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The Asylum

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.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

After The Dawdling Involved, This Comes As No Surprise

Captain Ed picked up on this today. Thomas noticed it this morning, picking up the meme from Victor Davis Hanson @ NRO. Today, Britain's Telegraph confirms our fears: Britain may not be able to act militarily to force the return of their sailors and Marines.

Military action is unfeasible without American support and so is a military blockade of the Gulf. Unless the United Nations shows more rigour, sanctions are unlikely to hurt Iran in the short term.

There is a feeling that the 15 could be in for a long stay in Iran and face the nightmare prospect for Britain of a show trial.Washington has remained largely subdued on the crisis but some commentators have made clear that the situation would have been very different if it had been 15 American sailors. Britain's options are:

Diplomatic: Britain has already suffered a setback at the UN with a fairly feeble rebuke of the Iranians. In the next few days, major players such as Russia and China, who are also friendly towards Teheran, might be persuaded to become more robust. But both have trade links with Iran and would be uncomfortable about major economic sanctions.

Downing Street could order all diplomatic links to be severed, throwing out Iran's ambassador, but this would cut off the one line of communication with the regime, leaving the Navy ratings even more isolated.

Sanctions: This is probably the main area where Iran is vulnerable. While it is a huge exporter of oil it has a chronic shortage of refineries, making it necessary to import 40 per cent of refined products such as petrol and jet fuel.

Sanctions would certainly make the regime sit up but they are only likely to appear as part of the game to force Iran to give up its nuclear programme.

Whitehall might have more luck in persuading the European Union to bring in further sanctions and severing trade links. Britain and America are also hamstrung by the lack of political leverage in the Middle East as a result of the Iraq invasion - which has conversely strengthened Iran's position.

Blockade: The Strait of Hormuz is just 21 miles across, making it a highly strategic chokepoint - and consequently very heavily defended by Teheran.

With Iran so reliant on the waterway for its fuel, arms imports and other goods it would be a key area to put pressure on the regime. The Navy has prepared plans on how to enforce a blockade but it would require almost the entire Fleet at a time when it is facing cuts and many ships have been mothballed. A blockade would also substantially increase the threat of all-out war.

Military: Britain is not a strong enough power to go it alone in a land battle with Iran, especially with so many troops committed to Iraq and Afghanistan. America is unlikely to back military action until diplomacy and possible sanctions have forced Iran to climb down over its nuclear programme.

But the SAS will have already made contingency plans for a rescue mission. It would only be seriously considered if the hostages were considered to be under severe threat of death.

This does not bode well for Britain, or for Europe. Great Britain was the envy of Europe with the strongest army and largest navy. Now, they seem to be a shell of their former selves. They can only accomplish the task with our help, and that is a sad state of affairs. I am sure Tony Blair is watching with considerable anxiety as our own Congress tries to pull a Europe, and walk away from this war, and confronting radical Islam. I am sure he is also seeing it through tear-filled eyes. It is looking much like our own stay in this fight is living on numbered days thanks to the aforementioned Congress. Add insult to injury, without our firm support of Great Britain in its hour of need, Iran might get the idea that it can pull a stunt like this on our forces operating in the Gulf. That, of course, would be foolhardy, and we do not suffer fools long when it comes to matters of national security. At least, that used to be true before Nancy Pelosi and the "Defeatocrats" took over in January.

We can only say this so many times, and we are slowly losing our patience with people who do not grasp the overall gravity of this situation. Ahmadinejad has acted with impunity for the better part of two years. Slow, but steady at first, he has ramped up his rhetoric and brazeness in the past few months; practically daring the world to cross him, or stop him. (I cannot speak for Thomas on this next point, and I should note I have no expertise in this realm; this is a hypothesis of my own accord, so address grievances properly, please.) With all of this boldness of late, it makes me question whether or not Israel is correct in their assertion that Iran is still a year or two off from having a working nuclear weapon.

I posit this: They may have one within the next six months.

Despite what the Telegraph, or Britain's MoD for that matter, they are still vastly superior to the Iranians when it comes to air power, or naval power. Britain is reluctant to move on this issue, and likely due to opinions in their own nation. But when it comes down to matters of opinion and propriety, doing the right thing should matter more, and the pundits can fight out the matter later. But there is no way in heck that we would allow Iran to pull a move like this without serious repercussions. I think it is time for Tony Blair to make a serious decision. Either he makes the stand now, and tries to get his people back with any and all means at his disposal, or he takes the European route of non-engagement.

If he chooses the latter, I hope he can sleep at night.Were I in his shoes, I could not.


Friday, March 30, 2007

VDH on the Iran/Britain hostage crisis

Victor Davis Hanson is considered by many, ourselves included, as the preeminent military historian this nation has. We've got quite a few, but as far as we're concerned, he's tops in our book. And he has penned a remarkable column over at NRO. We urge our readers to read this one, if you haven't already. In short, there won't be a knight in shining armor riding on the white steed to the rescue on this one:

‘It’s completely outrageous for any nation to go out and arrest the servicemen of another nation in waters that don’t belong to them.” So spoke Admiral Sir Alan West, former First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, concerning the present Anglo-Iranian crisis over captured British soldiers. But if the attack was “outrageous,” it was apparently not quite outrageous enough for anything to have been done about it yet.

Sir Alan elaborated on British rules of engagement by stressing they are “very much de-escalatory, because we don’t want wars starting ... Rather than roaring into action and sinking everything in sight we try to step back and that, of course, is why our chaps were, in effect, able to be captured and taken away.” ...

... If a non-nuclear Iran kidnaps foreign nationals in international waters, we can imagine what a nuclear theocracy will do. The Iranian thugocracy rightly understands that NATO will not declare the seizure of a member’s personnel an affront to the entire alliance.

Nor will the European Union send its “rapid” defense forces to insist on a return of the hostages. There is simply too much global worry about the price and availability of oil, too much regional concern over stability after Iraq, and too much national anxiety over the cost in lives and treasure that a possible confrontation would bring. Confrontation can be avoided through capitulation, and no Western nation is willing to insist that Iran adhere to any norms of behavior.

These sailors were seized on 23 March. Today is the 31st. Eight days have passed since their illegal seizure in Iraqi waters, and Great Britain -- Tony Blair, specifically -- has gone to the UN, only to face a chilling rebuke. He has gone to the EU, and received some support. But economic sanctions and harsh words will not help those sailors, and thus far, that's all that's been offered thus far.

Welcome to the feminized, PC world circa 2007.

No one wants to confront Iran, and Lord knows why. Their air force amounts to exactly buttkiss. Their navy is insignificant. The best that Iran can muster in terms of resistance to the West is Hezbollah. OK, Hezbollah's the bad boy on the block, but what's Iran going to do with them? Send them into Iraq, and make life harder for us. Um, been there, done that, got the T-shirt. And would Ahmadinejad really want to provoke war with the US? Remember the aforementioned air force? They'd be smoking heaps on the desert floor in about two hours. Their navy wouldn't last an hour against ours, and need I remind readers that two -- count them TWO -- carrier battlegroups reside in the Persian Gulf right now? The last thing Iran wants to do is provoke a confrontation with us.

But Tony Blair, who has been a stalwart ally of ours since 2001, has been suddenly and inexplicably nullified here. He doesn't want to take the only true option he has left at his disposal. With oil prices rising because of this crisis, Iran is raking in the bucks. Personally, I'd make them choke on that oil by blockading both Gulfs and the Strait of Hormuz. If it's flying an Iranian flag, it goes nowhere. If it's flying another nation's flag, it doesn't dock in Iran. Great Britain could do this, but they've opted out of using force.

Force, folks, is the only thing Iran respects, and they're rightly due a whap on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper like the bad dogs they are. Will Tony Blair do that? Will he hold true to the courage of his convictions, and up the ante on Iran to secure the release of the British hostages? Victor Davis Hanson doesn't think so, and I'm reluctantly forced to agree with him. At this stage in the game, I'm forced to agree with Faye Turney.

She and her fellow sailors and Marines have been sacrificed. And it's on the altar of feminization. Europe believed that the old world was gone, and no enemies remained. The problem with that sort of thinking is that the next bully is always waiting in the wings to pounce. Britian just received it's wake-up call, and unfortunately they seemed to have hit the snooze bar.

Publius II

Thomas picked this up yesterday from the guys at Power Line. Today it is making the rounds in the MSM:

Members of the House left Washington on Friday for their two-week spring break without weighing in on the international crisis tormenting the nation's closest ally: the capture of 15 British sailors and marines by Iran.

The omission by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is being noted by some Republicans, who say they should have gotten the chance to join the Senate in denouncing Tehran's bold actions.

"I am very disappointed that the speaker chose not to act," said Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa.

"I believe it's important for us as Americans to show our solidarity with the Britons," he added in a phone interview Friday. "The British are our closest allies, and I think we have to stand next to them in a moment like this."

The Senate on Thursday, before adjourning for its one-week break, passed a resolution condemning the act "in the strongest possible terms" and calling for the sailors "immediate, safe and unconditional release."

Pelosi's spokesman Brendan Daly said the speaker was reluctant to weigh in on the incident without knowing that such a message would do more good than harm. Daly said the British government had not asked Congress to try to pressure Tehran.

First of all, no one needs to ask Speaker Pelosi to pipe up. the Brits did not ask the Senate to do it; the Senate did it as a showing of solidarity with an ally. I find it deplorable that the House refused to make a simple statement showing the nation's support of a close ally.

And I would also like to know why, when the funding for the troops is of absolute necessity, that the House and Senate could take off for spring break? This makes no sense to me whatsoever. Also, why does the House get two weeks when the Senate only gets one? As the Constitution states, all spending bills must originate in the House. It is not as though the Senate can move on a funding bill for the troops.

I see stories like this, and it angers me a great deal. Here was have an ally facing a serious crisis, one that this nation endured almost thirty years ago, and one side of Congress deems it a touchy subject; unsure if such a resolution would help or hinder the situation. Additionally, we have war funding that has yet to be dealt with. (A note to the moonbats -- the current bill is beyond unacceptable. There is absolutely no way the president will sign off on a bribe-laden measure signalling retreat from the battlefield.)

Our disgust of the House's pitiful ideas of priority and representation of the people, and what we believe is important, still has no end.


The Washington Times On Iranian/British Hostage Crisis

I would like to agree with the The Washington Times, but I am afraid I cannot:

Taking its behind-the-scenes diplomacy public, Britain has stepped up its pressure on Iran to release 15 sailors and marines taken hostage last week, and it's time for the rest of the international community to follow suit. British officials have declared unequivocally that the sailors and marines boarded a ship in Iraq's territorial waters. An overflight confirmed British reports of the location of the merchant vessel, which has been anchored in the same place (where the British personnel were taken hostage at gunpoint) since the incident last Friday. Moreover, coordinates provided by the Iranian government purporting to show that the British personnel had entered Iranian waters turned out to be, in fact, in Iraqi waters. Only later did Iranian officials offer a second, "corrected," set of coordinates. Iran's defense of its aggression is unraveling.

Prime Minster Tony Blair told Parliament: "It is now time to ratchet up international and diplomatic pressure in order to make sure that the Iranian government understands their total isolation on this issue." Indeed, the United Nations Security Council, under whose mandate the marines and sailors were operating, needs to take up the charge. Iranian officials, however, have so far failed to respond to international pressure: a promise to release Leading Seaman Faye Turney, the only female hostage, was spurned even as the chorus of criticisms grew.

Should diplomatic pressure continue to fail to make headway, increasing the economic pressure on Iran may also be an effective way to force its hand. Britain will cut off official bilateral business with the rogue regime, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett announced Wednesday. While British trade with Iran is relatively small, the European Union as a whole has more substantial economic leverage. The EU is Iran's largest trading partner, receiving more than 26 percent of Iranian exports and accounting for 44 percent of Iranian imports. As Timothy Garton Ash noted yesterday in the British newspaper the Guardian, export credit guarantees -- especially from Germany, France and Italy -- have bolstered this growing trade. Sixty-five percent of German exports to Iran, a larger percentage than to any other country, are guaranteed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.

As current president of the EU, Germany should lead the way in exerting its economic influence to bring about the only acceptable solution to this situation: the immediate release of all hostages.

Economic and diplomatic pressures are nice, and may get this accomplished quickly (or as quickly as possible), but I do not think itis wise to put all their eggs into one basket. Indeed, the Brits must make it perfectly clear to Iran that more serious tactics may be used, including the possibility of military force. Readers have e-mailed me questioning what I mean by "time is running out" for Tony Blair. Let me put this as succinctly as I can. Very shortly, the Iranians are going to move these sailors to different locations. If a commando-style raid is in the works, they must work quickly. Such a raid is not a measured or reasonable approach as the Brits are not sure exactly where the hostages are. Add the Iranian air defenses to the mix, and such a raid would be as suicidal as Operation Eagle Claw was for the Carter administration.

Yes, the EU is a major trading partner with Iran, and the cut-off of goods coming into Europe from Iran would hurt them, but likely only for a short time. And while this crisis continues, the price of oil continues to go up, and Iran is pocketing millions each day in it's coffers from this. The most viable option left to Tony Blair is the scenario posited by Newt Gingrich. Remove their only refinery, and blockade imports and exports from Iran. There is sufficient force in the Royal Navy to do that on their own, but coalition partners might be persuaded to lend a hand until Her Majesty's Royal Navy arrives.

This situtation cannot be resolved via diplomacy. Not unless Britain wants to see if they can surpass the dawdling record of 444 days that Jimmy Carter set in 1979. And I seriously doubt that Tony Blair wants to do that. The EU, for all of it's faults, at least took a step beyond what the UN did, and that should be commended. But now is the time to implement further steps. Isolation is a viable option, but without the threat of force, and the will to back that threat up, Iran will win this propaganda war, and the West will be left with egg all over it's face.


British/Iranian Hostage Crisis: Not Getting Any Closer To A Resolution

Since the 23rd of March, the Iranians have been playing the propaganda games with Great Britain. First, it was Faye Turney's letter, which has since become two, including the one yesterday. (She was supposed to be released oin Wednesday, but the Iranians reneged on their "good faith" pledge.) Today, as I view the British papers, we seem to have another video and another letter. From the BBC:

Britain and Iran have raised the diplomatic and propaganda temperature in the battle over the 15 captured British sailors and marines.

Iran has broadcast an interview with a British serviceman in which he states that his group "entered Iranian waters without permission" and that he "would like to apologise to the Iranian people."

At the same time Iran has sent the British government a letter that appears to hold out the hope of a negotiation.

The letter, the text of which was released by the Iranian embassy in London stated that two British vessels had "trespassed" and went on: "Since similar acts had taken place in the past and prior warning had been given against the repetition of such acts, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran protests strongly against this illegal act in violating Iranian territorial waters, emphasizes the respect for the rules and principles of international law concerning the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, underlines the responsibility of the British Government for the consequences of such violation, and calls for the guarantee to avoid the recurrence of such acts.

"It will be appreciated if the esteemed embassy conveys this note to the relevant authorities of its government and informs this ministry of any explanation in this regard."

The Independent takes note of something a few analysts have picked up in these videos:

Iranian television today screened footage of a second Royal Navy sailor apparently apologising for entering Iranian waters, sparking an angry response from a "disgusted" Tony Blair.

The man, who gave his name as Nathan Thomas Summers, is shown saying that the British party had "trespassed" into Iranian waters when they were seized last Friday.

But the videotape showed clear signs of editing, suggesting that his words were being manipulated. ...

... In one extract, Mr Summers is shown saying: "I would like to apologise for entering your waters without any permission."

However there is a clear edit after the word "apologise", suggesting that the extract was spliced together from two separate clips.

So, what is happening now? Not much. The UN said they would not demand the release of the 15 hostages, and issued a worthless statement that shows their "concern." But the EU has gone an extra step forward, warning Iran of action should the hostages not be released. From the Telegraph:

The European Union has threatened to take "appropriate measures" against Iran if it fails to release the 15 British sailors and marines it seized last week.

In a statement released this evening, member states said they "deplored" Iran's behaviour and demanded the "immediate and unconditional release" of the British party.

The tone of the warning is a boost for Britain, which failed to persuade the UN Security Council to adopt a similarly bullish wording last night. The EU statement also accepts that the sailors were in Iraqi waters when they were captured, a point which had divided the Security Council.

Well, that is far better than the UN simply showing concern. And one must find it interesting that the UN was divided over where the sailors were seized. When Iran sent the British the GPS coordinates they had to amend them. The initial coordinates had them well within Iraqi waters. The second set of coordinates had the boat just barely within Iranian waters. Personally, I am obliged to accept the first set; a mistake ont he part of the Iranians that they initially told the truth. The Telegraph also adds that a third letter from Ms. Turney was released that states the following:

This afternoon the Iranians released a third letter purported to be written by Leading Seaman Turney, in which she claims she to have been "sacrificed due to the intervening policies of the Bush and Blair governments".

"It is now time to ask our government to make a change to its oppressive behaviour towards other people," the letter says. It also compares her captivity favourably to the experience of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison.

I do not know about our readers but we see this as a propaganda war against Britain and the US. One of the first things demanded by the Iranians was the release of the five Iranian agents we had captured in Iraq. Then there was the possibility that Iran might release their fifteen hostages for the hundred, or so, Iranians we had captured in Iraq. Now the Iranians are bringing up Abu Ghraib. (I would really like to know which Democrat they have over there writing these letters.)

Captain Ed takes notice that Tony Blair is "not in a haggling mood:"

Tony Blair continued to firm his stance towards the Iranians today, stating that Britain will not bargain for the release of the sailors and Marines that Iran has taken hostage. Instead, he demanded that Iran unconditionally release the fifteen detainees, and suspended all communications with the Islamic Republic except for talks specifically about this crisis ...

... Teheran knew better than to try this with Americans, because they know that the US Navy would blow any Iranian boat out of the water before they would allow Americans to get captured. The British, they figured, would play ball, and at least during the initial confrontation, they were correct. Since then, Blair has not followed the playbook -- and he has made it clear that Britain will keep all of its response options on the table. "Further measures" is diplo-speak for high-powered renovation of Iranian ports, at least in theory. ...

... Now Iran has insulted and injured one of its connections to the West. Britain exported over $700 million in goods to Iran last year and is one of their major trading partners. An embargo by Britain would hurt an already stumbling economy, and it would cause the Iranian people to wonder how many other nations Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends to annoy into military action against Iran.

The only miscalculation appears to have been made in Teheran. If they're not careful, they're going to miscalculate themselves into losing a ship or a port as a response to the act of war Iran committed this week.

Verum Serum has more, including the question of whether or not war is inevitable at this point.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Day Six Update: UN Cares, But Will Not Demand Sailors' Release

Not like anyone should be surprised, but the UN can only share their "concern" right now (and probably for the remainder of this crisis):

The UN Security Council has agreed a statement voicing "grave concern" at Iran's capture of 15 British sailors.

It also calls on Tehran to allow the UK consular access to the personnel.

The statement is a watered-down version as the UK wanted it to "deplore" Iran's detention of the Britons and call for their immediate release.

Are we going to debate over what words are used? This is not nearly as bad as the games going on in the House, but it does not help the situation at all. What is worse about this report is as you read further down, you see who led the opposition for a more strongly worded measure:

The UK failed to win support for a stronger statement deploring Iran's actions, following opposition led by Russia.

Iran's UN mission said in a statement: "This case can and should be settled through bilateral channels.

"The British government's attempt to engage third parties, including the Security Council, with this case is not helpful."

The statement was agreed following more than four hours of negotiations.

In full, it said: "Members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the capture by the Revolutionary Guard and the continuing detention by the government of Iran of 15 United Kingdom naval personnel and appealed to the government of Iran to allow consular access in terms of the relevant international laws.

"Members of the Security Council support calls, including by the secretary general in his March 29 meeting with the Iranian foreign minister, for an early resolution of this problem including the release of the 15 UK personnel."

Gee, does Russia think that this is strong enough? Allah @ Hot Air notes that Russia's sudden change in demeanor towards Iran might have something to do with a little spoken of payment made by Iran that the Russians said they missed. The reactor is back to being worked on.

Great Britain must understand that they will get nowhere with negotiations for the sheer fact that what is wanted from Iran is the release of Iranians we have in custody. Secondly, anything that is asked for secondarily will carry too high a price down the road if Britain agrees to anything with Iran. Tony Blair cannot afford to wait much longer on the hostages. If he is going to make a move, he must do so soon. Time is of the essence, and the longer he waits, the worse this is going to become.


Just when we thought the Democrats couldn't get any worse ...

... Nancy Pelosi goes and shows us they can go lower. John over at PowerLine has a most interesting report:

It's hard to believe, but that's what we're hearing from Capitol Hill. A resolution has been proposed in the House of Representatives that condemns Iran for the seizure of British sailors and marines, expresses support for our British allies. It's hard to see anything controversial in that. But apparently, the resolution has languished all week while Pelosi refuses to allow it to come to the floor.

Earlier today, Congressman Eric Cantor wrote the following letter to Pelosi:

Dear Madam Speaker:

Fifteen kidnapped British marines and sailors recently became the latest victims of a systematic Iranian campaign of terror and international defiance. The illegal seizure of the British forces is a signal that Iran views us as powerless to prevent it from realizing its aggressive ambitions.

For the sake of our standing in the world, our allies and most importantly the 15 British personnel and their families, I urge you to bring H. Res. 267 to the floor today before we adjourn. The resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the British marines and sailors. It would also call on the U.N. Security Council to not only condemn the seizure, but to explore harsher sanctions to counter the growing Iranian threat.

A Republican Congressional staffer writes:

It is simply staggering to me that Pelosi refuses to stand beside America's closest ally. I literally would not have thought this possible, until I saw it this week.

This galls the Hell out of us. When the United States was hit on 11 September, Great Britain was one of the first nations to step up, condemn the actions of our enemy, offer condolences, and pledged to stand beside the United States no matter what we chose to do.

Since 1979 the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a declared enemy of the United States after their embassy shenanigans. We also have a long history of confrontation with Iran, so there's no question that their not an ally of ours.

But, when our ally has fifteen sailors illegally arrested and detained by an enemy of this nation, the only person to step up and condemn the action was President Bush. There are those in Congress -- specifically the House -- that want to send a message to Iran that we're not backing down in our support of an ally, Nancy Pelosi decides to play games with US foreign policy now.

There are points in time where partisanship needs to be set aside. She's ticked with the president? Fine. Not happy she's getting beat like a bongo drum by the alternative media? Tough. But when an ally is looking around to see if anyone has their back, especially against a nation hostile to our own, and has sent proxies into a war zone where we're at to attack our troops and hinder our mission, I think they'd like to see us right there beside them as they were -- and still are -- for us.

Wake up moonbats. This war goes beyond al Qaeda, Iraq, and Afghanistan. This is a war with a number of religious zealots that are abiding by a Seventh Century ideology of conquest and subjugation. The Looming Tower is the primer, and allows us a very detailed glimpse at the sort of ideology of hate we face. And America Alone is definitively showing that our enemy is winning in Europe.

I can't believe that Nancy Pelosi won't do a simple thing like this. All we want to do is convey to Britain that we're there for them, and we'll stand beside them as they did us. If she can't do this simple thing, what sort of message does that convey to our allies around the world? Not only are we thinking of retreating from the war we're in -- a war we didn't start -- but we won't even stand beside our allies when they need the support the most. It's a sad display, really, and one that her party should be appalled by.

Publius II

Politico says GOP fearful of 2008

I'd like to step up to the soapbox, and take issue with a Politico report about GOP fears for 2008. Let me cite some of this piece, and answer the fears:

Republicans across the country are warning that increasing public discontent toward President Bush, the Iraq war and the GOP brand in general threatens to send the party's 2008 campaign planning into a tailspin. ...

... Polling data released this month confirm what GOP officials are picking up anecdotally: Swing voters are swinging away from Republicans at high velocity. Most alarming to GOP strategists is a new survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center that found 50 percent of those interviewed consider themselves a Democrat or leaning that way; only 35 percent tilt Republican.

"People are concerned and worried about the party's prospects," said Steve Duprey, former chairman of the New Hampshire GOP and a backer of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the White House race.

"There's a certain nervousness I hear that if the war is going badly and we're still in this intractable fight between a Democratic Congress and President Bush about the course of the war, we may have a tough time."

While I'll admit that swing voters are a finicky lot, the base isn't. Their choices always stay along the ideologucal lines of conservatism. The wrench in the works, especially for president, is Rudy Giuliani, who is a hawk on defense and spending, and on social issues he differs with the base. So why is he surging? I posit the notion that the base recognizes the key issue for 2008 is national security; a point the Democrats are intrinsically weak on. The recent bills in Congress show this. They want the troops brought home, and are willing to ignore the fallout in Iraq from such a move. But when their own colleagues didn't want to play the whip game, the leadership had to resort to bribery. The voters aren't pleased with the GOP in Congress right now. The NRSC Pledge and The Victory Caucus shows that disdain for those in Congress right now. The base understands what the issues are, and when their constituents decide to play games, the base reacts as it did in 2006.

Bush's low approval ratings are an illustration. Some experienced GOP campaign strategists believe that there is virtually no chance that a Republican can succeed Bush if his approval ratings remain mired in the 30s. The Democratic strategy of investigating administration scandals and policy blunders is calculated to achieve exactly that goal -- and the burgeoning controversy over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys has given Democrats in Congress yet another inviting target.

To make matters worse, as long as Bush is unpopular, Republicans on the Hill -- already frustrated at what they perceive as White House indifference to lawmakers' political problems -- are less inclined to defend Bush from attacks.

It's not the president's indifference to Congress, but rather his frustration with a Congress that believes it has some sort of authority with regard to the war. President Bush is trying to win a war on three fronts -- In Iraq, Afghanistan, and here at home -- and when the fifth column rears it's ugly head, his party should beat it back, not stand on the sidelines twiddling ti's thumbs. As for the investigations, especially into the attorney firings, it is the illusion the Democrats are portraying -- aided by their willing enablers in the MSM -- that are causing a good majority of the president's approval numbers to drop. That illusion is that every time the preisdent opens his mouth, makes a decision, or farts int he wrong direction, he's doing something wrong; raising questions regarding the legality of those decisions doesn't help.

While we do have an intelligent base, I can't speak to the vast majority of people who still get their news from the alphabet networks, and commentary from the likes of Chris Matthews, Jack Cafferty, or Keith Olbermann. These guys bluster at the drop of a hat. (Chris Matthews breathless commentary today about a "bombshell" coming out of the Samson testimony before the SJC today is a prime example of how the MSM is manipulating how people perceive the administration.)

Congress's job is to act as a check against the executive, but that doesn't mean they can call for investigations or subpoena administration officials because they believe, based on their blind partisanship, that the president has done something wrong. And the GOP is being viewed with antipathy from the base because it isn't strongly defending the president when it's called for, such as the attorneys being fired; such as the monies needed for the troops still in harm's way.

Ken Mehlman, the former Republican National Committee chairman who now gathers political intelligence for the Akin Gump lobbying firm, said the GOP is in need of urgent rehabilitation, which won't come unless it can defy long-term voting patterns.

"We have to win back the confidence we lost in '06 from swing voters and ticket splitters," said Mehlman. "The way you do that, in part, is by being a party that is less reliant on white guys and expands its support among Hispanics, among African-Americans."

Congressional Republicans, however, are not focused on expanding minority support. In fact, they are pursuing an immigration deal that Mehlman has warned could poison the GOP with Hispanic voters.

Ken's right to a point. But the immigration reform being pushed by the Congress -- especially the former Kennedy/McCain reform -- irked the heck out of voters because it proposed amnesty -- a mistake made by President Reagan in 1986. The base recognizes that problem number one with immigration right now is enfrocement, and they are continually ourtraged when both Republicans and Democrats actively pursue border agents for doing their jobs. A prime example are the two border agents sentenced to prison for shooting a drug smuggler. What sort of message does that send to the base? Not a good one, by any stretch of the imagination.

In addition, what the media flat-out refuses to acknowledge (the media in Arizona was forced to acknowledge this during the Mexican rallies here a year ago) was that the vast majority of naturalized citizens from Mexico residing in Arizona are appalled that the Congress would work towards amnesty for law breakers when they themselves had to jump through the leagl hoops to get here. The immigration issue focuses first and foremost on enforcement, and regularization second.

Overall GOP fundraising for the three major campaign committees was also down during January and February. The RNC, National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee raised a combined $30 million this year, compared with $40 million during the same period in 2005 and $38 million in 2003.

At the same time, Democratic fundraising surged, narrowing the GOP's money advantage.

This is a key sticking point for the GOP's base. Frustrated with their representative's actions in Congress -- failure of solid support for the war, continuing the pork spending, consistent interference with presidential powers -- the base hasn't exactly abandoned their people, but they are choosing to put their money with candidates directly. Fundraising for the NRCC, NRSC, and RNC is down, and rightly so. People are fed up with sending their money to fundraising organizations only to see it spent on people they don't agree with. Meanwhile, we look to the presidential candidates, again, and see that their fundraising dollars continue to roll in. The biggest complaint among members of the base is that when certain members of Congress step out of line, a la Chafee, McCain, Hagel, et al, the GOP refuses to hold them accountable. They base the decision on a need to maintain their seats rather than maintaining the party line and ideology.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said, however, that the painful lessons of 2006 have yet to be learned. "I don't think there has yet been a full appreciation for what just happened" in the November elections, Pawlenty said. "There remains an element of denial about the message that was just sent and the reality we face."

Governor Pawlenty is correct, in part. The hardest lesson for the GOP in Congress to learn from 2006 is exactly WHY they lost. The Democrats have grossly misinterpreted the election results as a mandate against the war. While Americans may be sick of the war (due mostly to the MSM's constant death toll/bad news drumbeat) they can see that the surge is working; a fact the Democrats continue to downplay, and deceive the nation about daily. The GOP didn't lose in 2006 because of the war. They lost because they couldn't control their spending, and that the president couldn't locate his veto pen. They lost because they acted more like the Democrats than the Democrats did. The message the voters got from their representatives in Congress was that the base didn't matter. To hell with us. We responded in a fashion similar to the sweeping of the '94 elections with an opposite effect.

Does the GOP have cause for concern in 2008? Of course, and as much as the Democrats do. The base isn't all that happy with what they're seeing out of key people in the House and Senate. The seemingly lone exception is Mitch McConnell, who has outmaneuvered the Democrats in the Senate since the start of the new session, but one man makes not an army. He can only lead him, and the soldiers are expected to perform. From where the base sits, many haven't. The deciding factor in 2008 will be national security, and as long as that is continually brought up, the Democrats are on the losing end of the debate.

The recent bills in congress prove this point. A withdrawal timetable, even one that has a clandestine date, is unacceptable. The aftermath of a withdrawal would rival the butchery this nation saw from our retreat in Vietnam, and on an almost unimaginable scale. Leaving Iraq to the wolves inside it's borders, leaving it to fend off an emboldened Iran, Iraq would fall into chaos, and into the hands of the enemies of freedom. We worry about creating a new safe haven in Iraq for our enemies when we should be more worried about what Iran might do.

Imagine Hezbollah setting up shop in Iraq the way they have in Labanon. Imagine Ahmadinejad and the mullahocracy setting up shop in Iraq with their WMD programs -- away fromt he prying eyes of the IAEA. Not that the IAEA has much to do with Iran right now as Ahmadinejad has again turned to defiance while the world twiddles it's thumbs, and fiddles while time we don't have burns away. The prospects of defeat not just for the nation, but for the world, looms on the horizon. If the Democrats get their way, that is what will happen. They refuse to look beyond today, and are perfectly happy with blaming those today for mistakes made yesterday.

Who was it that bought Kim Jong-Il at his word that he wouldn't make nukes?? Who was it that sold the North Koreans their power plant in the first place? Who threw a hissy fit when the president started calling on the world to hold Iran accountable for flouting the UN? It wasn't our side. It was theirs. Sure, we had a couple nutters who leapt from the precipice of reason, but it's the Democrats who keep trying make us more humble in the world's eyes. I'd prefer that not happen.

Will the GOP suffer in 2008? Not if they shape up quickly, and start making the case for what a Democrat-controlled Congress and a Democrat in the White House means. It doesn't mean security. It stands for capitualtion and surrender in a war that will determine the course of history for decades to come. Look at Europe, and ask yourselves if that's what you want the United States to be in the near future. If your answer is no, then you, like my wife and I, look to 2008 with hope rather than concern.

Publius II

Day Six In The Brit/Iran Stand-Off, And Tony Blair Goes To The UN??

The problems with Iran seem to have taken a couple of interesting turns over the last 24 hours. Yesterday, Thomas updated readers on what had happened throughout the day, and I stand beside my husband's assessment, which is precisely what former Speaker Gingrich said yesterday on Hugh's show. Today, we find out that Iran has gone back on it's word to release the female sailor (as if that is a surprise for anyone):

Earlier Thursday, Iranian state television said Turney, one of 15 captured British sailors, would not be released "for the time being," despite reports to the contrary that emerged throughout the morning and the previous afternoon.

Additionally, Britain has decided to act "nuanced" rather than with conviction:

Britain took its case to free its 15 sailors and marines held by Iran to the United Nations on Thursday, asking the Security Council to support a statement that would "deplore" Tehran's action and demand their immediate release.

But Security Council diplomats said the brief press statement circulated by
Britain's U.N. Mission is likely to face problems from Russia and others because it says the Britons were "operating in Iraqi waters" — a point that Iran contests.

The British move came as Iran rolled back on its promise to release the sole female British sailor among the captives, Faye Turney. The Iranian military chief, Gen. Ali Reza Afshar, said that because of the "wrong behavior" of the British government, "the release of a female British soldier has been suspended," the semiofficial Iranian news agency
Mehr reported.

Iran's top negotiator, Ali Larijani, also hinted that the British crew members may be put on trial.

You have to be kidding. The United Nations? Please. Their original set of sanctions were toothless, and the recent ones barely gum the issue. What in God's name is the UN going to be able to pull off that Britain could not do on their own? Why is everyone afraid to deal with Iran decisively, especially right now. This is like the 30's all over again. No one wanted to confront Hitler, and due mostly to the fact that many did not believe his boasts in Mein Kampf.

In Ahmadinejad's case, it seems far more likely that no one wants to deal with him out of fear of reprisal, or a reluctance because of what the world might do or say. People, we cannot allow a rogue nation like Iran dictate to any nation -- let alone one of our key allies in the war on terror -- what it will and will not do in response to clearly provocative actions, such as the illegal seizure of 15 sailors.

We are now in Day Six of this stand-off. Mark Steyn weighs in on this issue twice, here,/li> and here, and in the second post he highlights the interview with Speaker Gingrich and Hugh Hewitt. But Mark's point is well-founded in his final statement:

But even to hear Newt propose it reminds you of how unlikely it is anyone in Teheran is getting that kind of talk from the British Foreign Office or the Americans. A great power is as great as its credibility. Right now, it’s Britain that’s cratering.

We do have proof that Britian is caving because they just walked up to the UN with their hat in their hand asking for a handout. This sort of action speaks volumes to the Iranians. They see that Britian does not have the courage of their convictions, and that they are completely unwilling to take the next step. Speaker Gingrich's idea is sound. With a simple airstrike and a naval blockade, Britain can cripple Iran, likely over the course of a a week or two. That simple act will send the right message to the world about what nations will and will not be allowed to do to the free world. Some may state that such an action is drastic. I say poppycock. We cannot allow such regimes to command the day.

Hat-Tip: Allah @ Hot Air.


A Trip To The Grocery Store, Or The Senate's Idea Of Pork Bribes?

This ought to hearten the antiwar, fringe nutbags on the Left. I am sure they are salivating over the 51-47 defeatist vote in the Senate:

Senate Democrats ignored a veto threat and pushed through a bill Thursday requiring President Bush to start withdrawing troops from "the civil war in Iraq," dealing a rare, sharp rebuke to a wartime commander in chief.

In a mostly party line 51-47 vote, the Senate signed off on a bill providing $123 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008.

The vote came shortly after Bush invited all House Republicans to the White House to appear with him in a sort of pep rally to bolster his position in the continuing war policy fight.

"We stand united in saying loud and clear that when we've got a troop in harm's way, we expect that troop to be fully funded," Bush said, surrounded by Republicans on the North Portico, "and we got commanders making tough decisions on the ground, we expect there to be no strings on our commanders."

"We expect the Congress to be wise about how they spend the people's money," he said.The Senate vote marked its boldest challenge yet to the administration's handling of a war, now in its fifth year, that has cost the lives of more than 3,200 American troops and more than $350 billion.

"We have fulfilled our constitutional responsibilities," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters shortly after the vote.

If Bush "doesn't sign the bill, it's his responsibility," Reid added.The president's responsibility is inherent under the Constitution, and Sen. Reid knows this. Having him reiterate it does not help his caucus in their measures of defeat. BUT, of course the president is going to veto this measure. Not just because it has the timetable for a troop withdrawal in it, but because of the rampant pork bribes in the House bill, and the Senate's addition of just over $230 million more in pork spending:

It's common for lawmakers to complain that a spending bill is "loaded up like a Christmas tree" with pet projects. But the Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act going through the Senate this week is unusual in that it is loaded up with Christmas trees.

Specifically, it includes $40 million for a Tree Assistance Program that provides help for Christmas trees and ornamental shrubs. Also in the Senate's version of the Iraq bill: $24 million for sugar beets, $3 million for Hawaiian sugar cane, $13 million for the Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Program, $100 million in compensation for dairy losses, $165.9 million for fisheries disaster relief, and money for numerous other "emergencies."

Are these people serious? It is not bad enough that the "Kung Pao" Democrats in the House decided to pork up the bribes so they could get their majority vote, but before the day was out yesterday, the Senate loaded up on the excess, irrelevant spending, as well? I was unaware that the Iraq war supplemental needed Christmas tree programs, sugar beets, and lambs. Between these two Houses, it sounds more like a trip to the grocery store rather than giving the troops the absolutely necessary funds to finish their job.

If it is necessary to bribe your colleagues to sign onto you bill, there is a serious problem in Congress. It is most telling that for both sides of the Congress that the Democrats had to resort to this sort of chicanery. If the bill is that weak, WHY BOTHER PASSING IT at all? Congress was supposed to have some level-headedness. They are supposed to represent the people. Does the majority of the nation really give a rip about Christmas trees and sugar beets? I am guessing they really do not, but they do care about the defeatist Congress, and the message they are sending to the troops. Worse, the Congress does not seem to notice the message they are sending to our enemies abroad, and hidden here in the United States.


Turn out the lights and say goodnight, Johnny: McCain, done like dinner

Dean Barnett picks up on the bombshell of the day at Hugh's site. The bombshell in question comes from The Hill. According to the Hill, and supposedly Tom Daschle's book (which I think the audience of Air America are the only ones to have read it; all 12 of them) John McCain was going to pull a Jim Jeffords way back when, even before Jeffords did:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was close to leaving the Republican Party in 2001, weeks before then-Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) famously announced his decision to become an Independent, according to former Democratic lawmakers who say they were involved in the discussions.In interviews with The Hill this month, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) said there were nearly two months of talks with the maverick lawmaker following an approach by John Weaver, McCain’s chief political strategist.

Democrats had contacted Jeffords and then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) in the early months of 2001 about switching parties, but in McCain’s case, they said, it was McCain’s top strategist who came to them.

At the end of their March 31, 2001 lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Bethesda, Md., Downey said Weaver asked why Democrats hadn’t asked McCain to switch parties.Downey, a well-connected lobbyist, said he was stunned.“You’re really wondering?” Downey said he told Weaver. “What do you mean you’re wondering?”

“Well, if the right people asked him,” Weaver said, according to Downey, adding that he responded, “The calls will be made. Who do you want?” Weaver this week said he did have lunch with Downey that spring, pointing out that he and Downey “are very good friends.” He claims, however, that Downey is grossly mischaracterizing their exchange: “We certainly didn’t discuss in any detail about the senator’s political plans and any discussion about party-switchers, generically, would have been limited to the idle gossip which was all around the city about the [Democrats’] aggressive approach about getting any GOP senator to switch in order to gain the majority.

Nothing more or less than that.”Downey said Weaver is well aware that their discussion was much more than typical Washington chit-chat.“Within seconds” of arriving home from his lunch with Weaver, Downey said he was on the phone to the most powerful Democrats in town. One of the first calls he made was to then-Senate Minority Leader Daschle.

“I did take the call from Tom [Downey],” Daschle said in an interview. “It was Weaver’s comment” to Downey that started the McCain talks, he added.

Daschle noted that McCain at that time was frustrated with the Bush administration as a result of his loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican primary.

Daschle said that throughout April and May of 2001, he and McCain “had meetings and conversations on the floor and in his office, I think in mine as well, about how we would do it, what the conditions would be. We talked about committees and his seniority … [A lot of issues] were on the table.”

Those last two paragraphs are key. First, McCain's dislike of the president, still boiling over from South Caroline in 2000, and secondly the shop talk behind the scenes of what McCain would get if he switched parties. This is devastating to the Maverick, and such a revelation could very well hurt him, which is probably why he's having such a rough go of this early on. Rudy is sucking up all of his oxygen because not only is he taking away from the moderates, but a great deal of the social conservatives are, right now willing to overlook and "forgive" him for a couple of issues they wouldn't normaslly do so on. The conservatives (whether they be middle of the road, social, 'hawks, or fiscal) can see in Rudy things that appeal to them.

They don't see that in McCain anymore.

Hugh has said it best, and I'll continue to push it. John McCain is a good American, but he's a terrible senator and a lousy Republican. Starting way back in 2001, we can see his first act of spite fired across the bow with McCain-Feingold. (TY for trimming some excess off the First Amendment, Johnny.)

In 2003, he argued over the administration about the troop levels in Iraq, and even though he campaigned for the president's reelection, he made it a point in front of almost every camera and microphone to disagree with the president's strategy on the war during the campaign. (Nothing says "I'm for you" more than trying to cut them off at the knees, eh Johnny?)

And during Campaign 2004, there was the neverending drone about John Kerry attemtpting to court McCain as his veep; a fact McCain never denied, nor did he refuse to take the calls. (Sleeping with the enemy, Johnny?)

The infamous Gang of 14 deal, which as far as Marcie and I are concerned will ALWAYS be his legacy in the Senate, severely underminded the president's authority to nominate whomever he chose to federal offices. In this case, federal judges, and that deal kept in place an unconstitutional filibuster against said nominees. (Forced a few to take one for your ego, eh Johnny?)

Last but certainly not least, his attachment to Ted Kennedy's ill-fated immigration reform bill, which is anything but reform, and all about granting a form of "amnesty light" to the 12 to 14 million illegal aliens here in America right now. In one of our final posts over at our old TownHall site I picked up on the story about McCain and Kennedy going their separate ways. This is obviously a ploy as the questions are getting a bit hard for him on the stump trail, but I doubt his views have changed. and while this may seem as though he's come to his senses, that's the furthest thing from the truth. (A leopard doesn't change it's spots in a month's time, Johnny.)

Dean and I aren't the only ones on this story. Allah weighs in with this:

Honestly, the blockquote doesn’t do it justice as I had to omit further corroborating quotes by another Democrat, former Rep. Tom Downey. You’ll simply have to read the whole thing. It boils down to whether you take a bunch of Democrats’ words over McCain’s: they have an interest in knocking him out of the race, but do they have an interest in knocking him out now? The longer he’s in, the more damage his oppo researchers can do to Giuliani and Romney. And the quicker he’s out, the more easily his fundraisers can transition to another candidate. If they’re making this all up, it would have made more sense to drop it six months from now.

Which makes me think they’re not making it up.

Rudy’s and Romney’s people are surely working the phones as we speak. If there’s anyone else on the Democratic side who can corroborate this — and there must be if it’s true — they’ll find him. And if they can get him to talk, which is a big if given what I’ve just said about the timetable, I think J-Mac’s done.

And Captain Ed, the eminent blogger extraordinnaire who broke this first, adds this:

However, there is another independent, if indirect, corroboration. Cusack reports that Chafee was another live target of this recruiting effort at the time -- and Chafee confirmed it to Cusack. Also, John Edwards reportedly played a key role in the negotiations with McCain, and The Hill confirmed it with an anonymous source "close to Edwards".

If true, this would effectively end McCain's presidential bid. He already has trust issues with Republicans, and this will do nothing but cause them to reject him entirely. However, the people who sourced this story have plenty of motivation to derail McCain, including Edwards, who thinks he may run against McCain in the general election. The principals tell completely conflicting stories, and the nature of the issue almost ensures that no independent proof one way or the other could exist. I'm betting this is nonsense.

I trust Captain Ed's instincts, but given McCain's track record of backroom dealing, stab-in-the-back politics to the conservative movement and the GOP base, it wouldn't surprise me if the flirtation was there. Like Allah said, there's a lot more in the Hill piece that's been cited. I suggest readers peruse that carefully, and understand that the story may definitely be true. And if it is, Allah's right: Romney's and Rudy's teams are beating the bushes to find anyone to corroborate the allegation. If they do, Johnny's done like dinner. Stick a fork in him.

Publius II

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rudy Picks Up Steve Forbes Endorsement

While Thomas and I will both acknowledge that Hugh's book on Mitt Romney has left us questioning if we are backing the right horse for the 2008 primaries, we still have a soft spot for Rudy, and we are still hoping he could be the one facing down Hillary in 2008. Today, he picked up a serious endorsement from Steve Forbes:

Fiscal conservative Steve Forbes on Wednesday endorsed former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's bid to become the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 race for the White House.

Forbes, chief executive of Forbes magazine who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 1996 and 2000, is considered a leader of the party's pro-business and tax-cutting wings.

"He is the man who can lead America in a world that is uncertain, fight the forces of evil and at the same time increase economic opportunity here at home," Forbes told a press conference.

Giuliani's Republican credentials have been questioned by some social conservatives in the party but he nevertheless is leading in early polls. Earlier this month he was endorsed by conservative Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana despite Giuliani's past support for abortion rights, gun control and gay rights.

This pick-up is a coup for Rudy. At a time when everyone seems to be focused on his "cons," a fiscal conservative points out that Rudy is the sort of man he would like to have in the White House, especially on fiscal issues. Rudy needed to be able to convince conservatives that he is one their side. His statements regarding jurists helps, and while he is unafraid to discuss his social issues, that is the only sticking point for conservatives.But he is correct in stating that he does not control the policy on those issues. Those matters are best left up to the States, and as long as he would abide by his statements that he is seeking originalist, constructionist jurists, that should be enough for social conservatives.

The other sticking points are national security (a no-brainer for those who remember him refusing the money from the Saudi prince after 9/11), and his fiscal side. His record as New York City's mayor, and the fact he cut taxes there, should have served as enough of a reminder that he does, indeed, believe in conservative principles regarding fiscal matters. That said, having Steve Forbes endorse him does not hurt, and signifies a significant shift for some conservatives, espeically those who supported Steve Forbes in his own presidential bid years ago.


The Continuing Escalation Of Iran

Today, Iran escalated this situation by showing their captives on TV, and forcing one of them -- a female named Faye Turney -- to read a letter they claim she wrote:

(HT: Captain Ed Morrissey)

A letter allegedly written by a captured British sailor to her parents says she had "apparently" entered Iranian territorial waters, the Iranian Embassy in London said Wednesday.

The letter was addressed to the parents of Faye Turney, one of the 15 British sailors captured by Iranian forces after they allegedly trespassed in Iranian waters. An Iranian embassy official e-mailed a copy of the letter to The Associated Press, saying Turner wrote it on Wednesday. ...
Meanwhile, Iranian state TV showed video of some of the sailors and marines, including Turney, who wore a white tunic and a black head scarf and said the British boats "had trespassed" in Iranian waters.

"Obviously we trespassed into their waters," Turney said on the broadcast by Al-Alam, an Arabic-language, Iranian state-run television station that is carried across the Middle East.

"They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we've been arrested, there was no harm, no aggression," she said.

As Captain Ed points out, PowerLine is questioning the speech of the letter. As John wrote:

I would guess that the letter was dictated by someone who speaks English very well, but not exactly in the idiom of a British sailor.

He's right. Something was hinky about the way the letter was delivered to the TV audiences. But I digress. Iran is saying they'll release Turney either today or tomorrow as a symbol of goodwill. But Allah at Hot Air notes that there's a price for her freedom, and that appears to be another admission from her that the sailors violated Iranian waters. Speaking of that, something's hinky about that piece of the puzzle as the Guardian notes:

At the MoD, Vice Admiral Style, the deputy chief of the defence staff, said one of the two small British craft intercepted by the Iranian navy at gunpoint had a GPS (global positioning system) device on board.

Information from that device, along with further evidence from a British military helicopter, proved the sailors had been operating "well inside" Iraqi waters when they were seized last Friday, he said.

The GPS relayed information back to HMS Cornwall, the ship the craft were operating from, meaning it was able to "continuously chart" their position.

The vice admiral said the Iranians had given two different positions for where they claimed the Royal Navy boarding party - seized after they had made a routine boarding of an Indian-flagged dhow suspected of being used to smuggle cars - had been.

He added that the location given by Iran on Saturday for the British personnel was inside Iraqi waters. After this was pointed out to Tehran, Iranian officials provided a second location, around two miles inside Iranian waters, on Monday.

The Ministry of Defence "unambiguously contested both locations" given by Iran, he said. He told reporters that the detention of the British personnel was "unjustified and wrong".

Two different locations? The Brits have responded by suspending all busines with the Iranians, and seem to be moving towards a cessation of diplomacy. With this getting hotter now, there is a possibility that the Brits may respond with force, and that's not a bad prospect, folks. SOMEONE has to stand up to the Iranians, and this gives Tony Blair the opportunity to stand firm against a regime that is openly hostile to the West.

I'd also like to add this from Hugh. He had an interview with Newt Gingrich today, and Newt had this say about what sort of response would he give were he in Tony Blair's position:

I would literally do that. I would say to them, I would right now say to them privately, within the next week, your refinery will no longer work. And within the following week, there will be no tankers arriving. Now if you would like to avoid being humiliated publicly, we recommend you calmly and quietly give them back now. But frankly, if you’d prefer to show the planet that you’re tiny and we’re not, we’re prepared to simply cut off your economy, and allow you to go back to walking and using oxen to pull carts, because you will have no gasoline left.

Newt has the right idea. And let's take this a step further. This just can't be a response from Britain. This action demands worldwide response, and the world has to stand ytough. No more UN nutters sticking their nose in this matter. No more toothless sanctions. The days of carrots and sticks are done when it comes to Iran. They give up the sailors, or else. I said that on Hugh's show this afternoon, and I'll include this as well: If Britain capitulates, it will embolden Ahmadinejad further. He's been pushing the envolope for the past couple of years, and he's only going to continue to push this. Dip0lomacy works when the other side is equally willing to engage. The Iranians aren't. They're throwing their minuscule weight around, and hoping they can force the Brits to back off.

No more. It's time to get tough, and I hope Iran is looking at the build-up in the Gulf. A few months ago, I watched as Marcie and Sabrina had an open debate about Iran right here on this site. Marcie also noted that Iran threatened to use oil as a weapon when sanctions were first being proposed. There is nothing preventing the ships in the Gulf right now from blockading Iran's tankers from leaving the Gulf, thereby using their own strategy against them. The Strait of Hormuz is a choke point, and could be a valuable, strategic point for the navies there now. That could be a viable Step One in pressure against Iran. Step Two can be airstrikes on them if they refuse to give up the sailors. No offense, but I doubt the Brits are going to emulate Jimmy Carter, and let these guys stay in Iran for 444 days.

In addition, Hugh points to a site that has an interesting post up regarding the continued aggression and confrontation of Iran against us. Verum Serum has the lengthy post well worth the read to understand that Iran's not going to stop this escalation until someone steps up, and stops them. The time to stop them is now.

Publius II

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

There is a reason why Mark Steyn is one of our favorite political commentary writers. Most of it is due to his cutting wit, and humor. Most people who cover the news, as journalists, opinion writers, editors, etc., have no humor. They are as dry a bleached bone discovered in Arizona's desert in the middle of suimmer. Not Mark. And as evidence of this opinion we have, I present to our readers the following, which is available at NRO's The Corner. And after reading this I must concur with Hugh: Fire everyone at the LA Times, and bring in Mark Steyn.

A couple of notes for the various subjects of the Crown around The Corner:

1) Iran’s British hostages
I keep getting e-mails from Americans who want to know where’s the outrage re the seized servicemen. I think Her Majesty’s Government in London is playing it cool because of a bizarrely resilient century-old paranoia among Iranians about British machinations in Persia. It’s an awful long time since the Brits helped bring down Mossadeq, but there remain a weird number of people who are convinced that, whenever anything bad happens in Iran, it’s because the Queen has held some Spectre-like meeting in a secret room in Buckingham Palace and personally ordered it. (I’d be interested to hear Michael Ledeen on that line.) Mr Blair and Co have compelling reasons for keeping things low-key. That said, the lack of public outrage in Britain is very striking.

2) Last night’s Quebec election
The Liberals were reduced to Quebec’s first minority government since the 19th century, a new if somewhat goofy “conservative” party is the Official Opposition, and the Parti Quebecois – the separatists – were pushed into third place and below 30% for the first time since 1970. On the last point, I was struck by the politically correct torpor of much of the post-mortems: reams of analysis without any discussion of whether the PQ leader’s homosexuality had been a liability. Andre Boisclair was a fetching young gay who admitted to doing coke – not back in his student days (as David Cameron did) but while he was a government minister (which is certainly what it would take for me to get through Quebec cabinet meetings). But the minute the gay cokehead became party leader all the papers (French and English) wrote that this demonstrated how Quebecers were the coolest, most relaxed, most progressive folks in North America. Maybe on the island of Montreal, but not in the rural hinterlands, where Quebecers are prone to all the various “phobias” that so distress the liberal mind. I was struck by the number of lifelong separatists who simply resented being subject to Queer Eye For The Separatist Guy and, even by the standards of the ever lamer bluff of Quebec “nationalism”, couldn’t buy the idea of a gay hedonist as their founding father. There’s something a bit feeble about the media’s refusal even to discuss this except through vague evasive allusions to the difficulty M Boisclair had “connecting” with Quebec voters.

3) The Australian Taliban pleads guilty
For years, David Hicks’ detention in Guantanamo has made him the pin-up boy of the Aussie left. It’s not just that he’s now confessed his guilt, but that, as Tim Blair notes , his physical condition is the exact opposite of how it’s been reported: instead of being pale, gaunt, sunken-cheeked and hollow-eyed, he’s put on weight and has a glowing tan as healthy as his lawyer’s. I don’t know whether Mr Hicks was among the prisoners Rich and I glimpsed on our trip to Gitmo last year, but the Afghans I saw were certainly on the plump side by the standards of most wiry Pushtun warriors. There are arguments to be made about whether this is the right form of detention for those captured, but the accusation of widespread ill-treatment and abuse is absurd and refuted by the physical condition of almost everyone there.

No news reporter in the country could report the news the way Mark does. I am sure that if he were put in charge of the LA Times that he would demnand that all reporters report the news in a tong\ie-in-cheek fashion, and that more humor pervaded the pages of such a perrenial. Of course, the drawback to his taking over the LA Times would mean that he would have to move to theat dreadful city full of plastic people, but he would, at the very least, bring a smile to their plastic, sometimes narcissistic faces. (And no, for those readers we have from LA, I do not include you in my assessment; that is strictly for the fakes in LA.)


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