Kill the Bill: Call the GOP wafflers and sign the Secure Borders Now petition Update: Hutchison to oppose shamnesty?

The assault on free speech in radio

The assault on free speech in radio

Richard Baehr
Think Progress, a left wing organization, prepares for the assault on free speech radio, through reimposition of the government controls on what can and can’t be said on the airwaves in what proportion.  Of course, the way such calculations are made calls talk radio conservative, but exempts the broadcast network news operations and NPR.

If the Democrats win the White House, expect a knock-down drag-out fight to silence talk radio conservatives.

Iran on a Collision Course

Iran on a Collision Course

By James Lewis

Unless something unexpected happens, Iran and the West are on a collision course. The key to the coming confrontation is a basic diplomatic fact. Israel has a widely recognized casus belli against Iran, having been threatened with national destruction by Ahmadi-Nejad and his boss numerous times. The conflict is therefore likely to start with an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities and their defenses.

The United States is less directly threatened, but if Israel attacks key nuclear targets in Iran, counter-attacking Iranian planes and missiles must necessarily pass over the surrounding American forces in the Gulf, in order to reach Israel. US fleet and air elements will be brought in to defend the Strait of Hormuz from a likely Iranian assault and the air space of surrounding countries.
Recent Israeli statements put the time for such a conflict as later this year or in 2008 at the latest. The timing is determined by Iran’s rush to an irreversible nuclear capability. The model will be the 1981 Israeli pinpoint air attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor, which brought down his nuclear ambitions once and for all.
But the coming attack needs to be more complex. A recent MIT study argued that Iran has three critical target sites that are needed for its rising nuclear threat, located at Esfahan, Natanz, and Arak. The Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor was not considered to be critical to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. These targets are heavily defended and bunkered sites. But they can be taken out. We have the capacity to take out command and control of air defenses and retaliatory capacities.

There is a case for attacking Islamic Revolutionary Guard bases, too, since the IRGC is the armed heart of the Khomeini cult in Iran. The fanatical Basij are also an attractive target, since they specialize in beating up Iranian civilians. Degrading the hated Basij may even be popular in Iran.
It is likely that the Iranian Army is receiving many secret entreaties to minimize its involvement in any defense effort, and to simply let the IRGC and Basij be wiped out. Iranian defector General Asghari and his fellow defectors are surely busy at this very moment in sending such seductive offers to Iran.
There are inevitable wild cards. Civilian casualties must be kept extremely low and invisible, including propaganda stunts like Saddam Hussein’s baby milk factory fraud in 1992. The mullah regime can be counted on to try to manipulate the gullible and headline-hungry Western media as usual. Foreign casualties, like Russian engineers at Bushehr, probably can be avoided. In similar circumstances, France, which built the Osirak reactor for Saddam, also passed the blueprints and work schedule to the Israelis, so that they could conduct a very clean strike on a Sunday night in 1981. No French personnel were hurt.
The Russians are providing advanced air and missile defenses to Syria and Iran, but they are perfectly capable of simultaneously passing intelligence to the other side as well. It would appeal to the Russian love for a conspiracy. With their own Islamist war in Chechnya and fresh memories of national dissolution, they cannot want a subversive Islamist nuclear power on their southern border.
Iran has dispersed its nuclear capacities as widely as possible. It is therefore essential to follow up an armed strike with effective economic sanctions, leading to negotiations from a Western position of strength. That can only be accomplished if the international “community” views strikes on Iran as essentially defensive.
As soon as an Israeli “strike package” is known to be on its way, the Iranians will try to counterattack. Their precise targets can only be guessed, but oil traffic transiting the Strait of Hormuz is an obvious possibility. So are the Sunni Arab Gulf States and Saudi Arabia – countries that have been nervously assuring Iran that they would never, ever be involved in launching an attack. The Iranians may not believe them, but they may not want to incur the wrath of the Arab nations either.

So they may first try a strike at Israel itself, via Hezbollah or Hamas. Any Iranian strike against international shipping or strategically important straits will be met with fierce counter-attacks, along the lines of the “Tanker War” of the early 80s.

Iran is not well-placed to attack US forces in Iraq with a conventional invasion force. It could try that, but only at devastating costs, like the Taliban have been incurring in Afghanistan by engaging in medium-size unit attacks. The Taliban are constantly struck from the air when they gather in larger groups. The same would be true for Iran’s conventional forces if they tried to invade Iraq.
Which leaves Iran with the same strategy it has been pursuing so far, i.e., infiltration, subversion, and advanced guerrilla tactics against US and Iraqi forces. The Iranians would no doubt use proxies to fight US forces in Iraq, like the Mahdi Army, but that would expose those forces to US and Iraqi Army firepower.
Iran has highly vulnerable civilian targets, like its sole oil refinery, which could strangle its domestic supplies of gasoline. The refinery could be degraded without starting large oil fires, using special operations teams.  Iran could conduct an oil counter-embargo, but only by starving itself of badly needed foreign currency. The Tanker War of the 1980s is the closest model, and that led to only a temporary spike in international oil prices.
A direct Iranian strike against Israel or the Gulf States by air or missile attack is unlikely to work, since the United States has essentially a maritime picket defense against Iran’s air force and missiles in their first stage (the boost stage of any ballistic missile is slow and vulnerable to attack). Aegis-equipped US Navy ships patrol the Gulf, and a NATO fleet was last heard off the Northern coast of Israel and Lebanon, ready to intercept cruise or ballistic missiles, or jet bombers, on their way to Israel and Europe. Israel has state-of-the-art defenses, but the technology has not been definitively tested. Thus a multi-layered defense is crucial, together with an air offensive to take out the attacking forces in their bases.
If Iran counter-attacks, US power will get involved in knocking out Iranian command and control facilities, including, possibly, the regime itself. More likely, Saddam-style no-fly restrictions will be imposed, to put a lid on Iranian air and missile power once it has been degraded. This was extremely effective after the First Gulf War of 1992 put Saddam in a box.
The United States will get secret but effective help from all the nations whose oil sales or purchases depend upon free traffic through the Gulf, including the Saudis. Since all of the surrounding nations are now feeling threatened by Iran’s nuclear weapons plans, any denunciations at the UN will be purely pro forma.
The Iranian regime is may try nonconventional strikes against Israel, the US, and NATO. Undoubtedly it could explode suicide bombs in European cities and perhaps the United States. Israel is highly defended, but it can never rule out the possibility of a 9/11 style attack or worse.
The ultimate objective must be regime change in Iran. Under the Shah, Iran was a strong American ally, and thrived from that relationship — certainly compared to its later regression into the Dark Ages. If an indigenous secular government could take over in Iran, that would be the best of all possible worlds. But the population has been so thoroughly terrorized and intimidated that the chances of a popular uprising may be small. External pressure could encourage a coup d’etat by the Iranian Army. Because the US has had its fill of nation-building in Iraq, it will simply keep its ground forces out.
The critical question about the mullah regime in Tehran has always been whether it is a suicide-martyrdom regime, like the Japanese Emperor-worship cult in World War II, or whether it is rational, in serving its own basic survival needs. We don’t know the answer, and maybe even the mullahs themselves will not know until that question is tested in practice. At the first sign of trouble, we can be sure that Tehran will be inundated with warnings to try nothing dangerous. Decapitation strikes may be tried against the top mullahs in the regime, and against the large IRGC penetration at high levels of government. These are inherently unpredictable.
In the very worst case, the regime will plant a big bomb in some enemy city like Tel Aviv, New York City or London. That could be a “dirty bomb” or a large, conventional device. The effect of such a large-scale counter-attack would be finally to mobilize the sleeping giant of Western power. It would destroy the Ayatollahs, and could even lead to widespread immigration restrictions in Europe against Islamist countries.
Any effective strike against Iran’s rising threat will be difficult and unpredictable. The quiet, rising consensus in the West seems to be that it is unavoidable. Because of the West’s psychological weaknesses, it is crucial for military-political actions against Iran to take place very quickly, and with minimal visible damage. Osirak is again the model, but Iranian counter-attacks could drag out the conflict. The mullahs are warrior-priests, constantly preparing their followers for the sacrifices of war. The West, by comparison, is the opposite: the general population has little inner strength. But the West can rise to the occasion if it is convinced that a real threat exists. Any Iranian attacks on oil countries or supply lines, not to mention the West itself, would do just that.
In sum, an Israeli-initiated strike on Iran’s core nuclear facilities would probably trigger Iranian retaliation efforts. Those can be stymied by US and allied defensive and counter-offensive power. The result would be to leave the radical Ahmadi-Nejad regime severely weakened. These actions are hardly risk-free, but are rationally preferable to nuclear weapons in the hands of a fanatical and imperialistic martyrdom regime.
James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/

The Preferences Are Coming – Twelve Million of Them

The Preferences Are Coming – Twelve Million of Them
By Lloyd Billingsley
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 21, 2007

The 12 million or more who entered the United States illegally, and would gain United States citizenship under the current immigration proposal, Senate Bill 1348, will qualify for race preferences and privileges for which the majority of Americans are not eligible. This is not fair.

That is the view of Ward Connerly of the Sacramento-based American Civil Rights Institute, a veteran of battles against racial preferences in California, Washington and Michigan, and who believes that “race and ethnic preferences ought to be wrong under any circumstances.” The current immigration measure, Connerly believes, would constitute a massive endowment of such preferences.

“This is huge,” Connerly told Frontpage. “All this talk of going to the back of the line is B.S.. They would go to the front of the line. The minute they are Americans, they move in front of  white males and in some cases white women.” Legalized Hispanic immigrants, Connerly says, would also gain privileges over immigrants from nations such as Russia because they would be part of an officially sanctioned “underrepresented minority.”

“We have to somehow make the American public aware of this. We are, right now, the Paul Revere on this. There is a problem here.”

 

The problem, according to Connerly, lies in “the nexus between illegal immigration and preferences.” That issue had not been part of the immigration debate until last Friday, when Connerly published an open letter in the Washington Times, signed by various individuals, some of whom disagree with him on immigration policy per se. Signatories include Grover Norquist, Linda Chavez, and civil-rights advocate Joe Hicks.

“This is one of those things that people have not thought through.” Connerly said. “A group that has never had the historic discrimination of blacks would be given the status of an underrepresented minority in this country.”

Connerly does not find much to like about the Secure Border, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which he considers amnesty, similar to the 1986 measure that granted amnesty to more than five million illegals. Many of them these prior beneficiaries of amnesty, Connerly says, have also become benficiaries of preferences and he sees the potential for repetition.

“My big fear is that we make 12 million all legal and in 10 years we are back in same position with another five million. Illegal immigration will continue. Until you do something about making it impossible to cross border they will come.”

A root cause, in Connerly’s view, is the definition of a minority.

“It is not numerical,” he said, “you are a minority if you are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged. We will have in California a circumstance that one group is a numerical majority but still classified a minority. You would be hard pressed to say they are disadvantaged. The premise is that minorities are politically powerless.”

Connerly is himself as racially diverse as Tiger Woods and finds fault with a classification system that uses race for Blacks, Whites, Asians and Native Americans but makes Hispanic an ethnic designation. That poses problems, he says, for legalizing millions of Hispanics with the stroke of a pen. “The minute illegals become legalized they become part of preferences,” he said.

Connerly is pushing for a “Fairness to Americans Amendment” to the Senate Bill on Immigration which reads, in part:

THEREFORE, for purposes of the operation of the civil rights laws of the United States, new immigrants to the United States subject to the Secure Border, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 shall not be considered to be “historically disadvantaged,” “underrepresented,” or to be in a “protected class” and shall not be entitled to any preferential or remedial employment goals, educational admissions goals or contracting goals by any entity subject to the civil rights laws of the United States.

Connerly’s past campaigns for equal treatment have prevailed despite much opposition from professional ethnics and the political establishment. In 1996 he helped eliminate racial preferences in California through Proposition 209, which became the blueprint for similar victories in Washington state in 1998 and Michigan in 2006. Some may have thought that the preferences issue had died with the ambiguous Supreme Court decision on affirmative action of 2003.  But the Michigan campaign last year showed how explosive an issue this remains.  In a campaign where Bill Clinton and Colin Powell both campaigned against him and Barack Obama ran a radio ad against the measure, Connerly’s anti-preference initiative still prevailed 58-42, a wider margin than Proposition 209—and this in the middle of a Democratic landslide nationally and in Michigan itself insofar as Gubernatorial and Senate candidates were concerned.

  

With three major states solidly against preferences, Connerly wants more people to vote on this question. So he has planned a kind of Super Tuesday on preferences for November 4, 2008, attempting to qualify ballot measures in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma, states he says are already feeling the effects not only of “affirmative action” but also of illegal immigration.

“I think we win them all once we get on the ballot,” Connerly said. “We need to bring about a critical mass of states. The majority of Americans do not support race preferences. The more we get that view in body politic, the more legislators will be emboldened.”

Only 23 states allow ballot initiatives. For the others, Connerly says, the answer is a court decision: “With every passing day I realize how right our position is.”  He derives a warning from developments abroad.  “Look at what is going on India,” he says. “They made quotas more strict and the people are rioting.”

The Democrats’ Nepotism

The Democrats’ Nepotism
By Dick Morris
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 21, 2007

Anyone who wonders why Congress has a job approval rating of 23 percent, seven points lower than even Bush’s, need only look at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) failure to change the ethics of the Congress. Having pledged to make Congress full-time and put the lackadaisical members to work, she then announced a schedule for 2007 in which House members will have 20 weeks off (and when they work, it’s Tuesday to Thursday most of the time).

Now Pelosi has come up with her own version of the No Child Left Behind program by asking the Defense Department to allow adult children of members of Congress to accompany them on their taxpayer-funded travel abroad if their spouses can’t make it. Such heartfelt concern for the lonely congressman on a publicly paid junket may be her version of family values, but it is a waste of tax money.

To understand the depth of the abuse of taxpayer-funded travel, look at one of Pelosi’s favorites, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.). Miller has been to the following places for free on the taxpayer’s dime between 2000 and 2006:

Mexico, Lebanon, Cambodia (twice), Israel (twice), Vietnam (twice), Jordan, South Africa, Iraq, France, Italy (twice), Hong Kong, Sudan (twice), Taiwan, Ghana, Laos, Liberia, Egypt and Cape Verde.

And Miller does not belong to any congressional committee that deals with foreign relations! During the same period, he has been to 20 other countries for free, paid for by the Aspen Institute. In all, Miller has spent 161 days traveling courtesy of Aspen.

Pelosi’s proposal — and the abuse of free travel by members like Miller — explains why voters can’t stand Congress and illustrates how little improvement there has been under the Democrats.

When his dad became Speaker of the House, Joshua Hastert, son of Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), moved to Washington, closed his record store back home and joined a lobbying firm. He found latent skills at lobbying members like his dad that he never knew he had. Google, recognizing these mythical abilities, hired him as their lobbyist. The Democrats went crazy criticizing abuses like theseNow that Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.) is the Democratic floor leader, he has not just one but three sons — and a son-in-law — who are lobbyists. One of Reid’s sons, and his son-in-law, has lobbied in Washington; a second son lobbies for the same interests in Nevada; and a third son is an attorney who litigates for them in court. Reid’s lobbyist-sons worked to promote federal land swaps, mining interests and the University of Nevada at Reno.

Not to be outdone, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) wife, Abigail Perlman, is director of federal government affairs for Altria — the former Philip Morris corporation. Their relationship is one that was hatched in lobbying. While Blunt was dating Abigail, he quietly drafted language to benefit Altria/Philip Morris and tried to sneak it in the bill that established the Department of Homeland Security — without alerting the Republican leadership. Blunt’s mi ssion was to minimize the sale of cigarettes on the Internet, a thorn in the side of Altria/Philip Morris. Fortunately, Hastert killed the amendment.

Of the 100 senators, the sons, daughters, husbands or wives of 20 of them are registered as lobbyists, whose job often boils down to lobbying Mom or Dad. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is typical of the conflicts that can arise in such a situation. His son Scott Hatch lobbied for the makers of ephedra while his father sponsored legislation to exempt the diet supplement from federal regulation. Scott got paid $2 million in lobbying fees, while Dad got more than $137,000 from the diet supplement industry.

While Pelosi is working on cleaning up Congress, here are a few suggestions for her:

  • Ban anyone who is an immediate relative of a member from lobbying Congress.
  • Ban members from hiring spouses and other immediate relatives on their official, campaign committee or political action commi ttee payrolls.
  • Ban taxpayer-paid travel by anyone but the member himself.
  • Get Congress to stay in session full time, not just 32 weeks a year.

If she adopted measures like these, perhaps the American voter would respect her and her party more than they apparently do.