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FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, October 31, 2008


IRAN THREATENS SUICIDE ATTACKS AGAINST THE US

By Ed Morrissey

Iran stepped up its rhetoric against the US today by threatening to use suicide-bomber attacks against America.  Ari Larijani, the former nuclear negotiator, referred to the 13-year-old boy sent by the mullahs to disable an Iraqi tank in the 1980s as a model for the fight against the Americans.  Larijani promised an “unexpected response”:

Referring to the US army’s attacks in Pakistan and Syria, Larijani said they would not be answered with diplomatic protests.

“The US method and conduct, expressed by this aggression, will only be stopped by a clear-cut and unexpected response, whose grounds were set by the martyr Hussein Fahmida,” Larijani said during a parliamentary session on Wednesday.

Fahmida was 13 when he detonated an explosive device he carried on him, destroying an Iraqi tank during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.

“America should be aware not to put its huge body on top of the suicide bombers’ explosive devices,” Larijani said.

Larijani was not alone yesterday in Iranian verbal volleys against the US.  Supreme leader Ali Khamanai spoke less literally when he warned nations who didn’t respect Iran’s independence that they would “have their hands cut off”.  Khamanai said that reconciliation between Iran and the US would not be possible because Iranians hate America too much, presumably because of our opposition to the ruling mullahcracy and our support of the Shah — although the latter occurred before most Iranians were alive.

The threat to use suicide bombers marks a cassus belli, if the US wanted one as a pretext for strikes.  Openly threatening attack on a non-belligerent nation gives that country a right to defend itself.  Israel didn’t take the bait with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s genocidal lunacy over the last two years, and it would be madness to attack Iran now anyway.

However, that doesn’t diminish the seriousness of an Iranian leader standing in its parliament and endorsing terrorism as a state policy.  That’s exactly what Larijani did in this statement today, and the US should respond by placing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on the list of terrorist organizations in order to freeze its funds.  The Kyl-Lieberman bill would have done that last year, but it was opposed by Barack Obama and most of the other Democrats in the Senate.   Larijani’s threat is an open declaration of Iran as a terrorist state, and a lack of response would encourage others to follow suit.

POTENTIAL SURPRISE IN THE HOUSE?

By Ed Morrissey

In 2006, Democrats led Republicans on generic Congressional ballot polling by double digits and took control of the House.  In 2008, the ground has quietly shifted — and it has accelerated in the past week.  The Hill reports that the Democrats lost half of their lead in generic-ballot polling in the past week, and that the Republicans have come close to a virtual dead heat:

Republicans have cut the Democratic advantage in the generic ballot question in half over the past week, according to a new GW-Battleground poll.

Democrats now lead by four points, their slimmest lead in more than three years. A week ago, according to the George Washington University poll, their advantage was eight points. Meantime, the congressional approval rating remained low, at 19 percent, up two points from the previous poll.

While the poll could give Republican candidates hope in a tough political landscape for the GOP, it had only mixed news for the party’s presidential candidate, John McCain. The Arizona senator remained three points behind Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).

In the final weekend of 2004, the Tarrance Group (GW’s partner) put the GOP up 3 on the generic ballot — and they won a larger majority.  They have no data for 2006, but Rasmussen had a 14-point lead for Democrats, who won back control of the House as well as the Senate.  Most analysts had predicted gains for Democrats in this cycle as well — but the sudden shift gives a hint that Nancy Pelosi may have her hands full on Tuesday.

The Republicans have some hurdles here, though.  They have more retirees than the Democrats do, making it tougher to focus on pickups as much as simple holds of existing seats.  Democrats have far outraised them, too, making it harder to get the message across in the districts.

Something appears to have changed, however.  Could the divided government argument be working in a different direction?  Have voters decided to prepare for an Obama presidency by attempting to pass the House into Republican control?  It would probably take a harder swing than what we see now to make that a reality — but if this represents momentum, it may come at the right time for the GOP.  Thursday, October 30, 2008

http://hotair.com


*

IN THE TANK

By Eric Allie


Political Cartoons by Eric Allie

www.townhall.com/funnies  


*

RASHID KHALIDI AND THE PLO

By Charles Johnson

As the subject of Barack Obama’s friend Rashid Khalidi has gained traction in the media and the blogosphere, one of the talking points parroted by Obama apologists is that Khalidi was never a spokesman for Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization, at a time when it was listed as a terrorist group by the US government.

But is it true that Khalidi was not affiliated with the PLO?

In a word, no. Khalidi of the PLO.

As for Khalidi’s denial, there are ample grounds to question it. In 2004, when he made it, Khalidi wrote that between 1976 and 1983, “I was teaching full time as an Assistant Professor in the Political Studies and Public Administration Dept. at the American University of Beirut, published two books and several articles, and also was a research fellow at the independent Institute for Palestine Studies.” Khalidi claimed he had time for little else. “I often spoke to journalists in Beirut, who usually cited me without attribution as a well-informed Palestinian source. If some misidentified me at the time, I am not aware of it.”

Now if someone misidentified me on the pages of the New York Times—Tom Friedman, no less—I’m sure I would be aware of it. So would you. Yet Khalidi did not seek a correction of Friedman’s characterization at the time, although the Times regularly issues corrections of such mistakes, and presumably would have done the same for Khalidi.

Khalidi’s self-description as being a preoccupied professor while in Beirut also contradicts a statement he made in a 2005 interview. After listing the stations in his academic career, he is asked this question: “You were also involved politically as well?” Khalidi: “Well, yes. I was deeply involved in politics in Beirut.”

It is worth explaining what it meant to be “deeply involved in politics in Beirut” during the civil war in Lebanon. It was not at all like community organizing in Chicago. The Lebanese state had ceased to function; the political actors were all armed militias, Lebanese and Palestinian. Every individual needed to be affiliated with such an organization, if not for bread then at least for protection. Khalidi was known to be affiliated with, and protected by, Arafat’s Fatah. A 1979 New York Times report (by Youssef Ibrahim) described Khalidi as “a professor of political science who is close to Al Fatah.” In Beirut, to be “close” to an organization meant you enjoyed its protection in return for loyalty and services rendered. Khalidi’s wife also worked as an English translator for the PLO’s press agency, Wafa. So savvy journalists knew that if they wanted the Fatah spin, they could get it from Khalidi.  Thursday, October 30, 2008

OBAMA RIDICULES 'SOCIALIST' CHARGE, BUT HE ADMITTED SEEKING OUT MARXIST PROFESSORS AND SOCIALIST CONFERENCES

By Charles Johnson

Barack Obama is mocking the charges that he promotes socialist ideology: Obama ridicules McCain charge he’s socialist.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Barack Obama accused Republican rival John McCain on Wednesday of stooping to low tactics by labeling the Democrat a socialist. “I don’t know what’s next,” Obama, the presidential candidate, said at an outdoor rally in North Carolina. “By the end of the week, he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

But if he really has nothing to do with socialism, why did the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America strongly recommend Obama for Congressman? New Ground 69 - Chicago Democratic Socialists of America:

Barak Obama is serving only his second term in the Illinois State Senate so he might be fairly charged with ambition, but the same might have be said of Bobby Rush when he ran against Congressman Charles Hayes. Obama also has put in time at the grass roots, working for five years as a community organizer in Harlem and in Chicago. When Obama participated in a 1996 UofC YDS Townhall Meeting on Economic Insecurity, much of what he had to say was well within the mainstream of European social democracy.

If anyone can recognize socialism, it would be the Democratic Socialists of America.

Of course, Obama himself admitted openly that he attended “socialist conferences” at Cooper Union, while he attended Columbia University:

He also admitted that he sought out Marxist professors:

And now he’s pulling the socialist wool over America’s eyes.  Wednesday, October 29, 2008

http://littlegreenfootballs.com


*

AFTER THE ELECTION

By Chuck Asay


Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

www.townhall.com/funnies 


*

OBAMA SHRUGGED: AN UPDATE

By Scott Johnson

Washington Post reporter Matthew Mosk returned to the subject of Barack Obama's online campaign fundraising yesterday in "Obama campaign using untraceable donations." The story was published on page 2. Mosk reported in the second and third paragraphs of the story:

Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed.

Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.

The Obama organization said its extensive review has ensured that the campaign has refunded any improper contributions, and noted that Federal Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of donations.

In recent weeks, questionable contributions have created headaches for Obama's accounting team as it has tried to explain why campaign finance filings have included itemized donations from individuals using fake names, such as Es Esh or Doodad Pro. Those revelations prompted conservative bloggers to further test Obama's finance vetting by giving money using the kind of prepaid cards that can be bought at a drugstore and cannot be traced to a donor.

Mosk is to be congratulated on getting somewhere in the vicinity of the heart of the story after his earlier. The story is an improvement over his unbelievably obtuse page-one story "Campaign finance gets new scrutiny" this past Sunday.

Yet Mosk's story yesterday is still lacking. It fails to observe that the McCain campaign's online donation screen contributors through the use of the basic Address Verification System. On the contary, it creates the false impression that the McCain campaign is party to the same modus operandi.

Moreover, despite the implication of the Obama campaign's statement that it provides "extensive review" to donations received online, Mosk fails to note that Obama contributors using a valid credit card but a fictitious name and address cannot be effectively screened once they have been accepted. That's why the McCain campaign is using AVS security and the Obama campaign is not, but Mosk's story blurs the difference between the campaigns.

Mosk's regurgitation of the statement that the Obama campaign "has ensured that [it] has refunded any improper contributions" is ludicrous. We know, for example, that "John Galt," "Osama bin Laden," "Bill Ayers," "Saddam Hussein," "Della Ware," and "Adolfe Hitler," among many others, are still waiting for their refunds. Again, one wonders if Mosk means to be obtuse.

Mosk also relates the Obama campaign's comment "that Federal Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of donations." But failing to screen donors at the front end coincidentally facilitates the violation of basic federal campaign finance law. Federal campaign finance law requires donors contributing over $200 to be identified, limits donations to a total of $2,300 and prohibits foreigners from contributing.

The Obama campaign's intentional disabling of basic AVS credit card security knowingly facilitates criminal fraud and illegal contributions. Is this too difficult a concept to grasp? John Ronning, for example, provides a step-by-step set of instructions for foreigners seeking to contribute to the Obama campaign.

One might think this story is something of a scandal, but Mosk doesn't get it. He sees no causal connection between the Obama campaign's deliberate disabling of AVS credit card security "with a with a huge influx of donations over the Internet[.]" With two-thirds of Obama's $150 million September haul having come over the Internet, you'd think it might dawn on a dogged reporter that the end might have something to do with the means.

Mosk might have asked the Obama campaign why it has chosen to continue in this manner knowing it is accepting contributions that violate federal law. Yesterday, for example, Crazy Eight from Swindler Lane made a $25 dollar donation to the Obama campaign. "It went right through to my credit card after a two-day delay," writes Mr. Eight: "No security code. No address check. No name verification. Nothing. Unbelievable."

Mr. Eight was in good company yesterday. He was joined by "Karl Marx." Our man "John Galt" writes with questions and comments that seem to have eluded Matthew Mosk:

Given the bad PR and the additional cost for all their CC transactions, why is the AVS still turned off? This story first broke in the blogs in a big way last Wednesday, and the MSM starting asking the Obama campaign about it by the end of the week.

So the Obama campaign surely knows the basic facts of the story and its potential liability -- that they don't have even the most basic security measures initiated at their website. Just to cover their butts, don't you think they would have turned those features back on? So they can claim, "Yes, we discovered the issue and have rectified it several days ago...blah, blah, blah..."?

So, I tested the system, yet again, this morning with the same credit card - this time with Karl Marx as the donor - and sure enough, it went through.

But why? Why would they continue to expose themselves to this potential scandal? My bet is (in spite of their claims that it's too difficult to make the info available) they know down to the penny the exact details of all their under $200 donors and the serial-CC-fraudsters and the simply can't afford to give up the money. Also, as reported here, it's actually costing them more per transaction to process all their online donations. Even the ones that aren't fraudulent.

So they know this is a PR issue, and it's more expensive on a per transaction basis, yet the AVS remains disabled. I can only conclude that they know this is such a significant percentage of their overall revenue that in spite of the publicity they have to continue to allow the fraud in order to meet their budget goals. They must know just how many of those small donations are coming from fraudulent sources, and if they turn the security on it could drastically impact those $150 million donation months.

If they did publicly announce that they restored the security features and a big drop in the fundraising figures ensued, it would only confirm all the fraud up to that point. Meaning, if the fundraising reports were to show a big drop in CC transactions after they turned the AVS back on, it would be evidence of the crime.

The sophisticated gentlemen running the Obama campaign know exactly what they are doing. "John Galt" has caught on. Matthew Mosk doesn't quite get it, but at least he's making a show of trying. It's more than can be said of his illustrious colleagues in the MSM.

UPDATE: You can see the importance of the MSM's averted eyes on this story as you observe how Obama spins Charlie Gibson. Mark Steyn comments hereThursday, October 30, 2008

COLEMAN PULLING AWAY

By John Hinderaker

I mentioned last night that intuitively, the momentum in Minnesota's Senate race seems to be shifting toward Norm Coleman. As well it should--Norm is one of the ablest members of the Senate, and his opponent, Al Franken, is a bitter former comedian with a violent temper who moved from New York to Minnesota to enter the Senate race. In a normal year, it wouldn't even be a contest. But this year, with voters feeling insecure and the Democratic Party awash in cash, Franken has been able to make a race of it. Coleman has campaigned non-stop, lately with the help of Governor Tim Pawlenty, and has gained from simultaneous endorsements by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The polls have been all over the lot, but Scott Rasmussen has found Franken in the lead through the month of October. In a survey released today, however, Rasmussen has Coleman surging to a four point lead.

I'm pretty confident that Coleman will continue to pull away as voters get serious about the idea of sending a vulgar, hateful former comedian to the Senate.  Wednesday, October 29, 2008

www.powerlineblog.com


*

TAKING THE GLOVES OFF


By Michael Ramirez


Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

www.townhall.com/funnies 

*

CREDIT-CARD EXPERTS EXPLAIN THE EXTENT OF OBAMA'S DECEPTION

By Ed Morrissey

After writing twice about the deliberate decision by the Barack Obama campaign to avoid validation checks on credit-card contributions, I’ve heard from a number of people in the credit-card industry on how this works.  Two explanations in particular explain the depth of deliberation and deception involved in disregarding address and security-code verification.  The first explains that Team Obama probably didn’t just opt out of using these verification processes, but more likely rewrote the code on their site to bypass them, emphases mine:

I have over 30 years of experience in investigating Credit Card Fraud and I can tell you, which you may or may not know, that the merchant acquirer that is conducting the collection of credit / debit card for the Obama campaign are responsible for the actions to be taken regarding the Address Verification System responses.  The value of the AVS system is that the issuer of the card being used provides back to the merchant acquirer a response based upon the information provided during the authorization process.  This response indicates to the merchant acquirer if the card information was validated as to ownership of the account.  It is the merchant acquirer that determines what to do when the authorization response is received.  In most cases the transaction that comes back with any negative meaning is denied.  However, if the merchant acquirer has adjusted their system to accept any response as acceptable the transaction would be completed.

The value of the AVS system is to deny Card Not Present transactions (CNP) which are suspicious.  This protects the merchant against charge backs for bad transactions.  What is interesting to me is that the merchant acquirer has knowingly violated a basic CNP fraud prevention technique to accommodate a merchant (Obama Campaign).  I think that both the Associations (VISA & MasterCard) would be highly interested in looking at the merchant acquirer that was processing these transactions.  The value of ignoring the AVS responses is that multiple invalid transactions may be made without fear of being rejected by the authorization systems.  This means that the real owner of the credit card account is willing to allow multiple transactions to be made on the account using different names and addresses that under normal conditions would be denied.  The merchant acquirer has a complete listing of all transactions done and it would be very interesting to see how many transactions were conducted on the same account number using different names.  I would think that this would be a Federal violation under the current campaign funding laws.

Another fraud-prevention veteran notes that Team Obama has at the least provided a testing ground for thieves looking to validate responses:

You may have mentioned this elsewhere, but disabling the security allows would be credit card thieves to “ping” numbers till they get a hit.  The number of “pings” should have raised flags at Visa and MasterCard, don’t you think?

I wonder if they warned the Obama campaign, or worse, ignored it.

In other words, a crook could simply type in random numbers until he found one sequence that worked in some fashion.  That could give a thief a starting point for committing credit-card fraud.  If all they had to do was type nonsense values for names and addresses, such as Doodad Pro, they could quickly determine which numbers were valid — and they could probably program bots to do that kind of work.

Thanks to Team Obama, millions of people now have to wonder whether they’ve been victimized by credit thieves.  Some of us wonder if the thieves aren’t really working at Team Obama in the first place.

IRAQIS PREFER MCCAIN OVER OBAMA

By Ed Morrissey

FWIW.  They don’t get to vote, of course, but it’s interesting to see how the country that Barack Obama would have abandoned two years ago reacts to the idea of him leading the nation that liberated Iraq.  Unsurprisingly, most of those interviewed worried that Obama wouldn’t be able to stand up to the dimunitive genocidal lunatic to their east:

For five years Ali and Mohammed have lived alongside US soldiers in their Baghdad neighbourhood near Rasheed Street, a prominent commercial artery running through the heart of the Iraqi capital.

During that time American culture and politics have become familiar to them, and they say that if they could, they would vote for Republican candidate John McCain in next week’s US presidential election. …

“The Iranians believe that if Obama is elected he will not take action against them despite their nuclear ambitions. That worries me,” said Ali, sitting on an old bench in Al-Zahawi coffee shop.

“If the Iranians get the bomb they will become the Tarzan of the region,” said the former teacher and lecturer at the University of Baghdad, referring to the vine-swinging strongman of the jungle in old Hollywood movies.

Mohammed, also a professor at the university, said he too preferred McCain “because Obama supports a rapid withdrawal of US troops.”

“Our army is still too weak and Turkey and Iran are threats. Iran’s President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad has warned Iran would fill the void left when US troops depart,” he said.

The Iraqis apparently understand global and regional politics better than Barack Obama. They certainly understand military strategy and tactics better than Obama.  They understand best of all what would have happened if Bush had followed Obama’s advice in 2007 rather than fighting the terrorists and securing Iraq.

I’m surprised that Agence France-Presse reported this story, though.  Don’t they understand Hope and Change in French?  Thursday, October 30, 2008

http://hotair.com

*

61 KILLED IN MULTIPLE BOMBINGS IN INDIA

India-Assam-blasts-1202038.jpg

Aftermath of one of the 13 bombings in Assam.

India has been hit with another coordinated bombing attack, this time in four districts in the eastern state of Assam. Sixty-one Indians were killed and more than 470 were wounded in the multiple blasts.

The bombs were detonated almost simultaneously around 11:30 local time. Thirteen bombs were detonated in markets, a court office, and near the Assam state capital. The attacks, like previous attacks in India the past several years, were designed to maximize casualties.

Indian officials first pointed the finger at the United Liberation Front of Assam, a separatist movement in the state. UFLA has denied any involvement in the attack.

Police accused "jihadi" groups of conducting the strike. "The needle of suspicion points to jihadi outfits who are behind subversive activities in the state," a police official told The Hindu. Police have detected the explosive RDX in at least two of the bombs. RDX has been used by Islamist terror groups in past attacks in India.

Police believe the attack originated from Bangladeshi-based terrorists and have sealed the border with Bangladesh. Troops on the border have been "put on maximum alert," The Hindu reported.

The primary suspect in the attacks is the Bangladesh-based Harkat ul Jihad al Islami, or HuJI-B. This terror group has been behind multiple bombings in India over the past several years.

Background on the HUJI-B and allied Indian terror groups

The Bangladeshi branch of HuJI was established in 1992 "with assistance from Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front," according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

HuJI-B fighters are recruited from madrassa, or religious schools, in Bangladesh and are trained in al Qaeda and Taliban camps Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bangladeshi terror group plays a crucial role in training jihadists “from southern Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Brunei” and providing manpower for al Qaeda's affiliates in Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Chechnya.

Indian intelligence claims HuJI-B created a front group called the Indian Mujahideen to confuse investigators and cover the tracks of the Students Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, a radical Islamist movement. The group receives support from Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence and is an al Qaeda affiliate. SIMI provides logistical support for attacks in India.

SIMI has been implicated in two other major attacks in India since 2006. SIMI is said to have helped the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba conduct the attack on the Samjhauta Express rail line to Pakistan in February 2007 and the Mumbai rail line bombings in July 2006. The attack on the Samjhauta Express resulted in more than 67 Indians killed and 15 wounded. The Mumbai rail bombings resulted in 63 civilians killed and more than 460 wounded.

Indian security forces have cracked down on SIMI over the past year, but police and intelligence officials believe the recent attack show the movement has regenerated its leadership.

The Indian Mujahideen took credit for multiple attacks in India this past year. An email from an Indian Mujahideen operative said the group was responsible for the Sept. 13 attacks in New Delhi. Eighteen civilians were killed and more than 90 were reported wounded in the coordinated attack. The group claimed credit for the July 25 and 26 bombings in Ahmedabad and Bangalore. At least 36 Indians were killed and more than 120 were wounded in attacks.

The Indian Mujahideen also took credit for the May bombings in Jaipur and said the attacks were intended to disrupt the tourist economy. The group sent videos to the media using an e-mail address that is nearly identical to the one used to announce the attacks in Uttar Pradesh in November 2007. The Jaipur blasts killed more than 60 and wounded more than 200, while the Uttar Pradesh attacks killed 14 and wounded more than 50.  Thursday, October 30, 2008

www.longwarjournal.org


*

THE EXCLUDED MIDDLE


By Richard Fernandez

Israel has been described as the “canary in the coalmine” — a reference to an actual canary who was kept by miners to serve as an early warning system against the buildup of toxic gases because the canary would sicken before the larger men would — because it is an example of a liberal Western society facing an existential threat.  One of the questions the Israeli canary can be used to answer is what happens when a society becomes culturally polarized so that each part of it conceives of a different duty to a different nation. Caroline Glick describes the growing threat of a ‘Jewish Army’ in Israel.

Religious Zionists today make up about seven percent of the total population of the country. But their sons comprise twenty percent of IDF combat soldiers, nearly a quarter of the IDF’s junior officer corps, and fifty percent of its company commanders.

The growing prominence of religious Zionists in all combat arms of the IDF is a consequence of a now two-decade trend among religious Zionists in Israel to serve in combat units - the more elite, the better. A contrary trend among upper middle class secular youth not to serve in the IDF at all renders the contribution of the religious youth all the more noticeable to the general public and all the more crucial for the IDF.

One writer described the problem succinctly: “Is the dominance of the religious Zionist sector in command positions - for now in the junior echelons, but in time, in more senior levels - a problem? Is there a danger that the IDF will be mobilized one day to serve a specific ideology? Is there liable to be a problem someday with giving the army certain duties, if they don’t suit the religious Zionist ideology and the values of most of the chain of command?”

But if we substituted the words “liberal” for “Zionist” in the paragraph above, would there be a problem? Therein lies the rub. Nobody minds being in charge. It’s when the other side is in charge that a difficulty occurs. Israel is a case study of what happens when a liberal Western society divides into distinct sides. When the one side adopts an dogmatic position and refuses to budge, the non-ideological camp will often resignedly let itself be led thinking it not worth the candle to destroy the nation to advance the party. The problem will not occur to the side which places the party above the nation, and who may in fact, hate the nation. In the case of Israel, where the Left meets Zionism, the situation isn’t between ideological and non-ideological; it is between the immovable object and the irresistible force. Whoever wins, it won’t be “Israel”, unless it the word is spelled with qualifers.

The historian Paul Johnson talks about the “deep, self-inflicted wound” in Western society. Although the context of his essay is the financial meltdown, he raises issues similar to the ones discussed in this post. Johnson’s main thesis is that in order to survive, the West must overcome a “moral crisis”, not just a financial one.

The financial crisis, detonated by greed and recklessness on Wall Street and in the City of London, is for the West a deep, self-inflicted wound. The beneficiary won’t be Russia, which, with its fragile, energy-based economy, is likely to suffer more than we shall; it will be India and China. They will move into any power vacuum left by the collapse of Western self-confidence.

If we seriously wish to repair the damage, we need to accept that this is fundamentally a moral crisis, not a financial one. It is the product of the self-indulgence and complacency born of our ultraliberal societies, which have substituted such pseudo-religions as political correctness and saving the planet for genuine distinctions between right and wrong and the cultivation of real virtues. India and China are progress-loving yet morally old-fashioned societies. They cannot afford liberalism. …

We are traveling along the high road to incompetence and poverty, led by a farcical coalition of fashionably liberal academics on the make, assorted eco-crackpots and media wiseacres. This strain of liberalism is highly infectious. The Indians and Chinese have yet to be infected. They’re still healthy, hard at work and going places, full speed ahead.

But if the polls are any indicator, the answer to Johnson’s question has already been supplied. Can we continue to afford liberalism? “Yes we can”.  Thursday, October 30, 2008

http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez


*

BELGIUM SHRUGGED

By Paul Mirengoff

Diana West reports on the harrowing case of Bart Debie, who has just begun serving a one-year prison sentence for "racism," in what Diana describes as "fascistic little Belgium." If her account of Debie's case is accurate, then her characterization of Belgium is not far wide of the mark.

Debie was a senior police officer in Antwerp in 2003 when, according to Diana's account, he and several other officers responded to a report of drunk and disorderly conduct. They were attacked by five Turkish men wielding a baseball bat and a knife (two witnesses testified in court that this attack occurred). After helping to subdue and arrest the attackers, Debie was called away to supervise a SWAT team elsewhere in Antwerp, and his men returned to the station with the Turkish prisoners. The prisoners later claimed they had been beaten and subjected to racism while at the station.

Debie believes that the prisoners were, in fact, beaten. But it is undisputed that he was not involved in any beating or racist utterances. Nonetheless, Debie was charged and convicted of creating an atmosphere in which the offensive statements were uttered, and was given a suspended sentence. Meanwhile, the policeman who admitted to making the "racist" comments went unpunished and now serves, according to Debie, on a "team for managing diversity in Antwerp." The Turks were never charged for their assault on police.

Debie then committed his real "offense." He decided to decided to run for a seat on the Antwerp city council as a member of the Vlaams Belang party. To make matters, he was elected.

Vlaams Belang seeks Flemish independence from Belgium through the political process, and it opposes the Islamization of European culture. Consequently, it is hated by Belgium's left-wing establishment which, as Diana observes, encourages such Islamization "in part to help increase their own constituencies."

After Debie became a political force, the prosecution appealed his case. This time it secured a "racism" conviction for remarks Debie didn't make during an incident at which he was not present. In addition to a stiff fine and a prison sentence of one year, the government of Belgium has stripped him of his political and civil rights for 12 years locally and five years nationally. Debie is not even certain if he can proceed with his marriage plans.

Debie is not the only member of Vlaams Belang to have experienced persecution by the Belgian government. Diana reports that "two of the leading members of the party, Filip Dewinter and Frank Vanhecke, are facing legal battles of their own to retain their political rights and viability against other completely bogus charges of 'racism'--the favored bludgeon of PC Belgians desperate to retain centralized power."

Democracy and political freedom are fragile things, though we in the United States have not yet had much occasion to appreciate this reality. Based on my understanding of the situation in Belgium, which is based in part on conversations with members of Vlaams Belang (though not Debie, Dewinter, or Vanhecke), democracy is broken in there, and quite possibly on its way to extinction.

UPDATE: Diana West has informed me that Debie was released from jail after his first day. He is now under under some kind of an electronic surevillance/home arrest arrangement.

Debie remains stripped of his civil and political rights, his council seat, and his police career. But at least he doesn't face the prospect of being confronted in jail by what he calls his "former clients."  Thursday, October 30, 2008

www.powerlineblog.com


*

THE BIDEN WAY

By John Cole


Political Cartoons by John Cole

www.townhall.com/funnies 

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A US military map of Iran's operations inside southern Iraq. This 2007 map formed the basis of The Ramazan Corps and the ratlines into Iraq. Click to view full size.

Iraqi troops uncovered a massive weapons cache and factory inside the northeastern neighborhood of Sadr City. The cache contained 34 of the deadly explosively-formed penetrators, the weapons that are the hallmark of the Iranian-backed Shia militias. This is the third large cache found in Sadr City since Oct. 20.

The raid was conducted in the northern area of Sadr City, the former stronghold of Muqtada al Sadr's Iranian-backed Mahdi Army. Iraqi troops from the 44th Brigade of the 11th Iraqi Army Division conducted the operation after receiving tips from residents in Sadr City.

The find is "significant as it included the machines used by the enemy to manufacture explosively-formed penetrators – the number one killer of our US soldiers," said Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover, the chief Public Affairs Officer for Multinational Division Baghdad.

EFPs, EFP cones and other materials siezed int he Oct. 28 raid. Image from Multinational Division Baghdad. Click to view.

The soldiers found 34 EFPs, 53 copper plates and 40 shaped plates, which are used for the EFP's shaped warhead, 160 blocks of C4 explosives, and 14 107 mm rockets and launch rails. Also found were three presses and a punch, machinery that is thought to be used to mill the copper plates into the cone-shaped warhead.

Since Oct. 20, Iraqi troops found two other large caches in Sadr City. A raid by troops from the 3rd Battalion, 42nd Brigade of the 11th Iraq Army Division on Oct. 20 resulted in the discovery of 61 rockets, 368 mortar rounds, 263 mortar tubes, shape charges, an IED, 32,000 rounds of ammunition, seven DSHKA machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades launchers and grenades, and other equipment.

The same Iraqi Army unit also found a large cache in Sadr City the day prior. The troops found 15 EFPs, an IED, two 72.5 mm rockets, two 64 mm rockets, numerous RPG launchers and warheads and hand grenades, and other equipment.

In all, 49 of the deadly EFPs have been found by Iraqi troops since Oct. 20.

Iraqi and Coalition forces have maintained the pressure on the Iranian-backed terror groups operating inside Iraq during the month of October. Seven Iranian-trained Special Groups fighters have been killed and 118 have been confirmed captured during raids since Oct. 1, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Iraqi forces also detained 180 “suspects” in Basrah during a sweep on Oct. 28, but it is unclear how many are considered Special Groups fighters. One of the men detained was a Pakistani.

Twenty-eight of the Iranian-backed Shia terrorists captured since Oct. 1 are members of the Hezbollah Brigades. The Hezbollah Brigades is an Iranian-backed terror group that has been behind multiple roadside bombings and rocket attacks against US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad. This group uploads videos of attacks onto the Internet.

Coalition forces have captured 16 Hezbollah Brigades operatives since Oct 21. A raid in Amarah netted an "Iranian-backed financer" and four associates. More than $50,000 and almost 12 million Iraqi Dinar (approximately $10,000) was found during the raid. On Oct. 28, four operatives, including an "administrator," were captured during an operation in Abd ar Rahman, about 4 miles east of Sadr City. Another three Hezbollah Brigades were captured in Baghdad on Oct. 21.

Taking on Qods Force

Iraqi security forces are also zeroing in on Iran's network inside Iraq. Iraqi forces have captured nine Iranian Qods Force agents and killed one since Oct. 18. Iraqi soldiers captured an Iranian "infiltrator" during a sweep in Basrah on Oct. 28. Iraqi troops killed one Iranian agent captured another during a clash in Al Kut in Wasit province on Oct. 24. Iraqi police captured three armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officers in Al Kut on Oct. 20. Border guards captured four more in Mandali in Diyala province.

US military officers believe Iran is ramping up its operations inside Iraq after its surrogates suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Iraqi military during the spring and summer of 2008. Iraqi troops went of the offensive against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed terror groups in Baghdad and central and southern Iraq. More than 2,000 Mahdi Army were killed and thousands more were wounded. The operation forced Muqtada al Sadr to agree to a cease-fire and disband the Mahdi Army.

Qods Force may also be looking to take a more active role in directing operations at the tactical level inside Iraq, A US military officer told The Long War Journal. Prior to this week, only a handful of Iranian operatives, along with a Lebanese Hezbollah leader, have been reported captured inside Iraq. The more than 3,000 Mahdi Army leaders and operatives that are said to have fled to Iran to regroup and rearm are believed to be infiltrating back into Iraq.

Background on Iran's backing of the Shia terror groups


Flash Presentation on the Ramazan Corps and the Iranian Ratlines into Iraq. Click the map to view. A Flash Player is required to view, click to download.

Qods Force has supported various Shia militias and terror groups inside Iraq, including the Mahdi Army, which it helped build along the same lines as Lebanese Hezbollah. Iran denies the charges, but captive Shia terrorists admit to being recruited by Iranian agents, and then transported into Iran for training.

Iran established the Ramazan Corps immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime to direct operations inside Iraq. The US military says Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have helped establish, fund, train, and arm, and have provided operational support for Shia terror groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades and the League of the Righteous. The US military refers to these groups as well as the Iranian-backed elements of the Mahdi Army as the "Special Groups." These groups train in camps inside Iran.

US and Iraqi forces have captured several high-level Qods Force officers inside Iraq since late 2006. Among those captured are Mahmud Farhadi, one of the three Iranian regional commanders in the Ramazan Corps; Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative; Qais Qazali, the leader of the Qazali Network; and Azhar al Dulaimi, one of Qazali's senior tactical commanders. The US has imposed sanctions on Major General Ahmad Foruzandeh, the former Qods Force commander, and Abdul Reza Shahlai, a deputy commander in Iran's Qods Force, for backing Shia terror groups inside Iraq.  Thursday, October 30, 2008

www.longwarjournal.org



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