid as the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2008 been spread upon the land. Just the name says it. There are no farms left. Not like the one grampa grew up on.

A "farm" today means 100,000 chickens in a space the size of a Motel 6 shower stall. If we cared anything about "nutrition" we would--to judge by the mountainous, jiggling flab of Americans--stop growing all food immediately. And "bioenergy" is a fraud of John Edwards-marital-fidelity proportions. Taxpayer money composted to produce a fuel made of alcohol that is more expensive than oil, more polluting than oil, and almost as bad as oil with vermouth and an olive. But this bill passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress and was happily signed into law by President Bush. Now it's going to cost us at least $285 billion. That's about five times the gross domestic product of prewar Iraq. For what we will spend on the Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2008 we could have avoided the war in Iraq and simply bought a controlling interest in Saddam Hussein's country.

Yes, we got a few tax breaks during the regimes of Reagan and W. But the government is still taking a third of our salary. Is the government doing a third of our job? Is the government doing a third of our dishes? Our laundry? Our vacuuming? When we go to Hooters is the government tending bar making sure that one out of three margaritas is on the house? If our spouse is feeling romantic and we're tired, does the government come over to our house and take care of foreplay? (Actually, during the Clinton administration??.??.??.??)

Anyway, a low tax rate is not--never mind the rhetoric of every conservative politician--a bedrock principle of conservatism. The principle is fiscal responsibility.

11750  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The global celebration continues! on: November 08, 2008, 09:31:46 PM

Jihadi Leader Says Radicals Share Obama Victory

Published: November 7, 2008
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The leader of a jihadi group in Iraq argued Friday that the election of Barack Obama as president represented a victory for radical Islamic groups that had battled American forces since the invasion of Iraq.

The statement, which experts said was part of the psychological duel with the United States, was included in a 25-minute audiotaped speech by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organization that claims ties to Al Qaeda. Mr. Baghdadi’s statement was posted on a password-protected Web site called Al Hesbah, used to disseminate information to Islamic radicals.

In his address, Mr. Baghdadi also said that the election of Mr. Obama — and the rejection of the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain — was a victory for his movement, a claim that has already begun to resonate among the radical faithful. In so doing Mr. Baghdadi highlighted the challenge the new president would face as he weighed how to remove troops from Iraq without also giving movements like Al Qaeda a powerful propaganda tool to use for recruiting.

“And the other truth that politicians are embarrassed to admit,” Mr. Baghdadi said, “is that their unjust war on the houses of Islam, with its heavy and successive losses and the continuous operations of exhaustion of your power and your economy, were the principal cause of the collapse of the economic giant.”

The audio statement came amid a very public discussion in the Middle East over what Mr. Obama’s election meant for the future — and what it said about the past. Most of the public reaction, in newspapers and on television and radio stations, was euphoric, with many commentators marveling at the election of a black man whose father was from a Muslim family. There was a general assessment that Mr. Obama’s election was a repudiation of the course taken by President Bush and his inner circle over the past eight years.

“Obama’s election was a message against such destruction, against unjustified wars, wars that are fought with ignorance and rashness, without knowledge of their arenas or the shape of their surroundings,” wrote Ghassan Charbel in Thursday’s issue of the Saudi-owned, pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat. “It was a message against the pattern that became a burden on the U.S. and transformed the U.S. into a burden on the world.”

Some even pointed to Mr. Obama’s election as a lesson to the rest of the region. In Kuwait, Sheik Hamed al-Ali, an Islamic scholar known for his support of jihadi fighters, posted a message titled “We Want Change!” on his Web site.

Sheik Ali said, “It remains the obligation of our Islamic nation to benefit from this example and request change, also, and to get rid of any regime that leads with ignorance and injustice, plunders from the country, enslaves the worshipers, drives us to destruction.” The comments were then circulated on other Islamic Web forums.

But there was also a growing chorus of caution, as commentators began to try to tamp down expectations of any change in American policies in the region. And other commentators echoed Mr. Baghdadi’s view that the election was a victory for the insurgents in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

“It would be no exaggeration to say that we Arabs and Muslims were the main unseen voters who decided the outcome of these elections,” wrote Abdelbari Atwan in Wednesday’s issue of the London-based pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

He wrote, “The transformation that will begin in the U.S. starting today in various political, economic, military, and social domains may well have been delayed for decades, had the new American century been crowned with victory, and had the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan taken the directions sought by the neo-cons — in other words, had there been political stability and economic prosperity, and had the citizens of the two countries targeted by the U.S.’s designs been totally subjugated by it.”

Mr. Baghdadi also used his address to offer Mr. Obama an unlikely deal, one certain to do little to bring any resolution to the conflict between radical Islamic groups and the United States. He offered a truce of sorts in exchange for the removal of all forces from the region.

“On behalf of my brothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Chechnya, I offer you what is better for you and us: you return to your previous era of neutrality, you withdraw your forces, and you return to your homes,” Mr. Baghdadi said. “You do not interfere in the affairs of our countries, directly or indirectly. We in turn will not prevent commerce with you, whether it is in oil or otherwise, but with fairness, not at a loss.”

Faris bin Hizam, an expert on Al Qaeda, said the offer of a trade relationship had struck a new note. “How can he call for establishing a relationship with the United States if it withdraws?” Mr. Bin Hizam said. “The main principle of Al Qaeda prohibits any relation with infidels.”

Marwan Shehadeh, a Jordanian researcher and expert in radical Islamic groups, said that Al Qaeda leaders outside Iraq might balk at such a relationship, but that jihadis might view Mr. Obama’s election as an opportunity.

“Of course there is a shift, because there is a new president who came from an oppressed class, and people who had little opportunity,” Mr. Shehadeh said. “He wants to give Obama the chance to make a change, since Obama has no previous animosity with Islam.”

Intelligence officials working in the region said that they did not see Mr. Obama’s election as having any fundamental effect on Al Qaeda, and that any talk of a truce was likely to go nowhere. But two intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of their work said that they were concerned that any step that could be perceived as a victory for Al Qaeda, like pulling troops out of Iraq right away, would only strengthen its ability to recruit.

“If he withdraws the soldiers from Iraq before the country gets really stable, Al Qaeda will see it as their victory, and they might get stronger again,” one regional intelligence official said. That dynamic was already beginning to play out on Al Hesbah.

As with other Web sites, it is impossible for an outsider to verify the identity, or integrity, of posted comments. But experts recognize Al Hesbah as the one remaining online forum for those aligned with Al Qaeda, after two other Web sites were apparently hacked and taken offline.

On the same day Mr. Baghdadi posted his statement, others chatted about the need to continue the fight against the United States. “All of them are low and dirty, and their hatred of Islam is the same,” one participant wrote. Of Mr. Obama, he wrote, “Even in his speech rejoicing his victory he said, ‘To those who fight us, we will defeat you.’ Let us see who will be victorious.”
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