Archive for May 2007

Real Clear Politics: The Hard Truth About Leaving Iraq

The Hard Truth About Leaving Iraq

Ed Koch

Wed May 30, 1:30 PM ET

To those who believe that when America leaves Iraq, Islamic terrorists will be satisfied and stop fighting, I say this: wake up. The hard truth is that if we leave Iraq, the terrorists will continue their attacks on Americans everywhere, including our homeland. And they will use Iraq as the new base of their terrorist regime.

In a May 28th New York Times article, reporters Michael Moss and Souad Mekhennet provided a chilling report on what the future holds. The article begins, “When Muhammad al-Darsi got out of prison in Libya last year after serving time for militant activities, he had one goal: killing Americans in Iraq. A recruiter…told him he was not needed in Iraq. Instead, he was drafted into the war that is seeping out of Iraq. A team of militants from Iraq had traveled to Jordan, where they were preparing attacks on Americans and Jews…”

In other words, the terrorist jihad will continue and many of the terrorists will be those who are now fighting in Iraq. It cannot be stated often enough that the goal of the Islamic terrorists is the destruction of Western civilization and the restoration of the caliphate. The caliphate would unite all Muslims in one theocratic state, running from and including Spain to Indonesia, encompassing nearly 1.4 billion Muslims.

In a Times article on May 27th by Michael Gordon and Alissa Rubin, they report, “’Many militias and terrorist groups are just waiting for the Americans to leave,’ said Salim Abdullah, the spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni Arab group in the parliament.” The article continues, “A bare majority of Iraq’s 275-member parliament recently signed a petition promoted by Mr. Sadr that called for a timetable for American troops to depart. Even so, the petition said the Americans should not leave until Iraqi security forces were ready to take over the job…[A Shiite tribal sheik said] ‘But leaving, withdrawing completely from Iraq, that means erasing Iraq from the map.’”

The article reported on a poll taken by ABC News in Baghdad which showed, “About 64 percent of Baghdad residents [polled in February and March] said American forces should remain until security was restored…or until Iraqi forces could operate independently.”

Everyone, including the president and his advisers, and of course, his Democratic opponents, recognize that the heretofore efforts and tactics of the U.S. have not prevailed and must change. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (news, bio, voting record) said recently, “I think that the handwriting is on the wall that we are going in a different direction in the fall, and I expect the president to lead it.” The “surge,” an increase of 30,000 American soldiers on the ground, will be over by then. If it works, we can all admit our doubts that it would.

What will the “different direction” that McConnell referred to be? The radical Democratic left inside the Congress led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) and their supporters believe that the U.S. should get out now and certainly no later than early next year. From the administration come vague comments that there may be a reduction of 100,000 troops in the wind sometime in 2008. The Times reports in a May 26th article by David E. Sanger and David S. Cloud, “The Bush administration is developing what are described as concepts for reducing American combat forces in Iraq by as much as half next year, according to senior administration officials in the midst of the internal debate.”

In my judgment, were it possible to remain in Iraq and accomplish the obvious goals of bringing a true peace among the warring parties—Sunni, Shiite and Kurd—with a stable central government accepted by all, that would, of course, be ideal. But the Shiite majority does not want to forgive the Sunnis who oppressed them for so many years, and will not share government power or oil revenues with them. The Sunnis, who are 20 percent of the population, appear to be militarily more capable than the Shia and are primarily responsible for the car bombs and the improvised explosive devices that have killed American soldiers and Iraqis, both military personnel and civilians. It is devastating for American soldiers to learn that those serving in the Iraqi army, being trained by and fighting alongside American soldiers, cannot be trusted.

A May 28th Times article by Michael Kamber reported on an incident in February “When [American] soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber’s body, they found identification showing him to be a Sergeant in the Iraqi army.” Kamber quotes an American soldier, “I thought ‘what are we doing here? Why are we still here?...We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”

My own view is that the administration should demand the Iraqi government pass the power and oil sharing changes immediately, and if it doesn’t, we should get out immediately. Further, and I have stated it many times, we should give our regional Arab and NATO allies an ultimatum that if they don’t come in now with troops, we will leave immediately.

Waiting for the Iraqi army to be battle ready is like waiting for Godot. They seem to know how to kill U.S. soldiers and terrorize each other and innocent civilians, but are unable to keep the peace.

Many Americans refuse to believe the Islamic terrorists are a threat to the free world and those who talk of the danger are thought of as war mongers. They simply refuse to take them at their word as many refused to take Hitler’s warnings in Mein Kampf seriously. In the Times article of May 29th, written by Michael Powell, he quotes a woman in Atlanta asking candidate Giuliani, “Why does so much of the world hate us? Haven’t we failed to understand Arab grievances? We misinterpret their word ‘jihad’ which is not necessarily a hostile word.” Truly an Alice In Wonderland view.

A terrorist recently convicted in Great Britain was deported to Jamaica after trial. The Times reports in an article of May 26th by Alan Cowell, “Mr. Faisal had been convicted in February 2003 of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred…urging his followers to kill Hindus, Christians, Jews and American citizens…During Mr. Faisal’s trial, prosecutors played a videotape showing him telling 150 young followers after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States that the Koran justified attacks on non-Muslims. He was also heard to promise teenage Muslim boys that their reward in paradise would be 72 virgins if they died as religious martyrs.”

You can’t make this stuff up. Will we and the rest of the Western world wake up in time so that we can survive the 30-year war that will take place after we leave Iraq? They want to kill us, and apparently, many Americans don’t believe it.

One more thought. If we stay, we should tell the Iraqi people in each province that if a significant number of them support the insurgents and terrorists against our soldiers, or if a significant number of them do not step forward and assist us by providing information to protect us from the insurgents and terrorists, we will leave that province and not protect them from those who want to kill them in a religious civil war. Perhaps the recognition that U.S. soldiers will no longer be considered expendable may raise thoughts of cooperation, if only for their own self-protection.

Copyright © 2007 RealClearPolitics

Riding the Storm Out with Canine Epilepsy

At quarter to eight tonight I was walking the dogs home when my chihuahua started throwing a seizure. I immediately picked him up and gently but firmly held him while his body stiffened and his front legs stretched fully in front of him. I checked the time and allowed his body to gradually relax.

The gran mal lasted less than five minutes. Anything over ten and I know to take him to the emergency vet clinic so I was relieved when he came back to consciousness. Although he couldn’t walk, he responded to my voice with his customary licks.

It’s 10pm now and the dog is curled up next to me. Judging by the alertness of his ears which are responding to the sounds of the Kid’s video game, he’s slowly getting back to normal.

This is the Chi’s first seizure since early April. Dr. Wife is on call tonight saving human lives while I tend the home fires. I live an odd life, one that accepts the responsibilities that come with my eccentricities – such as a home teeming with animal life. I was raised with animals and have had them around me ever since. While I recognize they are not people, I know that they are more than “just” cats and dogs (and gerbils, fish and even frogs). They are Life with a capital “L”, the culmination of billions of years of evolution.

Long ago I realized that there are creators and destroyers in this world.

There are Destroyers among us – those who seek to destroy whatever we build. We create skyscrapers that caress the clouds, and they destroy them. We build peace between nations, and they destroy it. We nurture understanding between faiths – and they destroy it. And even in the ashes of despair we create hope – and they seek to destroy that as well.

They blow up children instead of educating and loving them. They kill and maim instead of healing and comforting. They speak hatred and lies instead of Love and Truth. They reap what other’s sow then burn the fields and plow salt into the land. They hide in darkness and pray to a disfigured god – twisted by their own ideas and horrific visions into something debased and foul.

I create life and tend it, protect it, care for it and cherish it. But I would not lose a minute’s worth of sleep if I had to kill a destroyer. I do not torment myself with futile questions or misgivings.

Our Hero

Marines in Iraq

He doesn’t think he is, but he is.

Rosie Picks Up Toys, Goes Home

So Rosie O’Donnell has left the View early.

It says a lot about the woman – namely that she can be bested by an intellectual lightweight like Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
It would be instructive to see her up against some “serious” Right Wing firepower like Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter. “Instructive” in the sense of a wounded buffalo getting ripped apart by a pack of hyenas could be considered “instructive.”

Rosie O'Donnell Rant Advisory -

Al Qaeda Torture Manual Found

At Abu Grahib US soldiers used female interrogators, barking police dogs and “man pyramids.” The resulting firestorm damaged US credibility in the fight to stabilize Iraq.

Compare this to al-Qaeda’s torture methods:

Some of the drawings show how to drill hands, sever limbs, drag victims behind cars, remove eyes, put a blowtorch or iron to someone’s skin, suspend a person from a ceiling and electrocute them, break limbs and restrict breath and put someone’s head in a vice.

Nasty stuff, but no surprise to anyone familiar with the terror group. When you’re doing God’s will, anything goes.

Bloomberg: Amity Shlaes on Carter

I lived through the Carter presidency, and like many who suffered through that era it scarred me and left me with a deep, smoldering hatred for the ex-President that will only be extinguished when I pass by the neighborhood post office and see the flag flying at half-mast. Bush-haters don’t know how easy they have it. While they have to make up conspiracies and create straw-men by the bale, History has been blunt: Carter’s ineptitude in office is matched only by his piousness out of it.

The man nearly ruined the strongest economy on the planet. He emasculated its strongest military. He watered the seeds of Islamic terrorism sown by the Ayatollah Khomeini and other fanatics, and as a result shares responsibility for every terrorist attack by Islamic fascists, every dead American soldier in Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and every secretary and office worker incinerated on September 11, 2001. Should a North Korean nuke devastate a city in Asia, the blood will spatter once more on his smug, righteous, dictator-kissing face for having negotiated the deal that allowed Kim Jong-il to get his hands on nuclear weapons.

My disgust with this man is long and deep, going back to 1976 when I shook the man’s flaccid hand at a campaign stop in St. Louis. I was all of nine years old, but I’ll never forget my brief meeting with the man who would single-handedly cause more damage to this republic than any foreign leader has ever managed to do during the four centuries of our nation’s history.

Here is one of my oldest – and best – pieces that delves deeper into Carter’s failings. If anything, his recent statement that Bush is one of the worst presidents in US history only shows that in his case, it takes one to know one.

Carter Takes the Prize Among the Worst Presidents

By Amity Shlaes

May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Jimmy Carter told NBC yesterday that he had been misinterpreted over the weekend in his comments on George W. Bush.

At issue was the former president’s statement in the Arkansas Post-Gazette on May 19: ``I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.’’

Yesterday, he was calling his remark ``careless.’’

Carter was probably inspired to mouth off by the fresh popularity of the politician most like him—Al Gore, who’s being talked about as a presidential candidate. It’s interesting that Carter even raised the topic of bad presidents, for if he’s not the worst, he’s right up there.

Consider, to start, Carter’s domestic policies. The man subscribed to what might be called sloppy Keynesianism, believing the best way to help the economy was to spend on just about anything. And he loved to continue high-handed experiments, even years after they had proven themselves perverse.

By the time Carter came to office, for example, the long lines at the gas pumps had already become a cliche—an emblem of the failure of price controls. Carter started out by opposing controls—a good idea. But he did so for the wrong reason: He said the expectation of such controls would drive up prices as people hoarded gas.

Once in office, Carter kept many controls in place, helping to cause further pain at the pump. He also ignored his own campaign promise to governors to back the deregulation of natural-gas prices, a betrayal that kept prices up.


What’s more, Carter added insult to injury by scolding his countrymen: ``Tonight I want to talk to you about an unpleasant topic,’’ he began in one of his speeches. Calling the American struggle for energy independence the ``moral equivalent of war,’’ Carter cast the energy problem as quasi-religious, something that might go away if citizens insulated their houses and dialed back the thermostat a few notches. In the same talk—it is known as the MEOW speech—he presented his ideas in apocalyptic tones worthy of Gore.

Wallowing in gloom, Carter warned that ``some time in the 1980s’’ oil demand would overtake production. This was the opposite of what happened—there was a glut later.

When it came to taxes, insightful lawmakers realized that a cut in the capital-gains tax might pull the country out of the doldrums. Capital-gains cuts are almost always beneficial, as the current president—as well as Bill Clinton in his day—have demonstrated.

But Carter threatened a veto. A Carter Treasury official even wrote the Wall Street Journal to make the absurd argument that such a cut would make it harder for the government to redistribute income. The president caved, and the tax cut did stir the economy, but you never got the idea Carter picked up on all the connections.

No Excuse

One might excuse Carter’s budget deficits by comparing them with those of Ronald Reagan, except in Carter’s case the spending was devoted to programs that yielded pathetic returns. Carter noisily doubled, for example, the number of federally funded public-service jobs. Unemployment in his years mostly stayed far above the 5 percent level upon which he premised his plans.

To be sure, Richard Nixon was the one to appoint Arthur Burns, the notoriously loose-money Federal Reserve chairman. But Carter was responsible for hiring Burns’s equally flawed successor, G. William Miller. Inflation during Carter’s tenure averaged 9.6 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, the highest of any four-year presidential term in modern U.S. history.

Strange Phrases

Strange new phrases became popular: the wage-price spiral, stagflation. To control these novel horrors, politicians came up with crazy gizmos, such as a device to protect workers from inflation by offering them something called the wage-insurance tax credit. The Dow Jones Industrial Average silently offered its own evaluation of Carter’s performance by staying below its 1000- point high of the summer of 1976 until October 1982, by which time the former president was safely ensconced at Emory University, teaching undergraduates political science.

But it is in the area where Carter assails Bush—foreign policy—in which he took the missteps that turned out to be of greatest consequence. By negotiating the soft Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT) with Moscow, he suggested to the Soviet Union that his administration wasn’t serious about protecting American interests. This emboldened Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev to send troops into Afghanistan in 1979. The later Soviet withdrawal led to the chaos that allowed Afghanistan to become a sanctuary for al-Qaeda.

Hostage Crisis

Then came a new kind of crisis. Heretofore, Arab nationalism had dominated unrest in the Middle East. Now Islamic fundamentalists stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 66 Americans hostage. Instead of seeing the attack as an assault on U.S. interests, Carter treated the terrorists as if they were college sophomores staging a sit-in at Columbia’s Low Library. His approach involved group-prayer sessions at home and endless negotiations, telling the press that ``we are using every channel.’’ This virtually ensured the year-and-a-half-long siege that the hostages endured.

Carter did veer from his passivity to make a half-hearted rescue effort, a catastrophic mission. But shocked by the photos of malfunctioning helicopters, Carter retreated. His handling of the embassy crisis sent a message that the U.S. prefers sanctimony to fighting back against violent fundamentalist Islam. That picture of wishy-washy America is still costing lives today.

Recalling all this puts other unpopular presidents in a new light—especially on the question of consistency. Whatever you say of the 43rd president, when it comes to the Middle East, Bush is sticking to his policy. As yesterday’s recanting demonstrates, Carter, by contrast, is still prevaricating. Who’s worse?

(Amity Shlaes, a visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)

A beautiful flash site

The site is in Korean but it’s one of the best Flash designs I’ve ever seen.

Rejecting Rejection

I’m beginning to think that one of Life’s great challenges is handling rejection and keeping it in perspective. As a writer rejection is as much a part of the process as the so-called “creative process” that turns private thoughts into public words. However it’s nowhere near as fun.

Rocky the Chihuahua

3 months ago we got this critter:
Rocky the Chihuahua - Day 1

Since that time this little guy has really livened up the house. Even the Wife, who once considered herself as solely a “cat person” now loves dogs – thanks in part to Rocky aka “Rockstar.”

I remember when I was in college and how I imagined myself as striding the moors of northern England with my Irish Wolfhound at my side, thinking deep thoughts and writing famous poetry.

Twenty years later I stride the streets of Delaware with my chihuahua and Lab mix scrambling at my feet, wondering whether the neighbors will notice that I didn’t pick up the dog crap my canine companions left on their lawns. As for writing, my most popular post on this site is about Gerbils. Life sure has a sense of humor.

But I don’t mind. Rocky is a fun, lively dog – fierce to everyone outside of the family, and loyal to the core. One could do worse than to come home to a house with a chihuahua wiggling in excitement at your feet as the Lab leaps around you in joyful celebration of your return.

One could do worse.

Cold Fusion

DailyTech reports the US Navy has conducted cold fusion experiments that have been published in the journal Natur Wissenschaften. GoogleVideo of the chief scientist explaining her findings here.

St. Louis Cardinals: Clean Up Your Act

I’m a diehard Redbirds fan, and I am also a recovering alcoholic.

Pitcher Josh Hancock crashed into a tow truck in St. Louis with twice the legal BAC. Luckily he didn’t hurt anyone else.

A few weeks prior to that, manager Tony LaRussa got nailed for DUI during spring training.

90% of alcoholics relapse at least once in a 4 year perioed. One in 12 adults abuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent. So far I’ve beaten the odds 6 1/2 years into my sobriety.

I recognize that baseball is a game. I don’t expect it to be populated by saints. I personally prefer that my kid look up to my stepson in the Marines than some overpaid, pampered sports star – so I’m not going to trot out that line about “what does it show to the kids?” Frankly, it doesn’t matter.

However Josh Hancock wore the Redbirds uniform, as does Tony LaRussa. That uniform has only been worn by a select group of men who have earned it. Some of those men, like Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst, have become legends on and off the field. Others, great men as well, have drunk themselves into the gutter after having worn it.

Tony wears that uniform, and even though I’m a big fan of him as a manager, I’ll call for his head if he keeps disrespecting that uniform by allowing his players to ruin their lives while they are wearing it. The same goes for him.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is a veritable rogues gallery, and that’s part of the appeal of the sport. However what happened with Hancock could have been an even worse tragedy, one that could have damaged the Cardinals team beyond repair had he gotten drunk or stoned and killed somebody.

So I’m calling you out, Tony LaRussa.
You get your kiester in rehab fast, and get your players into treatment before something awful happens to my beloved Redbirds.