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FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, August 08, 2008


By Ken Catalino




By John Hinderaker

Opponents of energy development like to claim that it is hopeless to drill for oil, since it would take so long to get it flowing. Barack Obama, for example, recently claimed that if Congress lifts the offshore drilling ban, it will take seven years to get any oil. Obama supported this assertion by misrepresenting a report by the Energy Information Administration. If you read this post, you already know how the Left is misusing that report.

Today the Institute for Energy Research followed up with more information about misuse of that report. I want to focus on this point:

EIA’s analysis assumes that leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017. Yet, off the coast of California, some of these resources have already been leased. A report from Wall Street research house Sanford C. Bernstein says that California actually could start producing new oil within one year if the moratoria were lifted. The California oil is under shallow water and already has been explored. Drilling platforms have been in place since before the moratorium.

There are other areas, too, where pumping could begin in months, not years. Obviously full exploitation of our energy resources will take longer. But that is an argument for starting quickly, not an argument for delay. And we can at least begin to get relief from high energy costs quite rapidly.


By John Hinderaker

When questioned about her determination to keep gas prices high by blocking energy development, Nancy Pelosi whined, "I'm trying to save the planet!" Michael Ramirez comments; click to enlarge:


By Paul Mirengoff

Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, could be a free man very soon. A U.S. military jury sentenced him to five and a half years following his conviction for supporting terrorism. It was bin Laden's terrorism, of course, that led to the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans. And Hamdan didn't just drive bin Laden, he also guarded the master terrorist. His defense is that he was just a working stiff.

Since Hamdan has already served five years, his sentence will be completed in just five months. The maximum sentence for his offense was life in prison.

Once Hamdan has completed his sentence, he can still be held, as I understand it, if the military concludes that he still represents a threat. In this regard, the trial judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, said that Hamdan would likely be eligible for the same administrative review process as other Guantanamo prisoners. This fact does not inspire great confidence. Some of those released from Gitmo have engaged in new acts of terrorism and murder. The leniency instinct seems to be strong within the relevant parts of the military, whether its military jurors or those involved in the administrative review process. Perhaps these folks want to prove to the liberal establishment that they aren't bad people just because they're in the military. Or perhaps they want to prove that we're "different from the terrorists."

Whatever it's root in this context, the spirit of leniency and good will to man spilled over to the trial judge, Capt. Allred. He told Hamdan "I hope the day comes that you return to your wife and daughters and your country, and you're able to be a provider, a father and a husband in the best sense of all those terms." Hamdan completed the love-fest with the obligatory "God willing." How heart-warming.

Unfortunately, the judge has no idea whether Hamdan will provide for his wife and daughters or will strap a bomb to one of them and send her to a crowded market. All the judge knows is that Hamdan supported terrorism, in the form of the world's leading deadly terrorist, the last time he was free. The jury apparently believes that Hamdan has paid nearly all of his debt for this, but I don't see how one does that in five and a half years.  Thursday, August 7, 2008




By Allahpundit

I’m not sure why he thinks the Dems will eventually cave and agree to an up-or-down vote in September when their entire strategy is designed to avoid that (maybe he expects another oil spike with the resulting public pressure becoming unbearable?), but here’s hoping.

Per his comments at the end, I’m guessing he’s cool with the Israeli Nissan ad.

Thursday, August 7, 2008




By Scott Stantis




By Charles Johnson

Book publisher Random House has joined the ranks of Westerners who censor themselves out of fear of Islamist violence: Shades of the Danish Cartoons: Random House in disgrace.

Although it has for some time been a division of German media giant Bertelsmann, Random House has been one of the distinguished names in American publishing since the halcyon days of Bennett Cerf. So it is particularly repugnant to see the company knuckling under to essentially the same reactionary, anti-democratic, anti-free speech forces that repressed the Danish cartoons. As we learned in the Wall Street Journal today, the company has decided not to publish Sherry Jones’ historical novel “The Jewel of Medina” about Mohammed’s child bride Aisha. The book was part of a $100,000 two-book contract with the authorThursday, August 7, 2008




By Michelle Malkin

Barack Obama’s taxpayer-subsidized old friends at ACORN have been very, very busy lately. And ACORN Watch is here to give you the rundown on all the latest shenanigans on your dime.

* In Milwaukee, election officials are investigating fake names registered by ACORN workers– a favorite voter fraud 101 ploy of ACORN workers. No word on whether anyone used “Fruto Boy Crispila:”

Criminal investigations could be launched against at least six voter registration workers who tried to add dead, imprisoned or imaginary people to the voter rolls, according to the Milwaukee Election Commission and the organization that employed them.

Officials are reviewing some 200 to 300 fraudulent voter registration cards, Sue Edman, the commission’s executive director, said Wednesday.

And even though the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now caught the fraud and reported it before the cards were turned in, the incident revived a four-year-old partisan debate over the integrity of Wisconsin’s voter registration process, as political groups step up efforts to sign up voters for the Nov. 4 presidential election.

“One woman called us to complain because her husband has been dead for 10 years and a voter registration was submitted,” Edman said.

In about 12 cases, deputy registrars paid by ACORN were “making people up or registering people that were still in prison,” said Carolyn Castore, ACORN’s state political director.

And in other cases, workers used the same address for numerous voters or used driver’s license numbers that did not fit the voters’ birth dates, Edman said. But most of the fraud involved submitting duplicate cards for voters who were already registered, and forging the voters’ signatures, Castore said.

ACORN found the problems and fired a dozen workers, Castore said. Five of them appeared to be working together, she added.

In New Mexico, it’s the same old story of ACORN using criminals to lead voter registration drives. KRQE reports:

ANDERSON (Anchor): If you registered to vote outside a supermarket, at a fair or even on a college campus, your information may have been collected by a criminal. News 13’s Michael Herzenberg is live in the newsplex.

MICHAEL HERZENBERG (Reporter): The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or, ACORN, does not go door to door. But in public places they admit at times they employ criminals. They say like law abiding citizens they employ make great workers. Audrey Padilla works for the non profit organization ACORN registering people to vote.

AUDREY PADILLA: I think it’s a really powerful thing to vote.

HERZENBERG: The information she gathers on this form can be powerful if criminals get their hands on it and they have. Jeffrey Mahaffey did and he was convicted with 2 counts of raping a child, a habitual offender who stole a car. Yvonne Chacon did too – she pleaded no contest to 2 counts of forgery, 7 more counts are pending and so are 3 counts of credit card fraud. Michelle Rael also collected voter information for ACORN while under the supervision of probation and parole for drug possession and 1 count of identity theft.

RAY SCHUTLZ (APD Police Chief): It’s very alarming and very concerning to me.

HERZENBERG: We showed Albuquerque police chief Ray Shultz the records of nine people accused or convicted of crimes who collected voter registration information for ACORN.

SCHULTZ: This information in, you know, the hands of the wrong person could be devastating.

ACORN: I find it interesting. I do understand that it would draw some concerns.

HERZENBERG: ACORN spokeswoman Stephanie Blackwell says the nine people no longer work for ACORN but they lasted at most 8 days

HERZENBERG: How much personal information did they get?

ACORN: I don’t know exact numbers in terms of how many cards per person that they collected. I do know, so far, total throughout the state, we’ve registered over 60,000 voters.

In Florida, William Amos points to an ACORN-assisted woman with no job who secured a $42,000 loan on a house that she can’t figure out how to pay. Go figure:

Carolyn Patmon has lived in what she calls her “modest little house” in Carver Shores for 38 years. At one point, she owned it free and clear. Then she took out a loan to add a sun porch.

Because she was on disability and wasn’t working, she was offered a mortgage rate of 14 percent.

“But the rate was supposed to go down in a couple of years,” said Patmon, 59.

It didn’t. What the mortgage brokers had told her and what the fine print in the loan documents said were two different things. Within a few years, Patmon found herself owing $115,000 on a $42,000 loan — and being sued for foreclosure
Nothing about her story is particularly remarkable these days — except how it’s ending. Because Patmon went to Orlando ACORN, a nonprofit community organization with chapters nationwide, she has been able to stop the foreclosure process and is working on having her loan modified to more affordable terms.

Experts say plenty of help is available to those such as Patmon, but that homeowners need to seek assistance early and often. And they shouldn’t expect it to be easy.

The WSJ’s overview of ACORN’s milking of the housing crisis is here.

Rep. Tom Feeney has called on the Attorney General to investigate:

Dear Attorney General Mukasey:

We are writing to request an immediate investigation into whether or not the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, is engaging in criminal voting fraud, promoting fraudulent registrations, or criminally misusing taxpayer funds.

With the next election cycle quickly approaching, we are confident that the Department of Justice will be ensuring the integrity of our federal elections. Although the administration of elections is chiefly a function of state government, the Department of Justice must ensure that nationwide criminal voter fraud is targeted and eliminated as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Voter fraud represents a serious threat to the validity of all American elections. Each and every illegal vote cast cancels out the thoughtfully considered vote of an American citizen. In April, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana statute requiring registered voters to present photo identification in order to vote. The Court, in a 6-3 opinion, noted that “the risk of voter fraud [is] real…[and] could affect the outcome of a close election.”[1]

One organization in particular has developed a reputation for lawlessness in the electoral process. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has repeatedly been associated with voting fraud, turning in fraudulent registrations, and misuse of taxpayer funds. The laundry list of inappropriate conduct including investigations and convictions of individuals associated with ACORN is far too long to include in this letter, but here are a few key examples:

* Last year in Washington, felony charges were filed against several paid employees and supervisors of ACORN. Over 1,700 fraudulent registrations turned in by the employees were revoked in one of the largest instances of voting fraud in the United States.[2]

* In March of 2008, an ACORN worker was sentenced in Berks County Pennsylvania to 146 days to 23 months in the county prison for making 29 phony voter-registration forms to collect a cash bonus from ACORN.[3]

* Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder, Wade Rathke, embezzled nearly $1 million from Acorn and affiliated charitable organizations in 1999 and 2000 but a small group of executives decided to keep the information from almost all of the group’s board members and not to alert law enforcement. Dale Rathke remained on Acorn’s payroll until a month ago, when disclosure of his theft by foundations and other donors forced the organization to dismiss him.[4]

* As of July 2008, at least three ACORN workers have been convicted of voter fraud in Kansas City, and one is awaiting trial. These ACORN workers in Kansas City flooded voter registration rolls with over 35,000 false or questionable voter registration forms.[5]

* St. Louis, Mo., officials found that in 2006 over 1,000 addresses listed on its registrations did not exist. “We met twice with ACORN before their drive, but our requests completely fell by the wayside,” said Democrat Matt Potter, the city’s deputy elections director.[6] Later, federal authorities indicted eight of the group’s local workers. One of the eight pleaded guilty last month.

* The Consumers Rights League reports that ACORN used taxpayer money to support “corporate shakedown tactics, counseling of potential homebuyers to use “undocumented” or “under the table” income to obtain mortgages, and to assist in obtaining mortgages for undocumented workers.[7]

At the very least, this pattern of conduct by individuals associated with ACORN has created an air of reasonable suspicion that ACORN is either engaged in criminal enterprise or does not have sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to those ends.

ACORN has routinely assured Americans that the aforementioned events and those like them represent isolated events by individuals not representing ACORN. Consequently, we are confident that they will welcome such an investigation to support their contentions that this pattern of misconduct is not endemic to ACORN’s operations.

We must do everything in our power to ensure that our electoral processes continue to reflect our dedication to a lawful democracy. Our civil rights and voting laws are designed to ensure that every American has their vote counted. Unfortunately, registering dead or fictitious voters serves no purpose other than to ultimately misrepresent and dilute the voice of the American people.

We respectfully request that you inform us whether you plan to initiate an investigation as soon as possible, and no later than September 8, 2008. We also request that you inform us whether the results of your review will be provided to Congress and made public. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Too bad the Obamedia won’t ask ACORN’s old friend for comment.


Check out the ACORN Watch archives hereThursday, August 7, 2008




By Charles Johnson

Ezra Levant’s bizarre Kafkaesque ordeal at the hands of the Alberta Human Rights Commission has ended—with a complete dismissal of all the trumped up “charges:” Punished first, acquitted later.


By Charles Johnson

Last month, when child-murdering Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar was released by Israel, Arab media channel Al Jazeera actually held a party for this monster, lavishing praise on him and portraying him as an Arab hero. It was one of the more disgusting things we’ve ever seen from Al Jazeera, and they seem to realize they let their mask slip a little too much: Al Jazeera says prisoner party breached code of ethics.

The big news in this story is that Al Jazeera has a “code of ethics.”

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Arabic television station Al Jazeera said on Thursday a July broadcast in honor of a Lebanese prisoner freed by Israel violated its code of ethics.

Israel said on Wednesday it would no longer assist the Qatar-based network because of the July 19 birthday party broadcast for Samir Qantar, who spent 29 years in an Israeli jail for a 1979 attack in which five Israelis were killed.

The network said in a statement that its editorial board concluded that the broadcast “violated Al Jazeera’s Code of Ethics”. The network said it “regards these violations as very serious and will assess what action is necessary”.

The Al Jazeera show featured Qantar using a scimitar, a traditional Arab sword, to slice a cake with his picture on it. The broadcast included a fireworks display and Arabic music.


By Charles Johnson

The court-appointed defense attorneys in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas funding trial seem to be getting on the judge’s nerves, with a request to delay the retrial because they aren’t getting their money quickly enough: Judge denies request for delayed re-trial in Holy Land case.

A federal judge has denied a request by defense attorneys in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case who asked that next month’s re-trial be delayed.

In an opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis called their claim that they cannot be ready for trial because of delays in payments of their court-appointed attorneys’ fees “hyperbolic and inaccurate.”

Judge Solis chastised the court-appointed attorneys in the case for waiting until late March, about five months after the October mistrial, to file their budget for the re-trial, which includes expenses for pre-trial preparation such as pay for experts and air travel.

The judge said that after they submitted their budget to him in late March, twice he had to ask them for more detail and explanations of what he thought were “unreasonable” expenses before finally feeling comfortable enough forward the budget to the circuit court for review in June.

He did not detail any of the defense expenses, which are under seal so that prosecutors cannot gain an advantage by knowing how the opposition is spending its money and preparing for trial. ...

For the first trial, court appointed attorneys have so far been paid $2.4 million, including more than $1.6 million for attorney and paralegal fees and expenses; $191,000 for expert fees and expenses; $458,700 for translator fees; and more than $100,300 for airfare. So far, about $47,000 has been paid out for the second trial, including $35,000 to defense attorneys, $6,000 for experts, and about $6,200 for airfare, the federal court clerk’s office said Wednesday.  Thursday, August 7, 2008




The Pakistani military and the Taliban battled in the northern tribal agency of Bajaur after security forces launched an attack. More than 25 extremists were reported killed and 30 wounded after Pakistani forces targeted Taliban hideouts in the Loisam region in Bajaur with helicopter gunships and artillery, Geo News reported.

The Taliban struck back, killing one soldier in roadside bomb attack. The Jaish-e-Islami, a splinter Taliban group in Bajaur, also claimed to have killed three security personnel after announcing their support for the Taliban.

The fighting began four days after a Pakistani TV station said operations would be launched against the Taliban in Bajaur and the neighboring Mohmand tribal agency. The Taliban overran several Frontier Corps outposts along the border with Afghanistan in late July, and fighting over a TV booster substation has been ongoing for the past week. Three military checkpoints were overrun on August 5. In early July, the Taliban took over two girls' schools in Bajaur and turned them into madrassa.

Pakistan's current operation in Swat

The fighting in Bajaur occurs as the Pakistani military is in the midst of their latest offensive in Swat. The fighting in the settled district of the Northwest Frontier Province began on July 30, after the Taliban continually attacked security forces and civilians alike. More than sixty girls' schools have been torched in Swat this past year, despite a peace agreement.

The provincial government ordered Pakistani forces to root out the Taliban, led by Mullah Fazlullah. "We have been given three months to clean up the area," an unnamed government official told Dawn.

The military claimed more than 100 Taliban fighters, including two senior Taliban leaders, have been killed during the current fighting. The Taliban disputes the government's casualty figures. The Pakistani military has inflated enemy casualties while hiding its own casualties during operations in the past.

On Aug. 6, security forces killed Ali Bakht, Fazlullah's deputy, along with 13 Taliban fighters. Bakht was in charge of peace negotiations with the government. The Taliban confirmed Bakht's death.

On July 31, Pakistani security forces killed Maulvi Hussain Ali, who is also known as Toor Mullah. Ali was "very popular with the militants throughout the region" as well as "Afghanistan’s Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives," Daily Times reported. He provided shelter for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.

A fight to the finish, or prelude to more peace deals?

The current offensive in Swat and the apparent operation in Bajaur comes as Pakistan has come under enormous pressure from the US government for failing to halt the spread of extremisms in the border regions.

It is unclear if the Pakistani government and military plan on defeating the Taliban in Bajaur and Swat. The current operations, which have been launched in a manner that fails to simultaneously pressure the Taliban's network in the northwest indicate the government does not seek to strike a decisive blow. As pressure increases in one district or tribal agency, the Taliban are able to retreat to neighboring regions and return once the Army withdraws.

If the past is any indication, the current operations will be short lived, inconclusive, and end in "peace" negotiations. The military operations launched in 2007 and 2008 have failed to defeat the Taliban. Recent offensives in Khyber and Hangu ended after less than two weeks of fighting, and resulted in peace agreements that gave the Taliban free reign in the regions.

Swat has been the one region where the government has been willing to fight. The government fought a protracted, five month battle with the Taliban in Swat from November 2007 through March 2008. This was the most serious effort to uproot the Taliban, yet it still resulted in a peace agreement in May of this year.

At the beginning of the current offensive in Swat, a government official showed desired the endgame is more negotiations. "We will revive the [Swat peace] agreement when the militants accept our terms," the official told Dawn.

Background on recent peace agreements between the government and the Taliban

The security situation in northwestern Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan has rapidly deteriorated since the government initiated its latest round of peace accords with the Taliban and allied extremists in the tribal areas and settled districts in the Northwest Frontier Province. Peace agreements have been signed with the Taliban in North Waziristan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Malakand, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, and Hangu.

Negotiations are underway in South Waziristan, Kohat, and Marian. The Taliban have violated the terms of these agreements in every region where accords have been signed.

The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established more than 100 terror camps in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

On July 23, Prime Minister Syed Yusaf Raza Gilani and his cabinet were told that more than 8,000 foreign fighters were operating in the tribal areas.  Thursday, August 7, 2008




By Richard Fernandez


A senior Australian climatologist who reviewed the evidence for the anthropogenic global warming model at a lecture I attended laid out in detail what he felt were the certain, plausible and questionable parts of the AGW case, like a man surveying a building for soundness. He concluded that while there were some points in its favor, AGW was not proved (partly because very large parts of the climate system are only now being studied, partly because parameters in the computer models have been grossly misestimated, etc) but finished with an interesting remark that could have been the subject of another lecture in itself. He said (and I paraphrase)

‘we are now being asked to cut back on CO2 concentrations to pre-industrial levels at the practical cost of reducing our available energy sources. What nobody has studied is what this reduction in available civilizational energy will do to our resilience. The earth’s climate has been changing for as far back as we’ve studied it, and humanity has responded to climatological variations by adaptation. But you need energy to adapt. Fuel to move food to flooded areas; evacuate victims. Moderate excessive heat; warm against excessive cold. Rebuild after storms. All this requires energy. What does it mean when, in the name of reducing carbon emissions, we reduce our civilizational energy sources and thereby reduce our resilience? Who has thought this through?’

The remark hung in the air until it was dispelled by questioners who moved on to the subject matter of the presentation itself: the datasets and coefficients in the equations he had presented. The remark about resilience was forgotten. But it soon returned in another guise. Many of the scientists and engineers in attendance were appalled at the free and easy way in which politicians distorted the known facts, a subject which roused them in a way that belied their sober dress and careful speech, so that they resembled nothing so much as ents at a rave dance party. One 94 year old gentleman actually stumped up to the podium on his crutches to denounce the “villainous” inaccuracies that daily went unchallenged in the media, announced that he had personally written to a long list of politicians to set them straight on the facts and asked the audience to do the same. How, I wondered, did narratives like AGW adapt to the arrival of contradictory facts? How did an ideology demonstrate resilience in the face of a political storm?

Pundits sometimes resort to wagers to express their degree of belief in the accuracy of their predictions. Bret Stephens, for example, described how he won his bet with Francis Fukuyama on the way the war in Iraq would turn out.

In March 2006, I wrote a blistering review of “America at the Crossroads,” Mr. Fukuyama’s sensational repudiation both of the war in Iraq as well as the neoconservative movement of which he was once a leading light. The book was widely praised. I called its arguments weak …

There followed between us an exchange of emails, in which Mr. Fukuyama pointed to various pieces he had published prior to the war indicating some concerns about how the U.S. would go in, and some foreboding about what might follow. He also mentioned a $100 bet he had made in May 2003 with a friend — a supporter of the war — that Iraq would be a mess five years after the invasion, the definition of a mess being “you’d know one if you saw it.” We agreed to make the same bet. …

I nearly forgot about the bet until last Friday, when the Washington Post reported U.S. combat fatalities in Iraq for the month of July. … With this in mind, I wrote Mr. Fukuyama to suggest that he owed me $100. He conceded, albeit strictly on “the narrow terms” of the bet itself.

Mr. Fukuyama insists, however, that he has been vindicated on the broader issue: “We’ve spent a trillion or so dollars, 30,000 dead or wounded, a large loss in international influence and prestige, all for the sake of disarming a country with no WMDs.”

Stephens won a hundred bucks but no cigar. Ideas like “Iraq is a quagmire” — and many other arguments popular on the Left or the Right — are very resistant to extinction; they adapt to storms by injecting more energy, in the shape of other “facts” into the debate; by changing the frame of reference or making a larger prediction further into the future. Now suppose Mr. Stephens were to make another bet with Mr. Fukuyama on an indicator that could accurately represent a resolution of “the broader issue”? On for example, whether an pro-American regime in Iran would be in place in ten years? How long could this betting process go on before one side or the other was bankrupted and the other emerged triumphant? A long time, but not forever. Narratives do go extinct, but only eventually.

Maybe the political system acts like a casino which stores the results of public policy wagers. It “remembers” albeit very imperfectly who was generally right or wrong on a particular issue and hands out payoffs. Barack Obama, for example, seems to have lost a political bet that Iraq would fail (in narrow terms) and McCain’s hundred dollar check duly arrived in the gain of a few poll percentage points. But Obama has plenty of political currency and can keep playing; he is now making the bet that he will “be vindicated on the broader issue”. He might win, but any politician that keeps losing his bets will eventually run out of resilience and become nonviable.

It used to be the case that the MSM, playing Felix Leiter to a candidate’s James Bond in Casino Royale, could mint large quantities of political capital by controlling the narrative and save a political cause from ruin, within limits. That is becoming potentially more difficult as more old media outlets collapse. But not impossible. And with the stakes so high the struggle to control information will probably take new forms. Some ideas cling to existence almost as tenaciously as biological life. Maybe we’ll find one day that they’re two sides of the same coin and the surprising thing is that some people, forced to choose between their biology and ideology, will opt for the latter.  Wednesday, August 6, 2008


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