Thursday, 02 August 2007

OF DICTATORS AND USEFUL IDIOTS

Ken Berwitz

No comment is necessary for this one, it speaks for itself:.

Sean Penn praised by Venezuela's Chavez

By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 55 minutes ago

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has praised Sean Penn for his critical stance against the war in Iraq, saying the two chatted by phone and soon plan to meet in person.

Chavez said Penn traveled to Venezuela this week wanting to learn more about the situation in the country and walked around some of Caracas' poor barrios on his own.

"Welcome to Venezuela, Mr. Penn. What drives him is consciousness, the search for new paths," Chavez said Wednesday in a televised speech. "He's one of the greatest opponents of the Iraq invasion."

Chavez read aloud from a recent open letter by Penn to President Bush in which the actor condemned the Iraq war and called for Bush to be impeached, saying the president along with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are "villainously and criminally obscene people."

The socialist president, who shares those views, said he and Penn talked by phone "with my bad English but we understood each other more or less."

Chavez said the two plan to meet Thursday. He called the actor "well-informed about what is happening in the United States and the world, in spite of being in Hollywood."

What's more, Chavez said, "he's made great films." The Venezuelan leader said he recently watched Penn's Oscar-winning performance in the film "Mystic River."

For his part, Penn on Wednesday toured Venezuela's new film studios on the outskirts of Caracas. Penn, whose visit was unannounced, did not speak publicly..


GUEST COMMENTARY: BRIAN MALONEY ON BARACK OBAMA

Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama, as you probably know, is the genius who brags about being against invading Iraq and assures us he will chit-chat with every mass murdering dictator on the planet.  Yesterday, however, he promised that, as President, if he doesn't like what the relatively cooperative government of Pakistan is doing about al qaeda he will summarily invade the country.

You would think that the hard-left would be up in arms (hmm, bad choice of words...change that to up in plowshares) over this.  Aren't they the ones who despise the US military's "imperialism", "arrogance", "policing the world", etc. etc. etc.?

Well, not if the guy saying it is the lord and master Barack Obama.  Brian Maloney of www.radioequalizer.blogspot.com lays it out for us below:.

Barack Obama Pakistan Comments, Talk Radio Reaction

BARACK'S BLANK CHECK

No Matter How Foolish He Appears, Libtalk's Got His Back

Is there anything Barack Obama could say or do that would provoke criticism from the nation's libtalkers? So far, it appears he's been given a blank check.

What if he kicked puppies? Would that suddenly become a great idea as well?

With the Illinois senator and presidential hopeful suddenly choosing to take an ultra- hawkish position in dealing with international terrorism, one might expect so-called "progressive" talkers to object. Given the poor general reception for Obama's assertion that invading Pakistan could be an option in his potential administration, support from this camp seems all the more amazing.

Never mind the fact that Obama clearly hadn't thought through his stance that many see as horribly naive; libtalkers Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow both gave on-air support for his statement.

From Schultz's Wednesday show:

SCHULTZ: This is what he has not said in the past. Hes saying today that he would send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists even without local permission if warranted. Thats called an invasion. The comments are an attempt to show strength when his chief rival has described his foreign policy skills as nave. Man, there isnt anything nave about this.

Were getting a lot of response via email and hits on the web site and many of you say yeah, way to go Barack!

Obama warned Pakistani President General Musharraf that he must do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters under the Obama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a US troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid."
Subsequently, one caller said Obama's statement had created a "tipping point" where she has now decided to firmly back the senator's presidential run. "Karen" said that while invading Iraq was a mistake, Pakistan was instead the place to send American troops.

Later, other callers disagreed and were surprised by talk of invading Pakistan. Interestingly, that put them in the
same position as Rush Limbaugh. Maybe these folks are listening to the wrong talk show!

During Rachel Maddow's Air America Radio show Wednesday evening, the host had considerably less to say about Obama's latest flap, but threw her full support behind him:

MADDOW: Did you see Barack Obamas speech on terrorism today? I think its his best campaign move yet.

[...]

Im all for actually fighting al-Qaeda like literally actually going after the exact people who attacked us on 9-11.
Here's a question: are libtalkers ever allowed to stray from party- line talking points, even for a moment? What does a position as ill- considered as this do for their credibility?
.
 
In other words, if you happen to be a hard-left Democrat (and make no mistake, that is exactly what Barack Obama is - as any reading of his voting record shows), you are then liberated to be a militarist. 
 
Try to imagine what the Barack Obamas of the world - not to mention the Ed Shultz's and Rachel Maddow's - would say if this came out of the mouth of, for example, Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney.
 
Can the self-contradicting double standard be any more blatant?  I'd like to know how.


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: FINAL UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

Today the New York Times published letters about the Monday op-ed article in which two members of the (usually reliably leftward) Brookings Institute suggested things were much improved in Iraq and that there was a substantial likelihood that we could meet our objectives there.

I have to say that the Times letter selection has (unexpectedly) surprised me in the positive.

Of the six letters, two are negative, two lean negative and two are positive towards the op-ed piece.  Further, both of the two positive letters have more than just a dry read-out of facts, they are written in a persuasive way.

My compliments To the New York Times for presenting a fair spectrum of opinion.  I do not expect this from them, did not expect it here, and am happy to say that - this time - I am wrong.

Here are the six letters:.

Just What Is Victory in Iraq? (6 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re A War We Just Might Win, by Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack (Op-Ed, July 30):

I was surprised to learn of the incipient success of our occupation of Iraq, and disappointed at not seeing the phrase we see light at the end of the tunnel.

Does it occur to Mr. OHanlon and Mr. Pollack that interviewing active-duty soldiers about their mission and morale means hearing only what they have been ordered to say? Or that the Bush administration treats every problem as simply a matter of public relations?

Do the Iraqis they interviewed no longer resent the airstrikes that are killing friends and relatives?

How many of the two million Iraqis who left their homes and businesses in Iraq to seek refuge in Jordan, Syria and other countries have returned to the land they left? That number could be a true benchmark of the sustainable stability Mr. OHanlon and Mr. Pollack now say is possible.

Lou Friscoe
Columbus, Ohio, July 30, 2007

To the Editor:

According to Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack, conditions in Iraq are less bad than they have been at other times since we instigated Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Further, according to these writers, who claim to have harshly criticized the Bush administration in the past, We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.

Great. But exactly where would that be?

A sustainable stability that we and the Iraqis can live with could just as accurately be described as a momentary lull in the downward spiral that began with our invasion.

Until specific goals are defined, no one can determine whether or not they have been achieved.

Carole Christie
St. Louis, July 30, 2007

To the Editor:

I appreciate the fresh reporting of Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack from Iraq. It matches what my family and friends in the Iraqi theater tell me.

I was struck by the comment that the administrations critics seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

The critics refuse to acknowledge any change. Democrats have invested everything in the failure of the surge and in America losing the war. They are in such panic at the signs of success that they are trying desperately to kill the effort now, before the truth gets out.

Isnt it past time for the big news media to start asking Democrats the questions they have been allowing them to avoid?

Mary McLemore
Pike Road, Ala., July 30, 2007

To the Editor:

Whether or not Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack are correct that the military situation in Iraq is improving, the dire political situation remains a fundamental obstacle to a stable Iraq.

Mr. OHanlon and Mr. Pollack relegate Iraqi politics to the second-to-last paragraph, noting that we still face huge hurdles on the political front. But unless a winning Iraqi political coalition comes together, the United States is spinning its wheels.

The American people have heard these same optimistic pronouncements since the debate leading up to the war, but actual events in Iraq have told a different story.

It is long past time to start drawing down United States forces and refocusing American efforts on enhancing American national security.

Jeremy Pressman
Storrs, Conn., July 30, 2007

The writer is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Connecticut.

To the Editor:

Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack echo what many troops have seen in Iraq. A good final outcome is unlikely, but lessons can still be learned and military successes replicated.

Unfortunately, many Americans want out of Iraq now so badly that they fail to analyze tactical changes objectively. This is not new. Political rhetoric on both sides in Washington has always been detached from Iraqs military realities. Complexity is ignored, and rigorous discussions are replaced by efforts to find information supporting cemented conclusions.

As a result, many Iraq veterans have decided to opt out of the discussion entirely.

Military successes happen in Iraq even now. But appreciating and exploiting them will be possible only with thoughtful, objective analysis.

I learned an Iraqi saying once that illustrates the complexity of the issues: All the fingers on your hand are not the same.

Paul Rieckhoff
New York, July 30, 2007

The writer is executive director of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America.

To the Editor:

As someone who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, who regrets that mistake every single day, I have a question for Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack: How can we know that the soldiers and marines they talked to really do constitute a representative sampling of military personnel in Iraq?

Once an administration is shown as untrustworthy, then all its pronouncements are suspect.

Isnt it probable that the news media and think tank visitors can see only soldiers who are prescreened by the administration, who are willing to speak its line?

Why believe anything the members of the Bush administration say? Why trust anything you see or hear in Iraq, when they can control the situation?

David McAuley
McLean, Va., July 30, 2007


SENATOR OBAMA AND RAP LYRICS

Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama has been a US senator for three years and has no legislative accomplishments that I'm aware of.  Therefore, I have to judge him using other criteria. 

Here is an Associated Press article I found today that provided some useful insight:

NEW YORK (AP) - Barack Obama is now officially hothe's on the cover of Vibe magazine.

In a profile for the 14th anniversary issue of the music and lifestyle glossy, the Democratic presidential candidate clarifies his views on rap. Though he had a high-profile meeting with rap star Ludacris last fall, he was also quoted by The Associated Press in April as saying that rappers were "degrading their sisters. That doesn't inspire me."

Obama told Vibe that he was misquotedhe was talking about the culture as a whole, not rappers in particular.

"I stand by exactly what I said, which was that the degrading comments about women that (radio host Don) Imus said is language that we hear not just on the radio, not just in music. We ourselves perpetuate that, and we all have to take responsibility for that."

But the Illinois senator also didn't let rappers off the hook.

"There's no doubt that hip-hop culture moves our young people powerfully. And some of it is not just a reflection of reality," he told the magazine. "It also creates reality. I think that if all our kids see is a glorification of materialism and bling and casual sex and kids are never seeing themselves reflected as hitting the books and being responsible and delaying gratification, then they are getting an unrealistic picture of what the world is like."

Still, Obama seemed unwilling to use raunchy rap as a rallying cry in his campaign: "My priority as a U.S. senator is dealing with poverty and educational opportunity and adequate health care. If I'm ignoring those issues and spending all my time worrying about rap lyrics, then I'm wasting my time." .

As you can see, the junior senator from Illinois dances and ducks and finds every way he can to dodge away from attacking rap "music" and "lyrics". 

But here are two things he did to:  He attacked Don Imus (who said the words"nappy headed ho's") and he honored a rapper named Ludacris with a highly publicized meeting.  

Since "nappy headed ho's" seems to be over the line for Mr. Obama, I thought you might be interested in the kinds of "lyrics" Ludacris provides our children.  Obviously they can't be as offensive as "nappy headed ho's", of course, because if they were he'd never meet with this "artist", he would condemn him as he did Imus.

So, without further ado, here is the first verse of his hit song, "Move Bitch".  Be sure to gather the kiddies around, they'll love its innocence and depth:

Move Bitch"
(feat. I-20, Mystikal)


[whistling]

[Chorus 2x: Ludacris]

Move bitch, get out the way
Get out the way bitch, get out the way
Move bitch, get out the way
Get out the way bitch, get out the way

[Ludacris]
OH NO! The fight's out
I'ma 'bout to punch yo...lights out
Get the FUCK back, guard ya grill
There's somethin' wrong, we can't stay still
I've been drankin' and bustin' two
and I been thankin' of bustin' you
Upside ya motherfuckin' forehead
And if your friends jump in, "Ohhh gurrlll", they'll be mo' dead
Causin' confusion, Disturbin Tha Peace
It's not an illusion, we runnin the streets
So bye-bye to all you groupies and golddiggers
Is there a bumper on your ass? NO NIGGA!
I'm doin' a hundred on the highway
So if you do the speed limit, get the FUCK outta my way
I'm D.U.I., hardly ever caught sober
and you about to get ran the FUCK over

Well, one of two things is true.  Either the words "nappy headed ho's" are far worse than those "lyrics"..... 

Or..........

Maybe Mr. Obama so scared of angering the rap "culture" that he can't express revulsion at this sick disgusting excuse for "music". 

Which do YOU think it is?

And while you're pondering that question, ponder this one:  Why have media put a virtually complete block on reporting things like this about Obama?

PS:  In case you think those "lyrics" are an abberation of some kind, be aware that there are ludacris "songs" with even worse "lyrics" than what I showed above;  many of them, and far worse "lyrics".  Mr. Obama surely knows this.


THE LATEST DEMOCRATIC SABOTAGE EFFORT

Ken Berwitz

Do you think that title is an exaggeration?  Well, it isn't.  Read this Associated Press dispatch and see for yourself:.  Please pay special attention to the bold print, which is mine:.

Updated: 3:56 p.m. ET Aug 2, 2007

WASHINGTON - Brushing aside a veto threat, the Democratic-controlled House voted Thursday to give U.S. troops guaranteed time at home between deployments to Iraq.

The vote was 229-194 on the legislation, designed to complicate the Pentagons ability to rotate sufficient troops into the war zone.

This is about our families and our troops, said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., who repeatedly said that opposing the measure was a vote for the status quo in a war in its fifth year.

On the other side, Rep. Howard Buck McKeon, R-Calif., called the legislation a backhanded attempt to force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Noting that the bill does not apply to troops ordered to Afghanistan, he said, If this were a sincere effort ... it would apply to all deployments..
I'll make this very simple for you:  If al qaeda voted on this bill, which side would they have voted for?  If bin laden and zawahiri voted on this bill, which side would they have voted for?
 
I don't know how to make it any plainer.


GUEST COMMENTARY: BRIAN MALONEY ON BARACK OBAMA

Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama, as you probably know, is the genius who brags about being against invading Iraq and assures us he will chit-chat with every mass murdering dictator on the planet.  Yesterday, however, he promised that, as President, if he doesn't like what the relatively cooperative government of Pakistan is doing about al qaeda he will summarily invade the country.

You would think that the hard-left would be up in arms (hmm, bad choice of words...change that to up in plowshares) over this.  Aren't they the ones who despise the US military's "imperialism", "arrogance", "policing the world", etc. etc. etc.?

Well, not if the guy saying it is the lord and master Barack Obama.  Brian Maloney of www.radioequalizer.blogspot.com lays it out for us below:.

Barack Obama Pakistan Comments, Talk Radio Reaction

BARACK'S BLANK CHECK

No Matter How Foolish He Appears, Libtalk's Got His Back

Is there anything Barack Obama could say or do that would provoke criticism from the nation's libtalkers? So far, it appears he's been given a blank check.

What if he kicked puppies? Would that suddenly become a great idea as well?

With the Illinois senator and presidential hopeful suddenly choosing to take an ultra- hawkish position in dealing with international terrorism, one might expect so-called "progressive" talkers to object. Given the poor general reception for Obama's assertion that invading Pakistan could be an option in his potential administration, support from this camp seems all the more amazing.

Never mind the fact that Obama clearly hadn't thought through his stance that many see as horribly naive; libtalkers Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow both gave on-air support for his statement.

From Schultz's Wednesday show:

SCHULTZ: This is what he has not said in the past. Hes saying today that he would send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists even without local permission if warranted. Thats called an invasion. The comments are an attempt to show strength when his chief rival has described his foreign policy skills as nave. Man, there isnt anything nave about this.

Were getting a lot of response via email and hits on the web site and many of you say yeah, way to go Barack!

Obama warned Pakistani President General Musharraf that he must do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters under the Obama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a US troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid."
Subsequently, one caller said Obama's statement had created a "tipping point" where she has now decided to firmly back the senator's presidential run. "Karen" said that while invading Iraq was a mistake, Pakistan was instead the place to send American troops.

Later, other callers disagreed and were surprised by talk of invading Pakistan. Interestingly, that put them in the
same position as Rush Limbaugh. Maybe these folks are listening to the wrong talk show!

During Rachel Maddow's Air America Radio show Wednesday evening, the host had considerably less to say about Obama's latest flap, but threw her full support behind him:

MADDOW: Did you see Barack Obamas speech on terrorism today? I think its his best campaign move yet.

[...]

Im all for actually fighting al-Qaeda like literally actually going after the exact people who attacked us on 9-11.
Here's a question: are libtalkers ever allowed to stray from party- line talking points, even for a moment? What does a position as ill- considered as this do for their credibility?
.
 
In other words, if you happen to be a hard-left Democrat (and make no mistake, that is exactly what Barack Obama is - as any reading of his voting record shows), you are then liberated to be a militarist. 
 
Try to imagine what the Barack Obamas of the world - not to mention the Ed Shultz's and Rachel Maddow's - would say if this came out of the mouth of, for example, Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney.
 
Can the self-contradicting double standard be any more blatant?  I'd like to know how.


SENATOR OBAMA AND RAP LYRICS

Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama has been a US senator for three years and has no legislative accomplishments that I'm aware of.  Therefore, I have to judge him using other criteria. 

Here is an Associated Press article I found today that provided some useful insight:

NEW YORK (AP) - Barack Obama is now officially hothe's on the cover of Vibe magazine.

In a profile for the 14th anniversary issue of the music and lifestyle glossy, the Democratic presidential candidate clarifies his views on rap. Though he had a high-profile meeting with rap star Ludacris last fall, he was also quoted by The Associated Press in April as saying that rappers were "degrading their sisters. That doesn't inspire me."

Obama told Vibe that he was misquotedhe was talking about the culture as a whole, not rappers in particular.

"I stand by exactly what I said, which was that the degrading comments about women that (radio host Don) Imus said is language that we hear not just on the radio, not just in music. We ourselves perpetuate that, and we all have to take responsibility for that."

But the Illinois senator also didn't let rappers off the hook.

"There's no doubt that hip-hop culture moves our young people powerfully. And some of it is not just a reflection of reality," he told the magazine. "It also creates reality. I think that if all our kids see is a glorification of materialism and bling and casual sex and kids are never seeing themselves reflected as hitting the books and being responsible and delaying gratification, then they are getting an unrealistic picture of what the world is like."

Still, Obama seemed unwilling to use raunchy rap as a rallying cry in his campaign: "My priority as a U.S. senator is dealing with poverty and educational opportunity and adequate health care. If I'm ignoring those issues and spending all my time worrying about rap lyrics, then I'm wasting my time." .

As you can see, the junior senator from Illinois dances and ducks and finds every way he can to dodge away from attacking rap "music" and "lyrics". 

But here are two things he did to:  He attacked Don Imus (who said the words"nappy headed ho's") and he honored a rapper named Ludacris with a highly publicized meeting.  

Since "nappy headed ho's" seems to be over the line for Mr. Obama, I thought you might be interested in the kinds of "lyrics" Ludacris provides our children.  Obviously they can't be as offensive as "nappy headed ho's", of course, because if they were he'd never meet with this "artist", he would condemn him as he did Imus.

So, without further ado, here is the first verse of his hit song, "Move Bitch".  Be sure to gather the kiddies around, they'll love its innocence and depth:

Move Bitch"
(feat. I-20, Mystikal)


[whistling]

[Chorus 2x: Ludacris]

Move bitch, get out the way
Get out the way bitch, get out the way
Move bitch, get out the way
Get out the way bitch, get out the way

[Ludacris]
OH NO! The fight's out
I'ma 'bout to punch yo...lights out
Get the FUCK back, guard ya grill
There's somethin' wrong, we can't stay still
I've been drankin' and bustin' two
and I been thankin' of bustin' you
Upside ya motherfuckin' forehead
And if your friends jump in, "Ohhh gurrlll", they'll be mo' dead
Causin' confusion, Disturbin Tha Peace
It's not an illusion, we runnin the streets
So bye-bye to all you groupies and golddiggers
Is there a bumper on your ass? NO NIGGA!
I'm doin' a hundred on the highway
So if you do the speed limit, get the FUCK outta my way
I'm D.U.I., hardly ever caught sober
and you about to get ran the FUCK over

Well, one of two things is true.  Either the words "nappy headed ho's" are far worse than those "lyrics"..... 

Or..........

Maybe Mr. Obama so scared of angering the rap "culture" that he can't express revulsion at this sick disgusting excuse for "music". 

Which do YOU think it is?

And while you're pondering that question, ponder this one:  Why have media put a virtually complete block on reporting things like this about Obama?

PS:  In case you think those "lyrics" are an abberation of some kind, be aware that there are ludacris "songs" with even worse "lyrics" than what I showed above;  many of them, and far worse "lyrics".  Mr. Obama surely knows this.


MISSISSIPPI RIVER BRIDGE COLLAPSE UPDATE:

Ken Berwitz

As of about 11:30AM there are four confirmed dead, 79 injured and 20-30 people (at least) missing.  It is likely that all or almost all of the missing are in the river and will be recovered over the next days. 

Every decent person's heart goes out to these innocents whose "crime" was taking a drive.  Let's hope this never happens again.


MISSISSIPPI RIVER BRIDGE COLLAPSE UPDATE:

Ken Berwitz

As of about 11:30AM there are four confirmed dead, 79 injured and 20-30 people (at least) missing.  It is likely that all or almost all of the missing are in the river and will be recovered over the next days. 

Every decent person's heart goes out to these innocents whose "crime" was taking a drive.  Let's hope this never happens again.


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: FINAL UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

Today the New York Times published letters about the Monday op-ed article in which two members of the (usually reliably leftward) Brookings Institute suggested things were much improved in Iraq and that there was a substantial likelihood that we could meet our objectives there.

I have to say that the Times letter selection has (unexpectedly) surprised me in the positive.

Of the six letters, two are negative, two lean negative and two are positive towards the op-ed piece.  Further, both of the two positive letters have more than just a dry read-out of facts, they are written in a persuasive way.

My compliments To the New York Times for presenting a fair spectrum of opinion.  I do not expect this from them, did not expect it here, and am happy to say that - this time - I am wrong.

Here are the six letters:.

Just What Is Victory in Iraq? (6 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re A War We Just Might Win, by Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack (Op-Ed, July 30):

I was surprised to learn of the incipient success of our occupation of Iraq, and disappointed at not seeing the phrase we see light at the end of the tunnel.

Does it occur to Mr. OHanlon and Mr. Pollack that interviewing active-duty soldiers about their mission and morale means hearing only what they have been ordered to say? Or that the Bush administration treats every problem as simply a matter of public relations?

Do the Iraqis they interviewed no longer resent the airstrikes that are killing friends and relatives?

How many of the two million Iraqis who left their homes and businesses in Iraq to seek refuge in Jordan, Syria and other countries have returned to the land they left? That number could be a true benchmark of the sustainable stability Mr. OHanlon and Mr. Pollack now say is possible.

Lou Friscoe
Columbus, Ohio, July 30, 2007

To the Editor:

According to Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack, conditions in Iraq are less bad than they have been at other times since we instigated Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Further, according to these writers, who claim to have harshly criticized the Bush administration in the past, We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.

Great. But exactly where would that be?

A sustainable stability that we and the Iraqis can live with could just as accurately be described as a momentary lull in the downward spiral that began with our invasion.

Until specific goals are defined, no one can determine whether or not they have been achieved.

Carole Christie
St. Louis, July 30, 2007

To the Editor:

I appreciate the fresh reporting of Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack from Iraq. It matches what my family and friends in the Iraqi theater tell me.

I was struck by the comment that the administrations critics seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

The critics refuse to acknowledge any change. Democrats have invested everything in the failure of the surge and in America losing the war. They are in such panic at the signs of success that they are trying desperately to kill the effort now, before the truth gets out.

Isnt it past time for the big news media to start asking Democrats the questions they have been allowing them to avoid?

Mary McLemore
Pike Road, Ala., July 30, 2007

To the Editor:

Whether or not Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack are correct that the military situation in Iraq is improving, the dire political situation remains a fundamental obstacle to a stable Iraq.

Mr. OHanlon and Mr. Pollack relegate Iraqi politics to the second-to-last paragraph, noting that we still face huge hurdles on the political front. But unless a winning Iraqi political coalition comes together, the United States is spinning its wheels.

The American people have heard these same optimistic pronouncements since the debate leading up to the war, but actual events in Iraq have told a different story.

It is long past time to start drawing down United States forces and refocusing American efforts on enhancing American national security.

Jeremy Pressman
Storrs, Conn., July 30, 2007

The writer is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Connecticut.

To the Editor:

Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack echo what many troops have seen in Iraq. A good final outcome is unlikely, but lessons can still be learned and military successes replicated.

Unfortunately, many Americans want out of Iraq now so badly that they fail to analyze tactical changes objectively. This is not new. Political rhetoric on both sides in Washington has always been detached from Iraqs military realities. Complexity is ignored, and rigorous discussions are replaced by efforts to find information supporting cemented conclusions.

As a result, many Iraq veterans have decided to opt out of the discussion entirely.

Military successes happen in Iraq even now. But appreciating and exploiting them will be possible only with thoughtful, objective analysis.

I learned an Iraqi saying once that illustrates the complexity of the issues: All the fingers on your hand are not the same.

Paul Rieckhoff
New York, July 30, 2007

The writer is executive director of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America.

To the Editor:

As someone who voted for George W. Bush in 2000, who regrets that mistake every single day, I have a question for Michael E. OHanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack: How can we know that the soldiers and marines they talked to really do constitute a representative sampling of military personnel in Iraq?

Once an administration is shown as untrustworthy, then all its pronouncements are suspect.

Isnt it probable that the news media and think tank visitors can see only soldiers who are prescreened by the administration, who are willing to speak its line?

Why believe anything the members of the Bush administration say? Why trust anything you see or hear in Iraq, when they can control the situation?

David McAuley
McLean, Va., July 30, 2007


A MESSAGE FROM THE NEW FRENCH PRIME MINISTER

Ken Berwitz

Earlier this year, France elected Nicolas Sarkozy Prime Minister.  During the campaign, he presented himself as being , far and away, the most USA-friendly candidate.

Well, the election is over.  So is Mr. Sarkozy what he appeared to be?  This seems to be a pretty hopeful sign:.

Au revoir Paris, hello Wolfeboro

France's president plans N.H. respite

WOLFEBORO, N.H. -- France's President Nicolas Sarkozy would not have to stray far from the Champs-Elyses to find a summer holiday spot most Americans can only dream of. A castle in the Loire valley. A country estate in Provence. A villa on the French Riviera.

But non.

Sarkozy, his country's celebrated new leader, is planning to get some rest and relaxation on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Wolfeboro -- a popular vacation destination for countless Bostonians -- is buzzing with excitement about his visit.

David W. Owen, the town manager, said local public safety officials have met with the Secret Service to arrange security.

"We're used to having notables, although not heads of state -- heads of state are a little different class," he said.

It is unclear whether Sarkozy's family is accompanying him or why he has chosen Wolfeboro; local residents interviewed did not know of any previous connection. The timing of his visit is also something of a mystery, but a source with knowledge of the trip said Sarkozy plans to arrive in early August and stay for as long as two weeks. A spokesman for the French consulate in Boston declined yesterday to confirm the visit.

If Lake Winnipesaukee's reputation for motorcycles, power boats, and jet skis seems unlikely to attract a sophisticated, cultured Frenchman, Wolfeboro itself is a picturesque small town that retains the charm of early 20th century New England.

"It probably has a little more European feel to it because of the little-bitty stores that have survived -- you don't see that anymore in the bigger communities," said Karen Baker, who owns The Country Bookseller on North Main Street. She added that the anti-French wave of a few years back didn't show itself in town much. "No one changed the name of the French fries on the menus up here."

Certainly there are more French fries than fine French restaurants in town, though if Sarkozy gets the urge, he could find a nice bit of Camembert or wedge of brie at Camelot, a downtown book and gift shop that also sells an assortment of French cheeses.

"It would be nice to try them if he would be interested," said owner Al Pierce.

The word around town this week was that Sarkozy -- or a proxy -- might be renting a former Microsoft executive's 13,000-square-foot lakefront estate. Allan Bailey, who takes visitors on lake cruises, said that last week, he saw at least seven open-deck fast boats, which he believed to be security boats, patrolling the lakefront near the estate.

Mike Appe, the owner of the property, who was out mowing his lawn on Tuesday, smiled but declined to comment when asked about the visit.

Wolfeboro, which bills itself as the oldest summer resort in America, takes great pride in its natural beauty and low-key sensibility, and over the years the town has drawn rich and famous people from all over the world -- including Mitt Romney, who owns a summer home a few minutes by boat or car from Appe's mansion.

"I think the town will welcome him with open arms, but there won't be pressure on him or anything else," said Richard Kendall, a mechanic who owns Weston Auto Body Shop. "Townies leave people alone, they respect their privacy. The townies will give him his distance and let him do as he wishes."

He added that he hopes the visit will bring about "a thawing of tensions between two world powers . . . which we need."

Sarkozy's visit appears to be a private vacation, not a business trip. Still, the world will probably see some symbolism in his American adventure.

Sarkozy has promised to improve French-US relations, which have been strained since 2003, when the French government strongly objected to the US invasion of Iraq.

Back then, France-bashing was common among American conservatives; even the cafeteria at the New Hampshire State House, then dominated by Republicans, briefly renamed its French fries "freedom fries." But since his election in May, Sarkozy has become the darling of American conservatives, who see him as an ally.

Adam Gopnik, who has written extensively about French politics and culture for The New Yorker and in his own books, said yesterday it would be "a huge mistake" to think Sarkozy idealizes America, but he said the new French president appears to want to "drain the drama" from relations between the two countries.

Asked about the prospect of Sarkozy's visit, Gopnik said he did not know whether Sarkozy had any political purpose in his trip, but if he did, it might be to make it seem "completely normal and unfreighted that a French president could vacation in America."

Traffic is normally heavy this time of year in town, but Owen, the town manager, said he did not expect Sarkozy and his security to create major additional delays.

"We suspect when and if he goes out and about, there will be motorcades and some delay that will be experienced by people," he said. "But there's already significant delays at times.".

The previous PM, jerk chirac, would have been far more likely to vacation in Zimbabwe, with his bosom buddy, the murderous idiot dictator robert mugabe.  mugabe, as you are probably aware, is the subhuman who took Zimbabwe from being an African success story to absolute devastation, apparently without losing a minute's sleep over it. 

Sarkozy is, to say the least, a change for the better.


THE LATEST DEMOCRATIC SABOTAGE EFFORT

Ken Berwitz

Do you think that title is an exaggeration?  Well, it isn't.  Read this Associated Press dispatch and see for yourself:.  Please pay special attention to the bold print, which is mine:.

Updated: 3:56 p.m. ET Aug 2, 2007

WASHINGTON - Brushing aside a veto threat, the Democratic-controlled House voted Thursday to give U.S. troops guaranteed time at home between deployments to Iraq.

The vote was 229-194 on the legislation, designed to complicate the Pentagons ability to rotate sufficient troops into the war zone.

This is about our families and our troops, said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., who repeatedly said that opposing the measure was a vote for the status quo in a war in its fifth year.

On the other side, Rep. Howard Buck McKeon, R-Calif., called the legislation a backhanded attempt to force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Noting that the bill does not apply to troops ordered to Afghanistan, he said, If this were a sincere effort ... it would apply to all deployments..
I'll make this very simple for you:  If al qaeda voted on this bill, which side would they have voted for?  If bin laden and zawahiri voted on this bill, which side would they have voted for?
 
I don't know how to make it any plainer.


A MESSAGE FROM THE NEW FRENCH PRIME MINISTER

Ken Berwitz

Earlier this year, France elected Nicolas Sarkozy Prime Minister.  During the campaign, he presented himself as being , far and away, the most USA-friendly candidate.

Well, the election is over.  So is Mr. Sarkozy what he appeared to be?  This seems to be a pretty hopeful sign:.

Au revoir Paris, hello Wolfeboro

France's president plans N.H. respite

WOLFEBORO, N.H. -- France's President Nicolas Sarkozy would not have to stray far from the Champs-Elyses to find a summer holiday spot most Americans can only dream of. A castle in the Loire valley. A country estate in Provence. A villa on the French Riviera.

But non.

Sarkozy, his country's celebrated new leader, is planning to get some rest and relaxation on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Wolfeboro -- a popular vacation destination for countless Bostonians -- is buzzing with excitement about his visit.

David W. Owen, the town manager, said local public safety officials have met with the Secret Service to arrange security.

"We're used to having notables, although not heads of state -- heads of state are a little different class," he said.

It is unclear whether Sarkozy's family is accompanying him or why he has chosen Wolfeboro; local residents interviewed did not know of any previous connection. The timing of his visit is also something of a mystery, but a source with knowledge of the trip said Sarkozy plans to arrive in early August and stay for as long as two weeks. A spokesman for the French consulate in Boston declined yesterday to confirm the visit.

If Lake Winnipesaukee's reputation for motorcycles, power boats, and jet skis seems unlikely to attract a sophisticated, cultured Frenchman, Wolfeboro itself is a picturesque small town that retains the charm of early 20th century New England.

"It probably has a little more European feel to it because of the little-bitty stores that have survived -- you don't see that anymore in the bigger communities," said Karen Baker, who owns The Country Bookseller on North Main Street. She added that the anti-French wave of a few years back didn't show itself in town much. "No one changed the name of the French fries on the menus up here."

Certainly there are more French fries than fine French restaurants in town, though if Sarkozy gets the urge, he could find a nice bit of Camembert or wedge of brie at Camelot, a downtown book and gift shop that also sells an assortment of French cheeses.

"It would be nice to try them if he would be interested," said owner Al Pierce.

The word around town this week was that Sarkozy -- or a proxy -- might be renting a former Microsoft executive's 13,000-square-foot lakefront estate. Allan Bailey, who takes visitors on lake cruises, said that last week, he saw at least seven open-deck fast boats, which he believed to be security boats, patrolling the lakefront near the estate.

Mike Appe, the owner of the property, who was out mowing his lawn on Tuesday, smiled but declined to comment when asked about the visit.

Wolfeboro, which bills itself as the oldest summer resort in America, takes great pride in its natural beauty and low-key sensibility, and over the years the town has drawn rich and famous people from all over the world -- including Mitt Romney, who owns a summer home a few minutes by boat or car from Appe's mansion.

"I think the town will welcome him with open arms, but there won't be pressure on him or anything else," said Richard Kendall, a mechanic who owns Weston Auto Body Shop. "Townies leave people alone, they respect their privacy. The townies will give him his distance and let him do as he wishes."

He added that he hopes the visit will bring about "a thawing of tensions between two world powers . . . which we need."

Sarkozy's visit appears to be a private vacation, not a business trip. Still, the world will probably see some symbolism in his American adventure.

Sarkozy has promised to improve French-US relations, which have been strained since 2003, when the French government strongly objected to the US invasion of Iraq.

Back then, France-bashing was common among American conservatives; even the cafeteria at the New Hampshire State House, then dominated by Republicans, briefly renamed its French fries "freedom fries." But since his election in May, Sarkozy has become the darling of American conservatives, who see him as an ally.

Adam Gopnik, who has written extensively about French politics and culture for The New Yorker and in his own books, said yesterday it would be "a huge mistake" to think Sarkozy idealizes America, but he said the new French president appears to want to "drain the drama" from relations between the two countries.

Asked about the prospect of Sarkozy's visit, Gopnik said he did not know whether Sarkozy had any political purpose in his trip, but if he did, it might be to make it seem "completely normal and unfreighted that a French president could vacation in America."

Traffic is normally heavy this time of year in town, but Owen, the town manager, said he did not expect Sarkozy and his security to create major additional delays.

"We suspect when and if he goes out and about, there will be motorcades and some delay that will be experienced by people," he said. "But there's already significant delays at times.".

The previous PM, jerk chirac, would have been far more likely to vacation in Zimbabwe, with his bosom buddy, the murderous idiot dictator robert mugabe.  mugabe, as you are probably aware, is the subhuman who took Zimbabwe from being an African success story to absolute devastation, apparently without losing a minute's sleep over it. 

Sarkozy is, to say the least, a change for the better.


OF DICTATORS AND USEFUL IDIOTS

Ken Berwitz

No comment is necessary for this one, it speaks for itself:.

Sean Penn praised by Venezuela's Chavez

By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 55 minutes ago

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has praised Sean Penn for his critical stance against the war in Iraq, saying the two chatted by phone and soon plan to meet in person.

Chavez said Penn traveled to Venezuela this week wanting to learn more about the situation in the country and walked around some of Caracas' poor barrios on his own.

"Welcome to Venezuela, Mr. Penn. What drives him is consciousness, the search for new paths," Chavez said Wednesday in a televised speech. "He's one of the greatest opponents of the Iraq invasion."

Chavez read aloud from a recent open letter by Penn to President Bush in which the actor condemned the Iraq war and called for Bush to be impeached, saying the president along with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are "villainously and criminally obscene people."

The socialist president, who shares those views, said he and Penn talked by phone "with my bad English but we understood each other more or less."

Chavez said the two plan to meet Thursday. He called the actor "well-informed about what is happening in the United States and the world, in spite of being in Hollywood."

What's more, Chavez said, "he's made great films." The Venezuelan leader said he recently watched Penn's Oscar-winning performance in the film "Mystic River."

For his part, Penn on Wednesday toured Venezuela's new film studios on the outskirts of Caracas. Penn, whose visit was unannounced, did not speak publicly..


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