Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

Archive for March, 2008

A Beer Story: Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

Posted by Tony Listi on March 21, 2008

The wealthy pay most of the taxes, so it should be no surprised that they get a larger percentage of the tax cut total back!  It is only fair. 

——

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers, he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,’declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,’ but he got $10!’

‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man. ‘I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!’

‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man. ‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’

‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

Posted in American Culture, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Economics, Government and Politics, Poverty | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments »

Secret to Obama’s Success: White Guilt

Posted by Tony Listi on March 19, 2008

This is the best, the keenest, most insightful analysis of the Obama phenomenon I’ve read thus far!

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB120579535818243439-lMyQjAxMDI4MDE1ODcxOTg1Wj.html

The Obama Bargain
By SHELBY STEELE
March 18, 2008; Page A23

Geraldine Ferraro may have had sinister motives when she said that Barack Obama would not be “in his position” as a frontrunner but for his race. Possibly she was acting as Hillary Clinton’s surrogate. Or maybe she was simply befuddled by this new reality — in which blackness could constitute a political advantage.

But whatever her motives, she was right: “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.” Barack Obama is, of course, a very talented politician with a first-rate political organization at his back. But it does not detract from his merit to say that his race is also a large part of his prominence. And it is undeniable that something extremely powerful in the body politic, a force quite apart from the man himself, has pulled Obama forward. This force is about race and nothing else.

The novelty of Barack Obama is more his cross-racial appeal than his talent. Jesse Jackson displayed considerable political talent in his presidential runs back in the 1980s. But there was a distinct limit to his white support. Mr. Obama’s broad appeal to whites makes him the first plausible black presidential candidate in American history. And it was Mr. Obama’s genius to understand this. Though he likes to claim that his race was a liability to be overcome, he also surely knew that his race could give him just the edge he needed — an edge that would never be available to a white, not even a white woman.

How to turn one’s blackness to advantage?

The answer is that one “bargains.” Bargaining is a mask that blacks can wear in the American mainstream, one that enables them to put whites at their ease. This mask diffuses the anxiety that goes along with being white in a multiracial society. Bargainers make the subliminal promise to whites not to shame them with America’s history of racism, on the condition that they will not hold the bargainer’s race against him. And whites love this bargain — and feel affection for the bargainer — because it gives them racial innocence in a society where whites live under constant threat of being stigmatized as racist. So the bargainer presents himself as an opportunity for whites to experience racial innocence.

This is how Mr. Obama has turned his blackness into his great political advantage, and also into a kind of personal charisma. Bargainers are conduits of white innocence, and they are as popular as the need for white innocence is strong. Mr. Obama’s extraordinary dash to the forefront of American politics is less a measure of the man than of the hunger in white America for racial innocence.

His actual policy positions are little more than Democratic Party boilerplate and hardly a tick different from Hillary’s positions. He espouses no galvanizing political idea. He is unable to say what he means by “change” or “hope” or “the future.” And he has failed to say how he would actually be a “unifier.” By the evidence of his slight political record (130 “present” votes in the Illinois state legislature, little achievement in the U.S. Senate) Barack Obama stacks up as something of a mediocrity. None of this matters much.

Race helps Mr. Obama in another way — it lifts his political campaign to the level of allegory, making it the stuff of a far higher drama than budget deficits and education reform. His dark skin, with its powerful evocations of America’s tortured racial past, frames the political contest as a morality play. Will his victory mean America’s redemption from its racist past? Will his defeat show an America morally unevolved? Is his campaign a story of black overcoming, an echo of the civil rights movement? Or is it a passing-of-the-torch story, of one generation displacing another?

Because he is black, there is a sense that profound questions stand to be resolved in the unfolding of his political destiny. And, as the Clintons have discovered, it is hard in the real world to run against a candidate of destiny. For many Americans — black and white — Barack Obama is simply too good (and too rare) an opportunity to pass up. For whites, here is the opportunity to document their deliverance from the shames of their forbearers. And for blacks, here is the chance to document the end of inferiority. So the Clintons have found themselves running more against America’s very highest possibilities than against a man. And the press, normally happy to dispel every political pretension, has all but quivered before Mr. Obama. They, too, have feared being on the wrong side of destiny.

And yet, in the end, Barack Obama’s candidacy is not qualitatively different from Al Sharpton’s or Jesse Jackson’s. Like these more irascible of his forbearers, Mr. Obama’s run at the presidency is based more on the manipulation of white guilt than on substance. Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson were “challengers,” not bargainers. They intimidated whites and demanded, in the name of historical justice, that they be brought forward. Mr. Obama flatters whites, grants them racial innocence, and hopes to ascend on the back of their gratitude. Two sides of the same coin.

But bargainers have an Achilles heel. They succeed as conduits of white innocence only as long as they are largely invisible as complex human beings. They hope to become icons that can be identified with rather than seen, and their individual complexity gets in the way of this. So bargainers are always laboring to stay invisible. (We don’t know the real politics or convictions of Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan or Oprah Winfrey, bargainers all.) Mr. Obama has said of himself, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views . . .” And so, human visibility is Mr. Obama’s Achilles heel. If we see the real man, his contradictions and bents of character, he will be ruined as an icon, as a “blank screen.”

Thus, nothing could be more dangerous to Mr. Obama’s political aspirations than the revelation that he, the son of a white woman, sat Sunday after Sunday — for 20 years — in an Afrocentric, black nationalist church in which his own mother, not to mention other whites, could never feel comfortable. His pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a challenger who goes far past Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in his anti-American outrage (“God damn America”).

How does one “transcend” race in this church? The fact is that Barack Obama has fellow-traveled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life, failing to stand and challenge an ideology that would have no place for his own mother. And what portent of presidential judgment is it to have exposed his two daughters for their entire lives to what is, at the very least, a subtext of anti-white vitriol?

What could he have been thinking? Of course he wasn’t thinking. He was driven by insecurity, by a need to “be black” despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity. And anyway, wasn’t this hatred more rhetorical than real?

But now the floodlight of a presidential campaign has trained on this usually hidden corner of contemporary black life: a mindless indulgence in a rhetorical anti-Americanism as a way of bonding and of asserting one’s blackness. Yet Jeremiah Wright, splashed across America’s television screens, has shown us that there is no real difference between rhetorical hatred and real hatred.

No matter his ultimate political fate, there is already enough pathos in Barack Obama to make him a cautionary tale. His public persona thrives on a manipulation of whites (bargaining), and his private sense of racial identity demands both self-betrayal and duplicity. His is the story of a man who flew so high, yet neglected to become himself.

Mr. Steele, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the author of “A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win” (Free Press, 2007).

Posted in American Culture, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Politicians, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Can Homosexuals Be Saved by Faith Alone?

Posted by Tony Listi on March 18, 2008

I wonder if looking at the issue of sola fide from the perspective of homosexuality will foster a different type of discussion than usually happens.

So, I ask you, my Protestant friends, evangelicals and those of the more conservative and traditional denominations (yes, tradition…): can a practicing homosexual (i.e. engages in acts of sodomy; not merely has feelings or urges) be saved by faith alone? Can this person’s mere mental assent to Jesus’ divinity and sacrifice secure salvation despite this sinful behavior, which is an “abomination” according to Scripture?

I should probably say no more and wait for responses.

Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Homosexuality, Religion and Theology | Tagged: , , , , | 26 Comments »

Iraq Supported Jihadist Terrorism, Media Misrepresents Report

Posted by Tony Listi on March 17, 2008

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/889pvpxc.asp?pg=1 

Saddam’s Dangerous Friends
What a Pentagon review of 600,000 Iraqi documents tells us.
by Stephen F. Hayes
03/24/2008, Volume 013, Issue 27

This ought to be big news. Throughout the early and mid-1990s, Saddam Hussein actively supported an influential terrorist group headed by the man who is now al Qaeda’s second-in-command, according to an exhaustive study issued last week by the Pentagon. “Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda’s stated goals and objectives.” According to the Pentagon study, Egyptian Islamic Jihad was one of many jihadist groups that Iraq’s former dictator funded, trained, equipped, and armed.

The study was commissioned by the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, and produced by analysts at the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federally funded military think tank. It is entitled “Iraqi Perspectives Project: Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents.” The study is based on a review of some 600,000 documents captured in postwar Iraq. Those “documents” include letters, memos, computer files, audiotapes, and videotapes produced by Saddam Hussein’s regime, especially his intelligence services. The analysis section of the study covers 59 pages. The appendices, which include copies of some of the captured documents and translations, put the entire study at approximately 1,600 pages.

An abstract that describes the study reads, in part:

Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some way, a ‘de facto’ link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.”

Among the study’s other notable findings:

In 1993, as Osama bin Laden’s fighters battled Americans in Somalia, Saddam Hussein personally ordered the formation of an Iraqi terrorist group to join the battle there.

For more than two decades, the Iraqi regime trained non-Iraqi jihadists in training camps throughout Iraq.

According to a 1993 internal Iraqi intelligence memo, the regime was supporting a secret Islamic Palestinian organization dedicated to “armed jihad against the Americans and Western interests.”

In the 1990s, Iraq’s military intelligence directorate trained and equipped “Sudanese fighters.”

In 1998, the Iraqi regime offered “financial and moral support” to a new group of jihadists in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

In 2002, the year before the war began, the Iraqi regime hosted in Iraq a series of 13 conferences for non-Iraqi jihadist groups.

That same year, a branch of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) issued hundreds of Iraqi passports for known terrorists.

There is much, much more. Documents reveal that the regime stockpiled bombmaking materials in Iraqi embassies around the world and targeted Western journalists for assassination. In July 2001, an Iraqi Intelligence agent described an al Qaeda affiliate in Bahrain, the Army of Muhammad, as “under the wings of bin Laden.” Although the organization “is an offshoot of bin Laden,” the fact that it has a different name “can be a way of camouflaging the organization.” The agent is told to deal with the al Qaeda group according to “priorities previously established.”

In describing the relations between the Army of Muhammad and the Iraqi regime, the authors of the Pentagon study come to this conclusion: “Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda–as long as that organization’s near-term goals supported Saddam’s long-term vision.”

As I said, this ought to be big news. And, in a way, it was. A headline in the New York Times, a cursory item in the Washington Post, and stories on NPR and ABC News reported that the study showed no links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

How can a study offering an unprecedented look into the closed regime of a brutal dictator, with over 1,600 pages of “strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism,” in the words of its authors, receive a wave-of-the-hand dismissal from America’s most prestigious news outlets? All it took was a leak to a gullible reporter, one misleading line in the study’s executive summary, a boneheaded Pentagon press office, an incompetent White House, and widespread journalistic negligence.

On Monday, March 10, 2008, Warren P. Strobel, a reporter from the McClatchy News Service first reported that the new Pentagon study was coming. “An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida terrorist network.” McClatchy is a newspaper chain that serves
many of America’s largest cities. The national security reporters in its Washington bureau have earned a reputation as reliable outlets for anti-Bush administration spin on intelligence. Strobel quoted a “U.S. official familiar with the report” who told him that the search of Iraqi documents yielded no evidence of a “direct operational link” between Iraq and al Qaeda. Strobel used the rest of the article to attempt to demonstrate that this undermined the Bush administration’s prewar claims with regard to Iraq and terrorism.

With the study not scheduled for release for two more days, this article shaped subsequent coverage, which was no doubt the leaker’s purpose. Stories from other media outlets tracked McClatchy very closely but began to incorporate a highly misleading phrase taken from the executive summary: “This study found no ‘smoking gun’ (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam’s Iraq and al Qaeda.” This is how the Washington Post wrote it up:

An examination of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents, audio and video records collected by U.S. forces since the March 2003 invasion has concluded that there is ‘no smoking gun’ supporting the Bush administration’s prewar assertion of an ‘operational relationship’ between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist network, sources familiar with the study said.”

Much of the confusion might have been avoided if the Bush administration had done anything to promote the study. An early version of the Pentagon study was provided to National Security Adviser Steve Hadley more than a year ago, before November 2006. In recent weeks, as the Pentagon handled the rollout of the study, Hadley was tasked with briefing President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. It’s unclear whether he shared the study with President Bush, and NSC officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment. But sources close to Cheney say the vice president was blindsided.

After the erroneous report from McClatchy, two officials involved with the study became very concerned about the misreporting of its contents. One of them said in an interview that he found the media coverage of the study “disappointing.” Another, James Lacey, expressed his concern in an email to Karen Finn in the Pentagon press office, who was handling the rollout of the study. On Tuesday, the day before it was scheduled for release, Lacey wrote: “1. The story has been leaked. 2. ABC News is doing a story based on the executive summary tonight. 3. The Washington Post is doing a story based on rumors they heard from ABC News. The document is being misrepresented. I recommend we put [it] out and on a website immediately.”

Finn declined, saying that members of Congress had not been told the study was coming. “Despite the leak, there are Congressional notifications and then an official public release. This should not be posted on the web until these actions are complete.”

Still under the misimpression that the Pentagon study undermined the case for war, McClatchy’s Warren Strobel saw this bureaucratic infighting as a conspiracy to suppress the study:

The Pentagon on Wednesday canceled plans for broad public release of a study that found no pre-Iraq war link between late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the al Qaida terrorist network. . . . The reversal highlighted the politically sensitive nature of its conclusions, which were first reported Monday by McClatchy.

In making their case for invading Iraq in 2002 and 2003, President Bush and his top national security aides claimed that Saddam’s regime had ties to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida terrorist network.

But the study, based on more than 600,000 captured documents, including audio and video files, found that while Saddam sponsored terrorism, particularly against opponents of his regime and against Israel, there was no evidence of an al Qaida link.

An examination of the rest of the study makes the White House decision to ignore the Pentagon study even more curious. The first section explores “Terror as an Instrument of State Power” and describes documents detailing Fedayeen Saddam terrorist training camps in Iraq. Graduates of the terror training camps would be dispatched to sensitive sites to carry out their assassinations and bombings. In May 1999, the regime plotted an operation code named “Blessed July” in which the top graduates of the terrorist training courses would be sent to London, Iran, and Kurdistan to conduct assassinations and bombings.

A separate set of documents presents, according to the Pentagon study, “evidence of logistical preparation for terrorist operations in other nations, including those in the West.” In one letter, a director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) responds to a request from Saddam for an inventory of weapons stockpiled in Iraqi embassies throughout the world. The terrorist tools include missile launchers and missiles, “American missile launchers,” explosive materials, TNT, plastic explosive charges, Kalashnikov rifles, and “booby-trapped suitcases.”

The July 2002 Iraqi memo describes how these weapons were distributed to the operatives in embassies.

Between the year 2000 and 2002     explosive materials were transported to embassies outside Iraq for special work, upon the approval of the Director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The responsibility for these materials is in the hands of heads of stations. Some of these materials were transported in the political mail carriers [Diplomatic Pouch]. Some of these materials were transported by car in booby-trapped briefcases.

Saddam also recruited non-Iraqi jihadists to serve as suicide bombers on behalf of the Iraqi regime. According to the study, captured documents “indicate that as early as January 1998, the scheduling of suicide volunteers was routine enough to warrant not only a national-level policy letter but a formal schedule–during summer vacation–built around maximizing availability of Arab citizens in Iraq on Saddam-funded scholarships.”

The second section of the Pentagon study concerns “State Relationships with Terrorist Groups.” An IIS document dated March 18, 1993, lists nine terrorist “organizations that our agency [IIS] cooperates with and have relations with various elements in many parts of the Arab world and who also have the expertise to carry out assignments” on behalf of the regime. Several well-known Palestinian terrorist organizations make the list, including Abu Nidal’s Fatah-Revolutionary Council and Abu Abbas’s Palestinian Liberation Front. Another group, the secret “Renewal and Jihad Organization” is described this way in the Iraqi memo:

It believes in armed jihad against the Americans and Western interests. They also believe our leader [Saddam Hussein], may God protect him, is the true leader in the war against the infidels. The organization’s leaders live in Jordan     when they visited Iraq two months ago they demonstrated a willingness to carry out operations against American interests at any time.”

Other groups listed in the Iraqi memo include the “Islamic Scholars Group” and the “Pakistan Scholars Group. ”

There are two terrorist organizations on the Iraqi Intelligence list that deserve special consideration: the Afghani Islamic Party of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad of Ayman al Zawahiri.

This IIS document provides this description of the Afghani Islamic Party:

It was founded in 1974 when its leader [Gulbuddin Hekmatyar] escaped from Afghanistan to Pakistan. It is considered one of the extreme political religious movements against the West, and one of the strongest Sunni parties in Afghanistan. The organization relies on financial support from Iraq and we have had good relations with Hikmatyar since 1989.

In his book Holy War, Inc., Peter Bergen, a terrorism analyst who has long been skeptical of Iraq-al Qaeda connections, describes Hekmatyar as Osama bin Laden’s “alter ego.” Bergen writes: “Bin Laden and Hekmatyar worked closely together. During the early 1990s al-Qaeda’s training camps in the Khost region of eastern Afghanistan were situated in an area controlled by Hekmatyar’s party.”

It’s worth dwelling for a moment on that set of facts. An internal Iraqi Intelligence document reports that Iraqis have “good relations” with Hekmatyar and that his organization “relies on financial support from Iraq.” At precisely the same time, Hekmatyar “worked closely” with Osama bin Laden and his Afghani Islamic Party hosted “al Qaeda’s terrorist training camps” in eastern Afghanistan.

The IIS document also reveals that Saddam was funding another close ally of bin Laden, the EIJ organization of Ayman al Zawahiri.

In a meeting in the Sudan we agreed to renew our relations with the Islamic Jihad Organization in Egypt. Our information on the group is as follows:

It was established in 1979.

Its goal is to apply the Islamic shari’a law and establish Islamic rule.

It is considered one of the most brutal Egyptian organizations. It carried out numerous successful operations, including the assassination of [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat.

We have previously met with the organization’s representative and we agreed on a plan to carry out commando operations against the Egyptian regime.

Zawahiri arrived in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s, and “from the start he concentrated his efforts on getting close to bin Laden,” according to Lawrence Wright, in The Looming Tower. The leaders of EIJ quickly became leaders of bin Laden’s organizations. “He soon succeeded in placing trusted members of Islamic Jihad in key positions around bin Laden,” Wright reported in the definitive profile of Zawahiri, published in the New Yorker in September 2002. “According to the Islamist attorney Montasser al-Zayat, ‘Zawahiri completely controlled bin Laden. The largest share of bin Laden’s financial support went to Zawahiri and the Jihad organization.”

Later, Wright describes the founding of al Qaeda.

Toward the end of 1989, a meeting took place in the Afghan town of Khost at a mujahideen camp. A Sudanese fighter named Jamal al-Fadl was among the participants, and he later testified about the event in a New York courtroom during one of the trials connected with the 1998 bombing of the American embassies in East Africa. According to Fadl, the meeting was attended by ten men–four or five of them Egyptians, including Zawahiri. Fadl told the court that the chairman of the meeting, an Iraqi known as Abu Ayoub, proposed the formation of a new organization that would wage jihad beyond the borders of Afghanistan. There was some dispute about the name, but ultimately the new organization came to be called Al Qaeda–the Base. The alliance was conceived as a loose affiliation among individual mujahideen and established groups, and was dominated by Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The ultimate boss, however, was Osama bin Laden, who held the checkbook.

Once again, it’s worth dwelling on these facts for a moment. In 1989, Ayman al Zawahiri attended the founding meeting of al Qaeda. He was literally present at the creation, and his EIJ “dominated” the new organization headed by Osama bin Laden.

In the early 1990s, Zawahiri and bin Laden moved their operations to Sudan. After a fundraising trip to the United States in the spring of 1993, Zawahiri returned to Sudan where, again according to Wright, he “began working more closely with bin Laden, and most of the Egyptian members of Islamic Jihad went on the Al Qaeda payroll.” Although some members of EIJ were skeptical of bin Laden and his global aspirations, Zawahiri sought a de facto merger with al Qaeda. One of his top assistants would later say Zawahiri had told him that “joining with bin Laden [was] the only solution to keeping the Jihad organization alive.”

Again, at precisely the same time Zawahiri was “joining with bin Laden,” the spring of 1993, he was being funded by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. As Zawahiri’s jihadists trained in al Qaeda camps in Sudan, his representative to Iraq was planning “commando operations” against the Egyptian government with the IIS.

Another captured Iraqi document from early 1993 “reports on contact with a large number of terrorist groups in the region, including those that maintained an office or liaison in Iraq.” In the same folder is a memo from Saddam Hussein to a member of his Revolutionary Council ordering the formation of “a group to start hunting Americans present on Arab soil, especially Somalia.” A second memo to the director of the IIS, instructs him to revise the plan for “operations inside Somalia.”

More recently, captured “annual reports” of the IIS reveal support for terrorist organizations in the months leading up the U.S. invasion in March 2003. According to the Pentagon study, “the IIS hosted thirteen conferences in 2002 for a number of Palestinian and other organizations, including delegations from the Islamic Jihad Movement and the Director General for the Popular Movement for the Liberation of al-Ahwaz.” The same annual report “also notes that among the 699 passports, renewals and other official documentation that the IIS issued, many were issued to known members of terrorist organizations.”

The Pentagon study goes on to describe captured documents that instruct the IIS to maintain contact with all manner of Arab movement and others that “reveal that later IIS activities went beyond just maintaining contact.” Throughout the 1990s, the Iraqi regime’s General Military Intelligence Directorate “was training Sudanese fighters inside Iraq.”

The second section of the Pentagon study also discusses captured documents related to the Islamic Resistance organization in Kurdistan from 1998 and 1999. The documents show that the Iraqi regime provided “financial and moral support” to members of the group, which would later become part of the al Qaeda affiliate in the region, Ansar al Islam.

The third section of the Pentagon study is called “Iraq and Terrorism: Three Cases.” One of the cases is that of the Army of Muhammad, the al Qaeda affiliate in Bahrain. A series of memoranda order an Iraqi Intelligence operative in Bahrain to explore a relationship with its leaders. On July 9, 2001, the agent reports back: “Information available to us is that the group is under the wings of bin Laden. They receive their directions from Yemen. Their objectives are the same as bin Laden.” Later, he lists the organization’s objectives.

Jihad in the name of God

Striking the embassies and other Jewish and American interests anywhere in the world.

Attacking the American and British military bases in the Arab land.

Striking American embassies and interests unless the Americans pull out their forces from the Arab lands and discontinue their support for Israel.

Disrupting oil exports [to] the Americans from Arab countries and threatening tankers carrying oil to them.

A separate memo reveals that the Army of Muhammad has requested assistance from Iraq. The study authors summarize the response by writing, “the local IIS station has been told to deal with them in accordance with priorities previously established. The IIS agent goes on to inform the Director that ‘this organization is an offshoot of bin Laden, but that their objectives are similar but with different names that can be a way of camouflaging the organization.'”

We never learn what those “previous priorities” were and thus what, if anything, came of these talks. But it is instructive that the operative in Bahrain understood the importance of disguising relations with al Qaeda and that the director of IIS, knowing that the group was affiliated with bin Laden and sought to attack Americans, seemed more interested in continuing the relationship than in ending it.

The fourth and final section of the Pentagon study is called “The Business of Terror.” The authors write: “An example of indirect cooperation is the movement led by Osama bin Laden. During the 1990s, both Saddam and bin Laden wanted the West, particularly the United States, out of Muslim lands (or in the view of Saddam, the “Arab nation”).  .  .  .  In pursuit of their own separate but surprisingly ‘parallel’ visions, Saddam and bin Laden often found a common enemy in the United States.”

They further note that Saddam’s security organizations and bin Laden’s network

were recruiting within the same demographic, spouting much of the same rhetoric, and promoting a common historical narrative that promised a return to a glorious past. That these movements (pan-Arab and pan-Islamic) had many similarities and strategic parallels does not mean they saw themselves in that light. Nevertheless, these similarities created more than just the appearance of cooperation. Common interests, even without common cause, increased the aggregate terror threat.

As much as we have learned from this impressive collection of documents, it is only a fraction of what we will know in 10, 20, or 50 years. The authors themselves acknowledge the limits of their work.

In fact, there are several captured Iraqi documents that have been authenticated by the U.S. government that were not included in the study but add to the picture it sketches. One document, authenticated by the Defense Intelligence Agency and first reported on 60 Minutes, is dated March 28, 1992. It describes Osama bin Laden as an Iraqi intelligence asset “in good contact” with the IIS station in Syria.

Another Iraqi document, this one from the mid-1990s, was first reported in the New York Times on June 25, 2004. Authenticated by a Pentagon and intelligence working group, the document was titled “Iraqi Effort to Cooperate with Saudi Opposition Groups and Individuals.” The working group concluded that it “corroborates and expands on previous reporting” on contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. It revealed that a Sudanese government official met with Uday Hussein and the director of the IIS in 1994 and reported that bin Laden was willing to meet in Sudan. Bin Laden, according to the Iraqi document, was then “approached by our side” after “presidential approval” for the liaison was given. The former head of Iraqi Intelligence Directorate 4 met with bin Laden on February 19, 1995. The document further states that bin Laden “had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative”–a comment that suggests the possibility had been discussed.

Bin Laden requested that Iraq’s state-run television network broadcast anti-Saudi propaganda, and the document indicates that the Iraqis agreed to do this. The al Qaeda leader also proposed “joint operations against foreign forces” in Saudi Arabia. There is no Iraqi response provided in the documents. When bin Laden left Sudan for Afghanistan in May 1996, the Iraqis sought “other channels through which to handle the relationship, in light of his current location.” The IIS memo directs that “cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement.”

In another instance, the new Pentagon study makes reference to captured documents detailing the Iraqi relationship with Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda affiliate in the Philippines founded by Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law. But the Pentagon study does not mention the most significant element of those documents, first reported in these pages. In a memo from Ambassador Salah Samarmad to the Secondary Policy Directorate of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, we learn that the Iraqi regime had been funding and equipping Abu Sayyaf, which had been responsible for a series of high-profile kidnappings. The Iraqi operative informs Baghdad that such support had been suspended. “The kidnappers were formerly (from the previous year) receiving money and purchasing combat weapons. From now on we (IIS) are not giving them this opportunity and are not on speaking terms with them.” That support would resume soon enough, and shortly before the war a high-ranking Iraqi diplomat named Hisham Hussein would be expelled from the Philippines after his cell phone number appeared on an Abu Sayyaf cell phone used to detonate a bomb.

What’s happening here is obvious. Military historians and terrorism analysts are engaged in a good faith effort to review the captured documents from the Iraqi regime and provide a dispassionate, fact-based examination of Saddam Hussein’s long support of jihadist terrorism. Most reporters don’t care. They are trapped in a world where the Bush administration lied to the country about an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, and no amount of evidence to the contrary–not even the words of the fallen Iraqi regime itself–can convince them to reexamine their mistaken assumptions.

Bush administration officials, meanwhile, tell us that the Iraq war is the central front in the war on terror and that American national security depends on winning there. And yet they are too busy or too tired or too lazy to correct these fundamental misperceptions about the case for war, the most important decision of the Bush presidency.

What good is the truth if nobody knows it?

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

See also:

NRO’s Andy McCarthy CONNECTED: Iraq and al Qaeda
TWS’ Stephen F. Hayes The New Report on Iraq and Terror
The NY Sun’s Eli Lake Report Details Saddam’s Terrorist Ties
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey Saddam supported at least two al-Qaeda groups: Pentagon

Posted in Government and Politics, Iraq War, The Media, Old and New, The War on Terror | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ManBearPig: The Movie

Posted by Tony Listi on March 15, 2008

Al Gore is on the hunt for ManBearPig.

Posted in Just for Fun, Politicians | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An Inconvenient Truth II: Supernova

Posted by Tony Listi on March 15, 2008

This is almost as good Man-Bear-Pig!

Posted in Global Warming and Environment, Government and Politics, Just for Fun, Politicians | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Let’s Say I Break into Your House (Illegal Immigration Analogy)

Posted by Tony Listi on March 15, 2008

Got this in a chain email. Thought it illustrated the conservative position on illegal immigration very well.

“Recently large demonstrations have taken place across the country protesting the fact that Congress is finally addressing the issue of illegal immigration. Certain people are angry that the US might protect its own borders, might make it harder to sneak into this country and, once here, to stay indefinitely.

Let me see if I correctly understand the thinking behind these protests. Let’s say I break into your house. Let’s say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave. But I say, ‘No! I like it here. It’s better than my house. I’ve made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors. I’ve done all the things you don’t like to do. I’m hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house).’

According to the protesters:

You are Required to let me stay in your house
You are Required to feed me
You are Required to add me to your family’s insurance plan
You are Required to educate my kids
You are Required to provide other benefits to me & to my family

(my husband will do all of your yard work because he is also hard-working and honest, except for that breaking in part).

If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my RIGHT to be there.

It’s only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I’m just trying to better myself. I’m a hard-working and honest, person, except for well, you know, I did break into your house And what a deal it is for me!!!

I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of my keep, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of cold, uncaring, selfish, prejudiced, and bigoted behavior.

Oh yeah, I DEMAND that you learn MY LANGUAGE!!! so you can communicate with me.

Why can’t people see how ridiculous this is?!”

Posted in Government and Politics, Illegal Immigration | Tagged: , , , , , | 19 Comments »

Weather Channel Founder Suing Al Gore for Fraud?

Posted by Tony Listi on March 14, 2008

John Coleman on Fox and Friends suggesting a lawsuit against Al Gore for financial fraud: 

Coleman on Glenn Beck Show denouncing global warming as a scam:

Coleman at IPCC:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0%2C2933%2C337710%2C00.html

The founder of the Weather Channel wants to sue Al Gore for fraud, hoping a legal debate will settle the global-warming debate once and for all.

John Coleman, who founded the cable network in 1982, suggests suing for fraud proponents of global warming, including Al Gore, and companies that sell carbon credits.

“Is he committing financial fraud? That is the question,” Coleman said.

“Since we can’t get a debate, I thought perhaps if we had a legal challenge and went into a court of law, where it was our scientists and their scientists, and all the legal proceedings with the discovery and all their documents from both sides and scientific testimony from both sides, we could finally get a good solid debate on the issue,” Coleman said. “I’m confident that the advocates of ‘no significant effect from carbon dioxide’ would win the case.”

Coleman says his side of the global-warming debate is being buried in mainstream media circles.

“As you look at the atmosphere over the last 25 years, there’s been perhaps a degree of warming, perhaps probably a whole lot less than that, and the last year has been so cold that that’s been erased,” he said.

“I think if we continue the cooling trend a couple of more years, the general public will at last begin to realize that they’ve been scammed on this global-warming thing.”

Coleman spoke to FOXNews.com after his appearance last week at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York, where he called global warming a scam and lambasted the cable network he helped create.

“You want to tune to the Weather Channel and have them tell you how to live your life?” Coleman said. “Come on.”

He laments the network’s decision to focus on traffic and lifestyle reports over the weather.

“It’s very clear that they don’t realize that weather is the most significant impact in every human being’s daily life, and good, solid, up-to-the-minute weather information and meaningful forecasts presented in such a way that people find them understandable and enjoyable can have a significant impact,” he said.

“The more you cloud that up with other baloney, the weaker the product,” he said.

Coleman has long been a skeptic of global warming, and carbon dioxide is the linchpin to his argument.

“Does carbon dioxide cause a warming of the atmosphere? The proponents of global warming pin their whole piece on that,” he said.

The compound carbon dioxide makes up only 38 out of every 100,000 particles in the atmosphere, he said.

“That’s about twice as what there were in the atmosphere in the time we started burning fossil fuels, so it’s gone up, but it’s still a tiny compound,” Coleman said. “So how can that tiny trace compound have such a significant effect on temperature?

“My position is it can’t,” he continued. “It doesn’t, and the whole case for global warming is based on a fallacy.”

Posted in Global Warming and Environment, Government and Politics, Science and Politics, The Media, Old and New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s Racist, Anti-American Spiritual Mentor

Posted by Tony Listi on March 13, 2008

 The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright (left), pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Wright blames America for 9/11. “God damn America”

Jeremiah Wright is like an “old uncle who sometimes says things I don’t agree with”? Then why does he have a formal role on the Obama campaign? Words matter Barack! You of all people should realize that.

Wright explains his perverse racial theology and attacks Hillary Clinton for being white.

The New York Times attempts to defend Obama. Are we really to believe that Obama can have such a close association with Mr. Wright and yet not hold any of his racist, anti-American views? Obama handpicked this church and this pastor out of many! Obama sat in Wright’s pews for 20 years! He was baptized at this church. He and Michelle were married at this church. Their children were baptized at this church. Obama had 20 years to distance himself from Wright and TUCC; we have no reason to believe his repudiations during campaign season are anything but statements of political expediency.

See also: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/politics/bal-te.preacher16jan16,0,1629577.story?track=rss

(Pics from NYT and Chicago Tribune)

Posted in Christianity and Politics, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Politicians, Politics and Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Priest-Cosmologist Wins Prize for Universe Research

Posted by Tony Listi on March 13, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/13/science/13prize.html?ex=1206072000&en=05f8fd66cce9b0b4&ei=5070&emc=eta1 

The $1.6 million Templeton Prize, the richest award made to an individual by a philanthropic organization, was given Wednesday to Michael Heller, 72, a Roman Catholic priest, cosmologist and philosopher who has spent his life asking, and perhaps more impressively answering, questions like “Does the universe need to have a cause?”

The John Templeton Foundation, which awards grants to encourage scientific discovery on the “big questions” in science and philosophy, commended Professor Heller, who is from Poland, for his extensive writings that have “evoked new and important consideration of some of humankind’s most profound concepts.”

Much of Professor Heller’s career has been dedicated to reconciling the known scientific world with the unknowable dimensions of God.

In doing so, he has argued against a “God of the gaps” strategy for relating science and religion, a view that uses God to explain what science cannot.

Professor Heller said he believed, for example, that the religious objection to teaching evolution “is one of the greatest misunderstandings” because it “introduces a contradiction or opposition between God and chance.”

In a telephone interview, Professor Heller explained his affinity for the two fields: “I always wanted to do the most important things, and what can be more important than science and religion? Science gives us knowledge, and religion gives us meaning. Both are prerequisites of the decent existence.”

Professor Heller said he planned to use his prize to create a center for the study of science and theology at the Pontifical Academy of Theology, in Krakow, Poland, where he is a faculty member.

Professor Heller was born in 1936 in Tarnow, Poland, one of five children in a deeply religious family devoted to intellectual interests. His mother, a schoolteacher, and his father, a mechanical and electrical engineer, fled to Russia in 1939 before the Nazi occupation.

On returning years later to Poland, where Communist authorities sought to oppress intellectuals and priests, Professor Heller found shelter for his work in the Catholic Church. He was ordained at 23, but spent just one year ministering to a parish before he felt compelled to return to academia.

“It was one of the most difficult years of my life,” Professor Heller said. “This confrontation of this highly idealistic approach to life with everyday life is very painful.”

“When I was asked to attend to a dying person,” he said, “I was not prepared for life myself, so I had a difficult time to prepare someone to pass away. When you are confronted with such an immediate fact, you never think about the high goals of your life.”

The prize will be officially awarded in London by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in a private ceremony on May 7 at Buckingham Palace.

(For more information on the Templeton Prize: http://www.templetonprize.org/purpose.html)

Posted in Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design, Science and Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »