The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Friday, August 31, 2007

The Hsu Scandal gets Stranger and Stranger




Chris Muir continues to be all over the stories that Big Media won't cover (click each cartoon to enlarge)

Two days ago, we asked some pretty piercing questions about Norman Hsu, the man who the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times unmasked this week as a felon who has been funnelling millions of dollars into the Democrat party, including donations to Hillary Clinton and (to a smaller extent) Barack Obama. And we also chronicled the many, many instances of criminal financing that the Clintons have been involved in since the 1996 election cycle--if not before. The scandals include donations to Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton's Senate campaigns, the Clinton Library, and Hillary's Presidential campaign. Every single one of these has a trail of felons pleading guilty to campaign fraud and yet somehow the Clintons have managed to avoid the intense spotlights on each and every one. Why do you think that is is? Could George W. Bush have gotten away with such serial criminality when it came to campaign contributions?

Many other questions arise: Are the Communist Chinese again spending millions to influence American elections? Or George Soros? Just where did a guy who seemingly has no documented source of income getting all these millions of dollars he's been fraudulently funneling to Democrats? Today Hsu turned himself in in California and was arrested; his bail was set at $2 Million because of his prior flight from justice. But the more we find out about this guy, the stranger it gets. Rick Moran has much more (read the whole thing here):

Norman Hsu is a man with apparently no known source of income who also may have knowingly tried to skirt campaign finance laws. At the very least, questions should be asked by the FEC about various business addresses given by Mr. Hsu on his disclosure forms, all of which lead to dead ends. Various companies Mr. Hsu claimed to be operating do not exist now nor is it clear that they ever existed at all.

Investigators believe that after Mr. Hsu skipped his court appearance in 1992, he went to his native Hong Kong and then continued working in the garment trade. At some point, Mr. Hsu, a naturalized American citizen, returned to New York and in 2003 made the first of what became hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to Democratic campaigns around the nation.

People who met him said they knew only that he ran an apparel business. Efforts to learn more about his trade hit dead-ends yesterday. Visits to companies at addresses listed by Mr. Hsu on campaign finance records provided little information. There were no offices in buildings in New York’s garment district whose addresses were given for businesses with names like Components Ltd., Cool Planets, Next Components, Coopgors Ltd., NBT and Because Men’s clothing — all listed by Mr. Hsu in federal filings at different times.

At a new loft-style residential condominium in SoHo that was also listed as an address for one of his companies, an employee there said that he had never seen or heard of Mr. Hsu. Another company was listed at a condo that Mr. Hsu had sublet in an elegant residential tower in Midtown Manhattan just off Fifth Avenue, but an employee there said Mr. Hsu moved out two years ago, after having lived there for five years. The employee, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about residents, said he recalled that Mr. Hsu had received a lot of mail from the Democratic Party.

Could the People’s Liberation Army in China be up to their old tricks of trying to buy influence in the Democratic party?

Here’s a fellow who never gave a dime to a political campaign before returning from Hong Kong 4 years ago. With no known source of income and some demonstrably confusing – perhaps even shady – FEC disclosure practices, the entire matter is beginning to stink of some kind of slush fund. Hsu could be a front man for some other fundraiser. Or he could be a foreign agent. But at this point, it is fair to say he is not who he claims to be.

Further down, Moran takes also takes up the matter of the Washington Post's stunning silence thus far about this scandal:

The last question would have to be when is the media going to get serious about this story? The laughable notion that Senator Craig’s stupidities should take precedence over this developing scandal is ridiculous. And yet, the Washington Post has no stories listed on its website involving Mr. Hsu. They do, however, have two stories and a couple of columns on Larry Craig.

The New York Times, to their credit, is apparently looking into the story as is the Wall Street Journal. The San Francisco Chronicle has the local angle detailing Hsu’s contributions to races involving assemblymen and the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Washington Times carried a story culled mostly from wire service reports.

Perhaps when the press is done flogging Mr. Craig and his errant toe tapping, they will concentrate on something a little more important: Just who is Mr. Hsu?

Here is the Fox story on Hsu's arrest. It is entirely possible that this could blow up to nuclear proportions--there are many many Democrats who have received money via these sources. In fact Suitably Flip has really been doing his homework (h/t Allah):

I'm still working to incorporate the municipal data, but below are the summary results of a nationwide scour of all state and federal campaign finance disclosure documents published since the 2004 cycle. Already, you'll find 65 Democratic candidates (even one Republican(!), though he lost...) running for everything from State Assembly to President. You'll find them running in 32 states. You'll find 9 Democratic campaign committees and 10 Democratic state parties in the mix.

I wonder how it'll take until they've all pledged to give up the ill-gotten geetch.

Immediately below are presented the top 11 recipients of Hsu's direct contributions and fundraising among the associates in question. Below that, please to enjoy a table of the aggregate receipts of every state and federal candidate, ballot measure, state party, campaign committee, and advocacy group that has taken money from Hsu and his suspect network.

I'll be putting up more exhibits as I carve through the underlying data a little more, and there will be loads more to gaze upon once I've integrated the municipal data. Loads. Lodes, even.

With the state-level data added, we've now shot past $1.3 million. The municipal data looks to drive the total significantly higher. So stay tuned.

Once I've knocked it fully into shape and prettied it up for public display, I'll make available the Google spreadsheet with the raw data so you can do your own futzing with it.

Top Recipients

Hsu List

That's a nice chunk of change, especially from a guy with no clear source of wealth. And the list is a "who's who" of high powered Democrats. The question from where I sit is not simply who is Hsu and where did the money come from; it is also: how many more Hsu's are out there?

The conventional wisdom that next year's election could become a Republican nightmare may be a bit premature. Fox just reported that Senator Craig is going to resign tomorrow. Good. Let's see the Elite Media dodge this story now...

An email earlier from one of my loyal readers suggested that we start writing our Congressmen and Senators immediately, asking them to put on a full court press on this matter. The acting Attorney General should not be shy about going after this one; I didn't see a lot of hesitation about going after Tom Delay...

This is just a "what if", but what if the primary source of funding for the clearly leftist Democrat party is the People's Republic of China?

Like I said yesterday: white on rice; stay tuned...

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DiscerningTexan, 8/31/2007 06:45:00 PM | Permalink | |
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dhimmitude at the Washington Post


From Cox and Forkum (Click to enlarge):

From FOX News: Washington Post, Other Newspapers Won't Run 'Opus' Cartoon Mocking Radical Islam.

A popular comic strip that poked fun at the Rev. Jerry Falwell without incident one week ago was deemed too controversial to run over the weekend because this time it took a humorous swipe at Muslim fundamentalists.

The Washington Post and several other newspapers around the country did not run Sunday's installment of Berkeley Breathed's "Opus," in which the spiritual fad-seeking character Lola Granola appears in a headscarf and explains to her boyfriend, Steve, why she wants to become a radical Islamist.

The installment did not appear in the Post's print version, but it ran on WashingtonPost.com and Salon.com. The same will hold true for the upcoming Sept. 2 strip, which is a continuation of the plotline.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/30/2007 10:07:00 PM | Permalink | |

Corruption and the Clintons: White on Rice II

Hillary Clinton obviously thinks that a token contribution of $23,000 to one of her favorite "charities" is going to make this whole Hsu matter go away. Today her campaign made a big public production of giving $23K to charity "as soon as she found out" about the status of Mr. Hsu... They would have you believe that their reaction was: Oh, really? He belongs in jail?? Who knew?

Meanwhile the Clinton campaign continues to hold onto contributions from the Paw and Hyung Young "Daniel" Lee families, which add up to a total of $69,100--even though the Wall Street Journal article Monday made it quite clear that, for example, donations from the Paw family--whose head of household is a Postal Worker who makes about $50K per year--were obviously funneled to the campaign via Hsu. You see, the Paws and the Lees both have family members who are Hsu employees. Go figure.

All of this funnelled money from the Hsu 'channel'--at least the $92,100 that we know about--was funneled to the Clinton campaign via contributions, for example, from every single family member of the Paws--children included. You will also recall from Monday's news that Hsu had listed on a contribution tax form the address of the very modest 1,200 square foot Paw family home as his primary residence, even though he never lived there--and that Paw's son works for one of Hsu's companies, as does Lee.

And if you are tempted to write off this story as just a 'one-off', it is time to wake up and smell the coffee. Earlier this year we briefly saw this story--very briefly; media outlets seemed bound and determined to avoid it, and still do (if you did see this on the news, be truthful--do you recall seeing any broadcast about this story carried in Big Media for more than 1 day, max--never to be heard from again?). Regardless, see if the details of the story don't appear to be using the same playbook as the Hsu example discovered by the WSJ this week:

A Pakistani immigrant who hosted fundraisers in Southern California for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is being sought by the FBI on charges that he funneled illegal contributions to Clinton’s political action committee and Sen. Barbara Boxer’s 2004 reelection campaign. Authorities say Northridge businessman Abdul Rehman Jinnah, 56, fled the country after an indictment accused him of engineering more than $50,000 in illegal donations to the Democratic committees. A business associate charged as a co-conspirator has entered a guilty plea and is scheduled to be sentenced in Los Angeles next week…

The case has transformed Jinnah from a political point man on Pakistani issues, a man often photographed next to foreign dignitaries and U.S. leaders, into a fugitive with his mug shot on the FBI’s "featured fugitives" wanted list. Jinnah’s profile peaked in 2004 and 2005 as he wooed members of Congress to join a caucus advancing Pakistani concerns and brought Clinton to speak to prominent Pakistani Americans, lauding their homeland’s contributions to the war on terrorism and calling relations with Pakistan beneficial to U.S. interests.

Jinnah and his family donated more than $100,000 to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates. Now friends say they believe Jinnah has returned to Pakistan. Attempts to reach him and his relatives were unsuccessful. A "For Sale" sign stood in his yard on Thursday, and a neighbor said the family had not lived there for months.

Jinnah’s troubles appear to have begun when he attempted to circumvent election laws by reimbursing friends, business contacts and their family members for contributions made in their names, according to court records. Federal statutes set limits on contributions to federal campaigns and political action committees and bar donations made in the names of others. Authorities say that from June 2004 to February 2005, Jinnah directly or indirectly solicited contributions from more than a dozen "conduits," reimbursing them with funds from his company, All American Distributing, a seller of cellphone service and accessories. Authorities said the scheme allowed Jinnah to get around limits then in effect on individual donors of $5,000 per year to PACs and $2,000 per election to candidates, as well as the ban on using corporate money for political donations.

Jinnah’s case has been handled with discretion by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, which recently lost a high-profile case against former Clinton campaign official David Rosen. Rosen was acquitted of charges of filing false reports about a Hollywood fundraiser given for Clinton in 2000…

Campaign finance reform--which Hillary voted for--only allows a candidate to receive $4,600 per year from each individual: half for primaries and half for the general election. The fact that this sordid episode is obviously a way for the wealthy felon Lee to funnel money through his employees and their families to Clinton seems to be lost in Hill's reaction thus far to the episode. Her decision to give back the money received directly from Hu only (the $23,000) is as lame as it gets. Hell the "charity" she is supposedly giving it to could easily be one of George Soros' 501.c.3 companies--which would still end up benefitting the Clintons...

As we also learned this week, America Coming Together, one of Soros' shadow companies that was a front to basically go buy votes, has now been found guilty of numerous illegalities and fined; but the important thing to understand is that this is just the tip of the Soros iceberg (you really should read all of this linked article by Byron York, entitled The Democratic Money Mega-Scam...):
On Wednesday, the Federal Election Commission slapped America Coming Together with a $775,000 fine — the third-largest such penalty in history — for violating campaign-finance laws in the 2004 election. Now largely defunct, America Coming Together was the biggest of the so-called “527” groups that took in millions from donors like George Soros for the purpose of defeating George W. Bush. In a case that has taken years to decide, the FEC ruled that America Coming Together did an end-run around the campaign-finance laws in 2004 by claiming it was using its money for non-partisan purposes like voter registration when it was in fact spending millions specifically targeting Bush.
Yes it sounds like a big fine, but it's a drop in the bucket considering the enormous sums raised by this outlaw group and funneled illegally to the Dems.

To say that all of this Democrat corruption stinks to high heaven is a gross understatement--but it shoudn't be that much of a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention; corruption and scandal has been following the Clintons like stink on excrement ever since the Arkansas days.

Remember 1996? Another campaign finance scandal, this one also involving Chinese surnames: If the names the names Johnny Chung, John Huang, and Yah Lin Trie don't ring a bell, they certainly should. In that same election cycle, these men headed a shadowy cast of characters which funneled millions of dollars into Democrat campaign coffers--money that reportedly originated from the government of Communist China. There was also this from one John Lee, not to be confused with Stan Lee... or with Daniel Lee.:

Senator Clinton's likely Republican opponent in 2006 and a South Korean newspaper are raising questions about campaign donations the New York Democrat has received from a New York businessman who is involved in an organization that sets up cultural events in North Korea.

The organization was founded by a man who later resigned as South Korea's ambassador to America after allegations emerged that he helped establish a "slush fund" for South Korean politicians.

"Once again serious questions surround Senator Clinton's fund-raising operation," the Republican challenger in Mrs. Clinton's Senate re-election bid, a former mayor of Yonkers, John Spencer, said about the donations. "We know that federal charges were levied against her fund-raisers from her last campaign and that she has taken money linked to supporters of Iranian mullahs. Now another issue pops up. Senator Clinton needs to come clean and answer these latest questions."

Which of brings us to the famous (to anyone who does not get all their news from the left-media sources) Hollywood fund-raising party. Hillary's former campaign chairman was jailed just two years ago for a star-studded gala whose actual cost was fraudently presented in order to garner at least $400,000 in additional donations for Bubba's wife:
The indictment, rare for a political campaign, was unsealed in Los Angeles charging David Rosen with four counts of filing false reports with the Federal Election Commission. The charges focus on an Aug. 12, 2000, dinner and concert supported by more than $1.1 million in "in-kind contributions" -- goods and services provided for free or below cost. The event was estimated to cost more than $1.2 million.

The FBI previously said in court papers that it had evidence the former first lady's campaign deliberately understated its fund-raising costs so it would have more money to spend on her campaign.

While the event allegedly cost more than $1.2 million, the indictment said, Rosen reported contributions of about $400,000, knowing the figure to be false.

The indictment charged that he provided some documents to an FEC compliance officer but withheld the true costs of the event and provided false documents to substantiate the lower figure.

In one instance, Rosen obtained and delivered a fraudulent invoice stating the cost of a concert associated with the gala was $200,000 when he know that figure was false, according to the indictment. The actual cost of the concert was more than $600,000.

Each of the four counts of making a false statement carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines upon conviction.
To say this was the largest election-fraud party in history is not hyperbole; it is a statement of fact.

Let's face it: scandal in general has been par for the course for the Clintons for over 30 years, and as we pointed out yesterday, the Bill Clinton Administration is far and away the most corrupt Administration in American history. The numbers don't lie.

The fact that Hillary seems to think that the news media will fall all over itself to not raise a stink if she only gives back a small amount of the money she has thus far received illegally from Hsu (and who knows who else...) is both short-sighted and arrogant; but then arrogance is also par for the course for she and her sleazy husband. And my guess is that this triad of Hsu, Paw, and Lee is just the tip of the iceberg for the illegal money currently flowing into Mrs. Clinton's campaign.

These latest "incidents" remind us of a time where the words "Corruption," "Scandal" and "Clinton" were pop culture synonyms. Remember for example the $1.5 million that went to the Clinton library from fugitive felon Mark Rich, who was later pardoned on Clinton's last day in office? Or the pardoned members of a Jewish Community in New York who months before had voted unanimously for Shrill-ary after she paid the community a pre-Bush Inauguration visit during her Senate campaign?

There are literally dozens of documented cases of financial wrongdoing for both Bill and Hill (for those with fuzzy memories, here is a pretty good summary of some of the major corruption in recent years), and these are just the ones we know about!

Do we really want another four years of non-stop sleaze in the White House? In a just world, one if not both of the Clintons should be in jail, not in the Oval Office again. But because of the media's love affiar with everything Clinton, this sludge seems to roll off of them like water off of an umbrella. Just when is enough finally enough?

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DiscerningTexan, 8/30/2007 05:59:00 PM | Permalink | |
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time to Flush


Copy by Michael Ramirez (click to enlarge)

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DiscerningTexan, 8/29/2007 09:00:00 PM | Permalink | |

Viva Sarkozy!

I just got Sarkozy's autobiography in the mail yesterday and am already almost through with it. I don't agree with everything the man says, but I agree with most of it. And for a country that has been mired in the sickness that is European socialism for 40 years, this guy is a true revolutionary. Finally, someone in France who gets it.

(I admit it, France is probably my all time favorite place to visit, and it is great to think of France as America's close friend again--it's about time...):

Nicolas Sarkozy made headlines this week by telling his diplomatic corps that "an Iran with nuclear weapons is for me unacceptable." But the French President did more in his speech than name the gravest current threat to global security, itself a feat of clear thinking. He also signaled that France means to be something more on the international scene than an anti-American nuisance player.

That's worth applauding at a time when the conventional wisdom says the next U.S. President will have to burnish America's supposedly tarnished reputation by making various policy amends. In Germany, under the conservative leadership of Angela Merkel, foreign policy views have been moving closer to the Bush Administration's, not further away, while new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made clear he will not depart significantly from the pro-American course set by Tony Blair.

But it is Mr. Sarkozy who, true to his reputation, has been the boldest in stepping up to his global responsibilities. On Afghanistan, he told the assembled diplomats, "the duty of the Atlantic Alliance as well as that of France," is to "increase efforts." He then announced he would be sending additional trainers to assist the Afghan Army. On Israel, he said he "would never budge" on its security. He warned about Russia, which "imposes its return on the world scene by playing its assets with a certain brutality," and he cautioned against China, which pursues "its insatiable search for raw materials as a strategy of control, particularly in Africa."
It's almost enough to spur one to take up French again. Read the rest.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/29/2007 08:08:00 PM | Permalink | |

Insult to Injury

Mexico's President Felipe Calderon is not making any friends in the US. If only President Bush would act insulted:
Mexico's President Calderon has delivered a slap in the face to the United States, and provided what amounts to an endorsement for his citizens violating the laws of the United States. Steve Gilbert of Sweetness & Light caught the significance of an official photo appearing on Mexico's Presidencia website, showing El Presidente meeting with Elvira Arellano, who illegally entered our country and who illegally used a fake social security number.

There can be no denying that this is a high honor for the citizen of any country. To confer Pres. Calderon + scofflawsuch a distinction on someone who very publicly flouted the laws of a neighbor implies official endorsement of lawlessness.

Steve asks the important question of how Mexico would regard a neighboring nation encouraging its citizens to flout Mexico's laws, such as its strict immigration laws.

This is not the behavior of an amigo.
Of all the things that have happened with our inability to enforce our borders, I do not know why I find this one in particular to be so infuriating--but I really do. This is a knife in the back from a supposed "friend."

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DiscerningTexan, 8/29/2007 07:44:00 PM | Permalink | |

Earth to Larry Craig: Please Quit NOW

Look, I am all for a guy having his day in court--and the facts of the case do not on surface appear to be a slam dunk case--but the fact is that Larry Craig used his day in court to plead guilty and then hope that no one would find out about it. How stupid can you get? Therefore--regardless of whether Craig really is guilty or not of solicitation, he is guilty because he pled that way. Period. And he needs to go because he has demonstrated that he does not have the judgment that citizens of Idaho expect of a US Senator.

Secondly: the Idaho Senate seat is almost a shoo-in for Republicans, unless this narcissistic idiot refuses to resign. This is an open and shut case of country coming before personal consideration. When you discover a malignancy, you cut it out. Let the surgery begin.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/29/2007 06:41:00 PM | Permalink | |

This is PROGRESS Protecting our Borders?

An absolutely infuriating video from the AP, detailing the abysmal situation in Laredo, TX, in which the Sheriff of Laredo states "we are outgunned" by the Drug Cartels.

If a nation cannot protect its own borders, it cannot defend itself. I keep hearing that we are moving to protect the borders, but from what I can see the only thing that is changing are the faces making those claims. (h/t Allah for the video).

Interestingly, even Mexico protects its borders more effectively that we do.

There is a reason why the lame attempt to ram through the watered down amnesty bill caused an uprising of the electorate such as has not been seen in years. The reason is this: the American people are sick and tired of this crap. The sooner that our so called "leaders" recognize this, the better.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/29/2007 06:26:00 PM | Permalink | |

The Counterinsurgency -- in depth

Some very good and detailed looks at the current state of the Counterinsurgency in Iraq and why it is working:

First Dave Kilcullen gives us the inside scoop on the bridges we are building with the Sunni tribal leaders and how it plays into the overall Counterinsurgency strategy. Long, but worth it: a truly fascinating read.

Next the always straight-shooting Michael Yon chronicles the transformation of Anbar province in what are the first two parts of a four-part series, The Ghosts of Anbar. Part I here, Part II here.


If you really want to understand what is going on over there, you owe it to yourself to do your homework and read all three of these great articles. And then you might want to go hit the authors' tip jars...

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DiscerningTexan, 8/29/2007 01:04:00 PM | Permalink | |

Al Sadr's "Pledge" : Fool Me Twice Shame on Me?

A lot of blogs are making a big deal about the fact that firebrand Shiite cleric (and ally of our Iranian enemies) Muqtada Al Sadr has declared a 6-month "cease fire" in his Mahdi Army's not-so-private war against US troops in Iraq. Yes, perhaps this will help to convince on the fence Americans that the surge is working, but on the other hand we have seen Al Sadr pull this crap before. Personally, I am more inclined to go with Uncle Jimbo's take on this:

BAGHDAD - Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered a six-month suspension of activities by his Mahdi Army militia in order to reorganize the force, and it will no longer attack U.S. and coalition troops, aides said Wednesday....

Asked if Mahdi militiamen would defend themselves against provocations, he replied: "We will deal with it when it happens."

Well you better work out a policy there because Sadr City is on the list and your clowns better figure out which team they are gonna play on. Mookie has pulled this, what three times now? Whenever he sees a little red dot on his chest, he declares a cease fire, or more properly a hudna, meaning his troops rest and refit and wait for more advantageous times.

Well that ain't gonna fly this time. In or out Mookie, no sitting in the stands heckling. Now we have been making deals with quite a few Sunni Sheikhs, with pretty unpalatable backgrounds, so I'm not saying we can't cut a deal with him. But any deal needs to be on our terms and involve some shows of loyalty to the central government. Second biggest mistake of the occupation after disbanding the Army, not martyring Mookie the first time he poked his head up.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/29/2007 12:39:00 PM | Permalink | |

UPDATED That "Mystery" Clinton Contributor? He's a Felon

Yesterday we flagged a Wall Street Journal story about the mystery man Norman Hsu, who gave a false San Francisco address and has funnelled millions into Democrat coffers, including those of Hillary Clinton; Well, well, well...(from today's LA Times):

For the last 15 years, California authorities have been trying to figure out what happened to a businessman named Norman Hsu, who pleaded no contest to grand theft, agreed to serve up to three years in prison and then seemed to vanish."

He is a fugitive," Ronald Smetana, who handled the case for the state attorney general, said in an interview. "Do you know where he is?"

Hsu, it seems, has been hiding in plain sight, at least for the last three years.

Since 2004, one Norman Hsu has been carving out a prominent place of honor among Democratic fundraisers. He has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions into party coffers, much of it earmarked for presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

In addition to making his own contributions, Hsu has honed the practice of assembling packets of checks from contributors who bear little resemblance to the usual Democratic deep pockets: A self-described apparel executive with a variety of business interests, Hsu has focused on delivering hefty contributions from citizens who live modest lives and are neophytes in the world of campaign giving.

On Tuesday, E. Lawrence Barcella Jr. -- a Washington lawyer who represents the Democratic fundraiser -- confirmed that Hsu was the same man who was involved in the California case. Barcella said his client did not remember pleading to a criminal charge and facing the prospect of jail time. Hsu remembers the episode as part of a settlement with creditors when he also went through bankruptcy, Barcella said.

The bulk of the campaign dollars raised by major parties comes from the same sources: business groups, labor unions and other well-heeled interests with a long-term need to win friends in the political arena.

But the appetite for cash has grown so great that politicians are constantly pressured to find new sources of contributions. Hsu's case illustrates the sometimes-bizarre results of that tendency to push the envelope, often in ways the candidates know nothing about.

As a Democratic rainmaker, Hsu -- who graduated from UC Berkeley and the Wharton School of Business -- is credited with donating nearly $500,000 to national and local party candidates and their political committees in the last three years. He earned a place in the Clinton campaign's "HillRaiser" group by pledging to raise more than $100,000 for her presidential bid.

Records show that Hsu helped raise an additional $500,000 from other sources for Clinton and other Democrats."Norman Hsu is a longtime and generous supporter of the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Sen. Clinton," Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the campaign, said Tuesday."

During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process, there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question or to return them."

Wolfson did not immediately respond Tuesday night to questions about Hsu's legal problems.

Of course he didn't. Hsu is a convicted swindler, a flim-flam man; emblematic of the people who have been helping the Clintons since the Arkansas days. There is no getting away from it: the Clintons and corruption go together like white on rice.

As an aside I am surprised and delighted that the LA Times has found space on its pages for a story like this.

UPDATE: Gateway Pundit takes us on a walk down memory lane:
Is America Really Ready for another 4 years of Clinton Scandals?

Hillary and Bill already own all of the records for scandal from their first stint in office- the infamous Clinton Culture of Corruption Years:
* Number close to the Clinton machine who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes: 44
* Number of convictions during his administration: 33
* Number of indictments/misdemeanor charges: 61
* Number of imprisonments: 14
* Number of presidential impeachments: 1
* Number of independent counsel investigations: 7
* Number of congressional witnesses pleading the 5th Amendment: 72
* Number of witnesses fleeing the country to avoid testifying: 17
* Number of foreign witnesses who have declined interviews by investigative bodies: 19

The Clinton machine now holds the record for the administration with:

* The most number of convictions and guilty pleas
* The most number of cabinet members to come under criminal investigation
* The most number of witnesses to flee the country or refuse to testify
* The most number of key witnesses to die suddenly
* The greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions
* The greatest amount of illegal campaign contributions from abroad.
And, already the Clintons are looking at another major fundraising scandal in the face.

Hill caught peddling photo-op to swindler (say cheese!)

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DiscerningTexan, 8/29/2007 12:19:00 PM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

All Bark and No Bite


Cartoon by Eric Allie (click to enlarge)

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DiscerningTexan, 8/28/2007 09:27:00 PM | Permalink | |

Remembering the High Cost of Deserting your Friends

This week's Mark Steyn column strikes at the very heart of the "surrender now" argument that our deserting Vietnam was not that big of a deal; It was a very big deal. But not nearly as big a deal as it will be if we abandon Iraq. Some highlights (emphasis is mine):

... Mr. Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention:

Many argued that if we pulled out there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people... A columnist for The New York Times wrote in a similar vein in 1975, just as Cambodia and Vietnam were falling to the communists: "It's difficult to imagine," he said, "how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone." A headline on that story, date Phnom Penh, summed up the argument: "Indochina Without Americans: For Most a Better Life." The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be.

I don't know about "the world," but apparently a big chunk of America still believes in these "misimpressions." As The New York Times put it, "In urging Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Mr. Bush is challenging the historical memory that the pullout from Vietnam had few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies."

Well, it had a "few negative repercussions" for America's allies in South Vietnam, who were promptly overrun by the north. And it had a "negative repercussion" for the former Cambodian Prime Minister, Sirik Matak, to whom the U.S. Ambassador sportingly offered asylum. "I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion," he told him. "I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty ... I have committed this mistake of believing in you, the Americans." So Sirik Matak stayed in Phnom Penh and a month later was killed by the Khmer Rouge, along with the best part of two million other people. If it's hard for individual names to linger in The New York Times' "historical memory," you'd think the general mound of corpses would resonate.

But perhaps these distant people of exotic hue are not what the panjandrums of The New York Times regard as real "allies." In the wake of Vietnam, the Communists gobbled up chunks of real estate all over the map, and ever closer to America's back yard. In Grenada, Maurice Bishop toppled the Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy: It was the first ever coup in the British West Indies, and in a faintly surreal touch led to Queen Elizabeth presiding over a People's Revolutionary Government. There were Cuban "advisors" all over the island, just as there were Cuban troops all over Africa. Because what was lost in Vietnam was not just a war but American credibility. Do the British qualify as real "allies" to the Times? The Argentine seizure of the Falkland Islands occurred because General Galtieri had figured if the Commies were getting away with all this land-grabbing, why shouldn't he get a piece of the action? After all, if the supposed Yank superpower had no stomach to resist routine provocations from its sworn enemy, the toothless British lion certainly wouldn't muster the will for some no-account islands in the South Atlantic. "The west" as a whole was infected by America's loss of credibility. Thanks to Mrs. Thatcher, Galtieri lost his gamble, but it must have looked a surer thing in the spring of 1982, in the wake of Vietnam, and Soviet expansionism, and the humiliation of Jimmy Carter's botched rescue mission in Iran -- the helicopters in the desert, and the ayatollahs poking and prodding the corpses of American servicemen on TV.

American victory in the Cold War looks inevitable in hindsight. It didn't seem that way in the Seventies. And, as Iran reminds us, the enduring legacy of the retreat from Vietnam was the emboldening of other enemies. The forces loosed in the Middle East bedevil to this day, in Iran, and in Lebanon, which Syria invaded shortly after the fall of Saigon and after its dictator had sneeringly told Henry Kissinger, "You've betrayed Vietnam. Someday you're going to sell out Taiwan. And we're going to be around when you get tired of Israel."

President Assad understood something that too many Americans didn't. Then as now, the anti-war debate is conducted as if it's only about the place you're fighting in: Vietnam is a quagmire, Iraq is a quagmire, so get out of the quagmire. Wrong. The " Vietnam war" was about Vietnam if you had the misfortune to live in Saigon. But if you lived in Damascus and Moscow and Havana, the Vietnam war was about America: American credibility, American purpose, American will. For our enemies today, it still is. Osama bin Laden made a bet -- that, pace the T-shirt slogan, "These Colors Do Run": They ran from Vietnam, and they ran from the helicopters in the desert, and from Lebanon and Somalia -- and they will run from Iraq and Afghanistan, because that is the nature of a soft plump ersatz-superpower that coils up in the fetal position if you prick its toe. Even Republicans like Senator John Warner seem peculiarly anxious to confirm the bin Laden characterization.

Read the whole thing. Steyn writes brilliantly and powerfully, as usual.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/28/2007 08:27:00 PM | Permalink | |

Global Warming: More Alarmist than Alarming

Great read from Bret Stephens in today's WSJ Opinion Journal. There are no single parts of it I can possibly highlight: it's all that good...

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DiscerningTexan, 8/28/2007 03:55:00 PM | Permalink | |

Taliban teenager beheads Pakistani soldier on video

I will not show the video here, but my question is: where is the worldwide outrage about one Muslim sawing off the head of another Muslim on videotape--beheading a man who has attested to the truth of Mohammed's being a "prophet"? Is the drawing of a silly cartoon worthy of rioting and killing throughout the Muslim world, yet the sawing off of a Muslim man's head is not? Is a totally falsified story about a Gitmo toilet worthy of rioting and killing but this is not? I'm shocked, shocked that the "vast majority" of adherents to the "Religion of Peace" have not taken to the streets in droves protesting this brutal action... Hmmm...could it be that it wasn't really the Taliban, but Israel which was behind this horrible atrocity--and no one told us about it?? That must be it...
The return of Islamic beheading chic? A video showing a teenage Taliban beheading a Pakistani soldier has emerged. A frame from the video is right. The video was obtained by the AFP but has not emerged yet on the usual jihadi forums, usually an indication that it is being sold as a VHS or DVD recording in Pakistani markets where demand for such snuff films are high.

Khaleej Times:

Four teenage boys with Kalashnikov assault rifles, daggers and headbands with jihadi slogans are then shown along with one of the soldiers kneeling in front of them.

One boy cuts off the soldier’s head using a knife and holds it up for the camera. The soldier’s body was recovered on August 14 from a nearby town.

The video shows the victim saying just before his death that ‘security forces should not fight against the Taleban’.

The Taliban as they truly are.

At least the murderer is said to be a teenager. Recently a video showing a 12 year old Taliban child beheading a hostage was also released.

Why don't we ask a few of these guys to the White House for a "dialogue"? They seem like such reasonable people after all...

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DiscerningTexan, 8/28/2007 02:35:00 PM | Permalink | |

It's Official--NBC is Anti-War... Who Knew??

This is truly and irrefutably disgusting--and it speaks volumes... Boycott time? :

We wrote here about the television commercials that Freedom's Watch has produced, featuring veterans and their families, that urge Congress and the public to continue supporting the Iraq war. The commercials are well done, and convey the simple message that the Iraq war is important and winnable, and that we should allow our troops to see the mission through. The ads are appearing in the context of a blizzard of anti-war ads by left-wing groups, intended to pressure Senators and Congressmen into pulling the plug on the Iraq effort.

Freedom's Watch has placed its ads on Fox and CNN, but CNBC and MSNBC have refused to run the ads. Ari Fleischer wrote this morning on behalf of Freedom's Watch to let us know that CNBC and MSNBC have stubbornly refused to air the pro-war ads, even though they have run issue ads on other controversial topics. Freedom's Watch has written to CNBC and MSNBC to protest their decision; here is the text of that letter:

John Kelly
Senior Vice-President of NBC News Network Sales
30 Rockefeller Plaza
12th Floor
New York, NY 10112

Dear Mr. Kelly,

We understand that MSNBC and CNBC (the “Networks”) are refusing to sell advertising time to Freedom’s Watch (“FW”) to air a series of educational advertisements. It is our understanding that the purported basis for the denial is a Network policy denying access to groups that wish to sponsor advertising on controversial issues of public importance.

Given your recent history of airing such ads (see below), we must wonder if your denial to FW is a subjective decision because the network officials disagree with the FW ads’ message? If you continue to refuse to air FW’s advertisement we request an explanation of your basis in writing or station policy within two (2) days from the date above as time is of the essence.

FW has requested time on your networks to air advertisements discussing the War Against Terrorism. Your reporters and commentators discuss this issue on your programs at every hour of the day so you clearly agree this is an issue of great public importance. FW’s advertisements, to be sure, present a view of this debate that rounds out your coverage. These ads feature Iraq War Veterans and their families discussing their sacrifices in personal terms and their belief that we must allow the military time to complete its mission in Iraq and seek victory. This is a side of this issue that should not be silenced by national cable networks. We believe that rather than censor these American heroes, you should let the American public hear their story.

As noted above, it’s troubling that the Networks appear to be airing messages on issues on a selective basis. Our research indicates that your network has accepted and aired advertisements dealing with controversial issues of national importance in the recent past. For example, the Networks aired an advertisement entitled “Shameless Politicians” sponsored by Move America Forward regarding the war on terror in October 2004. In November 2006, the Networks aired advertisements sponsored by the American Medical Association entitled “Patient Voice” concerning the controversial issue of access to health care and coverage for the uninsured. During July 2007, the Networks aired advertisements sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition. Your history of airing other issue advocacy advertisements makes the denial of FW advertisements troubling and raises the issue of whether your denial is based on an editorial disagreement with FW's message.

These ads are about important issues that will shape our national security policies for years to come. These ads present a point of view that your viewers are not now receiving.

Your viewers deserve to hear all sides of this issue so that they can make informed judgments about the future of their country.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. Please respond to me through Larry Weitzner at Jamestown Associates.

Very Truly Yours,

Bradley A. Blakeman
President and CEO

Freedom of speech: at some of our cable networks, you can't even buy it! We'll follow up with any response that may be forthcoming from NBC.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/28/2007 02:23:00 PM | Permalink | |

Scratch 100 More Bad Guys

We are not only taking a serious chunk out of Al Qaeda in Iraq; the Taliban in Afghanistan is also taking on heavy losses. Will this be the lead story on CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, or even ABC tonight? Give me the 5-way parlay bet...
U.S.-led and Afghan troops battled suspected Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday in ground clashes and airstrikes that left over 100 militants dead, the coalition said.

In eastern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber attacked NATO troops helping to build a bridge, killing three American soldiers, a U.S. official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because not all families had been notified.

The battle in southern Kandahar province's Shah Wali Kot district started after the joint force was ambushed by a large group of insurgents who tried to overrun their position several times, before being strafed by airstrikes, the statement from the coalition said.

"Coalition aircraft destroyed the reinforced enemy emplacements and sniper positions as well as two trucks used to reinforce and re-supply the insurgent force," the statement.

More than 100 suspected insurgents and an Afghan soldier were killed, coalition said. The casualty figures could not be independently verified due to remoteness of the area.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/28/2007 02:12:00 PM | Permalink | |

New Clinton Fundraising Scandal Blows Wide Open--have we been here before?

A huge breaking story from today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required for entire article) evokes shades of the 1996 "funny money" from Communist China to the Clintons (remember Al Gore's trip to the Buddhist temple...), and reminds us that this is one family that scandal seems to stick to like flies on... waste:
One of the biggest sources of political donations to Hillary Rodham Clinton is a tiny, lime-green bungalow that lies under the flight path from San Francisco International Airport.

Six members of the Paw family, each listing the house at 41 Shelbourne Ave. as their residence, have donated a combined $45,000 to the Democratic senator from New York since 2005, for her presidential campaign, her Senate re-election last year and her political action committee. In all, the six Paws have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, election records show.


That total ranks the house with residences in Greenwich, Conn., and Manhattan's Upper East Side among the top addresses to donate to the Democratic presidential front-runner over the past two years, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of donations listed with the Federal Election Commission.


It isn't obvious how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess. Records show they own a gift shop and live in a 1,280-square-foot house that they recently refinanced for $270,000. William Paw, the 64-year-old head of the household, is a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service who earns about $49,000 a year, according to a union representative. Alice Paw, also 64, is a homemaker. The couple's grown children have jobs ranging from account manager at a software company to "attendance liaison" at a local public high school. One is listed on campaign records as an executive at a mutual fund.


The Paws' political donations closely track donations made by Norman Hsu, a wealthy New York businessman in the apparel industry who once listed the Paw home as his address, according to public records. Mr. Hsu is one of the top fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign. He has hosted or co-hosted some of her most prominent money-raising events.
There is more on the subscription site, but rest assured that this will make it to television...

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DiscerningTexan, 8/28/2007 11:59:00 AM | Permalink | |
Monday, August 27, 2007

Senator Craig "Puts his foot down"

I wish I could claim that line... but it isn't mine, alas.

But I digress... Senator Craig: Resign now. Do not pass go, do it immediately. The more time goes by where the sharks in the media swarm, the worse it gets--for you and for your party. Take one for the team. Allow Butch Otter to name your successor. It's the only way.

But Mark Steyn hits a game ending grand slam with his take, bar none--and it isn't just because of his tag line:

Re Larry Craig, I'm inclined to agree with Hugh Hewitt. The Senator did, after all, choose to plead guilty.

In 2002, after George Michael released his anti-Bush/anti-Blair video, I wrote for the Telegraph in London a satirical column on his political views set in the context of his men's room arrest. George didn't care for it and, asked about this cruel mockery on some BBC show or other, responded petulantly: "What's he saying? That just because you've been arrested in a public toilet nobody should take your views on foreign policy seriously?"

Er, well, let's just say that it doesn't help. I've a high degree of tolerance even for laughingstocks, but honestly:

Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine,” the report states.

If only his stance on immigration was so firm. The point is, by the time you're issuing statements on your position in the men's room of Minneapolis International Airport, your position on Iraq is pretty much on an express chute to George Michael territory.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/27/2007 10:55:00 PM | Permalink | |

It WAS like Vietnam...before it wasn't?

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DiscerningTexan, 8/27/2007 10:20:00 PM | Permalink | |

About that vacant AG position: it's time to hire a "Terminator"

Robert Bork is worried about the Gonzalez resignation. I will admit that this could be a big problem as Bork suggests--but only if Bush names a weak candidate or someone who will agree to crater and to allow a Special Prosecutor investigate the Administration for the rest of the term; surely the President would not be that dumb. I rather prefer Hugh Hewitt's approach: name someone the Democrats aren't wild about--but someone above reproach. Above all the candidate needs to be able to articulate in front of the klieg lights and the Nation the sound Constitutional basis for all of the so-called "controversial" positions that Alberto Gonzalez took; here are some key objectives that the new nominee will need to pull off:
But the overriding, critical key to the whole shebang is this: the President has to hire a COMMUNICATOR, who knows both the law, agrees with the Administration's positions, understands the true nature of our enemies and the danger we face, and is able to articulate zigzags and circles around the Senators who will be conducting the "interrogations" for Leahy and company. Basically, someone who can expose before the national cameras what vacant pompous asses Senators Leahy, Kennedy, et al are.

Even if the Senate won't confirm him, the bottom line is that the President can appoint him for good during any Congressional recess, and there isn't a damn thing the Dems can do about it.

If the President will show some cajones on this one and if he picks the right guy, I think he could turn this resignation into a dramatic turnaround, while simultaneously getting prime time to sell his positions to the public. America loves a President who stands strong; they hate Presidents who perpetually allow themselves to be blown around by any wind.

As for names: Andy McCarthy wouldn't be bad; not bad at all. He meets all of the above criteria...

It shoud not be any Conservative on any appeals court--that would only create another appellate judicial vacancy that the Senate will filibuster rather than allow another Strict Constitutionalist to be appointed. Don't go there, we need those appelate judges.

Ted Olsen? Maybe. He definitely would command respect. But he will need to be at the top of his game.

It should not be a Bush confidante--he needs to have the appearance of independance. It should not be Estrada.

One of the appeals court nominees that the Senate is filibustering? Perhaps, except whoever it is would be unlikely to get confirmed for the AG either. It would only be worth it if the judge was a bad-ass communication superstar. The hearings would be bloody and confrontational (but that might be a good thing...see above discussion)--and then the Prez could appoint him anyway as a recess appointment.

It is going to be interesting.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/27/2007 08:56:00 PM | Permalink | |

A Day in the Life of the 9th Circuit

I feel soiled just for having read this; but it is a truly telling picture of our broken justice system. And the Ninth Circuit is as broken as it gets:
What's it all about? In one sentence, it comes down to this:

Does the United States Government have the right to conduct secret surveillance of terrorism suspects on American soil?

But the case has become rather more complicated than that. Before we get to the action of August 15, here's the gist of the case in a few short paragraphs, cutting through everyone's double-talk on both sides, and granting everyone's allegations to be true:

A Saudi charity known to finance terrorist activities opened a branch in Oregon. The US government tapped the phones of the Oregon branch and heard evidence that they were helping to finance terrorist activities as well. With this info in hand, the government designated the Oregon branch as terrorists, and froze their assets. The Oregon branch, unaware that they had been sureveilled and that the government had solid evidence against them, challenged this, and during legal proceedings, a government employee accidentally gave logs of the tapped phone conversations to the charity's lawyers.

At that point, the case changed gears: the charity hooked up with liberal lawyers to challenge the very legality of the surveillance, and by extension the legality of all secret surveillance. The decision was made to make the trial into a test case designed to weaken and embarrass the Bush administration. The government sought to circumvent this strategy by suppressing the evidence of the leaked document on grounds that its exposure would endanger national security. The governement requested back and eventually obtained all U.S. copies of the surveillance logs -- but not before an unknown number of copies made their way overseas, presumably into hostile hands. Aside from revealing the fact that the charity was surveilled, it is not clear what "operational details" the leaked document reveals. The government refuses to admit to the wiretapping or to say whether or not a warrant was obtained.

The entire case, as it is now being litigated, hinges on the question: do the plaintiffs even have the legal right to sue the government? In order to prove they have "standing," they must prove they were surveilled; and so must refer to the only evidence which proves this, the mysterious document. The government claims the document is Top Secret, and thus not admissable evidence. It is this question that was being argued before the Ninth Circuit Court on August 15.

That's where things stand at the time of this writing. And even if you knew nothing more about the specifics of the case, deciding which side you favor is almost necessarily dependent on your political philosophy. Even granting the allegation that the surveillance was done without a warrant, there are many who argue that the government would be abdicating its duty to protect its citizens if it did not monitor known terror suspects, warrant or no warrant. But does the "slippery slope" argument apply here: if we allow warrantless surveillance of terror suspects, are we to assume that the government will eventually abuse this power to harrass non-terrorists for politcal reasons (which is obviously what many on the left fear)?
There is a lot more and it only deteriorates from there...read the rest.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/27/2007 08:13:00 PM | Permalink | |

Another good sign for Republicans--they are playing hardball

The fact that Republicans have often been timid about pouncing on political mistakes by the Democrats and leveraging these mistakes to the max, has been a tactical disadvantage for Republicans. After all, the Dems pounce daily on mistakes that don't even really exist. This is why it is good that Republicans are not letting third-ranking Democrat James Clyburn get away with admitting that the Dems have placed their party's fortunes on a US defeat in Iraq, especially when there is video. Don Surber has the details:

Remember when the No. 3 Democrat in the House said if the Surge worked it would be “a real big problem for us” (Democrats)? The video is here. Guess what? Mike Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee remembers and he’s using it to raise funds:

Dear Donald,

The Democrat leadership believes failure by our troops in Iraq — the central front in the War on Terror — is essential for them to win elections in 2008…

…and that any positive sign of progress in Iraq is simply a “problem” for them.

Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, driven by polls and politics, declared “This war is lost,” even before the President’s new strategy began. Reid also has bragged, “We’re going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war.”

And Democrat House Majority Whip James Clyburn said that a positive report in September from General Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would be “a real big problem for us (Democrats).” Meaning the Democrats’ desire for an arbitrary troop withdrawal — and their party’s 2008 electoral fortunes — would be in jeopardy if our troops succeed.

Donald, America’s national security should not be kicked around like a political football. Republicans believe winning the War on Terror is vital to our country’s national security. The RNC needs your help to get this message past the liberal media filter and directly to voters. They need to know about the Democrats’ “surrender and defeat” politics.

Please click here to make a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to help spread the word about the Democrats’ political rhetoric and defeatist agenda.

It is unconscionable that Democrat leaders are hoping for our troops to fail so their party can gain a political advantage. And it is unacceptable that the leading Democrat presidential contenders, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both claim to support our troops yet voted against providing them with the resources to sustain their mission and keep them safe.

Your urgent online contribution of $1,000, $500, $100, $50 or $25 to the RNC today will help get the facts about the Democrats’ true defeatist agenda and their efforts to put politics above the War on Terror past the liberal media filter.

Our President and our Party are counting on your help. Thank you.

Ah, liberalism: The gift that keeps on giving.

Indeed.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/27/2007 05:55:00 PM | Permalink | |

Gingrich: We are in great peril

In this video clip, Newt Gingrich argues that our War is NOT going well, because no one wants to admit who our real enemies are. A short but powerful clip.

DiscerningTexan, 8/27/2007 03:33:00 PM | Permalink | |

Suicide...or Victory?

This Diana West column appeared on TownHall a couple of weeks back and I missed it; fortunately my sainted mother did not (thanks Mom!), and so better late than never:

Now that Marcus Luttrell's book, "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10," is a national bestseller, maybe Americans are ready to start a discussion about the core issue his story brings to light: the inverted morality and insanity of U.S. military rules of engagement.

On a stark mountaintop in Afghanistan, Leading Petty Officer Luttrell and three Navy SEAL teammates found themselves having just such a discussion back in 2005. Dropped behind enemy lines to kill or capture a Taliban kingpin who commanded between 150 and 200 fighters, the SEAL team was unexpectedly discovered in the early stages of a mission whose success, of course, depended on secrecy. Three unarmed Afghan goatherds, one a teenager, had stumbled across the Americans' position, presenting the soldiers with an urgent dilemma: What should they do?

If they let the Afghans go, the Afghans would probably alert the Taliban to the their whereabouts. This would mean a battle in which the Americans were outnumbered by at least 35 to 1. If the Americans didn't let the goatherds go -- if they killed them, because there was no way to hold them -- the Americans would avoid detection and, most likely, leave the area safely. On a treeless mountainside far from home, four of our bravest patriots came to the ghastly conclusion that the only way to save themselves was forbidden by the ROE. Such an action would set off a media firestorm, and lead to murder charges for all.

It is agonizing to read their tense debate as recounted by Marcus Luttrell, the "lone survivor" of the disastrous mission. Each of the SEALs was aware of "the strictly correct military decision" -- namely, that it would be suicide to let the goatherds live. But they were also aware that their own country, for which they were fighting, would ultimately turn on them if they made that decision. It was as if committing suicide had become the only politically correct option. For fighting men ordered behind enemy lines, such rules are not only insane, they're immoral.

The SEALs sent the goatherds on their way. One hour later, a sizeable Taliban force attacked, beginning a horrendous battle that resulted not only in the deaths of Mr. Luttrell's three SEAL teammates, but also the deaths of 16 would-be rescuers -- eight additional SEALs and eight Army special operations soldiers whose helicopter was shot down by a Taliban RPG.

"Look at me right now in my story," Mr. Luttrell writes. "Helpless, tortured, shot, blown up, my best buddies all dead, and all because we were afraid of the liberals back home, afraid to do what was necessary to save our own lives. Afraid of American civilian lawyers. I have only one piece of advice for what it's worth: If you don't want to get into a war where things go wrong, where the wrong people sometimes get killed, where innocent people sometimes have to die, then stay the hell out of it in the first place."

I couldn't agree more, except for the fact that conservatives, up to and including the president, are at least as responsible for our outrageous rules of engagement as liberals. The question Americans need to ask themselves now, with "Lone Survivor" as Exhibit A, is whether adhering to these precious rules is worth the exorbitant price -- in this case, 19 valiant soldiers.

Another question to raise is why our military, knowing the precise location of a Taliban kingpin, sends in Navy SEALs, not Air Force bombers, in the first place? The answer is "collateral damage." I know this -- and so do our enemies, who, as Mr. Luttrell writes, laugh at our rules of engagement as they sleep safely at night. I find it hard to believe that this is something most Americans applaud, but it's impossible to know because this debate hasn't begun. But it should. It strikes at the core not only of our capacity to make war, but also our will to survive. A nation that doesn't automatically value its sons who fight to protect it more than the "unarmed civilians" they encounter behind enemy lines is not only unlikely to win a war: It isn't showing much interest in its own survival.

This is what comes through, loud and ugly, from that mountaintop in Afghanistan, where four young Americans ultimately agreed it was better to be killed than to kill.

This powerful column highlights a discussion I've seen in several places recently, most notably in Lee Harris' tremendous new book The Suicide of Reason: that is, when you are at War sometimes you have to do the unpleasant thing for the greater good. Since the beginning of time, societies have had to take actions which reasonable men would not otherwise take, all for the greater good of winning a war. And there can be no argument that these unpleasantnesses do not always jive with the fact that at core Americans are a decent and compassionate people. One need only look at the firestorm generated by the benign abuses at Abu Grahib to understand this. Here is the rub though: for an enemy--who has no such decency or compassion; and who is stoked by the fires of a nihilist religious fervor, not caring how many civilians are killed (the more the better, for them), nor caring whether they themselves die (many want to die for their cause because the religion holds a special place for "martyrdom")--can our tolerant and reasonable democratic society marshal enough will to defeat an enemy like this under our current rules of engagement, and with an electorate who has a very low tolerance for "unpleasantness", or of much anything else except their own personal self-interest?

In short--do American citizens still have the sheer will that it must have in order to defeat a determined, resolute, and fanatical enemy? And can we somehow collectively "remember" that for our predecessors to have brought this country to the place it is today, enormous sacrifices had to be made--and that many brutal acts had to be undertaken along the way by Americans who cared more for country than for self? Names like Cold Harbor, Gettysburg, Flanders, Iwo Jima, Dresden, and Hiroshima all connote terrible events which, had they not occurred, would have possibly denied us the very freedoms and relative prosperity which we enjoy today. And, yet, faced with an uncompromising and numerous enemy whose only satisfaction will be our death or our assimilation into their 9th century tribal religious mindset, are we "soft" Americans willing to do whatever it takes to preserve what we have? This is the great question of our time. History will know the answer, but I must say I am not encouraged.

Harris puts it another way in his introduction, in distinguishing between his definition of a "rational actor" from a "fanatic":

Throughout this book, the term fanatic is not used as a term of moral reprobation or condemnation, nor is rational actor a term of praise or approval. Both are used simply to designate certain kinds of actors and their conduct. The fanatic is someone willing to make a sacrifice of his own self-interest for something outside himself. He is willing to die for his tribe or his cause. The rational actor is someone whose conduct is guided solely by his own enlightened self-interest, which, because it is enlightened, is willing to accept the rule of law. However he is unwilling to die for anything, since death can never be in his self-interest, enlighten it however you please. The fanatic may be a saint or a terrorist, a revolutionary or a lone madman, while a rational actor may be a kind-hearted accountant, a devious business tycoon, a great scientist, a penny-wise housewife, or an officious government bureaucrat.

Now, of course, there are people who are mainly rational actors who are still willing to die for their country or for a cause. In this willingness, however, they are not acting as rational actors but as tribal actors. Indeed, an essential point of this book is that, in a crisis in which the law of the jungle returns to the fore, rational actors may suddenly begin to act like tribal actors. Often the danger is that they do not make this transition quite suddenly enough. Yet as the crisis deepens, those who refuse to stop playing the role of the rational actor find themselves increasingly friendless in a world full of enemies, until the day comes that they too must choose sides and embrace the tribal ethos of Us versus Them.

Both the tribal mind and fanaticism are rational adaptations to a world ruled by the law of the jungle--rational in that they increase the odds of surviving. On the other hand the rational actor doesn't have a chance of survival in the jungle. He who has neither a tribe nor pack to defend him will perish. That is why the rational actor must be horrified at the very thought of the return to the law of the jungle--in order to exist at all, the rational actor must live in an environment in which the rule of law has replaced the law of the jungle. Yet, in the modern liberal West, the rule of law has been so successful in pushing back the jungle that many in the West have forgotten that we are the exceptions, not the rule.

In short there are two great threats facing the survival of the modern liberal West. The first is its exaggerated confidence in the power of reason; the second is its profound underestimation of the forces of fanaticism.
Indeed, Harris' book argues that, in order to prevail in this Long War to save our civilization, we will collectively need to become more like tribal actors--with the "tribe" being the idea of America or a society governed by reasonable laws--or else we will eventually cede power to the fanatics:
Though enlightened tribalism and critical liberalism may disagree on the feasibility of expanding their own historically specific popular culture of reason across the globe, they will not clash over the necessity of protecting their own unique culture of reason from being subverted or undermined through an abstract ideal of tolerance that forces tolerant men and women to tolerate those who have no interest in tolerating others. They will, in this respect, be like a group of boys who are playing a game of baseball, where each of the boys has internalized the rules of the game and where all of them are prepared to resolve their disputes and conflicts in accordance with those impersonal and universally binding rules. Because they have all pledged to acknowledge these rules, they will act vigorously to expel from the game any new player who insists on exempting himself from the rules that all the other players have committed themselves to obeying. They will do this, not because they have a personal antipathy for the new player, but because they all know that if one player is allowed to make up the rules for himself, then the game of baseball will quickly be subverted through the will to power of this one player [....]

Similarly, if there is to be a popular culture of reason, then those who are fortunate enough to be members of this culture must be equally emphatic in their insistence that everyone else must obey the same rules that govern them, since if exemptions and exceptions are permitted, what started as a culture of reason will quickly degenerate into a naked struggle for power, where the most ruthless, and those most conteptuous of the rules, will inevitably end by winning, and in their victory they will destroy the very culture of reason that so foolishly permitted them to violate these ground rules. In short for reason to tolerate those who refuse to play by the rules of reason is nothing else but the suicide of reason--and with the suicide of reason, mankind will face the dismal prospect of a return to the brutal law of the jungle that has governed human communities for the vast bulk of both our history and prehistory, and from which certain lucky cultures have miraculously managed to escape--and even even then, only by the skin of their teeth.
Every single page of The Suicide of Reason is dripping with this kind of dazzling and brutally honest appraisal about Western Civilization, and also about the nature of the enemy we face in Radical Islam.

Sun Tzu wrote these famous words over 2,300 years ago:

Knowing the other and knowing one's self:
In one hundred battles no danger.
Not knowing the other and knowing one's self:
One victory for one loss.
Not knowing the other and not knowing one's self:
In every battle, certain defeat.
When it comes to knowing the other and knowing one's self, I cannot recommend Harris' book strongly enough.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/27/2007 11:15:00 AM | Permalink | |
Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Heirs of Edward R. Murrow... (aren't we proud)


Cartoon by Glenn McCoy (click to enlarge)

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DiscerningTexan, 8/26/2007 10:20:00 PM | Permalink | |

Good POLITICAL News from Iraq

This is really good news if it pans out. Via The Jawa Report:

Good news on the Iraq political front, which is of course bad news for the Democrats. Now that they can't deny the military progress, they'll be trying to deny the political progress as well. From FAUX NEWS Reuters

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's top Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.

The agreement by the five leaders was one of the most significant political developments in Iraq for months and was quickly welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands.

We'll see how long it lasts. Given our Democrats, they'll try to see to it that this ends yesterday.
Allah's got some really juicy scoop on Iraqi politics, including a possible successor to Malicki. Not that America has any place trying to dictate who that is... this is not South Vietnam--hopefully America learned its lesson with President Diem.

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DiscerningTexan, 8/26/2007 09:00:00 PM | Permalink | |