The Cartoontifada Jihad and The Collected Wisdom of (Some) Muslims

 
No Laughing Matter, Charlie BrownMuslims are sooo angry about the bad press they get that they’re trying the direct approach: entreat the Left with anguished cries of insensitivity and threaten the Right with scimitars. Since the former control the media for the most part, the Muslimist strategy (are we allowed to spell it that way anymore or is it “strategery” until 2008? Just asking…) is devoted to getting their attention. Islam may be bloody, but it ain’t stupid.

Casting about for some help with this moral dilemma — it is moral for those of us who, say, value the right to say what we please as long as it doesn’t hurt the children — Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos has come across a little bit of chicken soup for the Muslim soul. Here are a few sips of his concoction:

I’ve assembled a list of “wise old Islamic sayings”…that I think are particularly relevant to our discussion. These are almost “clichés” in the Muslim world, but they are probably new to you:

Sticks and stones will break your bones if your words should ever humiliate me.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try to blame the Jews.

Fool me once, death to you. Fool me twice? I don’t think so.

Get thee hence and read the rest.

By the way, Shrinkwrapped is correct. If he’s not already there, Gagdad Bob should move to a state with liberal “carry laws.” And if you think his are bad, I suggest that you also peruse the comments.



Thanks to Mike Oxlong of I Spy With My London Eye for the cartoon. A bit late for the Cartoon Contest, but his invite probably went by boat. It’s worth putting up, despite his modest protests to the contrary.

A Piece of the American Dream

Building the wall


We’re back. The Baron’s friend, who was the oldest of eleven children and much beloved by them all, was buried today. Afterwards, the very large family and the old gang — who aren’t exactly old yet, but are well on their way — gathered to talk about childhood memories. I felt badly for Mr. S., the grieving father. At any age it’s hard to bury your children, but at eighty-one, burying your oldest son is particularly rending.

On the way south, we went through horse country. There are acres and acres of smooth pasture, rolling on to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the far distance. Houses hide behind long drives or, in the case of the really old ones still extant, sit right on the road. No asphalt back in the 18th century.

Many of the old houses are built of local stone, and there are low stone fences everywhere. These are the fruits of the field, gathered over the years when those fields were actual farms and the rocks were impediments to plowing. In some ways, it looks like New England here, but a gentler version. Less flint, more quartz, perhaps.

The builderWe stopped to talk to two Mexican immigrants who were rebuilding the crumbling walls of one estate. The more extroverted of the two, whom you can see standing outside the wall, has been in the U.S. for four years. He likes it here, but the cold bothers him. When told that his English was good, he laughed and said he had attended night school for ESL classes.

He asked if we minded having so many Mexicans in America. I said the problem wasn’t the legal immigrants, it was the ones who came in illegally and were worked very hard for little money. “It robs them and it robs the country.”

His face got serious and he said he believed Mexicans could stay in Mexico if it weren’t for the corrupt government. “We have everything we need: oil, minerals, much good land. But the government doesn’t care to help us. They just take for themselves.” When asked if he liked Vicente Fox he frowned and didn’t speak.

The section of wall he is currently working on takes about three days to build, sometimes longer, depending on how much rock he has to break and the way it lies. And yes, his back hurts at the end of the day. Five hours is his limit, he says. When this one is done, he will move on to the next section, taking it apart and putting it back together. It is satisfying to finish a section and he likes to work with his back turned to the falling walls behind him. Otherwise, he says, he’ll start thinking about that instead of what’s in front of him.

The secret is to make the rock kind of meld into place, with balance and with a smooth surface. He thinks his work will last about twenty-five years, but knows that in the old days they could make these walls last many centuries. It’s a skill that’s been lost, but he thinks if he works at it long enough, he might learn how they did it. Someday he hopes to have his own stone masonry business.

So there you have it: one piece of the American dream.



The fox (not Vicente)A little further down the road we spotted a fox. He was hopping from one side of the ditch to the other, as though he were looking for something. Since he was out and about in the afternoon, indifferent to the presence of human beings just a few feet away, we wondered if he might be rabid.

But no, I do not think he was named Vicente.

Away From Our Blog

 
We have to go out of state the the funeral of an old friend, and will be back tomorrow sometime. Readers may entertain themselves while we’re gone by arguing with each other in the comments.

Or you might want to look in on some of the folks on our blogroll. Check out The Adventuress or An American Expat in Southeast Asia. Barcepundit is always good, not to mention Viking Observer. The Brussels Journal is reliable for the latest on the situation in Europe.

Also visit The Common Room, or The Dissident Frogman. Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings and Kingdom of Chaos are worth a stop, as well as Neo-neocon. There’s Point Five for humor, and Redneck’s Revenge for just about everything, and Ocean Guy has the news from Florida.

And then there’s Florida Cracker.

We’re All Extremists Now

 
Ranting SaturdayThis morning we got a couple of emails that indicated that Dymphna and I are considered extremists.

Now, that wasn’t the point of the emails, and these were friendly communications, but our correspondents seem to take it as a given that we are… well, extreme.

I suppose I am an extremist by today’s standards. If you pay much attention to the legacy media, you know that anyone who doesn’t vote Democrat (or maybe Green) is an “extremist”.

It wasn’t always that way. Back when I was growing up, in the ’50s and ’60s, extremists were people who fought the fluoridation of the water supply, who saw Commies under the bed, who liked racial segregation or wanted to impeach Earl Warren. Extremists belonged to the John Birch Society and wanted us out of the UN.

But in those days you could vote Republican and still hold your head up in polite society. You weren’t an extremist.

Barry Goldwater was an extremist. George Lincoln Rockwell was an extremist. George Wallace and Joe McCarthy were extremists. But not Dwight Eisenhower or Nelson Rockefeller. They were nice, tame Republicans. Maybe a little bit stupid, and amusing to your average East Coast intellectual. But not extreme.

And there weren’t any extremists on the Left, really. Not even the Communists — they were just misguided and somewhat overzealous Progressives, not that much different from us.

Let’s look at some of the “extreme” statements from those days:

  • Impeach Earl Warren
  • US out of the UN
  • Keep the Negroes in their place
  • Hunt down the commies
  • White supremacy
  • Bring back the monarchy
  • No fluoride in the water

That’s quite a varied group of positions. But they were all lumped together into the general category of “right-wing nuts”.

I suppose I do the same thing with the hard Left today. To me, the anti-globalists, the “no blood for oil” people, the Socialist Workers’ Collective, the tree-huggers, and the “Meat is murder” crowd are all more or less the same. But I’m sure that some of those factions are barely speaking to one another.

Of all those old-time “extreme” positions, the “US out of the UN” one has become the most respectable these days. After watching the last forty years of malevolent UN actions towards Israel, and its coddling of genocidal tyrants of all stripes, it’s hard to see the point of the UN.

But I’m not sure what made me the extremist I am today. It might have started when those barbaric “students” took Americans hostage in Tehran. Watching the bumbling and inaction of the Carter administration made me feel helpless, ashamed, and frustrated. It awakened in me an atavistic urge to kick Iranian butt.

Then there was the little matter of leaving Saddam in power in 1991. That one rankled. Oh, I could understand the geopolitical arguments for doing what we did; we would have faced the same kind of thing we’re facing now, namely sectarian strife, insurgency, terrorism, and fratricide. But still — there was something wrong with leaving a thug like Saddam in power.

And I wanted to see those Bradleys sitting in the heart of Baghdad.

I knew I was naughty, but I still wanted to see it. It took another twelve years, but I finally got my wish.

And now there’s the Iranians again. The extreme viewpoint says it’s time to do something about them. Because we didn’t do anything about them in 1979, it’s going to be a much harder job. A lot of people will probably die, and if we wait long enough, it will be a gamma ray blast and radiation disease that will kill them.

But the regime in Iran is determined that people will die. They don’t really mind at all; it serves their purposes, since they want to usher in the chaos that precedes the End of Days.

I’d like to prevent the return of the Twelfth Imam. I guess that makes me an extremist.

March for Free Expression: An Update

 
Free Speech in BritainI’ve mentioned in previous posts the grassroots movement in the UK that was started in support of the Danish cartoonists. The March for Free Expression has grown into a full-fledged free speech initiative, and now has an online petition. Supporters are asked to put their signatures to the Statement of Principle:

The strength and survival of free society and the advance of human knowledge depend on the free exchange of ideas. All ideas give offense to someone, and some of the most powerful ideas in human history, such as those of Galileo and Darwin, have given profound religious offense in their time.

The free exchange of ideas depends on freedom of expression and this includes the right to criticize and mock.

We assert and uphold the right of freedom of expression and call on our elected representatives to do the same.

We abhor the fact that people throughout the world live under mortal threat simply for expressing ideas and we call on our elected representatives to protect them from attack and not to give comfort to the forces of intolerance that besiege them.

If you support the right to speak out freely, please go on record and add your signature to this petition.

You can email the March for Free Expression at [email protected], and their blog is marchforfreeexpression.blogspot.com.

And don’t forget the rally in Trafalgar Square for Saturday 25th March. If you’re in Britain, and support free speech — not just for Danish cartoonists, but for everyone — you’ll want to be there.

Danes Operate a Port in Iraq

Khor az-Zubayr


Here’s a story from January, before the UAE hysteria, about what a Danish company did in Iraq, at the port of Khor az-Zubayr, in southern Iraq:

Khor az-Zubayr, a port in southern Iraq, did not seem like a war prize when the Saddam Hussein’s regime was ousted in April 2003. Its waters were clogged with ships wrecked in the Iran-Iraq war; it was much smaller than the nearby port Umm Qasr; and much of it was too shallow for ocean-going ships to navigate.

But Danish port operator and shipping giant A.P.Moeller Maersk saw beyond the flaws. Maersk knew that Khor az-Zubayr was one of just two outlets on Iraq’s short Gulf coastline that opens the country to world trade. Across the wetlands that backed the port town was a gigantic oil refinery with pipelines leading straight to Khor az-Zubayr.

It took a month or so for Maersk to gain permission and control of the port, but by May they were in business. But, as these things often are, the transactions were rather murky:

… There is no evidence on whether this was legal [or not] but many have speculated that the take-over was rigged to reward Denmark and Maersk for their support of the United States invasion of Iraq. What is known is that a senior Maersk employee was also working for the government authority that was in charge of the port at the time.

“Maersk had found themselves a jewel, if they could get that port up and running,” U.S. Ambassador Darrell Trent told our reporting team in November 2005. Trent, who had served under Presidents Nixon and Reagan, was in charge of Iraq’s transport ministry until the summer of 2004.

“Lots of people were trying to make use of the chaotic situation to get themselves lucrative contracts,” said Trent. “But Maersk were the most blatant of them all and openly took advantage of the situation. (They) presented us with a contract that had been signed by a low-ranking officer of the U.S. military who had no authorization to make such a deal.”

He called the terms of the contract so favorable to Maersk that it was “almost ridiculous.” Maersk got 93 percent of all port fees plus almost $15,000 a day.

Not bad for a small country, eh? Especially a small country with a huge company that cleverly positioned itself for this coup. Its container ships , beginning in August, 2002, had begun delivering U.S. equipment to the region in preparation of the invasion of Iraq. Denmark’s partnership in the “coalition of the willing” helped its ties with Washington. Coincidentally, on the same day — May 1, 2003 — that President Bush declared the Iraq war at an end, the then-ambassador from Denmark to Syria was appointed as the governor and regional chief of the American-led administration of southern Iraq. Guess what happened then?

Maersk’s claim on the port of Khor az-Zubayr soon followed.

[…]

Just when, how, or even if, Maersk took over the port of Khor az-Zubayr is subject to much dispute. But there is not much doubt that the giant shipping company started jockeying for lucrative reconstruction contracts well before Saddam Hussein’s fall.

[…]

Maersk’s Executive Vice President Knud Pontoppidan told our [Corp Watch] reporting team that Maersk began managing the port as early as May 2003. But Governor Ole Woehlers Olsen, who was in charge of the area, said he was “surprised” to hear Maersk’s claim. “I myself did not have the authority to sign such a contract but I passed on the offer to Baghdad with my recommendations,” says Woehlers. When I left Iraq again on July 18, Maersk’s offer on the management of the port had not yet made its way through the bureaucracy in Baghdad.”

Oh, well. Small matter. Maersk had possession of the port, and no one seems to know how the company finessed their way into the deal.

In June, Ambassador Trent and his deputy. Frank Willis arrived in Baghdad to run Iraq’s transport authority. One of the first problems he encountered was complaints from Iraqi port employees. Some Danish company was keeping them out of their workplace and was claiming CPA authorization. So Willis was sent to investigate:

Frank Willis said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the Maersk contract. “The first thing that surprised me was that it had not been signed by the CPA. It was signed by a couple of low-ranking officers that no one had heard of. It was very strange. They certainly had no mandate to sign a contract like that. It simply was not valid, and we made that clear to Maersk soon after,” said Willis, who took the document to the CPA’s lawyers.

But if the Americans were surprised by the contract, they were aghast at its terms. “The contract gave Maersk something like a monopoly in the port, and it was binding for at least five years. We at the CPA would never have signed an agreement like that. We were responsible for the future of the Iraqi people, and we would never have tied the country down for so long or on such onerous terms even if we had had the right to do so,” Willis says.

By late summer, the CPA was fed up with the run-around they were getting from Maersk. The Authority called a meeting for October. Maersk agreed and then cancelled. Eventually, Trent ran out of patience and ordered a helicopter to fly him to the port. However, conditions there were so dangerous that the military personnel refused to wait around while the meeting was held and took off. Trent stayed and met with company officials anyway:

“The Maersk people told us at the time that they had spent millions of dollars on the renovation of the port,” he says. Maersk assured Trent that it was interested in getting things in order regarding the contract, and a system for future communications was set up.

That, however, was the last time the ambassador heard from Maersk. The management in Khor az-Zubayr systematically ignored all approaches by the CPA in Baghdad…

One reason might have been that the company was overwhelmed by the size of the project. Maersk’s port director, Tony Maynard, says that Khor az-Zubayr was larger than any other Maersk port and had the potential to handle a million containers at a time.

Yet Trent says this still does not make sense. “I just don’t understand that a corporation with a good reputation like theirs would behave like that with the consent of their top management,” he explains, stressing his interest in signing a legal contract. “We gave them every chance to regularize the agreement in good faith but they ignored everything.”

“All we could do was tell people that it was not true when Maersk claimed they had the rights to the port. We had our own disasters and emergencies to deal with everywhere we looked. Maersk simply took advantage of the chaos of war, and if they had been less greedy about it they would have gotten away with it, too,” says Frank Willis. Violence in Iraq was on the rise, and CPA had trouble in all corners…

Then, in 2004, Trent returned to America.

Meanwhile, the Iraqis grew increasingly dissatisfied with Maersk’s greedy contract and the lock-out of Iraqi employees. When Iraq announced that they would be inviting bids for the ports, CorpWatch thinks that Maersk began to look for ways to get out of Iraq:

In early 2005 the excuse arrived. Iraq’s new unions for oil and port workers had been pressuring Maersk for a long time. Among other things they wanted jobs for the many workers laid off at Maersk’s arrival. The unions and the port authorities, just like the Americans, tried to pressure Maersk into presenting a valid contract, says Haidar Abdul Zahra, who is the financial manager in UPW, the port workers’ union.

“Maersk kept telling us that they had a valid contract till the end of March 2005 but they refused to produce it even though they were demanding thousands of dollars from the port authorities for the operation and securing of the port. They also refused to let me and the port chief into our offices to work, and they prohibited all union activities in the port,” Zahra says.

Tensions escalated. There were demonstrations, fights between Iraqi factions, even a kidnapping. Jacob Bentsen, a former Danish police sergeant deputy, had originally arrived in Iraq to train police officers. Instead, he became chief of security for Maersk at the port.

The situation continued to deteriorate, with more violence expected among Iraqi factions and against Maersk.

By March 4, 2005, Maersk’s excellent Iraqi adventure was over. “I was the last person to leave the port. I turned off the lights and closed it off,” says Bentsen who is now back in Denmark as a high ranking official in the police force.

Like the Iraqi unionists, deputy transport minister Atta interprets Maersk’s departure in a different way: “It was a peaceful demonstration. Maersk had been looking for an excuse to run off and they jumped at it.”

All that was left was an empty port, a pending lawsuit, and anger on all sides.

In the end, Iraq regained control of the port of Iraqis now run the port of Khor az-Zubayr. The Iraqi government lawsuit against Maersk was settled in December; both sides have agreed to drop the matter.

Maersk claims that the outgoing Iraqi government signed a new agreement in 2005 for the company to return, but there are no plans to do so until they can get proper security and arrange insurance.

Strange story, isn’t it? There must be thousands more like it in Iraq. This is just one of them, and it happens to be about the Danes.

Strategic Exigencies

 
A couple of days ago I asked our readers to speculate on the reasons why President Bush, against the tide of his party and most of his conservative base, was digging in so hard on the UAE-ports deal. I didn’t want to argue the merits of the case — there’s plenty of room for argument — but to understand why this veto-shy President is so gung-ho to push the deal through.

Most of the commenters simply argued the pros and cons for the deal, instead of doing a serious analysis of what Mr. Bush thinks he’s up to.

But then last night, in Dymphna’s latest post on the topic, Freedom Fighter showed up in the comments and referred us to his blog, Joshua Pundit. He’s done some pretty shrewd analysis of what’s going on, and gives us an explanation and strategic overview of what’s happening.

I’ll quote here from two of his recent posts.

First, he has the same reservations as the rest of us about the way this deal was handled:

Another aspect that bothers me, frankly, is President Bush insuting my intelligence. On the one hand, the White House stated that neither President Bush nor Treasury Secretary Snow knew about this until it was a ‘done deal’. Yet President Bush, three days later is threatening to veto this and saying that a deal he supposedly knew nothing about is interfering with his ability to conduct foreign policy? I don’t expect or even demand truthfulness from the president on every occasion, but this is a bit much.

[…]

I also am extremely suspicious of the high powered lobbying that’s going on, the ‘Islamophobia’ card that’s being played and what I consider to be the Bush Administration dissembling on this from the beginning. Not to mention that ex-president Jimmy Carter favors this deal!

The President needs to sit down with Congress and make the necessary changes needed to reassure them that this deal is necessary and more important, completely vetted as far as our security goes. The President needs to make a case for this action.That aspect was handled poorly from the very beginning, and as I said, doesn’t pass the smell test.

In the second post he asks the same basic question I did:

I think it pays to ask the question: why is President Bush so exercised about a simple comercial transaction? Especially one opposed by both the Senate and House Majority leaders in his own party? What is so important that he is threatening a veto of any legislation blocking this, when he hasn’t vetoed anything in five years?

I think I know, or at least have an idea.

You have to start with two logical premises: one,that President Bush is NOT an idiot(though certainly capable of mistakes) and two, that he is not an evil meglomaniac bent on America’s destruction, and would not DELIBERATELY do anything to harm the country’s security.

Those are the same premises that I hold. I’m not interested in arguing with those who think the President is a puppet of trans-national commercial interests, or greedy, or an evil moron. They’re entitled to their several opinions, but I won’t address them.

Even so, I’m not willing to give the administration a free pass on this issue. As Freedom Fighter says,

Well, Mr. President, I can think of a number of reasons to hold a UAE company to a different standard. For starters, there’s the little matter of Dubai and the UAE being a major funding source for al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, the fact that some of the 9/11 hijackers used the UAE as an operational and financial base and the fact that the UAE was the main transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuke components and data sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by Pakistani scientist Dr. Aly Khan.

It’s obvious that Bush made a personal committment to someone, based on a quid-pro-quo and if you examine what he said, it’s obvious that he feels his personal word is on the line.

Yes, based on the kind of man Mr. Bush has previously revealed himself to be, his digging in his heels so hard on this issue is an indication that something about the Dubai ports deal is strategically significant.

And that’s what Joshua Pundit is looking at:

While some of you were fixating on a hunting accident, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was finalizing improved relations with India and China…

Obviously part of that was a Saudi committment to make up the oil shortfall to these countries in the event of trouble with Iran, and to lean on the other OPEC nations to go along, including the UAE.

Imagine the nightmare for us if the price of a gallon of gas went up to $8 or $10. That’s certainly what the mullahs are planning for us, if they can’t quite manage the mushroom cloud just yet. And the Chinese and Russian snakes have been slithering around Tehran, hoping to cut the kind of deals that will keep them safe in the event of oil trouble.

So we need the Saudis. As loathsome as their regime is, we need them.

The good news is that they need us, too. If the mullahs and/or Zarqawi had their way in the region, King Abdullah (and the Gulf emirs) would barely have time to load their suitcases of cash into the Lear jet and decamp for Zurich before the institution of Islamic Republics in their former countries — not to mention the return of the Twelfth Imam.

That’s the essential nature of the US-Saudi “friendship”. It’s disgusting, but so was our embrace of good ol’ Uncle Joe Stalin back in 1941.

The geography of ArmageddonBut there’s more:

A strike against Iran may be in the advanced planning stages even as I write this.

Bush may just be putting together a bloc of Arab countries aimed at ultimately isolating the Islamist/terrorist supporting or near Islamist nations in the region.

This bloc appears to consist of Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, Bahrein and Qatar. Notice that with the exception of Iraq, all of them are Arab autocracies, and all surround Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority. Another point to note is that except for Iraq, all of them are predominantly Sunni.

Egypt, which Bush has pretty much cut off from any US aid, is no longer a player. Egypt will be an Islamist state as soon as the elderly Mubarek dies.

In spite of all the lip service about ‘Arab democracy’ Bush and Condi Rice appear to be playing the conservative, Sunni autocracies against the more radical states in the region, especially Iran and Syria.

Now, the price for this cooperation could very well be a hands off attitude towards the Saudi export of jihad to America via Saudi funded mosques, madrassahs and university chairs, US help with bringing Saudi Arabia into the world’s commercial mainstream (Bush sponsored the Saudi’s entry into the WTO) and just maybe, increased entry of Arab companies into the USA, including government contracts.

Do I agree with that? Not at all, on the face of it. But I think it’s necessary to see where the pieces on the board go.

I think Joshua Pundit may be onto something here. Take a look at the map and consider the players in the game.

Iran is overtly bellicose, and the regime appears to be fundamentally irrational, acting out a Shiite millenarian fantasy. Since they may be using or exporting nuclear weapons at any moment, our President is stuck with a deadly and imminent threat that he has to deal with.

He can’t leave it for Hillary to figure out in January of 2009; it has to be dealt with now. By whatever means necessary.

It’s no coincidence that Iran-funded mobs are torching European embassies over cartoons right now. It’s no surprise that civil strife is erupting in Iraq over the destruction of a Shiite mosque.

But wait a minute – the Iranians are Shiites, too! How could that be their doing?

There’s ample evidence that Iran is funding, encouraging, and directing Sunni Islamist terror groups throughout the Middle East and Europe, and not just the Shiite ones like Hezbollah. All of this serves the same purpose: to create mayhem, bloodshed, and chaos in order to usher in the End of Days and prepare for the return of the Twelfth Imam.

How determined are we stop these madmen?



Question for our expert readers: I know we have basing rights in Uzbekistan. Do we have assets in Turkmenistan? I haven’t done the research, so put in a comment if you have any information.

The New York “Stuck-on-Treason” Times and the Recent Spate of Terrorist Arrests

 
There is a variety of news stories out in the last week, all concerning the roll up of various Islamic terrorist cells operating in the United States. Unfortunately, the UAE-DPO story is taking up most of the room, so these real, right here, right now stories are getting short shrift.

Little Green Footballs had a brief item up yesterday; it was confirmation of an earlier account with more details, sent to us by an informed reader.

A number of people are concerned about the actual day-to-day terrorism activities of Middle Easterners in the United States, both naturalized citizens of our country and those here on visas. One of our readers, whose job touches on domestic intelligence activities, has learned to keep her eyes open when traveling. This has taught her more than she wants to know.

Recently she said she encountered a situation that made her most uncomfortable: right off the interstate, in North Carolina, she stopped to get gas. The station had underpriced their product substantially, so of course it did a good business. What she noticed, though, was the existence of five or six major phone trunk lines running into the building. “ In the middle of nowhere in North Carolina”, she said.

Here’s how she thinks the operation works: say Uncle Ahmed in Pakistan calls this gas station. He speaks some code sentence — say, for example, “Aunt Khalifa is having a baby.” Or any news of a family nature. The receiver of the call places a call himself, repeating the code sentence. This message gets passed down the line who-knows-how-many-times, by landline, disposable cell phones, whatever. And by our lily-white rules, NSA may only listen to the first call. Anything else has been ruled off the turf as “invasion of privacy.”

The upshot of the whole situation is that terrorists have the perfect environment in which to operate without interference. The only help we do have is British intelligence, which is not so hamstrung as we are. Our friend says that the domestic calls — because phones use satellites to function — are vulnerable to the complex system of intercepts the British have established. Thus, they may pass information on to us and we may listen to it. Fortunately, there is as yet no law against a little help from our friends.

Now, in the past week, we have this rash of news stories, carried briefly by the MSM and then dropped in favor of the port security star stories, of various operations being brought to a halt by the FBI and other intelligence agencies. Here’s the one from Lousiana:

FBI Raids Middle Eastern Owned Convenience Stores and Service Stations

The FBI is conducting a large scale investigation into north Louisiana convenience stores with ties to the Middle East. As TV8′s Gina Swanson reports the Department of Homeland Security is in on the sting operation involving stores in at least four parishes.

They seized evidence by the box full. The FBI on Wednesday searched at least a half dozen convenience stores in North Louisiana. All with ties to the Middle East. The probe led agents to stores in Tallulah, Lake Providence, Monroe and Ruston. Law enforcement sources confirm that the stores are suspected of involvement in money laundering or counterfeiting. The Department of Homeland Security has sent agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or Ice, to work the case. At each station, agents seized boxes of evidence and retrieved at least one weapon. Police sources say at least some of the gas station operators are from Yemen, an Arab country located just south of Saudi Arabia

ULM history professor John Sutherlin believes the Arab heritage of the convenience store owners could make them a convenient target for terror suspects:

“Anytime Arab or Muslim people are involved people immediately think it must be terror related or have some connection to 9-11,” Sutherlin says. [when Arabs are involved in money laundering and counterfeiting rings who in their right mind doesn’t believe it’s terrorism-related?? Oh. Right. This quote is from someone at the local college…should have known —Dymphna]

The investigation reaches beyond Louisiana. TV8 news — the carrier for the previous story— confirmed the FBI and department of homeland security Wednesday also raided stores in Buffalo, New York.

Here’s another TV report, from the commenters at LGF. This one is from Little Rock:

Six people who live in Bryant have been charged by the U.S. attorney with something called money structuring. They operate two Little Rock gas stations, where officials say they were illegally sending money to the Middle East.

The three husband-wife teams are charged with sending $300,000 to dozens of people in the Middle East.

The FBI raided the Shell Station on Markham last November as part of the investigation. After the long investigation six men and women, four U.S. citizens and two legal residents, face charges that could land them in prison and cost them their businesses.

[…]

The main charge is money structuring. That’s described as purchasing bank checks in amounts slightly below the $3,000 federal limit that requires having to identify yourself. “Structuring cash” transactions avoid triggering the filing of reports or record keeping by a bank.

U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins says, “The ability to track large sums of money sent overseas is a vital part of investigating crimes that may impact out national security. So, when people intentionally evade these laws, they’re undercutting our safety.”

[…]

One husband-wife team is also charged with defrauding the state child welfare system. They’re accused with hoarding more than $100,000 cash in their home, but lying about their income on state documents.

And to round it out, The Middle Ground has a long story about an Ohio plot:

CLEVELAND – Three Muslim men from the Middle East were charged Tuesday with plotting terrorist attacks against U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq and other countries.

[…]

Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 26, is accused of threatening in conversations to kill or injure Bush. He also is charged with distributing information about making and using bombs.

The others are Marwan Othman El-Hindi, 42, a U.S. citizen born in Jordan; and Wassim I. Mazloum, 24, who came to the United States from Lebanon in 2000…

Her story is much longer than this and has some disturbing elements regarding the manufacture and use of car bombs by one of the people she names, a car dealer in Toledo.

The Middle Ground says that Toldeo has a large Muslim population and reminds us that this was the base for KindHearts, the Hamas-front charity that was recently closed down. Then she notes this about the terrorist plotters:

It’s very likely that this operation was brought to an abrupt end due to the NSA surveillance program being outed in the NYT. According to deputy director of the FBI, Joe Pistle, “enhanced surveillance” was part of the operation. Considering that the investigation efforts appear to have gone on for over six months with the man already delivering “laptops” to the “mujihadeen brothers”, which would have been plenty to take him and the others in for material support, it seems that investigators were trying to discover the other connections. The issue with warrantless wire taps may have forced them to roll up the investigation earlier than planned.

Her deductions are reasonable, and it may be why those places in Little Rock, the parishes of Louisianna, and Buffalo, New York were also “rolled up.”

If Lincoln were President, half The New York Times would be where they belonged: in jail with the terrorists. With citizens like them, who needs terrorists to bring the country down?

Port of Call

 
It’s hard to run things rationally when you have so many people ready to Monday morning quarterback your calls. But it comes with the territory and Mr. Bush must have wanted this job because he sure fought for it.

Everyone and his brother has an opinion on the UAE state-owned company, Dubai Ports World, which recently bought up the British company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.

Here are five facts about Dubai Ports World, from The Khajeel Times:

Baltimore

  • Shareholders at Britain’s P&O, who had been managing the ports, voted last week in favour of Dubai Port’s multibillion dollar bid, giving the firm control over the management of P&O’s global operations, including in the US ports of New York and New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Miami.
  • The deal made Dubai Ports World the world’s third-largest ports group.
  • Dubai Ports World purchased the global port assets of US freight rail company CSX Corp. in 2005 for $1.15 billion. US Treasury Secretary John Snow is a former chairman of CSX, but left the company a year before the Dubai deal.
  • One of DP World’s top executives, David Sanborn, was nominated by President George W. Bush in January to become the administrator of the Maritime Administration in the US Department of Transportation. At least one senator plans to hold up Sanborn’s confirmation until more questions about the port deal are answered.
  • Dubai Ports has international operations in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Germany, Romania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, India, China, Malaysia, South Korea and Australia in addition to the UAE.

What is most striking about this whole dust-up is the lack of information in every quarter. Do we know who made the decision to go with the UAE company (which is essentially staying with the old P&O Company)? I mean, how familiar are any of us with the CFIS — The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States? Do any of us know anything about the oversight of this committee?

What seems to have gridlocked is President Bush’s stubborn executive decision to check out what this committee did, receive assurances that it was standard operating procedure, and then dig his CEO heels in for the tussle. Meanwhile, post 9/11, the whole country is — to coin a phrase — up in arms at what seems like lax, dangerous decisions.

And there doesn’t seem to be an intelligent journalist out there willing to do the legwork to tell us what’s going on. Not that they don’t have opinions. Nearly everyone does:

In favor of the deal   Opposed to the deal   Straddling
George W. Bush   James Lileks   Bill Gertz
Jimmy Carter   Michelle Malkin   Cliff May
Wall Street Journal   New York Post   Jed Babbin
Washington Post   Frank Gaffney   LA Times
Saudi Arabia   Gov Pataki, NY   Mark Levin
Reuters   Mayor Bloomberg   TKS — Jim Geraghty
Gov. Bush, FL   Congress  
Lawrence Kudlow   Houston Chronicle  
  New York Times  
  Forbes  
  Gov. Ehrlich, MD  
  Miami mayor  
  Baltimore mayor  

Though fewer in numbers, the straddlers get my vote. This is one time to wait and see what can be discovered. Dubai Ports World isn’t galloping in here on their camels, scimitars at the ready.

Can we just wait and see what there is to be seen after the shouting and posturing are done with, and the sandstorm of irrational fear has settled enough to allow us to observe reality?

Please?

Vanderleun’s "Moist Men"

 
Daddy Dem's A WussFiled under “You Can’t Make This Drivel Up,” find the all-too-kind “book” “review” at American Digest. Both words have scare quotes because it’s not really a tome, it’s a creepy children’s agitprop tale.

And Mr.Vanderleun does not so much review this…this…thing so much as he attempts to understand it by dissecting it. His description of the author and his ilk is apt: he calls them “moist men,” for moist they are, and moldy. Not to mention unmanly.

How in God’s creation did we end up with so many geldlings? And why, as he points out, are so many of them Democrats? Years ago, Jude Wanniski divided the political parites into the Mommy Party and the Daddy Party. Back then, it fit better than it does now. For one thing, men and women were still speaking to one another and to the children. That’s not so frequent now.

But the Mommy Party, the Dems, have become such a parody of themselves that manly men have no choice but to leave. One should not have to sacrifice the family jewels for politics. Here’s how Mr.Vanderleun describes the author and his kind:

Although they are legion, these moist men sometimes rise above sea level and become a sign, a symbol, an avatar for the rest. Today’s Poster Child for Pap has to be Jeremy Zilber. Zilber’s got all the career achievements you need to be the very model of a modern moist Democrat. B.A. from Oberlin, styles himself a “lifelong Democrat and political activist,” has written a “scholarly” book whose bias shrieks out in its title (“Racialized Coverage of Congress: The News in Black and White”), lives with his partner and her daughter, and a cat. He’s got all the fundamentals down pat. Now comes his crowning achievement, a children’s book called … wait for it…. Why Mommy is a Democrat.

It is hard not to run shrieking from the room. Oh. I forgot: only enraged feminists do that.

By the way, in keeping with this book, you heard that Larry Summers resigned from Harvard? I wonder if he has a gun permit. And a hunting license? Don’t forget the duck stamp, Larry. Or the special one they sell for hunting shrews. And good luck, Larry!

God, will he need it. You can resign but how do you get your balls back once you’ve let someone remove them — and even kissed their hands while they did it?

"Our George" — the First One

Wot th’-?!George Washington’s Birthday badly needs refurbishing. It is a testament to our decline that the holiday devoted to the the person considered the military and executive founder of our Republic is best known for the annual sale of linens at department stores: the Washington February White Sale.

Have you read David McCullough’s 1776? Obviously, George Washington figures largely in this story and McCullough makes the facets of his character plain. For example, did you know that Washington didn’t like New Englanders? He found them unkempt — Washington himself was “meticulous about his person” as they used to say. And he disliked their lack of commitment. If there is one quality of Washington’s that shines through in 1776, one characteristic that you begin to envy, it is Washington’s refusal to ever, ever quit. What a tenacious man.

His weaknesses were many, but Washington overcame most of them with simple steadfastness. He was embarrassed by his poor teeth and by his lack of formal schooling. He was beloved by those who served him and who served under him.

There is a good interview with McCollough on Amazon’s pre-publication page. And there’s link to buy the book on the side bar. I was given it as a Christmas present and I urge you to get yourself the same gift!

To further your understanding of McCollough’s subject also consider Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis. Not only will it round out 1776, it will give an overview of that whole period. Because each chapter can be read on its own, the final result is a weaving of stories about siblings rather than about parents. It brings the founding generation of the Republic down to ground level so that you may walk among them and understand their genius and their rivalries. They won’t ever seem quite the same.

If you want to read an excellent post on Washington (and others) by a blogger, you couldn’t do better than Callimachus’ effort. At the end, wanting to separate Washington and Lincoln, whose commemoration days fall so closely together, Callimachus tells this story:

One of the leaders of the American Revolution — I forget now who it was, Ethan Allen, perhaps — visited England after the war. His host entertained him comfortably, but was the sort of fellow who constantly disparaged America and Americans generally (no, it didn’t start with Bush), and never could get over the fact we had beaten them in the war. To amuse himself and to twit his American guest, the host hung a print of George Washington on the wall of his outhouse. It had been there for a few days, and the host knew the American must have seen it, but he had said nothing. Finally overcome by curiosity, the host asked his guest what he thought of the picture of Washington.

“It is most appropriately hung,” the American replied. “Nothing ever made the British shit like the sight of George Washington.”

Now, until you actually go over and read his post, you will think I’ve taken the best of it to put up here. Not at all. Go to “Our George” for an entertaining history lesson. I guarantee you do not know as much now as you will when you’ve finished reading Callimachus’ essay.

Mr. Hitchens Says: "Meet Me at the Danish Embassy"

 
Yesterday, Christopher Hitchens had telling points to make about the treatment of Denmark. He is rightly outraged:

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.

Yes, Mr. Hitchens, feelings do trump all, don’t they? That is the final outcome of a multi-culti universe. One bases moral judgments, actions, and failures to act on feelings. Not on fellow-feeling, not on empathy or the ‘feeling’ of respect, but on how a particular event makes one feel. As in, “if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.” That is the multi-culti cul-de-sac, the end of the road. Nothing trumps feelings…why nothing even matches them.

Sooo: anyone feel like standing up for Denmark after this long, dark Kristallnacht? If you want to show the Danish people how you “feel” about this abomination by the vandals, show up at the Danish Embassy this coming Friday. Here is Mr. Hitchens’ directions and recommendations for his show of hands at the Danish Embassy:

Thank you all who’ve written [in response to his original column]. Please be outside the Embassy of Denmark, 3200 Whitehaven Street (off Massachusetts Avenue) between noon and 1 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 24. Quietness and calm are the necessities, plus cheerful conversation. Danish flags are good, or posters reading “Stand By Denmark” and any variation on this theme (such as “Buy Carlsberg/ Havarti/ Lego”) The response has been astonishing and I know that the Danes are appreciative. But they are an embassy and thus do not of course endorse or comment on any demonstration. Let us hope, however, to set a precedent for other cities and countries. Please pass on this message to friends and colleagues.

This is a great idea which is limited by the choice of day. Having it on Friday will preclude many people from attending. Those with jobs and kids’ schedules who live within two hours of the District will be constrained by the choice of day. That’s unfortunate since it will make for a smaller, probably much smaller, turnout.