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SOUTH CAROLINA SECEDES!

Declarations of Causes of Seceding States
Civil War South Carolina

Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

written by C. G. Memminger

The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

And now the State of South Carolina having resumed her separate and equal place among nations, deems it due to herself, to the remaining United States of America, and to the nations of the world, that she should declare the immediate causes which have led to this act.

In the year 1765, that portion of the British Empire embracing Great Britain, undertook to make laws for the government of that portion composed of the thirteen American Colonies. A struggle for the right of self-government ensued, which resulted, on the 4th of July, 1776, in a Declaration, by the Colonies, “that they are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.”

They further solemnly declared that whenever any “form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government.” Deeming the Government of Great Britain to have become destructive of these ends, they declared that the Colonies “are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

In pursuance of this Declaration of Independence, each of the thirteen States proceeded to exercise its separate sovereignty; adopted for itself a Constitution, and appointed officers for the administration of government in all its departments– Legislative, Executive and Judicial. For purposes of defense, they united their arms and their counsels; and, in 1778, they entered into a League known as the Articles of Confederation, whereby they agreed to entrust the administration of their external relations to a common agent, known as the Congress of the United States, expressly declaring, in the first Article “that each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right which is not, by this Confederation, expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.”

Under this Confederation the war of the Revolution was carried on, and on the 3rd of September, 1783, the contest ended, and a definite Treaty was signed by Great Britain, in which she acknowledged the independence of the Colonies in the following terms: “ARTICLE 1– His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz: New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that he treats with them as such; and for himself, his heirs and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.”

Thus were established the two great principles asserted by the Colonies, namely: the right of a State to govern itself; and the right of a people to abolish a Government when it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was instituted. And concurrent with the establishment of these principles, was the fact, that each Colony became and was recognized by the mother Country a FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATE.

In 1787, Deputies were appointed by the States to revise the Articles of Confederation, and on 17th September, 1787, these Deputies recommended for the adoption of the States, the Articles of Union, known as the Constitution of the United States.

The parties to whom this Constitution was submitted, were the several sovereign States; they were to agree or disagree, and when nine of them agreed the compact was to take effect among those concurring; and the General Government, as the common agent, was then invested with their authority.

If only nine of the thirteen States had concurred, the other four would have remained as they then were– separate, sovereign States, independent of any of the provisions of the Constitution. In fact, two of the States did not accede to the Constitution until long after it had gone into operation among the other eleven; and during that interval, they each exercised the functions of an independent nation.

By this Constitution, certain duties were imposed upon the several States, and the exercise of certain of their powers was restrained, which necessarily implied their continued existence as sovereign States. But to remove all doubt, an amendment was added, which declared that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people. On the 23d May , 1788, South Carolina, by a Convention of her People, passed an Ordinance assenting to this Constitution, and afterwards altered her own Constitution, to conform herself to the obligations she had undertaken.

Thus was established, by compact between the States, a Government with definite objects and powers, limited to the express words of the grant. This limitation left the whole remaining mass of power subject to the clause reserving it to the States or to the people, and rendered unnecessary any specification of reserved rights.

We hold that the Government thus established is subject to the two great principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence; and we hold further, that the mode of its formation subjects it to a third fundamental principle, namely: the law of compact. We maintain that in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual; that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement, entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.

In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: “No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.

The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.

Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.

We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.

Adopted December 24, 1860

THE CRITTENDEN COMPROMISE!

The Crittenden Compromise

The Crittenden Compromise was perhaps the last-ditch effort to resolve the secession crisis of 1860-61 by political negotiation. Authored by Kentucky Senator John Crittenden (whose two sons would become generals on opposite sides of the Civil War) it was an attempt to resolve the crisis by addressing the concerns that led the states of the Lower South to contemplate secession. As such, it gives a window into what the politicians of the day thought the cause of the crisis to be.

The Compromise, as offered on December 18, 1860, consisted of a preamble, six (proposed) constitutional amendments, and four (proposed) Congressional resolutions. The text given here is taken from a photocopy of the Congressional Globe for December 18, 1860.

A joint resolution (S. No. 50) proposing certain amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Whereas serious and alarming dissensions have arisen between the northern and southern states, concerning the rights and security of the rights of the slaveholding States, and especially their rights in the common territory of the United States; and whereas it is eminently desirable and proper that these dissensions, which now threaten the very existence of this Union, should be permanently quieted and settled by constitutional provisions, which shall do equal justice to all sections, and thereby restore to all the people that peace and good-will which ought to prevail between all the citizens of the United States: Therefore,

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, (two thirds of both Houses concurring,) That the following articles be, and are hereby, proposed and submitted as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of said Constitution, when ratified by conventions of three-fourths of the several States:

Article 1: In all the territory of the United States now held, or hereafter acquired, situate north of 36 degrees 30 minutes, slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, is prohibited while such territory shall remain under territorial government. In all the territory south of said line of latitude, slavery of the African race is hereby recognized as existing, and shall not be interfered with by Congress, but shall be protected as property by all the departments of the territorial government during its continuance. And when any territory, north or south of said line, within such boundaries as Congress may prescribe, shall contain the population requisite for a member of Congress according to the then Federal ratio of representationof the people of the United States, it shall, if its form of government be republican, be admitted into the Union, on an equal footing with the original States, with or without slavery, as the constitution of such new State may provide.

Article 2: Congress shall have no power to abolish slavery in places under its exclusive jurisdiction, and situate within the limits of States that permit the holding of slaves.

Article 3: Congress shall have no power to abolish slavery within the District of Columbia, so long as it exists in the adjoining States of Virginia and Maryland, or either, nor without the consent of the inhabitants, nor without just compensation first made to such owners of slaves as do not consent to such abolishment. Nor shall Congress at any time prohibit officers of the Federal Government, or members of Congress, whose duties require them to be in said District, from bringing with them their slaves, and holding them as such during the time their duties may require them to remain there, and afterwards taking them from the District.

Article 4: Congress shall have no power to prohibit or hinder the transportation of slaves from one State to another, or to a Territory, in which slaves are by law permitted to be held, whether that transportation be by land, navigable river, or by the sea.

Article 5: That in addition to the provisions of the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States, Congress shall have power to provide by law, and it shall be its duty so to provide, that the United States shall pay to the owner who shall apply for it, the full value of his fugitive slave in all cases where the marshall or other officer whose duty it was to arrest said fugitive was prevented from so doing by violence or intimidation, or when, after arrest, said fugitive was rescued by force, and the owner thereby prevented and obstructed in the pursuit of his remedy for the recovery of his fugitive slave under the said clause of the Constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof. And in all such cases, when the United States shall pay for such fugitive, they shall have the right, in their own name, to sue the county in which said violence, intimidation, or rescue was committed, and to recover from it, with interest and damages, the amount paid by them for said fugitive slave. And the said county, after it has paid said amount to the United States, may, for its indemnity, sue and recover from the wrong-doers or rescuers by whom the owner was prevented from the recovery of his fugitive slave, in like manner as the owner himslef might have sued and recovered.

Article 6: No future amendment of the Constitution shall affect the five preceding articles; nor the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the Constitution; nor the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of said Constitution; and no amendment will be made to the Constitution which shall authorize or give to Congress any power to abolish or interfere with slavery in any of the States by whose laws it is, or may be, allowed or permitted.

And whereas, also, besides those causes of dissension embraced in the foregoing amendments proposed to the Constitution of the United States, there are others which come within the jurisdiction of Congress, and may be remedied by its legislative power; and whereas it is the desire of Congress, so far as its power will extend, to remove all just cause for the popular discontent and agitation which now disturb the peace of the country, and threaten the stability of its institutions; Therefore,

1. Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the laws now in force for the recovery of fugitive slaves are in strict pursuance of the plain and mandatory provisions of the Constitution, and have been sanctioned as valid and constitutional by the judgement of the Supreme Court of the United States.; that the slaveholding States are entitled to the faithful observance and execution of those laws, and that they ought not to be repealed, or so modified or changed as to impair their efficiency; and that laws ought to be made for the punishment of those who attempt by rescue of the slave, or other illegal means, to hinder or defeat the due execution of said laws.

2. That all State laws which conflict with the fugitive slave acts of Congress, or any other constitutional acts of Congress, or which, in their operation, impede, hinder, or delay the free course and due execution of any of said acts, are null and void by the plain provisions of the Constitution of the United States; yet those State laws, void as they are, have given color to practices, and led to consequences, which have obstructed the due administration and execution of acts of Congress, and especially the acts for the delivery of fugitive slaves, and have thereby contributed much to the discord and commotion now prevailing. Congress, therefore, in the present perilous juncture, does not deem it improper, respectfully and earnestly to recommend the repeal of those laws to the several States which have enacted them, or such legislative corections or explanations of them as may prevent their being used or perverted to such mischievous purposes.

3. That the act of the 18th of September, 1850, commonly called the fugitive slave law, ought to be so amended as to make the fee of the commissioner, mentioned in the eighth section of the act, equal in amount in the cases decided by him, whether his decision be in favor of or against the claimant. And to avoid misconstruction, the last clause of the fifth section of said act, which authorizes the person holding a warrent for the arrest or detention of a fugitive slave, to summon to his aid the posse comitatus, and which declares it to be the duty of all good citizens to assist him in its execution, ought to be so amended as to expressly limit the authority and duty to cases in which there shall be resistance or danger of resistance or rescue.

4. That the laws for the suppression of the African slave trade, and especially those prohibiting the importation of slaves in the United States, ought to be made effectual, and ought to be thoroughly executed; and all further enactments necessary to those ends ought to be promptly made.

Sources:
Library of Congress
National Park Service
University of Kansas

Many people think the Civil War of 1860-1865 was fought over one issue alone, slavery. Nothing could actually be further from the truth. The War Between the States began because the South demanded States’ rights and were not getting them. The Congress at that time heavily favored the industrialized northern states to the point of demanding that the South sell is cotton and other raw materials only to the factories in the north, rather than to other countries. The Congress also taxed the finished materials that the northern industries produced heavily, making finished products that the South wanted, unaffordable.
The Civil War should not have occurred. If the Northern States and their representatives in Congress had only listened to the problems of the South, and stopped these practices that were almost like the taxation without representation of Great Britain, then the Southern states would not have seceded and the war would not have occurred.
I know for many years, we have been taught that the Civil War was all about the abolition of slavery, but this truly did not become a major issue, with the exception of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, until after the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, when Abraham Lincoln decided to free the slaves in the Confederate States in order to punish those states for continuing the war effort. The war had been in progress for two years by that time. Most southerners did not even own slaves nor did they own plantations. Most of them were small farmers who worked their farms with their families. They were fighting for their rights. They were fighting to maintain their lifestyle and their independence the way they wanted to without the United States Government dictating to them how they should behave.
Why are we frequently taught then, that the Civil War, War of Northern Aggression, War Between the States, or whatever you want to call it, was solely about slavery? That is because the history books are usually written by the winners of a war and this war was won by the Union. However, after following
my family around since I was just a year old to Civil War Living History scenarios in Gettysburg and elsewhere, I have listened to both sides of the story, from those portraying historical figures, both Union and Confederate. Through listening to these people and also reading many different books, including some of the volumes of The Official Records of the Civil War, Death in September, The Insanity of It All, Every Day Life During the Civil War, and many others, I have come to the conclusion that the Civil War was about much more than abolishing the institution of slavery. It was more about preserving the United States and protecting the rights of the individual, the very tenets upon which this country was founded.
I personally think that the people who profess that the Civil War was only fought about slavery have not read their history books. I really am glad that slavery was abolished, but I don’t think it should be glorified as being the sole reason the Civil War was fought. There are so many more issues that people were intensely passionate about at the time. Slavery was one of them, but it was not the primary cause of the war. The primary causes of the war were economics and states’ rights. Slavery was a part of those greater issues, but it was not the reason the Southern States seceded from the Union, nor fought the Civil War. It certainly was a Southern institution that was part of the economic system of the plantations, and because of that, it was part and parcel of the economic reasons that the South formed the Confederacy.
The economic issue was one of taxation and being able to sell cotton and other raw materials where the producers wanted to, rather than where they were forced to, and at under inflated prices. Funny, it sounds very much like the reason we broke from Great Britain to begin with. The South was within their rights, but there should have been another way to solve the problem. If they had been willing to listen to Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the war could have been avoided. Lincoln had a plan to gradually free the slaves without it further hurting the plantation owners. He also had a plan to allow them to sell their products anywhere they wanted to and at a fair price. They did not choose to listen to the President, however, so they formed the Confederacy and the Civil War began.

JUDICIAL ARROGANCE

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 should be remembered as a day when federal judicial arrogance descended to a new low.

Apparently, before being appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton, United States District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina (District of Columbia) learned somewhere along his career path—student at Georgetown University and its Law School, practitioner at the DC Public Defender’s Office, teacher at Howard University School of Law, judge at the DC Superior Court—that Articles I (legislative) and II (executive) of the United States Constitution must succumb to the arrogance of unelected, life-tenured Article III federal judges.

That’s because on October 7th, Judge Urbina decided that the government’s power to hold seventeen Guantanamo detainees had “ceased,” that they were to be transferred to the District of Columbia within four days, that once there they were to be freed, that they were to be relocated in the greater DC area, and that the government better not use immigration laws to harass the illegally-here aliens.

Residents of the District of Columbia were not happy. The Wall Street Journal opined about The Terrorists Next Door. The White House was “deeply concerned by, and strongly disagree[d] with” Urbina’s ruling. Conservatives were outraged, especially at Urbina’s threat to the government that “I do not expect these Uighurs will be molested [!] by any member of the United States government,” arrogantly adding that “I’m a federal judge, and I’ve issued an order.”

Urbina believed he had the power to issue that order because of the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision in the Boumediene v. Bush case, which held that alien unlawful enemy combatants have a constitutional right to use habeas corpus in American federal courts to challenge their detention.

In dissenting from, and lamenting, the majority opinion in Boumediene Chief Justice Roberts asked rhetorically, “So who has won?” His answer anticipated, in part, what Urbina did last week. Roberts wrote:

Not the detainees. The Court’s analysis leaves them with only the prospect of further litigation to determine the content of their new habeas right, followed by further litigation to resolve their particular cases, followed by further litigation before the [United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit] . . . . Not Congress, whose attempt to “determine— through democratic means—how best” to balance the security of the American people with the detainees’ liberty interests . . . has been unceremoniously brushed aside. Not the Great Writ [of habeas corpus], whose majesty is hardly enhanced by its extension to a jurisdictionally quirky outpost, with no tangible benefit to anyone. Not the rule of law, unless by that is meant the rule of lawyers, who will now arguably have a greater role than military and intelligence officials in shaping policy for alien enemy combatants. And certainly not the American people, who today lose a bit more control over the conduct of this Nation’s foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges. (My emphasis.)

Roberts’s prophesy about the likes of District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina raised yet another question: If the detainees didn’t win, if Congress didn’t win, if the principle of habeas corpus didn’t win, if the rule of law didn’t win, if the American people didn’t win—and, one can add, if the Commander-in-Chief didn’t win—who did?

Earlier in his dissent Chief Justice Roberts suggested the answer, writing that the Boumediene decision is “not really about the detainees at all, but about control of federal policy regarding enemy combatants,” and that “[a]ll that today’s opinion has done is shift responsibility for those sensitive foreign policy and national security decisions from the elected branches to the Federal Judiciary.”

Or, as Chief Justice Roberts put it: “unelected, politically unaccountable judges.” The Judge Urbinas of the federal bench!

Those of us who for years have had a bellyful of such judges and the damage they have done to our social, cultural, economic, political and military institutions today rightly fear that legions of Urbinas are waiting in the wings for appointment to federal courts following an election victory by Senate Democrats and Barack Obama.

Obama adheres to the doctrine of a “Living Constitution.” Those who subscribe to Living Constitution ideology believe that the founding principles of this Nation are passé, that the Declaration of Independence’s ringing endorsement of individual rights and limited government is outdated, that the Constitution’s creation of a representative republic is from a long past moment in history, and that the Bill of Rights is not a restraint on government but rather a source of newly invented “rights.”

If the federal judiciary, let alone the Supreme Court, falls into Obama’s hands (especially with a compliant Senate, let alone a filibuster-proof one), our Nation will surely be crippled, perhaps fatally, in its domestic battle against socialism and our foreign war against Islamofascism.

This is not a charge that I make lightly, but rather one rooted in the words of candidate Obama himself.

On July 17, 2007, Obama made a speech in Washington, D.C. to the country’s leading abortion-meister, “Planned Parenthood.” In the words of NBC reporter Carrie Dean Obama not only “leveled harsh words at conservative Supreme Court justices,” but “he offered his own intention to appoint justices with ‘empathy’.”

“Empathy,” according to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, is “the projection of one’s own personality into the personality of another in order to understand him better; ability to share in another’s emotions or feelings.”

Thus, we have been unmistakably warned that president-hopeful Barack Obama will appoint Supreme Court justices who will not honestly interpret the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Fourteenth Amendment—let alone on the basis of what they say and meant to those who wrote them—but who, instead, will project their own personalities into others to understand them better; justices who can share in those others’ emotions or feelings.

And who might Obama’s empathy-receivers be?

Obama himself told us in that same 2007 Planned Parenthood speech: “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.” (My emphasis.)

It couldn’t be clearer what this candidate for the presidency of the United States admittedly has in store for the federal judiciary and thus for our Nation.

So much for the classical liberal philosophy that was at the founding’s core and in its fundamental documents. From now on, constitutional interpretation Obama-style is to be through the eyes of whom he sees as society’s alleged victims.

Obama’s confession drops the notion of a Living Constitutionalism into yet a lower rung of hell. His confession reveals that while in the past the Living Constitution’s acolytes sought to achieve the amorphous goals of “social justice, brotherhood, and human dignity,” a President Obama will feed the beast with what’s left of individual rights and limited government, all in the name of “empathy”—a code word for something much darker: sacrifice of true constitutionalism to the needs of society’s perceived victims.

This perversion of America’s essence—individual rights and limited government—is collectivism/statism squared. While our Nation has so far been able to survive Living Constitutionalism—though with the recent Guantanamo decisions, especially Boumediene v. Bush, who knows?—we may not be able to survive Obama-appointed federal judges in the mode of Richardo M. Urbina.

Black Muslim lawyer Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour recently made news when it was revealed that he was a patron of Barack Obama and recommended him for admission to Harvard Law School in 1988. Back in the 1960s, al-Mansour, whose “slave name” was then Don Warden, was deeply involved in Bay Area racial politics as founder of a group called the African American Association. A close personal adviser to Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, al-Mansour helped the pair establish the Black Panther Party but later broke with them when they entered coalitions with white radical groups. After becoming a Muslim, al-Mansour found not only an ideological justification for his racism but also a political purpose. That was, in the words of a memorandum produced by the Muslim Brotherhood and seized by the FBI as part of its probe of the Holy Land Foundation, to “eliminate and destroy the Western civilization from within.” Many black racists like al-Mansour are key figures in this “stealth” jihad, whose prime recruiting grounds are the U.S. prisons and mosques where inmates and worshippers alike are taught to embrace a radical Islam engaged in an apocalyptic battle against America.

Al-Mansour met Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in the mid-1970s and formed a relationship that led to al-Mansour’s hiring as attorney to King Saud. He has since been an adviser to Saudi billionaires who fund the stealth jihad and spread Wahhabi extremism in America.

Other black racist Islamists play less glamorous but equally significant roles as Imams at major mosques in the U.S.; as chaplains in prisons and jails; and as radical figures who haunt American higher education by advising and speaking for organizations such as the Muslim Students Association (MSA) on campuses across the nation. Whatever audience they target, they speak a lingua franca of anti-white, anti-Semitic, anti-American hatred—all in the name of Allah.

And why is it that black racists such as al-Mansour constitute a significant proportion of these hate mongers? In large part, it is because blacks have been specifically and aggressively targeted for recruitment by leaders of the worldwide jihad, just as they were targeted for recruitment by the Communist Party USA in the 1920s. Black grievance, combined with the evangelism of the Nation of Islam over the last seventy years, has established an audience for the ideology of hate.

The prison, as the last bastion of racism and racial separatism, has become a prime recruitment center for radical Islam. Al Qaeda training manuals found by U.S. troops in Afghanistan reveal that America’s black prisoners, who constitute nearly half of the nation’s two million inmates, are viewed by terrorists as a potentially bountiful source of new jihadi recruits. The immensely wealthy Saudi government, which has made the propagation of radical Islam in America a top priority, has shipped tens of thousands of copies of the Koran to U.S. jails in recent years. Through the National Islamic Prison Foundation, Saudi money finances an extensive “prison outreach” program that seeks to convert inmates to Islam and to anti-Americanism. Prison chaplains are typically Wahhabis (practitioners of Saudi Arabia’s most extreme, fundamentalist form of Islam) who have been certified and trained as religious officials by either the Islamic Society of North America or the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences, both of which are currently under federal investigation for ties to terrorism. Islam expert Stephen Schwartz states that “radical Muslim chaplains … acting in coordination to impose an extremist agenda … have gained a monopoly over Islamic religious activities in American state, federal, and city prisons and jails.” Some 135,000 inmates convert to Islam annually, and almost all of these converts are African Americans.

Focusing their efforts and fortunes not only on prisons, the Saudis also have spent many millions of dollars funding a majority of America’s mosques, and have dispatched Imams from a number of Middle Eastern nations to settle in the U.S. as missionaries. Faheem Shuaibe, an Imam at a predominately black mosque in California, says that Saudi Arabia has set up “a very deliberate recruitment process … trying to find black Muslims who had a real potential for Islamic learning and also for submission to their agenda” of Wahhabi extremism. According to Islam scholar Daniel Pipes, there are approximately “a million American-born converts to Islam (and their descendants) in the United States and most of them have shifted allegiances away from their native country.” Pakistani religious leaders Sami ul-Haq and Fazrul Rehman predict that “in the next 10 years, Americans will wake up to the existence of an Islamic army in their midst—an army of jihadis who will force America to abandon imperialism and listen to the voice of Allah.”

The racial composition of this jihadi army is, of course, influenced by the Saudi targeting of African Americans. According to Reza Safa, an authority on Wahhabism’s spread throughout the world, “as many as 90 percent of American converts to Islam are black.”

The somewhat shadowy Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour embodies the marriage of racism and Islamism that characterizes the stealth jihad. Using his legal training to leverage his standing in the Islamic world, al-Mansour is a black nationalist and an outspoken hater of the United States, Israel, and white people generally. In recent years he has accused the U.S. of plotting a “genocide” designed “to remove 15 million black people, considered disposable, of no relevance, value or benefit to the American society.” He has told fellow blacks that “whatever you do to [white people], they deserve it, God wants you to do it and that’s when you cut out the nose, cut out the ears, take flesh out of their body, don’t worry because God wants you to do it.” Alleging further that Palestinians in Israel “are being brutalized like savages,” he accuses the Jews of “stealing the land the same way the Christians stole the land from the Indians in America.”

Other black racists who echo al-Mansour’s ideas include Imam Abdul Alim Musa, founder and director of the As-Sabiqun movement, which aims to “enable Islam to take complete control of … the lives of all human beings on Earth.” In 2004 the San Francisco Bay View described Musa as “one of the highest-ranking Islamic leaders in the Black community, nationwide and specifically in the Islamic movement.” Born in Arkansas as Clarence Reams, Musa was raised in Oakland, California. During the 1960s, he embraced the violent ideology of the Black Panthers.  He went on to become a leading cocaine-exporter in Colombia, a crime for which he eventually was incarcerated. While in prison, he converted to Islam and took his present name. An avid supporter of Iran’s lateAyatollah Khomeini, Musa calls for Islam to “take over America.”

He praises Muslim suicide bombers as “heroes” who courageously “strike at the heart of Zionism.” He predictsthat “this way of life known as Islam will dominate all other ways of life.” He lauds those who seek to honor Allah by means of violence. He says that America holds values and attitudes consistent with those of the Ku Klux Klan. He has praised Osama bin Laden, Hezbollah, and Hamas. And he holds that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were orchestrated jointly by the U.S. and Israeli governments in order to provide a pretext for waging war against Islam.

Warith Deen Umar (formerly Wallace Gene Marks), who was repeatedly incarcerated as a teenager, is a retired Muslim cleric who spent two decades helping to run New York’s Islamic prison program. A confidante of Nation of Islam kingpin Louis Farrakhan, Umarpersonally recruited and trained dozens of chaplains. With help from the Saudi government, he brought that country’s fanatical brand of Islam to New York’s Muslim inmates. Hebelieves that the 9/11 hijackers should be honored as martyrs, and that the U.S. risks further terrorist attacks because it oppresses Muslims around the world. Viewing black prisoners as potential soldiers in such attacks, Umar says, “Prisons are a powder keg. The question is the ignition.” He wrote in an unplublished memoir, “Even Muslims who say they are against terrorism secretly admire and applaud” the hijackers. The Koran, he added, does not condemn terrorism against oppressors of Muslims, even if innocent people are killed in the process. “This is the sort of teaching they don’t want in prison,” he said. “But this is what I’m doing.”

Sheikh Khalid Yasin is a U.S.-born, Atlanta-based Muslim convert (and a Malcolm X disciple) who has been a popular guest speaker at Muslim Students Association (MSA) events across the United States. He candidly states that America one day will be governed by Sharia (Islamic Law); that Muslims should steadfastly refuse to become friends with non-Muslims; that 9/11 was orchestrated by the U.S. and/or Israel; that homosexuals should be killed in accordance with Koranic mandates; and that AIDS was invented at a U.S. government lab for the purpose of killing nonwhites around the world.

Former Nation of Islam member Amir-Abdel Malik-Ali is a black Imam in Oakland who also has become a familiar figure on U.S. campuses where he speaks for the MSA. A passionate supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, he endorses suicide bombings as a legitimate “resistance” tactic of Muslim “martyrs.” He calls for “an Islamic revolution” that will lead to the creation of “an Islamic state” where “Allah controls every place—the home, the classroom, the science lab, the halls of Congress.” He maintains that “the Zionist Jews” were responsible for the Danish cartoon controversy that sparked Muslim riots around the world in 2006. He accuses the “apartheid State of Israel” of carrying out a “holocaust” and a “genocide” against the Palestinian people. Referring to Jews as “new Nazis” and “a bunch of straight-up punks,” he warns Jews: “[Y]our days are numbered…. We will fight you until we are either martyred or until we are victorious.”

Such are the commitments of the figures who have become the spearpoint of the Islamic jihad in America. Moving out from the hidden corners of American society into universities and other public places, these preachers of hate have made racism and Islamism into a potent toxin that they release under the cover of diversity and religious pluralism.

Here before us is a Soviet archival document,* a top secret report by a communist apparatchik who had received a delegation of US Senators led by Joseph Biden in 1979. After describing routine arms control discussions, it quotes Biden as telling the Soviets off-record that he did not really care about the persecution of Russian dissidents. He and other Senators might raise human rights issues with their Soviet counterparts, but only to be seen by the public as defenders of human rights, not to have those problems really solved. They would happily take no for an answer.Vadim V. Zagladin, the then deputy head of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee (the organization formerly known as the Comintern), wrote in the report:

The delegation did not officially raise the issue of human rights during the negotiations. Biden said they did not want ‘to spoil the atmosphere with problems which are bound to cause distrust in our relations.’ However, during the breaks between the sessions the senators passed to us several letters concerning these or those ‘refuseniks’.

Refuseniks were one of the best known groups of oppressed citizens in the USSR at that time: thousands of Jews who were refused exit permissions to emigrate to Israel on various trumped-up pretexts.

Unofficially, Biden and [Senator Richard] Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing to the American public that they do care for ‘human rights’. They must prove to their voters that they are ‘effective in fulfilling their wishes’. In other words, the collocutors directly admitted that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.

In the same conversation, Biden asked us to ensure that senators’ appeals on those issues are not left unanswered – even if we just reply that the letter is received but we cannot do anything.

Like most secret documents of the Cold War years, this report still remains classified in Russia’s official archives. However, a copy is available in the Gorbachev Foundation Archive in Moscow, where it was deposited by Mr. Zagladin – who himself works for the Gorbachev Foundation since the collapse of the USSR. Under pressure from the Kremlin, the archive had to limit the access to some of its documentary collections. However, Zagladin’s documents (Inventory 3/1) – including the one quoted above – were still available to researchers a few years ago, and that is how we obtained copies.

Of course, when people’s reputations are at stake, a natural question is: how far can we believe a document written by a communist? Other things being equal, if it is Zagladin’s word against a word of a U.S. Senator, one would surely believe the latter. Hopefully, Sen. Biden and Sen. Lugar will fairly soon provide the public with their own accounts of that episode, and then we will be able to compare.

Yet, we should not forget that these top secret documents were never intended to see the light of the day. They were written not for us, but for a very narrow circle of Zagladin’s communist bosses. Indeed, it was his job to deceive simple mortals; but deceiving the Politburo would be both pointless and dangerous. After reading and analyzing hundreds of suchlike reports by Zagladin, one cannot but conclude that he always portrayed his foreign collocutors as tougher, not softer, than they really were. That was natural, because that was safer for Zagladin himself. It was his job to cultivate foreign contacts, which made him to a degree responsible for their behavior. If he reported that someone was pro-Soviet and then the man turned out to be anti-Soviet, Zagladin would be held responsible. That is why he always preferred to err on the other side.

In any case, diplomacy is not so much about what you mean as how you are understood. If you go to Moscow sincerely determined to fight like a lion for human rights, and then leave the enemy with an impression that you don’t care – this is a monumental failure. It hardly matters what Senators Biden and Lugar actually thought about Soviet human rights abuses in the first place. If they really cared for human rights and meant to pressure the Soviets – so much the worse. Be that as it may, they were understood as the document reads. The message which the enemy received from them was this: we don’t care for those whom you keep torturing and rotting in prisons, but we would appreciate if you help us improve our public image.

There was more to it than simply the betrayal of dissidents; for this involved the question of the Senators’ own independence. Indeed, they should have known that every Soviet official who dealt with high-ranking foreigners would see them not as partners, but as potential targets for recruitment, potential collaborators or fellow-travelers. On such occasions, the Soviets always searched for a way to corrupt you. The worst thing you could do was to show the enemy that you depend on him in any way. For any Western politician, telling the Soviets that his public image depends on their good will was the first step to becoming an agent of influence, de facto if not de jure.

Today, it is a fact rather than a possibility that the next U.S. administration will have to lead the free world in the Second Cold War. Respectively, the staunchest critics of Russia’s authoritarianism from recent years – Senators McCain and Biden – are now at the center stage of the electoral campaign. Yet, fighting and winning this new Cold War will require more than just rhetoric. In order to work out correct strategies and tactics, it is more important than ever to analyze the lessons and mistakes of the first Cold War.

* [Top secret document is printed below]

9-20 April 1979 [?]The memo by Vadim V. Zagladin, deputy head of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee

ON THE BASIC CONTENTS OF TALKS WITH THE US SENATORS

During the official negotiations with the delegation of US senators led by J. Biden and the unofficial talks with the delegation’s head and some members, our collocutors expressed a number of considerations of certain interest.

1. J. Biden, the head of the delegation, said that the mutual understanding that the SALT-2 treaty should be ratified is, basically, achieved in the Senate Commission for Foreign Affairs. However, four reservations should be formulated. The contents of those reservations have already been reported to us by our embassy in Washington.

While commenting on the contents of those reservations, Biden said they should not worry the Soviet Union because they do not concern the substance of the treaty. The only reservation which, in his opinion, may cause our ‘displeasure’ says that the SALT-2 should not prevent the US from providing the defence capabilities of their allies. In practice, the collocutor said, this is a way to confirm the US’ preparedness to keep supplying European NATO members with modern US weapons, with the exception, naturally, of those types which are covered by the treaty itself.

The Senate Commission for Foreign Affairs is going to conclude the consideration of the treaty by the end of September. However, the Senate itself is starting to work on this problem later, possibly on the eve of the Christmas.

2. As for the problem of supplying Western Europe with new types of weapons, including the Pershing missiles etc.;, Biden said that no final decisions had been taken on this issue yet. Those decisions will be taken in December. And a lot there, he emphasised, will depend on the position of the Soviet Union.

During unofficial talks, Biden noted rather cynically that he personally and other members of the US Senate do not very much care about the Europeans’ concerns. The main area of the US citizens’ interest is the security of the US itself. Nevertheless, the feelings of our allies also ‘concern us’, he said. ‘We cannot stop supporting our allies, because if we did that, we would have weakened America’s own security’. Therefore, Biden continued, the Americans will probably have to solve the question of the supplies of the new types of armaments to Western Europe positively in principle. In any case, the majority in the Senate supports that, he said.

Then Biden meaningfully emphasised (and he was actively supported by Senator Prior here) that if the SALT-2 treaty is ratified before December, and if the Soviet Union makes some demonstrative steps in favour of further disarmament progress before the NATO meeting, the European countries probably may refrain from deploying new types of American weapons in Europe, or at least, postpone the decisions taken on this issue.

To our question on what exactly steps are meant here, Prior answered that, for example, the Soviet government might state it is not going to increase the number of SS-20 missiles any further.

3. Something that caught our attention was that this time, in both official and unofficial talks, the senators would raise more questions about the prospects, about the SALT-3, than the SALT-2. Unofficially, Biden said that ‘the question of the future is more significant to the more serious senators – although not to all – than the question of the present treaty. The thing is (he explained) that many in the Senate consider the present treaty as a kind of an intermediate step, a booster for the further reduction of the arms race. Many in the US are very serious about this, believing it is possible to negotiate the reduction of the level of military confrontation with the Soviet Union. However, at the same time, many people are uncertain whether the USSR will agree to further serious steps of that kind.’

Most questions concerned two subjects. Firstly, whether the USSR would agree to a significant reduction of the number of nuclear missiles at the next stage (the senators were particularly interested in heavy missiles in this connection). Secondly, whether the USSR would agree to the explansion of control and the introduction of ‘more effective methods’ (for example, the ‘black boxes’, which were discussed during the negotiations on the prohibition of underground nuclear tests).

It emerged during that talks that, in spite of all huge work we are doing about this, many statements of Comrade L. I. Brezhnev were unknown to the majority of the senators – for example, his statement that the Soviet Union was not going to make the first nuclear strike against anyone. The relevant texts were given to them, along with some other documents of the CPSU and the Soviet government.

4. It should also be noted that, this time, the delegation did not officially raise the issue of human rights during the negotiations. Biden said the did not want ‘to spoil the atmosphere with problems which are bound to cause distrust in our relations.’ However, during the breaks between the sessions the senators passed to us several letters concerning these or those ‘refuseniks’.

Unofficially, Biden and Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing to the American public that they do care for ‘human rights’. They must prove to their voters that they are ‘effective in fulfilling their wishes’. In other words, the collocutors directly admitted that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.

In the same conversation, Biden asked us to ensure that senators’ appeals on those issues are not left unanswered – even if we just reply that the letter is received but we cannot do anything. According to Biden, letters of this kind – if they are not addressed to the highest representatives of the Soviet state – sometimes remain unanswered.

JEWS AGAINST OBAMA!!!!

JEWS AGAINST OBAMA

You don’t have to be a Jew to join Jews Against Obama.Obama is not AmericanWhy Jews Against Obama?

The Jewish Task Force (JTF.org) is an organization of right wing Jews and righteous gentiles who follow the teachings of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. Thus we are opposed to Israel surrendering land for “peace.” We are also opposed to Islamic terrorism, which we believe is an integral part of Islam.

Unfortunately America has refused to win every single war she has fought after World War II. Our leaders have been more concerned about world opinion, sparing “innocent civilians” and “winning hearts and minds.” Israel has done the equivalent in her recent battle with Hezbollah in Lebanon.Obama in Muslim Dress

This refusal to win wars is all due to the pernicious influence of the Left, which has gained a major foothold in the Democrat party in the U.S., as well as the European Union and Israel. Therefore, JTF is also opposed to domestic fifth columnists who attempt to undermine America’s and Israel’s will to defend themselves and to properly fight their wars. Barack Hussein Obama is an example of a fifth columnist. We have started Jews Against Obama to expose him as being just that.

  • Obama’s father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., was a Muslim from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and his step father was a Muslim from Indonesia. Obama and Sharpton
  • Obama’s childhood mentor was a communist.
  • Obama attended Muslim Basuki School and a Catholic school in Indonesia and his religion was registered as Muslim in both schools. Despite this overwhelming evidence, Obama insists he was never a Muslim.
  • Obama has promised that in his first year of office, he will invite Iranian terrorist dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the White House in order improve relations and relax trade restrictions with Iran. This would certainly lead to the sale of advanced American technology, which would enable Iran to develop nuclear bombs much more quickly.
  • Obama is a supporter of Kenyan Muslim Raila Odinga, who recently lost in that country’s election, and who wants to institute Islamic Sharia law as the law of that land. Raila claims to be Obama’s first cousin.
  • Obama wants Muslim terrorists in Guantanamo to have access to the American legal system. Note that these Guantanamo attorneys [who represent these terrorists pro bono] are supporting Obama.
  • Obama’s foreign policy advisors from the Carter Administration are notoriously anti-Israel and antisemitic.
  • A non-profit organization with Obama on its board gave money to the terrorist-supporting Arab American Action Network, which favors Israel’s destruction and is completely against America enforcing any of her immigration laws.
  • Obama helped raise money for Muslim terrorist refugee camps in the Middle East.
  • Obama has been endorsed by communist Daniel Ortega (former head of the Weather Underground organization), communist Tom Hayden, Jesse Jackson, and Muslim racist and antisemite Louis Farrakhan.
  • Obama’s National Campaign Cochairman is congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., a notorious racist and antisemite.
  • Obama’s Pastor, who Obama claims is his mentor, traveled with Muslim racist and antisemite Louis Farrakhan to Libya in 1984 to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

These are only a few of many, many issues. Please join us in our fight against Barack Hussein Obama and help save America and Israel.

OBAMAS’ GOON SQUADS!!!!

A middle school teacher has been suspended for posting a video of his Barack Obama-slogan chanting, arm-waving drill team on YouTube.

The report from Fox News said the teacher, whose name was being withheld by the school district, was suspended today for the video revealing his students chanting lines from Obama talking points and wearing military-style uniforms.

According to Fox News, the school learned about the posting of the video, called “Obama Youth – Junior Fraternity Regiment,” and immediately took action.

It shows 10 black male students in 8th or 9th grades from the Urban Community Leadership Academy in Kansas City, a public charter school organized by the University of Central Missouri. They march in the room chanting, “Alpha, omega, alpha, omega.”

Although the immediate source of the phrase “alpha omega” likely traces to the black fraternity step team tradition, the deeper source derives from the book of Revelation, which refers to God as the “Alpha and Omega,” the first and last letters of the classical alphabet.

That chant soon yields to, “Yes we can.”

School superintendent Joyce McGautha was not pleased. She did not approve and does not condone the video. Not only was the teacher suspended, further drill activities were halted.

“Taxpayers have every reason to be upset,” she said.

The superintendent said because of the “legal action that we’ll probably have to take against the teacher,” his identity would be withheld at this point.

The Fox News report said the students studied Obama’s economic plan with the teacher, and the superintendent did not know whether the teacher or the students scripted the routine. The group should have also studied Republican John McCain’s economic plan, the superintendent said.

The superintendent said many of the school’s activities are recorded, and the teacher had been warned in a letter not to put it on the Internet.

Anonymous forum participants on the Fox News site were disdainful of the Democrats.

“The Democratic Party has become taken over by distorted closet socialists,” said one.

“Why does this not surprise me in the least, coming from an Obama supporter?” said another. “He deserves to be fired and NEVER allowed to teach again!”

WND reported just last week when nearby Missouri law officials, including public prosecutors, who were reportedly planning to “respond immediately” to any misleading advertisements against Obama if they “might violate Missouri ethics laws,” said they were backing off the intimidating implications of that report, promising they have no intention of prosecuting anyone.

As WND reported, prosecuting attorneys Bob McCulloch and Jennifer Joyce originally announced on KMOV-TV in St. Louis their participation in Obama’s “Truth Squad,” pledging to defend the candidate from untruthful ads with an undefined “immediate” response.

“Whether it is directly attributable to the (McCain) campaign or to one of the soft money operations,” McCulloch told the station, “if they’re not going to tell the truth, somebody’s got to step up and say, ‘That’s not the truth. This is the truth.'”

The move prompted Missouri’s governor to object that the prosecutors were using “police state tactics” to squelch information hurtful to the Obama campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words,” wrote Gov. Matt Blunt in a statement. “The party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.”

TIGHTENING THE NOOSE!!!!

As the war in Iraq recedes and a defeated al-Qaeda removes its surviving assets to Pakistan, the Afghan front is increasingly becoming the top American military priority.

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, stated this week more troops and economic aid were needed “as quickly as possible” for the seven-year-old counterinsurgency battle. The core of McKiernan’s military aid request is four more combat brigades and helicopters, indicating Afghanistan will have a “surge” of its own.

“We’re in a very tough fight,” said McKiernan to reporters at the Pentagon last Wednesday. “The idea that it might get worse before it gets better is certainly a possibility.”

But McKiernan’s request should not be read to mean that Taliban and al-Qaeda forces are “gaining” in Afghanistan, as one New York Times story indicated. Even though military deaths this year have already exceeded the 117 American dead in 2007 and currently stand at a record 134, this is still low in comparison to Iraq and American casualty figures in Vietnam and World War II – especially considering there are about 50,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

The much-reported 30 percent increase in violence in Afghanistan this year has also been accompanied with very little context. One publication, Strategy Page.com, pointed out that country-wide violence will cause 6,000 deaths in Afghanistan this year, which averages out to 24 dead per 100,000 people. In contrast, South Africa, a country at peace, will see 50 citizens out of every 100,000 die violently in 2008, mostly because of its high crime rate. Other countries, especially failed states like Somalia, probably have an even higher death rate from violence, but are unable to keep proper statistics. So the Afghan situation, while not laudable, is also not dismal.

Moreover, much of Afghanistan’s violence is also unrelated to the war. Constant tribal feuding has been a way of life for centuries in Afghanistan’s rural areas and accounts for many of the country’s killings. The tribesmen are armed, proud of their martial spirit and barely acknowledge the central government. Like most lawless regions, there are also few, if any, law enforcement officials to be found there.

Afghanistan’s drug gangs are also big contributors to the country’s lack of security and cause much of the violence. They have their own armed retainers who battle both government forces as well as each other. One American humanitarian aid worker witnessed such Afghan drug violence when he was inadvertently caught in a shootout between two rival groups but escaped unharmed.

But the biggest contribution drug gangs make to Afghanistan’s turmoil is the tax money they pay to the Taliban, which then hires fighters and buys weapons to use against Western forces and the Kabul government. Afghanistan now produces about 90 percent of the world’s heroin in its southern provinces. And although a poor poppy crop was reported this year, one estimate still puts the Taliban share at about $70 million.

The drug money has also led to Afghanistan’s biggest problem: corruption. Afghan government officials are suspected of being on drug gang payrolls. Even Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, was accused of being involved in the trade. The drug cancer, combined with officials stealing Western aid intended for the poor and dispossessed, has cost the Kabul government much of the people’s confidence and support. So like the American experience in Vietnam, the US army may win the military battles, but the country could be lost because of other, non-military factors.

Nevertheless, McKiernan is correct in asking for more troops at this time. The Taliban and al Qaeda are currently under severe pressure in their Pakistani base areas. The new Zardari government launched an all-out military offensive in August against the two terrorist organizations in their tribal agency strongholds and refuses to negotiate with them, giving them the stark options of either surrendering or leaving.

McKiernan has called the offensive’s initial results “encouraging.” About 1,000 Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters have been killed in the long overdue attack. A Pakistani newspaper reported that Taliban fighters have even left Afghanistan to confront the Pakistani army, leading to a noticeable lowering of insurgent activity in American-patrolled Kunar province. After years of American complaints about jihadists crossing unhindered into Afghanistan, a senior Paksitani military official ironically commented: “The Pakistan-Afghan border is porous and is now causing trouble for us in Bajaur (tribal agency).” To keep the pressure on the enemy, the American military also announced it will also stage a winter campaign.

An expansion of the Afghan army will accompany the arrival of more American troops. Currently about 70,000 strong, Afghan forces will number 90,000 by the end of the year and 130,000 soldiers in about three years. General David Petraeus calls this Afghan military expansion a “thickening” of the local forces. An increase in numbers on both sides will, like in Iraq, allow troops to hold areas the Taliban simply reoccupies after allied forces leave.

But besides the top down strategy of meeting the enemy head on militarily, both McKiernan and Petraeus intend to increase their bottom up strategy of increasing humanitarian aid and engaging local Afghan tribal and government leaders. The Taliban also recognizes the value of this strategy, as a UN report released this week stated it had killed 30 aid workers so far this year, attacked 22 food convoys and 59 schools.

But the only hitch to McKiernan’s request for the extra brigades is that they may not arrive immediately. As American troops leave Iraq, they will probably need a few months rest at home before being sent to the Afghan-Pakistan theater. Which is probably why Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently he is prepared to send thousands of troops to Afghanistan in the spring. So, after years of empty Taliban promises to capture Kabul in a spring offensive, it will instead be facing one of its own.

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday accused Democrat Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists” because of his association with a former 1960s radical, stepping up the campaign’s effort to portray Obama as unacceptable to American voters.Palin’s reference was to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Its members took credit for bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, during the tumultuous Vietnam War era four decades ago. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, served on a charity board with Ayers several years ago and has denounced his radical views and activities.

The Republican campaign, falling behind Obama in polls, plans to make attacks on Obama’s character a centerpiece of presidential candidate John McCain’s message with a month remaining before Election Day.

Palin told a group of donors at a private airport, “Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.” She also said, “This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America.”

Palin, Alaska’s governor, said that donors on a greeting line had encouraged her and McCain to get tougher on Obama. She said an aide then advised her, “Sarah, the gloves are off, the heels are on, go get to them.”

The escalated effort to attack Obama’s character dovetails with TV ads by outside groups questioning Obama’s ties to Ayers, convicted former Obama fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He and Obama live in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood and served together on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based charity that develops community groups to help the poor. Obama left the board in December 2002.

Obama was the first chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school-reform group of which Ayers was a founder. Ayers also held a meet-the-candidate event at his home for Obama when Obama first ran for office in the mid-1990s.

Palin cited a New York Times story published Saturday that detailed Obama’s relationship with Ayers. In an interview with CBS News earlier in the week, Palin didn’t name any newspapers or magazines that had shaped her view of the world.

Summing up its findings, the Times wrote: “A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called ‘somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.'”

Earlier Saturday, Palin spent 35 minutes at a diner in Greenwood Village where she met with Blue Star Moms, a support group of families whose sons or daughters are serving in the armed forces. Reporters were allowed in the diner for less than five minutes before being ushered out by the campaign.

Palin, whose 19-year-old son, Track, deployed last month as a private with an Army combat team, was overheard at one point commiserating with one of the mothers: “Any time I ask my son how he’s doing, he says, ‘Mom, I’m in the Army now.'”

Taking one question from reporters about competing in battleground states, Palin repeated her wish that the campaign had not pulled out of Michigan, a prominent state in presidential elections where Obama leads by double-digit percentage points in recent polls.

“As I said the other day, I would sure love to get to run to Michigan and make sure that Michigan knows that we haven’t given up there,” she said. “We care much about Michigan and every other state. I wish there were more hours in the day so that we could travel all over this great country and start speaking to more Americans. So, not worried about it but just desiring more time and, you know, to put more effort into each one of these states.”

Thirteen years to the day after being acquitted of killing his wife and her friend in Los Angeles, O.J. Simpson was found guilty of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

The 61-year-old former football star was convicted of all 12 counts late Friday after jurors deliberated for more than 13 hours. He released a heavy sigh as the charges were read and was immediately taken into custody.

Simpson, who went from American sports idol to celebrity-in-exile after his murder acquittal, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

His attorney said he would appeal.

Many people considered the four-week trial justice delayed. Simpson was cleared in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century, but was later found liable for the deaths in a civil case.

“I don’t like to use the word payback,” defense attorney Yale Galanter said. “I can tell you from the beginning my biggest concern … was whether or not the jury would be able to separate their very strong feelings about Mr. Simpson and judge him fairly and honestly.”

The Hall of Fame football star was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering up five men a year ago and storming into a room at a hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said Simpson asked him to bring a gun.

Simpson’s co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, also was found guilty on all charges and taken into custody.

Simpson showed little emotion as officers handcuffed him and walked him out of the courtroom. His sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed behind him in the arms of Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto, who said “I love you” as Simpson passed by. As spectators left the courtroom, Durio collapsed.

Jurors made no eye contact with the defendants as they entered the courtroom. They declined to answer questions after the verdict was read.

Galanter said his client had expected the outcome, and in a courthouse conversation with an Associated Press reporter on Thursday, Simpson had implied as much.

Simpson said he was “afraid that I won’t get to go to my kids’ college graduations after I managed to get them through college.”

Galanter said it was not a happy day for anybody. “His only hope is the appellate process,” he said.

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said prosecutors would not comment until the case was “completely resolved.”

Judge Jackie Glass made no comment other than to thank the jury for its service and to deny motions for the defendants to be released on bail.

She refused to give the lawyers extended time to file a motion for new trial, which under Nevada law must be filed within seven days. The attorneys said they needed time to submit a voluminous record.

“I’ve sat through the trial,” Glass said. “If you want a motion for new trial, send me something.”

Stewart’s attorney, Brent Bryson, also promised to appeal.

“If there was ever a case that should have been severed in the history of jurisprudence, it’s this case,” he said of unsuccessful attempts to separate Stewart’s case from Simpson’s because of the “spillover” effect.

From the beginning, Simpson and his lawyers argued the incident was not a robbery, but an attempt to reclaim mementos that had been stolen from him. He said he did not ask anyone to bring a weapon and did not see any guns.

The defense portrayed Simpson as a victim of shady characters who wanted to make a buck off his famous name, and police officers who saw his arrest as an opportunity to “get” him and avenge his acquittal.

Prosecutors said Simpson’s ownership of the memorabilia was irrelevant; it was still a crime to try to take things by force.

“When they went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, `Don’t let anybody out of here!’ — six very large people detaining these two victims in the room with the intent to take property through force or violence from them — that’s kidnapping,” prosecutor David Roger said.

Kidnapping is punishable by five years to life in prison. Armed robbery carries a mandatory sentence of at least two years behind bars, and could bring as much as 30. Sentencing was set for Dec. 5.

Simpson, who now lives in Miami, did not testify but was heard on a recording of the confrontation screaming that the dealers had stolen his property. “Don’t let nobody out of this room,” he declared and told the other men to scoop up his items, which included a photo of Simpson with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Four other men charged in the case struck plea bargains that saved them from potential prison sentences in return for their testimony. Some of them had criminal records or were otherwise compromised in some way. One, for example, was an alleged pimp who testified he had a revelation from God telling him to take a plea bargain.

Memorabilia dealer Thomas Riccio, who arranged and secretly recorded the hotel-room confrontation, said he netted $210,000 from the media for the tapes.

Similarly, minutes after the Sept. 13, 2007, incident, one of the alleged victims, sports-memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley, was calling news outlets, and the other, Bruce Fromong, spoke of getting “big money” from the case.

Simpson’s past haunted the case. Las Vegas police officers were heard in the recordings chuckling over Simpson’s misfortune and crowing that if Los Angeles couldn’t “get” him, they would.

During jury selection, Simpson’s lawyers expressed fears that people who believed he got away with murder might see this case as a chance to right a wrong.

As a result, an usually large pool of 500 potential jurors was called, and they were given a 26-page questionnaire. Half were almost instantly eliminated after expressing strong feelings that Simpson should have been convicted of murder.

The judge instructed the jurors to put aside Simpson’s earlier case.

In closing arguments, Galanter acknowledged that what Simpson did to recover his memorabilia was not right. “But being stupid, and being frustrated is not being a criminal,” he said.

He added: “This case has taken on a life of its own because of Mr. Simpson’s involvement. You know that. I know that. Every cooperator, every person who had a gun, every person who had an ulterior motive, every person who signed a book deal, every person who got paid money, the police, the district attorney’s office, is only interested in one thing: Mr. Simpson.”

In the weeks preceding yesterday’s vice presidential debate, one might have been forgiven for suspecting a vast right-wing conspiracy to lower expectations for Sarah Palin. A platitude-filled interview with Katie Couric, spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” and lamented by unnamed but oft-quoted “top advisers to John McCain,” seemed to underscore the impression that the attractive Alaska governor was all style and no substance – and certainly no match for a Senate heavyweight like Joe Biden.

Palin did nothing to discourage such deflationary talk. For instance, she suggested that she was overmatched by the experienced Biden when she said that she’d been listening to his “speeches since I was in the second grade.” So pronounced did the underselling of Palin become that even the Obama campaign felt compelled to bolster the case for the really “terrific debater” who would “give a great performance next Thursday.”

Alas for the Obama camp, their spin was more precise. Time and again in their Thursday night debate, Palin not only stood her ground against Biden but, on issue after issue, outperformed her Democratic counterpart. This political pit-bull, it turns out, has bark and bite.

It didn’t hurt Palin that Biden seemed determined to rehearse the more dubious charges of the Obama campaign. Several times, Biden suggested that John McCain had pushed for a special tax break for oil companies like Exxon Mobil at the expense of tax relief for the middle class, a charge that first aired in an Obama TV ad earlier this summer. At the time, the non-partisan website PoltiFact.com, maintained by the St. Petersburg Times, demonstrated that it was a serious distortion of McCain’s support for a broad reduction in corporate taxes.

Palin went one better. Not only did she identify by name Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, but she went on to point out, accurately, that Obama himself had voted for the 2005 energy bill that granted tax breaks to oil companies, and contrasted it with her own much-publicized battles with oil companies in Alaska. (Palin was too nice to mention that Obama’s crusading against Exxon hasn’t prevented him from pocketing more than $30,000 from Exxon-Mobil employees.) A minor issue in the context of the wider debate, it nonetheless established straightaway that Palin not only understood the details of policy – something that her recent televised flops had given cause to doubt – but would not be bullied on politics.

And, indeed, she wasn’t. Take foreign policy. As the reigning chairman and longtime member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden was thought to have a clear advantage on the subject. It was just one of the assumptions demolished in the course of the debate. When Biden tried to defend Obama’s record on the Iraq war, Palin countered with some inconvenient praise, noting that Biden had earlier “opposed the move [Obama] made to try to cut off funding for the troops and I respect you for that.”

Going on the attack, Palin then asked how Biden could defend Obama’s position “especially with your son in the National Guard.” The reference to Beau Biden, a captain in Delaware’s National Guard, was particularly clever, coming as it did from Biden’s very own political playbook: During the primaries last August, Biden had scorned his Democratic opponents for voting against funding for the troops “to make a political point,” memorably adding that “there’s no political point worth my son’s life.” He couldn’t have imagined then how the line would come back to haunt him.

To shift the topic, Biden reached for a standard Democratic talking point. Iraq, he insisted, was a distraction from the real war on terror. Palin again gave no ground. Democrats’ claims to the contrary notwithstanding, she countered, Iraq is indeed a central front in the war on terror. “And as for who coined that central war on terror being in Iraq, it was General Petraeus and al Qaeda,” said Palin, amusingly pointing out that this was the “only thing that they’re ever going to agree on.” Against Palin’s pointed outline of the stakes in Iraq, Biden’s promise to withdraw troops in adherence with a political timeline seemed especially out of touch. And although Palin did not raise the point directly, viewers were left to wonder: How would President Obama make good on his promises to defeat al-Qaeda when he and his running mate refuse to recognize Iraq as a key battleground in the war on terror?

Palin proved even more adept in pricking the Democratic ticket’s pretensions to bi-partisanship. When Biden suggested that an Obama presidency would end polarization in Washington, Palin noted that Obama cast some 96 percent of his votes “solely along party line.” As Biden strained to play the loyal surrogate, Palin not only called attention to McCain’s record of breaking with his own party, but proudly boasted that he “never asked me to check my opinions at the door.”

Biden had hardly burnished his bi-partisan credentials when he revealed that his great insight as a senator was to recognize that judicial nominees should not be evaluated on their service record or qualifications but on the basis of their political ideology, citing as a putative achievement his successful 1987 campaign to defeat the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork. Those who recall Biden’s role in misrepresenting the record of Judge Bork – a Yale law professor and a member of the prestigious Court of Appeals whose great failing was to be a judicial conservative – might wonder how it supports his pledge to usher in an era of post-partisanship.

The discrepancy was not lost on Palin. In one of her most effective lines of the evening, she rebuffed Biden’s partisan attempts to tie McCain to the Bush administration by observing that “for a ticket that wants to talk about change and looking into the future, there’s just too much finger-pointing backwards to ever make us believe that that’s where you’re going.” As with so many other times in the debate, Biden had no compelling answer.

Nor could the Washington veteran match Palin’s engaging presence, which ultimately turned the debate in her favor. Charming, gracious, and politically fluent, she deftly inserted populist references to “Main Streeters like me” and even forced a crack in Biden’s steely façade when she premised a rejoinder with a ringing, “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”

Biden, by contrast, was stiff and hectoring, with his recurrent admonition – “Let me say that again” – calling to mind all the pompousness of the entrenched political class. One almost expected the Senator to address himself in the third person, which in fact he did, when he assured his interviewer, Gwen Ifill, that “no one in the United States Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden.” That is debatable. More certain is that Joe Biden has had better debates.

Presidential campaigns rarely hinge on political debates, and yesterday’s duel is unlikely to reverse this history. It does, however, confirm a point that until yesterday seemed increasingly uncertain. If John McCain loses the election, it won’t be because of Sarah Palin.

GEERT WILDERS’ WAR!!!!

New York – Say what you will about Geert Wilders – and his critics, not least the Islamic clerics who issue near-daily fatwas commanding his death, have made their views plain – there is no gainsaying that the man has guts. Ever since 2004, when the Dutch politician emerged as one of Europe’s more forthright foes of Islamic fundamentalism, Wilders, 45, has been the subject of considerable obloquy, both in his native Netherlands, where he is scorned by the political elite, and abroad, where he is the target of untold assassination plots.

But not only has his international infamy not deterred Wilders from declaring against Islamic extremism –and, more controversially, Islam as a whole – but it has actually spurred him to become even more outspoken about what he considers to be its mortal threat to Western civilization. Most recently, he made the point in his provocative 15-minute film, “Fitna” (“challenge” in Arabic), released on the internet last May to much handwringing in Europe’s political salons and the obligatory denunciations and death threats in the Muslim world. Agree or disagree with its message, there is no disputing its subtext: Geert Wilders will not be silenced.

This much was apparent during his September 25 stop in New York. Part of an outreach tour by Wilders and several members of his two-year-old political party, the rightist-populist Party for Freedom, the visit was designed to forge links with ideological allies in the U.S. and to explain just how parlous is the state of affairs in a Europe that is, as Wilders sees it, if not yet lost to Islam, nevertheless on the cusp of cultural and political surrender. At a lunch sponsored by the Hudson Institute, the conservative think tank, Wilders – tall, slightly tense and sporting the signature peroxide-blond bouffant that makes him look like a right-wing Mozart – offered an apt demonstration of what it is that has his European colleagues discomfited and his jihadist revilers literally clamoring for his head.

For those who’ve followed his career, it was vintage Wilders. Whether it was his recommended response to immigrants who refuse to assimilate (“there’s the door and there’s the shredder for your passport”), or his politically incorrect references to the “so-called prophet” Mohammed (“mass murderer and a sick pedophile”) and the Koran (the Muslim “Mein Kampf”), or his nod to the Iranian government (“crazy lunatics”), Wilders could not be accused of excessive diplomacy. And he was never more animated than on the subject that fuels his more health-hazardous tirades. At one point, Wilders presented what he called a lesson in “Islam 101.” It went like this: “Islam is not a religion. It’s a political ideology. If you want to compare it then the only thing you can compare it to is communism. It’s a totalitarian ideology.” Lest there be any misunderstanding, Wilders added that there was no such thing as moderate Islam. “Sure, there are moderate Muslims,” he said. “But there is no moderate Islam.”

Kindred themes feature in his film “Fitna.” To say that Wilders does not present Islam as a religion of peace is to put it mildly. “Fitna” juxtaposes graphic footage of Islamic terrorism – including the 9-11 attacks, the Madrid train bombings, and the beheading of Nicholas Berg – with Koranic verses and clips of Islamic clerics preaching murder of non-Muslims and Jews. Low-budget and unabashedly one-sided – Wilders seems uninterested in the possibility that there is more to foundational Islamic texts than murderous calls to arms – it is not exactly a polished work, something Wilders readily concedes. “I’m a lawmaker not a moviemaker,” he says. But like its creator, the film is nothing if not direct.

However one judges its content, the fact that “Fitna” has been released at all is something of an achievement. State-owned Dutch television stations refused to screen it last spring. Meanwhile, Dutch Muslims, unwittingly confirming Wilders’s skepticism about the compatibility of Islamic mores and democratic values, called for the film to be banned. The political establishment, too, failed to distinguish itself. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende did nothing to discourage the hotter heads in the Muslim community when he announced that “Fitna” “serves no other purpose than to cause offense.” Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen similarly urged Wilders not to show the film because it could “endanger the lives of Dutch nationals” abroad. (Appearances notwithstanding, Verhagen insisted that he was “not trying to meet demands from anti-democratic forces and terrorists in the Middle East.”) “It was an absolute disgrace,” Wilders recalls of such reactions.

More menacing was the preemptive outrage in the Muslim world. In a grim replay of the Danish cartoon controversy of 2005, Dutch flags were burned, as muftis promised bloodshed if the film were shown. In Indonesia, where protestors brandished banners proclaiming “Kill Geert Wilders,” the government appealed to Dutch authorities to outlaw the film and, failing to get its way, permanently barred Wilders from entering the country. The Taliban, after getting word of the film’s release, vowed to increase attacks on Dutch troops in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda-linked groups issued internet death threats against Wilders.

While some of the threats proved empty, others were all-too credible. Indeed, today Wilders is in more danger than ever – no small feat for a man who just a few years ago was forced to spend nights in high-security prison cells and safe houses to avoid the gruesome fate of another Dutch filmmaker, Theo Van Gogh, who was savagely murdered by Moroccan Islamist Mohammed Bouyeri in November 2004. In the past two months in particular, the threats have multiplied. “It’s embarrassing even to talk about it,” Wilders says when I ask him about his security arrangements. For obvious reasons, he doesn’t want to divulge the size of his security detail, but he does say that “they would have to clear the street” in Amsterdam to accommodate them all. Even in the relative safety of Manhattan, Wilders takes no chances. As he spoke, two tall men in black suits and crew cuts sat watchfully by the door.

Safety concerns have limited Wilders’s public presence, but they have not diminished his political stature. Just the opposite: His Party for Freedom (PVV) now has nine members in the 150-member Dutch parliament, where it continues to press for its Wilders-inspired platform of restricting immigration from Muslim countries; for more aggressively monitoring domestic extremism, including radical mosques; and for reducing an indulgent welfare state that allows immigrants to live comfortably without assimilating. To be sure, these remain minority views in Dutch politics. “We vote every Tuesday and it’s always the same,” says Martin Bosma, a PVV MP. “Nine people raise their hands and the other 141 stare at their shoes.” Nonetheless, Bosma says that “we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic.” The PVV currently has around 10 percent support in national polls, he notes. Double what it attracted when it first stood for election in 2006, this would translate into 15 seats in the parliament in the next general election in 2010.

The PVV also has another thing going for it: Its animating anxiety about the dangers of Islamic extremism is now shared by large parts of the Dutch electorate. In a 2004 poll, 47 percent of the Dutch admitted to fearing that they would have to live according to Islamic rules in the Netherlands at some point. Similarly, in a May 2005 poll, 43 percent of the Dutch said Islam was incompatible with Western society, results that were more than matched the following year, when a poll found that the majority of native Dutch found Islam intolerant (52 percent), violent (40 percent), and hostile to women (70 percent). Increasingly, it seems, Wilders is preaching to the choir.

To his political adversaries, these polls are proof of Wilders’s malign influence on Dutch politics. In this exegesis, it is only Wilders and the PVV’s “racism” and “xenophobia,” bolstered by “an alarmist presentation of Muslim immigration to the Netherlands and Europe,” that is causing the Dutch to doubt the model of all-tolerant multiculturalism that has prevailed for so long.

The reality, though, is more complex. Although, at around one million, the Dutch Muslim community still is only about 5.8 percent of the population, it is increasingly a majority in some neighborhoods – and a hostile one at that. Overtoomse Veld, the west Amsterdam neighborhood of Theo Van Gogh’s killer Mohammed Bouyeri, is by some estimates 80 to 90 percent Muslim. Major Dutch cities like Rotterdam, now home to the Islamic University of Rotterdam, are nearly half Muslim. On their face, such statistics may seem unobjectionable. But it has not escaped notice that these cities, with their restive and unassimilated immigrant populations, boast some of the highest crime rates in the Netherlands and serve as havens for religious radicalism. Nor do Dutch voters need Wilders to wonder about some Muslims’ capacity for tolerance. A spate of attacks on gay men by young Muslim thugs in Amsterdam, once the self-styled “gay capital of Europe,” has convincingly made the case for him.

Among those disinclined to debate him, it’s fashionable to dismiss Wilders as a populist vulgarian who revels in giving offense. The writer Ian Baruma, writing in the New Yorker, has quipped that Wilders sees “delicacy as a sign of fraudulence.” But this is something of a misconception. Despite his exuberantly confrontational rhetoric, Wilders himself is thoughtful, personable, and hard to mistake for the Muslim-hating bigot that some imagine him to be. For instance, as he was doing an interview in New York, a man tapped him on the shoulder. It was Ebby Moussazadeh, a board member at the Hudson Institute. Pointing to his nametag, Moussazadeh said, faux-menacingly, “It’s a Muslim name.” Wilders brightened. “Iranian,” he said. “I recognize it.” Wilders explained that he had travelled to Iran a number of times before his recent notoriety and said that he would one day like to return to the country when it is politically free.

Still, it’s true that Wilders comes across as too hard-edged for some. Even as he recognizes that, he is not about to moderate his take-no-prisoners style. On the contrary, he sees it as a way of injecting urgency into the European debate about Islam and multiculturalism. “In Europe, we have consensus in our veins,” Wilders told me. “What we did for the last 30 years is compromise all the time; it was all carrots and no sticks. All we have to show for it is a lot of orange and a lot of trouble.” No more, he says. “You have to be heard. Right now, people are speaking without really saying what they mean. It’s not enough to talk about immigration. You have to get to the core of the issue, which is that Islam is incompatible with democracy.”

Since the conversation has turned to Islam, his combative side resurfaces. Although Wilders isn’t ready to go into further detail, he reveals that he is planning to make a sequel to “Fitna.” This time, though, it is Wilders who offers the preemptive threat, directed at Islamic radicals: He will not be stopped. “If I stopped talking about this, the people who want to kill me would have a holiday,” he explains. “I cannot let them win.”

AXIS OF DOOM!!!!

The burgeoning alliance between Russia and Venezuela has just gone nuclear. On Sunday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that he had accepted an offer from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to help Venezuela develop nuclear energy – “for peaceful ends of course.” The Russian nuclear power construction company Atomstroyexport, which is currently building Iran’s new plant, will coordinate the project.

Nuclear cooperation is only the most recent – and, arguably, the most alarming – testament to the ties between Venezuela and its Russian patron. For example, later this year Russia and Venezuela are planning to hold joint military exercises, a deployment that represents the largest Russian naval maneuver in the Caribbean since the Cold War. On top of that, Chavez has purchased Russian anti-aircraft systems worth over $4.5 billion, and has been promised a $1 billion dollar “loan” from Russia as part of a “military cooperation program.”

In the economic realm, too, the Kremlin and Caracas are closer than ever. In July, Russian energy giants LUKoil and Gazprom announced plans to invest up to $30 billion in Venezuela’s oil-rich Orinoco basin, a deal that Chavez hailed as “a colossus being born.” Moreover, trade between Russia and Venezuela more than doubled between 2006 and 2007.

The two countries have made no secret of their strategic partnership. Chavez boasts that he has developed a “profound friendship” with Putin. Returning the compliment, Putin declared that Russia and Venezuela are developing “our ties in all spheres,” with “new possibilities in energy, high-tech, machine construction and chemicals” and “cooperation in [the] military and technical spheres.”

Fueling this cooperation is a shared antagonism toward the United States. Both Chavez and Putin have described the relationship as “multi-polar” – a term that describes their opposition to “U.S. global domination.” For instance, Putin declared that, “Latin America has become an important chain-link in creating a multipolar world, and we will pay more attention to this vector.” More recently, Chavez was one of the few world leaders to echo the Kremlin propaganda line that the United States was to blame for Russia’s recent invasion of South Ossetia – a clear sign that Venezuela had come under Russia’s sphere of influence.

For Russia, the advantages of having a prominent anti-American ally are obvious. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was forced to prop up teetering fellow communist governments. In contrast, modern Russia, no longer constrained by communist ideology, is “free to shift [its] focus to creating wholesale chaos in Latin America,” according to a Stratfor analysis. “Where once massive state subsidies were necessary for creating a threat on the U.S. periphery, now Russia (which, for the moment, has the cash to spare) need only send a few extra shipments of light arms to spark a little extra destabilization in a region already rife with strife. For the Russians, a billion dollars to empower a country already working to undermine U.S. influence is money well spent. And if the influx of arms destabilizes Venezuela itself? Well, Venezuela is a major oil supplier to the United States. Either way it goes, Russia wins.”

More broadly, Russia’s alliances in the Caribbean help it “get payback for U.S. policies in Europe,” says Ray Walser, a Senior Policy Analyst for Latin America for the Heritage Foundation. Walser points out that Putin is especially angered by American support for Georgia, and its new missile defense deal with Poland.

At the same time, Walser notes that courting Venezuela carries its own risks. “The nuclear side of the relationship remains very uncertain.” Walser observes that oil rich Venezuela is an unlikely location for a nuclear power plant, which has “the potential to become a white elephant.” If the Russians and Venezuelans are actually planning to develop nuclear weapons, that would violate the 1969 Treaty of Tlateloco. Otherwise known as the “Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean,” it has been ratified by all 33 nations in the region. A violation of the treaty, Walser says, “would really get the U.S. angry.” In that case, Walser says, the political consequences for Russia would be serious. Russia risks further isolation from the U.S. and the rest of the world, while “for Chavez, invoking the Russians may not sit will with either the Venezuelan people or Venezuela’s neighbors, who have enjoyed relatively low defense costs.”

Perhaps mindful of such perils, Russia isn’t placing all its eggs into a Venezuelan basket. Nicaragua’s military has been promised Russian replacement helicopters and missiles, while Cuba gets “a new space-based communication station and new aerial espionage capacities.” Together, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba form a strategic Caribbean triangle of anti-American nations and vital sea-lanes that Russia is eager to control. According to Investors Business Daily, “America imports 60% of its energy from overseas, and 64% of that must cross the Caribbean to reach Gulf refineries, ports and pipelines. Another portion must cross the Panama Canal. Russian communications operations, submarines and naval ships hanging around with little to do are a problem, even if a shot is never fired.”

With its military commitments in the Middle East, America will be hard-pressed to patrol the Caribbean at the same time. Instead, says Ray Walser, Washington should “work to expose Venezuelan misdeeds such as narcotics trafficking and support of FARC” terrorists. America’s political leadership, meanwhile, must keep a close watch on Russia’s campaign to reignite the Cold War, one Latin American country at a time. Russia is already helping Iran build “its first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr” — and now appears to be betting that a many-headed nuclear hydra will be simply too much for the West to handle.

Races to Watch IV: Money Flowing from Oil and Gas

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The oil and gas industry, under the spotlight this fall with energy at the forefront of political discourse, isn’t hesitating to put some of its record profits into the hands of candidates who support its cause (or those it’s seeking to convert). So far this election cycle, the oil and gas industry has given $12.3 million total to congressional candidates. Oil giants Chevron, Exxon Mobil and BP, each of which is among the top 100 donors of all time a (including employee and PAC donations), are among those companies that are attempting to sway congressional races.

Republicans have historically been the industry’s favorite, bringing in as much as 82 percent of the contributions from oil and gas companies in the 2006 election cycle. Of the $12.3 million the industry has given to congressional candidates this cycle, Republicans have collected 75 percent. Nine of the top 10 Senate candidates and eight of the top 10 House candidates who have received the most oil money this cycle are Republicans.

The energy-related issues playing a role in the congressional races this year are numerous. Gas prices hit a new record, and renewable energy is now competing with oil and gas for subsidies. The ban on offshore drilling is likely to be lifted, and many candidates for Congress, particularly those from coastal states, are using this as a major part of their platform.

“I think energy is a big issue on people’s minds mainly because of the rise in cost of gasoline, and the rise in cost of home utility bills, especially electricity,” said Charles Ebinger, director of the Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution. “The electricity bills in some northeastern states could go up to $1,500 a month this winter. These two things are perceived to be hitting people’s pocketbooks the hardest. This is why issues like offshore drilling and nuclear energy are being discussed much more widely.”

There is a lot at stake for the oil and gas industry this year–and for the politicians who hope to keep or gain a seat in Congress. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has identified the candidates who have received the most money from oil and gas interests in this election cycle, and Capital Eye selected a few races to more deeply examine the impact of well-digger dollars on politics.

“Oil and gas money always plays a prominent role in politics, because there is so much of it,” said Daniel J. Weiss, an energy and climate expert at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “Oil company lobbyists are trying to protect their record profits by opposing an end to industry tax breaks. They’re giving a lot of money to people who support those tax breaks.”

Here are a few oil-supported races to watch:

Louisiana Senate Race

Mary L. Landrieu (D)*
Total Raised: $9,493,299
Total from oil and gas companies: $305,950
John Neely Kennedy (R)
Total Raised: $5,622,089
Total from oil and gas companies: $117,900

This election cycle, only Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) have received more money than Louisiana incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu from the oil and gas industry. Her nearly $306,000 haul is a particularly noteworthy accomplishment given that Landrieu is a Democrat and the oil and gas industry heavily favors Republicans. Landrieu’s opponent, Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy, hasn’t exactly been ignored by the industry, however, having pocketed more than $117,000 himself. Because the oil and gas industry plays such a big role in Louisiana, constituents there may not see the contributions as being tainted, the way constituents in other parts of the country might.

“Oil and gas provide the backbone for the Louisiana economy,” said Scott Schneider, spokesman for the Landrieu campaign. “It’s the source of thousands of jobs in the state and on the Gulf Coast.” According to the state government, Louisiana is the number-one producer of crude oil and the number-two producer of natural gas among the 50 states. As a hub of the energy industry, and one of the few states where offshore drilling is permitted, oil money has always had a significant role in Louisiana politics.

The main reason that the oil and gas industry has been so supportive of Landrieu may be because of her action on offshore drilling. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Landrieu became the first Louisiana lawmaker to push through legislation allowing the Pelican State to recoup lost revenue by sharing royalties from offshore drilling, according to Congressional Quarterly. During fiscal year 2007, Louisiana received $23.1 million from offshore leases–and the state expects this number to go up dramatically in the next decade–and has put the funds toward coastal restoration. Those receiving a piece of the offshore pie have not been shy about contributing to Landrieu: oil rig operator Edison Chouest Offshore ranks fourth among her top contributors between 2003 and 2008.

Landrieu can use every dollar she can raise, as the she seems to be the only Senate incumbent that Democrats fear will lose a seat. “The Republican Party was a beneficiary of the demographic shakeup statewide, there is no question about that,” said Thomas Langston, a political scientist at Tulane University in New Orleans. “Yellow dog Dems have been slow to die in Louisiana, and Katrina gave them a push into the grave, because Republicans realize they can win as Republicans.” Another upshot for challenger Kennedy’s chances is the high approval rating for Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. In addition, President Bush’s approval rating in Louisiana is higher than the national average. However, it may be harder for Kennedy to lay his claim to the GOP since he only became a Republican in 2007.

Kennedy, too, supports offshore drilling, and his campaign said he’d like to see it expanded to end the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, spokesman Kyle Plotkin said. “John Kennedy supports drilling everywhere, including the Outer Continental Shelf and [the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve], developing oil shale in the West, investing in clean and renewable energy and conservation,” he said.

North Carolina Senate Race

Elizabeth Dole (R)*
Total Raised: $11,271,438
Total from oil and gas companies: $124,527
Kay R. Hagan (D)
Total Raised: $3,059,918
Total from oil and gas companies: $5,550

The oil and gas industry has given incumbent Elizabeth Dole 22 times more money than Democratic challenger Kay Hagan. Of the candidates for Senate this election cycle, Dole is among the top 10 recipients of oil and gas money–an obvious industry favorite. But despite her enormous financial advantage in this area (and overall), this race supports the notion that money can’t buy everything, as these two political veterans are now racing neck-and-neck to Election Day. Recent polls show that this is going to be a close race, and one where the energy debate is a priority for both campaigns.

Both Hagan and Dole have come out in support of offshore drilling, but this is a reversal for both candidates. Before this summer, Dole and Hagan supported a federal moratorium on oil exploration off North Carolina’s coast. Historically, many lawmakers have been staunchly opposed to offshore drilling for environmental concerns and the damaging effects it would have on tourism, but sky-high gas prices have caused politicians to re-consider their position.

Part of the energy debate strategy of both candidates in this race has been accusing the other of profiting off of the oil and gas industry. The Dole campaign ran an ad accusing Hagan herself of owning wells and profiting every time North Carolinians go to the gas pump. The News & Observer called the ad inaccurate, because it’s Hagan’s husband who has investments in companies that own domestic wells, and the Hagans do not own any wells themselves. The Hagan campaign shot back by broadcasting that Bob Dole, Elizabeth Dole’s husband and a former Senate majority leader, has a $1 million stake in an offshore hedge fund that speculates on oil. According to the Hagan campaign, the Dole hedge fund investment raises a question: whether Dole’s vote against more regulation of hedge funds that speculate on the oil market was motivated by personal financial gain.

While both campaigns are up in arms trying to prove that the other’s personal finances make them beholden to Big Oil, there is no question about who is receiving more contributions. Not only has Dole received more than Hagan this election cycle by leaps and bounds, she’s raked in more than $277,700 from the oil and gas industry during her Senate career. Since her first run for Senate in 2002, oil and gas companies have been among Dole’s top 20 industry supporters. They have no effect on her legislative decisions, though, said Dan McLagan, spokesman for the Dole campaign. “Sen. Dole has never been beholden to any donor,” he said, citing Dole’s co-sponsorship of the Clean Energy Investment Act, a bill that would establish a government-run bank to assist in the financing, and facilitate the commercial use, of clean energy and energy-efficient technologies within the United States.

Where these candidates stand on energy issues will come into play for North Carolina voters on Election Day. “Working families spent the entire month of August having to pay more and more for gas,” said Colleen Flanagan, spokeswoman for the Hagan campaign. “People in Greenville, Asheville and Raleigh, they aren’t in the Senate listening to the back and forth. They’re feeling it at the cash register.”

New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District

Harry Teague (D)
Total Raised: $1,529,892
Total from oil and gas companies: $68,700
Edward Tinsley (R)
Total Raised: $1,091,355
Total from oil and gas companies: $43,950

Rep. Steve Pearce is retiring from his 2nd District seat to run for Senate, leaving it to candidates Harry Teague (D) and Ed Tinsley (R) to vie for his spot. The 2nd District, which sprawls over half of New Mexico, is littered with thousands of oil wells. Teague, like Louisiana’s Sen. Mary Landrieu, is an anomaly for being a Democrat who’s received more money from the oil and gas industry than his Republican opponent. However, party titles in this race are deceptive; it’s really more about energy politics. Both candidates have ties to the oil industry: Teague owns an oil field services company, and Tinsley is an oil investor (and restaurant owner). Tinsley is favored slightly, but Teague is raising more money and it’s stacking up to be pretty competitive.

Teague is not concerned about his professional background in the oil industry, “My experience in the energy industry is an asset. I’ve worked in the oil fields, but I also helped to bring wind farms and nuclear energy facilities to New Mexico,” Teague said in an e-mail from his spokesman. “The only way we will solve the energy crisis is by drawing on all of these sources to become energy independent, and as a member of the majority caucus in Congress, I will be able to help shape a comprehensive solution to our energy problem.”

The oil industry is the top industry supporter for Teague and ranks second for Tinsley. Teaco Energy Company (Teague’s own company) accounts for nearly half of the money he received from the oil and gas industry, at $32,200. It should be noted that this is not money Teague is giving to his own candidacy; it’s all donations from company employees, according to campaign finance records. However, both Teague and Tinsley have injected their campaign chest with a sizable chunk of their own money: $768,900 and $235,000, respectively, through June.

“Being tied to the oil industry is not as damaging in this district as it would be in another district,” said Joe Monahan, a New Mexico political blogger. “[Teague] is a good candidate. He is going to get Republican votes and Democrat votes who might otherwise crossover. It’s a district where there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, but those Democrats have been crossing over for many years to vote for Republican congressional candidates.”

Normally an oilman running on the Democratic ticket–who could alienate Democrats with his industry ties and Republicans with his social values–would be something of a political misfit, but in this region of New Mexico, Teague might be just right. “He would not be as competitive as he is today, if he were more liberal,” said Michael Rocca, a political scientist at the University of New Mexico.

CRP Researcher Douglas Weber contributed to this report.

*Indicates incumbent

Campaign Fuel: House candidates getting the most from the oil and gas industry

Name Race Incumbent/Challenger/
Open Seat
Total
Dan Boren (D) Oklahoma 02 Incumbent
$154,900
Joe Barton (R) Texas 06 Incumbent
$146,441
Mike Conaway (R) Texas 11 Incumbent
$128,450
Roy Blunt (R) Missouri 07 Incumbent
$108,100
Charles J. Melancon (D) Louisiana 03 Incumbent
$99,600
Mary Fallin (R) Oklahoma 05 Incumbent
$94,800
Charles W. Boustany Jr (R) Louisiana 07 Incumbent
$92,000
John Culberson (R) Texas 07 Incumbent
$91,600
Todd Tiahrt (R) Kansas 04 Incumbent
$90,500
Kay Granger (R) Texas 12 Incumbent
$86,250
John Sullivan (R) Oklahoma 01 Incumbent
$84,000
Randy Neugebauer (R) Texas 19 Incumbent
$79,950
Jim Matheson (D) Utah 02 Incumbent
$76,347
Chet Edwards (D) Texas 17 Incumbent
$72,750
Harry Teague (D) New Mexico 02 Open Seat
$68,700
Tom Cole (R) Oklahoma 04 Incumbent
$65,200
Peter Graham Olson (R) Texas 22 Challenger
$60,600
Gene Green (D) Texas 29 Incumbent
$59,500
Gregg Harper (R) Mississippi 03 Open Seat
$58,500
Pete Sessions (R) Texas 32 Incumbent
$56,800

Totals based on data released electronically by the Federal Election Commission on Sept. 2, 2008.

Senate candidates getting the most from the oil and gas industry

Name State Incumbent/Challenger/
Open Seat
Total
John Cornyn (R) Texas Incumbent
$853,300
James M. Inhofe (R) Oklahoma Incumbent
$349,750
Mary L. Landrieu (D) Louisiana Incumbent
$305,950
Mitch McConnell (R) Kentucky Incumbent
$299,450
Steve Pearce (R) New Mexico Open Seat
$283,034
Pat Roberts (R) Kansas Incumbent
$174,450
Lamar Alexander (R) Tennessee Incumbent
$164,350
Bob Schaffer (R) Colorado Open Seat
$150,400
Ted Stevens (R) Alaska Incumbent
$127,700
Norm Coleman (R) Minnesota Incumbent
$127,500
Elizabeth Dole (R) North Carolina Incumbent
$124,527
John Neely Kennedy (R) Louisiana Challenger
$117,900
Max Baucus (D) Montana Incumbent
$109,200
John A. Barrasso (R) Wyoming Incumbent
$108,400
Roger Wicker (R) Mississippi Incumbent
$107,250
Mark Pryor (D) Arkansas Incumbent
$103,250
Saxby Chambliss (R) Georgia Incumbent
$101,000
John E. Sununu (R) New Hampshire Incumbent
$90,900
Jeff Sessions (R) Alabama Incumbent
$87,650
Thad Cochran (R) Mississippi Incumbent
$75,700

Totals based on data released electronically by the Federal Election Commission on Sept. 2, 2008. Senate data based on six-year totals.


The Friends of Sabeel in North America, which professes to be the “voice” of Palestinian Christians, is raising cash for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Sadly for apologists of the Palestinian cause, the European Union axed its funding for ICAHD because of “pressure brought to bear by right-wing Israeli neo-cons who have campaigned obsessively against our funding while threatening publicly to close us down.” Or at least that version comes from ICAHD’s Jeff Halper, as he described his group’s dire straits without Euro cash.

Halper, an anthropology professor and American by birth, was a 1960’s-era student radical in the U.S. until he relocated to Israel, where his radicalism simply shifted focus against the Israeli Government. He founded ICAHD in 1997.

In 2005-2006, the European Union Partnership for Peace Programme gave nearly a half million Euros to ICAHD for an education program called “Re-Framing: Providing a Coherent Paradigm of Peace to the Israeli Public.” Ostensibly, this EU funding funnel “supports local and international civil society initiatives that promote peace, tolerance and non violence in the Middle East.” But most of the cash seems to flow towards groups like ICAHD that simply repeat the standard anti-Israel narrative.

Friends of Sabeel did not explain why the European Union cut off ICAHD’s funds. But apparently it was because of Halper’s role in the “Free Gaza Flotilla,” in which “peace” activists broke the blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza by sailing in from Cyprus. Upon returning to Israel, Halper was arrested and incarcerated overnight. Apparently even the normally tolerant European Union was unimpressed.

Last year, when it apparently was more flush with funds, ICAHD published a full-page ad in The New York Times with the headline: “Who Will Stop this Bulldozer from Destroying the Chance for Peace?” Included was a large photo of a Palestinian woman holding up her arms in the face of a presumably onrushing Israeli bulldozer. Naturally, ICAHD portrays the Israeli house demolitions as merely a nasty ploy to force Palestinians off their land. That destroyed homes usually housed terrorists, tunnels, or arms caches goes unmentioned, of course.

Despite this indifference to Palestinian terrorism, ICAHD professes to oppose all “forms of violence” between Israelis and Palestinians. It insists that a “lasting peace” depends on full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, but not necessarily any change in attitudes by Palestinians. ICAHD specially focuses on Israel’s “ongoing policies of Palestinian home demolitions, relentless development of large settlements, and building of the ‘Separation Barrier’ deep into the West Bank area.” The group is also distressed by America’s “uncritical political support” for Israel and Israel’s chronic “violations of basic human rights.”

So ICAHD’s allies at Friends of Sabeel in North America are appealing to anti-Israel religious activists in the U.S. to help contribute $30,000 towards ICAHD. Friends of Sabeel is the American branch of Jerusalem-based Sabeel, which is a think-tank for Palestinian Liberation Theology. The American Sabeel helps to organize U.S. church officials who believe that Israel is the primary villain in the Middle East. In recent years, Sabeel has advocated that U.S. churches divest their pension funds from firms doing business with Israel, but that campaign has largely collapsed, having been rejected even by liberal denominations. Board members of Friends of Sabeel in North America include former Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning, radical Catholic eco-feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Christian Century magazine contributing editor James Wall.

Friends of Sabeel forwarded to its own supporters Jeff Halper’s urgent appeal for American dollars to replace the lost Euros. “So we now face a real crisis,” Halper glowered. “That said, those who want us ‘gone’ make a mistake in assuming that we will close if our funding is withdrawn.” Halper promised to keep his office open and work on a voluntary basis, with two staffers to help him. He thanked his American supporters for having provided an “important supplement” to the now cut off European Union funding, which had helped launch the “Constructing Peace Campaign.”

ICAHD launched the “Constructing Peace Campaign” last year to rebuild demolished Palestinian homes, so as to spotlight Israel’s supposedly senseless destruction. As a sort of pro-Palestinian Habitat for Humanity, the peace campaign also hosts an annual two-week summer camp, in which international volunteers help rebuild Palestinian houses as a “symbolic gesture of peace and opposition to the Occupation.” In between the construction work, the volunteers take field trips to observe what Halper calls Israel’s “Matrix of Control,” including the Wall, the “massive check points,” and “one of the many refugee camps created in 1948.”

All of this important anti-Israel work must continue, of course. So Halper defiantly concluded his appeal to American supporters: “I promise you, no matter what, ICAHD will not be silenced.”

Trying to rescue ICAHD, the Friends of Sabeel in North America have pledged to raise at least $30,000. The fundraising includes inviting Halper to the U.S. for a fall tour, during which he will presumably address sympathetic church groups. “We, along with Jeff, promise you that ICAHD will not be silenced,” the board members of Friends of Sabeel earnestly promised. “Together, we will continue to be a loud and persistent voice for justice.”

Potential American religious supporters of Sabeel and ICAHD will have to ponder whether a group too radically anti-Israel even for European Union support should merit dollars from among U.S. churches.

International reaction was almost uniformly negative last week when news broke that Britain had officially granted Muslim Sharia courts permission to rule on everything from divorce to domestic violence. After all, in its strictest form, Sharia law requires the stoning of women accused of adultery, and the execution of converts from Islam, among other draconian punishments for offences that aren’t even considered crimes in the West. In the U.K. and abroad, pundits and politicians denounced Britain’s capitulation, but only one elected official responded with a daring proposal aimed at preventing Sharia law from gaining such a foothold in America.

That that politician was Rep. Tom Tancredo won’t surprise observers of American politics. The Colorado congressman has long been an outspoken critic of the unofficial “open-borders” policy that encourages millions of undocumented immigrants – including would-be terrorists – to enter the U.S. each year. During his short-lived presidential campaign in 2007, Tancredo repeatedly raised the immigration issue during televised debates. He also aired a provocative television ad in which he promised to “stop all visas to nations that sponsor terrorism and [to] arrest and deport any alien who preaches violence and hatred.”

The ad earned Tancredo scorn on the Left and also on some parts of the Right. Undaunted, he has now proposed a “Jihad Prevention Act” that “would bar the entry of foreign nationals who advocate Sharia law [and] make the advocacy of Sharia law by radical Muslims already in the United States a deportable offense.” In his official announcement on September 18, Tancredo observed: “This is a case where truth is truly stranger than fiction. Today the British people are learning a hard lesson about the consequences of massive, unrestricted immigration.”

“When you have an immigration policy that allows for the importation of millions of radical Muslims,” he explained, “you are also importing their radical ideology – an ideology that is fundamentally hostile to the foundations of western democracy – such as gender equality, pluralism, and individual liberty. The best way to safeguard America against the importation of the destructive effects of this poisonous ideology is to prevent its purveyors from coming here in the first place.”

Tancredo hopes his bill will spur public debate, and “send a clear message that the only law we recognize here in America is the U.S. Constitution and the laws passed by our democratically elected representatives…If you aren’t comfortable with that concept, you aren’t welcome in the United States.”

So far, reaction to the “Jihad Prevention Act” has been muted on both sides, possibly because the media is providing wall-to-wall election coverage. Nonetheless, some prominent supporters have emerged. Having advocated similar measures in the past, the group Muslims Against Sharia praised Tancredo’s initiative. So did scholar Andrew Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad. Bostom hailed Tancredo’s “sane approach,” adding, “Thank goodness for Congressman Tancredo’s courage and clarity on this pressing matter!”

Tancredo also has an ally in columnist and author Diane West. In books like The Death of the Grown Up and in her syndicated columns, West has chronicled what she considers the decline of Western civilization, brought on by everything from a perpetually adolescent popular culture to radical Islam. “What I like about this proposed legislation,” West said in an email interview, “is its clear, direct focus on Islamic law (Sharia).” Focusing on Sharia, West believes, is the “only way to grapple successfully with the repressive overlay of Islam on a society–understanding it as a function of law, and not religion.” She points out that Tancredo’s “bill allows us to see clearly through to the heart of the matter: the danger that unchecked Islamic immigration will bring about a constituency for Islamic law, leading to disastrous changes to our legal system.”

To be sure, West does have some reservations about the bill. “I’m not sure how he proposes to determine which Muslim immigrants advocate Islamic law and which do not,” she said. “I would prefer to see a general restriction on Islamic immigration to prevent the build-up of a demographic that wills Sharia. Moreover, West notes that this session of Congress is nearly over. Even if Tancredo’s bill were “brought to a vote this week, I sadly doubt it will be passed.” Still another problem is that there is scant enthusiasm in Congress for passing such a bill. With the notable exception of Rep. Sue Myrick, a Republican from North Carolina, the political class has failed even to address the conflicts between Islamic law and Western values – let alone to draft legislation to thwart the spread of Sharia in the U.S.

Europe may soon prove a model in this regard – the unhappy case of Britain notwithstanding. This December, Israel’s Dr. Arieh Eldad, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, will host the Facing Jihad Summit in Jerusalem. The summit seeks to bring together “European lawmakers who are united in their shared belief that Islam today poses a serious threat to Western civilization.” The idea is to create an alliance of politicians who can workshop legislation to prevent creeping Islamization, which they can then bring back to their home countries and create a voting block in the EU parliament. The attending parliamentarians will be joined by experts on radical Islam such as Daniel Pipes and Bat Ye’or, but bigotry will not be tolerated: Eldad emphasizes that the summit will bar “neo-Nazis and racist parties” like the British National Party. “Seven countries will be represented so far,” Eldad told FrontPage.

And what of America? Eldad thought it likely that at least a few Capitol Hill politicians would attend the jihad summit. If so, Tom Tancredo might be an ideal delegate.

NO OIL FOR BLOOD!!!!

Yesterday morning, I had the honor of testifying before the House Budget Committee on the situation in Iraq. The discussion was polite and civilized, and was a reminder that even now it is possible for people who disagree about what to do in Iraq to argue without raised voices and disagreeable language (apart from the Code Pink women, yelling for those who think that shouting opponents down is preferable to arguing with them). Congressman Brian Baird once again demonstrated that it is possible even for those who bitterly opposed the war to recognize the importance of doing the right thing now–as well as the possibility of crossing the Republican-Democrat sectarian divide on this issue. One question came up repeatedly in the hearing that deserves more of an answer than it got, however: Why, after all the assistance we’ve given to Iraq over the past five years, was the first major Iraqi oil deal signed with China and not with an American or even a western company? The answer is, in part, because three Democratic senators intervened in Iraqi domestic politics earlier this year to prevent Iraq from signing short-term agreements with Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, Chevron, and BP.

The Iraqi government was poised to sign no-bid contracts with those firms this summer to help make immediate and needed improvements in Iraq’s oil infrastructure. The result would have been significant foreign investment in Iraq, an expansion of Iraqi government revenues, and an increase in the global supply of oil. One would have thought that leading Democratic senators who claim to be interested in finding other sources of funding to replace American dollars in Iraq, in helping Iraq spend its own money on its own people, and in lowering the price of gasoline for American citizens, would have been all for it. Instead, Senators Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, and Claire McCaskill wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rice asking her “to persuade the GOI [Government of Iraq] to refrain from signing contracts with multinational oil companies until a hydrocarbon law is in effect in Iraq.” The Bush administration wisely refused to do so, but the resulting media hooraw in Iraq led to the cancellation of the contracts, and helps to explain why Iraq is doing oil deals instead with China.

Senators Schumer, McCaskill, and Kerry claimed to be acting from the purest of motives: “It is our fear that this action by the Iraqi government could further deepen political tensions in Iraq and put our service members in even great danger.” For that reason, presumably, Schumer went so far as to ask the senior vice president of Exxon “if his company would agree to wait until the GOI produced a fair, equitable, and transparent hydrocarbon revenue sharing law before it signed any long-term agreement with the GOI.” Exxon naturally refused, but Schumer managed to get the deal killed anyway. But the ostensible premise of the senators’ objections was false–Iraq may not have a hydrocarbons law, but the central government has been sharing oil revenues equitably and there is no reason at all to imagine that signing the deals would have generated increased violence (and this was certainly not the view of American civilian and military officials on the ground in Iraq at the time). It is certain that killing the deals has delayed the maturation of Iraq’s oil industry without producing the desired hydrocarbons legislation.

Nor is it entirely clear what the senators’ motivations were. Their release (available along with their letter to Secretary Rice at the New York Observer quoted Senator McCaskill as follows: “‘It’s bad enough that we have no-bid contracts being awarded for work in Iraq. It’s bad enough that the big oil companies continue to receive government handouts while they post record breaking profits. But now the most profitable companies in the universe–America’s biggest oil companies–stand to reap the rewards of this no-bid contract on top of it all,’ McCaskill said. ‘It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect these dots–big oil is running Washington and now they’re running Baghdad. There is no reason under the sun not to halt these agreements until we get revenue sharing in place,’ McCaskill said.” So was this about what’s best for Iraq and American interests there or about nailing “big oil” in an election year?


Either way, like Barack Obama’s asking the Iraqi foreign minister to hold off on a strategic framework agreement until after the American election, it was nothing but harmful to American interests and our prospects in Iraq.

On September 30, 2005, the Danish daily Jyllands Posten touched off a tempest in the Muslim world when it published 12 caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. The resulting “cartoon riots,” in which at least 139 people were killed and 823 were injured, cast into fiery relief the contrast between Western values and Islamist mores – and the threats to free speech when the two collide. Three years on, a similar controversy has emerged on American shores.

At issue is a historical novel about Aisha, the child bride of the Prophet Mohammed (Aisha was six years old at the time of the marriage). In 2007, publishing heavyweight Random House bought the rights to the novel, titled The Jewel of Medina, offering the author, journalist Sherry Jones, $100,000 in a two-book contract. Jones spent five years researching Aisha’s life, studying Arabic, and working through seven drafts before finally finishing the novel. Random House, for its part, was preparing to market the book as a “Book of the Month” selection, just as soon as the book was published this August 12.

Except that it wasn’t. Shortly before its scheduled publication, Random House decided that it would not be publishing the novel after all. The turnabout had little to do with any specific literary flaws in the book. Rather, Random House feared a violent reaction from Islamic extremists. A statement from the publisher, making no attempt to disguise the preemptive surrender to intimidation, explained that after sending out advance copies of the novel “we received in response, from credible and unrelated sources… that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.” Unwilling to stand up to Islamic radicals, Random House handed Jones her walking papers.

Ironies abound in the company’s decision to put the kibosh on the book. For instance, much of the initial indignation came from non-Muslims. Most aggrieved was one Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin, whose work Jones had cited as research for her novel. Outraged by a book that she claimed “made fun of Muslims and their history,” Spellberg called Shahed Amanullah, editor of the website altmuslim.com, and encouraged him to arouse Muslim passions against the novel.

Although allegedly the offended party, Amanullah proved less easily provoked. In a commentary about Jones’s book, Amanullah defended her right to free expression. Instead of threats and intimidation, the proper “response to free speech is simply more speech in return,” he wrote, noting that “[a]nyone should have the right to publish whatever he or she wants about Islam or Muslims – even if their views are offensive – without fear of censorship or retribution.” Other Muslim writers also made the point, which evidently eluded Professor Spellberg, that one can be critical of a work without crying “Islamophobia.” Thus, the Muslim writer and poet Marwa Elnaggar, though critical of the novel, rejected the idea it should not have been published because of its “inaccuracies, its faults, and its biases.”

That left Professor Spellberg as the chief spokesman for Muslim anger that did not materialize and Sherry Jones as the victim of Muslim threats that had not been issued – an absurdity not lost on Shahed Amanullah. “The thing that is surreal for me is that here you had a non-Muslim write a book, and you had a non-Muslim complain about it, and a non-Muslim publisher pull the book,” he has said. (Professor Spellberg, whose faculty website lists her as “on-leave” from UT, did not respond to FPM’s requests for comment.)

Professor Spellberg’s overheated objections notwithstanding, The Jewel of Medina is an unlikely model of Muslim-bashing. If anything, its depiction of Aisha errs on the side of adoration. Reimagining the prophet’s wife as an unsung heroine, Jones has described her protagonist as a “remarkable figure in the history of the world, not just the Middle East.” The idea of Aisha as a kind of feminist icon avant la lettre was also adopted by Random House, whose original blurb for the novel stated that “Aisha uses her wits, her courage, and her sword to defend her first-wife status even as Muhammad marries again and again…” Small wonder that Jones responded to her publisher’s capitulation by protesting that her book is “deliberately and consciously written respectfully about Islam and Mohammed.”

But to no avail. Random House preferred to shelve the book rather than incur the wrath of Muslim malcontents, real or imagined. It is a sharp break with an earlier era, when Random House published Salman Rushdie’s 1988 book The Satanic Verses, in the face of death threats against the author. Rushdie himself has taken notice, lamenting what he calls “censorship by fear” at his once-courageous publisher.

It would be inaccurate to assume that Random House applies its newfound reticence on religious subjects equally. Critics point out that this month Random House will publish The 19th Wife, a historical novel by author David Ebershoff. The book is narrated in part by Ann Eliza Young, the rebellious 19th wife of Mormon leader Brigham Young who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for her criticism of practices like polygamy. The book would thus seem a perfect analogue to The Jewel of Medina, but for one crucial difference: Random House will publish it.

There is a happy ending, of sorts, in Jones’s tale of publishing woe. The Jewel of Medina is slated to be published this October, after being bought by Beaufort Books, the controversy-friendly New York house best known for signing If I Did It, O.J. Simpson’s putatively fictionalized confession to the murder of his ex-wife. But with a major publishing house bowing before even the possibility of a backlash, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that, even with Jones’s novel in print, the state of free speech in America is less robust than it was just a few months ago.

From the days of ancient Athens, the citizens of democracies have been querulous warriors. Key democratic institutions such as free speech and citizen control of the military ensure that ordinary people take an active interest in the progress of war, freely (and often loudly) offering criticism and demanding results. Such criticism typically expressed impatience with military and political leaders for not doing everything they could to win wars as quickly as possible. Yet as David Horowitz and Ben Johnson argue in their bracing analysis of American defeatism, the antiwar movements from Vietnam to the present conflict in Iraq represent something very different: criticism aimed at expediting not victory, but defeat.

Once a leader of the New Left, Horowitz has become the bête noir of the American Left through his books, speeches, and online magazine Front Page, where Johnson is managing editor. In Party of Defeat, the authors relentlessly expose the cant, hypocrisy, and suicidal self-loathing of what these days passes for progressive thought, which has corrupted the Democratic Party through its radical activist base and compromised America’s security. The Democrats’ attack on President Bush in the midst of a war, the authors conclude, is “the most disgraceful episode in America’s political history.”

Party of Defeat opens with the Vietnam War-era hijacking of the Democratic Party by antiwar radicals, whose ultimate purpose wasn’t so much to end the war, but to discredit and weaken the political, social, and economic foundations of America. For the radical Left, then and now, “no longer regards itself as part of the nation,” Horowitz and Johnson write. “This Left sees itself instead as part of an abstract ‘humanity,’ transcending national borders and patriotic allegiances, whose interests coincide with a worldwide radical cause.” As such, it must work against America’s interests and success, disguising its activity as “dissent” or a more general antiwar sentiment.

George McGovern, who captured the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1972, embodied the leftist vision of capitalist America as a malignant aggressor responsible for global suffering and oppression. Though Richard Nixon’s landslide victory over McGovern that year ratified most Americans’ rejection of the radical worldview, the Watergate scandal empowered a Democrat-controlled Congress to cease support for South Vietnam and to eviscerate our intelligence agencies. Nixon’s political disgrace also made possible the election of Jimmy Carter, who largely shared the left’s view of a dysfunctional America. Carter, Horowitz and Johnson charge, “cut back America’s military defenses, hamstrung America’s intelligence agencies, and weakened the nation’s resolve.” And Carter abandoned the Shah of Iran, whose overthrow by radical Islamists in 1979, followed by the kidnapping of American diplomatic personnel, marked the first jihadist challenge to America.

Carter’s ineffectual response to this attack invited more, particularly in the 1990s during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Clinton, a much shrewder politician than Carter, understood that appearing weak on national defense was political suicide after the success of Ronald Reagan, whose strengthening of America’s military helped bring down the Soviet Union. Yet for all of his cruise-missile bluster, Clinton still endorsed the fundamental hostility to the military and indifference to national defense that now seem part of the Democrats’ political DNA.

During his tenure, “the analytical and operations branches of the CIA were cut by 30 percent,” the authors point out. Under Clinton, further, “the agency drastically reduced its recruitment of new case officers . . . and closed bases, including the station in Hamburg, where Mohammed Atta’s cell planned 9-11.” The cuts also led to a decline of agents in key Muslim countries. And Clinton “raised the wall between the FBI and the CIA higher than before, which fatally obstructed the efforts to capture the 9-11 plotters,” Horowitz and Johnson report. “As commander-in-chief [Clinton] was generally AWOL on the battlefront with the global Islamic jihad.”

Equally disastrous was Clinton’s failure to understand the motives of the jihadists, treating their attacks as criminal offenses rather than as acts of war. The first World Trade Center bombing, the debacle in Mogadishu, the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, the bombings of the embassies in Africa—“Bill Clinton’s response to the four terrorist bombings and the humiliating ambush in Somalia could be summarized as nothing, nothing, failure, nothing, and capitulation.” Aversion to casualties and ingrained hostility to anything other than a symbolic use of military force kept Clinton from responding more forcefully. Nor, despite numerous opportunities, did he authorize the killing of Osama bin Laden, who had declared war on America, and who in numerous writings and interviews explicitly linked America’s vulnerability to its failure to respond to these attacks.

The Carter and Clinton presidencies show that even centrist Democrats must appease the vocal minority of the party’s left wing, since it provides a large number of party activists and delegates, particularly during primaries. Hence just months after the start of the Iraq War—and from the outset of the 2004 presidential primary campaigns—national Democrats turned against a war that they had voted for, and that President Clinton had laid the foundation for in 1998 with the Iraq Liberation Act. Perhaps the most conspicuous example of this shift was the enthusiastic presence of Democratic leaders like Al Gore, Barbara Boxer, Tom Harkin, and Tom Daschle at the premier of Michael Moore’s anti-American fantasy Fahrenheit 9-11 in 2004. Moore’s film exemplified the phenomenon that came to be called “Bush derangement syndrome,” but mainstream Democrats also played a role in distorting the historical record concerning the Iraq War.

Party of Defeat includes a compelling reprise of the reasons why America went to war against Saddam Hussein. UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which declared Hussein in “material breach” of 16 previous UN resolutions enforcing the truce that ended the Gulf War, effectively legitimized military action against Iraq once Hussein ignored the 30-day deadline for complying with the resolution. Moreover, President Bush’s case for removing Hussein focused on WMD programs, not stockpiles. Though no WMD stockpiles turned up, the report of the Iraq Survey Group, made public in October 2003, indeed established the existence of WMD-related programs and equipment, laboratories and safe houses concealing equipment from UN monitoring, research on biological weapons, documents and equipment related to uranium enrichment, plans for long-range missiles, and evidence of attempts to acquire long-range missile technologies from North Korea. “It was Saddam’s refusal to observe the arms-control agreements designed to allow UN inspections and prevent him from building weapons of mass destruction that made the war necessary,” Horowitz and Johnson explain.

Yet these facts have been obscured by partisan attacks on the president’s decision to invade. Never mind that the invasion was ratified by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Iraq that Congress passed in October 2002, and which listed several casus belli besides WMDs. Even before then, prominent Democrats like Al Gore and Jimmy Carter were attacking the Bush Doctrine mandating preemptive action against terrorist threats. The first critical distortion that gave traction to the war’s opponents was the uproar over minor diplomat Joseph Wilson, who had been sent to Niger to investigate a British intelligence report finding that Hussein was attempting to purchase yellowcake uranium. In the summer of 2003, Wilson alleged in the New York Times and The New Republic that he had told the administration that there was no truth to the report before Bush repeated its findings in his 2003 State of the Union speech. As Horowitz and Johnson note, “The charge that Bush had lied about the Niger uranium deal provided a way for those who had previously supported the war to find common ground with the party’s radicals who had opposed it.”

That Wilson was a Democratic political activist and foreign-affairs adviser to John Kerry’s presidential campaign raised no red flags with a media that took his assertions on faith and relentlessly publicized them. By the time the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had investigated Wilson’s claims and debunked them a year later—indeed, Wilson’s actual report “lent more credibility,” as the Senate committee put it, to the existence of an Iraqi uranium deal—it was too late. The “Bush lied” mantra had won media validation and provided the antiwar activists with a potent weapon. Just how potent became clear with the meteoric rise of Vermont governor Howard Dean, whose early front-runner status in the 2004 presidential primaries forced Democratic contenders like Senators John Kerry and John Edwards—both of whom had voted in favor of removing Saddam—to tack left. Meanwhile, an increasingly overwrought Al Gore, while sitting out the presidential race, contradicted his long public record of advocating regime change in Iraq.

The press played a significant role in facilitating the cycle of sensational charges based on distorted evidence. Later investigations repudiated many of these allegations, but could not undo the damage done to public perceptions. The Abu Ghraib prison scandal is a case in point. “What would normally be counted as a minor incident in any war,” Horowitz and Johnson maintain, “was elevated to a national and then a global scandal by editors determined to exploit it without regard for its potential impact on the national interest or the security of American troops in Iraq.” The New York Times, which often sets the agenda for the rest of the mainstream media, ran 60 days of stories about Abu Ghraib, filled with ridiculous comparisons with the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war and with Saddam’s horrific crimes: “It was exactly the kind of psychological-warfare campaign that would normally have been conducted by an enemy propaganda machine,” Horowitz and Johnson observe. So, too, with the lurid charges of abuse of the prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, many of which were read on the Senate floor by Dick Durbin, who compared American officials there with Nazis and the genocidal Cambodian dictator Pol Pot. By the time 12 official investigations had debunked such claims, the media-stoked perception that Guantanamo was some sort of gulag of torture and abuse had achieved the status of fact, thus providing another propaganda weapon for our enemies.

On issue after issue—the alleged number of Iraqi children killed by sanctions, the inflated number of civilian casualties in the war, the looted Iraqi artifacts, the celebrity of Cindy Sheehan, the media exposure of clandestine intelligence-gathering programs, the attacks on General David Petraeus—Horowitz and Johnson document how the truth, and America’s security, were sacrificed to the ideology of radical activists, the partisan needs of the Democratic Party, and the liberal shibboleths of the mainstream media. Worse yet, America’s enemies took up these charges and incorporated them into their own propaganda (a frequent Al Qaeda tactic, as documented in Raymond Ibrahim’s The Al Qaeda Reader). For example, Osama bin Laden in a fatwa quoted epidemiologist and wannabe Democratic Congressman Les Roberts’s ridiculous toll of 650,000 civilian dead in Iraq—a figure that is twelve times the actual total by 2005. And the Iranian ambassador to the United States answered charges that his country was aiding terrorists in Iraq by alleging that “America had invaded Iraq on false pretenses” and was now making Iran the scapegoat.

Horowitz and Johnson draw a sobering conclusion: “The decision to attack the morality of America’s war effort has dealt a severe blow to the American cause. It has undermined American unity in the face of the enemy, profoundly damaged the clarity with which the war is understood, and diminished Americans’ ability to defend themselves.” In this important presidential election year, Party of Defeat is essential reading.

“Get this one,” says billionaire T. Boone Pickens in his latest TV ad, “Iran is changing its cars to natural gas and we’re not doing a thing here. They’re doing this to use less oil and sell it for $120 a barrel. We can switch our cars to natural gas and stop sending our dollars to foreign countries.”

Readers of this column know better than to take at face value the marketing of the so-called “Pickens Plan.”

So what’s the full story behind Iran’s move, and what would be the impact of switching our cars to natural gas?

Although Iran is a major oil and gas producer, it lacks oil-refining capacity and must import about 50 percent of its gasoline. To be less vulnerable to international pressure concerning its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to reduce Iran’s reliance on imported gasoline.

He started with rationing in May 2007. But that quickly led to violent social unrest.

Ahmadinejad then decided to convert Iran’s new car fleet to natural gas. So 60 percent of Iran’s car production this year — about 429,000 vehicles — will be dual-fuel-ready, capable of running on both gasoline and natural gas.

But contrary to Pickens assertion, Iran isn’t trying to use less oil: It’s trying to use less imported gasoline — and only to thwart a possible international gasoline embargo.

Though hardly a role model for energy policy, should we nevertheless follow Iran’s lead with respect to natural-gas cars? Just what would that mean to you and to our economy?

While the natural gas sold for auto fuel is as much as 50 percent less expensive than gasoline — at least for now — the cover charge to get into a natural-gas vehicle can easily erase any savings.

A new natural-gas-powered car, such as the Honda Civic GX, for example, is almost 40 percent more expensive than a conventional Civic ($24,590 versus $17,700).

While tax credits can reduce the cost by thousands, somebody — either you and/or taxpayers — will be paying the difference.

If natural gas fuel saved you, say, $2 per gallon, then you’d have to drive 124,020 highway miles or 82,680 city miles to break even on fuel costs against the $6,890 purchase price premium.

You can convert an existing car from gasoline to natural gas, but the costs are daunting.

Converting a car to dual-use (as in Iran) costs between $6,000 to $10,000. Converting a car to run on natural gas only is about half as expensive.

Even so, the conversion has to be done correctly or, in the worst case, you risk leaks that could turn your car into an improvised explosive device. And if your car is altered without proof of EPA certification, you might not get any of the all-important conversion tax credits.

Then there’s the inconvenience. Though their fuel tanks are larger — which, incidentally, reduces trunk space — natural gas cars have less range.

While a new Honda Civic can go as far as 500 miles on a tank of gasoline, the GX’s range is less than half of that — and, currently, there are only about 1,600 natural-gas refueling stations across the country, compared with 200,000 gasoline stations.

If your home uses natural gas, you could buy a home filling station at a cost of about $2,000 plus installation. While home filling stations can further reduce fuel costs to substantially below $2 per gallon, the devices take about 4 hours to replenish the fuel consumed by only 50 miles of driving. So much for gas-and-go.

Moving past the personal expense and inconvenience, the broader implications of natural-gas cars are worrisome.

The U.S. currently uses about 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year. Like all commodities, the price of natural gas is supply-and-demand dependent.

Switching just 10 percent of the U.S. car fleet to natural gas would dramatically increase our consumption of natural gas by about 8 percent (1.9 trillion cubic feet) — an amount that is slightly less than one-half of all current residential natural gas usage and one-quarter of all industrial usage.

The price ramifications of such a demand spike would likely be significant. The current cost advantage of natural gas over gasoline could easily be reversed. Our move toward energy independence could also be compromised.

Domestic production of natural gas has not kept pace with rapidly increasing demand. Consequently, about 15 percent of our natural gas must now be imported.

Without more domestic gas drilling, additional demand will need to be met with natural gas imported by pipeline and in liquefied form from the very same foreign sources that T. Boone Pickens rails about in the context of oil.

In its most recent annual outlook, the U.S. Department of Energy projects that the U.S. natural-gas market will become more integrated with natural-gas markets worldwide as the U.S. becomes more dependent on imported liquefied natural gas — causing greater uncertainty in future U.S. natural-gas prices.

The natural-gas supply problem will be additionally magnified if significant greenhouse-gas regulation is enacted.

Here’s how: Currently, when natural gas gets too expensive, electric utilities often substitute coal or cheaper fuels for power generation.

Under a greenhouse-gas regulation scheme, however, inexpensive coal might no longer be an alternative because of the significantly greater greenhouse-gas emissions involved with its combustion.

Utilities, and ultimately consumers, could easily find themselves at the mercy of natural-gas barons — like T. Boone Pickens himself, a large investor in natural gas.

Is that the real “Pickens Plan?”

We are living through an age of liberal betrayal, but David Horowitz and Ben Johnson can only see a part of it in their new book, Party of Defeat. For them, the Left’s treason is of an old-fashioned kind: giving comfort to the enemy in a time of war. In the lucid style of a relentless prosecutor, they lay out ample evidence to support the charge. I could go through it all with you. A grateful Osama bin Laden paraphrasing Michael Moore’s excuses for tyranny, the Democratic congressmen trying to ensure the US Army lost the second Iraq war, MoveOn.org being cheered on by those same senior Democrats for denouncing General Petraeus as ‘General Betray Us’ when he worked-out a strategy for winning the second Iraq war…the case for the prosecution is long and convincing.

But although I can envisage a Democrat Senator or an editor on the New York Times being unnerved by an unfamiliar puncturing of their righteousness, I can also imagine liberals rallying robustly. To the authors’ assertion that the Left has undermined the American cause and diminished America’s ability to defend itself, they could reply that although the Left was wrong about the surge, it was right to argue that the second Iraq war was an ill-conceived, ill-prepared adventure. To argue against bad policy is no treason, they might say, but a democratic duty.

Horowitz and Johnson concede the point, although with reluctance. For my taste, they display a touch too much jealousy for the supposed advantages enjoyed by the strong man or reigning psychopath in authoritarian regimes. ‘A democracy at war is faced with problems dictatorships find avoidable,’ they sigh. ‘Its citizens have a responsibility – as the Left never tires of repeating – not to abandon the freedoms they are defending.’ Yet even Horowitz and Johnson pull back from the ugly implication of their complaint and conclude, that ‘criticism of every war, including the one in Iraq, is warranted’.

Given that concession, their targets may wonder where the problem lies. Even if Horowitz and Johnson can make what they said sound hysterical, paranoid or dumb in retrospect, they had good grounds for believing what they said at the time. The charge of betrayal doesn’t stick when the authors admit that there were no weapons of mass destruction worth talking about and that the Bush administration’s failure to prepare for the carnage of the occupation was shameful.

I’m sure conservative readers would not buy this defense. Having seen liberal opinion here in England go berserk during the war, I don’t buy most of it myself. All I am saying is that Horowitz and Johnson’s liberal opponents will think they can dismiss the arguments of this book.

But they cannot dismiss a deeper liberal betrayal. As conservatives, our authors can’t quite grasp its nature although the evidence screams at them from the first to last page.

They begin with of a portrait of George Soros – and I’m grateful to them for showing me that contrary to meritocratic theory a man can become very rich while remaining remarkably stupid. The financier was enraged by George W. Bush’s statement after 9/11 that countries had to choose whether they were going to help America or provide safe havens for terrorists. ‘Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make,’ Bush said. ‘Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.’

Bush’s doctrine was unexceptional – a leader would be guilty of a dereliction of duty if he did not treat those countries which harbored those who would slaughter his fellow citizens as ‘hostile regimes’ – but it was not allowed to stand. First his opponents pretended that the he had said ‘you’re either with us or against us’ – an unforgivably crass notion to their minds that challenged the central belief of postmodern liberalism that moral problems are never black and white only blurred shades of grey.

Then Soros got to work. The Hungarian billionaire whose speculations on the money markets fund the supposed left-wingers at moveon.org declared: ‘When I hear Bush say,

“You’re either with us or against us,” it reminds me of the Germans. It conjured up memories of the Nazi slogan, “Der Feind hoert mit” (The enemy is listening). My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me.’

They did not sensitize him sufficiently, and not only because fuehrers do not observe constitutions, as a rule, or retire to Texan ranches when their term limit expires. Bush was not an inheritor of the totalitarian tradition, but America’s enemies most assuredly were and are. Radical Islam takes the Nazi’s Jewish conspiracy theory. It also seeks to destroy what rights Muslim women have and kill homosexuals, free thinkers, Muslims who change their faith or challenge their interpretation of Islam, and, of course , all non-believers and idolaters. Meanwhile Baathism in Iraq was not only based on the Fuehrerprinzip but so emulated the model of 20th century totalitarianism it gassed the ‘impure’ Kurdish minority. The targets of Islamists and Baathists are many, but they include the traditional friends of rich western liberals: trade-unionists, feminists, democrats, journalists, intellectuals and free-thinkers.

Yet Soros and the millions like him cannot acknowledge the victims of Islamo-fascism or offer them the smallest support. In their liberal anxiety to denounce their government they betray liberals and liberalism.

There are many gruesome scenes in Party of Defeat none more so than the moment when a blogger with the Daily Kos, Democratic candidate and self-proclaimed ‘Mayanist poet’ called Jeeni Criscenzo flies to Iraq to schmooze with the Sunni remnants of Saddam’s regime and the political wing of the Shia death squads of Muqtada al-Sadr. One of the Sheikhs she met eulogized the mass murderers of al Qaeda. ‘These young men who came here from other Muslim countries are very brave. They left their homes and comfortable lives to protect Muslims,’ he cries. No they didn’t they left their homes to slaughter Muslim Iraqis including liberal Iraqis who had every right to expect the support of the American and European lefts.

It may not be a surprise that Ms Criscenzo could not see what was in front of her nose, but it is flabbergasting that George Soros, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and the New York Times shared her myopia. Their behavior calls into question what it means to be liberal in America and Europe, and what it means to be conservative as well.

Now what with one thing and another, American conservatives must be feeling a little bruised at the moment, so I hope they don’t think I’m nagging when I say they should take more notice of the ideological shifts around them. In the Arab world and beyond, people who are liberal and remain liberal are being betrayed by liberal Westerners simply because their suffering cannot be blamed on America.

The case Ayaan Hirsi Ali illustrates my point. She experienced abuse and forced marriage, renounced Islam and embraced feminism and atheism. She was, in short, a classic liberal heroine, the more so because psychopathic misogynists were trying to kill her.

The attack on her liberalism in the West, however, was not led by traditional conservatives but by liberals – Dutch leftists, Oxford dons and contributors to the New York Review of Books, who hated her for challenging the stereotypes of their reactionary multi-culturalism, and denigrated her in the most patronizing manner they could devise. In the end, she found a haven with the American Enterprise Institute. What we used to call ‘the Left’ had rejected her and offered nothing more than formulaic criticisms of those who would murder her, so she turned to what we used to call ‘the Right’.

I know from the last time she spoke in London that her commitment to feminism and atheism is undiminished. Has then she shifted from Left to Right or have all the liberals who criticized her? Is the American Enterprise Institute, which came to her rescue ‘conservative’, and the New York Review of Books, which demeaned her, ‘liberal’, or is it the other way round? These questions are becoming pointless because the conflicts of our time are draining old labels of meaning.

I can say with confidence that more will follow Hirsi-Ali, but only if conservatives accept the liberal values liberals are so thoughtlessly discarding.

I’m not sure if David Horowitz and Ben Johnson can take the necessary next step. Because they are patriots first and foremost they write with great brilliance and rigor on the liberals’ betrayal of country but cannot appreciate their betrayal of liberalism and of all those suffering at the hands of anti-American and anti-liberal totalitarian movements.

I expect that this is a criticism that neither gentleman is used to hearing, but the trouble with their critique of American liberalism is not that it goes too far but that it does not go far enough.

AHMENDINIJAD IS BAAAACK!!!!!

Once again, in late September, the Islamic Regime’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to attend the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York., coming at a time when his regime needs it most.

While Iran is currently experiencing an unprecedented diplomatic isolation, the Iranian News Media reported that the former Iranian deputy foreign minister M. Aminzadeh has revealed that Ahmadinejad’s last visits to India and Turkey were personally manipulated by him. He had begged to be invited.

The political, economic and social conditions have created a very unstable and explosive situation amplified with factional feud and back biting inside the regime.  The theocratic regime’s response to these conditions has been to silence the oppositions with large scale repression, mass arrests and mass executions. A public display of the mass hanging of 29 individuals in one day is only a glimpse of Tehran’s terror.

To camouflage the regime’s isolation and in view of the chaos and terror created by the regime, Ahmadinejad will surely welcome a trip to New York, the symbol of democracy in the world, in order to hide the regime’s isolation, its internal weakness and its new record of brutality against its own people.

With an elaborate PR campaign, we should expect to see again Ahmadinejad lecturing the civilized world on democracy, peace and human rights. His grand scheme and side show will be to gather a potpourri of Iranian lobbyists and their American Cronies. It will surely remind us of the fiascos launched by “The Council of Foreign Relations” reception for Ahmadinejad in 2006 and his speech in Colombia University on September 24, 2007 – not to mention the media frenzies to compete for interviews with him

These unrealistic chaotic situations are the result of the US and UN’s confused policies towards Iran which have given the regime freer hands to brutalize its people as well as to jeopardize the regional stability and international peace.

Ahmadinejad’s arrival in New York coincides with Americans commemorating the victims of 9/11 terrorist attacks. With all the atrocities committed by the Islamic regime in Iran, it is no surprise that this regime is the unique super power of fundamentalism in the world.

We at the Progressive American Iranian Committee(PAIC), condemn all the crimes committed against the Iranian people by the Islamic regime, and believe that the most incisive and cost effective option for the dismantlement of the Islamic regime in Iran is to cut off its economic life blood, in particular, revenues drawn from the oil, and lend moral support to real democratic forces inside Iran who are doing daily combat with the Islamic regime, instead of providing, as the U.N., a platform for propaganda for this terrorist regime.

The mass killings of political prisoners, stonings and hangings of the Iranian people, and also the 9/11 victims should be a wakeup call and a reminder to us all.

BUSH 7, TERRORISTS 0 !!!!

Morose that there hasn’t been another terrorist attack on American soil for seven long years, liberals were ecstatic when Hurricane Gustav was headed toward New Orleans during the Republican National Convention last week. The networks gave the hurricane plenty of breaking-news coverage — but unfortunately it was Hurricane Katrina from 2005 they were covering.

On Keith Olbermann’s Aug. 29 show on MSNBC, Michael Moore said the possibility of a Category 3 hurricane hitting the United States “is proof that there is a God in heaven.” Olbermann responded: “A supremely good point.”

Actually, Olbermann said that a few minutes later to some other idiotic point Moore had made, but that’s how Moore would have edited the interview for one of his “documentaries,” so I will, too. I would only add that Michael Moore’s morbid obesity is proof that there is a Buddha.

Hurricane Gustav came and went without a hitch. What a difference a Republican governor makes!

As many have pointed out, the reason elected officials tend to neglect infrastructure project issues, like reinforcing levees in New Orleans and bridges in Minneapolis, is that there’s no glory when a bridge doesn’t collapse. There are no round-the-clock news specials when the levees hold. You can’t even name an overpass retrofitting project after yourself — it just looks too silly. But everyone’s taxes go up to pay for the reinforcements.

Preventing another terrorist attack is like that. There is no media coverage when another 9/11 doesn’t happen. We can thank God that President George Bush didn’t care about doing the safe thing for himself; he cared about keeping Americans safe. And he has, for seven years.

If Bush’s only concern were about his approval ratings, like a certain impeached president I could name, he would not have fought for the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. He would not have resisted the howling ninnies demanding that we withdraw from Iraq, year after year. By liberals’ own standard, Bush’s war on terrorism has been a smashing, unimaginable success.

A year after the 9/11 attack, The New York Times‘ Frank Rich was carping about Bush’s national security plans, saying we could judge Bush’s war on terror by whether there was a major al-Qaida attack in 2003, which — according to Rich — would have been on al-Qaida’s normal schedule.

Rich wrote: “Since major al-Qaida attacks are planned well in advance and have historically been separated by intervals of 12 to 24 months, we will find out how much we’ve been distracted soon enough.” (“Never Forget What?” New York Times, Sept. 14, 2002.)

There wasn’t a major al-Qaida attack in 2003. Nor in 2004, 2005, 2006 or 2007. Manifestly, liberals thought there would be: They announced a standard of success that they expected Bush to fail.

As Bush has said, we have to be right 100 percent of the time, the terrorists only have to be right one time. Bush has been right 100 percent of the time for seven years — so much so that Americans have completely forgotten about the threat of Islamic terrorism.

For his thanks, President Bush has been the target of almost unimaginable calumnies — the sort of invective liberals usually reserve for seniors who don’t separate their recyclables properly. Compared to liberals’ anger at Bush, there has always been something vaguely impersonal about their “anger” toward the terrorists.

By my count, roughly one in four books in print in the world at this very moment have the words “Bush” and “Lie” in their title. Barnes & Noble has been forced to add an “I Hate Bush” section. I don’t believe there are as many anti-Hitler books.

Despite the fact that Hitler brought “change,” promoted clean, energy-efficient mass transit by making the trains run on time, supported abortion for the non-master races, vastly expanded the power of the national government and was uniformly adored by college students and their professors, I gather that liberals don’t like Hitler because they’re constantly comparing him to Bush.

The ferocity of the left’s attacks on Bush even scared many of his conservative allies into turning on him over the war in Iraq.

George Bush is Gary Cooper in the classic western “High Noon.” The sheriff is about to leave office when a marauding gang is coming to town. He could leave, but he waits to face the killers as all his friends and all the townspeople, who supported him during his years of keeping them safe, slowly abandon him. In the end, he walks alone to meet the killers, because someone has to.

That’s Bush. Name one other person in Washington who would be willing to stand alone if he had to, because someone had to.

OK, there is one, but she’s not in Washington yet. Appropriately, at the end of “High Noon,” Cooper is surrounded by the last two highwaymen when, suddenly, his wife (Grace Kelly) appears out of nowhere and blows away one of the killers! The aging sheriff is saved by a beautiful, gun-toting woman.

America gained an import new ally in the War on Terror yesterday, with the swearing in of Asif Ali Zardari as Pakistan’s new president. Appropriately, the ceremony took place before a portrait of another steadfast Pakistani supporter of the United States: Zardari’s late wife Benazir Bhutto, who led the Pakistan People’s Party until her assassination last year by Islamic terrorists.

Zardari’s ascendance heralds a welcome development. The previous president, Pervez Musharraf, took a lukewarm stance toward the growing Islamist threat in Pakistan. By contrast, Zardari has vowed to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces occupying the country’s frontier provinces.

Zardari has no illusions about the difficulty of the task. “We are in the eye of the storm,” he said yesterday. “I consider that an opportunity. I intend to take that and make it our strength.” Zardari’s predecessor, to be sure, made similar promises, but repeatedly failed to act. Why should the new president prove different?

One reason is that, for Zardari, the struggle against the Islamists is as much a personal battle as a struggle for security. Terrorists not only murdered his wife, but they also attempted to kill Yousef Gilani, Pakistan’s prime minister last week. Moreover, Pakistani civilians are now under brutal attack from jihadists who launch daily bombs into cities from their outposts in Pakistan’s North West province and tribal areas. On election day last weekend, one truck bomb killed more than 30 people. The attack was interpreted as a message to Zardari. Thus, while Zardari is realistic — “I think at the moment [the terrorists] definitely have the upper hand,” he soberly told the BBC – there is every reason to think that he will make good on his pledge to face down the jihadists.

Pakistanis certainly seem to think so. Zardari’s tough stance against Islamic extremism helped earn him the highest approval rating of the three candidates for the presidency, according to a Gallup poll – not surprising when one considers that Islamist terrorism is the Pakistani people’s greatest concern after their country’s crumbling economy. Facing a daily bombing barrage, Pakistanis welcome any attempt to stop the attacks and sympathize with a leader who knows firsthand what it’s like to lose a loved one to the killers.

Zardari’s willingness to confront Islamic terrorism has endeared him not only to America and her NATO allies but also to Pakistan’s immediate neighbors, including India and Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, had famously feuded with Musharraf, accusing the Pakistani of doing nothing to stop Pakistan-based attacks against his country. But Karzai seems much more impressed with Zardari. A White House spokeswoman confirmed Monday there was now “increased co-operation” between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As president, Zardari will make a good civilian complement to General Ashfaq Kiyani, who became Pakistan’s military chief last November. Like Zardari, Kiyani also believes in waging all-out war against the jihadists and launched an impressive, initial offensive against them several weeks ago in Pakistan’s rugged, mountainous tribal areas, killing hundreds.

For all his virtues, some questions remain about Zardari. For instance, critics cite his well-known, but unproven, penchant for corruption, for which he served 11 years in prison and earned the nickname “Mister Ten Percent,” as a disqualification from office. Further fueling such suspicions, a Swiss bank recently unfroze $60 million from one of Zardari’s accounts, helping substantiate the belief he and his late wife, supposedly his equal in corruption, stole as much as $1.5 billion dollars when she was in power.

Troubling though it is, this history should be considered in context. Corruption is rampant in Pakistani politics, a feudal and tribal business in which large and important families and clans vie for power. What is regarded as corruption in the West is simply patronage politics as usual in Pakistan. The notion of civic mindedness is foreign, explaining why Pakistan is ranked 140 out of 180 countries on the global Corruption Perception Index.

Additionally, Pakistan is a difficult country to rule. With 160 million people, it is the second most populous Muslim country in the world after Indonesia. Besides the growing Islamist insurgency, an undeclared civil war exists between Sunnis and Shiites in some parts of the country as well as a militant independence movement in Baluchistan. Well-organized and large criminal syndicates also contribute to the country’s instability and corruption problem.

On top of this, Pakistan’s economy is failing so badly due to the political instability and violence that the International Monetary believes it will soon require outside assistance. All of these problems have helped earn Pakistan a top ten ranking among the world’s most dysfunctional states in one foreign policy publication.

Zardari, however, may be just the person to tackle these seemingly insurmountable difficulties. He apparently engineered Musharraf’s resignation and made the necessary deals and compromises to get elected president. Even his critics concede that he showed unusual political skill and toughness in rising to the president’s office in such a short period of time.

With his deal-making abilities, Zardari could conceivably end the parliamentary parties’ constant partisan quarrelling and get something accomplished. In the past in Pakistan, such governmental paralysis and economic mismanagement have always led to military takeovers. Zardari will hope that he can end this cycle.

Already he is making progress. By turning the Pakistani army’s weapons away from India and towards the internal Islamist danger, Zardari has put the jihadists on the defensive, at least for the time being. Zardari’s success as a president, however, will depend on his ability to build on these initial victories. One analyst calls this looming, military confrontation his “real test,” on which Zardari will “stand or fall.” One might say the same thing about his country.

SIR MALACHI’S MENAGERIE – ONE WEEK TO WEALTH! GET IN ON THIS NOW! LAUNCHING SOON!.

Hi everyone,

Here’s a link to my podcast: http://sirmalachi.podOmatic.com

See you there!

– – Louis

Hi everyone,

Here’s a link to my podcast: http://sirmalachi.podOmatic.com

See you there!

– – Louis

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