Monday, June 26, 2006

Why do "they" hate us?

I'll go even farther than Barone: They hate everything about America. They hate capitalism, they hate freedom of thought (they want to tell us want to think, of course), they hate our prosperity...because they hate's really that simple, and that complex...this NYT fiasco is a rare example of them getting caught red-handed, fleeing the scene with a ladies handbag in tow...T

Why do they hate us? No, I'm not talking about Islamofascist terrorists. We know why they hate us: because we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion, because we refuse to treat women as second-class citizens, because we do not kill homosexuals, because we are a free society.

No, the "they" I'm referring to are the editors of The New York Times. And do they hate us? Well, that may be stretching it. But at the least they have gotten into the habit of acting in reckless disregard of our safety.

Last December, the Times ran a story revealing that the National Security Agency was conducting electronic surveillance of calls from suspected al-Qaida terrorists overseas to persons in the United States. This was allegedly a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. But in fact the president has, under his war powers, the right to order surveillance of our enemies abroad. And it makes no sense to hang up when those enemies call someone in the United States -- rather the contrary. If the government is going to protect us from those who wish to do us grievous harm -- and after Sept. 11 no one can doubt there are many such persons -- then it should try to track them down as thoroughly as possible.

Little wonder that President Bush called in Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and top editor Bill Keller, and asked them not to run the story. But the Times went ahead and published it anyway. Now, thanks to The New York Times, al-Qaida terrorists are aware that their phone calls can be monitored, and presumably have taken precautions.

Last Friday, the Times did it again, printing a story revealing the existence of U.S. government monitoring of financial transactions routed through the Brussels-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which routes about $6 trillion a day in electronic money transfers around the world. The monitoring is conducted by the CIA and supervised by the Treasury Department. An independent auditing firm has been hired to make sure only terrorist-related transactions are targeted.

Members of Congress were briefed on the program, and it does not seem to violate any law, at least any that the Times could identify. And it has been effective. As the Times reporters admit, it helped to locate the mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombing in Thailand and a Brooklyn man convicted on charges of laundering a $200,000 payment to al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan.

Once again, Bush administration officials asked the Times not to publish the story. Once again, the Times went ahead anyway. "We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration," Bill Keller is quoted as saying. It's interesting to note that he feels obliged to report he and his colleagues weren't smirking or cracking jokes. "We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest."

This was presumably the view as well of the "nearly 20 current and former government officials and industry executives" who were apparently the sources for the story.

But who elected them to make these decisions? Publication of the Times' December and June stories appears to violate provisions of the broadly written, but until recently, seldom enforced provisions of the Espionage Act. Commentary's Gabriel Schoenfeld has argued that the Times can and probably should be prosecuted.

The counterargument is that it is a dangerous business for the government to prosecute the press. But it certainly is in order to prosecute government officials who have abused their trust by disclosing secrets, especially when those disclosures have reduced the government's ability to keep us safe. And pursuit of those charges would probably require reporters to disclose the names of those sources. As the Times found out in the Judith Miller case, reporters who refuse to answer such questions can go to jail.

Why do they hate us? Why does the Times print stories that put America more at risk of attack? They say that these surveillance programs are subject to abuse, but give no reason to believe that this concern is anything but theoretical. We have a press that is at war with an administration, while our country is at war against merciless enemies. The Times is acting like an adolescent kicking the shins of its parents, hoping to make them hurt while confident of remaining safe under their roof. But how safe will we remain when our protection depends on the Times?
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Why the Democrats May Lose the 2008 Election

This has always been my prediction as well, and I haven't been wrong since 98. We are doing much better than the drive-by-media declare ..(see next article!)....T
Will President Bush's current unpopularity translate into a Democratic recapture of either the House or Senate this fall — or a victory in the 2008 presidential election?

Probably not.

Despite widespread unhappiness with the Republicans, it is hard to envision a majority party run by Howard Dean, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.


All sorts of apparent and not-so-apparent reasons. First, recent events and trends have complicated Democrats' talking points about George W. Bush's purported failings.

The so-called "jobless" recovery has seen low unemployment rates comparable to the Clinton boom years.

Last September, many people blamed what they viewed as a stingy federal government for the chaos following Hurricane Katrina. But now we learn individuals' fraudulent claims and spending accounted for $1.4 billion in federal largess. Too much was apparently thrown around from big government too generously, rather than too little, too slowly.

Karl Rove was supposedly going to be "frog-marched" out of the White House in cuffs for a role in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame. Instead, the special prosecutor recently found no evidence that he was involved in any wrongdoing.

And then there's Iraq . The recent killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the establishment of a complete Iraqi democratic Cabinet will not ensure a quick victory, as we see from the recent slaughter of American captive soldiers. But both events still weaken the liberal clamor that the American effort at birthing democracy is doomed in Iraq . Calling for a deadline to leave, as Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Ma.) advocate, is not so compelling when the current policy is based on training the growing Iraqi security forces so that American troops can come home as soon as possible.

Thus, looking ahead to the elections, there is little that the Democrats will be able to capitalize on.

Take the budget deficit. Total federal annual revenues have increased despite, or because of, the tax cuts. Yet at the same time budget expenditures in the first Bush term grew at a much faster annual rate than during Bill Clinton's administration. So the time-honored remedy for the shortfall calls for cuts and a more conservative budget cruncher, hardly a liberal forte.

Even in an area like illegal immigration where Bush is getting hammered by his own party, the Democrats aren't in good shape. Their similar support for amnesty and guest workers gives them the same Bush negatives on those issues. But they suffer the additional burden of apparent laxity on open borders.

Meanwhile, the Democrats face a more fundamental, existential problem. The addition of China and India to the world capitalist system has brought well over a billion workers into the global marketplace. The planet is now flooded with cheap consumer goods — at precisely the time the U.S. economy keeps creating national wealth at a rapid clip.

The result is that while there may be more inequality than ever before in the no-holds-barred world mart, the middle class and poor in the U.S. have access to "things" — TVs, sound systems, clothes, cars — undreamed of in the past. We are now in the age of MTV and mass conspicuous consumption, not of the grapes of wrath. American class warfare can no longer be defined by the Democratic Party as an elemental need for a 40-hour workweek, unemployment and disability insurance, or Social Security.

Unfortunately, the liberal debate has devolved to why one person has more opportunity for leisure and even nicer things than others do. A sort of envy rather than hunger more often fuels the gripe — and that should require a subtle Democratic acknowledgment that things continue to improve for everyone.

Finally, in the past, savvy Democrats understood the need for a conservative package for such liberal contents. To win the popular vote in presidential races, the formula was to nominate a Southern governor or senator — as in 1964, 1976, 1992, 1996 and 2000 — and then hope either for a Republican scandal such as Watergate or Iran-Contra, or a populist third-party conservative like Ross Perot.

In contrast, recently any time the liberal base got its wish and nominated a Northern progressive — 1968, 1972, 1984, 1988 or 2004 — the party lost the presidency. So far even Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Katrina and Haditha have not equated to past national scandals; nor will there likely be a prairie-fire independent to draw votes away from the Republicans.

Yes, much of the public is grumpy at high gas prices. It does not like the costs in Iraq and continuing budget deficits. And people worry about unchecked illegal immigration and dangers on the horizon, from Iran to North Korea . But when Americans get inside the voting booth, they probably will think the envisioned Democratic remedy is worse than the current perceived Republican disease.
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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Betting on Defeat? It’s far from a safe bet

As I read this article, breathlessly, I thought aloud, "yeah!, that's exactly how I feel! That's exactly what I think!". This is the classic interpretation of why we are in Iraq, why we went, and why it matters to the future history of the world. This is why GW will occupy a chapter in the history books, not an endnote (as in "click here for "what is a Lewinski")...T

Lately, it has become popular to recant on Iraq. When 2,500 Americans are lost, and when the improvised explosive device monopolizes the war coverage, it is easy to see why — especially with elections coming up in November, and presidential primaries not long after.

Pundits now daily equivocate in their understandable exasperation at the apparent lack of quantifiable progress. The ranks of public supporters have thinned as final victory seems elusive. It is hard to find any consistent public advocates of the American effort in Iraq other than the editors and writers here at National Review, the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Hitchens, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Steyn, Norman Podhoretz, and a very few principled others.

But for all the despair, note all the problems for those who have triangulated throughout this war.

First, those who undergo the opportune conversion often fall prey to disingenuousness. Take John Kerry’s recent repudiation of his earlier vote for the war in Iraq. To cheers of Democratic activists, he now laments, “We were misled.”


Putting aside the question of weapons of mass destruction and the use of the royal “we,” was the senator suggesting that Iraq did not violate the 1991 armistice accords?

Or that Saddam Hussein did not really gas and murder his own people?

Perhaps he was “misled” into thinking Iraqi agents did not really plan to murder former President George Bush?

Or postfacto have we learned that Saddam did not really shield terrorists?

Apparently the Iraqi regime neither violated U.N. accords nor shot at American planes in the no-fly zones.

Senator Kerry, at least if I remember correctly, voted for the joint congressional resolution of October 11, 2002, authorizing a war against Iraq, on the basis of all these and several other causus belli, well apart from fear of WMDs.

Second, those with a shifting position on the war sometimes cannot keep up with a war that is shifting itself, where things change hourly. And when one has no consistent or principled position, the 24-hour battlefield usually proves a fickle barometer by which to exude military wisdom.

Even as critics were equating Haditha with My Lai, al-Zarqawi, the al Qaeda mass murderer in Iraq, was caught and killed. And what was the reaction of the stunned antiwar pundit or politician? Either we heard that there was impropriety involved in killing such a demon, or the former fugitive who was once supposedly proof of our ineptness suddenly was reinvented as having been irrelevant all along.

The Iraqi army — well over 250,000 strong — is growing, and the much smaller American force (about 130,000) is shrinking. How do you call for a deadline for withdrawal when Iraqization was always predicated on withdrawal only after there was no Iraqi dependence on a large, static American force?

After lamenting that the Iraqi government is a mess, we now see a tough prime minister and the selection of his cabinet completed. So it is not easy to offer somber platitudes of defeat when 400,000 coalition and Iraqi troops are daily fighting on the center stage of the war against Islamic terrorism. Someone from Mars might wonder what exactly were the conditions under which a quarter-million Muslim Arabs in Iraq alone went to war against Islamic radicalism.

Third, there is a fine line to be drawn between legitimate criticism of a war that is supposedly not worth American blood and treasure, and general slander of the United States and its military. Yet much of the Left’s rhetoric was not merely anti-Bush, but in its pessimism devolved into de facto anti-Americanism.

Senator Durbin compared Guantanamo Bay to the worst excesses of the Nazis. Senator Kennedy suggested that Abu Ghraib, where thousands perished under Saddam Hussein, had simply “reopened under new management: U.S. management.” Democratic-party chairman Howard Dean confidently asserted that the Iraq war was not winnable. John Kerry in his youth alleged that Americans were like Genghis Khan in their savagery; in his golden years, he once again insists that we are “terrorizing” Iraqi civilians. With friends like these, what war critic needs enemies? Americans can take disapproval that we are not fighting “smart,” but they resent the notion that we are somehow downright evil.

Fourth, the mainstream media is now discredited on Iraq, and their drumbeat of doom and gloom is starting to rile more than pleases the public. Aside from the bias that counts always our losses and rarely our successes, we are sick and tired of manipulations like the lies about flushed Korans, forged memos, and the rush to judgment on Haditha. Most weary Americans want at least a moment to savor the death of a mass-murdering Zarqawi, without having to lament that he might have been saved by quicker medical intervention.

Fifth, the historical assessment of Iraq is still undetermined, despite the pontification of former supporters who think they gain greater absolution the more vehemently they trash a war they once advocated.

The three-week effort to remove Saddam Hussein was a landmark success. The subsequent three-year occupation in his place has been messy, costly, and unpopular. But the result of the third and final stage that Iraq has evolved into — an existential fight between Iraqi democracy and al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism — is still uncertain. If we draw the terrorists out, defeat them in the heart of the ancient caliphate, and win the allegiance of enough democratic Iraqis to crush the Islamicists, then our military has won a far greater victory than the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Sixth, note how critics now rarely offer alternative scenarios. All the old gripes such as the paucity of body armor or thin-skinned humvees have withered away. The Iraqi elected government is sympathetic and earnest, so demonizing them ultimately translates into something like “Cut these guys lose; they weren’t worth the effort.” Yes, the American people want out of Iraq, but on terms that preserve the democracy that we paid so dearly to foster.

Even the one legitimate criticism that we were too slow in turning over control to the Iraqis, and that the Bremmer interregnum had too high a public profile, is now largely moot, as Ambassador Khalilzad and Gen. Casey are in the shadows, giving all the credit to the very public Iraqis and taking most of the blame for the bad news.

So we are nearing the denouement of the Iraq war, where we wanted to be all along: in support of a full-fledged and democratically elected government that will either win or lose its own struggle.

Seventh, the old twin charges — no link between al Qaeda and Saddam, no WMDs — are also becoming largely irrelevant or proving untrue. It must have been difficult for Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times, in their coverage of the death of Zarqawi, to admit that he had been active in Iraq well before the end of Saddam Hussein, along with a mishmash of old killers from Abu Nidal to Abdul Rahman Yasin, the Iraqi American who helped plan the first World Trade Center bombing.

In addition, most abroad were convinced before the war that the CIA was right in its pre-war assessments. The publication of the Iraqi archives points to a real, not a phantom and former, WMD capability — in line with efforts elsewhere in the Islamic world, from Iran to Libya, to reclaim something akin to the old Soviet deterrent.

The costs in Iraq have been high and the losses tragic. But nothing in the past three years has convinced me otherwise than that:

1. in a post-September-11 world Saddam had to be removed on ethical and strategic grounds;

2. the insurgency, though unexpected in its intensity, could be put down by a U.S. military that would react and evolve more quickly than the terrorists to changing conditions on the ground;

3. our mistakes, though several and undeniable, are tragically the stuff of war, and so far have not proved to be irreversible or beyond what we experienced in any of our past efforts;

4. the maligned secretary of Defense was right about troop levels and the plan for Iraqization — although demonized for trying to transform the very nature of the American military in the midst of a war;

5. we are engaged in the great humanitarian effort of the age, as “one person, one vote” has brought to the perennially downtrodden Arab Shiites a real chance at equality;

6. the best method of winning this global struggle against fascistic Islamic terrorism remains fostering in the Middle East a third democratic alternative between autocracy and theocracy that alone can deal with the modern world.

Once a democratically elected Iraqi government emerged, and a national army was trained, the only way we could lose this war was to forfeit it at home, through the influence of an adroit, loud minority of critics that for either base or misguided reasons really does wish us to lose. They really do.
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Vietnam, Watergate and Rove

What is bad for America, is good for the present day Democratic party. Conversely, what is good for America reinforces the GOP's poll numbers. I have watched these people my entire life, and I know that Vietnam is their religion, and Watergate is their crucible. Barone just opines on the situation, as he sees it...but you can see that he views the big picture here...The libs are in full Vietnam/Watergate mode, and it will blow up in their collective face, this November.....T
It has been a tough 10 days for those who see current events through the prisms of Vietnam and Watergate. First, the Democrats failed to win a breakthrough victory in the California 50th District special election--a breakthrough that would have summoned up memories of Democrats winning Gerald Ford's old congressional district in a special election in 1974. Instead the Democratic nominee got 45% of the vote, just 1% more than John Kerry did in the district in 2004.
Second, U.S. forces with a precision air strike killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, on the same day that Iraqis finished forming a government. Zarqawi will not be available to gloat over American setbacks or our allies' defeat, as the leaders of the Viet Cong and North Vietnam did.
Third, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced that he would not seek an indictment of Karl Rove. The leftward blogosphere had Mr. Rove pegged for the role of Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Theories were spun about plea bargains that would implicate Vice President Dick Cheney. Talk of impeachment was in the air. But it turns out that history doesn't repeat itself. George W. Bush, whether you like it or not, is not a second Richard Nixon.

It is hard in retrospect to understand why the left put so much psychic energy into the notion that Mr. Rove would be indicted. He certainly was an important target. No one in American history has been as powerful an aide to a president, both on politics and on public policy, as Karl Rove. Only Robert Kennedy in his brother's administration and Hamilton Jordan in Jimmy Carter's come close, and neither was as involved in electoral politics as Mr. Rove has been.

Still, it was clear early on that the likelihood that Mr. Rove violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was near zero. Under the law, the agent whose name was disclosed would have had to have served overseas within the preceding five years (Valerie Plame, according to her husband's book, had been stationed in the U.S. since 1997), and Mr. Rove would have had to know that she was undercover (not very likely). The left enjoyed raising an issue on which, for once, it could charge that a Republican administration had undermined national security. But that rang hollow when the left gleefully seized on the New York Times' disclosure of NSA surveillance of phone calls from suspected al Qaeda operatives abroad to persons in the U.S.

In all this a key role was played by the press. Cries went up early for the appointment of a special prosecutor: Patrick Fitzgerald would be another Archibald Cox or Leon Jaworski. Eager to bring down another Republican administration, the editorialists of the New York Times evidently failed to realize that the case could not be pursued without asking reporters to reveal the names of sources who had been promised confidentiality. America's newsrooms are populated largely by liberals who regard the Vietnam and Watergate stories as the great achievements of their profession. The peak of their ambition is to achieve the fame and wealth of great reporters like David Halberstam and Bob Woodward. But this time it was not Republican administration officials who went to prison. It was Judith Miller, then of the New York Times itself.

Interestingly, Bob Woodward himself contradicted Mr. Fitzgerald's statement, made the day that he announced the one indictment he has obtained, of former vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby, that Mr. Libby was the first to disclose Ms. Plame's name to a reporter. The press reaction was to turn on Mr. Woodward, who has been covering this administration as a new story rather than as a reprise of Vietnam and Watergate.

Historians may regard it as a curious thing that the left and the press have been so determined to fit current events into templates based on events that occurred 30 to 40 years ago. The people who effectively framed the issues raised by Vietnam and Watergate did something like the opposite; they insisted that Vietnam was not a reprise of World War II or Korea and that Watergate was something different from the operations J. Edgar Hoover conducted for Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy. Journalists in the 1940s, '50s and early '60s tended to believe they had a duty to buttress Americans' faith in their leaders and their government. Journalists since Vietnam and Watergate have tended to believe that they have a duty to undermine such faith, especially when the wrong party is in office.

That belief has its perils for journalism, as the Fitzgerald investigation has shown. The peril that the press may find itself in the hot seat, but even more the peril that it will get the story wrong. The visible slavering over the prospect of a Rove indictment is just another item in the list of reasons why the credibility of the "mainstream media" has been plunging. There's also a peril for the political left. Vietnam and Watergate were arguably triumphs for honest reporting. But they were also defeats for America--and for millions of freedom-loving people in the world. They ushered in an era when the political opposition and much of the press have sought not just to defeat administrations but to delegitimize them. The pursuit of Karl Rove by the left and the press has been just the latest episode in the attempted criminalization of political differences. Is there any hope that it might turn out to be the last?
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fitzmas in June Ruined for Democrats

In the immortal words of the master himself.........T
"I've been alive 55 years. I've been paying attention to politics probably since I was 12, and I'm being honest with you people. I have never seen -- even after Watergate, I have never seen -- a political party so disengaged from what is real. I have never seen a party with supporters, a major political party, with supporters as dense, as stupid, as dilapidated, as pathetic as those who make up what are now called the future, the Democratic Party.

This party once ruled this country almost as royalty, folks. The Democratic Party had an iron fist, grip, on everything in this country, and I know what's happened. I mean, I don't want to bother you with boring explanations again, but they have now descended and faded away into a collection of people who may be clinically insane because of their inability to grasp what had happened. They had the bowl of cherries for so long, they had the Holy Grail. They owned everything. It was their country to do with whatever they wanted -- and now it's not, and with each passing day, that reality hits them, broadsides them and they simply have no mechanism to deal with it." Click here for full article

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Media’s Conveniently Changing View of Zarqawi

The MSM/Drive-by gang has long since dropped all pretense of objectivity. Now they don't even try, deciding instead to launch wave after wave of attacks on their political opponents (republicans all) on the evening news, and in the pages of the New York Times. Voters are noticing, as witnessed in the previous column..................T
If Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and all of al Qaeda’s leaders in Iraq and throughout the world laid down their arms and surrendered to American forces, would the media report it as good news?

Judging from the press’s reaction to the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq by the American military last week, the answer appears to be no.

In fact, this tepid response to the death of the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq – a man who has at times in the past couple of years been depicted by the press as more vital to this terrorist network than the currently in-hiding bin Laden – suggests quite disturbingly that America’s media are fighting a different war than America’s soldiers.

According to NewsBusters, CNN’s senior editor for Arab affairs Octavia Nasr said the following about Zarqawi’s death on “American Morning” Thursday:

“Some people say it will enrage the insurgency, others say it will hurt it pretty bad. But if you think about the different groups in Iraq, you have to think that Zarqawi’s death is not going to be a big deal for them.”

However, CNN didn’t always feel that Zarqawi’s death or capture would be so inconsequential. Just days after Saddam Hussein was found in his spider hole, Paula Zahn brought CNN national correspondent Mike Boettcher on to discuss a new threat in Iraq. Zahn began the December 15, 2003 segment:

“The capture of Saddam Hussein may lead to renewed attention on the search for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, and next to bin Laden, there is one man emerging as a major threat. He is believed to be the leader of a group much like al Qaeda, and the U.S. wants to catch him before he strikes again.”

Boettcher entered the discussion:

“The reward for his capture is only a fifth of that offered for Saddam Hussein, $5 million to Saddam’s $25 million, but abu-Mus’ab al- Zarqawi, say Middle East intelligence analysts, is emerging as the most dangerous terrorist conducting operations in Iraq, the surrounding region, and perhaps the world.”

Subsequent to this report, Zarqawi’s reward was raised to $25 million, meaning that the importance of his capture increased fivefold. Mysteriously, CNN didn’t see it that way, as in its view, the death of what it once described as “the most dangerous terrorist” in “perhaps the world” somehow became “no big deal.”

At roughly the same time as Nasr was downplaying Zarqawi’s death on CNN, ABC’s Diane Sawyer invited perennial Bush-basher Richard Clarke on “Good Morning America” to solicit his opinion on the subject. As reported by NewsBusters, Sawyer asked,
“[Is] it any safer in Iraq and will the war end any sooner?”

Clarke responded:

“Well, unfortunately the answer is no. This man was a terrible man. He was a symbol of terrorism. He was the face of terrorism, the only real name we knew of an insurgent leader in Iraq. But he commanded only a few hundred people out of tens of thousands involved in the insurgency. And so, unfortunately for the loved ones of troops over in Iraq, this is not going to mean a big difference.”
Sawyer incredulously concluded the segment:

“So for overall terrorism against the U.S., it’s, again, not a major effect.”

Yet, on November 21, 2005, Sawyer and the Good Morning America team weren’t so blasé about capturing or killing Zarqawi. Quite the contrary, Sawyer began her report that morning:

“Right now intelligence officials are pouring over information trying to decide if it’s possible that public enemy number one in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, has, in fact, been killed over the weekend. ABC’s chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross tells us what he learned.”
Ross answered:

“If it’s true it’d be major victory for the US in Iraq.”

This raises a rather obvious question: how could what would have been a “major victory” if it had occurred in November 2005 not have “a major effect” when it actually transpires less than seven months later?

Regardless of the answer, it wasn’t just the morning shows experiencing a convenient change of heart towards Zarqawi. A drastically similar conversion occurred on the CBS Evening News Thursday. And, in this instance, it took less than five weeks for the story to change.
Anchor Bob Schieffer invited former CIA member and current CBS News analyst Michael Scheuer on to discuss Zarqawi’s death. Schieffer began the interview:

“Michael, I want to ask you, it’s my understanding you believe this might actually increase danger for US troops.”
Yes, you read that right: on a day when America should have been celebrating the death of one of her greatest enemies, a top CBS anchorman actually brought on a guest to discuss how this might “increase danger for US troops.” Scheuer conveniently responded:

“I think that’s probably the case, Bob.”

Schieffer then asked his guest what the significance of Zarqawi’s death was. Scheuer answered:

“Strategically it’s not very important.”

Yet, the Evening News didn’t always feel that Zarqawi’s death or capture would “increase the danger for US troops” or be strategically “not very important.” Less than five weeks earlier, the Evening News did an entire story called “Task Force 145 leads hunt for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.” Schieffer began that May 2 segment:

“The toll of American military people killed in Iraq reached 2,400 today, with the death of another American soldier killed by a roadside bomb. That news came as our David Martin learned more details of an intense new campaign that American troops have launched to track down top al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.”

Schieffer then handed it off to Martin, who winded the segment down by saying, “Getting Zarqawi would be a major victory,” and concluded:

“If or when the end comes, he will almost certainly be replaced by another terrorist, but it is unlikely his replacement will be the equal of Zarqawi.”

As such, it is infinitely clear that the media’s view of Zarqawi changed virtually the moment he was killed. In fact, their response to what they had presaged in the past would be great news if it happened was instead designed to dampen the public’s enthusiasm for the event, while at the same time diminish any positive the Bush administration could gain from it here at home.

Sadly, such behavior is yet another example of a press clearly acting in its own best interests without regard for that of the American people much in the same way as the politicians they revere.

After all, it has been suggested for many years that members of America’s two major parties base policy decisions almost exclusively on a calculus for re-election and not on what actually would be beneficial to the public they serve. Many experts believe that such strategic planning begins almost immediately after Election Day, and dictates every move these politicians make until the next important first Tuesday in November.

With disturbing similarity, the atrocious behavior of the drive-by media makes it quite apparent that the same can be said of most press representatives today. Since at least the year 2000, it seems virtually every mainstream report of a current event has been meticulously crafted to further the goals of politicians favored by the media, while acting to thwart the efforts of those whose views are considered to be unacceptable by these supposedly enlightened journalists regardless of what position of power or responsibility they hold.
For those that question this conclusion, just imagine all the terrorists and their leaders in Iraq laying down their arms and declaring a truce with the new Iraqi government as the American media question whether this will be good for peace in the region.
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Democrats Are Winning... Except at the Polls

Composed by the two entities that get it right, every time: Real Clear, and Michael Barone, who writes for them here. Forget the apocalyptic predictions of the drive-by media of a demo sweep in November. We are in fine shape, and experts who are in the know expect a status quo election, as do I.....T
"This is just to cover Bush's (rear) so he doesn't have to answer questions" about things in Iraq, said Rep. Pete Stark, second ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. "This insurgency is such a confused mess that one person, dead or alive at this point, is hardly significant today," said Rep. Jim McDermott, formerly the lead Democrat on the House ethics committee. The deceased, said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a candidate for the 2004 presidential nomination, was a small part of "a growing anti-American insurgency." He said the United States should get out of Iraq. "We're there for all the wrong reasons."

Such was the reaction of the left wing of the Democratic Party to the killing of al-Qaida terrorist Abu Masab Zarqawi in Iraq. It was not the dominant note sounded by Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry all hailed the death of Zarqawi in unequivocal terms. And if Democrats also made the point that his death probably won't end the violence in Iraq, they were only echoing what George W. Bush said.

Nevertheless the Stark-McDermott-Kucinich reaction, echoed and amplified, often scatologically, by dozens of commenters on the popular and left-wing Websites, tells us something disturbing about the Democratic Party -- and provides a clue why Democrats were unable to eke out a win in last week's special congressional election in the 50th congressional district of California.

It comes down to this: A substantial part of the Democratic Party, some of its politicians and many of its loudest supporters do not want America to succeed in Iraq. So vitriolic and all-consuming is their hatred for George W. Bush that they skip right over the worthy goals we have been, with some considerable success, seeking there -- a democratic government, with guaranteed liberties for all, a vibrant free economy, respect for women -- and call this a war for oil, or for Halliburton.

Successes are discounted, setbacks are trumpeted, the level of American casualties is treated as if it were comparable to those in Vietnam or World War II. Allegations of American misdeeds are repeated over and over; the work of reconstruction and aid of American military personnel and civilians is ignored.

In all this they have been aided and abetted by large elements of the press. The struggle in Iraq has been portrayed as a story of endless and increasing violence. Stories of success and heroism tend to go unreported. Reporters in Iraq deserve respect for their courage -- this has been an unusually deadly war for journalists, largely because they have been targeted by the terrorists. But unfortunately they and the Bush administration have not done a good job of letting us know that last pertinent fact.

We are in an asymmetrical struggle with vicious enemies who slaughter civilians and bystanders and journalists without any regard for the laws of war. But too often we and our enemies are portrayed as moral equivalents. One or two instances of American misconduct are found equal in the balance to a consistent and premeditated campaign of barbarism.

All of this does not go unnoticed by America's voters. The persistence of violence in Iraq has done grave damage to George W. Bush's job rating, and polls show that his fellow Republicans are in trouble. Yet when people actually vote, those numbers don't seem to translate into gains for the Democrats. In 2004, John Kerry got 44 percent of the votes in the 50th district of California. In the April 2006 special primary, Democrat Francine Busby got 44 percent of the votes there. In the runoff last week, she got 45 percent and lost to Republican Brian Bilbray.

The angry Democratic left set the tone for the 2003-04 campaign for the party's presidential nomination, and John Kerry hoped that it would produce a surge in turnout in November 2004. It did: Kerry got 16 percent more popular votes than Al Gore. But George W. Bush got 23 percent more popular votes in 2004 than in 2000.

In California's 50th, both parties made mammoth turnout efforts, but the balance of turnout and of opinion seems to have remained the same, even though Democrats had a seriously contested primary for governor and Republicans didn't. The angry Democratic left and its aiders and abettors in the press seem to have succeeded in souring public opinion, but they haven't succeeded in producing victory margins for the Democrats. Maybe they're doing just the opposite.
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Friday, June 09, 2006

A Good Day's Work. Why Zarqawi's death matters

Burn in Hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!...T
The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is excellent news in its own right and even more excellent if, as U.S. sources in Iraq are claiming, it resulted from information that derived from people who were or had been close to him. (And, if that claim is black propaganda, then it is clever black propaganda, which is also excellent news.)

It hasn't taken long for the rain to start falling on this parade. Nick Berg's father, a MoveOn type now running for Congress on the Green Party ticket, has already said that he blames President George Bush for the video-beheading of his own son (but of course) and mourned the passing of Zarqawi as he would the death of any man (but of course, again). The latest Atlantic has a brilliantly timed cover story by Mary Anne Weaver, which tends to the view that Zarqawi was essentially an American creation, but seems to undermine its own prominence by suggesting that, in addition to that, Zarqawi wasn't all that important.

Not so fast. Zarqawi contributed enormously to the wrecking of Iraq's experiment in democratic federalism. He was able to help ensure that the Iraqi people did not have one single day of respite between 35 years of war and fascism, and the last three-and-a-half years of misery and sabotage. He chose his targets with an almost diabolical cunning, destroying the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad (and murdering the heroic envoy Sérgio Vieira de Melo) almost before it could begin operations, and killing the leading Shiite Ayatollah Hakim outside his place of worship in Najaf. His decision to declare a jihad against the Shiite population in general, in a document of which Weaver (on no evidence) doubts the authenticity, has been the key innovation of the insurgency: applying lethal pressure to the most vulnerable aspect of Iraqi society. And it has had the intended effect, by undermining Grand Ayatollah Sistani and helping empower Iranian-backed Shiite death squads.

Not bad for a semiliterate goon and former jailhouse enforcer from a Bedouin clan in Jordan. There are two important questions concerning the terrible influence that he has been able to exert. The first is: How much state and para-state support did he enjoy? The second is: What was the nature of his relationship with Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaida?

For the defeatists and pacifists, these are easy questions to answer. Colin Powell was wrong to identify Zarqawi, in his now-notorious U.N. address, as a link between the Saddam regime and the Bin-Ladenists. The man's power was created only by the coalition's intervention, and his connection to al Qaida was principally opportunistic. On this logic, the original mistake of the United States would have been to invade Afghanistan, thereby forcing Zarqawi to flee his camp outside Herat and repositioning him for a new combat elsewhere. Thus, fighting against al-Qaida is a mistake to begin with: It only encourages them.

I think that (for once) Colin Powell was on to something. I know that Kurdish intelligence had been warning the coalition for some time before the invasion that former Afghanistan combatants were making their way into Iraq, which they saw as the next best chance to take advantage of a state that was both "failed" and "rogue." One might add that Iraq under Saddam was not an easy country to enter or to leave, and that no decision on who was allowed in would be taken by a junior officer. Furthermore, the Zarqawi elements appear to have found it their duty to join with the Ansar al-Islam splinter group in Kurdistan, which for some reason thought it was the highest duty of jihad to murder Saddam Hussein's main enemies. But perhaps I have a suspicious mind.

We happen to know that the Baathist regime was recruiting and training foreign fighters and brigading them with the gruesome "Fedayeen Saddam." (This is incidentally a clue to what the successor regime in Iraq might have looked like as the Saddam-plus-sanctions state imploded and Baathism itself went into eclipse.) That bomb at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, for example, was no improvised explosive device. It was a huge charge of military-grade ordnance. Are we to believe that a newly arrived Bedouin Jordanian thug could so swiftly have scraped acquaintance with senior-level former Baathists? (The charges that destroyed the golden dome of the Shiites in Samarra were likewise rigged and set by professional military demolitionists.)

Zarqawi's relations with Bin Laden are a little more tortuous. Mary Anne Weaver shows fairly convincingly that the two men did not get along and were in some sense rivals for the leadership. That's natural enough: Religious fanatics are schismatic by definition. Zarqawi's visceral hatred of the Shiite heresy was unsettling even to some more mainstream Wahhabi types, as was his undue relish in making snuff videos. (How nice to know that these people do have their standards.) However, when Zarqawi sought the franchise to call his group "al-Qaida in Mesopotamia," he was granted it with only a few admonitions.

Most fascinating of all is the suggestion that Zarqawi was all along receiving help from the mullahs in Iran. He certainly seems to have been able to transit their territory (Herat is on the Iranian border with Afghanistan) and to replenish his forces by the same route. If this suggestive connection is proved, as Weaver suggests it will be, then we have the Shiite fundamentalists in Iran directly sponsoring the murderer of their co-religionists in Iraq. This in turn would mean that the Iranian mullahs stood convicted of the most brutish and cynical irresponsibility, in front of their own people, even as they try to distract attention from their covert nuclear ambitions. That would be worth knowing. And it would become rather difficult to argue that Bush had made them do it, though no doubt the attempt will be made.

If we had withdrawn from Iraq already, as the "peace" movement has been demanding, then one of the most revolting criminals of all time would have been able to claim that he forced us to do it. That would have catapulted Iraq into Stone Age collapse and instated a psychopathic killer as the greatest Muslim soldier since Saladin. As it is, the man is ignominiously dead and his dirty connections a lot closer to being fully exposed. This seems like a good day's work to me.

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