Congress workin’ on the weekend: Energy, FISA reform, defense appropriations, and earmarks aplenty

It’s time the Middle East grew up

Obama: The Mark of Inexperience

Obama: The Mark of Inexperience

By Denis Keohane

No doubt Senator Obama was stung by Hillary Clinton’s charge of naïveté and knows that his lack of executive and foreign policy experience could be a drawback to his presidential ambitions, even within his own party. Admittedly his Democratic Party has a significant core that puts little or no emphasis on those qualities, but that core may not be enough even to get him the Democratic nomination. As a result, it seems that Senator Obama has suited up and is letting out some, if not war cries, perhaps war squeaks.

As AP reported,  

“Obama said that as commander in chief he would remove troops from Iraq and putting them “on the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” He said he would send at least two more brigades to Afghanistan and increase nonmilitary aid to the country by $1 billion.”

One would be ill-advised to expect any MSM reporter to ask the Senator the obvious, or what should be obvious questions: if we significantly pull our troops out of Iraq and relocate some of them to Afghanistan, isn’t it likely that some of the folks we are fighting in Iraq, most notably Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), will adapt to that, and we will face stiffer opposition in Afghanistan, with perhaps thousands of jihadist foreign fighters flowing there? The former Soviet Union fought a nine-plus year war in Afghanistan, suffering 15,000 troops killed before their forces withdrew in defeat. Our experience in Afghanistan has been remarkably different. In over six years of fighting in Afghanistan, as of July 17, coalition KIA numbered 563, of which 345 were American. That comprises hundreds of heartbreaking tragedies for individuals and families, but is less than 4% of the KIA the Soviets experienced. Even given that we have been there about two thirds of the time period the Soviets were, the rate at which we have suffered KIA is less than 6% of the Soviet experience.
One great indicator of inexperience in many fields is the inability to understand or even imagine that if one changes one aspect of the status quo in a process, other aspects will change in response to that change. It is why, for example, liberals were surprised in the 1990s when they championed the ‘luxury’ excise tax on yachts to raise more revenue to offset the deficit, only to find that after the tax went into effect, tax receipts on yacht purchases fell – because far fewer people bought said yachts when the higher tax raised the cost. Price elasticity is not cutting edge economics, but yet the drop in demand came as a shock to those who were planning on spending the extra revenue.
Obama’s two brigades might well increase our relative capabilities in Afghanistan if the other side doesn’t respond in kind (and more). But does the Senator think that a drawdown in Iraq won’t channel dedicated fighters to the enlarged front to the east?
Almost a year ago an AQI tape supposedly made by al-Zarqawi’s successor, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, claimed that over 4,000 foreign fighters had been ‘martyred’ in Iraq. If we had not been in Iraq, would these foreign fighters all have stayed home, or would Afghanistan have become the ‘single most important battlefield’ and not one of the ‘two most important battlefields’?
Ayman al-Zawahiri, said  in a speech , “Realities of the Conflict Between Islam and Unbelief,” released by as-Sahab Media, December 2006

“I repeat what I mentioned previously: the backing of the Jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq today is to back the most important battlefields in which the Crusade against Islam and Muslims is in progress. And the defeat of the Crusaders there — soon, Allah permitting — will have a far-reaching effect on the future of the Muslim Ummah, Allah willing.” [emphasis added]

If we withdraw substantially from Iraq before AQI is dismembered and the flow of foreign fighters choked or eliminated, and AQI and the jihad focus more intently on Afghanistan, meaning an ‘escalation’ (that word Democrats like to bandy about) there, would a President Obama be willing to commit any more troops than his two brigades to that conflict as it grows progressively bloodier? How would he react to many more American and coalition KIA? There is another word Democrats like to bandy about: “quagmire.’
Perhaps ironically, Senator Obama seemed to grasp a part of the equation but doesn’t have the experience to follow through on what it means. He said:

 “It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for…terrorist activity…”

Well, if our continued occupation of Iraq serves as a magnet, if we withdraw from Iraq, wouldn’t our occupation of Afghanistan serve as an alternative magnet? If not, why not, Senator?

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Ahmadinejad: “Our support (for the Palestinian people) is unconditional. As for the Israelis, let them go find somewhere else”

Ahmadinejad: “Our support (for the Palestinian people) is unconditional. As for the Israelis, let them go find somewhere else”

“Iran president tells Israel to find a new home,” from Agence France-Presse:

ALGIERS – Iran’s outspoken President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Israel to “go find somewhere else” for its state and leave its territory for the creation of a Palestinian state, according to an interview published on Saturday.

“Our support (for the Palestinian people) is unconditional. As for the Israelis, let them go find somewhere else,” Ahmadinejad told several Algerian newspapers ahead of an visit to Algiers that starts Monday.

Iran consistently refuses to recognise Israel’s right to exist in the Middle East, and Ahmadinejad sparked outrage abroad by stating after coming to power in 2005 that Israel should be “wiped from the map.”

He also provoked a storm in June by saying a “countdown” had begun that would end with Lebanese and Palestinian militants destroying Israel, and his government last year hosted a conference on the Holocaust questioning the German Nazis genocide of the Jews during World War II.

In his latest diatribe, the Iranian leader accused Israel of commiting “butchery” in the Palestinian territories.

What’s Hamas been doing, macramé?

Ahmadinejad said, too, that Iran wanted to cooperate with Algeria against terrorism. “Islam bans the assassination of innocent people wherever they are,” he said.

If only a member of the press would think to ask the Thug-in-Chief who, in his mind, qualifies as “innocent.”

“We reject all methods of terrorism, whatever the denomination or motive,” Ahmadinejad declared.

He criticised what he called the “partial” view of human rights in Western countries.

He said there were “secret prisons” in Europe. “In the United States people’s telephone conversations are listened to. In Britain, people are spied on using television cameras. In Palestine, Israel commits butchery. But no-one causes a scandal.”

Right. And Iran’s government engages in no surveillance of anyone.

Ahmadinejad’s visit to Algeria has not been officially confirmed by the authorities.

Tomatoes and cheap immigrant labor

Tomatoes and cheap immigrant labor

Tony Evans
Local Columnist

If you’re a regular reader of this Sunday column, you are acutely aware that I stay clear of anything that has to do with politics. Heaven knows there are enough on the opinion pages already.

But an e-mail I received recently from a teacher friend of mine almost made blood shoot out of my eyes. It wasn’t that I didn’t already know most of what she mentions, it’s just that it reminded me how “politically correct” this country has become, and it will get worse if we don’t wise up. Keep in mind these are her words, not mine.

She begins: Tony, as you listen to the news about protests over illegal immigration, there are some things those of us living in Arizona should know.

I am in charge of the English As A Second Language Department at a southern Arizona school which is designated a Title 1 school, meaning that its students average lower socioeconomic and income levels. Title 1 schools are on the free breakfast and free lunch program. When I say free breakfast, I am not talking a glass of milk and sweet roll, but a full breakfast and cereal bar with fruits and juices that would rate as good as one you would receive from a Marriott.

The waste of this food is monumental, with trays and trays of it being dumped in the trash uneaten. (Our tax dollars at work.)

I estimate that well over 50 percent of these students are obese or at least moderately overweight. Seventy-five percent or more have cell phones. The school provides day-care centers for the unwed teenage pregnant girls (some as young as 13) so they can attend classes without the inconvenience of having to arrange for babysitters or having family watch their kids. (Our tax dollars at work.)

I was recently ordered to spend $700,000 on my department or risk losing funding even though there was little need for anything; my budget was already substantial. I ended up buying new computers for the learning center, half of which, one month later, have been carved with graffiti by the appreciative students who, obviously, feel humbled and grateful to have a free education in America. I have had to intervene many times for young and substitute teachers whose classes consist mainly of illegal immigrant students here in this country less than three months who raised so much hell with female teachers and throwing things at the teachers until they were in tears and forced to flee the classroom

Free medical, free education, free food, free day care., etc. Is it any wonder they feel entitled to not only be in this country illegally but to demand rights and privileges?

For those of you who want to point out how much these illegal immigrants contribute to our society because they like their gardener and housekeeper, and they like to pay less for fruits and vegetables, let me point out the REAL world of immigration so you can see the TRUE costs.

Higher insurance, medical facilities closing, higher medical costs, more crime, lower standards of education, overcrowding, new diseases, etc. We need to wake up. The government guest worker program will be a disaster because we won’t have the guts to enforce it. Does anyone in their right mind really think illegal immigrants will voluntarily leave and return?

A third-world culture that does not value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school at age 15, and that refuses to assimilate, and an American culture that has become so weak and worried about “politically correctness” that we don’t have the will to do anything about it, is destined to destroy themselves.

Cheap labor! This is what it’s all about. Business doesn’t want to pay a decent wage. Consumers don’t want expensive produce. Take for example, an illegal alien with a wife and five kids. He takes a job for $6 an hour. At that wage, with six dependents, he pays NO income tax, yet at the end of the year, if he files an income tax return, he gets an “earned income credit” of up to $3,200.

He also qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent, food stamps, free (no deductible and no co-pay) health care, free breakfasts and lunches at school for his kids, free bilingual teachers and books, and relief from high energy bills.

If they are or become blind, aged or disabled, they qualify for Social Security. Once qualified, they can qualify for Medicare all at taxpayers’ expense. This family also doesn’t worry about car insurance, life insurance or homeowners insurance. We taxpayers also provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material. He and his family also receive the equivalent of $20 to $30 per hour in benefits. The American taxpayer also pays for increased crime, graffiti and trash clean-up. Cheap labor? I don’t think so. Wake up, people, and do something about it.

This is her story in her own words.

Mark Steyn: The vanishing jihad exposés

Mark Steyn: The vanishing jihad exposés

Mark Steyn column



Syndicated columnist

How will we lose the war against “radical Islam”?

Well, it won’t be in a tank battle. Or in the Sunni Triangle or the caves of Bora Bora. It won’t be because terrorists fly three jets into the Oval Office, Buckingham Palace and the Basilica of St Peter’s on the same Tuesday morning.

The war will be lost incrementally because we are unable to reverse the ongoing radicalization of Muslim populations in South Asia, Indonesia, the Balkans, Western Europe and, yes, North America. And who’s behind that radicalization? Who funds the mosques and Islamic centers that in the past 30 years have set up shop on just about every Main Street around the planet?

For the answer, let us turn to a fascinating book called “Alms for Jihad: Charity And Terrorism in the Islamic World,” by J. Millard Burr, a former USAID relief coordinator, and the scholar Robert O Collins. Can’t find it in your local Barnes & Noble? Never mind, let’s go to Amazon. Everything’s available there. And sure enough, you’ll come through to the “Alms for Jihad” page and find a smattering of approving reviews from respectably torpid publications: “The most comprehensive look at the web of Islamic charities that have financed conflicts all around the world,” according to Canada’s Globe And Mail, which is like the New York Times but without the jokes.

Unfortunately, if you then try to buy “Alms for Jihad,” you discover that the book is “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.” Hang on, it was only published last year. At Amazon, items are either shipped within 24 hours or, if a little more specialized, within four to six weeks, but not many books from 2006 are entirely unavailable with no restock in sight.

Well, let us cross the ocean, thousands of miles from the Amazon warehouse, to the High Court in London. Last week, the Cambridge University Press agreed to recall all unsold copies of “Alms for Jihad” and pulp them. In addition, it has asked hundreds of libraries around the world to remove the volume from their shelves. This highly unusual action was accompanied by a letter to Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, in care of his English lawyers, explaining their reasons:

“Throughout the book there are serious and defamatory allegations about yourself and your family, alleging support for terrorism through your businesses, family and charities, and directly.

“As a result of what we now know, we accept and acknowledge that all of those allegations about you and your family, businesses and charities are entirely and manifestly false.”

Who is Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz? Well, he’s a very wealthy and influential Saudi. Big deal, you say. Is there any other kind? Yes, but even by the standards of very wealthy and influential Saudis, this guy is plugged in: He was the personal banker to the Saudi royal family and head of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, until he sold it to the Saudi government. He has a swanky pad in London and an Irish passport and multiple U.S. business connections, including to Thomas Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

I’m not saying the 9/11 Commission is a Saudi shell operation, merely making the observation that, whenever you come across a big-shot Saudi, it’s considerably less than six degrees of separation between him and the most respectable pillars of the American establishment.

As to whether allegations about support for terrorism by the sheikh and his “family, businesses and charities” are “entirely and manifestly false,” the Cambridge University Press is going way further than the United States or most foreign governments would. Of his bank’s funding of terrorism, Sheikh Mahfouz’s lawyer has said: “Like upper management at any other major banking institution, Khalid Bin Mahfouz was not, of course, aware of every wire transfer moving through the bank. Had he known of any transfers that were going to fund al-Qaida or terrorism, he would not have permitted them.” Sounds reasonable enough. Except that in this instance the Mahfouz bank was wiring money to the principal Mahfouz charity, the Muwafaq (or “Blessed Relief”) Foundation, which in turn transferred them to Osama bin Laden.

In October 2001, the Treasury Department named Muwafaq as “an al-Qaida front that receives funding from wealthy Saudi businessmen” and its chairman as a “specially designated global terrorist.” As the Treasury concluded, “Saudi businessmen have been transferring millions of dollars to bin Laden through Blessed Relief.”

Indeed, this “charity” seems to have no other purpose than to fund jihad. It seeds Islamism wherever it operates. In Chechnya, it helped transform a reasonably conventional nationalist struggle into an outpost of the jihad. In the Balkans, it played a key role in replacing a traditionally moderate Islam with a form of Mitteleuropean Wahhabism. Pick a Muwafaq branch office almost anywhere on the planet and you get an interesting glimpse of the typical Saudi charity worker. The former head of its mission in Zagreb, Croatia, for example, is a guy called Ayadi Chafiq bin Muhammad. Well, he’s called that most of the time. But he has at least four aliases and residences in at least three nations (Germany, Austria and Belgium). He was named as a bin Laden financier by the U.S. government and disappeared from the United Kingdom shortly after 9/11.

So why would the Cambridge University Press, one of the most respected publishers on the planet, absolve Khalid bin Mahfouz, his family, his businesses and his charities to a degree that neither (to pluck at random) the U.S., French, Albanian, Swiss and Pakistani governments would be prepared to do?

Because English libel law overwhelmingly favors the plaintiff. And like many other big-shot Saudis, Sheikh Mahfouz has become very adept at using foreign courts to silence American authors – in effect, using distant jurisdictions to nullify the First Amendment. He may be a wronged man, but his use of what the British call “libel chill” is designed not to vindicate his good name but to shut down the discussion, which is why Cambridge University Press made no serious attempt to mount a defense. He’s one of the richest men on the planet, and they’re an academic publisher with very small profit margins. But, even if you’ve got a bestseller, your pockets are unlikely to be deep enough: “House Of Saud, House Of Bush” did boffo biz with the anti-Bush crowd in America, but there’s no British edition – because Sheikh Mahfouz had indicated he was prepared to spend what it takes to challenge it in court, and Random House decided it wasn’t worth it.

We’ve gotten used to one-way multiculturalism: The world accepts that you can’t open an Episcopal or Congregational church in Jeddah or Riyadh, but every week the Saudis can open radical mosques and madrassahs and pro-Saudi think-tanks in London and Toronto and Dearborn, Mich., and Falls Church, Va. And their global reach extends a little further day by day, inch by inch, in the lengthening shadows, as the lights go out one by one around the world.

Suppose you’ve got a manuscript about the Saudis. Where are you going to shop it? Think Cambridge University Press will be publishing anything anytime soon?


The Muslim Brotherhood “Project”

The Muslim Brotherhood “Project”

By Patrick Poole

One might be led to think that if international law enforcement authorities and Western intelligence agencies had discovered a twenty-year old document revealing a top-secret plan developed by the oldest Islamist organization with one of the most extensive terror networks in the world to launch a program of “cultural invasion” and eventual conquest of the West that virtually mirrors the tactics used by Islamists for more than two decades, that such news would scream from headlines published on the front pages and above the fold of the New York Times, Washington Post, London Times, Le Monde, Bild, and La Repubblica.

If that’s what you might think, you would be wrong.

Iranian Kurds Say Uprising is Possible

Iranian Kurds Say Uprising is Possible

Kenneth R. Timmerman, NEWS MAX
Friday, Aug. 3, 2007

An Iranian Kurdish group whose fighters have clashed frequently with government forces in Iran has sent its top leader to Washington, D.C., to seek assistance from the United States government.

Rahman Haj Ahmadi, president of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), told NewsMax in an exclusive interview that he hoped to meet with senior administration officials to discuss the situation inside Iran and how the U.S. could help the opposition.

“PJAK has thousands of fighters in the mountains of Iran and deep inside Iranian cities,” he said. “With U.S. help, we will lead the Kurdish people in an uprising that could spread to the whole of Iran.”

PJAK fighters seized government buildings in Marivan briefly in the summer of 2005, in armed clashes with regime security forces that spread to major cities and towns through the Kurdish region. The clashes were sparked by the brutal murder of a Kurdish human rights activist.

Ahmadi and his group have been accused by the Tehran regime of being lackeys of the U.S. government. The July-August 2005 clashes occurred after PJAK officials met with U.S. military leaders in northern Iraq, Tehran alleged.

Such accusations make Ahmadi smile. “Actually, this is the first time we have had contacts here in Washington,” he told NewsMax. “We would love to have received U.S. help, but until now we have had no direct contacts with the U.S. government.”

“We, the 12 to 14 million Kurds in Iran, will be the dependable and loyal allies of the USA and the democratic world,” he added.

PJAK claims that its armed resistance fighters control the streets of major towns and cities in northwestern Iran after the Revolutionary Guards troops return to barracks in the late afternoons.

Forty percent of their fighters are women, Ahmadi claims. Women also make up 50 percent of the group’s political leadership. “We are a decidedly modern party,” he said.

“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he is waiting for the badieh zaman,” the legendary 12th imam of Shia Islam whose return brings justice to the world.

“We also believe in the badieh zaman,” he chuckled. “For us, he is George W. Bush.”

Based in Europe, Ahmadi recently returned from a three-month tour of his fighters’ positions inside Iran.

He told NewsMax that his organization is seeking to join forces with other opposition groups, from republicans to monarchists, to forge a common program of action to topple the regime.”

“In our mountains, we can train people from all the other groups. We can train them politically, and militarily,” he said. “They can then act in their own name, under their own banner.”

The immediate goal, he said, was to get rid of the system of absolute clerical rule, known as velayat-e faghih. “We want Iran to become a secular democratic republic,” he said.

“In the longer term, we would like to see Iran become a confederation, where the rights of all ethnic groups will be guaranteed within a single, united Iran.”

He specifically rejected charges that his group was “separatist,” or that it favored in any way the break-up of Iran.

But Ahmadi also warned that when Iran’s ethnic minorities launch their uprising, the temptation by some groups to establish ethnically-pure autonomous areas would be great.

“We must avoid ethnic cleansing at all costs,” he said.

Iran’s 70 million population is ethnically diverse, and includes millions of Azeris, Kurds, Balouch, Ahwazi Arabs, Turkomans, and others. Approximately 35 percent of the population is ethnically Persian.

But over the centuries, Iran’s various populations have moved around, intermarried and intermingled. Iran’s Kurdish areas, for example, are home to hundreds of thousands of ethnic Azeris. Roughly 1 million Kurds live in Tehran.

This complex ethnic mosaic makes internal borders, or a Yugoslav-style partition of the country into separate ethnic states both “unrealistic” and “undesirable,” Ahmadi said.

Instead, PJAC favors a loosely structured confederation along the lines of Belgium or Switzerland. “But of course, all of that is long in the future. It will take fifty years of negotiations!” he said.