Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What Comes Next in Iraq?

Iraq the Model's Mohammed says there may be attempts to form a united front of Sunnis and Shia against the United States (ht Roger L. Simon):
Clerics will not stop and they will carry on with their plans and I suspect they will launch the next phase of their plan soon after they received instructions from Syria (the Muslim scholars) and from Iran (the Sadrists).
The objective of the second phase will to move the conflict from one on the streets to a conflict with America. That’s not my personal opinion, but it's what clerics themselves are saying including Muqtada who returned from Qum in Iran to organize a joint Sunni-Shia demonstration against the occupation!!

Now the government has rise to the level of the challenge and proceed to take the most important and critical step and disband religious militias of all sorts and limit the influence of clerics-of any sect-in the decision-making process.
I think this is the best time for the new government to tackle this issue as the government now has all the factors that make such a move legitimate and necessary.

John Fund on the Yale Taliban

John Fund (ht lgf) is not happy with the Yale Taliban featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine:
I don't believe Mr. Rahmatullah had direct knowledge of the 9/11 plot, and I don't think he has ever killed anyone. I can appreciate that he is trying to rebuild his life. But he willingly and cheerfully served an evil regime in a manner that would have made Goebbels proud. That he was 22 at the time is little of an excuse. There are many poor, bright students--American and foreign alike--who would jump at the opportunity to attend Yale. Why should Mr. Rahmatullah go to the line ahead of all of them? That's a question Yale alumni should ask when their alma mater comes looking for contributions.

President Bush, who already has a well-known disdain for Yale elitism from his student days there, may also have some questions. In the wake of his being blindsided by his own administration over the Dubai port deal, he should be interested in finding out exactly who at the State Department approved Mr. Rahmatullah's application for a student visa.
When I was teaching in Uzbekistan, it was almost impossible for my students to get a visa to study in the USA. Even if they had money. Even if they were medical students. So, not only did Mr. Rahmatullah go to the head of Yale's line, my guess is that he jumped to the head of the US visa line, too.

Remember Ukraine?

Neeka's Backlog has new photos of Yulia Timoshenko's campaign. Will she depose Yushchenko to become the next President of the Republic? At this point, from Neeka's pictures, it certainly looks like she's well-organized and well-funded. Hell hath no fury...

UPDATE: The Times of London has this headline Ukraine Turns Back to Russia...

A Russian Anecdote

(Photo by And-rey)

Yesterday, I took a Russian friend to the airport. She was returning to Moscow. Before boarding her flight, while she was putting away her ticket and passport, she told me this story, which somehow seemed very Russian:

There once was a officer in the Soviet army. He was beginning his career, which seemed very bright. He had done well in school, and was a member of the Communist Party. The future stretched in front of him. Everything was possible. Perhaps he would become a general. Then, one day, he didn't know how it happened, he misplaced his Party card. He had to show it, and when he went through his pockets, it was gone.

Losing your Party card was a very serious offense in the USSR. It was interpreted to mean that you didn't care enough about the Party to know where your card was kept. The officer was reported, he was reprimanded, and a note was made in his permanent file. He knew that his career was over. His comrades rose to higher ranks, but he was not promoted.

So, he began to drink.

Years passed. 10, 20 years. Perestroika came and went. The USSR collapsed. The Soviet army became the Russian army. He retired, and lived on a very small pension.

He decided to quit drinking. He straightened himself up a bit. And then one day, he needed to show his documents for something official, and looked through papers in his desk. He would start a new life.

Suddenly, he found himself holding his Communist Party card. "Aha! So it was in my drawer all along."

He began to drink, again.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Some Differences Between the UK and UAE

Since the perceptually challenged President Bush and administration apologists like Frances Fragos Townsend can't see the obvious, Michelle Malkin quotes Walid Phares' list of some differences between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates:
a) Great Britain is listed as a target by al Qaida, not the UAE; b) Tony Blair was sitting in the US Congress when President Bush declared War on the Taliban in October 2001, not the monarchs of the UAE; c) The UK has a clear strategy against the Jihadist-Terrorists, not the Emirates; and last but not least, the Prime Minister of the Isles declared the ideology of al Qaida as terrorist and criminal, not Dubai’s rulers. These, plus many other considerations grants Britain a clear status of strategic ally in the War with the Jihadists over the UAE’s somewhat cooperation against al Qaida...

Saudi Arabia Behind Danish Cartoon Crisis

So say Dr. Ali H. Alyami and Colonel B. Wayne Quist, who explain the international political calculation underlying the Danish Cartoon Crisis :
Given Saudi influence with the Muslim faithful worldwide, the royal family
failed to exercise restraint in the cartoon controversy and placed its own
narrow self-interests before peace, stability, respect for law, and sanctity
of life. The Saudi regime demonstrated that it would risk plunging the world
into religious war if its domination or survival were perceivably

The Saudi decision to initiate a protest against Denmark was based on
well-calculated principles of royal family self-preservation and helped
divert world attention from the Hamas Palestinian election victory,
uncomfortable Kuwaiti succession issues, and the extraordinary Asian

The primary goal of the Saudi royal family is to ensure its religious
leadership by crowning itself as the only Muslim government willing and able
to challenge the West and defend Islam at any cost. When asked about his
country’s reaction to the cartoons while attending an Arab Interior Minister
meeting in Tunis, Saudi Prince Naif said, “Nobody can pressure the Kingdom
to change its stand on a basic issue like this. I don't think it is
reasonable for international press or any organization or state to oppose
the decision taken by an Arab and Islamic country on this issue.”

The Saudi government has continually re-emphasized to the international
community the power and control it possesses as presumed leader of the
Muslim community. In contrast to other Arab and Muslim countries, there were
no demonstrations or burnings of flags or embassies in Saudi Arabia because
all forms of public expression are prohibited, despite Interior Minister
Naif's argument to the contrary during his press conference in Tunis when he
said, “Saudi Arabia respects opinion. Everybody has the right to express his

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Question for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Adam Garfinkle, once a speechwriter for former Secretary of Stte Colin Powell, now editor of The American Interest, blogs here that Seth Cropsey--former director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty--was present at Chris Hitchen's Stand Up for Denmark! demonstration on Friday.

So, how come, when I googled Hitchens, I didn't find any stories from VOA or RFE/RL? Is the reason censorship, or self-censorship?

I'd say "Prominent Former Bush Administration official attends Christopher Hitchens' Pro-Denmark Rally" seems to be a newsworthy story, especially when the official in question had been the director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, responsible for America's official broadcasting--including to the Arab and Muslim world.

I applaud Seth Cropsey for attending the rally, and now hope that his international broadcastering colleagues will follow his example--and stand up for freedom of speech instead of Islamist extremism, on the air and off...

FYI, here's a link to a search for "Hitchens" at the RFE/RL website that shows nothing about Hitchens' Citizens for Denmark rally.

Dynamic Russia

In Sources of Conflict in the 21st Century: Regional Futures and US Strategy, a 1998 publication from the RAND Corporation's "Project Air Force" co-edited by Zalmay Khalilzad--currently American viceroy in Iraq--one paragraph jumps out as something Dick Cheney might want to pay attention to before he plans anything rash at the upcoming G-8 summit meeting in St. Petersburg:
Dynamic Russia. The essential feature of this outcome would be a Russian "economic miracle," perhaps analogous to that which occurred in West German, Italy, and Japan in the 1950s and 60s, or such has occured in the emerging markets of East Asia in recent years. With a stable political system, free markets, and abundant natural and human resources, Russia might begin an economic "takeoff" in the course of the next several years, and sustain 8-10 percent per annum GDP growth for a decade or more. A dynamic Russia might not have overtly hegemonic aspirations toward the countries on its periphery. Indeed, a focus on improved living standards, consumption and investment by individuals and firms could direct attention away from international aspirations and could facilitate the normalization of Russia as a nation-state, much the way Japan, France, Turkey and other countries redefined themselves in the period after empire. Nonetheless, a dynamic Russia inevitably would exercise a high degree of influence on its neighbors through trde and investment, particularly if some of these countries lagged Russia in economic performance. (p.289)
In other words, a "dynamic Russia" is in America's interest. This is something that I am sure President Putin would agree with, and provides a better blueprint for American policy at the G-8 summit than anything I've seen coming out of the Bush administration nowadays (at least anything that has been published the Washington Post).

Reese Schonfeld on CNN's Danish Cartoon-phobia

Ted Turner's co-founder of CNN, Reese Schonfeld, doesn't think much of CNN's non-coverage of the Danish Cartoon Crisis:
Does CNN journalism now duck provocation because someone involved may think the provocation was unnecessary? What kind of a standard is that? Does CNN conform its journalism to the “expectations to the audience as a whole?” Does CNN let its audience determine that a subject is of “no intrinsic news values.”

Rose defends his editorial decision but Verjee cuts him short and quotes The Guardian reporting that three years ago Rose’s paper “actually refused to run cartoons that essentially poked fun at Jesus Christ and the Resurrection” because “they would be offensive to readers. Is that true?” she snaps at him. Then she cuts him short and suggests his paper is guilty of “double standards.” . . .

. . . Throughout the interview Rose has attempted to show the cartoons that are the subjects of the interview. But every time he holds one up the camera tilts away. I assume that CNN is so concerned about the reaction in the Arab world that it censors itself. May it rue the day.
Maybe now that he's left AOL-Time Warner, Ted Turner and Reese can get back together again to develop a really balanced and objective news channel--if they did, I'd want to work there...

Hurrah for Christopher Hitchens!

Joel Gelman says Hitchens' stock is on the rise:
Christopher Hitchens seems to understand the titanic struggle of civilizations that is in its early stages and seems determined to come out on the right side of history this time.

Bush to Declare New Cold War?

That sounds like the bottom line of Peter Baker's article about America's relations with Russia, in today's Washington Post:
Critics charge that Putin's leadership of the G-8 summit makes a mockery of the organization, and some, such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), have called for the United States to boycott. Like their Washington counterparts, officials in London, Paris and Berlin worry the St. Petersburg summit in July will prove an embarrassment and are conferring about how to avoid appearing to endorse Putin's leadership.

"The G-8 summit in St. Petersburg is becoming the focal point for everybody to reconsider where we are in terms of Russia," said Anders Aslund, a Russia specialist at the Institute for International Economics who was among those who briefed Cheney last month. "Is this really where we want to be? Should we change policy?" ...

...In Washington, U.S. officials are discussing ways of expressing concerns about Russian democracy in advance of the summit. Among the possibilities: a comprehensive and blunt speech by a senior official, possibly Rice, laying out more explicitly the U.S. view of Russia's direction. Or perhaps a gathering of human rights, democracy and other civil society groups either inside Russia or outside the country to showcase U.S. support for those under pressure from the Kremlin.

Aslund suggested the other seven leaders of the G-8 meet elsewhere in Europe without Putin before the summit to demonstrate concern over Russia. "The U.S. administration is thinking that it needs to do something," he said, "but it doesn't know what yet."
I'd suggest America change policy all right--to a much more clearly pro-Russian policy. Make Putin a full partner in an all-out war on Jihadi states and terrorists (including Chechens).

After all, Russia is far more democratic than the United Arab Emirates. For example:

*Russia has multiple political parties. The UAE does not permit any political parties.
*Russia has an elected President. The UAE has absolute monarchs, called "Emirs" or "Sheiks."
*Russia is a secular state, the UAE are Islamic emirates.
* No Russian citizens participated in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Two citizens of the UAE did.

And so on.

So I have to smile, when the Bush administration criticizes the President of Russia as undemocratic--while defending the Emir of Dubai...

Mark Steyn on Paris' Halimi Murder

From SteynOnline(ht lgf):
In five years' time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents' apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam's throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven."

Is that an gripping story? You'd think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You've got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends.

Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.

This month, there was another murder. Ilan Halimi, also 23, also Jewish, was found by a railway track outside Paris with burns and knife wounds all over his body. He died en route to the hospital, having been held prisoner, hooded and naked, and brutally tortured for almost three weeks by a gang that had demanded half a million dollars from his family. Can you take a wild guess at the particular identity of the gang? During the ransom phone calls, his uncle reported that they were made to listen to Ilan's screams as he was being burned while his torturers read out verses from the Quran.

This time around, the French media did carry the story, yet every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element. Just one of those things. Coulda happened to anyone. And, if the gang did seem inordinately fixated on, ah, Jews, it was just because, as one police detective put it, ''Jews equal money.'' In London, the Observer couldn't even bring itself to pursue that particular angle. Its report of the murder managed to avoid any mention of the unfortunate Halimi's, um, Jewishness. Another British paper, the Independent, did dwell on the particular, er, identity groups involved in the incident but only in the context of a protest march by Parisian Jews marred by ''radical young Jewish men'' who'd attacked an ''Arab-run grocery.''

At one level, those spokesmonsieurs are right: It could happen to anyone. Even in the most civilized societies, there are depraved monsters who do terrible things. When they do, they rip apart entire families, like the Halimis and Selams. But what inflicts the real lasting damage on society as a whole is the silence and evasions of the state and the media and the broader culture.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

This Book Looks Interesting . . .

Just found this as part of my research, and ordered a copy of this indictment of NGO neo-colonialism from Amazon.com. It reminds me of the debate over the Welfare Reform Bill that Bill Clinton signed. I wish the former President and much-mooted future UN Secretary-General would spearhead an equally strong effort to "end Foreign Aid as we know it."
Book Description
An informed and excoriating attack on the tragic waste, futility, and hubris of the West's efforts to date to improve the lot of the so-called developing world, with constructive suggestions on how to move forward.

William Easterly's The White Man's Burden is about what its author calls the twin tragedies of global poverty. The first, of course, is that so many are seemingly fated to live horribly stunted, miserable lives and die such early deaths. The second is that after fifty years and more than $2.3 trillion in aid from the West to address the first tragedy, it has shockingly little to show for it. We'll never solve the first tragedy, Easterly argues, unless we figure out the second.

The ironies are many: We preach a gospel of freedom and individual accountability, yet we intrude in the inner workings of other countries through bloated aid bureaucracies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank that are accountable to no one for the effects of their prescriptions. We take credit for the economic success stories of the last fifty years, like South Korea and Taiwan, when in fact we deserve very little. However, we reject all accountability for pouring more than half a trillion dollars into Africa and other regions and trying one "big new idea" after another, to no avail. Most of the places in which we've meddled are in fact no better off or are even worse off than they were before. Could it be that we don't know as much as we think we do about the magic spells that will open the door to the road to wealth?

Absolutely, William Easterly thunders in this angry, irreverent, and important book. He contrasts two approaches: (1) the ineffective planners' approach to development-never able to marshal enough knowledge or motivation to get the overambitious plans implemented to attain the plan's arbitrary targets and (2) a more constructive searchers' approach-always on the lookout for piecemeal improvements to poor peoples' well-being, with a system to get more aid resources to those who find things that work. Once we shift power and money from planners to searchers, there's much we can do that's focused and pragmatic to improve the lot of millions, such as public health, sanitation, education, roads, and nutrition initiatives. We need to face our own history of ineptitude and learn our lessons, especially at a time when the question of our ability to "build democracy," to transplant the institutions of our civil society into foreign soil so that they take root, has become one of the most pressing we face.

About the Author
William Easterly is a professor of economics at New York University and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. He was a senior research economist at the World Bank for more than sixteen years. In addition to his academic work, he has written widely in recent years for The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, and Foreign Policy, among others. He is the author of the acclaimed book The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics. He has worked in many areas of the developing world, most extensively in Africa, Latin America, and Russia.
Here's a link to his Washington Post article: The West Can't Save Africa. And here's a link to his Foreign Policy article, The Utopian Nightmare. Finally, Easterly's critique of Jeffery Sachs's book, also in the Washington Post:
"Success in ending the poverty trap," Sachs writes, "will be much easier than it appears." Really? If it's so easy, why haven't five decades of effort gotten the job done? Sachs should redirect some of his outrage at the question of why the previous $2.3 trillion didn't reach the poor so that the next $2.3 trillion does. In fact, ending poverty is not easy at all. In those five decades, poverty researchers have learned a great deal about the complexity of toxic politics, bad history (including exploitative or inept colonialism), ethnic and regional conflicts, elites' manipulation of politics and institutions, official corruption, dysfunctional public services, malevolent police forces and armies, the difficulty of honoring contracts and property rights, unaccountable and excessively bureaucratic donors and many other issues. Sachs, however, sees these factors as relatively unimportant. Indeed, he seems deaf to the babble and bungling of the U.N. agencies he calls upon to run the Big Plan, not to mention other unaccountable and ineffectual aid agencies.

New Sisyphus: Declare War Now on Jihadi States

The former US State Deparment Official blogging as New Sisyphus says President Bush has not been tough enough, and argues Andrew Jackson was a better wartime leader:
RESOLVED: That the Jacksonian approach described above is the only way to victory in the War on Terror, meaning that the immediate and full war mobilization of the United States should be ordered, war should be declared on the leading states supporting Jihadism-including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria-and merciless, unrelenting war should be waged on their homelands until the Arab world begs for peace or until eradicated.

Agree or disagree? Let the debate begin.

Neeka's Backlog

Saw a link to a post on this site on Neeka's Backlog, and thought I'd return the favor. Thanks, Neeka!

Video of Christopher Hitchens' Danish Cartoon Solidarity Speech

At the Age of Hooper blog (scroll down).(ht the Christopher Hitchens website).

Here's a transcript from The Adventures of Chester (ht Instapundit):
Brothers and sisters, I just thought I would thank everyone for coming and say how touching it is that people will take a minute from a working day to do something that our government won't do for us, which is quite simply to say that we know who our friends and our allies are, and they should know that we know it. And that we take a stand of democracy against dictatorship. And when the embassies of democracies are burned in the capital cities of dictatorships, we think the State Department should denounce that, and not denounce the cartoons.

[Cheers of support and applause]

And that we're fed up with the invertebrate nature of our State Department.

[Laughter, cheers, applause]

If we had more time, brothers and sisters, I think that we should have gone from here to the embassy of Iraq, to express our support for another country that is facing a campaign of lies and hatred and violence. And we would -- if we did that we would say that we knew blasphemy when we saw it, we knew sacrilege when we saw it: it is sacrilegious to blow up beautiful houses of worship in Samarra. That would be worth filling the streets of the world to protest about.

[Cheers and applause]

We are not for profanity nor for disrespect, though we are, and without any conditions, or any ifs or any buts, for free expression in all times and in all places


and our solidarity . . . [inaudible]


So, we said we would, I told the Danish embassy that we would disperse at one o'clock. I hope and believe we've made our point, I hope and believe that today's tv will have some more agreeable features, such as your own, to show, instead of the faces of violence and hatred, and fascism, and I think I can just close by saying, solidarity with Denmark, death to fascism.
And there's a long-ish and interesting biography of Hitchens on Wikipedia.

Washington Times story here.
Cox News Service story here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

"Solidarity With Denmark--Death To Fascism!" Conclusion

Not all the demonstrators were conservatives.   For example, this is Will Marshall, a Clinton Democrat, and BMOC at the Progressive Policy Institute. He was with Marshall Wittman, aka Bull Moose, also a progressive Democrat. And I met a Johns Hopkins physics professor there, who had driven down from Baltimore. So he and I made up an accidental delegation, and it was nice not to be the only one.
  And of course, here is Andrew Sullivan , who did a lot to publicize the demonstration on his blog. He arrived late, and was almost invisible under his watch cap, sunglasses, and beard. Luckily, he hugged Hitch, and that was a give-away. He didn't address the crowd, though.
  The mysterious woman in the sunglasses and hat seemed to be a close friend of Hitchens. His wife? Who knows. She wasn't the only one with sunglasses, which made celebrity-spotting a little difficult.
 In the end, the demonstration made it's point very well. And the spirit in the air at Chistopher Hitchens's solidarity demonstration in front of the Danish Embassy reminded me of Henry V's St. Crispin's day speech:
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
 Posted by Picasa

"Solidarity With Denmark--Death To Fascism!", Cont'd.

There were a number of reporters and photographers in the crowd in front of the Danish Embassy--yes, it is indeed across the street from Senator Hillary Clinton's house, but she was a no-show.  Here's Hitch speaking to the Atlanta Constitution.
 And here's Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol with Tony Blankley. I overheard this question answer between Kristol and a reporter:
"Did you get any threats after The Weekly Standard re-published the Danish Cartoons?"
 And here are some of the really home-made signs carried by the demonstrators. It was touching. I asked a few of them how they heard about it, and most of them seem to have found out from reading Andrew Sullivan or other bloggers, or by email. Didn't see too many rent-a-crowd types.
  Posted by Picasa

"Solidarity With Denmark--Death To Fascism!"

That was Christopher Hitchens' rallying cry to the hundred or so demonstrators gathered in front of the Danish Embassy at lunchtime in Washington, DC today to show solidarity in the Danish Cartoon Crisis. Hitch was in fine form as a speaker, jumping up on a big stone at the end to address the crowd, channelling a combination of George Orwell and La Pasionaria. It was really a solemn and moving occasion. Hitch said he did it so that Danish television viewers could watch something to make them feel better--and Danish TV was there... There were few glitterati or celebrities, but there were some. Here is Hitchens with Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and someone who may have been Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
 Fox News covered the event, and interviewed Hitchens. He told the reporter that Karen Hughes should be "Fired!", and condemnned the US State Department for America's failure to stand with Denmark. I don't know if this is just local Fox 5 News or national Fox News Channel. I hope the News Channel runs the footage, so the country can see Hitch in action.
  Columnist Tony Blankley, Newt Gingrich's former press secretary, who has written a controversial book about Islamism, was there. He wins my vote for best-dressed demonstrator. His coat must have been camel's hair, or vicuna, or something really expensive. It stood out in a crowd. Classy, as we say in the Bronx.
 Michelle Malkin has more links to more links, here. Posted by Picasa

Chirac Attends Jewish Funeral in Paris

The deceased Ilan Halimi had been kidnapped, tortured, and then murdered by an anti-semitic Islamic gang, Ha'aretz reports:
PARIS - Cries of "vive la France" and "la justice" accompanied President Jacques Chirac, his wife Bernadette and Premier Dominique de Villepin last night as they left the memorial evening held here yesterday for Ilan Halimi.

The ceremony, which was held in the Grand Synagogue on rue de la Victoire, was seen by many in the Jewish community as the state leaders' formal declaration that anti-Semitism was to blame for the horrific kidnapping, torture and murder of the 23-year-old Parisian.

At 5 P.M., two hours before the ceremony's official opening, police cars surrounded the synagogue area. Police at roadblocks inspected the bag of everyone who entered the area. Hundreds of thousands of people crowded on either side of the street, waiting their turn to enter the synagogue. At the synagogue's entrance police used metal detectors and checked the identity cards and passports of all who pushed in.

The synagogue's 3,000 seats were full, dozens more mourners stood in the aisles and many thousands remained outside and could not get in.

During the chilling ceremony, an 8-year-old read the Psalm "I will raise my eyes to the mountains, whence will come my help?" near a giant picture of Halimi.

Halimi's family and others in the Jewish community said that had the authorities admitted earlier that the young man had been attacked for being a Jew, he could possibly have been saved.

Halimi was found dying, covered with burns and cuts, on Monday February 13. He had been kidnapped three weeks earlier, after a Muslim gang sent a blonde to seduce him. Halimi had agreed to meet with her after meeting in a chat room. Immediately after his abduction his mother went to the police, saying he was kidnapped by anti-Semites. Sources in the community said three Jewish youngsters had managed to escape similar abdications in recent months.

Indian Scientist Gets US Visa

The day after this Washington Post story appeared on page one, the Post reported that the US State Department has decided to grant Goverdhan Mehta a US visa, after all.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ann Coulter Doesn't Like Dubai Port Deal, Either

From AnnCoulter.com:
Bush's defense of the port deal is to say that "those who are questioning it" need to "step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company."

First of all, it's not "all of a sudden." The phrase you're searching for, Mr. President, is "ever since the murderous attacks of Sept. 11." The Bush administration's obstinate refusal to profile Middle Easterners has been the one massive gaping hole in national security since the 9/11 attacks — attacks that received indirect support from the United Arab Emirates.

There are at least 3,000 reasons why a company controlled by a Middle Eastern Muslim emirate should be held to a different standard than a British company. Many of these reasons are now buried under a gaping hole that isn't metaphorical in lower Manhattan.

Even four years after 9/11, I note that we don't hear Tony Blair condemning some cartoons in a Danish newspaper as "a cultural extremism," or saying their publication represents a "dreadful clash of civilizations."

That was U.A.E. Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Mohammed Al Dhaheri's recent comment on the great Danish cartoon caper.

So maybe Bush could defend his port deal without insulting our intelligence by asking why anyone might imagine there's any conceivable difference between a British company and a United Arab Emirates company.

President Bush has painted himself into a corner on this issue, and he needs a face-saving compromise to get out of it. Here's my proposal: Let Harriet Miers run the ports.

Michelle Malkin Still Against the Dubai Port Deal

Despite a suspicious Denial of Service attack this morning, Michelle Malkin is still not backing down on her criticism of the Bush administration over the Dubai port deal. She's calling it "Portgate." She believes the deal is also dangerous because of its Islamic-law based financing scheme:
The supporters of, and retreaters on, the deal are also silent about the unprecedented, Islamic law-compliant funding scheme that allowed state-owned Dubai Ports World to force its more experienced rival to drop its bid for P&O. (The underwriters of Dubai Ports World's $3.5 billion Islamic financing instrument called a "sukuk" --Barclay's and Dubai Islamic Bank--were both cited as probable conduits for bin Laden money.)

Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullian, Live and In Person...

...in front of the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, DC:
Noon, Friday, at the Danish Embassy, 3200 Whitehaven Street, in DC. Off Massachusetts Avenue. It's time to show some support for the freedom-loving Danes. Hitch will be there. So will I. If you're in DC, come join us.
That's from Andrew Sullivan's blog.

Here's a a Yahoo! map with the embassy location.

US Visa Rejection for Top Indian Scientist Sparks Outrage

Goverdhan Mehta, a prominent Indian scientist--director of the Indian Institute of Science and science advsior to the Indian Prime Minister (here's a link to his website)--was turned down for a US visa two weeks ago because a US consular official was reportedly afraid that his expertise in chemistry may have posed a "threat," according to a front-page story in today's Washington Post:
In his written account, the scientist said that after traveling 200 miles, waiting three hours with his wife for an interview and being accused of deception, he was outraged when his accounts of his research were questioned and he was told he needed to fill out a detailed questionnaire.

"I indicated that I have no desire to subject myself to any further humiliation and asked that our passports be returned forthwith," he wrote. The consular official, Mehta added, "stamped the passports to indicate visa refusal and returned them."
I can believe the charge of humiliating and insulting treatment of visa applicants--we witnessed it in the US Embassy in Tashkent. And there apparently is no penalty at the State Department for turning down a good person's visa, despite the obviously negative public relations consequences on both a word-of-mouth and institutional level.

Because the US government cannot bring itself to publicly declare Islamists "persona non grata" as enemies of the United States, lots of perfectly harmless non-Islamists are being rejected for visas. That doesn't help America, but IMHO the resentment this policy generates surely aids and comforts the enemies of America.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lileks on the Dubai Port Deal

(ht Michelle Malkin & LGF) Haven't linked to Lileks in a long time. Here's his take on Bush's latest crisis.
Short version: the administration may have thought it was helping a Valuable Ally and probably a pal, end of story. But it plays like Bush defending eminent domain to condemn a neighborhood to build a mosque.

I don’t make predictions, because – well, who cares? You either repeat the conventional wisdom and hide with the herd when you’re wrong, or buck the prevailing opinions and get a reputation as a “maverick” when you’re wrong, again. Works for some. But if I had to make a prediction, I’d say this: the Dubai-ports fracas will become a flap, quickly swell into a firestorm, then become a debacle before settling into the history books as a “historic miscalculation” – providing the Republicans only lose the Congress. If they lose a city, it will be a “critical turning point.”

Do I expect the managers of the ports to start installing Al Qaeda operatives in key positions, so they can wave through all the containers with small nukes for national distribution? No. But such a scenario does not exact tax the imagination, which is why it’s such a stupendously bad idea.

Ann Althouse: Bloggers Helps Legal Scholars

Althouse says blogging will lead to better legal scholarship, and links to a Wall Street Journal article on the same theme.

Michelle Malkin is Angry at the Wall Street Journal

She let's the WSJ editorial page editors have it with both barrels today. IMHO, Her aim seems to be better than Dick Cheney's.

Window to Paris (1994)

Netflix didn't have it--but our local video store, Potomac Video, did.

Our old Russian teacher, Vladimir, had recommended Window to Paris as one of his favorites, and now it is one of ours.

The plot is simple. There is a window to Paris in a communal apartment in St. Petersburg. It opens for a short time every twenty years, then closes again. So the heroes of Yuri Mamin's film rush through to experience La Vie Parisienne while they can. And it is very funny, sort of a cross between a wacky Soviet comedy and a french farce like the Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe.

Needless to say, our French heroine finds herself in St. Petersburg--suffering--while the Russian's enjoy Parisian "culture" (a very funny joke about a music club with special costumes is one that I won't spoil for you). French culture v. Russian culture; east v. west; the present v. the future. There's plenty of laughter and tenderness--plus the philosophical reflection without which, well, it wouldn't be Russian, or French, for that matter.

Of course, the window closes at the end. What does it symbolize? Perhaps the cycles of Russian history--openings to the West, followed by closed Iron Curtains...Russians must rush through the Window to Paris quickly, before it closes again.

Five stars.

How Summers Lost Harvard

Not mentioned in either the New York Times or Washington Post story about Larry Summers' resignation from Harvard was David McClintick's Institutional Investor article, How Harvard Lost Russia. As mentioned in a previous posting, that article was credited as an important factor in Summer's troubles by The Harvard Crimson.

That both the Times and the Post left out any mention of the very real scandal over the Harvard Institute for International Development, and allegations surrounding Larry Summers' role, indicates that it was no coincidence -- the Harvard Institute for International Development connection was indeed the straw that broke the camel's back.

Summers may have lost more than Russia. It seems that in his handling of the Harvard Institute for International Development scandal, Summers also lost Harvard...

Bull Moose: Don't Forget Danish Cartoon Jihad

Bull Moose says the Danish Cartoon Jihad is bigger than the Dubai port deal:
It is not wise to allow a foreign power with past ties to the Taliban to have any control over our ports. And politicians who claim that this controversy has nothing to do with the fact that this is an Arab owned company are being completely disingenuous. The real problem is lax port and border security. However, this dispute is far less significant than the ongoing global Jihad against Western freedom. Yes, the Moose is referring to the cartoon riots.

Politicians are falling over themselves to denounce the UAE port deal, but they are largely silent or ambivalent about the cartoon riots. Parenthetically, it is deeply ironic that some of the politicians who are in a rage over the port deal want to make certain that a FISA judge has the last word on whether the NSA can intercept a call from a terrorist in Pakistan and his contact on the dock at the port of Baltimore. It is easy to take a shot a shoddy port security, but it is another matter to take a firm position that may get them into trouble with the international or domestic political correctness police.

Of course, one can be both for port security and for the uncompromising defense of Western freedom against the Jihadist attack on Denmark. However, most politicians are taking the easy route and ignoring the latter outrage. It is definitely conceivable that a port (or our porous borders) may someday provide an entry for terrorists - we must remain vigilant. But at this very moment, there is an ongoing, worldwide assault on Western freedom. And the death toll is mounting. In the last few days, Muslim rioters have killed Christians in the streets of Nigeria and churches are being burned.

There is no clear partisan advantage to be gained in strongly denouncing the cartoon Jihad and unambiguously stand with the Danes. However, in this long, twilight struggle against Jihadism, this is a moment that requires and unqualified defense of the West.
I think they may be connected, since Dubai has banned publication of the Danish cartoons, even reportedly blocking Michelle Malkin's website...

Is Dubai Blackmailing US Navy Over Port Deal?

Today's Washington Post has a couple of paragraphs that just leap off the page:
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) said last night that he will convene his panel today for a public briefing to be led by Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert M. Kimmitt and five other administration officials involved in the security review of the deal. Warner was briefed yesterday by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The senator said he was satisfied that proper procedures were followed on the deal.

But he said he would withhold judgment on the deal's national security implications until after today's briefing. The United Arab Emirates provides docking rights for more U.S. Navy ships than any other nation in the region, Warner noted. He added: "If they say they have not been treated fairly in this, we run the risk of them pulling back some of that support at a critical time of the war."
Translation--sell US ports to the Dubai government or else Dubai might make difficulties for the US Navy in the Persian Gulf.

Even obvious business connections to Bush administration officials are not enough to explain the commitment to Dubai that President Bush has put into this issue. Contrary to today's ridiculours Washington Post editorial, this is not about "promoting democracy," for Dubai is an Emirate ruled by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (pictured above)--that is, a monarchy. Last time I checked, the Emir had not been elected by the population who live in Dubai (many of whom are not permitted to become citizens, in any case). And it's not about "capitalism" either, because Dubai Ports World is owned by the government of Dubai. That is, it is a state-run--or socialist--operation. So, if President Bush were claiming to promote monarchy, or socialism, the Dubai deal might make sense. But it obviously has nothing to do with either. At least the clueless Wall Street Journal editorial didn't pretend this is about democracy or free enterprise. For them it seems to be a simple matter of lockstep loyalty to the Bushes.

On the other hand, the national security angle does seem important. It may be a payoff to the emir in exchange for US docking rights. If that's the case, unfortunately, it fits in with Howard Dean's description of the US-led "coalition of the willing" as the bought, the bribed and the bullied--and bodes ill for America's ability to lead the world, because it appears that the country is being sold off to pay for the war in Iraq, piece-by-piece...

I hope Bush loses this one, just like he lost the Harriet Miers nomination.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush Threatens Veto on Dubai Port Deal

According to Bloomberg News, President Bush has threatened to veto congressional legislation blocking the controversial Dubai port deal. He's quoted as saying: "I don't understand..."

That makes this a good issue for the Democrats to push all the way. Make Bush veto the bill, then try to override the veto. It will separate the sheep from the goats in an election year.

This is a godsend to the Democrats. Bush may be seen as protecting the interests of a country that has served as a base for 9/11 attackers--and may still have financial ties to terrorists. For example, here's a 2004 article from USA Today which came up on Google after one second of searching: Bin Laden's Operatives Still Using Freewheeling Dubai:
With open borders, multiethnic society and freewheeling business rules, the Emirates remains vital to al-Qaeda operations, said Evan F. Kohlmann, a Washington-based terrorism researcher.

Dubai still "plays a key role for al-Qaeda as a through-point and a money transfer location," Kohlmann said, although he also noted the country could be working to combat such activity with "an aggressive but low-profile intelligence strategy."

al-Qaeda isn't the only organization that has found Dubai useful. The father of Pakistan's nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, has acknowledged heading a clandestine group that, with the help of a Dubai company, supplied Pakistani nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Emirates officials refused to discuss the country's latest steps to combat terror.
What if Bush actually vetoes a Congressional resolution?

As Ronald Reagan once said in another context: "Go ahead, make may day..."

If Bush loses the override vote, it's the beginning of the end of his administration. He could be impeached after Cheney is forced to quit, and Congress could pick the new Veep and Pres (hint; R-U-D-Y G-I-U-L-A-N-I). If Bush wins his vote, it's the beginning of the end of Republican control of Congress.

I can already see the 30-second TV spots featuring Osama Bin Laden as the running mate of anyone who votes with the President on this one...

Castro's Big Business Connection

Agustin Blazquez just sent us this historical document, which he says supports the thesis of his new documentary film, "The Rats Below" that alleges the Archer Daniels Midland corporation was linked to the Clinton administration's actions in the Elian Gonzalez case through Washington attorney Greg Craig, revealing a previously unreported big-business connection to the Cuban-American story:
Two days ago I found that Ernesto Betancourt, an economist and former director of Radio Marti, wrote this paper about the Elian case (updated on March 1. 2004) that supports what I expose in "The Rats Below." This paper has never been published before. The "BACKGROUNDER" is a series of papers he writes about different topics. Ernesto gave me permission today to send it for publication. I'm offering exclusively to you to be the first one!

I think this would be another opportunity to expose what went on. It contains some very shocking information. This is also an opportunity to validate my work. I'm looking for Ernesto's resume; which is very good. He is the one who created for the Kennedy administration the slogan, "Alliance For Progress" and was a lobbyist for Castro's 26 of July organization in Washington, DC (prior to 1959) and was Castro's economic advisor for his 1959 trip to the U.S.

Who Is Behind Efforts to Return Elian to Castro?

Little Elian has unwittingly become the most important target in Castro's propaganda campaign to prolong his stay in power. He has exploited very cleverly the widely supported principle that a child belongs with his father, a fact hard to question. At the same time, he has diverted attention from the equally valid fact that this is not so in Cuba, where the Constitution and other laws state very clearly that all parental and children rights are subordinated to the goal of making them good Communists.

In doing this, Castro has enjoyed the complicity of the President and the Attorney General of the US. But, why is Clinton doing this? Family values? Give me a break. Central to this complicity is the role of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and its Washington lawyers, Williams and Connolly, where Gregory Craig is a partner. Most attention has been focused on Gregory Craig as Clinton's attorney during the impeachment process; few have focused on the powerful financial interests behind him.
The real power manipulating and financing the puppets in the background is none other than Dwayne Andreas, of Archer Daniels Midland, the criminally indicted corporation that had to pay a hundred million dollars fine for its violations of the anti-trust laws. A review of press coverage of this angle of the case from its beginnings reveals the strange links between Andreas and the Elian case.

According to Charley Reese of the Orlando Sun Sentinel (4/23/00), Andreas got first involved with Castro in 1995, when he attended a dinner in New York with the Cuban dictator. In February 1996, Castro ordered the downing of the Brothers to the Rescue planes, in which four people died, an action for which five Cuban spies are about to be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit murder but, thanks to the gracious decisions of the Attorney General, not Fidel Castro. This incident led to the approval of the Helms-Burton legislation. Not deterred by this legislative statement of US national policy, shortly after, in July, 1996, Andreas visited Castro in Cuba and discussed plans to build a refinery in the island through a Spanish subsidiary.

While all this was going on, ADM was caught in the biggest anti-trust law scandal recorded in a long-time. Not only was the company that year forced to pay the above-mentioned penalty, but one of Andreas'
sons, Michael, who was ADM's Senior Executive Vice-President, was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison. These shenanigans have resulted in Fortune (4/17/00) recently including ADM's Board as one America's Worst Boards and calling it "the Albania of corporate America."

Andreas' Cuban efforts are channeled through a point man called Anthony DeLio. The main purpose of ADM's efforts is to lobby for a lifting of the embargo. DeLio is quoted by Forbes (2/07/00) as stating that "it's our belief that in the next year or two trade will open up." In this effort, the Clinton Administration has been involved behind the scenes.
According to Forbes, among the events sponsored by Mr. Andreas was the visit to Cuba in the Fall of 1999 by a delegation headed by Illinois Republican Governor Ryan. ADM's headquarters is in Decatur, Illinois, and ADM was deeply involved in reciprocating a visit to its headquarters by a delegation of Cuban diplomats. The Governor visit ended in embarrassment when he did not have the courage to read some quotations from Abraham Lincoln in his prepared speech at Havana University when Castro unexpectedly came to the audience.

In January this year, Andreas was also behind the US Healthcare Exhibition opened in Havana with the attendance of Rep. Maxine Waters, one of several ADM kept politicians, who are financed by donations through various front organizations. For example, the National Council of Churches got a $100 000 donation from Dwayne Andreas. The National Council of Churches, a well known front for Communist causes during the Cold War years, is headed by Andy Young, who happens to be also a member of the ADM board, a position which nets him around a hundred thousand dollars a year. It was through Andy Young's good offices that the Council got involved in the visit by Elian's grannies. That visit ended in a fiasco.

Andreas is a financial supporter of Barry University and his wife is a graduate and past chairman of the Board of Trustees. Sister O'Laughlin, President of Barry University, who is a friend of both Mrs. Andreas and Janet Reno, hosted the meeting of the grannies with Elian at the request of INS Commissioner, Doris Meissner. Initially, she favored Elian's return to
Cuba. Unfortunately for Andreas and Castro, the nun is an honest person
and, after the meeting, changed her mind, concluding it was better for Elian to stay in the US.

In an affidavit filed before the Miami District Court, Sister O'Laughlin explains why she changed her mind. She realized the grannies were fearful of Castro's handlers, in particular Pablo Odon Marichal, a member of the Cuban Council of Churches who is also a member of the Legislative Assembly and a Castro henchman. Somehow, he had intimidated the grannies. She confirmed that perception in a conversation with Bob Edgar, who told her the National Council of Churches was withdrawing its sponsorship of the visit because the Cuban government was in charge and not them. According to Edgar, during the first trip, the grannies were willing to visit the Miami relatives and a Cuban official was the one who ordered the plane back to Washington, a flight he refused to join. (Affidavit filed at Miami District Court - 2/24/00)

Granma, the organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, immediately launched their usual vicious attacks on Sister O'Laughlin, calling her "a sinning nun.' Such treatment of her friend did not go well with Mrs.
Andreas. NCC funds to finance the grannies visit were exhausted and not replenished and the Council unceremoniously dumped the grannies on the Cuban Special Interest Section. Having lost the Council's holy sponsorship, the grannies were forced to cut their tour and return to Cuba.

It is important to point out that in the initial phase of the Elian saga, the INS ruled that the child's case be referred to family court and granted custody to Lazaro Gonzalez (NuevoHerald 12/1/99) Also, it was Elian's father who called Lazaro to take care of the child. Only after Castro got into the act and issued a 72 hour ultimatum, threatening to cancel the regular immigration talks scheduled for early December, did the INS backtrack on its decision. (Nuevo Herald 12/6/99) If you go to the INS webpage on the Elian case you find that it starts in January, 2000.
Apparently, INS does not want to acknowledge their reversal of positions.
Shortly after, the Cuban Special Interest Section contacted a Chicago lawyer, Jeffery Leving, who told the Herald that he had accepted and was waiting for the official authorization from Havana. (Nuevo Herald 12/10/99) Therefore, in December, Havana was not counting on the support of Dwayne Andreas and ADM to deal with the Elian case. Castro's threats to Clinton on immigration matters and even the concession of accepting Cuban convicts who had rebelled in prison in Louisiana offered enough leverage.

But something was not going according to plan on the judicial
tract. The case was appealed to the Atlanta Courts and the Constitution
protected the rights of further appeals by the Miami family. It was during this period that the Administration tried to back off of the deal with Castro by creating the fake Faget spy incident. On February 11, the sting operation presenting Faget with a false Secret dossier was staged and, on February 18, Faget was arrested. Castro immediately smelled a rat. He reacted in his usual aggressive fashion and Granma denounced this arrest as a plot to justify removing INS from the Elian case. Castro offered to renounce diplomatic immunity for the two Cuban consuls involved, Molina and Imperatori, so they could testify in a US court. After the Imperatori showdown, Clinton abandoned the Faget ploy. This was a strange spy ring consisting of only one participant. Faget's FBI affidavit only documents he violated security rules by revealing secret information but does not provide one piece of evidence supporting the accusation of his being a Cuban spy.
After this fiasco, the Elian deal between Clinton and Castro had to proceed.

These setbacks did not deter Andreas. After all, according to a January 27, 2000 report by a staff writer for the Decatur Herald and Review, Paul A. Brinkmann, "the Cuban government is moving towards consideration of a joint venture type relationship with Archer Daniels Midland." Brinkmann covered the US Health Exhibition in Havana, of which ADM was the main sponsor. Rep. Maxine Waters is reported to have "led efforts in Washington to allow the trade show." Tony Delio, ADM's point man on Cuban deals is quoted as stating: "Now maybe we have the political clout to accomplish something." Andreas is getting privileged access to Castro's Cuba in exchange for his political clout."

It is at this time that Gregory Craig entered the picture.
Craig's firm, Williams and Connolly, represented Andreas' ADM in its criminal trials. The link of Craig with Clinton presented ADM the opportunity of offering Castro a demonstration of having good political leverage. As Andreas Cuban point man says, according to Forbes (2/7/00), "The idea is to show them what we're capable of." At that point, the Atlanta Court had set a date to hear Elian's appeal for political asylum in an accelerated process. Again, some donor is providing the financial resources to allow the National Council of Churches to pay Craig's fees. We can guess the most likely source is good old Dwayne Andreas.

According to David Hoech of the Archer Daniels Midland Shareholders Committee, Andreas and his wife are reported to have donated at least $10,000 each to the fund set up by Andy Young's National Council of Churches to finance Craig's fees. Another version, fielded to cover up the real source of the Craig linkage, claims that it was Senator Leahy who got Craig into taking the case and that the United Methodist Church set up the fund to be administered by the National Council of Churches "as a humanitarian act." (Chicago Tribune 4/27/00) Where were all these humanitarians when Castro murdered 13 kids by ordering his fireboats to hose them off the deck of the tugboat in which their families were trying to escape Cuba on July 13, 1994?

As soon as Craig got into the picture, the Justice Department started backing off of what had been agreed before the Atlanta Court. A new approach emerged, the Attorney General threatened the family, time and again, with all kinds of punitive actions unless they renounced their constitutional rights of appeal and agreed to deliver the child in a location of their choice. This was damage control and public opinion spin.
Damage control, to cut the potential time frame of a dragging appeal process and to avoid the transfer of custody to take place under media coverage. On March 30, 2000 Vice-President Gore, defected from the Administration position, just in case.

And, the spin? To provoke the Cuban-American community rage so they would alienate mainstream America.

The Cuban-American community fell into the trap. The defiant positions taken by Mayors Carollo and Penelas on national TV, on March 29, provided the Administration the public opinion breakthrough they needed.
The Republican Party has not dared to react to the Administration's actions because polls show that Cuban-Americans are isolated from the rest of the country. Two masters at manipulating public opinion outsmarted the Miami community.

Craig flew to Havana to persuade Castro to let Elian´s dad come to the US. After several hours, a deal was struck and Juan Miguel arrived in Washington. Since Craig, as a private lawyer, could not make any commitments on behalf of the US Government, we have to assume he had some goodies to offer from his former client, President Clinton. We do not know what promises from the President Craig offered to persuade a reluctant and distrustful Castro to go along. Afterwards, Justice and INS were all over the place preparing to cave in to Castro´s demands, as expressed by Craig.
In doing that, Justice and INS ignored the commitments they had made to the Atlanta court. This was evidently not well received by the Appeals Court as reflected in their April 19, 2000 decision. The Court gave a severe rebuke to Justice and INS maneuvers to deny the child his day in court. According to the Court, it was Justice, not the Miami family, that had violated the rule of law.

Alarmed by the turn of events, on April 20, Granma launched a vicious attack on the Atlanta Court and released the intelligence information they had passed to the State Department about weapons and armed people around the González family home. This is the intelligence information which has been used to justify the heavily armed raid on the home, none of which was confirmed by the actual events. Mind you, the US Government relied on Castro provided intelligence to plan an armed raid on an American home.

According to the Drudge report, Reno informed her staff that, upon their return from Oklahoma City, the President had given the order to seize the child no matter what. This rush cannot be explained in terms of the dynamics of the case, which was moving through a promising mediation by prominent Miami business and civic leaders. Several of these leaders were caught in the house talking to Reno when the raid started. However, even Aaron Podhurst--one of the mediators and a close friend of Ms. Reno--raised serious questions as to how free the Attorney General was during their phone conversations. What threat did Castro make to Clinton that triggered this action that has added such an ugly legal and public image complication for the Administration? The photo of the US Marshall threatening Elian with an automatic weapon in a closet--while being held by the man who saved his
life-- will be part of Clinton´s legacy, no matter how effective the spin to confuse American public opinion is in the short run.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal (4/24/00), Peggy Noonan has raised the hypothesis that Castro may have been blackmailing Clinton over the release of tapes of his conversations with Monica Lewinski. Before that hypothesis is written off, it is advisable to take into account that the Russians have provided Castro with an electronic monitoring capability similar to the one Russia still maintains at Lourdes, South of Havana. So, technically, Cuba has the capability to monitor private telephone conversations anywhere in the US. Another hypothesis is that Castro had recordings of embarrassing conversations with Craig during his visit to Cuba, involving Clinton´s promises and Andreas role in the whole mess, and threatened to release them. He had done that before with notes exchanged with American diplomats during the visit of the grannies. It is also possible that Castro threatened with breaking the US/Cuba Immigration Agreement and unleashing another mass migration that could destroy Gore´s hopes in November.

Realizing he is dealing with a weakling, Castro is likely to raise the ante. Clinton will face additional demands from a Castro drunk with the euphoria of victory. Castro has already kicked out the Europeans by withdrawing his application for Lome Convention membership. And, of course, we will also have to be on the alert for Andreas payoff in exchange for supporting Elian´s betrayal. Stay tuned, it is going to be a hot Summer and a miserable Fall.

Ernesto F. Betancourt

Christopher Hitchens: Stand Up For Denmark!

From Slate(ht Michelle Malkin)
The incredible thing about the ongoing Kristallnacht against Denmark (and in some places, against the embassies and citizens of any Scandinavian or even European Union nation) is that it has resulted in, not opprobrium for the religion that perpetrates and excuses it, but increased respectability! A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary—that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let's be sure we haven't hurt the vandals' feelings.

Mora's US Navy Torture Memo

From Jane Mayer's New Yorker article, here's a link to a "smoking gun" in the Bush administration torture controversy enveloping Washington: Alberto J. Mora's official memo recording a US policy on torture. (ht Andrew Sullivan)

The American Thinker on Dubai Port "Storm"

I don't know how they do it, but The American Thinker has another interesting article, this one about the Dubai port sale controversy:
Some wonder how an idea such as this could even find a place at Uncle Sam’s table. After all, Dubai is an state that recognized the Taliban and, as pointed out by Congressman Mark Foley of Florida, seeks “to be Iran’s free trade partner and has been linked to the funding and planning of 9-11.” In other words, this is somewhat akin to having given a Japanese or German company control over our seaports in the late 1930s.

Of course, such an action would have been unthinkable to the World War II generation, as it would have offended their sense of patriotism, a quality that is now sorely lacking. Moreover, their main concern wasn’t offending others; they didn’t feel compelled to pepper every condemnation of their enemy with qualifiers such as “Fascism is an ideology of peace” and “The real menace is the radical fascists.”

What has changed? Well, political-correctness was absent in those days, meaning, people had a grasp of reality. Thus, they knew it was logical to assume that foreign peoples who shared an ethnic and/or religious identity with your sworn enemies will be more likely to be partial to them than to you. This may not be a pretty truth, but a fact doesn’t cease to be a fact simply because it’s out of fashion.

Some will say I’m painting everybody with the same brush, but perish the thought. I understand that we should judge everyone as an individual, but I also grasp something that people shackled by political-correctness cannot: yes, there is variation within groups, but there is also variation between groups. And, yes, you have to judge everyone as an individual, but, you also have to judge every group as an individual group. One of the ironies of modern man is that while he will adamantly stand against the painting of every person with the same brush, he just as adamantly stands for the painting of every group with the same brush. Thus, this isn’t about denying individual uniqueness; it’s about acknowledging collective uniqueness.

But blinded to this truth we are. In our ideological frenzy to embrace multiculturalism at all costs, a bizarre and tendentious “tolerance” at all costs, and internationalism at all costs, we have imbibed all the lies upon which these schemes rest, rendering ourselves a credulous lot and sheep among wolves. And that is the problem, for, generally speaking, it’s not that those who rubber-stamp these harebrained schemes have corrupt hearts. It’s that they have corrupted judgement.

Harvard President to Quit

So says The Harvard Crimson. Were allegations of Summers' connection to Russian corruption at the Harvard Institute for International Developemnt, in Institutional Investor magazine (see How Harvard Lost Russia) the 'tipping point'? Here's evidence from another article in the Crimson:
Harvard’s top lawyer wrote this week to Institutional Investor magazine protesting its portrayal of University President Lawrence H. Summers’ role in the fate of a close colleague implicated in a U.S. government lawsuit.

An article in the magazine’s January issue suggested that Summers’ friendship with Jones Professor of Economics Andrei Shleifer protected the professor—who led a controversial Harvard project to advise Russia in the 1990s—from consequences at Harvard.

Seized by some Faculty members to criticize Summers, the article, “How Harvard Lost Russia,” details the activities of the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) in assisting the Russian government to privatize its economy.

The project, funded by the State Department, drew charges from the U.S. government that Shleifer violated conflict-of-interest policies by personally investing in Russia while running the program.

The article suggests that Summers shielded Shleifer from disciplinary action by the University, which paid $26.5 million to settle the lawsuit.

But in a brief letter dated Feb. 14, Vice President and General Counsel Robert W. Iuliano ’83 says the article does not make clear that Summers recused himself from the University’s decisions about the suit “from the outset of his presidency at Harvard.”

The letter also says Summers did not participate in “judgements regarding whether, when or how Harvard should review the conduct of employees involved in the HIID project.”

Shleifer, who was found liable by a federal court in 2004 for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, paid $2 million to settle his part in the suit.

The article’s author, investigative journalist David McClintick ’62, said yesterday that his article “speaks for itself.”

McClintick’s account has been circulated among some faculty and was mentioned at a Feb. 7 Faculty meeting where professors assailed Summers’ leadership.

The Dots Connect Bush Administration to Dubai Ports Company

According to the San Jose Mercury News, at least two Bush administration officials have ties to the Dubai ports company at the center of the controversy over the Arab nation's role in 9/11 and financial links to Al Qaeda.

During World War II, Harry Truman headed his committee's Senate investigations into defense industry and big business ties to the Nazis, taking on the administration where necessary--which meant fellow Democrat Franklin Roosevelt's administration. Truman's committee was controversial, and it helped win WWII--it also paved the way for Truman to become President.

American sorely needs the same sort of Congressional leadership right now, to insure that American businessmen are not aiding the enemy either deliberately or inadvertently. Congress apparently set up something, according to this listing in the Library of Congress--but where's the new Harry Truman?

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Dots Connect Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda

Another interesting artice from The American Thinker, by Ray Robison, who served in the Defense Intelligence Agency's Iraqi Survey Group and says he saw the documents with his own eyes:
So let ’s put this in context. Here’s what the documents tell us:

On February 26th, 1993 the first world trade center was attacked by al-Qaeda and the EIJ (really two organizations that cooperated in 1993 and eventually merged).

A month later an official from EIJ was meeting with Saddam in Baghdad.

We have a document showing Saddam authorizing the IIS to “provide technical support” to the EIJ, and by extension, al-Qaeda.

And then al-Qaeda and the EIJ attacked the U.S. on September 11th, 2001 led by an Egyptian Jihadist, Mohammed Atta.

Now you have proof Saddam provided support to the EIJ and by extension al-Qaeda, both of which attacked us on 9/11.

While Europe Slept

Carlin Romano reviews Bruce Bawer's new book about the Clash of Civilizations (ht Roger L. Simon):
Accept his analysis or not, Bawer and his details startle, since American tourists rarely visit the Muslim communities that now ring many European cities, and American journalists rarely cover them. Apart from the heinous killings by angry Muslims of prominent Europeans such as Dutch professor and politician Pim Fortuyn (after publication of his book Against the Islamicization of Our Culture) and Dutch artist and filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who dared to question Islamic brutalization of women, Bawer describes a landscape of dysfunction.

Seventy percent of the inmates in French prisons, Bawer reports, are Muslim. Four out of five residents at Oslo's main women's shelter are non-Norwegian women seeking protection from male family members. In Denmark, "Muslims make up 5 percent of the population but receive 40 percent of welfare outlays." Ninety-four percent of asylum seekers who come to Norway arrive with no identification, a well-known subterfuge around Europe that virtually ensures asylum on humanitarian grounds.

Bawer's book also highlights the ironies of current global politics and immigration. Radical Islamists, for instance, focus their fury on the United States even though it, unlike Europe, experienced little antagonism with Islam until the creation of Israel, and in fact most resembles the traditional Islamic "umma" (universal Muslim community), in the generosity with which it welcomes foreign residents (though it differs in offering equality rather than second-class dhimmi citizenship).

Similarly, while Islamists explode with fury at the very idea that non-Muslims should occupy or live in Islamic countries, Bawer observes and amply documents that many employ every legal and illegal stratagem imaginable under the doctrine of "family reunification" to bring more relatives into their European countries. They then insist they have a right to be there and apply for the seemingly endless forms of European welfare: "unemployment benefits, relief payments, child benefits, disability, cash support, and rent allowance."

Bawer apportions blame for the "mess" he sees. Muslim immigrants insist on Islam's traditionally imperialist principles, which presume that no Muslim properly lives under the sovereignty of a non-Muslim state. Europeans maintain a "romantic view of Muslim immigrants" as "colorful" unfortunates worthy of assistance, but steadfastly resist their entry into elite professions and neighborhoods. Bawer beautifully capsulizes this European mind-set as "millions in aid, but not a penny in salary."

Ultimately, his book, like the cartoon controversy, raises profound challenges to standard ideas of democracy, authority, and free expression.

To whom does any country's physical territory belong? Those who have been there longest? A simple majority? The best-educated?

Must the cultural rules of longtime societies last forever? Or might it make perfect democratic sense for officially secular France to change should its Muslim population reach 50 percent, just as the English-speaking United States might need to accept Spanish as an equal language if Spanish speakers reach that mark?

Bawer's must-read book, in tandem with others, opens our eyes to an inescapable truth: Christians and Muslims fought wars for more than 1,000 years, with each at times conquering the other's territory by force. Non-Muslims need to know far more about Islam if they're going to take positions they can justify, whether that leads to cooperating with various Islamic world views or ultimately confronting them.

Islam, we're often reminded these days, means "submission" in Arabic. Enlightenment, we should equally remember, means replacing half-baked notions and myths with facts.

Woody Allen v. Billy Wilder

Yesterday, we saw Woody Allen's latest film, Match Point. It had been highly recommended by friends and professional movie critics (the person we went to the theatre with was seeing it for the 2nd time). It's something completely different, we had been led to believe. It's London, not New York. A whole new Woody Allen...

Well, it's not. And as someone I went to the screening with pointed out, the plot seems awfully similar to the plot of Woody Allen's earlier Crimes and Misdemeanors. Allen seems to have an obsession with getting away with murder, in addition to a love of social snobbery and hatred of America. This film is not a new Woody Allen, it's the same old Woody Allen--a dirty old man telling a dirty joke--you can almost hear him wheezing: "heh, heh, heh."

Allen thinks he's more profound than Dostoevsky, because Raskolnikov gets caught, and his tennis pro protagonist doesn't. Dostoevysky is making precisely the point that Allen misses. Which means there is no moral to Allen's story, other than Allen is a nasty old man.

The plot seems as well to be some sort of parody of Dreiser's An American Tragedy, made into the stunning Montgomery Clift-Elizabeth Taylor melodrama, A Place in the Sun. But these actors are not Montgomery Clifts or Elizabeth Taylors, either. Scarlett Johansen, who as our movie-going friend noted lookes "two steps from the trailer" is so wooden and lifeless that you don't understand why Allen's protagonist needs to knock her off. We believe she's a bad actress because, well, she is a bad actress. Cold, wooden, and nasty herself.

So, what Allen has done is put nasty people into a nasty situation with nasty results. His London looks just like his Manhattan.


All the more icky in comparison to Billy Wilder's The Emperor Waltz which we had just seen on DVD. The contrast couldn't be more acute. Although the plot is similar--Americans in conflict with an aristocratic European environment--the perspectives are completely the opposite. Billy Wilder mocks the European obsession with pedigree and breeding, placing Bing Crosby's romance with the Countess Soltzenberg-Stolzenberg in parallel to the relationship between their pet dogs. Bing's mutt "Buttons" fancies the Countess's poodle, "Sherherazade." It's funny, moving, and wise, with a heartwarming moral about love conquering all.

When the aristocratic Baron orders the vet to "drown the puppies" resulting from the Buttons-Sherherazade love affair, becaue of their polluted bloodline, Bing Crosby rescues them. In Woody Allen's film, the protagonist kills the offspring from his illicit affair. In other words, in a similar situation, Woody Allen's protagonist drowns the puppies.


Woody Allen might sneer at its humanity, but The Emperor Waltz is a brilliant film, manifesting the filmmaking genius of Billy Wilder--a genius based on a sense of humanity that Allen totally lacks. Wilder is warm, where Allen is cold.

Wilder made better noir thrillers, too. Not only is Match Point no Emperor Waltz, Match Point is no Double Indemnity, either.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Vasko Kohlmayer: Appeasement Unto Death

Another interesting article at The American Thinker:
...World War II claimed some fifty million lives. Most of them could have been saved had the western powers united to remove Hitler in 1935 or 1936 when they still could. They could have and should have seen what was coming. The signs were right there before their eyes. But they did not want to see and instead tried to convince themselves that the evil was actually not all that bad. A voice in the wilderness cried foul and urged them otherwise. But Churchill was ignored and the price was the greatest tragedy the world has seen.

During the course of its existence, The Soviet Union killed twenty million people. It sponsored world communism which claimed the lives of nearly sixty million more. It unleashed the Cold War which almost brought the world to an end. In 1918 the clear-minded understood that communism had the potential to bring about horrible things. Had the western democracies come together then, they could have cut down the struggling Bolsheviks before they had time to entrench themselves. But they did not, and the evil just grew and grew and in the end it almost swallowed everything.

A wise man once said that evil flourishes when the good remain idle. History is his witness.

The Old Continent has stubbornly refused to learn – or rather has foolishly forgotten – this lesson. So much so that one almost begins to suspect the existence of a civilizational death wish. Twice in the last century its vacillation brought it to the brink of annihilation. Western Europe did not confront the Bolsheviks and it did not stand up to Hitler. It had to be dragged into fighting the Cold War and even then it was only a lukewarm warrior at best. There was even a moment when Western Europe was all but dead. Overrun by fascism, the flame of its once great civilization flickered only weakly in the English Isles. And even there it was not due to the resilience of a culture rising in defense of that which it held precious, but to the fortitude of a single man [Winston Churchill]. That man understood that there can be no conceding to evil. He understood that appeasement is unto death. It was he who said that ‘an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.’

The Europeans stood by when Islamists called for their destruction. Perversely, they have even chastised those who try to do defend them. Now they are paying the price.

They should be neither shocked nor surprised at this. Such is the nature of things that if you ignore evil, it will come back to haunt you. That time has come for the Europeans. They are not victims – their troubles are largely of their own making. Will they finally stand up and fight to save themselves? Or will they continue on their suicidal course of appeasement?

The point of no return seems to be approaching fast. This, indeed, may be Europe’s last chance.

WSJ Poll: Danish Cartoons Must Be Published

In this online unscientific poll of Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal readers, the results speak for themselves:
OpinionJournal Poll

Most U.S. media outlets have not published the Mohammed caricatures. Should they?

No, the drawings are disrespectful to Islam

No, the drawings are not relevant to the story

Yes, the drawings are critical to understanding the story

Yes, they must because this is now a press-freedom issue

Total votes: 7392.
BTW, last time I checked The Wall Street Journal itself had not yet printed the Danish Cartoons...

Brussels Journal on the Danish Cartoon Crisis

Brussels Journal (Motto: "We Are All Danes Now") has this post citing a Telegraph article claiming victory for the Islamic clerics who started this clash:
The cartoons, you see, have not been published in this country, and the Government has been very critical of those countries in which they were published. To many of the Islamic clerics, that’s a clear victory. It’s confirmation of what they believe to be a familiar pattern: if spokesmen for British Muslims threaten what they call ‘adverse consequences’ – violence to the rest of us – then the British Government will cave in. I think it is a very dangerous precedent.”

DC Anti-Danish Protest Fizzles

Tom the Redhunter was there, and has photos that make one think of that 1960s line, "Suppose they gave a war and nobody came..." (ht Michelle Malkin)

Michelle Malkin is Angry at Karen Hughes

Malkin said this:
Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes ought to read Rose's entire piece before she opens her mouth again on foreign soil and knocks newspapers who have dared to publish the cartoons
...About Hughes saying this, at the US-Islamic World Forum:
Of course, with freedom comes responsibility, maa-alhurria, mas’uliya.  Governments have responsibilities to their people -- to establish the rule of law, protect human rights, including the rights of women and minorities, fight corruption and widen political participation. Elections are an important part of democracy, but they are only a part – a thriving democracy requires independent political parties, non-governmental organizations, a free press, and civic institutions that allow people to assemble freely and engage in discussion and debate without fear or government harassment.  The challenge for leaders in this region is to listen to their people’s call for greater freedom: allow them to form political parties, let them gather and speak more freely, give them access to newsprint so they can run their own newspapers.

In a free society, individuals have community responsibilities as well.  We have a responsibility to respect and appreciate, even celebrate, the views of others.  In a genuine democracy, all have a right to express their views, share ideas and participate as equals.  In a society built on freedom and justice, we have the right to offend one another but the responsibility to do our best not to.  In my country certain racial and ethnic slurs are no longer used by civil people even though there is no law prohibiting it – and while newspapers would be free to publish them most would never do so – just as many American newspapers chose not to reprint the cartoons depicting the Prophet because they recognize they are deeply offensive, even blasphemous to the precious convictions of our Muslim friends and neighbors.

Mark Steyn on the Danish Cartoon Crisis

Mark Steyn has some thoughts on the way the Danish Cartoon Crisis seems to be playing out:
Meanwhile, from Malaysia to Jordan to Scandinavia, it was a bad week for journalists increasingly constrained -- not to mention fired and otherwise humiliated -- in their ability to cover the big story of our time. If I had to pick a single moment to contrast with the hilariously parochial narcissist buffoons of the Washington press, it would be another press conference in another government building, this time in Oslo, called by Norway's minister of labor. Surrounded by cabinet ministers and a phalanx of imams, Velbjorn Selbekk, the editor of an obscure Christian publication called Magazinet, issued an abject public apology for reprinting the Danish Muhammed cartoons. He had initially stood firm in the face of Muslim death threats and the usual lack of support from Europe's political class, but in the end Mr. Selbekk was prevailed upon to recant and the head of Norway's Islamic Council, Mohammed Hamdan, graciously accepted the apology and assured the prostrate editor that he was now under his personal protection. As the American author Bruce Bawer commented, "It was a picture right out of a sharia courtroom."

In Canada, by contrast, the Western Standard (for which I also write) stood firm in its decision to publish the cartoons, and as a result is suffering legal harassment from Muslim lobby groups and has been banned from both Air Canada and two of the country's leading bookstore chains, Indigo-Chapters and McNally Robinson. Paul McNally of the latter defended his action this way: "We feel there is nothing to gain on the side of freedom of expression and much to lose on the side of hurting feelings." Not exactly Voltaire, is it? "I disagree strongly with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it as long as it doesn't hurt anybody's feelings." Maybe it could be Canada's new national motto.

It's easy to be tough about nothing. The press corps that noisily champions "the public's right to know" about a minor hunting accident simultaneously assures the public that they've no need to see these Danish cartoons that have caused riots, arson and death around the world. On CNN, out of "sensitivity" to Islam, they show the cartoons but with the Prophet's face pixilated so that he looks as if Cheney's ventilated him with birdshot and it turned puffy and gangrenous. C'mon, guys, these are interesting times. Anyone can unload the umpteenth round of blanks into the bulletproof Chimpy Hallibushitler, but why not take a shot at something that matters?

Or perhaps it would just be easier to change the term ''free press'' to the ''Roses of the Prophet Muhammed press.''

Saturday, February 18, 2006

This Photo Says All That Needs To Be Said...

About what the protesters are calling for, in the Danish Cartoon Crisis. (Source: Little Green Footballs from German TV coverage of an anti-Danish Cartoon demonstration in Pakistan)

First Sarkozy, Now Calderoli...

One thing about a crisis, as the Chinese proverb points out, is that it presents both danger and opportunity. In France, the riots brough Nicholas Sarkozy to the fore. In Italy, the Danish Cartoon Crisis has propelled Roberto Calderoli into the limelight, as this BBC story details:
Mr Calderoli was widely criticised by his cabinet colleagues for announcing earlier this week that he would distribute T-shirts emblazoned with the controversial cartoons.

He even undid his shirt live on television to reveal he was wearing one of the offending t-shirts.

Despite growing calls for his resignation - and facing blame for the riot in Libya on Friday that led to at least 10 deaths - Mr Calderoli was defiant, calling it a "battle for freedom".

"I can be sorry for the victims, but what happened in Libya has nothing to do with my T-shirt. The question is different. What's at stake is Western civilisation," he was quoted by the daily La Repubblica as saying.
He has resigned from Prime Minister Berlusconi's cabinet as a result of his actions. Unfortunately for the USA, so far no major political leader has yet stepped forward to defend free speech . . .