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FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 18, 2008


By Michelle Malkin

Howard Dean slammed the GOP as racist this week, scoffing: “If you look at folks of color, even women, they’re more successful in the Democratic party than they are in the white, uh, excuse me, in the [laughs] Republican party.” As Allahpundit reminds us, The Screamer has engaged in this racial demagoguery before. He’s done it despite admitting his party’s own lack of skin-deep diversity in Maryland, where GOP Senate candidate Michael Steele gave the libs a big scare. And he’s done it despite his own DNC leadership’s glaring lack of non-white faces. He says to look at the Democratic party to see that “folks of color” and “even women” are “more successful.” So, let’s look at the official Democrat Party leadership page and judge Dean by his own standards:

Looking a little pale there, eh, Howie?


Sunday, August 17, 2008




By Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez




By Ed Morrissey

Unlike some of their colleagues in the Senate, House Republicans have rejected a minimal effort to compromise offered by Nancy Pelosi on energy policy.  After floating a proposal that would have allowed very limited drilling in exchange for windfall-profits taxes and depletion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Pelosi got the door slammed in her face by the GOP members participating in the House Oil Party this month.  Their message — follow or get out of the way:

Republicans lambasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) energy plan Saturday advising her to “get out of the way” if she was not going to accept GOP solutions to the energy crisis.

In her Saturday radio address Pelosi announced that Democrats would consider opening up parts of the outer continental shelf for drilling as a part of a broad new energy plan that will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

The Democratic initiative will also seek to release oil from the 700 million barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve, require oil companies to pay billions of dollars Democrats believe they owe to invest in clean energy resources, increase the use natural gas and create a federal Renewable Electricity Standard.

Jeb Hensarling scornfully asked the Speaker to “get out of the way” and allow the Republicans to implement the solutions desired by the vast majority of the electorate.  Adam Putnam added that Pelosi’s weak proposal qualified her as the the most qualified poster child for Democratic intransigence on energy.  They made clear that they have no reason to compromise on drilling, and see no need for distractions like an SPR release.

That notion belies the entire underpinning of the Democratic policy on domestic production.  They claim that we “cannot drill our way out of this crisis,” and yet the SPR release would temporarily do what expanded domestic production would do for decades.  If one cannot produce one’s way out of a supply crisis, then what effect would an SPR release have?  At the same time, with a war in the Caucasus and Americans fighting in two theaters in Asia, not only would a reduction in the SPR make the military more vulnerable to supply disruptions, it would require us to replace what gets depleted.  If we’re not producing our own oil to do that, we’ll only raise prices again as we stoke demand.

And now we have yet another reason to start producing our own oil.  Vladimir Putin has rebuilt his empire-hungry nation’s military strength on the high price of crude oil and natural gas — prices we support with our demands on the international market.  Any long-term strategy of containment regarding Moscow has to include a deep cut to the price supports for crude oil.  The best way we can effect that is to vastly increase our own production (and refinement) of oil, and get out of the international market.  Prices will drop dramatically, and Russia, Iran, Sudan, and other problem nations will suddenly have a lot less cash with which to make trouble.

Unlike the Gang of 10 in the Senate, the House Republicans understand this, and the need to remain firm.  We need to encourage the House leadership to take ownership of this issue back from the compromisers in the Senate.  Sunday, August 17, 2008




By John Hinderaker

In yesterday's radio address, John McCain talked about how the energy issue unites foreign and domestic policy. He began with Russia's invasion of Georgia, and explained how that conflict relates to energy and thus to domestic policy:

Georgia stands at a strategic crossroads in the Caucasus. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian to points west, traverses Georgia. And if that pipeline were destroyed or controlled by Russia, European energy supplies would be even more vulnerable to Russian influence.

There are many reasons why the Russian invasion of Georgia is of grave concern to America and to our allies. Above all, Georgia is a struggling democracy where Soviet tyranny is still fresh in memory. And when young democracies are threatened or attacked, and innocent civilians are targeted, they should be able to count on the free world for support and solidarity.

Another very serious concern is the effect of this aggression and conflict on the world energy market. For some time now, I have been making the case for a dramatic acceleration of domestic energy production, primarily on economic grounds. With high prices and growing demand for oil and gas, Americans cannot remain dependent upon others for the most vital of commodities. But now we are reminded that energy policy is also a matter of the highest priority for our nation's security.

McCain aligned himself unequivocally with the "all of the above" approach championed by Congressional Republicans:

All of this only adds to the urgency of producing more of our own energy, including America's enormous oil reserves that lie offshore. We need to drill here and drill now, so that our energy supplies and the strength of our economy do not depend on the decisions or dictates of foreign powers.

On energy policy, my opponent and his allies in Congress offer only half measures or no measures at all -- as in their shared opposition to offshore drilling. In the long term, most everyone agrees that America must shift toward alternative energies like wind, solar, tide, hydrogen, and bio-fuels. But my opponent's policies fail to meet the challenges of the immediate future. To achieve energy independence, America will need every resource at our disposal, including nuclear power and the use of our abundant coal supplies that lie from Colorado to West Virginia. America has multiple choices in the great test of energy independence and the right answer is "all of the above."

We can hope, perhaps, that before long "all" will include ANWR, as well.

The Democrats, meanwhile, can no longer take the heat that their unpopular energy policy has generated. Yesterday Nancy Pelosi, like McCain, devoted the Democrats' weekly radio address to energy. Her talk consisted largely of shameless demagoguery, denouncing the "two oil men" in the White House and making the absurd claim that the recent $20 per barrel drop in the price of oil was due to legislation mandating that we stop buying petroleum the the strategic reserve. I sometimes wonder: how does it feel to give a speech that you know will be believed only by the stupid and the completely uninformed? Somehow, Pelosi doesn't seem to mind.

Democratic demagoguery is not newsworthy, of course, and Pelosi's description of the Democrats' energy policy was mostly the same laundry list of fraudulent measures that we have seen over and over: "use it or lose it," "expand" drilling in Alaska's NPR region, where there is actually no drilling going on for reasons the Democrats propose do to nothing about, including the absence of any pipeline there, and so on. The news that came out of Pelosi's address was her reference to offshore drilling:

It will consider opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling, with appropriate safeguards, and without taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil.

It is indicative of what thin gruel the Democrats' energy proposals have been that willingness to "consider opening portions" of the OCS constitutes big news. Sources close to Pelosi say that she refers to "several east coast states" that will have the option to allow drilling, but not Florida or California. As we noted here, the oil that can most readily be accessed--in months, not years--is off the coast of California, in an area where drilling would improve the environment by reducing natural seepage of oil.

The Democrats' strategy is obvious. They want to pretend to include some drilling in their legislative package as a fig leaf, when in fact, they do not intend that any such drilling will ever actually occur. Whether the voters will be fooled by this approach is the great unanswered question about November's election.  Sunday, August 17, 2008




By Glenn McCoy

Political Cartoon by Glenn McCoy




By Ed Morrissey

The Russians aren’t leaving Georgia despite having signed an agreement with Georgia to fall back to military positions established on August 6th before fighting erupted in South Ossetia. President Bush warned of long-term consequences from Russian failure to honor their commitment and declared American support for Georgian sovereignty, including South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Meanwhile, NBC reports that the Russians have looted Poti and have tank battalions creeping towards Tbilisi:

Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch that Russia took “a hopeful step” earlier in the day with an agreement to cease hostilities and pull back its forces. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the deal at the Black Sea resort of Sochi after meeting with Russia’s Security Council, according to a Russian news agency.

But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said later that “extra security measures” were necessary before any troops could be removed — a stance that U.S. and Georgian officials said was at odds with the French-negotiated agreement.

Russia tried offering a strange and weak rationale for their presence:

Nogovitsyn also said that Russian troops had left the Georgian cities of Gori and Poti but were operating nearby. “Our units are on the outskirts of Gori now, where large arsenals of Georgian weapons, including 15 tanks, have been discovered,” he said.

Yes, how strange it must be for Georgia to have tanks — in its own country! Gori is part of Georgia proper, not South Ossetia, although it is the largest city near the breakaway province.  Gori also houses a major military base, which given the events of the last fortnight, seems a smart bit of logistics.

Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev have tried stringing this out as long as possible, seizing on every possible pretext to remain in place.  Condoleezza Rice refuted their interpretation of the Sarkozy-negotiated cease-fire, claiming that notes taken during the meeting showed Russian agreement that it meant their withdrawal.  Rice accused them of reneging on their promises and negiotiating in bad faith, escalating the diplomatic rift between Washington and Moscow.

Rice will meet with NATO this week in a pointed demonstration of Atlantic unity on the issue of Georgia.  The West needs to follow Eastern Europe’s lead and present a strong, united front against Russian imperialism in the Caucasus.  One strong step would be to offer NATO membership to Ukraine as an answer to Putin’s adventurism.  The more likely action from the Brussels meeting will be a statement of enhanced interest in Ukraine’s membership, which would either signal the Russians to back off or to create another pretext for invasion there.  Sunday, August 17, 2008




By Richard Fernandez

Despite the “ceasefire” between Russia and Georgia, Russian forces have cut the country in half. Even if Russia actually kept its troops in place without mischievously moving them around, they would effectively disrupt Georgian national life and relegate its remnants to a kind of rump state. The chief problem facing Saakashvili is that he has no practical short-term way to rid himself of the Russians. While in the long-term, the Russo-Georgian will be boost US arms procurement and rouse European allies against Moscow, over the next few weeks it is hard to tell how Georgia can force the Russians out. Since the diplomatic package Secretary Rice and Nicolas Sarkozy have put on the table stipulates that the territorial integrity of Georgian territory will be maintained (at least in the minimal sense of returning the Georgian heartland to Tbilisi’s control) the energy needed to push the Russians out will have to come from somewhere else. The question is where. One source of pressure was the Ukraine. Radio Free Europe reported that it was considering tying its radars into the Western missile defense system.

Ukraine says it is ready to make its missile warning systems available for Western countries after Russia announced it was pulling out of a long-term missile defense agreement. … The statement says the country could invite European partners to integrate their early-warning systems. It says Kyiv is also ready to deal with “foreign countries interested in getting information about the situation in space.”

There were suggestions the Ukraine could limit Russian access to its naval bases. But there were doubts about how far Kiev would go. The Ukraine badly needs the Russian rental for its naval bases and fears that Russia might increase the prices of the gas supplied. The ultimate Russian revenge against the Ukraine for defying it could be to raise the threat of taking the Crimea away from Kiev.

Russia’s conflict with Georgia over the separatist region of South Ossetia has prompted suggestions that pro-Russian nationalism in the Crimea, strong in the 1990s, could be rekindled and undermine the authority of the Ukrainian state. Crimea, part of Russia from the late 18th century, was handed to Soviet Ukraine by Kremlin leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954. It became part of independent Ukraine in 1991 when the Soviet Union fell.

The absence of any direct way to push Russian troops from Georgia means that the US can only pressure Moscow by expanding the arena — by “linking” Georgia to other initiatives it will take against Putin. Once those policies are put in train and Moscow responds, the situation in Georgia will become part of a wider pattern of East-West tensions along the Black Sea. Turkey must certainly be aware of the stakes. At last report, Ankara had yet to grant permission for two US hospital ships to move into the Black Sea through the Bosporus.  Sunday, August 17, 2008




By Charles Johnson

Hamas is keeping busy during the “truce” with Israel by manufacturing rockets as fast as they can, and escorting CNN journalists on guided tours of their “metal shops” and training camps.

(Hat tip: Media Backspin.)  Sunday, August 17, 2008



DIYALA, IRAQ: When the U.S. Army creates a “non-lethal platoon” in a conflict zone, it can mean one of two things: either the battle is going well enough that soldiers can focus on reconstruction over security – or the Army has secretly reestablished its early 19th-Century policy of alcohol rations for the troops.

With violence at down in Iraq, and a complete ban on alcohol use among Coalition troops to boot, the former thesis holds the most weight. US troop deaths reached a five-year low in July, giving Army units opportunities to embrace a reconstruction effort that just over a year ago seemed all but lost.

The 3rd Squadron of the 2nd Stryker Calvary Regiment, located in the Diyala province north of Baghdad, has created a “non-lethal” platoon whose sole job is to help the local governments and tribal councils register voters, administer micro grants to businesses, and take pictures and biometric data for new members of the neighborhood watch programs such.

“At first I thought that it was silly, but it seems to be working,” said US Army Captain Eric Owens, commander of the Squadron’s non-lethal platoon. “I like the flexibility to hand a mission the way I want. The biggest thing for us now is to help these people realized that they are the chief authority and they can ask for things that they need.”

The platoon functions as a hybrid, melding civil affairs and psychological operations troops with crew members of a Stryker armored vehicle that replaces a second gun-mount with a speaker system to make Arabic announcements will traveling down the road. The team is augmented by an Arabic-speaking State Department employee with a background in construction management.

The culture of dependency Owens is up against was bred after nearly 30 years of tyranny under Saddam Hussein, who used Stalin’s Soviet Union as a model for centralized authority, destroying initiative for many local governments. Unfortunately, the political vacuum created by the fall of the Hussein regime in 2003 was filled by corruption and exploited by Sunni and Shia extremists who made Diyala one of Iraq’s most violent provinces during the past two years.

The success of battles earlier this year between the Coalition and the Iraqi Army against extremists has pushed the terror cells into the hinterland, allowing the platoon to engage in what experts call the second stage of counter-insurgency, when areas are secure for the reconstruction of infrastructure “capacity” can begin.

A typical day during the week has the platoon investigating corruption at a local woman’s and children’s clinic and later administering micro-grants or enrolling new members of the province’s Daughters of Iraq, a new component of the successful Sons of Iraq program that has helped cut down violence in the past year.

“Previously, the security situation was very bad and this area was under the control of the insurgency groups,” said Raghb Zedan Khalaf, chairman of the city council at Dali Abbas, a community of around 10,000 people near Lake Hamrin in northern Diyala. “Now it is much better. Our challenge now is comprehensive reform – to go to the second phase of improving water, electricity, sanitation, education and health.”

The challenges are easy to find. A woman’s and children’s clinic down the road in As Sadiyah, originally built to handle childbirth, has not had a live birth in more than two years, its modern delivery room locked and covered with dust.

“Some of the doctors are trying to close the clinic by having women deliver at home and getting the cash,” said Issam Attari, a senior business development advisor with the State Department who shut down his successful construction company in northern Virginia to work in Iraq. “There is no trust between the local government and the provincial government because there are no rules and regulation regarding the budget.”

It’s believed medical doctors in charge of the clinic are demanding woman give birth at home, allowing them to pocket about 1,200 Iraqi dinars ($60) for each birth, causing the clinic to be chronically short of funds. And it shows. The main lab is without running water, forcing the clinic to handle only typhoid and urinary tract infections. Fluctuating voltages from the local power company complicate the operation of a Hungarian-built X-Ray machine, built in 1970, while its auxiliary generators are currently either broken or without fuel forcing the staff to buy the fuel out of their own pocket. There is no ambulance.

The arrival of two additional State Department employees later this summer, one with experience in city administration, will add more capabilities to the platoon, Attari said. Other that other parts of local governments are in better shape, Attari said, pointing to a plan to drill more than 150 irrigation wells throughout the province that is more than one-third complete.

“The work is extremely satisfying,” said Attari, who immigrated to the US from Jordan in 1972. “We can win the military battle any time, but to win the support of the Iraqis, we need to encourage their economic development.”

Signs of improved Iraqi policing may allow for the current cycle of reconstruction to continue in parts of the province. In June, 25 percent of the arrests in upper Diyala were being done by the Iraqi Police. In July, as members of the local Sons of Iraq began to be more integrated with the local police forces, the number shot up to 75 percent, the US Army said.  Sunday, August 17, 2008


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