Saturday, June 30, 2007

"The Environmentalist Party Line Has Changed, Comrade Smith"

As is well known, working in The Ministry of Truth is quite confusing at times for those of us who have not yet mastered "Doublethink," for instance, just this morning Comrade Julia asked me:

"What country is Oceania at war with today, Euraisa or Eastasia?"

So I don't always like it when articles in my blog are proven right by events—especially when they are about ominous trends toward civilizational self-destruction—but I just came across two such examples. Today, Charles Krauthammer's column cites an excellent new example:

The senator was vexed. The US auto companies were resisting attempts by her and other Senate well-meaners to impose a radical rise in fuel efficiency by 2017. Why can't they be more like the Chinese, she complained. Or, to quote Sen. Dianne Feinstein precisely: "What the China situation, or the other countries' situation, shows is that these automakers, in all of these countries, build the automobile that the requirements for mileage state. And they don't fight it, they just do it."

Yes. That is how things work in Oceania.

But the article below is a particularly sweet example of being proven right—and in this case, I think it's perfectly acceptable to have no sympathy for the victims.

As is well known, Environmentalists have systematically turned against every form of "renewable energy" they once touted as an alternative to coal, oil, and nuclear power. They pushed for hydro-electric dams—and then campaigned to breach them. They championed wind power—and now they tilt at windmills.

According to the article below, that trend it beginning to claim its next victim: "bio-fuels."

While Congress is preparing more subsidies for ethanol—which is why I feel no sympathy for the hawkers of bio-fuels—environmentalists are beginning to complain that all of the corn that has to be planted to produce that ethanol is ravaging the environment. This is yet another piece of evidence that the real agenda of the environmentalists is to oppose industrial civilization as such, by seeking to cut off any supply of fuel that can be used to power it.

"Biofuels Stamped 'Damaging the Environment'," Paul Eccleston, Daily Telegraph, June 29 The rush for biofuels is causing massive environmental damage and must be halted, a campaign group claims.

Whole ecosystems are being destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people are being thrown off their land to make way for the crops needed to make biofuel, it alleges.

The charity Grain says there has been a stampede towards biofuels—an alcohol-based fuel made from crops and trees planted on a large scale—as a "greener" alternative to fossil fuels….

For its hard-hitting report Grain claims it has gathered material from around the world and concluded that the rush to biofuels is causing enormous environmental and social damage, "The numbers involved are mind-boggling. The Indian government is talking of planting 14 million hectares of land with jatropha.

"The Inter-American Development Bank says that Brazil has 120 million hectares that could be cultivated with agrofuel crops; and an agrofuel lobby is speaking of 379 million hectares being available in 15 African countries. We are talking about expropriation on an unprecedented scale," the report states.

Grain claims even the term biofuel is wrong and misleading and should instead be called agrofuel in that it is being taken over by big business and exploited as another commodity.

"The Way To Stop Discrimination Based On Race..."

Well, we're now getting a feel for the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which ended its latest term with a bang, issuing a ruling that blocks government schools from overtly attempting to assign students positions in public schools on the basis of their race.

This followed another one of those "split decisions"—decisions that are split, not just in the vote, but in their reasoning. The conservative majority struck down an anti-trust rule that barred manufacturers from setting minimum retail prices for their products. But it did so in a way that arguably makes the law less objective, not more.

The ruling leaves in place the whole structure of the antitrust laws, which ban "restraint of trade" by restraining the trading practices of private businesses. More important, the antitrust laws provide no objective standard to determine what is or is not "anti-competitive," and for more than a century such decisions have been made by the courts ad hoc and after the fact.

The new ruling won't change that. In the words of Justice Kennedy's decision for the majority, "Vertical agreements establishing minimum resale prices can have either pro-competitive or anticompetitive effects, depending upon the circumstances in which they are formed." So we're back where the Sherman Act put us in the first place: no businessman can know if his actions are legal or not until after he is prosecuted.

The court seems to have done rather better with its last decision, whose essence was summed up in another memorable one-liner from Chief Justice Roberts: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

"Justices Limit the Use of Race in School Plans for Integration," Linda Greenhouse, New York Times, June 29 With competing blocs of justices claiming the mantle of Brown v. Board of Education, a bitterly divided Supreme Court declared Thursday that public school systems cannot seek to achieve or maintain integration through measures that take explicit account of a student’s race.

Voting 5 to 4, the court, in an opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., invalidated programs in Seattle and metropolitan Louisville, Ky., that sought to maintain school-by-school diversity by limiting transfers on the basis of race or using race as a “tiebreaker” for admission to particular schools….

“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” he said. His side of the debate, the chief justice said, was “more faithful to the heritage of Brown,” the landmark 1954 decision that declared school segregation unconstitutional….

In a separate opinion that could shape the practical implications of the decision and provide school districts with guidelines for how to create systems that can pass muster with the court, Justice Kennedy said achieving racial diversity, “avoiding racial isolation” and addressing “the problem of de facto resegregation in schooling” were “compelling interests” that a school district could constitutionally pursue as long as it did so through programs that were sufficiently “narrowly tailored.”…

As a matter of constitutional doctrine and practical impact, Justice Kennedy’s opinion thus placed a significant limitation on the full reach of the other four justices’ embrace of a “colorblind Constitution” under which all racially conscious government action, no matter how benign or invidious its goal, is equally suspect….

“If our history has taught us anything,” Justice Thomas said, “it has taught us to beware of elites bearing racial theories.”

The Revolt of The Right On Immigration

The Senate has killed the immigration bill, and there will not be a second try—not until we have a new president. It won't happen because the anti-immigration activists are the right's answer to the "angry left": a wing of the right that has become irrational and unhinged on a single issue.

Although the immigration bill was a normal, god-awful Washington compromise, I have no sympathy for the anti-immigration advocates who demanded that it be killed, not improved. As I have argued before—and as some of them have admitted—every argument they make against illegal immigration is an argument against immigration as such.

Below, pro-immigration conservative Linda Chavez offers bitter congratulations to the angry right for their victory.

Note, also, how much energy and grassroots mobilization the right has poured into this issue, while we are facing crucial deadlines in the demands for withdrawal and surrender in Iraq—a fact nicely captured in a new cartoon by Cox & Forkum.

"A Pyrrhic Victory," Linda Chavez, Jewish World Review, June 29 Immigration reform is dead. But before conservatives who killed this bill start popping champagne corks, they ought to consider the following.

Our borders will be less secure, not more. Employers who want to do the right thing and only hire legal workers won't have the tools to do so. The 12 million illegal aliens who are here now will continue to live in the shadows, making them less likely to cooperate with law enforcement to report crimes and less likely to pay their full share of taxes. In other words, the mess we created by an outdated and ill-conceived immigration policy 20 years ago will just get worse.

But you won't hear this if you tune in to talk radio over the next few days or read conservative blogs. There will be lots of gloating over having killed "amnesty." There will be claims that senators finally "listened to the people." And, no doubt, some conservatives will be emboldened to consider the next step in their war against illegal immigration, namely to deport those now here illegally….

The United States creates 1.5 to 2 million jobs every year, but without immigrants—legal and illegal—we'd have a hard time filling all those jobs…. Not enough young Americans are studying engineering, science and mathematics to fill all the jobs that require those skills. And Americans are over-educated to fill the jobs at the lowest end of the skills spectrum.

But none of this matters to the radio talk show hosts who encouraged their millions of listeners to shut down the congressional phone system with calls protesting "amnesty."…

Meanwhile, the real majority of Americans will have to wait for genuine immigration reform. And Republicans who believe this is going to help them at the polls in 2008 may well find themselves sitting on the back benches for years to come.

Britain Cannot Withdraw From WW III

Tony Blair's successor, Gordon Brown, took office Wednesday and subsequently reshuffled the British cabinet. Disturbingly, Brown pointedly signaled an impending cutoff in British support for the Iraq war by appointing David Miliband, an opponent of the war and an advocate of appeasement of Hezbollah and Hamas, as his foreign secretary.

(In Miliband's previous office, Denis Boyles points out, he was too politically correct to cull badgers. If the man can't stand up to the badger lobby, how is he supposed to stand up to Iran?)
The switch turns out to have been bad timing, because the new cabinet was greeted by reminders of the same old war: a new terrorist plot targeting London's night life with not just one but two car bombs discovered and defused—so far.

I believe it was George Orwell who said, "You may not be interested in war—but war is interested in you." Gordon Brown's new government may contemplate withdrawing from the war against radical Islam in Iraq—but it cannot withdraw from the war radical Islam has declared against Britain.

"Britain's Brown Picks a War Critic for New Cabinet," Al Webb, Washington Times, June 29 New Prime Minister Gordon Brown named a Cabinet yesterday that included a critic of the Iraq war as foreign secretary—a clear signal of a shift in British policy toward the unpopular conflict….

[T]he most eye-catching new name was rising political star David Miliband, who at 41 becomes the youngest British foreign secretary in 30 years, and potentially one of the most controversial, given his discomfort over the Blair government's policy on Iraq.

Mr. Miliband voted along with much of Parliament to go to war in Iraq four years ago, but he is reported to have later become quite skeptical about the decision to send in British troops….
Mr. Miliband also expressed dismay over Mr. Blair's refusal to call for an immediate truce during last summer's war between Israel and the Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon.

That decision provoked a party revolt against Mr. Blair and helped drive him to his decision to step down as prime minister.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The New Communism Is Environmentalism

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, drawing on his memories of Soviet oppression, recently declared that the global warming hysteria had replaced Communism as "the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity."

The environmentalists continue to do their best to prove him right.

In making the parallel to Communism, President Klaus cited the use of environmentalism as a justification for global central planning. But it is not just the vast scale of the controls proposed by environmentalists that is so revealing; it is also the detail. There is no aspect of life too trivial or intimate (as Sheryl Crow infamously reminded us) to fall outside of this new ideological regimentation.

A bit of the flavor of the coming environmentalist police state is provided by a new Australian television show titled "Carbon Cops." In a bizarre inversion of the typical American home improvement show, the experts in this show descend on the hapless homeowners to measure their "carbon footprint," the amount of fossil fuels involved in the manufacture and use of every item in their house. The "carbon cops" are shown rummaging through a family's smallest household items, searching for global warming contraband—and then scolding them for "polluting" the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Each week they don their orange monogrammed shirts to cordon off the toxic home of an Australian family. They arrive with energy-auditing gadgetry, sobering statistics, and lips and eyebrows curled in withering admonishment. They rate these people, shame them, then challenge them to do better.

And what sort of things are these people supposed to be ashamed of? One family, the Barries, are scolded for their overuse of light bulbs, "Dad's overseas business travel, their swimming pool and boat," while the Lane family is taken to task for their "six TVs, three DVD players, five or six computers, 12 freshly laundered towels a day."

In case you don't get the message, the author of this report sums it up for you: "Taken together, the case studies are not about individual scapegoats as much as an indictment of Western affluence, negligence, and self-obsession." Ah yes, the inexcusable self-indulgence of wanting to bathe with freshly laundered towels. How can we live with ourselves?

The victims on this television show are voluntary, the only weapon used against them is social disapproval, and the whole thing could be laughed off—if not for the fact that our political leaders are preparing the way for the real carbon cops who will enforce the "carbon taxes" and impose the "cap and trade" rationing scheme needed to meet the environmentalists' goal of constricting the world's energy use. Australia's "carbon cops" may be fictional, but they are the harbinger of a real attempt to use the power of the state to strip us of the accoutrements of prosperity: our light bulbs, our cars, our televisions, our freshly laundered towels.

Part of what Vaclav Klaus was sensing—what gives this all the faint whiff of totalitarianism—is the global warming alarmists' eagerness to reach into the smallest details of our private existence and re-arrange our lifestyle to fit the austere requirements of their political ideology. A recent article in the Sacramento Bee captures the paternalistic fervor in the California statehouse:

Besides the light bulb bill [a de facto ban on the sale of incandescent light bulbs], the Assembly voted this month to require toilets that use less water, ban restaurants from using trans fats, and to create a $250 million program to subsidize sales of solar water heaters costing $6,000 apiece. The Assembly considered, but rejected under pressure from the auto industry, legislation designed to benefit the environment by assessing a $2,500 surcharge on the sale of gas-guzzling vehicles to fund rebates for fuel-efficient models.

But those with a lust to control every detail of human life are not content merely to control what we do. They also want to control what we think.

We have seen in recent decades the largest peacetime outpouring of government propaganda, all devoted to convincing us that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing a global warming catastrophe. The German government, for example, has begun paying authors to inundate Wikipedia with articles boosting "renewable resources." So much for the Internet as the ultimate free marketplace for ideas: now one cartel will be supported by government subsidies.

Along with the campaign to subsidize government-approved speech, there always comes an attempt to suppress speech that challenges the official line. The designation of those who challenge the global warming scare stories as global warming "deniers"—smearing them as the equivalent of Holocaust deniers—has introduced the hard edge of dogmatism and character assassination to the public debate. The implications of this phrase were made clear by another Australian. (Apparently Australia, like Britain, is a few steps ahead of America in how seriously it takes its global warming dogma.) Referring to a British historian who was jailed for denying the existence of the Holocaust, leftist Australian journalist Margo Kingston growled: "David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial. Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offense—it is a crime against humanity after all." (This quote appears at Kingston's former blog; see item #8.)

Kingston is a leftist provocateur and has gone beyond what the mainstream of the left has so far contemplated—but only a little beyond. Back in the United States, the left is still gingerly working to prepare the ground for green censorship, with Al Gore branding right-wing dissent an "assault on reason" that has "broken" the marketplace of ideas—which requires government intervention to fix. The fix is now being prepared in the form of a regulatory assault on right-leaning talk radio, among other initiatives.

For those seeking to justify this kind of all-encompassing government control, global warming is the best candidate to come along since the collapse of Marxism. Like Marxism, environmentalism steals the "scientific" aura of an established field—but in this case it has invaded the "hard sciences," which carry greater prestige than economics. And unlike previous environmentalist crusades, global warming is a threat that is global in scope and total and all-encompassing in its detailed application to human life. Other pollution scares—DDT, acid rain, the ozone layer—required only the banning of a single product or control over a single industry. None was big enough to require control of the entire economy over the period of a century, nor could any claim to be so urgent as to make dissent an "irresponsible" act that is not to be tolerated.

Global warming provides a basis for all of these claims: urgent action is needed, we are told, or the catastrophic effects will be irreversible. But to reverse global warming will require massive reductions in our use of power, requiring a total restructuring of the economy—and the deployment of the "carbon cops" to police every parsimonious detail of our everyday lives.

And this global warming police state has one big advantage over Marxism: it makes a virtue of the chronic shortages and privation that were such a mortal embarrassment to Communism. This time, the left won't have to explain away the lines at the stores, the decade-long waiting lists for tin-can automobiles, even the scarcity of decent toilet paper. These are not failures of the system: they are the goal of the system. They are all necessary to reduce our "carbon footprint."

A perceptive reader suggested to me recently that when left claims that "the science is settled" in the global warming controversy, what they really mean is that the political science of the issue is settled. The global warming hysteria reinforces all of their settled anti-capitalist prejudices—and it provides an open-ended justification for the central, dominant, overpowering role they think government ought to play in the individual's life.

No, we haven't arrived at a green dictatorship—we're nowhere near it. But with all of the environmentalists' talk about the long-term consequences of our actions decades or centuries from now, we should subject their agenda to the same scrutiny. What ideological direction are they taking us, what kind of political and economic system are they seeking to impose—and what will happen to our liberty and prosperity, the day after tomorrow?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Communism Held In Contempt By Chinese Students

While we fight a new struggle against Islamism, it's nice to take a break for one of those articles that provides a little victory lap celebrating the defeat of Communism. This article looks at the still-mandatory classes on Marxism in Chinese schools—and the boredom and contempt they evoke in students.

On a more serious note, observe that everyone admits that the collapse of Marxism leaves the Chinese state with no ideological foundation. And on a more ominous note, observe the attempts to adopt environmentalism as a replacement for Communism—following the lead of the Western left.

But a more hopeful note comes, inadvertently, from an education ministry official who says of China's young people, "They don't believe in God or communism. They're practical. They only worship the money." Unfortunately, too few young Chinese know that capitalism, properly understood, represents a philosophy and a benevolent moral code—and that this is the new ideological foundation China needs.

"Marx Loses Currency in New China," Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times, June 26 Professor Tao Xiuao cracked jokes, told stories, projected a Power Point presentation on a large video screen. But his students at Beijing Foreign Studies University didn't even try to hide their boredom.

Young men spread newspapers out on their desks and pored over the sports news. A couple of students listened to iPods; others sent text messages on their cellphones. One young woman with chic red-framed glasses spent the entire two hours engrossed in "Jane Eyre," in the original English. Some drifted out of class, ate lunch and returned. Some just lay their heads on their desktops and went to sleep.

It isn't easy teaching Marxism in China these days….

"It's not the teacher," said sophomore Liu Di, a finance major whose shaggy auburn hair hangs, John Lennon-style, along either side of his wire-rim glasses. "No matter who teaches this class, it's always boring. Philosophy is useful and interesting, but I think that in philosophy education in China, they just teach the boring parts."

Classes in Marxist philosophy have been compulsory in Chinese schools since not long after the 1949 communist revolution….

It seems an understatement to say that there's a disconnect between reality and what the students are learning about Marx and Mao, who held that capitalism would inevitably and naturally give way to communism.

"Compared to my normal opinions about the world…it's something like fiction," said Du Zimu, one of Liu's classmates….

Daniel A. Bell, a Canadian who is the first Westerner in the modern era to teach politics at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China's most elite educational institution, wrote in the spring issue of Dissent magazine of his surprise at how little Marxism is actually discussed in China, even among Communist Party intellectuals.

"The main reason Chinese officials and scholars do not talk about communism is that hardly anybody really believes that Marxism should provide guidelines for thinking about China's political future," he wrote. "The ideology has been so discredited by its misuses that it has lost almost all legitimacy in society…. To the extent there's a need for a moral foundation for political rule in China, it almost certainly won't come from Karl Marx."…

"The students I know generally don't accept Marx as the best ideological foundation for modern China," said one student at a prestigious Chinese university. "Marx in China is only a flag used by different kinds of persons. Then, what is the ideological foundation for modern China? I think no one can give a satisfied answer."…

[At] a model junior high school in Beijing,…students are participating in a pilot program to learn the fundamentals of environmentalism, as part of a "values" class that used to contain a strong dose of Marxist ideology.

American British Friend Is Gone!

Alas Tony Blair stepped down today as prime minister of Britain. He leaves office as widely loved in America as he is widely hated in Britain, and for the same reason: because he has been America's best friend among foreign leaders—alas.

As much as I appreciate Blair's support for the war in Iraq and the political price he paid for it, Blair's support has also given him the influence to ask for key concessions from the US, such as the long, drawn-out charade of seeking UN support for the invasion of Iraq.

Unfortunately, I suspect that this aspect of Blair's role will be emphasized in his new job as a special envoy working to help create a Palestinian state—through the hopeless method of trying to bring freedom, prosperity, and the rule of law to a society run by terrorists.

Though he is known in America mostly for his foreign policy, any mention of Blair's legacy should include his economic policy, reviewed here, which largely consisted of a ratification from the left of Margaret Thatcher's pro-free-market reforms—the source of Britain's current economic vitality.

"Mediators Appoint Blair Mideast Envoy," Christine Hauser and Taghreed El-Khodary, New York Times, June 27 Tony Blair, who stepped down today as the prime minister of Britain, has been appointed a new senior peace envoy for the Middle East, working on building the framework for a Palestinian state, officials said today….

Mr. Blair, who handed his office over to Gordon Brown in London, becomes a senior envoy for the “quartet,” diplomatic shorthand for the four leading outside forces working on peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians—the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said Mr. Blair would spend significant time in the region “working with the parties and others to help viable and lasting government institutions representing all Palestinians, a robust economy and a climate of law and order for the Palestinian people.”…

President Bush welcomed the appointment today.

“Tony will help Palestinians develop the political and economic institutions they will need for a democratic, sovereign state able to provide for its people and live in peace and security with Israel,” he said in a statement.

Fred Thompson Surges In Presidential Polls

Fred Fits Despite not having officially entered the race, actor and former Senator Fred Thompson has just made his first appearance at the top of one of the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, beating Rudy Giuliani for the first time. Look for the Rasmussen poll results, and note in the graph on this page the strong recent surge in Thompson's poll numbers, which has come at the expense of every other candidate.

There are a number of reasons for this, including Thompson's appealing personality. I was struck by the audience reaction to him in a recent appearance on Jay Leno's show: people like and trust Thompson, regarding him as a serious and honest man (this reputation for sincerity may explain why he is trouncing Hillary Clinton in a general election match-up).

There is also another reason for these results. I have backed Rudy Giuliani because I like the idea of Republicans choosing the war as their top priority, while subordinating the agenda of the religious right. But Thompson—who is by no means a holy roller, but who opposes abortion and is more "conservative" on a number of issues, like immigration—does not ask Republicans to make this choice.

He allows them to choose a candidate who is relatively strong and forceful when speaking about the war, but who is also a better "fit" for the party's conservative base. But that doesn't mean that Thompson is a shoo-in for the nomination. With less experience, particularly in an executive position, he has not been extensively tested for the stamina, quick decision-making, and management skills required to win a campaign—and to fulfill the responsibilities of the presidency.

"Rudy Amid the Evangelicals," Alex Koppelman,, June 27 The conventional wisdom is that Rudy Giuliani's bid for the Republican presidential nomination will be in serious trouble without the support of evangelicals and social conservatives. It is still early in a wide-open race. But with his campaign appearance on Tuesday at Regent University, the school founded by conservative televangelist Pat Robertson, the former mayor of New York City showed that he was still struggling with a strategy for social issues important to the party's conservative base.

When the first question from an audience member came in two parts, Giuliani embraced the chance to avoid dealing with social issues altogether. He was asked how to appeal to Muslims who are not religious extremists and how to "get Judeo-Christian values back in our government"—conservative code for issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Giuliani went off on a rambling answer about Islam that took him to the streets of Saudi Arabia and into the politics of the Soviet Union, before skipping on to the next question from an audience member.

When pushed for clarification at a press conference later in the day, Giuliani said he had simply forgotten to answer the latter half of the audience member's question. "You can't possibly describe Judeo-Christian values in one lesson or two or three, but if there was one, it would probably be Jesus' admonition that you would be judged based on how you treat others, and I would try to exemplify that in the way that I governed as president," Giuliani explained. "I think that Judeo-Christian values are so much a part of America that if you run a government responsibly and honestly and peacefully, you're reaffirming Judeo-Christian values." He never mentioned abortion or same-sex marriage, intelligent design or prayer in schools….

Rather than pander to the base and risk looking like a flip-flopper, he implicitly acknowledges the differences between him and evangelical voters on social issues and moves on—while continuing to emphasize his image as "America's mayor," the one many Americans remember from 9/11 as a strong, decisive leader. That, the campaign wants voters to think, is the most important quality to look for in a president this time around, because of Islamic extremism and the war in Iraq….

"Don't expect you're going to agree with me on everything," he had told the audience, "because that would be unreasonable. Even I don't agree with myself on everything," he said. "It's not about one issue -- it's about many issues."

Nevertheless, he added that if the election did come down to a single issue for voters, then it should be about the one thing that the former mayor has made a signature issue: the fight against terrorism….

"I wouldn't even consider voting for him," [Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention] said in an interview Tuesday…. Land, who has recently made supportive statements about Thompson, says he believes Giuliani's support among evangelicals has mostly come out of a sense of pragmatism, a fear of Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton becoming the next president and a desire to see the most electable candidate become the Republican nominee….

Charles Dunn, the dean of Regent's Robertson School of Government, thinks otherwise. He divides the evangelical leadership into two camps, "purists" like Dobson and Land, and "pragmatists" like Robertson. And he thinks the pragmatists will win this fight. "What I'm sensing in the rank and file on this," Dunn says, "in the evangelical Christian and conservative Catholic audiences, is that you have a high percentage of pragmatists among them, and they're willing to give Giuliani a serious look."

Republican Senator Stabs Military In The Back

While our soldiers fight in the field, they can always depend on the politicians back home to watch their back—and look for an opportunity to stick a knife in it. In an ominous sign, these congressional advocates of defeat and surrender now include a growing number of "centrist" Republicans.

The most influential to join that list is Senator Richard Lugar, who has pronounced the "surge" a failure, even though it has only barely begun. Historically, this is bad news: we did not retreat from Vietnam until Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the war.

"Key GOP Senator Says Iraq Plan Is Not Working," AP via New York Times, June 27 Sen. Richard Lugar, a senior Republican and a reliable vote for President Bush on the war, said that Bush's Iraq strategy was not working and that the US should downsize the military's role.

The unusually blunt assessment Monday deals a political blow to Bush, who has relied heavily on GOP support to stave off anti-war legislation.

It also comes as a surprise. Most Republicans have said they were willing to wait until September to see if Bush's recently ordered troop buildup in Iraq was working.

''In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved,'' Lugar, R-Ind., said in a Senate floor speech. ''Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term.''

Only a few Republicans have broken ranks and called for a change in course or embraced Democratic proposals ordering troops home by a certain date. As the top Republican and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar's critique could provide political cover for more Republicans wanting to challenge Bush on the war….

However, [Lugar spokesman Andy] Fisher said the speech does not mean Lugar would switch his vote on the war or embrace Democratic measures setting a deadline for troop withdrawals.

The American Offensive Rolls In Iraq

As I observed last week, all previous commentary about the "surge" in Iraq and any evaluations of whether it was working yet were grossly premature. The US was merely building its forces and preparing the ground up to now—and the current massive operation is the real surge that we have only just begun to launch.

Ronbo sent me a link to an excellent, must-read overview of the new counter-insurgency strategy by one of General Petraeus's advisors. I won't excerpt this article, because it is too good and too informative to condense into a few quotes. But if you want to understand the "big picture" of what we are doing now in Iraq, and the reasoning behind it, go read this article.

For my excerpts, I chose a Los Angeles Times article that offers much less analysis but gives an on-the-ground "feel" for the nature of the campaign. Note particularly the anecdote about the young widow of an insurgent sniper who describes how she begged her husband to quit the fight because "doing the things he was doing can only end in death." That is precisely what we want the enemy's supporters to conclude.

The New York Times also has an interesting report that gives a feel for the scale and house-flattening destructiveness of the new campaign.

Unfortunately, al-Qaeda has also mounted one successful counter-attack: a bomb attack that killed Sunni tribal leaders who had allied themselves with the Iraqi government against al-Qaeda. We'll see whether this makes the sheiks afraid to oppose al-Qaeda—or whether this hardens their opposition to the terrorists.

"Militants' Baqubah Fiefdom Is Liberated," Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times, June 26 For more than a year, hundreds of masked gunmen loyal to Al Qaeda cruised this capital of their self-declared state, hauling Shiite Muslims from their homes and leaving bodies in the dusty, trash-strewn streets.

They set up a religious court and prisons, aid stations and food stores. And they imposed their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam on a population that was mostly too poor to flee and too terrified to resist.

US and Iraqi soldiers last week pushed into this city that has been the heart of the Sunni Arab militants' fiefdom, in a campaign to bring three lawless neighborhoods under government control. What they found was a chilling indication of the ability of Sunni Arab insurgents to run a rival state, even as US troops prepared to wipe them out….

US Army Col. Stephen Townsend, who commands the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, based in Ft. Lewis, Wash., said the assault had denied the insurgents a major bastion and helped secure this city of about 300,000 residents.

"There ain't no capital of the Islamic State of Iraq anymore," Townsend told reporters Monday at a base on the city's northern outskirts….

Among the dead was a suspected sniper believed to have killed at least one US soldier. When the Americans visited his house, the man's aging father said he had disowned his son and persuaded two younger sons to quit the movement. The man's young wife said she had pleaded with her husband to do the same.

"I told him he has a family now," she said, trembling slightly as she sat on the kitchen floor, cradling a baby boy and answering the soldiers' questions. "Doing the things he was doing can only end in death, and that is what happened."

The Coming Collapse of The Iranian Economy

Americans are understandably fed up with the "incompetence" of the Bush administration—though I attribute Bush's failures, not to incompetence, but to his mixed premises: his desire to stand up for liberty against the threat of totalitarian Islam, on the one hand, versus his conventional pragmatism and altruism on the other.

But whatever George Bush's failings, we can take comfort in the fact that they are nothing compared to the failings of our chief enemy in the War on Terrorism: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Since coming into office on a promise to spread Iran's oil wealth to the masses, Ahmadinejad has instead nearly collapsed the Iranian economy.

Now one of the world's largest producers of oil has begun to ration gasoline—an extraordinarily unpopular decision that has led to rioting in the very same poor neighborhoods where Ahmadinejad claims to have his base of support. See the story linked to below, and also another report at CNN.

This highlights the glaring weak spot of the Iranian regime and points the way for a very effective strategy to further collapse our enemy's economy by blockading its gasoline imports (a strategy recently recommended in USA Today and also hinted at by presidential hopeful Fred Thompson).

Unfortunately, the Bush administration shows few signs of moving against Iran, and now John Bolton is openly criticizing the administration for clinging to diplomacy in dealing with Iran and evading the need to topple the regime.

Still, it is good to have a reminder of how weak our enemy is. Victor Davis Hanson puts it nicely in a somewhat rambling NRO article that is worthwhile just for this one observation: "Theocratic Iran is not exactly as 'empowered' as is generally alleged, but [is] in the greatest crisis of its miserable existence."

"Iran Fuel Rations Spark Anger, Rioting," Reuters via MSNBC, June 27 Angry Iranian motorists lined up for gasoline for hours on Wednesday after the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter imposed fuel rationing, sparking chaotic scenes and the torching of at least two pump stations.

One Iranian news agency, Fars, said 12 gasoline stations were set ablaze in Tehran after the government’s announcement late on Tuesday, but only two could be independently confirmed.

Some drivers had scuffled while waiting to fill up their tanks before the rationing started at midnight. Others openly criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, which came to power vowing to share out Iran’s oil wealth more fairly.

“We are swimming in oil and all they do is just put pressure on people,” said taxi driver Hasan Mohammadi.

Despite its huge energy reserves, Iran lacks refining capacity and must import about 40 percent of its gasoline….

One fuel station in Pounak, a poorer area of the capital, was set alight while another in eastern Tehran was partially burnt, two of its pumps destroyed by fire, witnesses said….
“I cannot tolerate more economic pressure,” said teacher Hasan Sanjari. “My monthly salary is $300. I have three sons.”…

But he said Iran had no choice but to curb consumption because of the burden on state coffers. All fuel, whether imported or domestically produced, is sold at heavily subsidized prices, encouraging waste and smuggling.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Leftist Smear Campaign On Global Warming

The global warming juggernaut has just begun to start moving, and the ground is being cleared for it by a smear campaign against global warming "deniers." But those "deniers" are proving hard to get rid of. In fact, as the global warming hysteria builds, more and more such "deniers" are beginning to raise their voices.

In today's Times of London, a prominent oil executive points out the sheer mathematical and scientific absurdity of the claim that "renewable energy" will be able to replace oil and coal without requiring a massive sacrifice of human prosperity, especially in the emerging industrial economies of what used to be the Third World.
Ronbo directed my attention to an interesting article about a Swedish scientist who is a distinguished expert on measurement of sea levels—who denounces as a "falsification of the data" the claim that global warming will cause rising sea levels.

Below, I link to yet another article by a scientist claiming that the data actually shows—unsurpisingly—that global temperatures are determined by the intensity of radiation coming in from the sun. Note that this article also has a list with links to a long series in Canada's Financial Post showcasing the views of scientific opponents of the global warming hysteria.

All of this leads a commentator in the Washington Post to wonder whether the global warming scare campaign has over-reached and will be "brought low" by the failure of reality to live up to its over-hyped predictions. If we do win the global warming battle, I expect that this is how we will win it. Just as Communism collapsed when it lost all pretense to economic credibility, so environmentalism will collapse when it loses its pretense to scientific credibility.

"Read the Sunspots," R. Timothy Patterson, Financial Post, June 20 Politicians and environmentalists these days convey the impression that climate-change research is an exceptionally dull field with little left to discover. We are assured by everyone from David Suzuki to Al Gore to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that "the science is settled."…

The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn't seem to bother our leaders at all. Inviting testimony only from those who don't question political orthodoxy on the issue, parliamentarians are charging ahead with the impossible and expensive goal of "stopping global climate change."…

Climate-change research is now literally exploding with new findings. Since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the field has had more research than in all previous years combined and the discoveries are completely shattering the myths. For example, I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of all energy on the planet….

My research team began to collect and analyze core samples from the bottom of deep Western Canadian fjords….

Using various coring technologies, we have been able to collect more than 5,000 years' worth of mud in these basins, with the oldest layers coming from a depth of about 11 metres below the fjord floor. Clearly visible in our mud cores are annual changes that record the different seasons: corresponding to the cool, rainy winter seasons, we see dark layers composed mostly of dirt washed into the fjord from the land; in the warm summer months we see abundant fossilized fish scales and diatoms (the most common form of phytoplankton, or single-celled ocean plants) that have fallen to the fjord floor from nutrient-rich surface waters. In years when warm summers dominated climate in the region, we clearly see far thicker layers of diatoms and fish scales than we do in cooler years. Ours is one of the highest-quality climate records available anywhere today….

Using computers to conduct what is referred to as a "time series analysis" on the colouration and thickness of the annual layers, we have discovered repeated cycles in marine productivity in this, a region larger than Europe. Specifically, we find a very strong and consistent 11-year cycle throughout the whole record in the sediments and diatom remains. This correlates closely to the well-known 11-year "Schwabe" sunspot cycle, during which the output of the sun varies by about 0.1%. Sunspots, violent storms on the surface of the sun, have the effect of increasing solar output, so, by counting the spots visible on the surface of our star, we have an indirect measure of its varying brightness. Such records have been kept for many centuries and match very well with the changes in marine productivity we are observing.

In the sediment, diatom and fish-scale records, we also see longer period cycles, all correlating closely with other well-known regular solar variations. In particular, we see marine productivity cycles that match well with the sun's 75-90-year "Gleissberg Cycle," the 200-500-year "Suess Cycle" and the 1,100-1,500-year "Bond Cycle."

Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called "proxies") is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change….

Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada.

The Democommie Anti First Amendment Movement

The articles linked to above discuss one of the greatest threats to freedom of speech today: controls on political speech, in the name of keeping "corrupting" money out of politics. This is the only bi-partisan threat to freedom of speech today. Most of the other substantial threats hail from the left, which has increasingly come out as an enemy of freedom of speech.

In a good column in the Washington Post, George Will uses a case in California, in which "hate speech" provisions were used to suppress the views of religious conservatives, to highlight the threat of attempt to revive a federal "hate speech" law used to suppress conservatives. The left wants to ban "hate speech" in the hope that it can then define "hate speech" to mean the expression of any ideas that the left finds to be objectionable.

But the most imminent threat in Congress is an attempt to revive the unfair "Fairness Doctrine," a measure being pursued with the explicit goal of punishing and suppressing right-leaning talk radio shows.

"Unfairness Doctrine," National Review Online, June 25 A new blueprint for a government takedown of conservative talk radio comes from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, founded and run by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta. In a report entitled, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” the Center outlines a plan that would, if implemented, do enormous damage not only to conservatives on talk radio, but to freedom of speech as well.

Surveying 257 stations owned by the top-five commercial station groups, the report’s authors found the unsurprising news that 91 percent of total weekday talk programming is conservative, and just nine percent “progressive.” Rather than attribute that imbalance to the generally conceded superiority of conservative programming—most radio professionals would tell you that Rush Limbaugh is simply better at what he does than any of the liberal opponents who have tried to compete with him—the report finds a deeper, more sinister case. “The gap between conservative and progressive talk radio,” it concludes, “is the result of multiple structural problems in the US regulatory system. “ According to Podesta’s Center, those structural problems can only be solved by government action.

First, the report proposes new national and local limits on the number of radio stations one company can own. Second, it recommends a de facto quota system to ensure that more women and minorities own radio stations. And finally, it says the government should “require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.”…

In addition, the report claims that the Fairness Doctrine—the government rule that, before it was repealed in 1987, required broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on controversial public issues—might not really be dead, and thus might not have to be reestablished by Congress. Instead, a new administration might simply decide to enforce it again. That point is highly debatable, but it wouldn’t be surprising if President Clinton, President Obama, or President Edwards were to give it a try.

The Supreme Court Rules For And Against Free Speech

Two important First Amendment cases were decided today in split decisions by the Supreme Court. It is not just the votes that were split—5-4 in both cases—but the reasoning. The court made rulings that were proper, but very narrow in scope.

Some time ago, I asked readers to watch out for several suits that would address whether a citizen has "standing" to sue the government over infractions of the separation of church and state. In a case in which a secularist group had sued to block presidential "faith-based initiatives," the Justices ruled against the plaintiffs, but on narrow grounds: that a citizen cannot claim to be damaged by a government action merely because he pays taxes.

But this ruling will not effect most church-state cases, and the justices explicitly refrained from overturning the precedent that allows most such lawsuits to go forward. That's a good thing, because preventing individuals from filing suit in the courts to enforce the separation of church and state would make the First Amendment a dead letter.

In another case, detailed in the report below, the Supreme Court properly ruled that "issue advertisements" that mention individual candidates are permissible during an election. Of course they are: how can a nation claim to have freedom of speech, if activists are barred from discussing the candidates' position on the issues during an election?

But the court did not strike down the overall principle, in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" act, of the government's authority to restrict campaign speech during an election season. So the court conceded the principle of controls on political speech—while blocking the worst implementation of that principle.

"Justices Loosen Restrictions on Campaign Ads," David Stout, New York Times, June 25 The Supreme Court today loosened the restrictions on what companies and unions can spend on television advertisements just before elections, and in so doing may well have affected the thinking of political strategists for the 2008 elections.

By 5 to 4, the court ruled that an anti-abortion group in Wisconsin should have been allowed to broadcast ads before the 2004 race for the United States Senate in that state. In its ruling today, the high court opened a significant loophole in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, familiarly known as the McCain-Feingold law, to curb donations to campaigns.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that, when regulating what can be said in a campaign and when it may be said, “the First Amendment requires us to err on the side of protecting political speech rather than suppressing it.”…

The 2004 ads in question mentioned Senators Russell D. Feingold and Herb Kohl, both Wisconsin Democrats, and urged viewers to contact them and urge them to oppose their Democratic colleagues’ opposition to some of President Bush’s judicial nominees. The ads directed viewers to a Web site critical of Mr. Feingold, who was up for re-election….

Today, the Supreme Court majority concluded that the special judicial panel was right in holding that the ads should have been allowed. “Because WRTL’s ads may reasonably be interpreted as something other than an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate, they are not the functional equivalent of express advocacy,” the majority said, using the term for ads that urge a candidate’s election or defeat….

In defining what qualifies as “express advocacy,” or ads zeroing in on a candidate to promote or denounce him, “the court should give the benefit of the doubt to speech, not censorship,” the majority said.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion upholding the special court. Siding with him were Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas, although the last three jurists would have gone further and declared the pertinent section of the law unconstitutional.

Muslim Palestine: Gone With The Wind

In the years after America's Civil War, the defeated Southerners used to wax poetic about the nobility of "our lost cause." Of course, the cause for which they had fought—preserving the institution of slavery—was anything but noble. But you could tell that they had been defeated, because they at least described it as a "lost cause."

Israel may finally achieve peace with its Arab neighbors when they similarly lose hope for the Palestinian "cause." While US and Israeli actions are not, alas, offering new evidence that the Palestinian cause of destroying Israel is lost on a practical level, the article below shows that the Palestinian civil war may be undermining the moral legitimacy of "the cause," with some Arab commentators going so far as to declare that the Palestinians "are adolescents who cannot and should not be trusted to run institutions of state or any other important matters."

"Arabs Losing Faith in 'the Cause'," Youssef M. Ibrahim, Jewish World Review, June 25 Why is America trying to pour new money and more weapons into Palestinian Arab hands barely days after the Gaza debacle?...

America and Israel may want to wait for what may turn out to be a changing of the guard: Arab voices, both expert and popular, are rising in vociferous denunciations of the once sacrosanct Palestinian Arabs….

"Palestinians today need to be left without a shred of a doubt" as to what other Arabs think of them, a widely read opinion commentator for the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat, Mamoun Fandy, thundered on Monday. "We need to tell them the only thing they have proven over 50 years is that they are adolescents who cannot and should not be trusted to run institutions of state or any other important matters."…

For its part, the Egyptian press has become unhinged, spewing vile denunciations of what is universally known as "the cause"—support for the Palestinian Arabs—and describing it as dead….

Kuwaitis, who have harbored contempt for Palestinian Arabs ever since they allied themselves with Saddam Hussein's occupation in 1990–91, also dropped all restraint. "Palestinians are neither a modernized nor a civilized people," Ahmad Al Bughdadi wrote Monday in Al Siyassah, an influential Kuwaiti daily. "They are not statesmen. If what happened in Gaza is what they do without a state, what then shall they do when they get one?"

If there could be an editorial coup de grace, it surely was delivered by no less than Abdelbari Atwan, undoubtedly the Palestinian Arabs' most influential and respected journalist and a familiar face on both Western and Arab television.

Writing in the London-based Al Quds International, his painfully felt commentary, "Yes, We Have Lost the World's Respect," argued that "the cause" may have lost its legitimacy.

The Endless Cycle of Islamic Appeasement

Ronbo noted to me the other day that he had noticed a certain fatigue among the better commentators: they are visibly getting tired, because they are saying the same things over and over again, and no one is listening or acting on the arguments they are making. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it—and those who cannot convince their fellow men to learn from history are doomed to repeat themselves.

But forget about learning from history—our leaders aren't learning from the present. They haven't learned from last year's Hezbollah assault on Israel, and they are not learning from the latest Iranian summer offensive. The issue on which our leaders are most steadfast in their refusal to learn is the case of the Palestinians. As the article below makes very clear, the "new" strategy of supporting Arafat's old Fatah faction has been tried again and again—and it always makes things worse.

"A Bad Week for the Good Guys," Tom Rose, Weekly Standard, June 22 The past week has been a good one for terrorists. The birth of the world's first truly terrorist state in Gaza was quickly followed by a Western response that, if sustained, all but guarantees that terror state's survival.

While there are plenty of examples, past and present, of states that encourage, fund and even practice terrorism, no nations have ever been created explicitly for the sake of terrorism. Not even the Taliban. Hamas was built upon the terrorist edifice created by the organization it recently supplanted—the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), or "Fatah" as it is has become more recently known. The PLO was created in 1964, three years before the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, not to create the world's 22nd Arab state, but to destroy its only Jewish state. Hamas overthrew the PLO in Gaza not to change the PLO's dream, but to fulfill it.

What, then, is Washington's answer to Hamastan in Gaza? Why, another bailout of the one organization responsible for the entire debacle in the first place—the PLO. After 45 years of ground work preparing for Hamas' takeover by radicalizing Palestinian society through blood-curdling terrorism, mind-boggling corruption, and world-class inefficiency, the US and Israeli governments have announced their gratitude to Fatah with a billion dollar emergency aid package….

Palestinian society cannot be transformed by reviving the group responsible for its degradation. How does one fight terrorism by rewarding those who invented it?...

It might be one thing if a policy of saving the PLO had never been tried. But it has been tried, and it has failed, not once, not twice, but three times. It was tried and failed in 1970 when President Nixon pressured Jordan's King Hussein to let the PLO decamp to Lebanon after the PLO failed to destroy Jordan. It destroyed Lebanon instead. In 1982 the United States again came to the PLO's rescue by arranging its exit from Lebanon during the Israeli invasion. The third, most damaging resuscitation came with the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, this time not at American hands, but at Israel's.

Iraq War=Regional War With Iran

The big story of the past two years is the way in which the War on Terrorism has clearly emerged as a regional war with Iran—clearly, that is, for those who are willing to see it. Below, I link to a particularly clear-eyed analysis by Walid Phares of how Iran is advancing on all of its fronts.

See a similar analysis in the Wall Street Journal, which I particularly like because it acknowledges the inevitability of the drift toward war and most of all, because it regards Iranian aggression as a "miscalculation," based on the history of confrontations between free societies and expansionist dictatorships: the free societies always seem weak in the beginning—and they always triumph in the end.

But there is always a disastrous cost for the delay in confronting evil. Right now, Iran's leaders are cracking down on dissent inside Iran in what some are describing as a campaign similar to China's Cultural Revolution. At the same time, Iran is shipping missiles to Syria that will allow it to strike at Israel if Iran is attacked.

Iran's minions in Lebanon are now attacking UN peacekeepers (who are, of course, utterly unable to keep the peace), while an update on the analysis linked to below points to new claims—from the Palestinians—that Iran exercised direct "command and control" in the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

Iran wants war, and it is moving forward on all fronts. The longer we delay the showdown, the higher the cost we will pay.

"Phares—Lebanon, Gaza, the Broader Syro-Iranian War," National Review Online, June 21The latest dramatic military and terror events in Gaza and Lebanon can be viewed from a regional geopolitical perspective: A Syro-Iranian axis offensive on its (their) primarily western front stretching along the Mediterranean coast.

.. In previous analyses I have argued that the Tehran-Damascus axis is involved in a regional campaign to seize as much physical terrain and score as many victories across the Middle East in order to consolidate their strategic posture before 2008; the year they believe Americans will limit—perhaps diminish—their moves because of the US presidential campaign season….

Following are the main fronts:

Eastern Front: There have been multiple reports and much evidence of arming and supplying neo-Taliban and other Jihadi forces in Afghanistan in order that they may engage US-led NATO forces and provoke chaos across the country.

Central Front: The axis has intensified its actions against US and coalition forces, as wells as Iraqi civilians in an attempt to create more sectarian tension, with the greater objective of disrupting “surge” operations in particular, and generally eroding US and allied efforts in Iraq.
Western Front: The axis has unleashed two blitzkrieg-like offensives—one on the upper western front (Lebanon). The other within the lower western front (Gaza).

In Lebanon, the Tehran-Damascus axis has had as its goals to crumble the Seniora Government, cripple the Lebanese Army, and crush the Cedar Revolution….

The axis has also been involved in Gaza where they surprised observers with their decision to throw Hamas fully against Fatah and the PA in the enclave. The plan to seize control of Gaza was projected a long time ago. But the timing was at the discretion of the Syro-Iranian war room, which funds and strategically controls Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The heavy fighting in Gaza represents an important decision made by the regional masters: The acceleration of the axis offensive so that by the end of summer, four battlefields will be fully ignited against the US, its allies and regional democracies: Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza (Palestinian territories). But just as important is the fact that an entire Taliban-like zone has been established on the eastern Mediterranean under Hamas control and with Syro-Iranian backing. Our expectations are that, short of a large-scale counter-operation aimed at dislodging the "coup" in the enclave, the area will become a massive terror base of operations….

The Jihadi strategic mind is in its full offensive mode in the region.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Frank Amodeo and Mirabilis:"I knew Frank Amodeo In Prison"

This from an Email:

Amodeo, "A clever psychopath" in the words of a fellow inmate at the Federal "Club Fed" white collar minimum security prison at Lewisburg was the creator of "AQMI (pronounced "Acme") Strategy Corporation" situated on the 28th floor of the SunTrust towerin Orlando, Florida that along with the other elements of the "Amodeo Web" that includes Mirabilis Ventures Inc. and Nexia Strategy Corporation.

Thus Amodeo at the ripe old age of 45 became the Emperor of a world wide empire of corporate private military establishment that employs thousands of former policemen and soldiers as mercenaries engaged in "black bag" projects like the 2006 attempt to overthrow the government of the Congo.

But life was not always a bed of roses for Amodeo. The highly intelligent son of a lawyer, Frank P. Amodeo, and some would say "amublance chaser" --- Amodeo The Younger grew up in a middle class household in Orlando, and attended college at the University of Central Florida before moving to Atlanta to attend the Emory University of Law. He started his law practice in 1988. It only took six years after starting his practice of law for Young Amodeo be disbarred by the Georgia Supreme Court: It would appear that The Young Man in A Hurry" engaged in fraud and dishonesty in the state of Georgia, in that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from mostly senior citizen clients, and wrote checks on closed checking accounts.

Like many other discovered crook, the now disbarred lawyer Amodeo decided to head south to Florida, back to Orlando in early 1994, where he had roots and family. He obtained new employment in real estate as a "liquidation agent" -- a person who aided troubled businesses in going out of business. Then the criminal problems began for him: In 1995, Amodeo was arrested and jailed for forgery and grand theft. He dodged the bullet on that one and charges were dropped. This was not to be the case in 1996, when the IRS filed claim to $83,000 in back taxes. In 1997, Amodeo was to claim bankruptcy and only $500 to his name. His personal Gotterdammerung happened the next year in 1998 when Amodeo was sentenced to three years in federal prison and three years parole, a very light sentence for one engaged in this type of criminal activity, for a fraud case that happened in his lawyer days in Atlanta.

"I remember Frank from our days imprisoned at Lewisburg minimum security prison, which is a cage for white collar criminals," said a former inmate friend of Amodeo, he continues, "We were both assigned duty as ground keepers at the prison, a job we could knock out in a couple of hours in the winter, so we had lots of time to chat. Frank never did talk about the details of his case, in fact, none of us did because of the problems with informants, however, he talk in general terms about how stupid he had been in what he'd done. I understood that he wasn't the least bit sorry about his crime, but only of getting caught. I recall one day talking about Bill Clinton and how he appeared to heading our way (This was during the impeachment process in 1999) and Amodeo remarked. 'Clinton will never do a second of prison time: He's too well connected with law enforcement and the ultimate Mr. Big with millions in the bank. You and I are locked up because we are little crooks who have to take the fall; the big operators like Bill Clinton always go free.' I understand Amodeo has become a Mr. Big since leaving prison, " the former inmate and friend of Frank concluded.

The Return of Jack Idema

Jonathan Keith "Jack" Idema is many things to many people, but to me, someone who has actually met this controversial individual and spent many hours in conversations with him, Idema will always remain a contemporary version of the character portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in 1970 -- The latter day "Little Big Man."

Now that Idema has been released from prison in Afghanistan, I can't wait to read the book and see the movie version of Idema's adventures in life starring Idema that is written and directed by Idema that features scenes in Russia, Afghanistan and prison where the "Jack Idema The Super Patriot" shares scenes with many modern day players in current events like Osama bin Laden.

Notes and links:

I Love Idema

I Love And Hate Idema

I Hate Idema: Operation Desert Fraud

Veterans: Idema is Crazy and a Poser

"24" Secret Agent Jack Bauer, the fictional character who Idema models himself on even to the point of changing his first name to "Jack."

The Real Deal On Idema

Excellent Background On The Idema Saga: Review of Robert Young Pelton's book, Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Leading News Stories of The Day

The most important news articles of the day discovered in the Ministry of Truth by the leading Outer Party Member, Winston Smith.
1. The War We Should Have Been Fighting, Part 1 We are finally launching the large-scale, comprehensive anti-insurgency campaign we ought to have been prepared for from the moment we invaded Iraq in 2003.

The greatest failure of our Iraq strategy is our failure to realize that this is a regional war and to continue our policy of "regime change" against Iran's fellow members of the Axis of Evil: Iran and Syria. That big strategic failure allowed those regimes to inflame and support the Iraqi insurgency as a way of fighting a proxy war against the United States.

The second-greatest failure, however, was our refusal to recognize that we had to fight a counter-insurgency war. In retrospect, it is now clear that from the very beginning, our strategy for the war in Iraq was to invade, topple the regime, and then get out as soon as possible—on the assumption that the Iraqis would quickly make peace among themselves and establish a free society on their own initiative.

Thus, even when we began to implement an effective counter-insurgency strategy against the Sunni insurgency in Western Iraq beginning in late 2004 and continuing through 2005, we pursued it on too small a scale. The Bush administration and the top commanders in Iraq seemed to believe that the election of a new Iraqi government would lead to "national reconciliation" in 2006 and eliminate the need to fight an extended counter-insurgency campaign.

Our new commander, General Petraeus, has finally faced up to the need for such an effort, which he launched in the last week. Any previous comments about the "surge" were grossly premature: this operation is the real surge. I link below to a good overview of the operation by military blogger Bill Roggio (who provides further updates here).
Ronbo summed up the meaning of these reports:

This is a big operation. It may not encounter as much opposition or be as bloody or intense in any town in which it occurs as the Fallujah-Ramadi-Tal Afar battles and sweeps up the northern Euphrates river to the Syrian Border in 2004–2005, but it is bigger. More places are being swept for insurgents simultaneously than has been attempted before.

It looks like this is Gen. Petraeus's opening bid for the "surge" strategy; the initial, purely military phase. It is also his bid to put operations in Iraq onto a clock that—for the duration of the summer months, anyway—may move as fast as political developments have been moving on "Washington time" this Spring.

But don't forget, things will not change that fast in the security and stabilization efforts in Iraq. If the strategy is to work, it will ultimately take many years, with the first couple of years being more of a military operation and the last several years being more of a police/intelligence/political coalition-building/rule-of-law-developing operation.

On the political-coalition-building front, Iraq's legislative factions—undoubtedly with one eye on that "Washington clock"—seem to have arrived at a deal on the sharing of oil revenue, a key political "benchmark" demanded by our Congress.

Finally, while most of our attention is focused on Iraq, it is worth keeping on eye on other military developments. Go to Bill Roggio's blog for a good update on America's ongoing, low-level, and widely un-reported air war against al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Waziristan province of Pakistan.

"The Battle of Iraq—2007," Bill Roggio and DJ Elliott, The Fourth Rail, June 20 Four days after the announcement of major offensive combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq and its allies, the picture becomes clearer on the size and scope of the operation. In today's press briefing, Rear Admiral Mark noted that the ongoing operation is a corps directed and coordinated offensive operation. This is the largest offensive operation since the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom ended in the spring of 2003.

The corps level operation is being conducted in three zones in the Baghdad Belts—Diyala/southern Salahadin, northern Babil province, and eastern Anbar province—as well as inside Baghdad proper, where clearing operations continue in Sadr City and the Rashid district. Iraqi and Coalition forces are now moving into areas which were ignored in the past and served as safe havens for al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent groups. As the corps level operation is ongoing, Coalition and Iraqi forces are striking at the rogue Iranian-backed elements of Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army and continuing the daily intelligence driven raids against al Qaeda's network nationwide….

Operation Arrowhead Ripper, the assault on Baqubah, kicked off with an air assault. Iraqi Army scouts accompanied elements of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division. The operation in Baqubah is modeled after the successful operation to clear Tal Afar in September of 2005, which was designed and executed by Col. H.R. McMaster. The plan is to essentially "seal, kill, hold, and rebuild." The city is cordoned, neighborhoods are identified as friendly or enemy territory, the neighborhoods are then segmented and forces move in with the intent to kill or capture the enemy. As both Michael Gordon and Michael Yon reported from Baqubah, the goal isn't just to clear the city of insurgents, but to trap and kill them in place. The combat operations are then immediately followed by humanitarian and reconstruction projects….

The operation in Baqubah is a microcosm of the larger operation in Diyala, while Diyala is one but one of three of the corps level operations. The same goal is shared across the three theaters: cordon the regions, trap and kill al Qaeda and clear the areas, and then move in security forces in for stability and reconstruction operations….

While the major offensive operation is occurring in the Baghdad Belts against al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent holdouts, major raids continue against Sadr's forces and the Iranian cells in Baghdad and the south…. The Iraqi government and Multinational Forces Iraq are sending a clear message to Sadr: when the fighting against al Qaeda is finished, the Iranian backed elements of the Mahdi Army are next on the list if they are not disbanded.

2. The War We Should Have Been Fighting, Part 2 As I said above, the other war we should have been fighting is a war to topple the Iranian regime. Today, only two prominent political figures are beginning to advocate such a war. Two weeks ago, Joe Lieberman advocated an air war against Iran in retaliation for its support for insurgents in Iraq. In what seems to be a follow-up to an excellent speech I linked to earlier, not-yet-formally-declared Republican president candidate Fred Thompson has called for a blockade against Iran.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Thompson said: "A blockade would be a possibility if we could get the international cooperation, if in fact we're all reading off the same page and saw the nature of the threat. That would be one way to ensure that we didn't have to go to the military option."

But of course, a blockade is a military option. As the Telegraph notes, "Blockading Iran would technically be an act of war." This should not be an objection to such a blockade, because Iran is already committing its own acts of war against us: Ronbo sent me a link to yet another report on Iran's military support for the Taliban.

But the big news is that our time is running very short to bring down Iran's regime before it arms itself with a nuclear weapon. The latest report, covered below, details Iran's progress in enriching the uranium needed to build an atom bomb.

"Iran Denies Report of Enriched Uranium," AP via Jerusalem Post, June 22 Iran's Interior Ministry denied a report Friday quoting the minister as saying Iran has produced 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of enriched uranium. The ministry said he was misquoted.

The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported that the minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, also said Iran now has 3,000 hooked-up centrifuges actively enriching uranium….

ISNA quoted Pourmohammadi as saying "right now, 3,000 of the (centrifuge) machines have been operational and more than 100 kilograms of enriched uranium has been ready and stored."

ISNA is not considered an official agency, but the Iranian government sometimes uses it to leak information on sensitive issues.

David Albright, a former UN nuclear inspector and an expert on Iran's program, said he believed that the report of 100 kilograms "is probably high, but they are going to reach that level soon, in a month or two. They probably have more like 50 kilograms (110 pounds) now."

He said all of Iran's stock is low-enriched uranium.

It would take about 15-25 kilograms (33-55 pounds) of highly enriched uranium to produce an "implosion-type" nuclear bomb, and 50 kilograms (110 pounds) to produce a more powerful bomb like the one used at Hiroshima, Albright said.

3. "It's a Big Grave, and We Are Living Inside It" My normal headline for a new article on the self-destruction of the Palestinian territories would be "The Suicide Bomb Society." But when I came across the quote above, from a despairing resident of Gaza, it was too good not to use as a headline. (The article from which it is taken is linked to and excerpted below.)

Unfortunately, every time the Palestinians seek to destroy themselves, the West tries its best to bail them out. Call us co-dependent. So as Hamas threatens to take over the West Bank next, all Western leaders are now proposing to support the Fatah terrorist faction against the Hamas terrorist faction.

The contradiction is summed up in a surreal speech by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, who denounces Hamas as dangerous fanatics and vows that there will be "no dialogue with murderers." If the West had adopted that policy, Abbas would have spent the last few decades in prison, not as a recipient of our aid.

In his 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry came up with the awful idea of appointing an "ambassador to the peace process." Now that the "peace process" has utterly collapsed (for the third or fourth time), President Bush seems determined to resurrect Kerry's bad idea by appointing Tony Blair as a special emissary for negotiations to create a Palestinian state.

Blair has been courageous in supporting the Iraq war at great cost to his political standing in Britain. But he has also prompted the US to make many compromises and concessions—and the Palestinian issue is one on which he is not particularly strong.

But to remind us that things could still be much worse, along comes leftist hero Jimmy Carter to demand that the West support Hamas. This call to support a terrorist organization last seen executing its political opponents in the street was made while Carter was attending—get this—a conference of "human rights officials."

"Gaza Strip Holds Its Breath," Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times, June 22 By hand and donkey cart, young men removed the old Palestinian order in the Gaza Strip, one floor tile at a time.

Sledgehammers have left just the shell of the home of Mohammed Dahlan, the strongman here before Hamas fighters routed his Fatah movement in street battles last week….

Hamas, the Islamic militant movement formed in 1988 and which won Palestinian parliamentary elections last year, is now solely in command of the impoverished coastal strip. Bearded men with assault rifles and wearing the blue camouflage uniforms of Hamas' Executive Force patrol in pickups that used to belong to Fatah….

Residents have long described the coastal enclave as a big prison. Now its borders with Israel and Egypt are sealed….

The stock in the dairy cooler in Ahed Moshtaha's supermarket in Gaza City is running low and he's down to his last few cartons of cigarettes.

The store has plenty of sugar, cooking oil, detergent and crackers, but that provides little comfort in the face of what is now a deeply uncertain future. "These days we sell and we don't buy," Moshtaha said. He pointed to a spiral notebook on the counter—the list of sales made on credit. "We sell and we don't get any cash."

Moshtaha said he was glad to see Fatah ousted because of its reputation for corruption. But he is not happy about Gaza's new masters. "I'm not Fatah and I'm not Hamas," he said. "But we are the ones who are always stuck between the two sides."

Asked about the future of Gaza, Moshtaha sighed heavily. "It's a big grave," he said. "And we are living inside it."

4. The Left's Anti-Energy Policy Congressional Democrats are beginning to roll out the first of their big global warming measures: a drastic increase in the fuel mileage requirements imposed on American automakers. It is a classic case of centralized government planning, with Senator Byron Dorgan dictating to us what characteristics we ought to want in a new automobile (see the quote from him in the article below).

But it is central planning without the hyper-industrial triumphalism of the Old Left, which promised that state-run industry would lead to ever-increasing, universal prosperity. The Old Left failed spectacularly at that goal, but their successors have not dropped the demand for government control of all of our economic decisions. They have merely switched to justifying thir controls by appealing to the anti-industrial creed of environmentalism.

"Senate Passes Energy Bill," Sholnn Freeman, Washington Post, June 22 The Senate passed a sweeping energy legislation package last night that would mandate the first substantial change in the nation's vehicle fuel-efficiency law since 1975 despite opposition from auto companies and their Senate supporters.

After three days of intense debate and complex maneuvering, Democratic leaders won passage of the bill shortly before midnight by a 65 to 27 vote.

The package, which still must pass the House, would also require that the use of biofuels climb to 36 billion gallons by 2022, would set penalties for gasoline price-gouging, and would give the government new powers to investigate oil companies' pricing. It would provide federal grants and loan guarantees to promote research into fuel-efficient vehicles and would support test projects to capture carbon dioxide from coal-burning power plants to be stored underground….

The politics of fuel economy had gone virtually unchanged since Congress passed the first nationwide standards—known as corporate average fuel economy, or CAFÉ—in 1975. The last time the full Senate tried to boost fuel-economy standards was in 2002, and the effort was defeated handily….

The United States, with current efficiency standards of 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 22.2 per gallon for SUVs and small trucks, has lagged behind the rest of the developed world. In the European Union, automakers have agreed to voluntary increases in fuel-economy standards that next year will lift the average to 44.2 miles per gallon, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. In Japan, average vehicle fuel economy tops 45 miles per gallon. China's level is in the mid-30s and projected to rise, propelled by government policy….
"Now, in our vehicles, we have better cup-holders, we have keyless entry, we have better music systems, we have heated seats," Dorgan said. "It is time that we expect more automobile efficiency."…

In another Senate battle yesterday, Democrats lost a fight against oil companies when Republicans blocked a $32 billion tax package that would have poured money into alternative fuel projects by raising taxes on oil and gas companies.

5. The Battle to Save Wall Street Since the Enron hysteria of 2002 led to the imposition of draconian new regulation on publicly traded companies, Wall Street has gone into a kind of recession. More companies are switching to private sources of capital (such as "hedge funds"), and many other firms are choosing to have their shares listed overseas, in countries that impose fewer regulations.

So naturally, the Democratic Congress is reacting by attacking the hedge funds, proposing a massive tax increase targeting those funds.

In an opposite move, however, the Supreme Court has issued a welcome (but limited) ruling restricting the filing of harassing lawsuits by disgruntled investors who sue every time a company fails to deliver on the public promises made by its executives—that is, by those who want to regard the stock market as a source of entitlement income, rather than a private investment in which they are responsible for taking their own risks.

"Investors' Suits Face Higher Bar, Justices Rule," Stephen Lebaton, New York Times, June 22 The Supreme Court on Thursday dealt a blow to investors who want to sue companies and executives because of suspected fraud, setting a higher standard for class-action lawsuits to go forward.

The decision was the second one this week by the court that was a defeat for shareholders and a victory for the defendant companies. On Monday, the justices ruled that securities underwriters on Wall Street are generally immune from civil antitrust lawsuits.

It came as senior officials, led by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., have been pushing for limits on shareholder lawsuits. Mr. Paulson, along with other administration officials and some senior lawmakers, have maintained that such lawsuits and regulations, written in the aftermath of corporate scandals like those involving Enron and WorldCom, may be discouraging investment and causing too many companies to look overseas to raise capital.

With only 18 months left until President Bush leaves the White House—and even less time for contentious policy issues to make their way through a capital that is preparing for elections—corporations and political supporters of the administration are pressing for a relaxation of some of those regulations and new restrictions on lawsuits.

The court on Thursday waded into the debate on the defendants’ side. By a vote of 8 to 1, it said that investors must show “cogent and compelling” evidence of intent to defraud—a standard that makes it easier for companies and their executives to get shareholder complaints dismissed.

6. The Left's Anti-Free-Speech Movement The left is not merely a threat to our economic freedom. For years, it has been building the groundwork for a new assault on our intellectual freedom, describing its own speech as rational and enlightening—while branding anything said by spokesman for the political right as dangerous propaganda that is not protected by First Amendment.

Here's a new example of that campaign: a report from a leftist think tank demanding new regulations on broadcasters for the express purpose of suppressing conservative talk radio. This report is explicit in tying together the left's assault on free markets and its assault on a free marketplace of ideas. Describing what is, in fact, an utterly unregulated free-for-all of speech, it declares that "There is little free speech or free choice in a market system."

We can presume that this is in contrast to all of the freedom of choice available in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, or in Vladimir Putin's Russia—places where the government has decided to correct the "unfairness" of the private media by taking over the airwaves.

"Talk Radio 'Dominated' by Right," Kara Rowland, Washington Times, June 22 A report from a liberal think tank yesterday criticized the "right-wing domination of talk radio," saying the current landscape does not serve all Americans.

In a report titled "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio," the Center for American Progress concluded that 91 percent of weekday talk radio is conservative, compared with liberal content at 9 percent. The group, which said it analyzed 257 news and talk stations owned by the five biggest radio broadcasters, calls for stricter media-ownership limits and public-interest requirements.

"There is little free speech or free choice in a market system that pushes out one-sided information 90 percent of the time on the radio," said John Halpin, a senior fellow at the center. "Radio stations are licensed to operate in the public interest. Promoting one point of view over all others does not meet any reasonable public-interest standard."…

Democrats seized on the findings, touting the study as further evidence that government intervention to make the media more "fair" is needed.

"The American people should have a wide array of news sources available to them. The more opinions they can hear, the more news sources they can learn from, the better able they will be to make decisions," said Jeff Lieberson, spokesman for Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, New York Democrat.

Mr. Hinchey is preparing to reintroduce his Media Ownership Reform Act, which among other proposals calls for a return to the "Fairness Doctrine," a long-held requirement that broadcasters give equal time to opposing views when covering political issues. The doctrine was repealed in 1987 because it violated the First Amendment….

"My biggest question there is who decides what's fair," [Chris Berry, general manager of DC conservative talk station WMAL-AM (630)] said. "To have someone who in some way is policing the airwaves like this violates the very tenets of the First Amendment."