The stakes for the Islamic Republic of Iran inside Iraq are greater than those of the United States. While Washington’s international prestige is on the line, the Islamic Republic of Iran faces an existential crisis. U.S. success in Iraq and the establishment of a stable, democratic government in a majority Shiite country along Iran’s borders would undercut the theological legitimacy which the Iranian regime claims. While Western diplomats and journalists emphasize the struggle within Iran between political hardliners and reformers, the real Achilles’ heel for the Iranian regime is the theological challenge to its system of governance.
China’s announced blocking of imports of some US processed meat that showed signs of contamination–which affects some of the largest US food companies, including Cargill Meat Solutions and Tyson Foods–is the opening salvo in a multi-front counterattack against critics who have questioned the safety of Chinese exports.
As previously reported by China Confidential, Beijing intends to expose the export by US companies of recycled waste vegetable oil and slaugtherhouse animal fat renderings to Asia and Latin America for use as animal feed additives. The firms, which control the collection of recycled restaurant grease in the US, are legally prohibited from selling such products into the US food chain because of the fear of mad-cow disease from the animal components.
The US exports could be processed into biodiesel; but relatively expensive collection and refining methods make foreign food-chain markets more attractive to the US rendering and waste oil collection giants.
According to US News and World Report, Fred Thompson’s “front porch” campaign for President has recently been reaching out to gather support from a group that any Republican will need to gain the nomination; the Christian right:
For months, conservative evangelical activists have been fretting over a Republican presidential field whose front-runners are the pro-abortion rights Rudy Giuliani, the formerly pro-gay rights Mitt Romney, and John McCain, who once lambasted Jerry Falwell. Activists took little consolation in more socially conservative candidates, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who seemed doomed by low name recognition. Now the Christian right is eyeing former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, who is thought to be on the verge of entering the race. And Thompson is waging a rigorous behind-the-scenes effort to win its support.U.S. News has learned that Thompson recently hired Bill Wichterman, who served as conservative outreach director for former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and Joseph Cella, president of a conservative Catholic group called Fidelis, to lead the effort. The aides are arranging more meetings between Thompson and conservative Christian leaders and have launched a rapid-response operation to fend off attacks on Thompson’s conservative credentials.
Wichterman is a Washington insider with tremendous connections to social conservatives. And Joseph Cella has close ties to most of the primary anti-abortion groups in the country. Thompson could hardly have done better if he is truly seeking to reach out and receive the endorsement of the religous right.
Just how valuable his new hires are proving themselves to be could be seen in the response to last week’s hit piece in the Los Angeles Times about Thompson’s lobbying for a pro-choice group. According to the article linked above, “Thompson’s Christian outreach team quickly E-mailed a detailed denial to conservative leaders.” Within hours, as other reporters sought reaction to the article from evangelical activists, they were able to use Thompson’s talking points in response.
Whether the Christian right will endorse Thompson en masse remains to be seen. But his efforts so far have shown that the former Senator knows how to build bridges to those who can do him the most good.
(Hat Tip: Ed Lasky)
By John Berlau
Now it’s official. Global warming alarmism has indeed “jumped the shark“, as revealed by the dismal failure of the Live Earth concerts to galvanize the general public. In particular, the puny turnout in Washington, DC, where Gore himself personally showed up, has proved an acute embarrassment.
But although Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts have failed in the ratings, he appears to have partially succeeded at doing what does best: shifting blame for his woes to his political opponents and getting the media to go along. Since last weekend, the Net has been abuzz with stories of how Gore overcame Republicans who allegedly did everything they could to stop the concert from being performed on Washington’s National Mall.
“Al Gore foils opponents,” proclaimed Associated Press, after Gore had just announced a “surprise” Live Earth concert in Washington, D.C., the next day. “Global warming naysayers in the political world have not been able to have their way, because this will – despite their best efforts – be held on the Mall,” Gore was quoted in the story as saying.
The next day, Gore again took a shot at the opponents who he said denied him the use of Washington’s famous Mall – the area surrounding the Smithsonian Institution museums between the Capitol and the Washington Monument – and the press again largely parroted his claim. In his speech at National Museum of the American Indian last Saturday, which the Paris-based wire service AFP called “a thinly veiled hit on members of President George W. Bush’s Republican party,” Gore declared, “Some who don’t understand what is now at stake tried to stop this event on the Mall.”
And “some” media outlets, who don’t understand or don’t care that Gore is spinning them, allowed him to peddle the biggest set of urban myths to appear on the Internet since Gore “took the initiative in creating” it.
To start with, the Washington “show” consisted of country stars Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood added to preexisting events with Indian artists. As Carter Wood observed at the National Association of Manufacturers’ blog ShopFloor.org:
“The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian had already scheduled a day of events — including the Indian Summer Showcase 2007, which appeared to be absorbed into ‘Mother Earth – In the Spirit of the Live Earth Concerts.’ There were already going to be performances, drum circles and spiritual/environmental speeches by tribal leaders. Al Gore and the Smithsonian’s organizers just figured a way to add Gore’s overtly political address and the Garth Brooks/Trisha Yearwood performance to an existing event.”
But Gore’s most blatant falsehood – as phony as a three-dollar carbon credit – is his claim that Republican lawmakers or global warming “deniers” prevented him from holding the concert on the Mall. This spread through the left-wing blogosphere like the proverbial wild fire, with entries on ThinkProgress claiming that Republicans “had tried to block the event from happening in DC” and on Daily Kos declaring that “[d]espite Republican efforts …to deny this, Friday Al Gore announced LiveEarthDC.”
In truth, the only thing some GOP lawmakers objected to was an unusual last-minute effort to hold the concert on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, after its organizers discovered that Mall had already been booked for other events. Use of the Mall had been denied to Gore and his colleagues for one reason: they failed to apply for the proper permits before other parties had. And one of the groups “blocking” Live Earth’s use of the Mall happened to be the Smithsonian Institution itself.
The truth is that Gore’s desires for a huge concert on the Mall were actually thwarted not by Republicans, but by a very talented group of Irish Riverdance cloggers, Vietnamese folk artists, and African-American gospel singers. They were performing as scheduled at the acclaimed annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival and at a gospel show sponsored by the predominantly black Christian organization Together One Unity. It seems the “nefarious right-wingers” who organized these folk and gospel fests had the temerity to schedule their events with the National Park Service, which runs the Mall, weeks and months before Live Earth’s organizers ever contacted the agency, and then not call them off when Gore let out a sneeze.
I attended these events on the Mall that weekend and found them to be a wonderful antidote to the green hype of Live Earth and, in truth, a better example of true conservation and simple living then the giant rock concerts were. They were a sort of anti-rock festival, with informal singing and craftsmanship taking precedence. And for bizarre reasons, the Folklife Festival itself has itself actually come under attack from the greens. I will share my impressions and get into the controversy later. In the meantime, back to Gore’s lies.
If Gore had really wanted a big event on the Mall, all he would have had to do was pick another weekend. The big bad Bush Administration and the mean old Republican-controlled Congress placed no obstacles in the way of antiwar rallies and Earth Day events held on the Mall in the past few years that bashed the President and the party. The Park Service issues permits in a professional manner without regard to an event’s ideological content. But it will not let an event jump in front of the line, even if the organizer is a former vice president and Academy Award winner. As the Washington political newspaper The Hill explained, “Getting access to the Mall comes on a strict first-come, first-serve basis.”
Gore’s friends in Congress, namely Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, then tried to bail out Gore’s lack of planning with a thoroughly impractical alternative: putting the concert on the Capitol building’s West Lawn. With rare exceptions, the only large public gatherings there are the National Symphony Orchestra concerts on the 4th of July and Memorial Day. Much attention was paid to Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-OK, who regularly challenges Gore’s views on humans role in global warming and the effects of climate change, calling the concert a “partisan political event” that shouldn’t be held on Capitol grounds. Gore shot back, with his oft-repeated claim that climate change is a “moral issue.”
But even Democrats reportedly chafed at some of the practical impediments to holding Gore’s extravaganza on the West Lawn. An all-day concert drawing huge crowds on the grounds of the Capitol, as opposed to a three-hour symphony performance there at night, could have posed formidable security challenges for those guarding the Capitol building. Plus, in the holiday concerts, the Mall is utilized to pick up the overflow in the crowds from the West Lawn. But, in this case, of course, the Mall would be hosting its own events and would be unable to absorb as much of the overflow.
These concerns may be part of the reason Democrats on the Hill backed off as soon as practical questions about the event were being raised. Unlike Inhofe, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, merely refused to let Reid’s bill on Gore’s concerts clear the Senate with “unanimous consent.” According to The Hill, McConell wasn’t necessarily opposed to hosting the concert at the Capitol, but “wanted more time for his side to look at the resolution.” Reid soon backed off, and Gore announced that the concert would be in New Jersey. The fact that Reid and Gore didn’t push harder suggests that they may never have wanted an actual concert on the Capitol grounds, but merely an issue to beat-up Republicans with.
In the meantime, out of the media spotlight, thousands of people gathered on the Mall for the festivals that had been properly booked. As Ludacris and Madonna crooned (if you can call it that) in the bask of media attention, the Folklife Festival was abuzz with the sounds of Southeast Asian flute music, folk songs and dances from Northern Ireland, and the bluegrass tunes of rural Virginia.
In contrast to the Live Earth entertainment extravaganza, the Folklife Festival was a venue that really celebrated our rural roots and the so-called simple life. And the attendees practiced conservation in action, as I saw barely a scrap of trash on the grounds of the Mall. (There were also lots of recycling bins, but whether recycling is always beneficial is another story.) One would think this would be an event a good Green would love.
Alas, not so for some of the major environmental groups. This is because due to its hosting a folk “life” festival, the Smithsonian presents all aspects of rural living, including (gasp!) cars and (horrors!) machinery used for resource extraction. The technology that has improved rural life greatly doesn’t fit today’s enviros’ definition of an idyllic rural culture. Last year, green groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council actually protested the Folklife Festival because of one exhibit that focused on oil exploration in the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.
So Gore and company present an interesting new environmental ethic. It’s okay, as long as you’re “environmentally correct,” to burn up tons of fuel jetting off to concerts around the world. But it’s a sin to even present the exploration for this oil in a positive light. Talk about an “offset” in priorities.
John Berlau is director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the author of Eco-Freaks.
It’s customary for stories about Washington D.C. written in the final hours before Congress takes its August break to make some comparison to the city’s sweltering steamy heat. This has been a rather cool and dry summer as a matter of fact, but if Congress can’t wait to get out of here, most of us are so steamed at its behavior that we can’t wait for these pampered, self-serving clowns to beat it out of town.
Our military pulls the laboring oar to complete the mission in Iraq, and the troops seem to be doing quite a job of it only weeks into the surge, which Congress signed on to under General Petraeus (whom they approved for this position). But the Democratic Congress seems hell-bent on undermining the troops and their mission at every turn. For the most shabby and obvious partisan advantage. Even some erstwhile Republican supporters of the Iraq Mission seem to have lost their spine just as the tide is definitely swinging in our favor, making an honorable withdrawal of our troops possible in a not-so-distant future. The unserious proposal by Senators Warner and Lugar comes to mind.
Once again ordinary Americans rise to the challenge while our overpaid political elite ponce about on the stage making outrageous remarks and proposals in an effort to get approving coverage from a media (which itself for the most part seems determined to bury the significance of the mission and its remarkable achievements). But nothing – not even the 300 pointless investigations of an Administration marked by remarkable probity nor the base predictions of failure even before the additional troops hit the ground – proves the lack of serious purpose as much as the Congressional failure to censure Congressman John Murtha.
In May of 2006, Congressman Murtha said that
Marines had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood” after allegedly responding to a roadside bomb ambush that killed a Marine during a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, Nov. 19. The incident is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Multi-National Forces Iraq. [….]
“It’s much worse than was reported in Time magazine,” Murtha, a Democrat, former Marine colonel and Vietnam war veteran, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “There was no firefight. There was no [bomb] that killed those innocent people,” Murtha explained, adding there were “about twice as many” Iraqis killed than Time had reported.
At the moment he uttered those words and prejudged the Marines charged with wrongdoing, the Time story which focused attention on the incident in Haditha was already showing signs of terminal weakness. But Murtha claimed he had special information supporting the charges in that now-thoroughly discredited propaganda piece. At the time he made those statements Murtha suggested his claims were made on the basis of a briefing that he’d received from General Hagee, something it later turned out was not true. Hagee briefed Murtha on May 24 about the incident. But Murtha’s statements tarring the men who’d risked their lives for us only to find themselves in legal jeopardy were made as early as May 17.
It would appear, though we’ve no idea where he actually got any of his information, that at best he may have had some access to the raw investigative NCIS files, something because of their very nature, that were never to be deemed conclusive or public, though leaks of damning portions of those reports did appear from time to time in the press. Whether those leaks were from NCIS or from Congressional staff or members with access to them is unclear. Wherever they came from, it is an outrage that this kind of information was leaked to the public. Surely it dispirits the men in the field and poisons the well for a fair hearing.
Last week, Murtha’s slander became even clearer than it did a year ago. The Investigating Officer who reviewed the record on the first of the Marines to be charged found:
Recommended disposition of Charge
Due to the disparate accounts, it is tempting to simply conclude that this case should be tried to either exonerate LCp1 Sharratt or convict him of a crime. However, to adopt the government’s position that because there are two differing accounts, a general court-martial is warranted is an abdication of the necessary process of determining whether reasonable grounds exist to warrant a court-martial. It is not as simple as stating there are two accounts so a trial is necessary. Analysis of these two versions must provide reasonable grounds that the Government version of events may be true. In analyzing the evidence, I read several hundred pages of interviews, documents, articles and statements (IE 33-105). Ultimately, there is only one statement by an eye witness to the events, LCp1 Sharratt, and his version of events is strongly corroborated by independent forensic analysis of the death scene. The government version is unsupported by independent evidence and while each statement has within it corroboration, several factors together reduces the credibility of such statements to incredible. In addition, the statements of the Iraqis are unclear, contradictory in part, and simply state self-interested conclusions as to what occurred within house 4. Finally, to believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq. Even more dangerous is the potential that a Marine may hesitate at the critical moment when facing the enemy. Much effort during the Article 32 focused on whether the victims were insurgents. Although determining if they were may have some bearing on the credibility of the Iraqi witnesses and may support that LCp1 Sharratt did perceive a hostile situation within house 4, such determinations are not necessary to conclude that LCp1 Sharratt is truthful in his account. From as early as February 2006 LCp1 Sharratt’s statements are supported by the forensic evidence. It is likely that members of the Ahmed family were either insurgents on 19 November 2005, or that they were attempting to defend their house and family when Marines entered house 4 uninvited and unannounced. On that fateful afternoon, Jasib heard someone enter house 4. He investigated with his AK-47 in his hands. LCp1 Sharratt saw him and perceived him as a threat. Using his training he responded instinctively, assaulting into the room emptying his pistol. Whether this was a brave act of combat against the enemy or tragedy of misperception born out of conducting combat with an enemy that hides among innocents, LCp1 Sharratt’s actions were in accord with the rules of engagement and use of force. Accordingly I recommend that the Charge and specifications be dismissed without prejudice. I further recommend that LCp1 Sharratt be given testimonial immunity and ordered to cooperate with ongoing investigations concerning the events of 19 November 2005. [Emphasis in original]
In other words, the Investigating Officer found what many of us in the blogopshere noticed over a year ago, at the very time Time and Murtha were slandering the Marines and adding to their pain and the pain of the families, friends and the Marine Corps itself: the story was an utter hoax.
Laughably, when his office was contacted for comment, his spokesman said the Congressman had none because the investigation was “ongoing”. Interestingly, he didn’t feel this way when the defendants were first charged and the public and the investigating officer hadn’t an opportunity to view their evidence. He poisoned the well when they couldn’t easily respond, and now that he’s proven wrong he’s hiding from the consequences of his unspeakable behavior.
If Congressman Murtha does not personally apologize to the Hilo Company Marines for his intemperate, false and unsupported charges for his own partisan advantage before Congress recesses, upon its return every single member of Congress should be demanding his censure. And anyone who doesn’t demand his censure clearly does not seriously support the troops.
If the Congressional majority does not act on this calumny, we will have further evidence of the true nature of our political elite: self-serving demagogues who care not for the men and women sacrificing so much for them. We will have yet another reason to throw a lot of people out of office at the next opportunity.
And perhaps instead of ludicrous hearings which even their friends in the press are beginning to ignore, Congress should show its support for the fighting men and women by initiating some hearings on how damaging portions of the raw NCIS files made their way to the press, and punish anyone on the Hill who is found to have played a role in that. In addition, in exercising its oversight responsibilities, Congress should be taking a close look at how the NCIS operated in this case and others.
The mantra “We support the troops” should, after all, encompass efforts to protect their legal rights with at least the same fervor the Democrats have argued for the legal rights of those charged with terrorism and held in Guantanamo. Shouldn’t it?
Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.