Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bleakness In Baghdad

George Will says we are in major trouble. Excerpts

WASHINGTON -- At this moment, one of the most dangerous since the Second World War, America's perils are exacerbated by the travails of a president indiscriminately despised by Democrats and increasingly disregarded by Republicans. What should he do?

First, concentrate the public's mind on the deepening dangers beyond Iraq. Second, regarding Iraq, accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive -- that is, emphasize the dangers of failure, and de-emphasize talk about Iraq becoming a democracy that ignites emulative transformation in the Middle East.


"Conditions in Iraq have worsened in the 94 days that have passed since Iraq's elections in December. And there still is no Iraqi government that can govern. By many measures conditions are worse than they were a year ago, when they were worse than they had been the year before.

Three years ago the administration had a theory: Democratic institutions do not just spring from a hospitable culture, they can also create such a culture. That theory has been a casualty of the war that began three years ago today. Rest here

Look at this "Plamegate" witness list.

The AP reports this list of potential witnesses in the upcoming criminal trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby-, as referenced in court papers by Libby's lawyers. The trial is scheduled for January:

_Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state.

_Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary.

_Marc Grossman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs.

_Colin Powell, the former secretary of state.

_Karl Rove, the deputy White House chief of staff.

_George Tenet, the former CIA director.

_Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador. "

Is Bret Hume going to set up "Fox Network News?"

I get Bret here in the islands at 1pm. "U.S. News" had this squib today.

"The steady creep to the top for Brit Hume's nightly Special Report on Fox--not just the No.1 Washington-originated cable show but also the fourth in all basic cable at 6 p.m.--has the host eyeing the next victim. "We've been having a series of meetings here about how we can beat Nickelodeon," he says. "We just hope that they don't put SpongeBob SquarePants up against us." Fun aside, Hume's hourlong mix of news and debate now reaches 1.5 million nightly while dominating the key 25-to-54 age demographic. And it happened in a very un-Fox-like way: without fanfare, even though Hume has recently surged to the No. 2 spot among all cable news shows, after Bill O'Reilly.
When Special Report started in 1998, the goal was giving the growing Washington bureau some visibility. Now the top audience-getter of Washington shows, including CNN's Situation Room and MSNBC's Hardball, Hume says, "We kind of pinch ourselves." Like a good boss--Hume is the managing editor of the D.C. bureau--he credits his news team. But the "poisonous" mood in Washington doesn't hurt either. "For those who have a rooting interest in it," he says, "they want to hear about it."
While beating the pants off SpongeBob is a long-term goal, Hume has a more immediate worry: No. 12 ESPN's March Madness coverage. "If they've got games on at 6 at night," he frets, "that's gonna be tough.""

Suppose We Just Let Iran Have the Bomb

David Sanger in the "Weekend Review" part of the Times has a long think piece about Iran getting the bomb. He quotes all the realists, but never discusses the "Salafi Jihadist" of the problem.

PRESIDENT BUSH'S message to Iran these days sounds unambiguous: The United States will do what it takes to keep the mullahs from getting the bomb. Diplomacy is vastly preferred, President Bush and his aides insist. Yet it was no accident that the just-revised National Security Strategy declares: "This diplomatic effort must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided."

To nervous allies, those words echo the run-up to the Iraq invasion, which began three years ago today. But Iran is not Iraq. And some experts in the United States — mostly outside the administration — have been thinking the unthinkable, or at least the undiscussable: If all other options are worse, could the world learn to live with a nuclear Iran?

"The reality is that most of us think the Iranians are probably going to get a weapon, or the technology to make one, sooner or later," an administration official acknowledged a few weeks ago, refusing to talk on the record because such an admission amounts to a concession that dragging Iran in front of the United Nations Security Council may prove an exercise in futility. "The optimists around here just hope we can delay the day by 10 or 20 years, and that by that time we'll have a different relationship with a different Iranian government."
The Iranians are betting that this confrontation — what Graham Allison, a nuclear expert at Harvard, calls a "slow motion Cuban missile crisis" — has a good chance of coming out the same way. If so, the problem may go beyond Iran.

"Remember, Iran is just one instance of the problem, and in Iran's case, containment might work," says Brent Scowcroft, who was the national security adviser to Mr. Bush's father. "But if that happens, I think we are on the way to a world of proliferation like we have not seen before."

Rest here

Who is on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows

"Stop spitting in the face of Americans and maybe we will go to the movies.""

That's what Ben Stein said during a speech to a Republican rally. Other choice quotes.

"the real stars aren't his Beverly Hills neighbors but the soldiers "wearing body armor in 130-degree heat, pulling 24-hour shifts" in the so-called Sunni triangle, the dangerous area of armed insurgents in Iraq."

"the people who truly were snubbed on Oscar night weren't those who didn't win, but were the American military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"movie stars and film industry professionals failed to highlight the sacrifices of soldiers during the Academy Awards on March 5. "Not one prayer or moment of silence for those who have given their lives," "

"Before and After Abu Ghraib, a U.S. Unit Abused Detainees

Major NYT investigative piece breaks today with:

"The military's most highly trained counterterrorism unit committed serious abuses of Iraqi prisoners."

But when you read it, you find it's breathless account of an interrogation center in Iraq that after three years, has had some five rangers disciplined. Lots of description of the starkness of the facility, and the attempt ot make an "Abu Ghraib" out of it without the evidence to back this view up is very obvious. Read it all here.

l’affarianna Huffington update

Jeff Jarvis says that

"Arianna Huffington called me from her Carribbean vacation to say that Huffingtonpost is now changing its policy on mashup blog posts of the rich and famous. She listened to the complaints of her readers, who were not shy on her own blog.

She said that from now on, she would make clear the source of quotes she stitched together. I suggested that wasn’t transparent enough. I still think the link is the best means of doing this but I advised that if she wanted to air opinions that weren’t on her service from a contributor, she needed to create a new grammar, some new kind of blog post that made it completely clear the quotes were remixed and the post was not written by the person quoted: ‘Here is the blog post this person should have written, if only he blogged.’

Arianna said she would call it Boswell blogging. Well, if that’s the case, I said, then you could reach back and have Edward R. Murrow blogging… or Samuel Johnson… What Would Jesus Blog? Oh, Lord, as if there weren’t enough blogs — 30.8 at latest count — now the dead can blog."

Saddam's Philippines Terror Connection And other revelations from the Iraqi regime files.

Stephen F. Hayes has a very informative column at the "Weekly Standard" that analyses some of the recent material on Saddam that has been released by the Government. He finds Iraqi connections with Bin Ladin all over the world. Here is his ending thought.

"A new and highly illuminating article in Foreign Affairs draws on hundreds of Iraqi documents to provide a look at the Iraq war from the Iraqi perspective. The picture that emerges is that of an Iraqi regime built on a foundation of paranoia and lies and eager to attack its perceived enemies, internal and external.

The Saddam Fedayeen also took part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations and planned for attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East. In a document dated May 1999, Saddam's older son, Uday, ordered preparations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas [Kurdistan]." Preparations for "Blessed July," a regime-directed wave of "martyrdom" operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion" Read it all

The Fallaci Code

Oriana Fallaci asks: Is Muslim immigration to Europe a conspiracy?
[hat tip Nadine Carrol]
Brendan Bernard reviews her book in the LA Weekly and says.

In The Force of Reason, the controversial Italian journalist and novelist Oriana Fallaci illuminates one of the central enigmas of our time. How did Europe become home to an estimated 20 million Muslims in a mere three decades?

How did Islam go from being a virtual non-factor to a religion that threatens the preeminence of Christianity on the Continent? How could the most popular name for a baby boy in Brussels possibly be Mohammed? Can it really be true that Muslims plan to build a mosque in London that will hold 40,000 people? That Dutch cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam are close to having Muslim majorities? How was Europe, which was saved by the U.S. in world wars I and II, and whose Muslim Bosnians were rescued by the U.S. as recently as 1999, transformed into a place in which, as Fallaci puts it, “if I hate Americans I go to Heaven and if I hate Muslims I go to Hell?”


“In 1974 [Algerian President] Houari Boumedienne, the man who ousted Ben Bella three years after Algerian independence, spoke before the General Assembly of the United Nations. And without circumlocutions he said: ‘One day millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere of this planet to burst into the northern one. But not as friends. Because they will burst in to conquer, and they will conquer by populating it with their children. Victory will come to us from the wombs of our women.’”


Briefly put, the alleged plot was an arrangement between European and Arab governments according to which the Europeans, still reeling from the first acts of PLO terrorism and eager for precious Arabian oil made significantly more precious by the 1973 OPEC crisis, agreed to accept Arab “manpower” (i.e., immigrants) along with the oil. They also agreed to disseminate propaganda about the glories of Islamic civilization, provide Arab states with weaponry, side with them against Israel and generally toe the Arab line on all matters political and cultural. Hundreds of meetings and seminars were held as part of the “Euro-Arab Dialogue,” and all, according to the author, were marked by European acquiescence to Arab requests. Fallaci recounts a 1977 seminar in Venice, attended by delegates from 10 Arab nations and eight European ones, concluding with a unanimous resolution calling for “the diffusion of the Arabic language” and affirming “the superiority of Arab culture.”

While the Arabs demanded that Europeans respect the religious, political and human rights of Arabs in the West, not a peep came from the Europeans about the absence of freedom in the Arab world, not to mention the abhorrent treatment of women and other minorities in countries like Saudi Arabia. No demand was made that Muslims should learn about the glories of western civilization as Europeans were and are expected to learn about the greatness of Islamic civilization. In other words, according to Fallaci, a substantial portion of Europe’s cultural and political independence was sold off by a coalition of ex-communists and socialist politicians. Are we surprised? Fallaci isn’t. In 1979, she notes, “the Italian or rather European Left had fallen in love with Khomeini just as now it has fallen in love with Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and Arafat.”


As that Norwegian Mullah told Aftenposten, "Our way of thinking … will prove more powerful than yours." One hopes he's wrong, but if he is, it will be ordinary Americans and Europeans, including courageous Arab-Americans like L.A. resident Wafa Sultan and the Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali (two women openly challenging Islamist supremacism), who prove him so, and not our intellectual classes (artists, pundits, filmmakers, actors, writers …). Many of the latter, consumed by Bush-hatred and cultural self-loathing, are perilously close to becoming today's equivalent of the great Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun, who so hated the British Empire that he sided with the Nazis in World War II, to his everlasting shame. The Force of Reason, at the very least, is a welcome and necessary antidote to the prevailing intellectual atmosphere. Rest here

Friday, March 17, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

The NYT leads with Judges Overturn Bush Bid to Ease Pollution Rules. The clean-air regulation would have let many power plants, refineries and factories avoid installing costly new pollution controls. They second lead Testing Errors Prompt Calls for Oversight As students' futures depend more and more on standardized test scores, should the testing industry be more strictly regulated? The FP editorial is called a "NEWS ANALYSIS, " Politics Drives a Senate Spending Spree.

The WaPo leads with Judges Overturn Bush Bid to Ease Pollution Rules, which says that the clean-air regulation would have let many power plants, refineries and factories avoid installing costly new pollution controls. Testing Errors Prompt Calls for Oversight is the second lead and tells us that as students' futures depend more and more on standardized test scores, should the testing industry be more strictly regulated?

Gore vs. Hillary

Robert Novak says that Democratic insiders take seriously a possible new try for the presidency by Al Gore and say he is capable of raising more money than the presumptive front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton's team has attempted to foreclose conventional Democratic money sources, drying up funding for her potential presidential rivals. She has $17.1 million cash on hand, more than any other possible candidate. Her current fund-raising tour is aimed at an additional $40 million.

However, party operatives believe former Vice President Gore can outdo Clinton through unconventional fund-raising on the Internet. By campaigning left of Clinton, Gore appeals to ardent anti-war Democrats. Gore's first presidential run in 1988 positioned him as the centrist candidate, to the right of eventual nominee Michael Dukakis.

Why CNN Cannot Draw Flies In A Manure Pile

Don Surber points out that Bill Schneider of CNN called Russ Feingold's unseconded motion to censure the president the "play of the week." Schneider went on and on about how Feingold has spine and is standing on principle.

Might those who would like some actual proof that the president did anything to warrant censure be the reakl people with spine and principle while Feingold is just a showboat?

Schneider, your bias is showing.

"On Scene: How Operation Swarmer Fizzled"

I posted yesterday that I thought there was nothing much to this story. TIME confirms that belief.

"Not a shot was fired, or a leader nabbed, in a major offensive that failed to live up to its advance billing.

Four Black Hawk helicopters landed in a wheat field and dropped off a television crew, three photographers, three print reporters and three Iraqi government officials right into the middle of Operation Swarmer. Iraqi soldiers in newly painted humvees, green and red Iraqi flags stenciled on the tailgates, had just finished searching the farm populated by a half-dozen skinny cows and a woman kneading freshly risen dough and slapping it to the walls of a mud oven.

The press, flown in from Baghdad to this agricultural gridiron northeast of Samarra, huddled around the Iraqi officials and U.S. Army commanders who explained that the "largest air assault since 2003" in Iraq using over 50 helicopters to put 1500 Iraqi and U.S. troops on the ground had netted 48 suspected insurgents, 17 of which had already been cleared and released. The area, explained the officials, has long been suspected of being used as a base for insurgents operating in and around Samarra, the city north of Baghdad where the bombing of a sacred shrine recently sparked a wave of sectarian violence."

Inside Move: 'South Park' feeling some celeb heat?

Cable net abruptly pulls repeat of Scientology episode.
I love this comment in "Variety." If you know Scientology, you will get it.

"While the "South Park" creators didn't directly comment on Comedy Central's decision to pull the [Scientology] episode, they issued an unusual statement to Daily Variety indicating the battle is not over.

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!"

The duo signed the statement "Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu.""

Sebastian Junger Revisits Afghanistan and Points Finger at Pakistan

Counterterrorism blog says:

Sebastian Junger is famous for his book, "Perfect Storm," but he's also in a unique position for having visited Afghanistan in 2000 and traveling with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud. Massoud was assassinated two days before the 9/11 attacks, and Junger wrote a book, "Fire," about his experience. In interviews, he supported using the Afghans as much as possible to pursue Osama Bin Laden, exactly the strategy employed by the U.S. and heavily criticized after Bin Laden's escape.

Junger has returned recently to Afghanistan and has written an outstanding article, "America's Forgotten War" for the April issue of "Vanity Fair." This in-depth and thoughtful piece is worth buying the magazine. He writes without prejudice of the problems and successes in the continuing counterterrorism activity there. Moreover, he fingers elements in the Pakistan army and intelligence service ("ISI") as critical sponsors in the resurging Taliban activity. He notes that while Pakistan has captured and turned over key Al Qaeda operatives, it hasn't turned over a single mid- or high-ranking Taliban official to the U.S. since the attacks. Junger talked with a former Taliban government official with current knowledge of that assistance. He writes that some Pakistani military are training Taliban recruits. The Taliban official gave him the name and phone number of an ISI agent who brings recruits from a region in Afghanistan, inserts them into training camps in western Pakistan, and then sends them back to fight. Junger also writes that the ex-Taliban told him that the Paks are receiving as much money from Osama Bin Laden to not capture him as they are taking from the United States to catch him. If true, this claim indicates both a level of duplicity that must start near the top of the Pakistani government, and a level of resources available to Bin Laden that is extremely high. Doug Farah posted precisely on the latter subject on August 19 of last year in, "Signs that al Qaeda is Flush With Cash."

A Simple Rule for a Complex World

Don Boudeaux at Cafe Hayek continues to hit the economic nail on the head.

"'Let the market handle it! Let the market handle it!' Don't you tire of muttering this simplistic formula?" So ended an e-mail that I received from a reader.

It's true that all of us sometimes are tempted to avoid thinking hard about complex issues and, instead, to fall back lazily upon simplistic mantras. We should guard against this weakness, in ourselves and in others.

At the same time, though, we shouldn't confuse consistency with simplicity. The two are different. Just because I instruct my eight-year-old son to be always truthful does not mean that I'm a simpleton offering simplistic advice; it means, instead, that truthfulness is a virtue that should be pursued consistently -- even if in a handful of instances my son might be made better off by telling a lie.

I admit that my proposed solution for many public-policy problems is to say "Let the market handle it." But this response is neither naive nor lazy. It's realistic. It reflects my understanding that almost any problem you name -- rebuilding the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast, providing excellent education for children, reducing traffic congestion on highways -- is most likely to be dealt with efficiently, fairly and effectively by the market rather than by government." Rest here


Anne Bayefsky says The U.S. capitulates on the Human Rights Council.

"The U.S. had an opportunity to make an important statement about the terrible failures of the current Human Rights Commission and the inevitable detrimental consequences for human rights that would result from the new council. Instead, Rice told Ambassador John Bolton to vote no, and then advised Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns to explain to the U.N. General Assembly president and the rest of the world that this vote meant nothing.

To Secretary Rice and Nicholas Burns , this may look like the best of both worlds. A no vote allows them to say "I told you so" if it goes badly. A refusal to vote against the budget, and letting it be known in advance that U.S. support will continue, avoids criticisms that the U.S. prevented its success.

But the message Secretary Rice has sent is that the U.S. bark is worse than its bite. Vote against the U.S. in the U.N. General Assembly, and there will be no consequences to bear. Stand opposite the U.S. on matters of fundamental principle and U.S. taxpayers will continue to fund your cause." Rest here

Teflon Europe

Victor Davis Hanson says:

"We often hear about how incompetent the Iraqis, under American tutelage, have been in trying Saddam Hussein. After all, his trial is only in its initial stages, two years after he was captured. But compared to the more illustrious court of The Hague, Saddam's trial is racing along at a rapid clip. Before his sudden death, Milosevic had been in court for four years without a verdict. In terms of utopian international jurisprudence, the reprobate Milosevic died a free man, at his last breath still innocent until proven guilty.

The public wonders why the incompetent Americans can't catch Osama bin Laden, or at least Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Few note that it has been over six years since the collapse of the Serbian rogue regime, and still no one seems to know where either Radovan Karadzic, or his military commander, Ratko Mladic, is hiding inside Europe — not exactly the Sunni Triangle or the borderlands of the Hindu Kush.

Might a circumspect European ever acknowledge to us, "We know how hard it is to catch a Zarqawi since we can't get Karadzic or Mladic," or "It's tough trying war criminals like Saddam — look at our dilemma with Milosevic"? If a French bestseller insisted that 9/11 was staged by the U.S., will the next conspiracy thriller allege that Milosevic was poisoned by a European cabal fearful that the killer of Muslims might beat the rap at The Hague and cause a backlash from radical Islam?" Rest here.

It's "Fake but True," and I am proud of it.

Huffington says,
"But, some have asked, is a blog still a blog if it contains repurposed material? My answer is: absolutely. Who cares if the ideas were first expressed in a book, a speech, a play, or an interview? The medium isn't the message; the message is the message. With the right medium providing the needed amplification.

We live in an age of information overload. We're bombarded with words and images from our 500-channel universe and the infinite Internet. We're obsessed with the newest, the latest, the freshest. And what was said yesterday is old news. In this kind of atmosphere, it's all-too-easy for important ideas to be lumped in with the disposable ones and deleted from our internal hard drives. Lost in the cacophony and the ether. Which is why the gems need to be plucked from the pile and put on display."

Caboose braking in India and China: one physical, one functional


Rich Lowrey says, "I've heard a number of conservative analysts say over the last year or so--if I remember correctly, including Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer--that the polls don't matter, that Bush should just do what he needs to do regardless of them. He's not on the ballot again. He should spend all the political capital he can. Etc.

This sounds nice, but the fact is that if his polls sink (the way they have lately) Republican congressmen head for the hills and it becomes that much more difficult for him to do anything. Also, low ratings in the polls speak, obviously, of public dis-satisfaction, which means that 1) people are more inclined to tune out anything Bush says, again making it more difficult for him to do anything; 2) people will be inclined to throw out the Republican majorities in November, leading to all sorts bad consequences for Bush. So, the poll numbers matter, and Bush has to pay attention to them. Now, how he gets them up, I have no idea at the moment.

Fighting Smarter In Iraq

David Ignatius has another excellent column from Iraq. His ablity to get a good story seems to be much better than the reporters assigned there. Excerpts:

.......I visited two bases where you can see the new U.S. strategy begin to take hold. The first was at Taji, straddling the Tigris River north of Baghdad, where the American 4th Infantry Division is gradually handing off responsibility to Iraqi units. After the Samarra bombing, enraged Shiites killed two Sunni clerics, and there was a danger that the reprisal killings could escalate.

Tensions eased after an Iraqi brigade commander, a Shiite, rolled his armored vehicles into the Sunni stronghold of Tarmiya and told local imams that his men would protect their mosques against Shiite attacks -- and that in return, they must control Sunni militants. "He laid down the law," remembers Col. Jim Pasquarette, who commands U.S. forces in the area. The crisis gradually eased there, with U.S. forces mostly remaining in the background.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever done," Pasquarette says of the new rules of counterinsurgency. "In the old days, it was black and white -- see a guy and shoot him. But counterinsurgency is a thinking man's sport. Every decision you make, you have to step back and say, 'What's the next thing that's going to happen?' " He says he drills his troops to remember the "three P's" of the new Iraqi battlefield: "be polite, be professional, be prepared to kill."

The town of Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad, faced a similar test after Samarra. The area is almost entirely Sunni; the Iraqi army unit that has responsibility there is largely Shiite. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the Iraqi brigade commander, a feisty Shiite from southern Iraq named Gen. Aziz, is making it work. After the Samarra explosion, Aziz told me, he convened a meeting with local tribal and religious leaders.

"I am responsible for your safety," he admonished them. "The law should protect us all. There are no militias in this area." He told the local leaders they could protect their homes and mosques, but if he found anyone carrying weapons on the streets, he would kill him. The message seemed to work. A fiery local Sunni imam told his worshipers last Friday they should try to live with their neighbors.

Inside his headquarters, Aziz showed me a video of a suicide bomb that nearly killed him and his American adviser, Lt. Col. Mark Samson, two weeks ago. "He has the blood of my soldiers on his uniform," he says respectfully of the American. Outside Aziz's office is what he calls a "martyr tree," listing the names of the 22 men in his brigade who have died. "There can be only one hero in Iraq -- the army," he tells me.

I wouldn't pretend that these two snapshots are an accurate representation of the whole of Iraq. If that were so, the country wouldn't be in such a mess. But this is the way this war is supposed to be going. It's a few years late, but the new U.S. strategy is moving in the right direction.

This makes sense

Saddam Hussein maintained pretense of chemical arms to prevent Israeli attack
By Shmuel Rosner

WASHINGTON - Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein pretended to have chemical weapons because, among other reasons, he feared that Israel might attack if it discovered he did not. This is revealed in a recently declassified internal report by the American military.

The report was compiled from many dozens of interviews with senior Iraqi officials and hundreds of documents captured by the American forces during and after the war.

Hussein made the above statement at a meeting with leaders of the Ba'ath Party, said Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, to American interrogators. Ali was in charge of using chemical weapons against the Kurdish forces at the end of the 1980s.

"According to Chemical Ali, Hussein was asked about the weapons during a meeting with members of the Revolutionary Command Council. He replied that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) but flatly rejected a suggestion that the regime remove all doubts to the contrary," the report states. Ali explained that such a declaration could encourage Israel to attack, the report says.

The 100-page report has not been released yet, but some 9,000 words of it are to appear in the next edition of Foreign Affairs Magazine. Rest here

How Bad Is The Bush Slide Anyway?

Captain's Quarters says, "not as bad as the MSM claims."

Rasmussen Reports put out a little-noticed press release stating that their daily tracking poll shows a much different story:

Forty-two percent (42%) of American adults now approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President. That's just two points above the lowest level ever measured by Rasmussen Reports.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) disapprove.

The President earns approval from 44% of men and 40% of women.

That's not great news, of course, and a 15-point deficit between approval/disapproval would not get anyone elected. However, Rasmussen does not show the dramatic erosion that other polls have claimed, and a review of the past 21 days -- in the heat of the DP World debate -- his numbers have not moved much at all.

How accurate is the Rasmussen poll? In 2004, they predicted a Bush victory in the popular vote by 50.2% to Kerry's 48.5%. The final numbers tallied to 50.7%/48.3%, an extraordinarily close result. Rasmussen uses an automated, digitally-recorded voice for asking their questions, ensuring that all respondents hear the same question in the exact same manner, eliminating the variables that come from using boiler-room telemarketing for their polling.

Hovering in the low- to mid-40s isn't a great place for any elected official, but it's much different than the picture being painted by much of the media. Republicans inclined to panic should reconsider their plans for sackcloth and ashes.

Rest at

Does Pajamas Media deserve credit for the release of the Saddam Documents?

Roger L Simon thinks it may:

Maybe, maybe not, but I will allow you to decide. Back in mid-February Pajamas Media went to Washington to cover the Intelligence Summit and did video interviews with Congressman Hoekstra (chair of the House Intell Committee), former DCI Woolsey and Richard Perle, among others. In all those interviews we discussed our idea - new to all of them - that the myriad untranslated Saddam tapes and documents be released to the blogosphere for translation. The three men all, to one degree or another, liked the idea, although they were surprised by it. Today, it was announced that at the instigation of Hoekstra these documents have been released by the Pentagon for ... and this is how it was worded on the Brit Hume Show on Fox News ... for translation by the blogosph

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

The NYT leads with U.S. and Iranians Agree to Discuss Violence in Iraq. The talks would be the first face-to-face between the two sides after months of confrontation over Iran's nuclear program. Their second lead is Kurds Destroy Shrine in Rage at Leadership. The violence was the most serious popular challenge to the political parties that have ruled Iraqi Kurdistan for the past 15 years. Also on the FP is Senate Approves Budget, Breaking Spending Limits This $2.8 trillion budget passed only hours after the Senate increased federal borrowing power to avert a government default.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Moussaoui Case - Shocking Allegation

Big Lizards lays out an analysis of the AP story on the Moussaoui case that says the entire transaction was a deliberate set-up whose purpose was to destroy the prosecutor's case. What's going on is that the plaintiff's lawyers and the prosecutors both want to show that 9/11 could have been prevented; and the defense lawyers in both cases want to prove that it could not have been prevented.

Read it here

Belmont Club has a great comment


The underlying reason why America is doing so poorly in the field of "information warfare" against the Jihad is that its traditional organs of articulation -- the academy, media, Hollywood -- are largely hostile to the War on Terror itself. It's conceivable that an Iranian might flee persecution only to be taught at a US university that he ought to embrace it by the many academic departments whose point of view is exactly that. In a fundamental sense, the War on Terror is twinned to the greatest single issue dividing the Left and Right, which is whether the United States, as a nation, is legitimate or whether, as some would maintain, it is Amerika: an abomination whose demise must be hastened by any means necessary.

Michael Barone added:

"I'd amend this in one way. When Fernandez says "the greatest single issue dividing the left and right," I'd like to specify that the left does not include by any means all of the Democratic Party, the academy, media, Hollywood—just an uncomfortably large part of it. And in the case of academia, or at least the humanities and soft social sciences part of academia, most of it. They are not with us in the struggle against Islamist jihad. They may not want us to lose, indeed like children they don't take seriously the idea that there is any great struggle in which the adults they depend on could lose, but they sure don't want us to win."
Strategy Page says: "USAF Creates a Magnificent Monster"

March 16, 2006: The U.S. Air Force has created the ultimate version of the Stryker wheeled armored vehicle. The TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) Stryker has extra equipment for managing what's in the air, as well as on the ground. This includes permanent mounts for extra radios, antennae, a tactical computer and the Rover system to view video taken by UAVs. Each TACP has a crew of seven (an army driver, an army vehicle commander; an air force NCO, an army fire support officer or NCO, an air force air controller; a radio operator; and a maintenance specialist). All are trained to fight on the ground, but their main job it to bring in smart bombs, artillery and rockets to where the troops around them need it.

After working with the six TACPs built so far, the army realized that this was the future of mechanized warfare. If all armored vehicles, and unarmored command vehicles, were equipped like this, you could bring enormous firepower down on the enemy with unprecedented speed and accuracy. Moreover, the Rover link with UAVs (and eventually warplane sensors) enables a single vehicle to see much farther, day or night and in all weather. Actually, this type of capability has been an army goal for some time. But the need for more capabilities because of a war going on in Iraq, and the subsequent development of stuff like TACP, has speeded up the process. Each TACP Stryker costs $3 million (vehicle and special equipment).

TACPs are going to Iraq, where they will serve their designed purpose, to make a new air force/army concept work. This involves formally linking air force fighter squadrons with army combat brigades. The air force and army units would regularly train together in peace time. This means that the commanders and staffs from the two services would frequently meet to plan these exercises. That would give everyone an opportunity to bring each other up to date on new equipment, weapons and ideas in each service. The first units will consist of several F-16 squadrons and a Stryker brigade. One reason for using the Stryker brigade is that these units have the latest communications and computer gear, which is designed to easily communicate with similarly equipped warplanes overhead. The new combinations will be called a Joint Mission Capability Package (Joint MCAP). If this experiment works, reserve and active duty warplane squadrons would be linked, via a Joint MCAP arrangement, with army brigades, with the idea that, if the army unit had to ship out to a combat zone overseas, its MCAP air force squadrons would go with it.

The air force doesn't like the idea of every armored vehicle having TACP capabilities, or using many more army personnel as air controllers. But that's where it's going, mainly because smart bombs have gotten so smart they no longer require a hot shot pilot to hit the target accurately every time. The primary responsibility is now on the ground, and most of it is embedded in machines. It's mainly point (the laser rangefinder) and click (to capture the location of the target, and transmit it to the aircraft overhead.) The army can even uses its own UAVs for the airborne videos. The army is rushing ahead with all this battlefield automation, and the air force is trying to keep up."

Mark Steyn on his British exile.

Radioblogger has it all:

"My relationship with the Telegraph group, which the Spectator also belongs to, deteriorated over the last year, and became adversarial, which I don't think is particularly healthy. And I don't mind...I've been the token conservative on liberal newspapers. I don't mind an adversarial relationship in terms of your position on the Gulf War, or Afghanistan, or the European Union or whatever. I don't mind having differences with editors and so forth on that. But when it gets into, when the whole relationship just becomes generally toxic, then I think it's best to hang out your shingle somewhere else, which I will do in the United Kingdom at some point."

"First In"

I am reading a very good account of our Afghanistan triumph by the CIA officer who took the first team in a week after 911. As fast as it looked to us, the reason it took until Christmas to take Kabul was the debate about what to do while this team was with the Northern Alliance gathering intel and trying to get the DOD to send in A-Teams. The main debate was over helping the NA. State and most of the Beltway establishment was committed to a southern approach that the Paks wanted.

After our A-Teams were in place they couldn't get the CAS needed. It was all being used on "strategic" targets in the south. Once the decision was made to bomb the Taliban troops opposing the NA, it was over in a couple of weeks.


Jim Robbins at "The Corner" says

Good post on Free Republic on one of the documents posted without a translation. It is an Iraqi intelligence report from September 15, 2001. It states:
"1. That Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan are in contact with Iraq and it that previously a group from Taliban and Osama Bin Laden group visited Iraq.

2. That America has proof that the government of Iraq and Osama Bin Laden group have shown cooperation to hit target within America."

Why wasn't this posted with a translation? Wouldn't that qualify as salient information people should know about? Sometimes I really have to wonder if all the components of the government are in this war to win it.

Jury awards $6.5M to panic disorder patient in job bias suit

Is our court system insane?

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) - A Sonoma County health care case worker who claimed he was denied a promotion because a panic disorder prevented him from meeting clients won $6.5 million in an employment discrimination lawsuit.

A Sonoma County Superior Court jury awarded George Alberigi, 52, of Forestville $1.5 million in lost wages and $5 million for pain and suffering and other damages.

Alberigi was diagnosed in 1986 with panic disorder and agoraphobia, a fear of public places. He accused the county of bias in failing to accommodate his disability.

For most of 14 years with the county's Human Services Department, Alberigi was allowed to interview Medi-Cal clients by phone, but a promotion he applied for in 2001 required meeting clients in person.

He was denied the promotion and eventually went on permanent medical disability. He sued the county in 2003.

The county will likely seek a new trial, County Counsel Steven Woodside said Wednesday.

"Everyone around here was stunned by the verdict, particularly the amount of the verdict, which we think is excessive," he said.

Alberigi also won attorney fees, which could add another six figures to the county's cost, said his lawyer, Steve Murphy of San Francisco.

"Since Watergate, the Adversarial Approach Has Become the Norm"

Stephen Spruiell at "Media Blog" reports:

Amy Mitchell from the Project for Excellence in Journalism went on today to discuss PEJ's "State of the News Media 2006" report. I know this question from "Oklahoma City, Okla." will receive nods of support from a lot of this blog's readers, who have written me many e-mails over the past year expressing the same sentiment:

Oklahoma City, Okla.: I spent more than a decade as a daily newspaper reporter, and have worked in and around the media for four decades. Frankly, I'd have a hard time feeling good about being part of the working press today. Since Watergate, the adversarial approach has become the norm; everyone wants to be the next Woodtstein. Stories are often overhyped (in print less so than on TV, but it's still there.) The bulk of the media outlets are increasingly and relentlessly liberal (CBS documents, on and on) and no one seems to realize that a big part of the job of a reporter is simply to tell people what happened — the school board met and decided A, etc. Weren't things better when most journalists wanted to be good reporters, rather than celebrities?

Amy Mitchell: Certainly one of the circumstances we are seeing today is fewer people coming into the field who have been schooled in the traditional principles and purpose of journalism in our society. Many are entering the field with little or no grounding and there is also much less mentoring that occurs inside the newsroom between the young and the seasoned journalists. Also, today's owners many times do not have a background in journalism either. This is especially true in the newest ventures online such as Google and Yahoo which were begun from the start as businesses rather than journalistic endeavors.

I think Mitchell dodges the essence of the question, which is that ever since Watergate, the ultimate standard of achievement in journalism has become bringing down a president. Thus the press tries to turn every incident, no matter how minor, into a major scandal (see: hunting accident, Cheney's)."

Telling Saddam what's what, &c.

Jay Nordlinger this morning: "You know I like it when Judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman tells Saddam Hussein what the new facts of life are. Yesterday he told the ex-dictator that he could not use the courtroom to give political speeches. Saddam said, "I am the head of state." The judge said, "You used to be a head of state. You are a defendant now."

Then the judge turned off the defendant's microphone.

When you get terribly down, about the events of the world, think of that, my friends."

CBS's Schieffer Leads Again with How "Iraq Teeters on the Edge of Civil War"

"Newsbusters" asks, "Does CBS anchor Bob Schieffer think that if he issues ominous warnings about "civil war" in Iraq often enough it will eventually come true and vindicate his, as of yet, unfulfilled predictions? Neither ABC or NBC raised "civil war" in their Wednesday evening newscasts, but Bob Schieffer, who has been the most prolific anchor in pushing the dire warning, did so again as he pegged off how Saddam Hussein has turned his trial into a "farce" to insist that "Iraq teeters on the edge of civil war."

Schieffer opened his broadcast with a downbeat litany: "Iraq's new parliament is scheduled to meet for the first time tomorrow, but again today political leaders could not agree on a cabinet to take charge of the government, top cleric's appeals for calm went unheeded and the country may be closer than ever to civil war..."

We Are Doing Just Fine

Larry Kudlow says, "If things are so bad according to the polls, why are they so good according to the stock market?

I am one of those who believes that stocks are the best barometer of the health and wealth of our nation, and our nation's businesses. Poll after poll keep telling us how unhappy people are with the President Bush, the economy, the Iraq war, and the direction America is going in. Yet stocks are telling a decidely different story. They are making five-year highs among the broadest averages, a completely different message altogether."

Huffington vs Clooney?

Ann Althouse has the story. They both come out of this looking bad.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

South Park Republicans, time to organize.

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

Looks like Bush is getting his ducks in a row in case he decides to hit Iran. The NYT reefers Report Backs Iraq Strike and Cites Iran Peril while the WaPo leads with President to Restate US Preventive War Doctrine. It's "Page One" at the If Ignatius is right this is major.
» David Ignatius | For a change, pessimism isn't necessarily the right bet for Iraq. Its leaders are taking tentative steps toward reversing the country's downward slide.
"We have a common understanding on major issues, on the need for consensus and on a national security commission," said a top Shiite leader.

"Growing Anxiety About Iraq Threatens Republicans - [pay site]"Growing Anxiety About Iraq Threatens Republicans Bush Approval Rating Hits A Low as War Pessimism Offers Edge for Democrats"

The Political Attack on our Universities

David Horowitz has a major essay at Front Page on the subversion of Academia. Here's a sample.

One of the most advanced stages of this intellectual corruption of our universities has been achieved at the University of California Santa Cruz, where faculty radicals have changed the very name of the Department of Women’s Studies to reflect the overtly ideological nature of its courses. It is now called the Department of Feminist Studies, [2] and is a program of indoctrination in the theory and practice of radical feminism whose agenda is the recruitment of students to radical causes. On the official departmental website under “Career Opportunities” and the heading “What Can I Do With A Major in Feminist Studies” the answer is as follows:

Resources - What Can I Do with a Major in Feminist Studies?

Employment Opportunities for Feminist Studies Majors:

With a background in women’s and minorities’ histories and an understanding of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and other forms of oppression, graduates have a good background for work with policy-making and lobbying organizations, research centers, trade and international associations, and unions. Graduates’ nowledge about power relationships and injustice often leads them to choose careers in government and politics, because they are determined to use their skills to change the world….[3]

This is not an academic curriculum. It is an indoctrination and recruitment program, which violates the most fundamental precepts of the academic freedom guidelines of the University of California. Yet not a single administrator in the University of California system is the slightest concerned.

Read it all.

Building Wealth by the Penny

The kind of "Horatio Alger" story that you are happy to read. It's the "long tail." of distribution. Hat Tip, Tom Barnett

In Rural India, a Sales Force in Saris Delivers Soap, Social Change
By John Lancaster
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, March 14, 2006; A13

CHOLLERU, India -- With its open sewers and mud-walled homes, this impoverished farming village of 2,200 in southern India did not look like fertile territory for an entrepreneur. But Srilatha Kadem was undeterred. Oblivious to the midday heat, she marched briskly along the unpaved streets, her cloth bag filled with soaps and shampoos and her heart with vaulting ambition.

She stopped at a tile-roofed house, where a gray-haired woman in a green sari lounged in the shade of the small verandah. "You're charging the same as the shops," the woman said grumpily.

"There is a difference in quality," replied Kadem, a cheerful woman with silver toe rings and a fifth-grade education who works as a saleswoman for Hindustan Lever Ltd., the Indian subsidiary of the Dutch consumer products giant Unilever. "What you buy on the streets, it doesn't come from a good company. These products which I brought are from a good company."

Consumer culture, spurred by rapid economic growth, is spreading to the vast rural hinterlands where two-thirds of India's 1.1 billion people still live. The trend is creating new opportunities not just for big business, which has long focused on the urban middle class, but also for some of India's poorest citizens.

A 30-year-old mother of two, Kadem is part of a novel Hindustan Lever initiative that enlists about 20,000 poor and mostly illiterate women to peddle such products as Lifebuoy soap and Pepsodent toothpaste in villages once considered too small, too destitute and too far from normal distribution channels to warrant attention.

Started in late 2000, Project Shakti has extended Hindustan Lever's reach into 80,000 of India's 638,000 villages, on top of about 100,000 served by conventional distribution methods, according to Dalip Sehgal, the company's director of new ventures. The project accounts for nearly 15 percent of rural sales. The women typically earn between $16 and $22 per month, often doubling their household income, and tend to use the extra money to educate their children.

"At the end of the day, we're in business," Sehgal said in a telephone interview from company headquarters in Bombay. "But if by doing business we can do something positive, it's a great win-win model."

Hindustan Lever is not alone in recognizing the vast potential for profits in rural India. As urban markets become saturated, more businesses are retooling their marketing strategies, and in many cases their products, to target rural consumers with tiny incomes but rising aspirations fueled by the media and other forces, according to experts.

Companies are offering many products, from single-use shampoo packets that sell for less than a penny to $340 motor scooters available for monthly payments as low as $4.50. Banks are targeting first-time customers with $10-minimum-deposit savings accounts. Cellular phone companies are upgrading rural networks while offering monthly plans for as little as $3.40.

"In four to five years the rural market will be a major sector that is well beyond anyone's imagination," said Rajesh Shukla, principal economist for the National Council of Applied Economic Research in New Delhi. "Nobody was expecting this was going to happen."

Still, the economic boom reflected in India's 8 percent annual growth is primarily an urban phenomenon, driven by service industries such as outsourcing. It has largely bypassed rural India, where malnutrition rates are sharply higher than in sub-Saharan Africa and most people still earn their living from farming that depends on monsoon rains. Poor roads and inadequate electricity deter many businesses from seeking new customers and opportunities outside cities and larger towns.

But some are taking a fresh look at rural India, where spending power has risen modestly thanks to villagers who migrate to cities for work and send earnings home, according to V. Kasturi Rangan, a Harvard Business School professor who studies emerging markets.

Corporate interest also has been piqued by the success of microcredit initiatives that began two decades ago in Bangladesh and have been widely embraced in India and other developing countries. Run by nonprofit groups or commercial banks, microcredit programs typically provide poor women with tiny loans, which can be used for income-generating activities that start with the purchase of a milk cow, for example, or a handloom.

With lower default rates than conventional loans, microcredit programs have lent credence to the idea that small-scale entrepreneurship can play an important role in alleviating poverty, as well as create opportunities for big business. In his book "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid," C.K. Prahalad, a University of Michigan Business School professor, cites numerous examples of companies that have generated wealth for the poor and profits for themselves by focusing on underserved rural markets.

Hindustan Lever has long recognized the potential of rural India, where even now only 15 percent of the population uses shampoo -- leaving 85 percent as potential customers, said Sehgal, the company official. The market had languished because the company could not figure out a way to profitably distribute its products in small villages.

That changed with the proliferation of women's self-help groups that use microloans to buy such items as mobile phones that can be used to do business in villages without landlines. Reasoning that a similar model could apply to selling soap and face powder, the company launched Project Shakti, which recruits its sales force from the groups.

"We are not too fussed about whether they are educated," Sehgal said, "because the inputs we give them are things they can learn," such as simple bookkeeping.

Women are considered a better bet than men, he added, because "they are far more honest." The company plans to employ about 100,000 women by 2010, enough to sell its products in about 500,000 Indian villages.

One of the early proving grounds for the program was a poverty-stricken cluster of villages in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. One was Cholleru, where Kadem, known as the local "Shakti entrepreneur," lives with her husband, 11-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son in a simple house off a courtyard of packed earth.

Married at 15, Kadem pulled weeds for 60 cents a day before she was recruited to the program three years ago. During two months of training, she said, she was schooled in the alphabet of her native Telugu, which she had forgotten, as well as in the rudiments of sales and bookkeeping.

Kadem initially built her customer base by holding night classes for village women. She taught them how to sign their names -- instead of the thumbprint they normally used -- and instructed them on the hygienic benefits of Lever products.

Kadem now covers four villages, traveling by bus or three-wheeled motor-taxi. She earns about $26 a month, almost as much as her husband brings home as a machine operator at an explosives factory, she said. The extra money covers installments on a new television set and means that the family can afford to send both children to private English-language schools.

"We should not distinguish between male and female," said Kadem, who hopes her daughter will become a doctor. "I want my children to be better than me."

With sales on the increase, Kadem hopes to buy a motor scooter, but for now, she makes the rounds of Cholleru on foot. In an hour and a half the other day, she visited 11 households, selling Rexona deodorant, Rin laundry detergent and other products in transactions that rarely exceeded 40 cents.

She returned home with her bag noticeably lighter -- and a broad smile. "I am feeling very happy," she said. "When I sell something, why wouldn't I be happy?"

In the U.S. Senate the Guilty Interrogate the Innocent

George Reisman says, "In an article titled "A Senate Panel Interrogates Wary Oil Executives" today's New York Times reports that "The nation's top oil executives were called before Congress again yesterday to defend their industry's recent mergers and record profits, in the face of public outrage over high oil and gasoline prices.

Every senator who votes to place obstacles in the way of U.S. energy production, who helps to harass U.S. energy producers, is voting to hamper OPEC’s most important competitors and to allow OPEC to go on obtaining high prices. Such senators are the ones who bear responsibility for the high price of oil and gasoline. They are senators serving OPEC not the American people.

They are the ones who deserve to be interrogated, in order to learn how they could be so blind, so stupid, and so destructive.
Read it all!

Back to school in New Orleans

Joanne Jacobs says "Only 20 of 124 New Orleans schools have reopened."

Five West Bank charter schools are struggling to keep up with the demand of returning students.

"There are not enough schools open in New Orleans and we're trying to fix that problem," said Brian Riedlinger, director of the Algiers Charter School Association, which runs the five West Bank schools. "But there was no way for us to know that we would have this many students showing up."

It's a huge challenge, but the New Orleans schools were so bad before the hurricane that there's nowhere to go but up."

"Chomskyites vote left"

Shannon Love at "Chicago Boyz" says, "Contemporary Democrats simply cannot understand why the electorate no longer trust them to defend America. They have basically settled on blaming poor political marketing and/or Republican mind control rays.

I think there is a very simple explanation that just about everyone but diehard Democratic partisans can easily recognize. To whit:

Voters who think that America sucks vote overwhelmingly for Democrats

Let me just quickly make it clear what I am saying and not saying. I am not saying that all, most of, or even many people who vote Democratic think America sucks. Just because someone votes Democrat doesn't mean they have a negative view of America. I am saying, however, that people who do hold highly negative views of America will vote for the Democrats much more often than they vote for the Republicans.

People who hold negative views of America feel more comfortable voting Democratic and the rest of the electorate sees that. When you read somebody claiming that America is racist state, built on exploited labor and mass murder, whose democracy is a sham and whose foreign policy flows entirely from a desire of corporate profit, etc you can be sure that that individual will vote Democratic every time. Why should the general electorate and especially the non-partisan electorate trust the Democrats with national security when they are the natural home of those who don't appear to think America is actually worth defending?

Democrats bristle at any suggestion that they harbor any anti-American views yet many diehard Democratic partisans do have such a dark view of both historical and contemporary American that one is forced to ask why, if they have a moral bone in their body, they aren't anti-American. For example, in the area of foreign policy, many far-left Democrats have no problem asserting that regardless of which party has held power, the foreign policy of the US has been motivated by nothing more than corporate greed and that millions have died as a result. How could anyone support a state so brutally flawed? How many people would someone have to believe America has selfishly murdered before they could honestly say they had become an anti-American?

The far (and perhaps not so far Left) want to have it both ways.They wish to be able to say that America is basically a corrupt state, culture and society responsible for most of the evil in the world but on no account can anyone question their commitment to protecting that corrupt entity. Riiiight.

The people are not fooled. The far Left is, or at least should be, anti-American and the Democratic party has no problem with that. Actions speak louder than words. The Democrats can stand up and say, "We are just as committed to defending America and American values as anyone else," but the electorate can easily see all those Democrats in the background who might as well be wearing tee-shirts that say, "America Sucks, why can't we be more like Europe?"

Until they can stopped sending conflicting messages, the Democrats are going to keep losing. Fewer and fewer people want to be associated with the America sucks crowd.

Why I am not excited about Wafa Sultan.

"The Big Pharaoh" says, "Wafa Sultan is an Arab American psychiatrist living in Los Angeles. She appeared on Al Jazeera 2 weeks ago to debate a professor at Al Azhar university, the world's main Sunni Islam school.

The debate was posted on MEMRI which stated that over a million people downloaded the Al Jazeera program. She was also profiled in the New York Times.

I admit that what Wafa Sultan said on the program was unusual given the fact that she was being interviewed on Al Jazeera, a propaganda channel with an Islamist twist. However, I am not so excited about Sultan and I believe she and others who share her line of thought are very counterproductive to our region.

It was apparent from the interview that Wafa Sultan has stopped being a Muslim for reasons that she alone can tell. This fact alone will discourage even the most moderate Muslims from listening to her. She is exactly like Irshad Manji. Western readers can get excited as they want over Sultan and Manji, but don't expect Muslims to heed the call of a former Muslim and a lesbian*.

In addition, I believe the Sultan vs the Al Azhar professor debate was an attempt by Al Jazeera to discredit anyone who thinks differently about Islam. By putting these 2 together, Al Jazeera was forcing its viewers to choose between Sultan and the professor. 99.9999% of viewers had no option but to side with their fellow Muslim the professor.

We don't need former Muslims, we don't need atheists, we don't need lesbians, what we need are reform minded Muslim thinkers. Only these people have the necessary legitimacy to pull us from the dark abyss we're in now."

*I have nothing against lesbians. I just wanted to say that her sexual orientation will discredit her in the eyes of most people here. Even Muslim wakeup do not endorse her.

Fourth-place finish in Memphis shows McCain’s no front-runner

Dick Morris, in a column at "The Hill" says, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is destined to find that his love of the Republican Party will be unrequited.

His dismal showing in the recent Nashville straw poll underscores the fact that while he is the Democrats' and independents' favorite Republican, he's not the Republicans' top choice by a long shot. Twenty years of independence, courage, creativity and conscience will do that for you (as Joe Lieberman is finding out across the aisle).

You can't be a front-runner for your party's nomination and win 5 percent of the vote in a regional straw poll, finishing fourth, behind Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.), Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Virginia Sen. George Allen. While McCain still leads in the national polls (not counting former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani), he is no genuine front-runner. He lacks the requisite enthusiasm he would need among core Republicans to cop that title.

He is, in fact, more of a stalking horse, a place to store voter preferences while the other candidates for the nomination break through their low thresholds of name recognition.

It's a shame because McCain and Giuliani are the only two frequently mentioned candidates who could actually get elected and defy the likely disaster the GOP faces in '08.
After the Republican Party gets shellacked in the congressional elections of 2006, the wisdom of nominating someone who can attract votes outside the Republican base will become increasingly apparent. And none of the candidates other than McCain or Giuliani can do so.

The first phase of the GOP campaign will feature the fall from the top of McCain and, if he runs, Giuliani. The next phase will be characterized by doubts as to whether any of the remaining candidates are up to the task. And then, if the GOP voters are smart, they will draft the only winning candidate they could nominate, the secretary of state.

Or they won’t, and Hillary will be the next president. Nobody said Republican primary voters were very sensible

Rest Here

This is how the Educrats con the Public.

Joanne Jacobs says California's second-tier California State University system, which is geared to B students, a majority of freshmen require remedial classes in math or English or both.

A decade after CSU leaders vowed to get rid of most remedial classes at their 23 campuses, just 45 percent of entering freshmen are ready for college-level courses in both subjects. The figure is a slight increase from last year's 43 percent, but still far below the university's 2007 goal of 90 percent proficiency.

As bad as it is, student proficiency rates are improving slowly. But CSU won't hit 90 percent college readiness by next year. It probably won't hit 50 percent.

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