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FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 01, 2008


By Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez




By Charles Johnson

The UN’s blind, toothless nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, says Iran just might be trying to get nuclear weapons ... and “all is not well with the IAEA.”

What was your first clue, Captain Obvious?

VIENNA, Austria - A six-year probe of Iran has failed to rule out the possibility that the country may be running clandestine nuclear programs, the chief U.N nuclear inspector said Monday, urging the country to end its secretive ways.

Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also warned a 145-nation conference that his organization is increasingly stretched in trying to monitor responsibilities that include nonproliferation in countries like Iran and preventing terrorists from acquiring the bomb.

“All is not well with the IAEA,” ElBaradei said, asking the opening session of the agency’s general conference for more money and authority.

Right, because this pesky nuclear proliferation thing can all be solved by giving more money to an organization that has utterly failed in every single case.

Meanwhile, Islamic nations, seeing Iran on the brink of the Bomb, think it’s a good time to ratchet up the pressure on Israel.

Arab countries, backed by Iran and frustrated over Israel’s refusal to put its nuclear program under international purview, are pushing to force a vote for the third year running.

After losing the vote two consecutive years, Islamic nations are threatening to up the ante this year, warning they will call for a ballot on every item, no matter how uncontroversial.

Let’s give them more money!  Tuesday, September 30, 2008




By Michelle Malkin 

My first syndicated column of the week, filed this afternoon, shines light on PBS anchor Gwen Ifill, who will moderate Thursday’s only vice presidential debate. Try as she might to deflect questions about her impartiality, her biases — and her conflict of interest — are clear. But don’t you dare breathe a word about any of this. You know what will happen if you do…


Sidenote: TVNewser reports that Ifill has broken her ankle, but she’s still going to do the debate. But will she disclose her conflict of interest? Inquiring minds want to know.

Ask the Commission on Presidential Debates if she will acknowledge her conflict of interest: 202-872-1020.

And here’s the e-mail address of Janet H. Brown, Executive Director of the Debates Commission: jb@debates.org

Hopefully, their email system works better than the House.

Tons of readers recommend that Sarah Palin open her debate remarks by congratulating Ifill on her book and asking her to tell everyone the title.


A debate “moderator” in the tank for Obama
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2008

My dictionary defines “moderator” as “the nonpartisan presiding officer of a town meeting.” On Thursday, PBS anchor Gwen Ifill will serve as moderator for the first and only vice presidential debate. The stakes are high. The Commission on Presidential Debates, with the assent of the two campaigns, decided not to impose any guidelines on her duties or questions.

But there is nothing “moderate” about where Ifill stands on Barack Obama. She’s so far in the tank for the Democrat presidential candidate, her oxygen delivery line is running out.

In an imaginary world where liberal journalists are held to the same standards as everyone else, Ifill would be required to make a full disclosure at the start of the debate. She would be required to turn to the cameras and tell the national audience that she has a book coming out on January 20, 2009 – a date that just happens to coincide with the inauguration of the next president of the United States.

The title of Ifill’s book? “Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” Nonpartisan my foot.

Ifill’s publisher, Random House, is already busy hyping the book with YouTube clips of Ifill heaping praise on her subjects, including Obama and Obama-endorsing Mass. Governor Deval Patrick. The official promo for the book gushes:

“In The Breakthrough, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power…Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the ‘black enough’ conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.”

Ifill and her publisher are banking on an Obama/Biden win to buoy her book sales. The moderator expected to treat both sides fairly has grandiosely declared this the “Age of Obama.” Can you imagine a right-leaning journalist writing a book about the “stunning” McCain campaign and its “bold” path to reform timed for release on Inauguration Day – and then expecting a slot as a moderator for the nation’s sole vice presidential debate?

Yeah, I just registered 6.4 on the Snicker Richter Scale, too.

Despite the protestations of her colleagues that she will be fair, Ifill has appeared on numerous radio and TV talk shows over the past several months to cash in on her access to the Obama campaign. She recently penned a fawning cover story on the Obamas for Essence magazine that earned much buzz. The title? “The Obamas: Portrait of an American Family.” A sample of Ifill’s hard-hitting investigative journalism, illustrated with Kennedyesque photos of the Obamas and children posing at home on the backporch and by the piano:

“Barack Obama is sitting in the back of his rented luxury campaign bus with its granite counters and two flat-screen TVs. The Illinois senator’s arms are wrapped around his wife, Michelle, whom he doesn’t get to see much these days. At this very moment he is, of all things, singing.”

During the Democratic National Convention, Ifill offered her neutral analysis before Michelle Obama’s speech on NBC News: “A lot of people have never seen anything that looks like a Michelle Obama before. She’s educated, she’s beautiful, she’s tall, she tells you what she thinks and they hope that she can tell a story about Barack Obama and about herself…”

During the Republican National Convention, the PBS ombudsman fielded numerous complaints about Ifill’s coverage of Sarah Palin’s speech. Wrote Brian Meyers of Granby, Ct.:

“I was appalled by Gwen Ifill’s commentary directly following Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech. Her attitude was dismissive and the look on her face was one of disgust. Clearly, she was agitated by what most critics view as a well-delivered speech. It is quite obvious that Ms. Ifill supports Obama as she struggled to say anything redemptive about Gov. Palin’s performance. I am disappointed in Ms. Ifill’s complete disregard for journalistic objectivity.”

Like Obama, Ifill, who is black, is quick to play the race card at the first sign of criticism. In an interview with the Washington Post a few weeks ago, she carped: “[N]o one’s ever assumed a white reporter can’t cover a white candidate.”

It’s not the color of your skin, sweetie. It’s the color of your politics. Perhaps Ifill will be able to conceal it this week. But if the “stunning” “Breakthrough” she’s rooting for comes to pass on January 20, 2009, nobody will be fooled.


Here’s the video clip of Ifill’s reaction to Palin’s RNC speech:


As Instapundit’s newsroom correspondent put it: “The fix is in, and it’s working.”




By Charles Johnson

Just as I’ve been writing for more than a month, she supports the teaching of evolution as “an accepted principle.”

Quote: “Science should be taught in science class.” (And that does not include “intelligent design.”)

UPDATE:  The video is way out of sync with the audio. Good work, CBS.  Tuesday, September 30, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

At least one media outlet wonders where Chris Dodd went while Fannie Mae went belly-up on its binge of bad mortgage paper. Unfortunately, that curiosity is limited to Fox News Channel, which almost guarantees that other mainstream media outlets won’t cover it. While Al Hubbard tends to lay all of the blame off on Democrats, when Republicans had plenty of time to act as well, at least he’s directing the spotlight where it really belongs:

Hubbard notes that the Bush administration long supported reform at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He also tells viewers that the House managed to pass Fannie/Freddie reform when Republicans had the majority, but Chris Dodd killed it in the Senate Banking Committee. Dodd, Hubbard reminds us, took the most money from Fannie/Freddie sources, and had little incentive to press for tighter oversight.

Where was Dodd? Where was Frank? Where were the recipients of Fannie/Freddie money during the years in which Fannie Mae’s fraudulent business practices were exposed? They were in the pockets of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and busy telling us that no problem existed — and that regulators who reported the irregularities were racists. They sold us out — and the media has let them off the hook.


By Ed Morrissey

No one expects Chris Matthews to be unbiased or even consistent in his beliefs. The thrill up his leg has long since overridden any impulses he had towards objectivity or consistency. However, my friend Kerry Picket has a fun mash-up of Matthews over the years, valuing and devaluing experience as a prerequisite in politics:

At least he works for the right media outlet.  Tuesday, September 30, 2008




By Gary Varvel

Political Cartoon by Gary Varvel




By John Hinderaker

Fallout from yesterday's bailout vote in the House continues. As Paul wrote yesterday, the issue is one on which reasonable conservatives can differ. Conservative cases can be made both for and against the package, as improved by House Republican negotiators, that came to the floor yesterday. This is well illustrated by the divergent views of two Minnesota Representatives, John Kline and Michele Bachmann.

Kline and Bachmann are both friends of mine; they are both great people, smart legislators and solid conservatives. John voted for the bill, Michele voted against it. Both released statements explaining their votes; they sum up as well as anything I've seen the conservative cases pro and con.

John Kline writes:

Today, members of Congress were asked to make a difficult decision. As it became increasingly clear that the financial crisis facing America was extending beyond Wall Street and threatening the jobs, homes, and retirement security of the men and women reporting for work on Main Streets throughout Minnesota and across America, we were asked to cast our vote for an imperfect, but important, solution. Unfortunately, this bill did not pass, and the crisis continues.

In recent weeks, I have heard from thousands of men and women in Minnesota’s 2nd district. To a person, they voiced concern about the liabilities they would face under the bailout plan proposed by President Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Many also expressed worries about how the current financial instability would threaten them personally – their bank accounts, retirement savings, and jobs. Throughout negotiations, I represented the voices of these men and women and worked with my colleagues to address both concerns, insisting that any effective solution must protect taxpayers and ensure accountability while returning stability to our financial markets.

The result was imperfect, but it was a bipartisan solution that I believed was in the best interest of Americans. Supported by such diverse groups as AARP, Citizens Against Government Waste and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it provided increased protection for the American taxpayer by instituting greater oversight and transparency. My Republican colleagues and I stood firm against the original, seriously flawed plan, as well as irresponsible provisions supported by my Democratic colleagues – including slush funds for left-leaning political organizations. We demanded that Wall Street finance its recovery through a federal insurance program. We also fought to ensure no golden parachutes would be available to corporate executives who made reckless decisions. But the bill failed, and we must, once again, return to negotiations.

As we can see from the precipitous decline in the markets, this crisis has not dissipated. I urge my colleagues not to allow discussions to devolve into partisan bickering. We must not act in a way that exacerbates the problem. As we now resume negotiations, I am hopeful that we can put aside our differences and work together to shield Americans from further harm caused by Wall Street and Washington.

Michele Bachmann writes:

Today marks an historic moment for America as a solid bipartisan majority of Congress rejected the fatally flawed Paulson Plan. Standing shoulder to shoulder with taxpayers, we declared that we can do better.

As I’ve stated previously, this plan was rushed, unworkable, and short-sighted. A majority of House Republicans have parted ways with President Bush on this plan and we demand that alternative proposals be put on the table. There is universal agreement that this plan was bad, but its supporters claimed it was the only option. There were alternatives available, but Speaker Pelosi and the Administration chose to ignore them and used every parliamentary trick in the book to stifle debate. Now, they will have to listen to the voices of American taxpayers who refuse to open their checkbooks to Wall Street to write a $700 billion check with no strings attached.

I support a plan that would have Wall Street bail itself out, not hardworking taxpayers, by requiring institutions to insure troublesome assets that are causing today’s credit crunch. It would suspend mark-to-market accounting, which forces companies to take losses on artificially devalued assets on an artificial timetable, to give investors more confidence.

The plan I support would break up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- government sponsored enterprises that are at the heart of this crisis -- so that the encumbered taxpayer no longer backs them -- implicitly or explicitly -- and so that they do not artificially grow larger than the market will allow. We cannot pass legislation that sets America up for a Groundhog Day reprise of this mess and that means changing the problem at its core - the GSEs.

Furthermore, the plan I support suspends capital-punishing tax rates to bring more capital into the U.S. markets rather than our foreign competitors. And, the plan ensures the Federal Reserve’s attention is focused on long-term price stability rather than short term economic growth. Finally, it requires the US Treasury to write rules keeping executives who made the risky decisions from personally profiting from them with excessive compensation or golden parachutes all at the expense of taxpayers. We can't have a market that only condones risky behavior. The balance between risk and reward is an important part of the free market.

My colleagues and I stand ready and willing to negotiate with any parties on a plan that will help stabilize our financial markets and relieve the liquidity crisis without exposing taxpayers to a $700 billion bailout debacle.

To a considerable extent, the choice turns on risk assessment. If a little time goes by and the financial sky doesn't fall--at the moment, the Dow is up 247 points today--and a significantly better, more market-oriented deal is negotiated, the "No" votes will look very good. On the other hand, if further negotiations are unproductive and in the meantime the damage spreads beyond the financial sector, "Yes" votes will look prudent with hindsight.

It may well be that John Kline and Michele Bachmann differ in their assessments of these risks. There is, too, another obvious difference: Kline is a three-term Congressman with no serious opposition this year. Bachmann is a first-term Congresswoman who is very much in the Democrats' sights. For now, at least, her vote insulates her against the political trap that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats tried to lay yesterday.

Quite a few conservatives are exultant this morning about yesterday's vote. That reaction strikes me as premature. It's hard to believe that the Democrats will agree to legislation that takes the markedly more free enterprise-oriented approach argued for by Republicans. If that is the case, we likely will see either the passage of a bill that differs only modestly from the one that failed yesterday, or a widening economic collapse that panics the House into reversing yesterday's vote. So, while the "Nos" are triumphant today, it's far from clear that this will continue in the long run.  Tuesday, September 30, 2008




Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud is considered in some intelligence circles as a threat as big as, or bigger than, even Osama bin Laden. His rise from a relatively little known entity in South Waziristan to the head of a full-fledged Taliban movement in Pakistan has not only grave repercussions for local security, but also for the Global War on Terror. The rise of this movement in Pakistan is not just a local disturbance, but the phenomenon of Taliban resurgence after their post-2001 setback in Afghanistan, and with Baitullah as a protégé of Mullah Omar taking charge, has international implications as well.

At the conclusion of the Soviet-Afghan War, the militant Taliban was forced to flee from Afghanistan and found a safe haven in the Federally Administered Tribal Area, particularly in the Waziristan and Bajaur regions. It was here that the Taliban engrossed themselves in the process of reorganization and undertaking fresh recruitment directly or through madrassas (religious seminaries), which flourished after the collapse of educational system provided by the state. Emotionally charged locals, the Pashtuns, had been living well-below subsistence level for a long time under successive governments in Pakistan. A combination of abject poverty, an ultraorthodox religious zeal, and hatred for the Western powers provided a fertile nursery for this new class of militants.

The Pakistani tribal areas already had significant number of Taliban fighters present due to infiltration from adjacent Afghanistan. These bands of Taliban needed legitimacy in the form of local warlords, who shared the same ideological and militant roots as the Taliban, This has given rise to a new Pakistani-bred variant of the Taliban.

This new generation of Taliban is under the influence of al Qaeda, and is supplemented by militants of different localities like Chechens, Bosnians, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Arabs, and Egyptians. These ethnic groups have started dictating terms based on the conservative interpretation of Islam as per the beliefs and practices of a distorted version of Deobandi school of thought. The foremost leader to emerge from this movement has been Baitullah Mehsud.

Baitullah combines in his personality all the essential requirements of a warlord capable of taking over this new militant movement: Afghan jihadi experience, coupled with a great reverence for Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and local legitimacy due to belonging to a reputed clan. He has led a charmed militant life, being a favored disciple of a legendary local jihadi leader, Nek Muhammad Wazir and reputed to be a well respected Afghan trained warrior. Luck has favored him in the form of opportunities being given to him due to being at the right place at the right time. Yet, his enormous infamy cannot just be explained away due to a stroke of luck; he is an enormously capable commander and a strategist of the highest order, as his negotiation history with the Pakistan government has tended to demonstrate.

This paper will examine the little that is known about Baitullah’s personal background, his rise to power, and his place in Pakistan.  Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Click to read Pakistan's Taliban warlord: A profile of Baitullah Mehsud.

Manzar Zaidi is a Senior Associate Editor with The Long War Journal, dealing primarily with the analysis of the phenomenon of radicalisation in Pakistan, and the surrounding region. Manzar directs the The Long War Journal's project on Global Jihadist Movements - The Pakistani Taliban.


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