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FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 04, 2008


OBAMA RUNS FROM TOWN-HALL DEBATES

By Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama’s campaign made its distaste for free-style debates more or less official yesterday in their letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Team Obama only will agree to three debates, which has been the tradition through the last several presidential cycles, and all of them in the standard moderated format. He will not accept McCain’s challenge to meet him in a format where voters can ask the questions:

Obama’s campaign released a letter this afternoon from campaign manager David Plouffe to the Commission on Presidential Debates only agreeing to the traditional three sanctioned fall debates and single vice presidential forum.

“Due to the late date of the two parties’ nominating conventions, and the relatively short period between the end of the conventions and the first proposed debate, it is likely that the four commission debates will be the sole series of debates in the fall campaign,” Plouffe writes.

Not said is whether Obama is any longer considering meeting McCain for any town hall meetings outside the Commission’s debates. After initial indications in June that some would take place, it appears increasingly unlikely that the two candidates will meet on stage before the first debate at Ole Miss in September. McCain wanted to do one per week; Obama’s campaign responded by proposing one town hall on July Fourth and a Lincoln-Douglas-style appearance in August. McCain’s campaign rejected this counter-offer and discussions have since ceased as the campaign has increasingly turned negative.

The McCain campaign responded with a dose of sarcasm:

“We understand it might be beneath a worldwide celebrity of Barack Obama’s magnitude to appear at town hall meetings alongside John McCain and directly answer questions from the American people, but we hope he’ll reconsider.”

This news will surprise no one that has followed the number of gaffes Obama makes when speaking off the cuff.  When the press finally got embarrassed by their fawning attitude and asked him tough questions in the Pennsylvania debate, Obama folded like a cheap suit against Hillary — and immediately stopped appearing in debates.  He has provided an almost endless series of gaffes when speaking extemporaneously, and obviously wants no part of McCain in this format.

Either way, McCain can use this response to his advantage.  He can continue appearing in town-hall forums and openly question why Obama lacks the courage to join him.  In the traditional presidential debates, McCain can remind the national audience that Obama needed to hide behind the skirts of the media moderators rather than face voter questions directly.  Sunday, August 3, 2008

OBAMA'S OIL FLIP-FLOP ABOUT PLACE AS WELL AS ISSUE

By Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama has proven himself slippery on oil for the second time in his campaign.  In April, he accused his opponents of taking money from oil lobbies, when in fact Obama himself not only did the same thing but had oil executives as major bundlers to his campaign.  Now he’s reversed himself on drilling, and he did it in a remarkable place — Florida:

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said today he would be willing to open Florida’s coast for more oil drilling if it meant winning approval for broad energy changes.

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.

“If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage - I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,” Obama said.

Of course, this comes shortly after Obama called off-shore drilling “the latest scheme”, telling his supporters that drilling wouldn’t solve anything.  How shortly?  48 hours! Here’s Obama in Springfield, Missouri, insisting that drilling wouldn’t work:

Now the latest scheme is well, we’re going to drill offshore. Now, I want to be absolutely clear to everybody about this. If I thought that I could provide you some immediate relief on gas prices by drilling off the shores of California and New Jersey, I - I … I understand how desperate folks are. I met a guy who couldn’t go on a job search that lost his job, couldn’t go on a job search because of the high price of gas. Just couldn’t fill up his tank. I met a teacher in South Dakota who loved her job as a teacher on an Indian reservation, she had to quit because the drive was too far, it was taking up too much of her paycheck. I know how bad people are hurting. So If I thought that by drilling offshore, we could solve our problem, I’d do it.

So what happened in the following 48 hours to convince Obama to drill? He probably looked at the polls, especially in Florida. The Sunshine State had fiercely opposed off-shore drilling for decades, and would normally be a safe place to rail against Big Oil and talk about alternative energy sources. Not any longer, though; 60% of Floridians now support off-shore drilling, ten percent of whom acknowledge that their position has changed with the rise in gas prices.

The 48-hour flip-flop also arrives with a rebellion in the Senate Democratic caucus on drilling. The Gang of 10 threatens to undermine not only the leadership of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, but also the policy stand of Obama in the presidential election. Their compromise proposal to open certain areas of the Atlantic seaboard and the eastern Gulf of Mexico threatened to put Obama on the fringe of his own party on drilling. He had little choice but to eat his words from Springfield on the stage in St Petersburg.

Obama once again reveals himself as a traditional politician, one that will swing like a weathervane in order to get elected. The only quality remarkable about Obama is his shamelessness in policy reversals, expecting everyone to ignore his obvious change in stance as Obama pretends that he has always supported what he used to oppose. It’s more than vaguely Orwellian, and without any real track record, it should make voters across the spectrum wonder what Obama would do once in power.  Saturday, August 2, 2008

http://hotair.com

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NOT LIKE ALL THOSE OTHER PRESIDENTS

By Michael Ramirez


www.townhall.com/funnies

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THE PRESS TELLS US WHAT TO THINK, BUT WHO'S BUYING IT?

By John Hinderaker

Much of the political news over the past few days has centered on John McCain's ads, "Celeb" and "The One," that mock Barack Obama by portraying him as an empty suit, and on Obama's claim that Republicans are trying to scare voters because he “doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills.’’ The New York Times editorial board predictably weighed in on Obama's behalf, calling the Celeb ad a "racially tinged attack."

How can this be, since the ad never mentions race, and has nothing to do with race? Because, the Times instructs us, it begins with image of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. The Times recalls an ad that "Republican operatives" ran against Harold Ford when he ran for the Senate in 2006:

That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women.

The Ford ad is here; you can judge for yourself whether it was racist. (I think that in this context, "racist" can fairly be translated as "effective.") But does the Times seriously believe that any ad that contains images of both a white woman and a black candidate is racist? (Don't white women often appear in Obama's own ads?) That strikes me as a very weird position, which perhaps reveals more about the Times editorialists than about campaign advertising.

In this case, the images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton were chosen because they are instantly-recognizable as "celebs" who are, as the Times puts it, notoriously "bubble-headed" and "publicity-seeking." So, what if the McCain ad had used exclusively images of African-Americans who are notoriously bubble-headed and publicity-seeking with whom to compare Obama? Nicole Richie, say? In that case, a far more plausible claim could have been made that the ad was racist.

Needless to say, the Times defends Obama's "dollar bills" line, which was the first injection of race into the campaign, on the risible ground that he was merely "the victim" of a "racial attack." In the Times' world, you simply cannot criticize an African-American candidate, or you are a racist. Unless, of course, the African-American is a Republican.

It doesn't seem, though, that this sort of media instruction has had much effect. Today's Rasmussen Reports contains these interesting findings:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of the nation’s voters say they’ve seen news coverage of the McCain campaign commercial that includes images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and suggests that Barack Obama is a celebrity just like them. Of those, just 22% say the ad was racist while 63% say it was not.

I assume those 22% are people who have not actually seen the ad, but are loyal Democrats trying to parrot the party line. More:

However, Obama’s comment that his Republican opponent will try to scare people because Obama does not look like all the other presidents on dollar bills was seen as racist by 53%.

This strikes me as pretty good evidence that Obama will have to campaign on the issues, and that his efforts to distract voters by crying "wolf" on race won't succeed.  Sunday, August 3, 2008

VOTERS DESERTING DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN DROVES?

By John Hinderaker

Well, okay, the news isn't quite that good. But Scott Rasmussen does find that during July, the number of Americans who describe themselves as Democrats fell by 2%, the first decline in a long time.

Maybe that's because people are starting to figure out that the Democrats are trying to keep the price of gasoline high. More likely, the tide that has been running in the Democrats' favor has finally peaked, and party identification is beginning to revert to a more "normal" breakdown; normal, at least, in the context of the last few years. It makes sense that as people start to focus on the upcoming election and the issues the candidates are talking about, some voters will be reminded of why they haven't supported the Democrats in the past and will be less inclined to associate themselves with that party.  Saturday, August 2, 2008

www.powerlineblog.com

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VIDEO: HADITHA MARINE'S FATHER UNLOADS ON MURTHA

By Allahpundit

He’s a 17-term incumbent who’s bloated his district with so much pork that the Journal once described him as having practically built the town himself. Nothing’s going to dislodge him unless he commits a major felony — and even then, per Abscam, I wouldn’t be so sure — but if there’s any justice this clip will put Bill Russell within single digits. Russell’s active military duty ended just two days ago so presumbly this signals the start of his campaign in earnest. I can’t find any polls online, but follow the last link to MM’s post and you’ll see that he’s (momentarily) outraising Murtha considerably.

Moms are always more sympathetic than dads and letting Mr. Sharratt speak off the cuff would have worked better than the stilted Teleprompter treatment, but no matter. Murtha’s been dodging this subject since last August, when the charges against Justin Sharratt and another Marine were dropped. If nothing else comes from this, it at least means he can’t dodge it anymore. As for the Hoekstra Amendment, you’ll find the text here. The argument against it is that it’s “unhelpful” to speak plainly about jihadist motives lest we abet their own religious glorification. By the same token, I guess, the Cold War should have been properly thought of as a fight to stop the spread of, er, “Russian culture.” Here’s the roll; only two Republicans voted with the left to try to defeat it. One was Ray LaHood. Guess who the other was.

Exit question: Why didn’t they chop this down to 30 seconds or a minute for airing on Pennsylvania TV? Or is that the next step?


Sunday, August 3, 2008

http://hotair.com

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Abu-Khabab.jpg

Abu Khabab, via the US Rewards for Justice website.

Al Qaeda has confirmed that Abu Khabab al Masri, the chief of the terror group's weapons of mass destruction program, was killed in an airstrike in South Waziristan, Pakistan earlier this week.

Khabab was one of the most wanted terrorists due to his experience, seniority, and expertise with bomb making, chemicals, and poisons. The US Rewards for Justice Program has a $5 million bounty out for the capture of Khabab.

Al Qaeda posted a statement on the network of jihadi web forums announcing Khabab's death, Reuters reported. The statement was signed by Mustafa Abu Yazid, al Qaeda's senior leader in Afghanistan. Yazid said Khabab left behind a multitude of followers trained to strike at the West.

Three aother Egyptians were killed in the strike, Yazid stated.Abu Mohammad Ibrahim bin Abi al Faraj al Masri, a religuous leader, and Abdul Wahhab al Masri and Abu Islam al Masri. The three men mad up the senior leadership of Khabab's WMD program, an anonymous senior US military intelligence source told The Long War Journal. Egytian Islamic Jihad, which is lead Ayman al Zawahiri, merged with al Qaeda in 1998 and makes up a significant portion of al Qaeda's leadership.

The US military killed Khabab during a targeted strike on an al Qaeda safe house in the village of Zeralita in the Azam Warsak region of South Waziristan on July 28. At least three foreigner terrorists were reported among the six killed in the airstrike.

Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command, is rumored to have been killed in the South Waziristan strike. But the reports are unconfirmed and the Taliban denied Zawahiri was anywhere near the site of the attack. US intelligence believes the reports of Zawahiri's death are not credible.

Khabab is the third senior al Qaeda leader to have perished in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions.

On May 14, Abu Sulayman Jazairi, a senior Algerian operative for al Qaeda’s central organization who directed the groups external operations, was killed in an airstrike against a Taliban and al Qaeda safe house in the town of Damadola in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal agency along with 13 associates. Jazairi is described as a senior trainer, an explosives expert, and an operational commander tasked with planning attacks on the West.

Abu Laith al Libi was killed in a US strike inside the North Waziristan tribal agency in Pakistan in late January. Al Libi was the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and served as a chief spokesman for al Qaeda. Laith also commanded al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.

The US military has carried out at least three other strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban targets in the tribal areas this year. These hits include a strike that targeted Baitullah Mehsud in his hometown of Makeen on June 14, an attack on a compound run by Siraj Haqqani on March 16, and the bombing of a fortified compound owned by Noorullah Wazir on March 12.

Background on Abu Khabab

Khabab has a long history of working with al Qaeda's secretive weapons of mass destruction program, which is known as al Zabadi, or “curdled milk."

Khabab "operated a terrorist training camp at Derunta, Afghanistan where he provided hundreds of Mujahidin with hands-on training in the use of poisons and explosives," the Rewards for Justice Website states. "Since 1999, he has distributed training manuals that contain instructions for making chemical and biological weapons. Some of these training manuals were recovered by U.S. forces in Afghanistan."

Dan Darling reported on Khabab's history with the Egyptian military and al Qaeda for The Long War Journal in September 2005.

A former scientist in the Egyptian chemical weapons program, Khabab, turned against the government of Anwar Sadat. Khabab joined Ayman al Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad, where he served as an explosives expert and poison trainer for the group.

After Egyptian Islamic Jihad merged with al Qaeda, he became the head of Project al Zabadi. The program largely focused on chemical and biological weapons and devices to disperse the agents. Evidence of Project al Zabadi's operations has turned up throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

The US military has targeted Khabab in the past. Abu Khabab and four other senior al Qaeda commanders reportedly were killed in an airstrike in the town of Damadola in the Bajaur tribal agency in January 2006. The US military believed the safe house in Bajaur, which was run by Taliban chieftain Faqir Mohammed, was sheltering Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command. Khabab and the other commanders were later found to be still alive.  Sunday, August 3, 2008

For more information on Abu Khabab and al Qaeda's weapons of mass destruction program, see:

Abu Khabab and Project al Zabadi - The Long War Journal
Al Qaeda's Mad Scientist - The Weekly Standard 

www.longwarjournal.org

*

ENERGY POLICY

By Lisa Benson


www.townhall.com/funnies

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REPORT: SYRIAN LEADER'S 'RIGHT HAND MAN' ASSASSINATED


By Charles Johnson

A report is circulating through Arab media that the “right hand man” of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has been assassinated.

BEIRUT (AFP) - Arab media reported on Sunday that a brigadier general thought to be the Syrian regime’s liaison with Hezbollah in Lebanon has been assassinated. ...

The Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Sunday quoted “informed sources” in London as saying that a senior Syrian officer had been found dead. “The circumstances of the incident are not clear,” the London-based paper said in its report, which said the sources suggested that the slain officer had been “in charge of sensitive files and closely linked to the Syrian top brass.”

Al-Bawaba, an Arab news website, named the officer as Mohammed Suleiman and said he was “Syria’s liaison officer with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.” It said he was killed by a sniper in the northwest Syrian town of Tartus and would be buried in his hometown of Driekesh on Sunday.

The Lebanese anti-Syrian daily al-Mustaqbal quoted a Syrian news site as saying Suleiman was the head of security at the presidential palace in Damascus and President Bashar al-Assad’s “right-hand man.”  Sunday, August 3, 2008

http://littlegreenfootballs.com

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SAN FRANCISCO VALUES: $650,000 FOR ILLEGAL ALIEN TEEN FELONS

By Michelle Malkin

You might ask yourself: Could the illegal alien sanctuary debacle in San Francisco get any worse?

Any worse than the triple murder of an innocent father and his two sons at the hands of an illegal alien sanctuary beneficiary?

Any worse than the callousness with which San Francisco government officials have treated the grieving, devastated widow of the murder victims who would be alive today if not for the city’s bloody open-borders policies?

Any worse than the taxpayer-funded, law-undermining illegal alien shuttle service the felonious city was running for young Honduran illegal alien crack dealers?

Any worse than the illegal alien dumping program San Francisco created to ship convicted illegal alien drug dealders/deportation evaders down to San Bernardino County, where they were enrolled in juvenile group homes–only to walk out scot-free and disappear?

Any worse than the news that even more Central American illegal alien criminals escaped those homes after the program was exposed?

Yes, my friends.

Yes, it does get worse.

Ace San Francisco Chronicle reporter Jaxon Van Derbeken remains on the case with another appalling new report today on how proud illegal alien sanctuary proponent SF mayor Gavin Newsom showered $650,000 of public funds on illegal alien felons to provide them with legal services and “cultural affirmation” through open-borders non-profits. Blood pressure alert:

As San Francisco’s juvenile justice system shielded young illegal immigrant felons from possible deportation, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office gave grants totaling more than $650,000 to nonprofit agencies to provide the underage offenders with free services - everything from immigration attorneys to housing assistance to “arts and cultural affirmation activities,” city records show.

Newsom has said the city began its policy of not referring young immigrant offenders to federal authorities for deportation under previous mayors, and that he reversed the practice after he became aware of it this year. However, in 2006, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice - a community outreach arm of Newsom’s office - created a grant program specifically designed to assist, rather than deport, “undocumented, unaccompanied and monolingual” immigrants who were in the custody of the city’s Juvenile Probation Department or on juvenile probation, according to city documents.

The city provided $467,000 to three nonprofit agencies under the grant program from mid-2006 and mid-2008, records show, and another $200,000 was approved for two of the agencies for this budget year.

Newsom’s office created the program, in part, to deal with an influx of Central American youths being housed on drug charges at San Francisco’s juvenile hall, according to those familiar with the grant. Crowding at juvenile hall had led to protests among youth advocate groups.
“A key goal of this project is to assist these individuals to successfully navigate the juvenile justice system and achieve stability within the community setting,” according to a 2006 invitation issued by Newsom’s office for agencies to bid for grant money.

The grant language said the youths “require extensive support” to overcome “multiple complex barriers” in the justice system.

Money for the effort came from the pot of discretionary funding that the mayor’s office receives each year as part of the city budget.

The goal of the grant program, according to the request for bids, was to further the city’s “proud tradition as a haven for immigrants.”

In addition to immigration attorneys, Newsom’s office envisioned the program helping young felons obtain housing, food, clothing, educational and vocational training, English-language instruction, medical care and mental health assessments.

The program would also provide “spiritual, cultural enrichment and recreation activities.”

How about those San Francisco values, Nancy Pelosi? Hello? Nancy?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

www.michellemalkin.com

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RED GAMES


By Chip Bok


www.townhall.com/funnies

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TURKISH ISLAMISTS BACK DOWN ON HEADSCARVES

By Charles Johnson

A setback for the Islamist ruling party of Turkey: Turkish Rulers Backtrack on Head Scarves.

ANKARA, Turkey, July 31 — Turkey’s ruling party has dropped for now its attempts to lift a decades-old ban on wearing Islamic head scarves in universities, a campaign that infuriated defenders of the country’s secular principles and nearly brought down the government.

Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek signaled Thursday that the government would not push for a fresh round of legislation to lift the head scarf ban, a day after the country’s top court narrowly decided not to shut down the ruling party on grounds that it was trying to impose an Islamic regime.

“The head scarf issue is not on our agenda now,” Cicek told NTV television in an interview.  Saturday, August 2, 2008

http://littlegreenfootballs.com

*

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed. Click to view.

Senior al Qaeda leader Fazul Abdullah Mohammed escaped a raid in the resort town of Mandali in Kenyan, police stated.

Kenyan police raided a home after "intelligence reports show that he came into the country from Somalia to seek medical attention because of a kidney condition," an anonymous senior detective told Reuters. Two men were detained and two of Fazul's passports were found.

Fazul appears to have received a tip that helped him escape. "We sealed off the whole area and had sea and land patrols but unfortunately, Fazul got leakage of the intended raid and escaped," the official told Reuters. "We are still looking for him."

Fazul, an 18-year veteran of al Qaeda, is considered one of the terror group's top commanders in eastern Africa, where he serves as the operations chief. He was responsible for planning the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, as well as the 2002 car bombing attack in Kenya and missile attack on an Israeli airliner. He also served as the intelligence chief for the Islamic Courts during its reign in 2006.

Fazul joined al Qaeda after traveling to Pakistan in 1990. He was a member of the al Qaeda team that participated in the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993. Two US Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and 18 US soldiers were killed during the heavy street fighting.

Fazul, along with al Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and Abu Tala al Sudani, has been sheltering in Somalia with the Islamic Courts and its radical offshoot, Shabab. The Islamic Courts and Shabab have stepped up its attacks in Somalia the past several months. Islamic Courts and Shabab fighters attack Somali and Ethiopian forces on a daily basis and again control vast swaths of central and southern Somalia.

Targeting terrorists in eastern Africa

A look at some of the leaders of the Islamic Courts, Shabab, and al Qaeda in East Africa. Click to view.

The US and Ethiopian military have conducted multiple strikes against Fazul, Nabhan, Abu Tala, and other senior al Qaeda and Islamic Courts leaders since the Ethiopian operation to drive the Islamic Courts from power was launched in late December 2006.

A US airstrike killed Aden Hashi Ayro and Sheikh Muhyadin Omar on May 1, 2008. Ayro was the leader of Shabab and served as an operational commander during the rule of the Islamic Courts. He trained under Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of the Islamic Courts who is also a senior al Qaeda leader. Ayro was sent to train in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan prior to 2001.

The US military struck an al Qaeda safe house in the town of Dobley in southern Somalia, just four miles from the Kenyan border, on March 3, 2008. The target was Hassan Turki, who had taken control of the Dobley region in late February. Turki is a senior leader in the Islamic Courts and its predecessor, al Itihaad al Islamiyah. He is believed to be running a military training camp on the Kenyan-Somali border. Turki is believed to have survived the attack.

The US Navy targeted Fazul in a naval battle off the coast of Puntland in June 2007. A large group of Yemenis, Afghans, Central Asians, Arabs, and Somalis were accompanying Fazul.

In January 2007, the hunter-killer teams of Task Force 88 killed Mohammed Jamal Khalifa during a raid in Madagascar. Khalifa, who was Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law, had has deep roots in al Qaeda as a financier and facilitator. He financed Abu Sayyaf and helped found religious charities throughout Southeast Asia that served as al Qaeda fronts. He also helped finance and plot terror attacks in the region.

Fazul, Nabhan, and Abu Tala were targeted in southern Somalia in early 2007, just after the Ethiopians brought down the Islamic Courts.

The Ethiopians also launched airstrikes against Islamic Courts fighters who were fleeing into Kenya in early January 2007. The US targeted Hassan Dahir Aweys and Aden Hashi Ayro during this time period.  Sunday, August 3, 2008

www.longwarjournal.org




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