By Brian Lockhart
May 25, 2007
STAMFORD — Character actor and former Sen. Fred Dalton Thompson’s next role is as president — he’s playing Ulysses S. Grant in the HBO film “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”
But Thompson last night did not end speculation about his possible run for the White House.
“All right, let’s get the announcement out of the way,” Thompson told the crowd of 600 GOP faithful at the Stamford Sheraton on Summer Street. ” ‘Law and Order’ will return for an 18th season.”
Since retiring from Congress in 2002, Thompson, 64, has played a New York City district attorney on the NBC police drama. He was the keynote speaker last night at the annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner, where Riverside venture capitalist L. Scott Frantz received the top honor.
Thompson, a conservative from Tennessee inspired by the Barry Goldwater book “Conscience of a Conservative,” sought to rally party members for next year’s national elections.
“There’s a rumbling out in the country, my friends. I think they’re calling to us,” Thompson said.
State Party Chairman Christopher Healy believes Thompson will enter the race.
“He’s doing all the right things for a guy who is running,” Healy said.
Thompson has been making several speaking appearances and is also blogging on issues, including his opposition to the immigration bill.
And Wednesday, Bob Schieffer, the CBS News chief Washington correspondent, was quoted as saying: “I think he is very close to announcing he is going to run É I am told by people around him that he has made the decision. It’s just a question of when he’s going to announce.”
Healy said he invited Thompson to be guest speaker because he is “a rising star.
“It doesn’t hurt to come to a northeast state and try out your message,” said, adding: “I’ve got to sell tickets.”
Dinner guests such as Sen. William Nickerson, R-Greenwich, said Thompson clearly accepted the invitation to make inroads amongst northeastern Republicans. He will have to compete with the more moderate former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, who have already announce their candidacies.
“He’s not here for the food,” Nickerson said. “He’s here to test the waters, make contacts, listen to people.”
Although he served in the Senate from 1994 to 2002, Thompson is probably best recognized now as the towering, grim-faced actor who has played a variety of authority figures in movies such as “The Hunt for Red October,” the “Cape Fear” remake, “In the Line of Fire,” “Die Hard II,” and, most recently, on “Law and Order.”
He told the crowd last night that, when asked why he left the Senate, he responds: “After eight years in Washington, I long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood. That’s no joke, my friends.”
Thompson railed in his southern drawl against “the pork-barrel spending and corruption” in Washington.
He mostly targeted the Democratic majority, but said some Republicans are also to blame. He said the party has been making compromises on issues like immigration and the Iraq war over fear of losing more seats in Congress.
“I think (the American people) want our leadership,” Thompson said. “What should we do? Get our own house in order É We can’t make decisions (that are) not in the best interests of our country.”
He said America is beset by a variety of challenges, from government inefficiencies, to “entitlement programs (that are) bankrupting the next generation,” to protecting citizens from terrorists.
“We’re living in a nation beset by suicidal maniacs,” Thompson said, launching into criticism of the immigration bill.
A strong supporter of the Iraq war, Thompson criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for publicly stating the war has been lost — “fine, fine message to those people giving their lives for us” — and the Democrats for debating a timetable for “surrender.
“Al-Qaida have a 100-year plan,” Thompson said. “We have a plan until the next election.”
Thompson also reiterated his support for President Bush’s tax cuts, which have particularly benefited many of the lower Fairfield County residents who sat in the audience last night.
Thompson was introduced by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who probably best summarized the challenges the conservative faces in wooing northeastern Republicans.
Rell said on “Law and Order,” Thompson has performed one of the greatest acting jobs in history — “Convincing television viewers a southern boy can be elected district attorney in New York City.”
Fiery Anti-U.S. Cleric Reappears in Iraq
Friday May 25, 2007 6:31 PM
AP Photo BAG108, AMMA102, BAG101
By RAVI NESSMAN
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD (AP) – Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr appeared in public for the first time in months on Friday, delivering a fiery anti-American sermon to thousands of followers and demanding U.S. troops leave Iraq.
It was not immediately clear why he chose to return now to his base in the Shiite holy city of Najaf from Iran. His speech had new nationalist overtones, calling on Sunnis to join with him in the fight against the U.S. presence. He also criticized the government’s inability to provide reliable services to its people.
Al-Sadr’s reappearance, four months after he went underground at the start of the U.S.-led Baghdad security crackdown, came just hours before his Mahdi Army militia lost its top commander in the southern city of Basra in a gunbattle with British soldiers, Iraqi police said.
British military spokeswoman Capt. Katie Brown said Iraqi special forces carried out the operation with British troops in “a supporting role.” Brown declined to reveal more about the shooting, saying details would have to come from the Iraqis.
The 33-year-old al-Sadr is believed to be honing plans to consolidate political gains and foster ties with Iran – and possibly trying to take advantage of the absence of a major rival, Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and went to Iran for treatment.
The U.S. military also announced Friday that six U.S. soldiers were killed in a series of attacks across Iraq in recent days. The deaths put May on pace to be one of the deadliest months for U.S. forces here in years.
Al-Sadr traveled in a long motorcade from Najaf to the adjacent holy city of Kufa on Friday morning to deliver his sermon before 6,000 worshippers.
“No, no for Satan. No, no for America. No, no for the occupation. No, no for Israel,” he chanted in a call and response with the audience at the start of his speech.
He repeated his long-standing call for U.S. forces to leave Iraq.
“We demand the withdrawal of the occupation forces, or the creation of a timetable for such a withdrawal,” he said. “I call upon the Iraqi government not to extend the occupation even for a single day.”
He also condemned fighting between his Mahdi Army militia and Iraqi security forces, saying it “served the interests of the occupiers.” Instead, he said the militia should turn to peaceful protests, such as demonstrations and sit-ins, he said.
In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe expressed hope that al-Sadr’s reappearance signaled that he wanted “to play a positive role inside Iraq.”
“He has an opportunity to be a part of the political reconciliation process. We’ll see if he and his followers participate,” he said.
Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army fought U.S. troops to a virtual standstill in 2004, but to avoid renewed confrontation he ordered his militants off the streets when the U.S. began its security crackdown in the Baghdad area 14 weeks.
His associates say his strategy is based partly on a belief that Washington will soon start reducing troop strength, leaving a void in Iraq’s security and political power structure that he can fill.
Al-Sadr also believes that Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government may soon collapse under its failure to improve security, services and the economy, al-Sadr’s aides say. A political reshuffle would give the Sadrist movement, with its 30 seats in the 275-member parliament, an opportunity to become a major player.
In a move that could hasten the collapse, al-Sadr pulled his supporters out of al-Maliki’s government last month over the prime minister’s refusal to call for a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal.
The Mahdi Army received a severe blow Friday when its Basra leader, Wissam al-Waili, 23, also known as Abu Qadir, was shot and killed along with his brother and two aides during a battle with Iraqi special forces backed by British troops Friday afternoon, police said.
The battle began about 4 p.m. when the Iraqi and British forces attempted to arrest al-Waili after he left a mosque in Jumhoriyah, a middle class, residential area in central Basra, police and Brown said. Al-Waili and his three companions opened fire and were killed when the British troops shot back, police said.
Meanwhile, three U.S. soldiers were killed in roadside bombings in the capital and the surrounding areas, the military said Friday. Two others were killed in explosions north of Baghdad, and a sixth soldier was hit by gunfire in the volatile Diyala province, the military said.
The killings raised the American death toll for the month to at least 88. Last month, 104 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq.
Military officials have warned that U.S. casualties were likely to rise as more troops deployed to Iraq and the military pushed ahead with its Baghdad security crackdown.
“We have more people on the ground, this leads to an opportunity for more contact, more conflict, more clashes,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman.
The time for taboos is over. We have to talk about the way in which immigration will change the United States and the world.
In particular, much of the world has never understood why the United States gives such warm support to besieged democracies — like Israel, Taiwan, Poland during the Cold War, a near-dead Britain during the Nazi Blitz, the Free French, and many other democracies under assault. Today Europeans pretend not to understand why we overthrew the Nazi-clone Saddam Hussein — even though they continue to benefit from our actions against the Nazis and Soviets, every single minute of their self-indulgent lives.
Many Muslims come from utterly indoctrinated countries in the Middle East, where Jew-hatred and anti-democratic ideology are daily fare, pervading radio, TV, newspapers, and the educational system. Wall-to-wall propaganda works. Single individuals cannot withstand total saturation of their lives by ideologies of hatred. All Arab countries, Iran and Turkey, have shown the TV soap opera version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion on their state-sponsored television channels, to wild applause. http://www.memri.org
Yet millions of Muslims are eager to move to the United States, in good part to make America more like the societies they are leaving.
The crucial question is: Will immigrants become Americans? Or will they turn this country into Europe or the Third World? Because that is their clearly stated intention — ranging from Mexican Azatlan nationalists, to Muslims, and to European socialists. They have all been taught that America is evil, but they still want to come here to make us enlightened — by their standards. Liberal legislation is designed to do exactly that.
Steven A. Camarota is the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies. His 2003 essay, The Muslim Wave: Dealing with Immigration from the Middle East is required reading in the crucial time of debate on the Senate immigration bill.
“… continued Mideast immigration appears likely to lead to changes in U.S. policy, as elected officials respond to Muslim Americans’ growing electoral importance. Their increasing political influence was evident earlier this year when three Democratic House members from Michigan, whose districts contain fast-growing Arab immigrant communities, were among only 21 members voting against a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel against terrorism.”
This is four years later, and we need to think and act clearly about the coming decades for America.
As Camarota pointed out:
Reducing legal immigration from the Mideast is a sensible policy, but the only way this could ever happen would be the enactment of an immigration cap that would apply across the board – to all immigrants, wherever they might hail from. The same holds for efforts to deal with illegal immigration: Given limited resources, in a time of war, it makes sense – over the short term – to pursue with special vigor those immigration-law violators who are Middle Easterners. But over the long term, such a policy would be unfair and politically unsustainable. Reducing the overall immigration level is the wisest plan, for the decades to come.
But we have not succeeded in regulating immigration in any sensible fashion. Current legislation may triple legal immigration. The Senate bill proponents are now trying to silence and twist rational opposition.
Don’t accept any taboos on free speech when it concerns the vital future of this country — which is still, as Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, the “last, best hope of mankind.”
Please let it remain that.
James Lewis blogs at http://www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com
The left wing UK Guardian reports that Iran’s economy is facing severe difficulty, as President Ahmadinejad ham-handedly (oops! I mean mutton-handedly) intervenes in the economy, defying the law of supply and demand, in addition to sharia law.
Iran’s financial system suffered a fresh jolt yesterday with panic selling on the stock market after the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, abruptly ordered banks to cut interest rates sharply, despite surging inflation.
The order, which Mr Ahmadinejad issued by telephone during a visit to Belarus and which flew in the face of expert advice – has triggered warnings of a financial crisis and spiralling corruption amid fears of a capital flight from the country’s lending institutions.
Interest rates? Even kufr like me knows that the Prophet passed on the word from Allah that charging interest is a no-no. I am not sure whether the punishment is cutting off a hand, pushing a wall over on the miscreant, or gang-raping his sister. But it definitely is such a no-no that various “Islamic banks” have been set up with elaborate schemes of purchase and future sale-back at a fixed higher price to charge interest without looking like you are charging interest.
That little problem aside, the economic policy is madness.
The interest rate move theoretically helps the less-well-off, for whom Mr Ahmadinejad has pledged support with cheaper loans. But economists say cutting rates below inflation will scare investors into withdrawing their savings, thereby creating a black market in high interest loans. They also warn of higher inflation as investors redirect their money into property and push up house prices.
“Mr Ahmadinejad’s argument is that the lower the interest rate, the more access people will have to money,” said one analyst. “But you can’t command interest rates down. They have to match inflation. To cut rates, the government has to balance its budget better.”
Another economist, Saeed Leylaz, claimed the move was a reward to powerful groups who had supported Mr Ahmadinejad. “I believe the president knows the consequence of this decision but he doesn’t care about the future.”
Ahmadinejad may be figuring that since the Twelfth Imam is coming shortly, the future doesn’t matter much. In the meantime, it is going to be very hard to find any money to borrow without going to loan sharks. Which means a lot of businesses will be closing their doors, and a lot more people will be unemployed. But his friends who have massive debts will get richer, and that’s what really matters.
Hat tip: Joseph Crowley