Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday he believed Iraqi forces would be ready by June 2007 to take full control of security in Iraq, an issue on which he pressed President Bush during their meeting in Amman, Jordan.
In making the argument that his military and police could handle security in the country, al-Maliki has routinely said the force could do the job within six months. "I can say that Iraqi forces will be ready, fully ready to receive this command and to command its own forces, and I can tell you that by next June our forces will be ready," al-Maliki said in an interview with ABC News.
Bush and al-Maliki agreed that the United States would speed efforts to turn security over the Iraqi forces, although they mentioned no timetable during a post-summit news conference.
Al-Maliki also said he rejects all Iraq's militias, including the Madhi Army of the powerful, anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is a key ally of the Shiite prime minister. Despite such promises in the past, al-Maliki has frustrated the Bush administration by doing little to curb militias, which have been heavily involved in Iraq's spiraling sectarian violence in city's such as Baghdad.
Al-Malaki said he reassured Bush of "the government's resolve to impose the government's authority, bring stability, hold to account outlaws, and limit the possession of arms to the hands of the government."
Al-Maliki said he was determined to ensure that Iraq's security forces have the weapons and the training needed to fight more effectively on the battlefield.
"We mean by arming, the weapons fit to fight the terrorists ... the light and effective weapons, vehicles, armor vehicles and helicopters that will be active in the next phase in the fight against the terrorists," he said.
One of the main goals of the U.S. coalition is to train enough Iraqi soldiers and police to take over its security responsibilities, especially in western Iraq, where al-Qaida in Iraq is powerful, and Baghdad, where fighting between Sunni militants and Shiite militias is escalating.
Bush said the U.S. would accelerate a planned handover of security responsibility to Iraqi forces but assured al-Maliki that Washington is not looking for a "graceful exit" from the war.
Earlier Thursday, al-Maliki called on lawmakers and Cabinet ministers loyal to al-Sadr to end their boycott of the government in response to his summit with Bush.
"I hope they reconsider their decision because it doesn't constitute a positive development in the political process," al-Maliki said at a news conference on his return to Baghdad from a two-day visit to neighboring Jordan, where he met with Bush and King Abdullah II.
Anyone heartened by this development? We're not, and it's due mostly to the fact that al-Maliki seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. On one hand, he enjoys the support he's received from Moqtada al-Sadr, and wants him left to his own devices, and on the other hand, he wants his militia disarmed and disbanded. But al-Sadr's actions within the parliament sends a much different message to us. It tells us that he's playing the game of politics in Iraq very well.
If he withdraws support from al-Maliki, then the prime minister is assailed, and he can ride to the rescue when the time is right, which will no doubt garner more favor from al-Maliki. It's almost as though al-Maliki is pinning his hopes on al-Sadr helping him run and control the country. Too bad that al-Sadr doesn't buy that same idea. He dislikes the new Iraqi government just as much as the Iranians do. He doesn't like the fact that al-Maliki, or any other officials of the new Iraqi government, hasn't ordered the "infidels" from Iraqi soil.
I'm happy that al-Maliki has the confidence that his countrymen can take up the duties in the next six months. And I'm happy that the president wants to conduct a draw down of troops as the Iraqis take up more duties. What I'm not happy about is exactly what Marcie just observed, which is as this sort of talk continues, we expect the violence to decrease. The terrorists will begin to lie low, awaiting our departure.
That was a warning that has been pushed around the blogosphere, and it came from the administration. That's why we weren't setting any sort of a timetable in the first place. Now, a date has been issued by al-Maliki. We predict that the Mahdi militia will stem its violence as the date approaches, allowing al-Sadr to point out that his army has disbanded, and luring the Iraqi government into a false sense of security. As soon as we're gone, then I'm afraid that violence is going to start right back up again. The Shi'ites and Sunnis hate each other, and their blood feud goes back to just after Mohammed's death. And while their relations have soothed over the years, there are some--amongst the most militant of both sects--that have taken up the sword in the continuing feud.
Of course, I could be wrong. We could leave, and if Iraq is stable enough, there may be a serious reduction in violence. But I'm a realist, and I don't think things will be hunky-dory when we pull out and they take over. I'm betting that there will be a reduction in violence until we leave, and then it's going to ratchet back up, and I also believe that al-Sadr will fuel that fighting. I don't have any evidence to back it up. It's just a gut feeling.
A senior al-Maliki aide who attended Thursday’s talks said the Iraqi leader presented Bush a blueprint for the equipping and training of Iraqi security forces. The aide, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the information, declined to give details of the plan. Bush and Rice repeatedly probed al-Maliki on his plans to deal with the Mahdi Army militia loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the aide said. The Iraqi prime minister was noncommittal.
“It is not a big problem and we will find a solution for it,” the official quoted al-Maliki as telling Bush.
Al-Sadr is a key al-Maliki political backer and the prime minister has regularly sidestepped U.S. demands that the cleric's militia be disbanded.
Then I believe it is time for us to act on our own, and remove him. WE KNOW what sort of a person al-Sadr is, and what he is capable of. While Mr. al-Maliki may hold al-Sadr in some sort of regard, we cannot afford that luxury. His forces--numbering well over thirty thousand--are confronted by us on a semi-daily basis. He must be removed, one way or another, and that should be emphasized by the president.
He needs to explain to Mr. al-Maliki that al-Sadr is no friend of his, and he would likely kill him as soon as shake his hand. Al-Sadr's goal is to open the doors for Ahmadinejad in Iran. And at the risk of sounding impertinent, if Mr. al-Maliki decides to continue his relationship with al-Sadr, then it is time to freeze him out, and act on our own.
That task has clearly been complicated by recent events--including more blood in Baghdad and the Republican wipeout in Congress caused in part by frustration with the Iraq war. There's also this week's spectacle of the wannabe Walter Cronkites at outlets like NBC News and the Los Angeles Times patting themselves on the back for declaring that the Iraq conflict is a "civil war." Mr. Cronkite is often credited with helping turn public opinion against the war in Vietnam, and today's media point seems to be to declare the war unwinnable, as if this were actually desirable. ...
... Which brings us back to the alleged "civil war." The term seems to have acquired a totemic meaning in Iraq, although the U.S. has intervened successfully in civil wars before: the Balkans and Afghanistan, most recently. Regarding Iraq, the goal of the "civil war" chorus seems to be to delegitimize the war by painting what is a false picture of the balance of power and legitimacy between the Iraqi government and the terrorists.
The sectarian violence is a horrible problem. But by any reasonable definition, a "civil war" implies at least two militarily strong factions with a popular claim on political leadership. Neither of those conditions exists in Iraq.
The country's elected, pan-sectarian government and its several hundred thousand security forces remain the only legitimate power center. The Sunni insurgents, meanwhile, are a mix of Islamists and Baathists who enjoy little support and are capable only of terrorist-style attacks. They hold sway only through murder and intimidation in areas where the government lacks enough troops to assure public safety. Shiite militia leaders are also divided and what support they enjoy is due to the perception among ordinary Shiites that the government has been unable to protect them. Few Shiites would be eager to see Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical cleric, in Mr. Maliki's chair. The next Iraqi or American official to be asked about "civil war" might want to reply by asking the journalist who, precisely, is fighting whom, and why Iraqi security officers of all backgrounds continue to risk their lives for the elected Baghdad government. The truth is that the enemies of Mr. Maliki's government are terrorists and thugs. Mr. Bush could help give Mr. Maliki the confidence he needs for the tough fight ahead--first against the Sunni terrorists, then against the Shiite revenge killers--by assuring him that U.S. policy will be based on this fact.
Now, before our Left-leaning fans start to fire up their e-mails, let me state for the record that we're not saying there isn't violence in Iraq. There is, but this is anything but a civil war. This is sectarian violence promulgated through people like the deceased Zarqawi, and the very-much-alive Moqtada al-Sadr. Their goal wasn't to rule Iraq, but rather topple the government for their respective masters. Zarqawi wanted to create another fertile ground for his al Qaeda buddies, and al-Sadr is setting up Iraq for an Iranian takeover. Al-Sadr's Shi'ite militia is as hardcore as Iran's Shi'ite militants.
This is anything but a civil war for exactly the reasons cited by the Journal's editors. Neither the Sunnis or the Shias have a legitimate claim to the government. They aren't as popular with the people as the MSM would have us believe. And they're anything but militarily strong. These animals are using the worst tactics executed by terrorists. They sweep into a town, and begin by beheading the males--targeting specifically the security and military forces there. They engage in bombings targeting innocent people. FEAR is the ultimate tool they utilize, and it works well, until reinforcements arrive. Then they scatter like roaches.
The point of ending this violence lies in three specific areas. The first is that we need to reassure al-Maliki and Jalal Talabani that we're still behind them. We need to encourage them to do more to curb the violence on their own, but we need to finally take the gloves off and go to town on these people. The first step, and the most difficult one, is that al-Sadr needs to go. Whether thats in handcuffs or a body bag matters not. He is inciting this violence despite his pledge to disband his militia. He goes; preferably permanently.
Second, the Sunnis need to be dealt with, and that comes in removing not only the foreign terrorists there--such as those from al Qaeda, Syrian Hezbollah, and Iranian Hezbollah--but ending the native insurgency still running rampant. The Iraqis can't offer these people the chance to lay down their arms and join the government. It's already been offered, and we've seen what happens when they do join. They continue to encourage their "militias" to continue fighting the coalition and Iraqi forces. That has to end.
Third, and next to removing al-Sadr, most importantly Iran needs to be engaged. Not at the negotiating table, but on the battlefield. With the report today covered by Marcie regarding Iranian weapons found in Iraq, and the report on Monday detailing Hezbollah's involvement in training elements of al-Sadr's army, it's clear that Iran is ginning itself up for an engagement with the US. Let's accomodate them. If I were the president, I'd order a strike against their nuclear sites; a pre-emptive action that should back them down a tad.
If we take out al-Sadr, it removes part of Iran's plan to destabilize Iraq. If we strike Iran, they will think twice about continuing their interference in Iraq. Iran is the nexus of all of this strife going on right now. If we could remove them from the equation, Iraq may start to balance itself out. But this isn't a civil war. It's not even close to the dictionary definition of a civil war. These aren't political factions fighting for control of the country. They're religious factions that are continuing an ongoing religious war. We just happen to be in the middle, hoping that these two groups can come to terms.
Coming to terms starts with the removal of the elements creating the unstable environment. Whether we do it or the Iraqis do it doesn't matter. What matters is getting it done, and quickly. Enough of this idea that a limited war can be fought. We roll in with the full might of the military, and end this now. Mosque gets flattened? So sorry, but it can be rebuilt. A few homes get nailed? Again, they can be rebuilt. Just tell the civilians to get the Hell out of Dodge, and let those with the training and manpower deal with the animals in the country.
The UN's Continuing Sex Scandals: It Is For The Children, After All
I do not think I have to inform our readers of how sick this is. The sheer fact that the United Nations has decided to turn a blind eye to this problem is beyond the pale. And today, the BBCreports the new story unfolding. Captain Ed Morrissey and Allah @ Hot-Air weigh in.
Girls have told of regular encounters with soldiers where sex is demanded in return for food or money. A senior official with the organisation has accepted the claims are credible.
The UN has faced several scandals involving its troops in recent years, including a DR Congo paedophile ring and prostitute trafficking in Kosovo.
The assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations acknowledges that sexual abuse is widespread.
"We've had a problem probably since the inception of peacekeeping - problems of this kind of exploitation of vulnerable populations," Jane Holl Lute told the BBC.
And the United Nations wants people to trust them? Thius is hardly the way to go about it. Ms. Lute is quick to admit it, but offers no solution to this rampant problem. And I do mean rampant. In nearly every country that peacekeepers are sent to, this is part of the behavior they exhibit. And while it may not be the whole force, just a few bad apples are enough to spoil the pie. What is perhaps even more infuriating than anything is this key paragraph:
Under UN regulations, military personnel cannot be prosecuted in the country where they are serving, and it is up to the courts in their home countries to prosecute crimes committed. The UN said it had firm knowledge of only two concrete examples of sex offenders being sent to jail, although it believed there could be others it did not know about.
That is absolutely inexcusable. A country where its citizens have been victimized does not have the right to put the perpetrator on trial? Personally, if I were the person in charge of a nation that had peacekeepers that committed these atrocious crimes, I would have them arrested and locked up. What is Kofi Annan going to do then? Issue a sternly worded letter? Give me a break, and to Hell with their rules. They seem fine with breaking rules and laws in other countries, so maybe it is time those nations start responding in like kind.
The United Nations is beyond "sick." It is dying a slow and painful death, and it is dragging the world down with it. I can honestly state that neither Thomas or I like the United Nations. We have despicsed this organization for years, and it is because we see that they serve no purpose other than to create chaos around the world, or allow crimes to go unpunished. How long has the world been screaming about the genocide in Sudan? Just this week the United Nations issued a statement where they are acknowledging that crime, but they have offered no solution to it. Sanctions will not help those being murdered in that nation.
The BBC report shows the serious problems within the peacekeeping misssions, and yet Kofi Annan has done nothing to stop it, or even take it seriously.
UN chief Kofi Annan has pledged a policy of "zero tolerance".
The UN's own figures show 316 peacekeeping personnel in all missions have been investigated, resulting in the summary dismissal of 18 civilians, repatriation of 17 members of Formed Police Units and 144 repatriations or rotations home on disciplinary grounds. However allegations remain that measures to police and curb misconduct are nowhere near as strong as they should be.
Refugees International says there remains a "culture of silence" in some military deployments, and fear of punishment is not enough to ensure compliance with UN rules.
"They may be military men but they are also humanitarian workers," Sarah Martin told the BBC.
"To prey upon the very populations that you are sent to protect is one of the worst forms of violation and betrayal that there is."
Talk is cheap, and Mr. Annan is a lip service puppet in a cheap suit. He can pledge what he wishes, but actions speak louder than words, and frankly thewre have been no actions to curb this. These people are victimizing children:
In Haiti, the BBC's Mike Williams spoke to a street girl as young as 11 who had reported sexual abuse by peacekeepers outside the gates of the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince. A 14-year-old described her abduction and rape inside a UN naval base in the country two years ago.
Despite detailed medical and circumstantial evidence, the allegation was dismissed by the UN for lack of evidence - and the alleged attacker returned to his home country.
In Liberia, meanwhile, a 15-year-old said she had been attacked by a UN officer on 15 November.
In May this year, another BBC investigation discovered systematic abuse in Liberia, involving food being given out to teenage refugees in return for sex.
Sick. Depraved. Perverted. And completely uncalled for. We keep hearing how the United Nations is working towards reform, and that is a nice concept, but it is nothing more than a lie. Its entire mission in this world is a lie. They do not want peace and democracy. Freedom is a foreign concept to those in the United Nations. They want capitulation. They want subjugation. They want other nations around the world to surrender everything to them, including the population's basic rights, and that nation's sovereignty.
And here are some stories done by the BBC about these crimes:
--July 19, 2005, a story regarding the Burundi case, and the inclusion of the Congo cases.
--November 23, 2004, a story that details the Congo case, and includes the fact that some of the peacekeepers actions are on video.
--November 19, 2002, a story revolving around the sexual abuse of Nepalese women, including a seven-year old girl.
This is just one more stellar example of why we--the United States--needs to withdraw from this organization. Not just our presence there, but our monetary support of it, and any peacekeepers we may have "donated" to them. The longer nations continue to support the United Nations, the longer this sort of behavior will continue unfettered, and refused to be acknowledged by those in charge. A changing of the guard at the United Nations, as is supposed to occur this coming January, will not solve the problem. A serious reformation is needed there, and I doubt it will occur. Best to abandon ship while there are still a few lifeboats left.
U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006. This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. “There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval,” says a senior official.
Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs designed to pierce armor and anti-tank weapons. U.S. intelligence believes the weapons have been supplied to Iraq’s growing Shia militias from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is also believed to be training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran.
Evidence is mounting, too, that the most powerful militia in Iraq, Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army, is receiving training support from the Iranian-backed terrorists of Hezbollah.
Two senior U.S. defense officials confirmed to ABC News earlier reports that fighters from the Mahdi army have traveled to Lebanon to receive training from Hezbollah.
Thomas picked up the Hezbollah/Mahdi militia story on Monday, but this adds another new twist to dealing with Iran. The Baker Commission and State Department weenies seem to think it is a good idea to deal with both Syria and Iran diplomatically because of some unfounded belief that those nations actually care about what happens with Iraq.
They do care, but not in the ways to doddering fools believe. They do not want to see any sort of success in Iraq because it is detrimental to their plans, and could prove to be a further threat to them controlling their nations. The general populace in Iran cannot stand the mullahocracy, and seeing the hope and possibility of freedom and democracy in a nation like Iraq--one that never had any hope of such under their previous leader--would be a boon to those people. We saw what happened in Lebanon when we deposed Saddam. Those people saw what the Iraqis gained, and immediately began to apply serious pressure to Syria to leave.
Iran wants to fuel the violence there. They want a Shi'ite controlled government there so they can prod them in the direction of becoming another Islamic republic like they are. And I honestly believe it is time that we state for the world's benefit that we are officially at war with Iran. Thomas highlighted a piece from Michael Freund yesterday where he opined that it was time the United States strike Iran:
What is needed now is decisive action, and fast, to slap them down and put the radicals back in their place. A massive American air assault on Iranian nuclear installations would do just the trick. It would not only set back Teheran's atomic ambitions for years to come, but also serve as a resounding display of US will and resolve. A strike on Iran would amount to a reversal of the Shi'ite surge that is now taking place throughout the region. It would take the wind out of the Iranian leader's apocalyptic sails, and it would have a noticeable impact on the sectarian violence now raging in Iraq, too.
The problem facing us with Iran right now is directly connected to al-Sadr and his militia in Iraq. They are fueling the violence there. If al-Sadr were removed, and his army destroyed, it could serve as a message to Iran that they are not welcome in Iraq. BUT, a decisive strike on Iran right now, targeting their number one prize, would send a clearer message to the world that we mean what we say. We want a stable, self-sustaining, democratic Iraq. We do not want to see that country turn into another Afghanistan or Iran. We cannot afford to allow it to become a haven for Islamicists and terrorists. But if we pull out, which is precisely what the Baker Commission is about to announce, we will abandon Iran to the wolves in the region already licking their chops at the prospect of a vulnerable Iraq.
If the Baker Commission gets its way, we will witness another Saigon. It took little time for the North Vietnamese to topple the South Vietnamese government after our pullout. How long does anyone think it will take before Iraq falls if we leave? We are betting that it will take little time to bring Iraq to its knees. The basiji corps' and Hezbollah will make short work of the Iraqi military and security forces. With the Mahdi militia involved, as well, and it will take weeks or months before the country falls.
We need a firm response to this discovery, and I do not mean banning iPod exports to them (who came up with that nutty idea in State?). I am talking about striking them. Mr. Freund is correct that a strike on Iran would send the message we need to emphasize around the world. They are a terrorist sponsoring nation, and need to be slapped down. And this discovery gives us the ability to do it. It is time to act against Iran, and quit giving the diplomats and bureaucrats the lip service that their idea is sound. It is not. It is suicidal, and the sooner we figure that out, the better off we will be.
His announcement that he WILL NOT seek the Republican nomination in '08 comes as a surprise to a few, but not to us.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said today that he will not run for president in 2008, a high-profile campaign dropout more than a year before the first convention delegates are chosen. "In the Bible, God tells us for everything there is a season, and for me, for now, this season of being an elected official has come to a close," said the Tennessee Republican, a surgeon before he entered politics in 1994. He said he "will take a sabbatical from public life" and "return to my professional roots as a healer and to refocus my creative energies on innovative solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges Americans face." Mr. Frist announced when he first ran for the Senate that he would retire after two terms. His decision not to seek the White House thus caps a 12-year stint in electoral politics in which he rose from an underdog in his 1994 Senate campaign to the position of majority leader a mere eight years later. Among the Republicans already exploring a White House bid are Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Other potential Republican contenders include Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Govs. George E. Pataki of New York and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California. Democrats also have an extensive roster of potential presidential hopefuls. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois are the best known nationally; outgoing Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will be first to formally declare his candidacy, tomorrow, in his home state. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana also is weighing a bid. Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, has announced he will not run for the presidency in 2008. Mr. Warner, like Mr. Frist, had begun putting into place a campaign organization to raise money and line up supporters in early caucus and primary states, as well as nationally.
If I may speak honestly about this, we did not give former Sen. Frist much of a chance, considering the field of potential nominees that are announcing their intentions. We are actually surprised at the amount of "also-rans" that are challenging the big favorites, and no offense to his supporters, we considered Bill Frist one of those. This nomination process coming up for '08 is not going to be easy for any nominee.
We are happy to see him bow out now, rather than engage the field, and look even worse than we were predicting. We wish him the best in his return to medicine, and hope that he enjoys the return to normal life. Despite our feelings regarding how he led (or did not lead) the Senate GOP, we know that he tried his hardest to do what was necessary to help the nation and the president.
THE SO-CALLED experts and realists are dead wrong when they predict that military action against Iran would kindle a firestorm throughout the Middle East. Precisely the opposite is true. The reverberations of putting Iran in its place would be entirely positive, and would be felt throughout the region. Right now the radicals are emboldened because they sense that America is weak and in retreat. Hence, they feel free to make mischief and continue destabilizing the area. As a result, Syria did not hesitate to orchestrate the murder last week of the Lebanese industry minister, Pierre Gemayel, and Iran is not shying away from its ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons. And all this talk of talking with the bad guys has only served to encourage them still further. What is needed now is decisive action, and fast, to slap them down and put the radicals back in their place. A massive American air assault on Iranian nuclear installations would do just the trick. It would not only set back Teheran's atomic ambitions for years to come, but also serve as a resounding display of US will and resolve. A strike on Iran would amount to a reversal of the Shi'ite surge that is now taking place throughout the region. It would take the wind out of the Iranian leader's apocalyptic sails, and it would have a noticeable impact on the sectarian violence now raging in Iraq, too. Syria, Hizbullah and others would take notice, and America's ostensible Arab allies - all of whom are Sunni - would certainly welcome a blow against the dangerous Iranian regime. Stopping Iran in its tracks is the great challenge of our day. For the sake of the entire Western world, and the future of the Jewish people, we can only hope and pray that President Bush will rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done. "Had Britain stopped fighting in May 1940, Hitler would have won his war," wrote historian John Lukacs in Five Days in London. "He was never closer to victory." The same now holds true of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who may be just months, or even weeks away from crossing the nuclear point of no return.It was Churchill himself who once said, "I never worry about action, only inaction." As a result, he led his nation and the civilized world to victory.
Why do I say this is a slap in the face for the administration? Because if the Baker Commission and its supporters get their way, we'll be TALKING with Iran and Syria instead of sending them a clear and concise message that their days in the terror business are numbered. I'm sick of hearing the talk that diplomacy will help us with Iran and Syria. It won't. Historically, it never does when you're dealing with madmen content to stay on their path. It didn't work with Hitler. It didn't work with the Soviets.
Yes, President Reagan engaged the Soviet Union in talks, but only after he knew they couldn't keep up with our arms race, and he knew they lacked the funds to develop new weapons or weapon systems. At Reykjavík, Reagan saw how worried Gorbachev was when it came to the strategic defense iniative, and he knew he had dealt the death blow to the Soviet Union when he walked away from the table. He didn't need to fire a shot to finish them off. He let the bloated weight of years of Communism do them in.
We can't do that with Iran. Unlike the Soviets, Iran has a steady income flooding into their coffers via oil sales. As long as that continues, they won't fall. The easiest and most logical course of action is direct, military engagement. A B-2 strike on Iran could end Ahmadinejad's ambitions quickly and decisively. And Mr. Freund is quite correct: It would take the wind out of the sails of the rterrorists in Iraq, and severely hamper Assad in Syria. Without the assistance of Iran, Assad has nothing. He needs Iran, just as much as Hezbollah does. I'm not saying that we bomb Iran back to the age of Mohammed, but a specific targeting of their nuclear facilities will bolster our allies in the region, and could possibly end Iran's consistent interference in Iraq.
Iran is the main problem in the region right now. They're backing up Hezbollah and Assad in their engagemnents with Lebanon and Israel, and they are flooding Iraq with fighters, weapons, and munitions. We can't sit idly by and allow Iran to continue work on their nuclear program, and their further plans of reestablishing the old Persian Empire in the region. We shouldn't even speak to the UN about this. Just do it. We go to the UN, we'll be twiddling our thumbs for years to come, and we don't have years to wait. Iran will have nukes soon, and when they get them, the region will surely suffer.
We need to act now, and do so firmly. Iran needs to know--the world needs to know--that we're deadly serious about protecting our nation and our allies. The longer we take, the worse things will get.
This morning I woke up to this story, presented by Captain Ed. It seems that Mr. Gingrich has decided that freedom of speech might have to be curtailed to win this war. And no, I'm not making this up. The New York Sun has the story: A former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, is causing a stir by proposing that free speech may have to be curtailed in order to fight terrorism. "We need to get ahead of the curve rather than wait until we actually literally lose a city, which I think could literally happen in the next decade if we're unfortunate," Mr. Gingrich said Monday night during a speech in New Hampshire. "We now should be impaneling people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of if it weren't for the scale of the threat." Speaking at an award dinner billed as a tribute to crusaders for the First Amendment, Mr. Gingrich, who is considering a run for the White House in 2008, painted an ominous picture of the dangers facing America. "This is a serious, long-term war," the former speaker said, according an audio excerpt of his remarks made available yesterday by his office. "Either before we lose a city or, if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people." Mr. Gingrich acknowledged that these proposals would trigger "a serious debate about the First Amendment." He also said international law must be revised to address the exigencies posed by international terrorists. "We should propose a Geneva Convention for fighting terrorism, which makes very clear that those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction, and those who would target civilians are, in fact, subject to a totally different set of rules that allow us to protect civilization by defeating barbarism before it gains so much strength that it is truly horrendous," he said.
It's not our freedoms that are killing us in this war. It's the idea that we have to fight this war so we don't "offend" anyone. While I respect Newt, this has to be added to the other numerous statements he's made that just simply scream out "This man says moronic things," which is why I can't even fathom him trying to make a run for the White House. It's not that he couldn't run, but rather it's how he will run, and what he will say on the trail. He's addressing a crowd in New Hampshire here. Does he really think the voters want to hear that he'll work on ripping more of our free speech rights away? Was it not bad enough when McCain and Feingold did it a couple of years ago?
If this is about the speech used in this war by our enemies and their enablers, we'd be remiss if we didn't remember that the freedom to speak out still has limits. It's not as all-encompassing as people think it is. There are laws on the books preventing the sort of speech to whip people into a frenzy, and incite violence. You still can't yell fire in a movie theater, and you still can't verbally threaten someone. So, I'm not quite sure what sort of limitations Mr. Gingrich has in mind.
One thing is sure and that's the fact I doubt conservatives would appreciate this sort of idea. The First Amendment is one of our most cherished rights, which is why John McCain doesn't have a chance in Hell of taking the nomination. His work on CFR, which greatly limited our freedom of speech in an election cycle has not been forgotten or forgiven. When the Framers wrote the First Amendment, the entire point of it was to protect our religious identity, and prevent government interference there, but also our basic political rights; the same sort that King George had quashed in Great Britain.
The sort of speech he'd like to target is that which gives aid and comfort to our enemies. I get that. WE understand that completely. But the answer is not less speech. It's more of it. A cadence of thousands of voices and thoughts reaching out across the nation, the world, and the 'Net. And if this is Mr. Gingrich's only solution, he's never getting the nomination to be the GOP candidate in '08. Speaking honestly, this sort of speech is exactly the sort that just counted him out, and removed him from our list. Not that he was on it in the first place. Being the House Speaker is nice and all, but he's never held any other serious office where tough decisions are made.
People don't want someone who compromises. That's why they rejected John Kerry in 2004, and why they'll reject nearly every House- or Senate-bound candidate in '08, as well. This is a pipe dream for Newt, and I hate to be one of the people waking him up this morning, but he really has no chance. Have fun on that campaign trail Newt. You'll be on your own with your staff, and wondering where all the people are.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but they'll be exercising their freedom of speech.
Even a broken watch is right twice a day. I suppose we can give sooon-to-be Speaker Pelosi this as her first of the "day." From Reuters this afternoon:
Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida, impeached as a federal judge in 1989 on corruption charges, dropped his bid under pressure on Tuesday to chair a congressional panel designed to help protect America's security, a party aide said. Hastings took the action after being told by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, in line to head the U.S. House of Representatives when the new Congress convenes in January, that she would not give him the coveted job, the aide said.
As House speaker, Pelosi decides who in her party serves on the committee that helps oversee federal efforts to protect the United States.
Last week, Hastings made a public plea for the post, arguing that despite being removed by Congress as a federal judge, he did nothing wrong and was cleared by a court of the corruption charges.
But Pelosi decided against picking Hastings for the chairmanship and told him at a private meeting. She has not yet decided who she will name instead, the aide said. Hastings, a popular politician in Florida, was elected without opposition on November 7 to an eighth term in Congress.
Sorry, Rep. Hastings, but you are literally just too hot right now for Nancy Pelosi to make a choice to put you on of the most important committees in the House. The controversy surrounding his impeachment, the pressure that came in many parts (blogs, pundits on both sides of the aisle, and her own caucus, most likely) probably led to this decision.
I know that a good many readers will not be happy to read this, but Nancy Pelosi is owed some kudos for being smart enough to realize that Hastings was going to be the subject of a neverending firestorm. So, give her this much credit.
Hopefully she will realize that her caucus, and various Lefty bloggers, are not being mean to her. They are simply trying to hold the House for 2008, and her recent decisions regarding leadership positions had them all a flutter. Rightly so, as decisions like this, and John Murtha could have, in the long run, cost them the House. At this point, their House majority is safe. We will have to wait and see if she missteps again. However, I believe it was Robert Novak who stated in a recent column that if she makes another mistake, the Democrats need to remove her from the Speaker's chair.
A lot of people may not have heard about this, but I am sure you have read about it. If you read any of the elite blogs, this story heated up last week. On the 2oth, six imams were removed from a US Airways flight. (Thomas addresses this in our upcoming column.) At first, they cried racism, and proclaimed their innocence. They blamed the airline and the passengers of overreacting because they were Muslim. But Allah @ Hot Air smacks that aside, and you may, too. Especially if you read this story from the Washington Times. The key paragraphs, as follows:
Passengers and flight attendants told law-enforcement officials the imams switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11 terrorist attacks and also found in probes of U.S. security since the attacks — two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin. “That would alarm me,” said a federal air marshal who asked to remain anonymous. “They now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane.” A pilot from another airline said: “That behavior has been identified as a terrorist probe in the airline industry.”… Three of the men asked for seat-belt extenders, although two flight attendants told police the men were not oversized. One flight attendant told police she “found this unsettling, as crew knew about the six [passengers] on board and where they were sitting.” Rather than attach the extensions, the men placed the straps and buckles on the cabin floor, the flight attendant said. The imams said they were not discussing politics and only spoke in English, but witnesses told law enforcement that the men spoke in Arabic and English, criticizing the war in Iraq and President Bush, and talking about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden… A flight attendant said one of the men made two trips to the rear of the plane to talk to the imam during boarding, and again when the flight was delayed because of their behavior. Aviation officials, including air marshals and pilots, said these actions alone would not warrant a second look, but the combination is suspicious.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of the passengers, the air marshals, and the flight crew, and ask yourself if you would get the same conclusion. Allah asks if this was deliberate; an attempt to get thrown off so they could cry wolf. That is feasible, and Thomas agrees. We are watching incremental introduction of shari'a law here in the States. Just look at what cab drivers around the country are doing. Most of the spectacles that surround these cab drivers result from their offense at passengers that do not share their religious ideology identity.
What is next? If I choose not to wear a burkha, will I be refused? This is asinine, and so is this caterwauling from these imams. The behavior was more than suspicious, and we agree that the airline and flight crew acted correctly. In this dayt and age it is better to be safe than sorry, and with the behavior these six men engaged in, i5t could have very well been a sorry day indeed.
And I have Dean Barnett @ Hugh Hewitt's site to thank for it. This week I have midterms, and these are important to me. If I can make it through the rest of this year, and get my recommendations, I am set for law school. But because this is midterm week, and it is hectic, I am not smiling or having too much fun right now.
But Dean picked up this story from Reuters which shows that John Kerry is not too well liked amongst likely voters:
Democratic Sen. John Kerry, mulling a second bid for the U.S. presidency, finished dead last in a poll released on Monday on the likability of 20 top American political figures. Among those placing ahead of Kerry were about a dozen potential 2008 White House rivals, including Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. "This is bad bad news for Kerry," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut, which conducted the survey. "Americans know who he is, and have pretty much decided they don't like him," said Brown. He noted the poll found that 95 percent of respondents said they had heard enough about Kerry, who lost the 2004 White House race to President Bush, to rate the Massachusetts Democrat.
The poll of 1,623 registered voters was conducted after the November 7 national elections, which saw Democrats win back control of the U.S. Congress from Republicans.
During the congressional campaign, Kerry sought to help fellow Democrats but drew bipartisan fire for "a botched joke" about Bush and the Iraq war.
Yet even before Kerry's attempt at humor, he did not fare well in similar Quinnipiac polls this year. I will excuse Reuters for attempting to continue the spin about Kerry's botched joke, but even that cannot stop me from laughing at him. John Kerry is preparing for a presidential run in 2008, and he came in dead last; twentieth overall amongst possible contenders. And as we look through the list, it even includes two "possibles" that cannot run, and THEY ranked above him:
In the current poll, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican, ranked first with a mean score of 64.2, followed by Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, 58.8, and McCain, 57.7. All three are potential presidential candidates.
While Obama received a high score, 41 percent said they had not heard enough about the first-term senator to offer an opinion.
Bush finished 15th with 43.8, behind former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat who lost the 2000 White House race to Bush, who was 14th with 44.9. Kerry was last with a rating of 39.6. In three earlier polls this year, he never scored above 46.3. ... ... In the new likability survey, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ranked fourth with 56.1, followed by former Democratic President Bill Clinton, 55.8, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who won re-election this month as an independent after losing the Democratic primary, 52.7.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, was seventh at 51.1, followed by two other potential presidential contenders, former Democratic Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, 49.9, and Hillary Clinton, 49.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, another possible White House contender, ranked 10th, at 47.7. Two in three respondents said they did not know enough about him to form an opinion.
Among other possible presidential contenders were: Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, with a score of 47; Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, 45.9; Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, 43.3; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, 42, and outgoing Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist, 41.5.
I am sure this is not the sort of news that John Kerry wanted to see. To pundits like us, not only does this bring a smile to our face, but it evokes loud guffaws. See ladies and gentlemen, John Kerry still thinks that he is relevant and has a snowball's chance in Hell of convincing America to vote for him. His own running mate, John Edwards, ransked higher than he did; Edwards ranked ninth among contenders, with Hillary right behind him at tenth.
Is there anyother confirmation John Kerry needs to see that he is a loser? That he is utterly irrelevant in the voters' minds? We should hope not, but then again, he does have a problem with the obvious. Regardless, if he runs again, we will all get another laugh our of the buffoon from Massachusetts.
I'd love to say that this comes as a shock to me. I can't speak for Marcie or Sabrina on their "shck" involved, but I can't. And I'm surprised that the New York Times appears to be:
A senior American intelligence official said Monday that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army, the Iraqi Shiite militia led by Moktada al-Sadr.
The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. A small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training, the official said. Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria.
The intelligence official spoke on condition of anonymity under rules set by his agency, and discussed Iran’s role in response to questions from a reporter.
The interview occurred at a time of intense debate over whether the United States should enlist Iran’s help in stabilizing Iraq. The Iraq Study Group, directed by James A. Baker III, a former Republican secretary of state, and Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic lawmaker, is expected to call for direct talks with Tehran. The claim about Hezbollah’s role in training Shiite militias could strengthen the hand of those in the Bush administration who oppose a major new diplomatic involvement with Iran.
The new American account is consistent with a claim made in Iraq this summer by a mid-level Mahdi commander, who said his militia had sent 300 fighters to Lebanon, ostensibly to fight alongside Hezbollah. “They are the best-trained fighters in the Mahdi Army,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
If president Bush is listening to his military commanders, then there shouldn't be any further debate about "diplomacy" and "stabilization" in regard to Iran and Syria. It shouldn't be happening. And if I were in the president's showes, I'd thank Jimmy Baker for stopping by, but hand him his hat, and show him the door. Honestly, I have to agree with Christopher Hitchens; Baker is the last schmuck we should be listening to when it comes to who we talk to over there. Neither Iran or Syria could really give a rip about a stabilized Iraq. To the contrary, that proposition doesn't make them too happy.
And as I said, this should come as no surprise to anyone. During the Israel/Hezbollah conflict earlier this year, Israeli soldiers found Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops amongst Hezbollah dead in southern Lebanon. We had the suspicion that it was probable that the Hezbollah in Lebanon had been trained by Iranians. The only surprise the Israeli discovery gave to the world was that Ahmadinejad was stupid enough to allow the bodies to be found with their Iranian IDs in their possession still.
Al-Sadr's militia was supposed to have been disarmed over the course of the last year, or so, and that's unfortunately not the case. In recent raids by Iraqi, US, and coalition forces have uncovered information revealing that the army is still up and running at full cpacity despite al-Sadr's promise to the Iraqi government that he would end this fight. And, of course, we're proven right again. You can't trust a terrorist to keep his word.
Al-Sadr's militia needs to be crushed, and al-Sadr either needs to be taken into custody or killed. Those are our only two options here. The Iraqis wanted to give him a shot at being a legitimate part of their government, and while it's commendable, we knew it was also utterly futile to give the guy another chance. And as long as the Iraqi government keeps acting like Janus, then we have a bigger problem with al-Sadr. And I say that because just a couple of short months ago, orders had been handed down to arrest al-Sadr. Coalition forces, working in hand with the Iraqi military, have a warrant issued by the government for his arrest. But, he has appeared recently with Iraq's president, which has to make people wonder if the Iraqis are truly serious about getting rid of this guy, or if they just like paying lip service to us.
Either way we look at it, we have a problem, and a big part of it comes from the two nations that keep sticking their noses in the middle of this. We can't negotiate with them, and we sure as Hell can't trust them to uphold their word. We should put our troops, and coalition forces, on the Iraqi border, and seal up the country. Then we go hunting. We make sure that both Iran and Syria don't come over the border, and we take out al-Sadr and his militia. The border of Iraq is about as porous as America's borders. If the border is sealed, it will go a long way in helping end the Mahdi army that al-Sadr has built, and is using to fuel an all-out civil war between the Shi'a and Sunni factions in Iraq. We knew that it would only take someone like him, as we believed the case to be with Zarqawi, to instigate this fight. It's beginning, and the time to act is now; before things spin horribly out of control.
When I heard that Jim Baker was being brought in to "help" with the situation, I knew we were screwed. If the president takes his advice (which I wouldn't), then the whole mission is in jeopardy. We would negotiate with both nations, which would leave Iraq in a precarious situation. I hate to sound cowboy-esque here, but I think it's high time we send a clear message to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashir Assad: Stey out of Iraq, or suffer the consequences. This isn't their fight, and their interference isn't welcome. It's not welcomed by us, and it shouldn't be welcomed by the Iraqis either.
They ought to know that Syria and Iran don't want them stable at all. They want them open and vulnerable to an external coup, which would suit both nations needs. It would give them another satellite country, just like Lebanon seemingly is for Syria, with which to attack the West from. Their problem, and Baker's, too, is that they can't seem to keep their fingerprints from being found by the good guys, and it always leads us back to the two places that seem to have terrorism on their minds more than Osama bin Laden.
Alcee Hastings Needs To Learn This Lesson, Quickly
As we know, Alcee Hastings is being eyed by Nancy Pelosi to take over the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee over the current senior Democrat there, Jane Harman. We also know that the reason behind this is that Ms. Pelosi does not like Ms. Harman. So, she desires a change on the committee. But, as Professor Glenn Reynolds points out today that it is not wise to attack bloggers. We are a free-spirited bunch that tends to dislike such attacks, and we retaliate in like kind.
Blog criticism of Hastings has been persistent and harsh enough that he responded Nov. 20 by blasting "anonymous bloggers" in general and conservative Michelle Malkin in particular. "I hope that my fate is not determined by Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michael Barone, [Matt] Drudge, anonymous bloggers, and other assorted misinformed fools," he wrote in a five-page letter to House Democratic colleagues. The letter may have done more harm than good to Hastings' cause, however, because Malkin answered in kind with a post that labeled Hastings a "fool" and his letter to colleagues an "unhinged rant." She included plenty of background links on the Hastings bribery case and current criticisms of his leadership bid. "It isn't just right-wingers objecting to the possibility of a convicted judge for sale chairing the House Intelligence Committee," she wrote. "In peacetime, Washington can chalk up Hastings' resurrection to business as usual. In wartime, Washington has no business doing business as usual."
Lesson number one, when you are in the heart of a firestorm, you do not hand your detractors another gallon of gasoline that they can fan the flames with. Mr. Hastings should have taken a page from recent history. During the Miers nomination process, the Democrats shut their mouths, and let the GOP war upon itself. They did precisely what they should have done by making encouraging statements about Ms. Miers while we tore into one another over her ill-fated nomination. If Mr. Hastings would simply remain silent, and not attack the pundits on our side, his ascension process might go a bity smoother, except ....
Lesson number two, when your own colleagues are not pleased with you, again, you do not fan the flames. The Democrat caucus in the House was not pleased with Ms. Pelosi's choice for the House Majority Leader's position, which is why they flatly rejected John Murtha, and chose Steny Hoyer instead. They are not happy with the prospect of Mr. Hastings being elevated to a position--over someone who should rightfully sit in the committee's senior chair--where his very presence will likely bring controversy. Mr. Hastings can cite the trial where he was acquitted all he wishes, but it does not change the fact that the House and Senate found wrongdoing in his actions, and voted appropriately to remove him.
Bloggers may not be the professional pundits that others look to. No, we are not the Sean Hannitys, or Ann Coulters, or Victor Davis Hansons that people know and respect for their opinions and reasoning. We are, however, more involved in the daily dose of current events and politics. And what is worse for people like Mr. Hastings is that when you take swipes at bloggers, we react. The people like Sean Hannity will write off Mr. Hastings as a nut, and move on.
We do not do that. We respond with even more critique. Case in point: Michelle Malkin has come back swinging for the fences and she knocks it right out of the park today. Mr. Hastings claims that people are not talking about his impeachment and court case honestly. So, Michelle has laid most of it out, and we are left to decide. I can gather this from her post:
Alcee Hastings--by his own admission--was given a fair and impartial impeachment hearing. He received a fair trial where he was not found guilty of any wrongdoing. But in the end, the House and Senate had their say, and he was removed. Mr. Hastings cannot get around that fact, nor can he deny it. It is stated in the "Almanac of American Politics" that Alcee Hastings is:
"the only member of Congress ever to have been impeached and removed from office as a federal judge." This is a historical fact that will follow him around until he dies.
As bloggers, we have the ability to speak our mind, and persuade readers to see things from our point-of-view. We back up our arguments with facts, and link to them to prove our points. What Alcee Hastings thought he could get away with, with his retaliatory screed, was to silence those opposed to him. The problem is he cannot even silence the opposition within his own party. And that is the key to this whole sceanrio. We, as bloggers, do not have a say in whether or not he sits in the chairman's seat. That is the for the Speaker to decide, with the concensus (hopefully) of her caucus.
But we can level an opinion. And that is precisely what we bloggers have done on this matter. But it is not smart to come after us. We swing back, and when we do it hurts.
The Democrats need to keep this guy out and about within the media for the next two years. Instead of talking to Nancy Pelosi, or John Conyers, or even John Murtha, they need to focus on Charlie Rangel. Captain Ed has the Powerline video,/li> from his interview on FOX News yesterday, and here is the money quote:
I want to make it abundantly clear: if there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq. Ahem. You honor, may I approach the bench?
So, Charlie Rangel has decided to pick up where John Kerry left off with insulting the troops. The people in the military right now, and those who signed up after 9/11 did so because they lack a solid choice, have no hope for getting out of the situation they are in here, and joined the military as a last resort. Hmm. That sounds a lot like John Kerry's previous statement that landed him in hot water about a month ago. And Rangel is almost to the very day marking the one month anniversary of John Kerry's stupidity.
While a few that join might do so because they feel they have no alternatives left, the vast majority joined because they wanted to, and felt that they had something to offer the United States. And while I cannot speak for everyone, I can speak for two people.
The first is my brother, who joined after 9/11, and it might surprise Charlie there that my brother was almost finished with law school. He was one year away from graduation, and felt that it was more important to join, serve and protect this nation than it was to stay here and get his degree. As he told me then, and I remember now, "There's always time for school, but there won't be any schools around if we lose this. I gotta go, sis." It hurt me to see him go, but I got it. I understood.
The other person I can speak of is Thomas's uncle, who is a twenty-five year veteran of Naval Intelligence. The man has two Masters degrees. He joined in 1981, shortly after President Reagna took office, and has watched four presidents come and go on his watch. And despite his feelings towards President Clinton, he was not willing to get out when that particular commander-in-chief took office. He stayed in for his twenty-plus years, and this year he finally retired.
There are two people who blow Charlie Rangel's insinuation out of the water. And I KNOW there are more people like that in the military. The United States armed forces does not like recruiting idiots. Those people either tend to get killed in combat, or put others around them in greater danger. Elected representatives like Charlie Rangel and John Kerry are the retarded people here, not the soldiers. And it irritates me to no end to hear these people slander our soldiers this way. I do not care if they served or not, but it is wholly disrespectful of anyone elected to an office to make such statements about these people.
I would like to call on Rep. Rangel to issue an apology, but we know that if he does, he does not mean it. This is typical of the Left. Not only do they slam the troops as being a bunch of dunces that opted for the military because they had no hope of going anywhere in civilian life, but then they play up the victim status of these men and women. It is not concern on the part of the Left. It is soft bigotry disguised as some perverse level of concern that is completely non-existent. If Rep. Rangel were so concerned about their so-called plight,m then maybe he would be willing to raise their pay (instead of floating the foolish idea of a minimum wage increase), and maybe they could lift the constraints on our troops so they can fight a war without all the politically-correct BS that ties their hands.
Charlie Rangel has some nerve to make a statement like this, and that takes guts. But the assertion he has made shows that he, himself, lacks the brains. Or maybe he is simply too lazy to get the real facts about the education of our soldiers. The collective intelligence of the soldiers in the military is so profound that it has to make people laugh at a clown like Rangel when he makes idiotic statements like this.
I saw this in the New York Times this morning, and I'm a little ticked. I'll explain in a moment:
The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.
The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says $25 million to $100 million of that comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry, aided by “corrupt and complicit” Iraqi officials. As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments — previously identified by American officials as including France and Italy — paid $30 million in ransom last year.
A copy of the seven-page report was made available to The Times by American officials who said the findings could improve understanding of the challenges the United States faces in Iraq.
The report offers little hope that much can be done, at least soon, to choke off insurgent revenues. For one thing, it acknowledges how little the American authorities in Iraq know — three and a half years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein — about crucial aspects of insurgent operations. For another, it paints an almost despairing picture of the Iraqi government’s ability, or willingness, to take steps to tamp down the insurgency’s financing.
Here's just a few reasons why I'm upset with this story--
The Times, once again, goes to great lengths to blow a classified report. This has got to stop, and someone in Justice had better find their kishkas regarding the press's blatant disregard for anything that is classified by the government. BECAUSE these yay-hoos haven't been taken down a peg or two over their criminal behavior, they're just as emboldened as the terrorists when appeased. Let me make this perfectly, crystal clear for our readers. The news outlets CAN BE PROSECUTED for revealing classified material. They're not above the law, and have no First Amendment protections shielding them from such. Would Justice and the administration have the same opinion of the Times if they out-and-out revealed the identity of a clandestine intelligence officer that had infiltrated a terrorist cell? I doubt that, very much, so what makes these revelations any different?
France, Italy, Japan, and Germany have all paid ransoms to these animals, and that has to stop. Giving our enemies money is like handing them the bombs to blow themselves up with. If these nations are so afraid that their civilians are in danger, then get them the Hell out of the warzone! Either that, or take the steps we have. The Kossacks call them mercenaries, but they aren't. The private security firms working in Iraq are there to protect civilians, and VIPs that come to Iraq that don't have the benefit of the military or Secret Service protection. Those would be the people working to rebuild that country, and the suits that come to oversee their firm's investment. But I would honestly state to my citizens that if you go to Iraq, you had better observe the rules there, stay within the Green Zone or your work area, and don't go wandering off without an escort. The nations that have civilians over there should stress to them that if they do break the rules, if they go wandering off, they're on their own. There will be no more ransoms paid, and I don't care if that's a lowly worker, or a CEO who thought he knew better.
Third, It's time that we target these Islmaic charities and shut them down. Period. Cut the funds off this way, and start working towards the seizure of their funds if they are engaging in the support of terrorism. I don't care if it's Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, or panty-waists for bin Laden. If the charity works to finance terrorism, it's done. It'll never work here, or anywhere amongst our ally nations again. The money's gone, and if any of them are operating here (which I'm sure they are) then someone's going to prison. They may not like it. CAIR may throw a tizzy, but they're going to jail and the money's going bye-bye; never reaching its intended target.
Fourth, if the government in Iraq has a problem with doing what's necessary to stabilize their nation--including engaging the enemy on the ground, or on the 'Net by strangling the financing--then maybe it is time to pull out. We can't keep pushing them towards freedom and democracy if they're not willing to help themselves. We watched during the fights for Najaf, Basra, and Sadr city that Moqtada al-Sadr was a danger in the country, but the Iraqis tried to treat him with kid gloves. They still are, despite orders being given for his arrest. His brief appearances with the new Iraqi president, Talabani, in October of this year throw those orders into question. Are they really being serious, or paying lip service to us. We're not staying there indefinitely to let them shoot at our troops while the government there does nothing to curtail these attacks, and enforce their sovereign power.
I curse the Times in the same breath that I praise them. This report should never have been handed over to them, but it's important for people to understand that there are more problems over there than what anyone, except a choice few amidst the blogosphere, really knows. If the US government is dragging its feet in this area (which might be the case, eithaer that or our enemy is moving much faster than we can adapt to) then someone needs to give those in the know a swift kick in the @$$.
You go to war with what you have, and unleash everything you have for victory. If you're not doing that, then you're not fighting to win, and that's a s**t thing to do to the troops. THEY support the mission at hand, and will do their jobs unwaveringly. But they newed the support from back home in more ways than just the civilian populace. They need the help from the DoD, Pentagon, and White House. They need to know we're fighting to win over there, and not playing games. You destroy the enemy. You don't play patty-cake with them, or hold their hands. If the Iraqis won't do it, then maybe it's time we do it ourselves, and show our enemy what "shock and awe" really is.