When U.S. Republicans accused Democrats of not having a plan for victory in Iraq during the campaign, Democrats insisted that they did – but, at the same time, they preferred to keep it a secret from voters. It’s a good thing that they reassured Americans of this, because anyone paying attention to what’s happening on Capitol Hill these days might assume that the “most ethical Congress in history” (as Pelosi puts it) campaigned on a blatant lie.

Current:  When U.S. Republicans accused Democrats of not having a plan for victory in Iraq during the campaign, Democrats insisted that they did – but, at the same time, they preferred to keep it a secret from voters.  It’s a good thing that they reassured Americans of this, because anyone paying attention to what’s happening on Capitol Hill these days might assume that the “most ethical Congress in history” (as Pelosi puts it) campaigned on a blatant lie. 

Here’s just a sample of what we have so far: 

John Murtha wants to cut and run.  Joe Lieberman wants to stay the course.  Joe Biden wants to carve Iraq into three sections.  Carl Levin wants U.S. withdrawal to being in 4 to 6 months.  Hillary wants to give it another year.  Charlie Rangel wants to reinstate the military draft.  Nancy Pelosi wants an immediate reduction in U.S. troops.  And a whole lot of other Democrats campaigned on the protest that there weren’t enough troops in Iraq, leading many to naturally assume that they would increase troop levels. 

What they all really want, of course, is to build on their political gains by winning the White House in 2008.  Unfortunately for them, they’ve now inherited a war that was made deeply unpopular in no small part because of their own success at hammering morale even before the troops were on the ground.  And regardless of whether they retreat in the face of Islamic terror or stand and fight, perhaps Democrats will at least come to understand the difficulty of leading in a time of war.

A Different Christmans Poem — Please copy and email it to your friends

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”

 “It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ‘ Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘ Nam ‘,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

PLEASE, Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S.service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let’s try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people
stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for
us.

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Extremist vying to become top ayatollah

Extremist vying to become top ayatollah

By Colin Freeman
LONDON SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
November 20, 2006
TEHRAN — A hard-line cleric who opposes all dialogue with the West is a leading contender to become Iran’s next supreme spiritual leader.
    In a move that would push the country even further into the diplomatic wilderness, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, 71, who publicly backs the use of suicide bombers against Israel, is campaigning to succeed Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameini, 67, as the head of the Islamic state.
    Considered an extremist even by fellow mullahs, he was a fringe figure in Iran’s theocracy until last year’s election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fellow fundamentalist who views him as his ideological mentor.
    He is known to many Iranians as “Professor Crocodile” because of a notorious cartoon that depicted him weeping false tears over the imprisoning of a reformist journalist.
    Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi and his supporters will attempt to tighten the fundamentalists’ political stranglehold next month, by standing in elections for the Assembly of Experts, an 86-strong group of theologians that would be responsible for nominating a replacement for Ayatollah Khamenei, whose health is rumored to be failing.
    Opposing them will be a coalition of moderate conservatives led by Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president, and members of the increasingly marginalized reformist movement, who have formed an alliance to prevent what both groups fear is a drift toward political extremism.
    Appointing Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi as supreme leader would be a massive blow to Western efforts to get Iran to cease its nuclear program and backing of militants in Lebanon and Iraq and among the Palestinians. Although he has never spoken publicly on the issue, Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi is thought to support the idea of an Iranian nuclear bomb.
    Ali Ansari, an Iran specialist at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, said: “Mesbah-Yazdi is on the hard right and very authoritarian. He doesn’t even believe in democracy. Having him in power would lead to a much more hard-line, puritanical rule in Iran. It would not be good news for the West.”
    The Assembly of Experts is elected every eight years and has the power to appoint, supervise and impeach the supreme leader, who, in practice, wields ultimate power. Although Ayatollah Khameini, who has been in office since 1989, is expected to remain for the time being, the assembly elected next month is almost certain eventually to decide his successor.
    The run-up to the vote has been marred by complaints of rigging in favor of hard-liners. The Guardian Council, a hard-line body that vets candidates, is accused of vetoing reform-minded clerics from taking part. Around half of nearly 500 applicants have been barred from standing.
    In a letter to the council last week, Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist cleric, accused the council of “injustice” and misjudgment, saying that it would lead to “people’s distrust in the authorities and the clergy.”
    The reformists’ despair has been deepened by fears that few of their disillusioned supporters will vote, despite the possible consequences of a hard-liner victory. Constant political interference in the electoral process has persuaded many Iranians that it is not worth voting, an attitude that many reformists concede helped Mr. Ahmadinejad to win the presidency last year.
    “Many reformists have lost faith, although the hard-liners will hope to organize a mass turnout among their own supporters,” Mr. Ansari said.
    Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, who will be standing for election to the Assembly of Experts, regularly meets with Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose presidential bid he endorsed in a fatwa, or holy order.
    The cartoonist whose drawing earned “Professor Crocodile” his nickname suffered the same fate as the journalists whose frequent imprisonment was depicted. He, too, was sent to prison.
    

When Should We No Longer Support Israel?

When Should We No Longer Support Israel?
By Victor Davis Hanson
VictorHanson.com | March 30, 2004

The recent assassination of Sheik Saruman raises among some Americans the question—at what point should we reconsider our rather blanket support for the Israelis and show a more even-handed attitude toward the Palestinians? The answer, it seems to me, should be assessed in cultural, economic, political, and social terms.

Well, we should no longer support Israel, when…

Mr. Sharon suspends all elections and plans a decade of unquestioned rule.

Mr. Sharon suspends all investigation about fiscal impropriety as his family members spend millions of Israeli aid money in Paris.

All Israeli television and newspapers are censored by the Likud party.

Israeli hit teams enter the West Bank with the precise intention of targeting and blowing up Arab women and children.

Preteen Israeli children are apprehended with bombs under their shirts on their way to the West Bank to murder Palestinian families.

Israeli crowds rush into the street to dip their hands into the blood of their dead and march en masse chanting mass murder to the Palestinians.

Rabbis give public sermons in which they characterize Palestinians as the children of pigs and monkeys.

Israeli school textbooks state that Arabs engage in blood sacrifice and ritual murders.

Mainstream Israeli politicians, without public rebuke, call for the destruction of Palestinians on the West Bank and the end to Arab society there.

Likud party members routinely lynch and execute their opponents without trial.

Jewish fundamentalists execute with impunity women found guilty of adultery on grounds that they are impugning the “honor” of the family.

Israeli mobs with impunity tear apart Palestinian policemen held in detention.

Israeli television broadcasts—to the tune of patriotic music—the last taped messages of Jewish suicide bombers who have slaughtered dozens of Arabs.

Jewish marchers parade in the streets with their children dressed up as suicide bombers, replete with plastic suicide-bombing vests.

New Yorkers post $25,000 bounties for every Palestinian blown up by Israeli murderers.

Israeli militants murder a Jew by accident and then apologize on grounds that they though he was an Arab—to the silence of Israeli society.

Jews enter Arab villages in Israel to machine gun women and children.

Israeli public figures routinely threaten the United States with terror attacks.

Bin Laden is a folk hero in Tel Aviv.

Jewish assassins murder American diplomats and are given de facto sanctuary by Israeli society.

Israeli citizens celebrate on news that 3,000 Americans have been murdered.

Israeli citizens express support for Saddam Hussein’s supporters in Iraq in their efforts to kill Americans.

So until then, I think most Americans can see the moral differences in the present struggle.

If the Palestinians wish to hold periodic and open elections, establish an independent judiciary, create a free press, arrest murderers, subject their treasury to public scrutiny, eschew suicide murdering, censure religious leaders who call for mass murder, embrace non-violent dissidents, extend equal rights to women, end honor killings, raise funds in the Arab world earmarked only to build water, sewer, transportation, and education infrastructure, and pledge that any Jews who choose to live in the West Bank will enjoy the same rights as Arabs in Israel, then they might find Americans equally divided over questions of land and peace.

But all that is a lot of ifs. And so for the present, Palestinian leaders shouldn’t be too surprised that Americans increasingly find very little in their society that has much appeal to either our values or sympathy. If they continually assure us publicly that they are furious at Americans, then they should at least pause, reflect, and ask themselves why an overwhelming number of Americans—not Jewish, not residents of New York, not influenced by the media—are growing far more furious with them.

First Muslim Congressman Addresses CAIR Banquet — Elected officials who spoke at the sold-out event included Representative- elect Ellison (D-MN), as well as Reps. Mike Honda (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Albert Wynn (D-MD). Ellison and Jackson Lee offered their addresses by video. Saqib Ali, who was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates (District 39) on November 7, was also in attendance.

First Muslim Congressman Addresses CAIR Banquet

After reports that he wouldn’t, he did after all. And CAIR raised $620,000 for its “civil rights” work. A press release (thanks to all who sent this in):

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ — More than 1,000 people turned out on Saturday at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet in Arlington, Va., to hear addresses by several elected officials, including Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress.The event raised more than $620,000 to support CAIR’s civil rights and advocacy work on behalf of the American Muslim community. (Another dinner held by CAIR’s Southern California chapter (CAIR-LA) over the weekend raised more than $430,000. Some 1,800 people attended that event.)

Elected officials who spoke at the sold-out event included Representative- elect Ellison (D-MN), as well as Reps. Mike Honda (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Albert Wynn (D-MD). Ellison and Jackson Lee offered their addresses by video. Saqib Ali, who was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates (District 39) on November 7, was also in attendance.

Dark Ages, Live from the Middle East

Dark Ages, Live from the Middle East
By Victor Davis Hanson
The Washington Times | October 30, 2006

The most frightening aspect of the present war is how easily our premodern enemies from the Middle East have brought a stunned postmodern world back into the Dark Ages.Students of history are sickened when they read of the long-ago, gruesome practice of beheading. How brutal were those societies that chopped off the heads of Cicero, Sir Thomas More and Marie Antoinette. And how lucky we thought we were to have evolved from such elemental barbarity.

Twenty-four hundred years ago, Socrates was executed for unpopular speech. The 18th-century European Enlightenment gave people freedom to express views formerly censored by clerics and the state. Just imagine what life was like once upon a time when no one could write music, compose fiction or paint without court or church approval?

Over 400 years before the birth of Christ, ancient Greek literary characters, from Lysistrata to Antigone, reflected the struggle for sexual equality. The subsequent notion that women could vote, divorce, dress or marry as they pleased was a millennia-long struggle.

It is almost surreal now to read about the elemental hatred of Jews in the Spanish Inquisition, 19th-century Russian pogroms or the Holocaust. Yet here we are revisiting the old horrors of the savage past.

Beheading? As we saw with Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, our Neanderthal enemies in the Middle East have resurrected that ancient barbarity — and married it with 21st-century technology to beam the resulting gore instantaneously onto our computer screens. Xerxes and Attila, who stuck their victims’ heads on poles for public display, would’ve been thrilled by such a gruesome show.

Who would have thought centuries after the Enlightenment that sophisticated Europeans — in fear of radical Islamists — would be afraid to write a novel, put on an opera, draw a cartoon, film a documentary or have their pope discuss comparative theology?

The astonishing fact is not just that millions of women worldwide in 2006 are still veiled from head-to-toe, trapped in arranged marriages, subject to polygamy, honor killings and forced circumcision, or lack the right to vote or appear alone in public. What is more baffling is that in the West, liberal Europeans are often wary of protecting female citizens from the excesses of Shariah law — sometimes even fearful of asking women to unveil their faces for purposes of simple identification and official conversation.

Who these days is shocked that Israel is hated by Arab nations and threatened with annihilation by radical Iran? Instead, the surprise is that even in places like Paris or Seattle, Jews are singled out and killed for the apparent crime of being Jewish.

Since September 11, 2001, the West has fought enemies who are determined to bring back the nightmarish world we thought was long past. And there are lessons Westerners can learn from radical Islamists’ ghastly efforts.

• First, the Western liberal tradition is fragile and can still disappear. Just because we have sophisticated cell phones, CAT scanners and jets does not ensure we are permanently civilized or safe. Technology used by the civilized for positive purposes can easily be manipulated by barbarians for destruction.

• Second, the Enlightenment is not always lost on the battlefield. It can be surrendered through either fear or indifference as well. Westerners fearful of terrorist reprisals themselves shut down a production of a Mozart opera in Berlin deemed offensive to Muslims. Few came to the aid of a Salman Rushdie or Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh when their unpopular expression earned death threats from Islamists. Van Gogh, of course, was ultimately killed.

The Goths and Vandals did not sack Rome solely through the power of their hordes; they also relied on the paralysis of Roman elites who no longer knew what it was to be Roman — much less whether it was any better than the alternative.

• Third, civilization is forfeited with a whimper, not a bang. Insidiously, we have allowed radical Islamists to redefine the primordial into the not-so-bad. Perhaps women in head-to-toe burkas in Europe prefer them? Maybe that crass German opera was just too over the top after all? Aren’t both parties equally to blame in the Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan wars?

To grasp the flavor of our own Civil War, impersonators now don period dress and reconstruct the battles of Shiloh or Gettysburg. But we need no so such historical re-enactment of the Dark Ages. You see, they are back with us — live almost daily from the Middle East.

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All’s Not Well in Donkeyland — And they’ve compounded the problem by making what appears to be an Hispanic affirmative action pick for the new boss of the Republican National Committee (Sen. Mel “Guest Worker” Martinez), and by bringing world-class pork-barreler Trent Lott back into the leadership ranks of the United States Senate, and by keeping the same top two leaders in the House (Rep. John Boehner and Rep. Roy Blunt) who oversaw the November 7th debacle which gave the nation “Speaker” Pelosi.