Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Equal Access

14 The LORD (A) sustains all who fall and (B) raises up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to You, and You (C) give them their food in due time.

16 You (D) open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

17 The LORD is (E) righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.

18 The LORD is (F) near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him (G) in truth.

19 He will (H) fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also (I) hear their cry and will save them.

20 The LORD (J) keeps all who love Him, but all the (K) wicked He will destroy.

21 My (L) mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and (M) all flesh will (N) bless His holy name forever and ever.

-Psalm 145:14-21

The Unknown War

If a dictator rants and raves in a forest and nobody is there to listen to him, does he make a sound?

Venezuela could easily sell oil to markets other than the United States and is prepared to end exports to its No. 1 buyer if needed, the oil minister said in comments published Sunday.

President Hugo Chavez's government has recently stepped up threats to cut off oil exports to the United States and sell Venezuelan-owned refineries there amid rising tensions with President George W. Bush's Administration.

"If our country, our process, our constitution are attacked by the Bush Administration, we are not going to send any more oil," Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told the Ultimas Noticias daily in an interview.
Chavez is suffering from delusions of relevance. Ditto the ASSociated Press, whose sighting of "rising tensions" between Chavez and the Bush White House must be from the same imaginary but wishful source as the "looming civil war" in Iraq. Or maybe it's just penis envy; I mean, my goodness, if I had posted a blurb on every rhetorical broadside that the Venezuelan dictator has hurled at Dubya, I'd have crashed the Blogger server months ago. Seems like there's at least one or two verbal vomitings a week. And never is there a response from Washington, unless you count bemused junior State Department spokespeople. And even they must be chortling over Minister Ramirez' really, really forced paranoia about "invasions" and "attacks" and insulting their national brand of picante sauce.

Or perhaps it's Ramirez' braggadocious claim of "easily" replacing us as buyer of over half their oil exports.


Industry experts have said Venezuela would find it difficult to find alternative markets for its oil because the country's heavy, highly sulfurous crude requires special refineries which are limited. Also, the U.S. market is only five days away by tanker, and exports elsewhere would be more costly.

Venezuela is only a tenth of our oil imports. Without us, their communizing economy would collapse like a Michael Moore lawnchair, and the Chavez regime along with it. Indeed, we wouldn't have to so much as literally lift a finger as the "attack" they insist is coming from America would be self-inflicted.

But it isn't all grins, smiles, giggles, & laughs. In concert with an Iranian attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, a Venezuelan oil embargo could have an actual strategic context, even if it didn't have the impact that is the stuff of Chavista wet dreams.

And if the Iranians and/or ChiComms have snuck nukes to Howlin' Hugo and his mentor Fidel Castro, huffing & puffing about otherwise un-unloadable high-sulfur crude may be the least of our worries.


This will probably be one of the most disgusting things you read today:

To students at Eagleswood Elementary School, she used to be Mr. McBeth. Now, after undergoing a sex change, 71-year-old Lily McBeth is ready to return to teaching as Miss McBeth.

Despite criticism from parents, the school board on Monday stood by its decision to allow McBeth to resume working as a substitute teacher.

After two hours of public debate and a private meeting with McBeth and her lawyer, the board took no action on calls by several parents to bar McBeth from returning to the school where she taught for five years before becoming a woman.

"It was magnificent," McBeth said afterward. "You saw democracy in action."

McBeth, a retired sales executive who was married for 33 years and had three children, underwent gender reassignment surgery last year and re-applied for her job under her new name.

A person has to be mentally incompetent to try and change their gender, which of course can't be done, at age 70...or at any time, for that matter. Bet his kids are proud. I'd be yanking my kids out of the school district pronto.

JASmius adds: Would like to say, "To be or not to be; that is the question..." or may I....?

Hey, I left the "yanking" quip alone, and that was a hanging slider....

Monday, February 27, 2006

Everlasting Arms

26 "There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.

27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, 'Destroy him!'

28 So Israel will live in safety alone; Jacob's spring is secure in a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew.

29 Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places. [a]"

-Deutronomy 33:26-29

Lawyer Season

Until I can get more of our contributors actually contributing, I will take the liberty of reposting their seeders from RepublicanForum.com.

Here's another from TC.

~ ~ ~

Yet more shocking revelations came to light today regarding the recent hunting "accident" in Texas. Officials at the Texas State Wildlife and Game Department revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney violated established State hunting laws when he shot Mr. Harry Whittington.

As Wildlife Ranger John Burton explained - "We got nothin' against huntin' lawyers around here - heck, I've bagged a few myself. And Mr. Whittington's age made him a prime candidate for herd-thinning: he's 78 and way past his prime. But Whittington is a TAX lawyer, and you ain't allowed to take tax lawyers until May 1st."

In 1987, in an agreement reached with the Texas Bar Association, the Wildlife & Game Dept. established a series of laws regulating the hunting of lawyers. "You have to understand," said the Chairman of the TBA, "if we don't thin 'em out then they overpopulate their ecosystem. Next thing you know, there aren't enough cases to go around. Young lawyers starve, or clog up the court-houses and television trying to drum up clients. It just messes things up. But we also didn't want indiscriminate slaughter, so we got together with the Wildlife boys and set up a few rules."

These rules include the following:

1) Only lawyers above the age of 64 and personal-injury attorneys may be taken, with a limit of two per hunter per year. Muzzle-loader hunters are allowed three, bow-hunters are restricted to four.

2) Only female lawyers above child-bearing age may be harvested, even personal-injury attorneys.

3) Tax lawyer hunting season is the only time restriction, with the season running from May 1st to December 12th."

Of course, the usual standard hunting rules apply: no setting up lawyer-stands within a 10-mile radius of a courthouse, no money-licks, and no shooting 'em when they're seated," said Ranger Burton. "We Texans are hunters, pure and simple - there's nothing like bagging a 67 year-old corporate merger attorney at 200 yards with a compound bow. But you have to have standards, and you have to play by the rules and give 'em a fighting chance."

The Vice President will more than likely receive a fine of $10,000, and may even be required to perform a few hours of community service. "I know that seems sorta harsh for just nailing a really old one with some bird-shot, but me and a few others suspect that this was what we call a 'canned hunt' – the Vice President invited the lawyer along. It ain't illegal per se, but a canned hunt is just plain wrong, and an insult to all of us who hunt lawyer the proper way."

When asked for comment, White House Spokesman Scott McClellan confirmed that; "Vice President Cheney did indeed pull the trigger which activated the primer which detonated, which caused a rapid formation of gas which pushed the wads which sent the pellets flying in the general direction of the lawyer.But he didn't know about that tax-lawyer loophole stuff."

Loony Toons: The Lines Are Drawn

Until I can get more of our contributors actually contributing, I will take the liberty of reposting their seeders from RepublicanForum.com.

Here's another from Kay Ryan.

~ ~ ~

There are two takes on this daffy affair...one is that the Danes were insensitive to Muslim tradition by publishing a cartoon of Mohammed with an IED in his turban (September 2005); and the other, that Muslims throughout the world, although provoked & manipulated by Danish imams that travelled to Saudi Arabia with more insulting "fabricated" cartoons, intentionally instigated violent demonstrations (funded & organized by Arab governments) against the Danes, the whole Netherlands, Europe, Britain, Lebanon, Indonesia, Palestine, Afghanistan and so on. Muslim rioters everywhere are calling for "death to cartoonists" and the mass beheadings of Western jokesters.

This latest clash of civilizations should show Europe that Islamists are intolerant hypocrites that neither respect other cultures or religions; nor desire to become grateful, integrated citizens of any other country..they are Muslims first and foremost, and they want Islam to rule the world. Isn't it obvious?

One more thing...where are "moderate" Muslims who think these lethal riots over political cartoons are not a balanced and MODERN response to clever criticism of the terrorism and violence that has poisoned the religion of Islam? Not a peep of condemnation against their own murdering, destructive thugs..instead they plan on publishing racist cartoons of Jews & Christians (they've got plenty in the dead file?)

If European governments can't stand up to Islamic extremism..how can cowering Muslim moderates or politically correct "infidels" of any stripe stand a chance?

Follow the Asbestos!

Until I can get more of our contributors actually contributing, I will take the liberty of reposting their seeders from RepublicanForum.com.

Here's another from TC.

~ ~ ~

Asbestos is still one of the finest fire retardant structural materials existent... used as a filler in modern resin composites it would be less dangerous than some of the silica compounds used as less fire resistant fillers... (silicosis... another respiratory problem...)

The furor over asbestos in buildings seems amazingly to have occurred just about the time other insulation materials were coming to market.

Once the initial push to purge asbestos from every edifice in existence ran up against the actual economics of asbestos removal, disposal and construction of new structures it was suddenly apparent that people digging holes in the walls or tearing up tiles from the floor, grinding them to a fine powder and ingesting or inhaling them was not nearly as likely an occurrence as the LAWS seemed to indicate.

Many other proscribed 'dangerous substances' have a similar history that can be more adequately followed by the money trail than by good science and practical risk assessments and economic virtues.

So far the EPA has a horrible history of preferring those "scientific studies" it FEELS are worthy... than of actually funding research on both sides of issues and letting the results speak for themselves... (funny thing about that... when you fund only those groups that agree with your agenda you tend to get the answers that you want...)

Bush Was Right

Read this Investors Business Daily column, and use it the next time some idiot moonbat tells you Bush lied to get us into war. From the column:

Inconveniently for critics of the war, Saddam made tapes in his version of the Oval Office. These tapes landed in the hands of American intelligence and were recently aired publicly.

The first 12 hours of the tapes — there are hundreds more waiting to be translated — are damning, to say the least. They show conclusively that Bush didn't lie when he cited Saddam's WMD plans as one of the big reasons for taking the dictator out.

Nobody disputes the tapes' authenticity. On them, Saddam talks openly of programs involving biological, chemical and, yes, nuclear weapons.

This is one of the best articles outlining the evidence that the President was dead-on right regarding Hussein and his WMDs, and his terror ties. Unfortunately, the mainstream press hasn't seen fit to report on it very much. Why is this not front page news? The answer is obvious. It doesn't fit with what the press wants us to think. Read the whole article, it's full of good information.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Shine On

1 In the third year of the reign of (A) Jehoiakim king of Judah, (B) Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

2 The (C) LORD gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the (D) vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of (E) Shinar, to the house of his [a] god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his (F) god.

3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his [b] officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal (G) family and of the nobles, 4 youths in whom was (H) no defect, who were good-looking, showing (I) intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king's court; and he ordered him to teach them the [c] literature and (J) language of the (K) Chaldeans.
5 The king appointed for them a daily ration from the (L) king's choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to (M) enter the king's personal service.

6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were (N) Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.

-Daniel 1:1-6

Missioblogging 2006: Finale

The concluding day of the 2006 Valley Bible Church Missionary Conference was all over the worship festivities from sunrise to past sunset. Rich & Joyce Mattocks drew the adult Sunday School hour, and both worship services featured a field report from Kameel Kilada and, IMHO, a sermon from Reverend Tim Wetmore with a melodramatic and guiltmongering missionary challenge to the men of the congregation that I found rather off-putting. He focused on his past failures to witness to people who dropped dead soon thereafter as an example for the rest of us not to follow, as if to say, as I jotted down in my notes, "Don't be a huge failure like all the pagans I sent to hell." He also seemed to be implicitly asserting that only missionaries should reproduce, and then only for the purpose of bulldozing one's kids to the mission field. Of course, his son is a building contractor in Nevada. I guess that was of a piece with the scorn he expressed for "matriarchal" churchs that elevate emotionalism over doctrine, and the weepiness he himself excreted later in his remarks. Count me as underwhelmed.

We'll get back to Reverend Wetmore shortly. I want to make sure I get in the profile for the last of the conference's featured missionaries, Bob & Teresa Reister.

The Christar couple teaches missionary kids at the American Christian School in the Yamaguchi prefecture of Japan. Teresa primarily teaches the elementary students, while Bob focuses on junior and senior high. They have also found many opportunies to use hospitality and English as an outreach tool.

The Reisters have two children, Natalie and Benjamin.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, the profile of our headline performer, the appropriately surnamed Reverend Tim Wetmore!

He and his wife, Marilyn, have been home missionaries ("We let the mission field come to us") with American Missionary Fellowship in eastern Nevada for thirty-six years. He is pastor at Ruby Mountain Bible Church in Elko, which began as a Sunday School mission work. Tim grew up in a missionary home, as his parents were also with AMF (then known at American Sunday School Union). The area of the Wetmores' ministry is heavily populated with Mormons and, more recently, an influx of Hispanics. The LORD has opened up many doors in the Hispanic community to minister.

Tim and Marilyn have nine children and thirteen grandchildren, which may explain the man's propensity to blubber at the drop of a hint. No word on how many of them are in missions, a topic that Tim never did bring up. Perhaps that will be a future lamentation.

I will reprise my post-conference posting of VBC missionary news and prayer requests as I did last year, except that instead of blowing through them all daily, I'll post one every Sunday. I don't think it will quite last to next year's conference, but hopefully it will keep missions closer to the front of my thoughts - and yours.

Another View

Glenn Reynolds, who blogs at Instapundit, has a column up over at the Wall Street Journal regarding the port deal. I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with Reynolds, but I always like to read his columns to get a little bit of a different viewpoint on things. Jim, you and he may not agree on this deal, but you certainly DO agree on the White House's reaction to the uproar, to wit:

As I write this, it's not clear where the rest of the debate is headed, but there are already some useful lessons for the White House. First, blogs make an excellent early warning system. The White House, unaccountably, seems to have been blindsided by the furor over this deal, though most people's gut reaction was negative. As with the many bloggers like me who changed their minds, gut reactions can be overcome by evidence -- but the White House should have taken advantage of this early warning to have its arguments in order. It didn't.

That's the second lesson: The White House should not only have read blogs, but responded to them with information and arguments, rather than waiting for blog readers to weigh in. As Rich Galen observed on Wednesday, "It is an issue of this administration having a continuing problem with understanding how these things will play in the public's mind and not taking steps to set the stage so these things don't come as a shock and are presented in their worst possible light." Paying more attention to the blogs won't solve that problem. But it will help.

Read the whole article.

My Answer

You're right, Jim, I don't think anyone is unAmerican for disagreeing with the President on the ports deal, because I understand the reluctance. As I said originally, I felt the same way. However, in addition to the people you mention who are in favor of this deal, there is also Gen. Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this article, there is a little bit of explanation of how this deal was reached and admittedly, there is some reason for concern regarding the United Arab Emirates and their loyalty to our cause.

Here is what Pace has to say:

The U.S. has a “superb” military relationship with the country, General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters this week. He also said U.S. forces use UAE seaports and air fields for logistics support and for training of Air Force pilots.

“In everything that we have asked and worked with them on, they have proven to be very, very solid partners,” Pace said.

As I understand it, they won't actually have "control" of our ports, as you put it. The day-to-day operations and security will remain the same, and I daresay will stiffen a little when the people who are opposing this deal get through with it.

Condoleezza Rice says, “The UAE is a good partner in the war on terrorism,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during a Middle East trip. “It has been a stalwart partner. And we believe that this is a deal, a port deal, that serves the interests of the United States, serves our security interests and serves the commercial interest as well.”

Perhaps there are some factors behind the scenes here that we are not privy to. I have a lot of faith in Bush, Rumsfeld, Pace, and many of the people who are a little closer to this who are in favor of it, especially when it comes to national security. I know he's not above making a mistake, but if what the people opposed to this deal are saying is true, this would be a whopper. At the end of the day, I guess we'll all just have to wait and see how this plays out.

Upon Further Review

....I am still not convinced about the efficacy of the Bush Administration's jack-in-the-box-like ports deal with Dubai Ports World (a United Arab Emirates company [tm]).

This comes a little later than "tomorrow," but I won't be able to sleep (any more than I have already) until I deliver the gently dissenting reply that Jennifer's post deserves.

I think as more information is learned, the deal makes more sense.

Odd; from what I've observed, as more information comes out about how this deal was consummated (e.g. it turns over twenty-one ports to Dubaian management, not six), the less sense it makes, and the more alarmed I grow at a pre-9/11 complacency growing in the heart of the Administration itself.

I think if anyone has earned our trust regarding national security, it is George W. Bush. He is not stupid, and I am sure he has looked at this closely. Would he really expend the resources he has expended in the Middle East fighting terrorism and then give them an open invitation through our ports?

No, the President is not stupid. And he has earned the public's trust on national security - but not all our trust. He still to this day does not fully grasp the true nature and enormity of scope of the enemy and conflict we face. He refuses to admit that this is, indeed, an inescapable "clash of civilizations," as the recent Danish cartoon business amply illustrates. Heck, it's only been the past year or so that Dubya has been willing to grudgingly use the term "Islamic" when public describing our foes. And while I can certainly acknowledge the practicality of not going out of our way to alienate Muslim states like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt - and, yes, the UAE - which, for their own self-interested reasons have thrown in with us against the Islamists - that does not require us to surrender significant control over our major port facilities to the Dubaians, whose rulers were friendly with Osama bin Laden and the Taliban before 9/11, have been conduits for Iran's nuclear weapons program, and may not always be friendly to us in the future.

As I discussed the other day, the President not only did not "look at this very closely," but didn't even know about "it" at all until the deal was publicly disclosed. Ditto Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. In point of fact, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States - a secretive bureaucratic entity buried in the entrails of the Treasury and Commerce Departments, which are not known for their prudent vigilence of foreign threats, potential or actual - didn't even consult with DoHS or DoD before giving the A-OK to the DPW transaction.

Is that "giving the terrorists an open invitation through our ports"? No - not knowingly or deliberately. But it makes precisely that more likely than it would have been previously. How much so is a matter of conjecture, but not the direction of our vulnerability. And for a president who has "expended the resources in the Middle East he has expended fighting terrorism," that is an act of astonishingly cavalier recklessness that could potentially become full-blown negligence, as well as a glaucomic blind spot he, and we, simply cannot afford.

Now to Limbaugh's points.

Osama bin Laden didn't have to buy the World Trade Center to blow it up. Why would anybody throw away 6.8 to 8 billion, whatever this deal is? Why would anybody throw away $8 billion for the purposes of blowing it up when you don't have to?
bin Laden wouldn't have to buy DPW to slip a radiological weapon into one of our ports, either. Just infiltrate them, which is by definition easier to do with an Arab-based, state-owned company.

The 'tsunami' loses sight of what's being sold! The business is not a port inspection business. It is a container port loading and unloading business!

Which still doesn't address the concern of infiltration, for intelligence-gathering on internal and port security procedures prepatory to an eventual attack.

Frankly this straw man doesn't impress me. I don't think anybody is accusing the UAE of being the New Taliban. The threats this deal would help facilitate don't have to be blatantly overt, and by their very nature wouldn't be open and above-board anyway. Put another way, the UAE could remain a "staunch ally" and DPW do a stellar job of port management and this deal could still make al Qaeda's job of penetrating our country easier. So why take that chance?

These foreign companies are not only foreign, but they are modernizing their ports all over the world, making container loading and unloading faster, safer, and more efficient, and I should say with less union assistance, which is, let me just cut to the chase, that's why Hillary and Schumer oppose the deal because they have heard from the AFL-CIO about it.

Yes, I know that foreign companies are involved with our major ports. That's the "DPW critics are isolationists" slur. And I'm also aware of the organized labor factor, and why Dems are jumping up and down on the ports deal, as I also discussed the other day. Neither answers the fundamental objections voiced above, either.

Just because some deal critics are scantily-disguised political opportunists doesn't mean there aren't valid reasons for wanting, at the very least, some additional (and considerable) vetting and oversight before the ports turnover is finalized.

He went on to say after this that if Congress passes a law preventing the sale that he'll deal with it with a veto. So I have to ask you another question. Those of you who have stuck with the President even though he wandered off the path when it comes to spending and some of these other, you know, straight-down-the-middle conservative issues, you've stuck with him primarily because of the security threat, the war on terror, and up against the Democrats, he has appeared deadly serious about not letting another attack like 9/11 happen. You have to just throw all that out if you think that this deal is bad. If you think Bush can be snookered like this, then he hasn't been worth supporting on any of this national security stuff up to now - and yet I see people doing that.

That's a false choice. Indeed, it is Limbaugh's premise that is faulty. It presumes that because Bush has been stalwart on prosecuting the GWOT, he cannot be "snookered" - or, put more accurately, is incapable of making a serious error in judgment. And, really, his error in this instance isn't even particularly on the DPW deal itself but in his reflexive loyalty instinct to defend any action or decision that comes out of his Administration. Again, he knew zilch about this deal before it came out in the press, and yet rushed to its defense and issued indignant veto threats against any attempt to slow down its fast track even to see where it would go and where it could possibly derail. That just makes no sense, either from a management standpoint or as a political stance. It suggests a bunker mentality at best, and at worst raises some disquieting suspicions. Why, after all, get so defensive if there's no reason to be? To what end profusely reassure if you're reluctant to expose the details to public scrutiny?

Sorry, Jen, but this is an instance where secrecy didn't work in the White House's favor, and has made their ostensible mission of preventing another 9/11 more difficult on any number of different fronts.

I will give you and Rush and other deal supporters such as Mark Steyn, Robert Ferrigno, Austin Bay, and Robert Kaplan, who knows the UAE as well as anybody, credit for one thing - you've attempted to defend it substantively without resorting to impugning the motives of those on the other side of the issue. Unlike people like David Brooks, Mansoor Ijaz, Grover Norquist, and Larry Kudlow, who have been quick to resort to the left-wing tactic of crying "racism/bigotry/Islamophobia!", which is also very reminiscent of the Harriet Miers episode where Administration supporters and operatives imputed "sexism" to those of us who thought that SCOTUS choice was somewhat less than sterling.

Rick Moran did a good job of shutting down that one:

The backlash against the incompetent and cavalier manner in which the Bush Administration has handled the DPW port sale imbroglio has spawned its very own hysterical opposition – much of it from those who should know better. And I can assure these holier than thou hysterics that the way to make friends and influence people is not by calling them bigots or questioning their patriotism.

I don’t like waking up in the morning and discovering that I’m an “Islamaphobe” or “Un-American” for calling the Administration a bunch of rabbit heads for the way they’ve managed the unveiling of this idiocy. To tell you the truth, I resent it. It bespeaks a certain kind of intellectual laziness when the best one can do to counter an argument is to indulge in an orgy of name calling and finger pointing. Better to have the facts at one’s disposal and try and counter an opponent’s argument in a logical and rational manner.

The funny thing is, no one is disputing the basic facts that the Administration is using to justify the sale. Nobody is claiming the DPW isn’t competent enough to handle the management of the six ports in question. No one is arguing that the UAE isn’t a friend of the United States. Nobody is making any grandiose claims that our security will be compromised although dismissing security concerns out of hand reminds me of a pre-9/11 outlook on defending the homeland more worthy of the mindless mouthings of the John Kerry’s of the world. Nobody is saying that the deal doesn’t make good business sense.

What those of us who oppose this deal are criticizing is the way in which the decision was reached in the first place and that the decision has to be looked at in the much broader context of the cavalier way in which this Administration has handled some – not all – key homeland security issues that call into question whether or not we are doing all that is humanly possible to prevent a repeat of 9/11.

Ditto a lady Jen often cites, Michelle Malkin:

It is not "Islamophobic" to remind you all of this important context as the White House pushes forward with the deal, citing CFIUS's approval in order to argue that "there's nothing to worry about."

Nor is it some sort of betrayal of the president to do as GOP Senators Shelby and Inhofe have done, and push for greater transparency, accountability, and commitment from CFIUS to national security concerns.

Nor is it Chicken Little-ish, knee-jerk-ish, or un-American to oppose any final approval of the Dubai Ports World transfer until and unless these steps are taken.

Andy McCarthy sums it all up:

The Bush Administration contends that the UAE has cleaned up its act since 9/11. There are reasons to be skeptical. The Administration, after all, also counts Saudi Arabia and Yemen as cherished friends. It has set a laughably generous grading curve for Islamic regimes (and Islamic leaders) seeking the “moderate” diploma which qualifies them for the status of “ally” in the war on terror. Moreover, while the UAE has plainly taken some steps in the right direction, its facilitation of the enemy prior to 9/11 was substantial. It is not generally our practice to consider hardened criminals redeemed after only four years of good behavior — especially when “good” in this context is, to put it mildly, relative.

On the other hand, port commercial management is not exactly the same as port security. If it really insists on pressing ahead with this deal, the Administration should have a chance to demonstrate why, at a time when our homeland is a target and it takes very few operatives to execute a massive attack, we should be comfortable with the UAE in such a prominent role at our borders — even if security remains primarily the task of the Department of Homeland Security.

But the Administration should make that case to Congress and the American people, not to a secret tribunal (the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) which is run by the Treasury Department — rather than the Pentagon or DHS — and for whom the promotion of commerce has pride of place over national security.

As for me, I reiterate my question from the other day: What is so confoundedly important about turning over control of our ports to the United Arab Emirates that outweighs the additional incremental hazards the new arrangment creates for our already overwhelmed Homeland Security apparatus? And why is the White House either incapable of or unwilling to make that argument that would, presumably, douse this controversy once and for all?

Until that happens, this "deal" is going nowhere.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Look Back

1 Therefore, (A) holy brethren, partakers of a (B) heavenly calling, consider Jesus, (C) the Apostle and (D) High Priest of our (E) confession; 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as (F) Moses also was in all His house.

3 (G) For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.

4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

5 Now (H) Moses was faithful in all His house as (I) a servant, (J) for a testimony of those things (K) which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as (L) a Son over His house - (M) Whose house we are, (N) if we hold fast our (O) confidence and the boast of our (P) hope firm until the end.

7 Therefore, just as (Q) the Holy Spirit says, "(R) Today if you hear His voice, 8 (S) do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 (T) where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw my works for (U) forty years.

10 "(V) Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways'; 11 (W) as I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'"

12 (X) Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from (Y) the living God.

13 But (Z) encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the (AA) deceitfulness of sin.

14 For we have become partakers of Christ, (AB) if we hold fast the beginning of our (AC) assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said, "(AD) Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me."

16 For who (AE) provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, (AF) did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?

17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, (AG) whose bodies fell in the wilderness?

18 And to whom did He swear (AH) that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were (AI) disobedient?

19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of (AJ) unbelief.

-Hebrews 3

Missioblogging 2006, Day/Night #4

The Valley Bible Church 2006 Missionary Conference continued with an all-day series of events. The men's breakfast kicked it off this morning with a missionary challenge from last year's keynote speaker, Kameel Kilada. The ladies got the next meal with a luncheon featuring remarks from the keynote speaker Tim Wetmore's wife, Marilyn. And the entire gorged, gassy congregation gathered tonight for another address by Reverend Wetmore, along with a field report from Rich & Joyce Mattocks.

Speaking of whom, Rich and Joyce are involved with Scripture-use and literacy in the Kamano-Kafe language of Papua New Guinea with Wycliffe Bible Translators. They train and work with nationals in old Testament translation and New Testament revision. Rich also locates and coordinates sites for the Jesus/Luke video in local villages. Joyce has been instrumental in producing a hymnal for the national believers.

Rich and Joyce have a daughter, Christa, who is one of the happiest little girls I have ever seen. With her dazzlingly sunny disposition gracing the concurrent Children's Conference, my kids and their friends will close this weekend with premature laugh lines and a late February tan.

Teachers' Unions and Vouchers

Great article by Neil Boortz regarding the teachers' unions and vouchers. An excerpt:

In Georgia the governor is considering a plan whereby the state could help fund some community social service projects initiated by churches. The truth here is that these private churches do a better job of delivering many of these social services than government does. Can you guess who is stepping up to loudly protest the idea? Well, that would be the Georgia Association of Educators, our wonderful teacher's union. One union spokesman said "It would open a floodgate to vouchers and that is our primary objection to this bill." Vouchers! Union government teachers go to sleep at night worrying about vouchers. They wake up to nightmares about vouchers. They arise in the morning shivering in a cold sweat brought on by thoughts of vouchers. They see vouchers in every dark corner and under every rock. It seems at times that their entire life is occupied by a focus on keeping that floodgate to vouchers from ever opening.

Typical, isn't it? Prevent private churches from getting help to provide community service projects because they're afraid it might lead to vouchers. What community spirit! Wouldn't it be nice if the teachers' unions were this concerned about actually educating our children? Read the rest of the article, it's a good one.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Missioblogging 2006, Night #3

Like Thursday of Passion Week, there was no activity recorded for night #2 of the 2006 Valley Bible Church missionary conference. This is because night #2 is dedicated to home meetings with each of the six missionaries/missionary teams. Also because I had to work late last night.

Ditto tonight, which was an additional reason I couldn't make night #3, AKA "outreach through flatulence" night. I skipped the chilinalia in favor of a major gastronomic atrocity at a local smorgasbord. As is becoming routine after such gluttonous sorties, I feared I'd doze off on the freeway, and as soon as I arrived home and hit my favorite (also only) couch, I was wide awake. This was conducive to catching this week's episode of Battlestar Galactica, but also reminded me that I'm now four weeks behind in my reviews. Now you know what I'll be spending most of my weekend doing, sandwiched around blogging and putting together a new computer desk while preoccupied with preparations for another operational review meeting next week and preparation of my company's tax return. As my old high school band director used to say, other than that there's not much going on.

But there was at tonight's session, headlined by conference keynote speaker, the Reverend Tim Wetmore, with a field report from Christar's Bob & Teresa Reister. And now we turn to our second featured missionary, and last year's keynote speaker, Kameel Kilada.

Middle Eastern Missionary Organization places national missionaries strategically in Arab countries. In recent years, the LORD has opened ministry in Spain among Morrocan immigrants and through broadcasting the Gospel in Arabic into north Africa. Kameel makes frequent trips encouraging believers, and providing outreach and discipleship tools.

The Kiladas also minister stateside producing written materials, videos, and CDs; managing an Arabic/English website for evangelism and leadership training; and providing awareness seminars on Islam and the Arab world.

The Kiladas have six children: Joseph, Elizabeth, David, Samuel, Benjamin, and Esther.

When to Judge

1 "(A) Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

2 "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and (B) by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

3 "Why do you (C) look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

4 "(D) Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?

5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

6 "(E) Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

7 "(F) Ask, and (G) it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

9 "Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?

10 "Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?

11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, (H) how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

12 "In everything, (I) therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for (J) this is the Law and the Prophets.

-Matthew 7:1-12

Last Gasp or Opening Salvo?

Hey, we're only thirty-six hours after the fact on this one! For us, that's progress!

Good thing we're not a news site....

Insurgents [by which should be understood "al Qaeda"] detonated bombs inside one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, destroying its golden dome and triggering more than 90 reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques. [President Jalal Talabani] warned that extremists were pushing the country toward civil war.
That should be edited to read "are trying to." al-Qaeda has been trying to push Iraq toward civil war for the past three years, and has failed miserably. This latest atrocity is, in poker terms, like pushing all your remaining chips into the pot - a huge, and final, bluff.

That's James Robbins' take:

So is Iraq on the verge of the long-expected sectarian conflict that will tear the country apart? Don’t count on it.

The attack was most probably perpetrated by al Qaeda, which has been trying to foment civil strife in Iraq for some time, and declared open war on the Shiites last year. They have mounted numerous provocative attacks on Shia and Kurdish targets, to no noticeable effect. This strike was much more audacious; the (previously) golden-domed shrine is an ancient and revered structure, and the tombs within are holy both to Shiites and Sunnis, though more so to the former. The initial retaliatory attacks on Sunni mosques must have pleased Zarqawi; if taking down this site did not start the civil war, nothing would.

So the foreign fighters must have been stunned when Shiite and Sunni leaders rushed out statements saying they knew that the takfiri (i.e., those who accuse other Muslims of being infidels, a code word in this context for the foreign extremists) were behind the attack, and they would not let this act of brutality divide Iraq.

The leaders of the new Iraq, IOW, are calling the "takfiri's" bluff, and the latter have nothing back upon which to fall:

Things have not been going well for the foreign fighters lately. Their Sunni tribal supporters — without whom they cannot prosecute their insurgency — have begun turning against them. Earlier this month the Karabla tribe in al-Anbar province, an al Qaeda hotbed, announced they would take up arms against insurgents from abroad. In the al-Anbar capital of Ramadi, once a Zarqawi stronghold, open warfare has erupted between the local insurgent groups and the foreign fighters, particularly after the assassination of respected local tribal leader Sheikh Naser Abdul Karim al-Miklif. And recently eight major western Iraqi tribal chiefs met with General George Casey and Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to discuss ways to work together to stabilize the province. This is a welcome and long overdue recognition of the decisive role Sunni tribal leaders must play in resolving the insurgency.

And so, if this attack doesn't spark a sectarian civil war, nothing will. As Robbins also points out, the Shiites have power without it and the Sunnis couldn't hope to win it. The only beneficiaries would be, ironically enough, the axis of Sunni Wahhabist al Qaeda and Shiite crazoid Iran. And wouldn't you know it, our old friend Adolph Ahmadinejad himself wasted no time dashing to a TV camera and blaming the Askariya bombing on Israel and the United States. Boy, that goes to show how well Shiites and Sunnis can work together, doesn't it? Only thing missing is proper motivation.

Bill Roggio lays out the signs by which we can tell that true Iraqi civil war is breaking out:

• The Shiite United Iraqi Alliance no longer seeks to form a unity government and marginalize the Shiite political blocks.

• Sunni political parties withdraw from the political process.

• Kurds make hard push for independence/full autonomy.

• Grand Ayatollah Sistani ceases calls for calm, no longer takes a lead role in brokering peace.

• Muqtada al-Sadr becomes a leading voice in Shiite politics.

• Major political figures - Shiite and Sunni - openly call for retaliation.

• The Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars Association openly call for the formation of Sunni militias.

• Interior Ministry ceases any investigations into torture and death squads, including the case against recently uncovered problems with the Highway Patrol.

• Defense Minister Dulaimi (a Sunni) is asked to step down from his post.

• Iraqi Security Forces begins severing ties with the Coalition....

• Iraqi Security Forces make no effort to quell violence or provide security in Sunni neighborhoods.

• Iraqi Security Forces actively participate in attacks on Sunnis, with the direction of senior leaders in the ministries of Defense or Interior.

• Shiite militias are fully mobilized, with the assistance of the government, and deployed to strike at Sunni targets. Or, the Shiite militias are fully incorporated into the Iraqi Security Forces without certification from Coalition trainers.

• Sunni military officers are dismissed en masse from the Iraqi Army.

• Kurdish officers and soldiers leave their posts and return to Kurdistan, and reform into Peshmerga units.

• Attacks against other religious shrines escalate, and none of the parties make any pretense about caring.

• Coalition military forces pull back from forward positions to main regional bases.

None of these signs is anywhere near happening, at least not yet. And if they don't, the "insurgency" is finished. They've tried their "hail Mary" on fourth down and it's falling incomplete. Doubtless their attacks will linger at some level, but they just won't be relevant anymore as the new Iraq moves on and leaves them behind.

It'll be as disappointing for the American media as it will be for another of our old friends, "Emir" Zarqawi. But they have no shortage of other anti-American enemies with whom to seditiously side. For the Mesopotamian branch of AQ, it'll be the showers - and hopefully not the ones that dispense hot water.

UPDATE: John Batchelor at AmSpecBlog reports that the Askariya bombing was the opening salvo in Iran's pre-emptive offensive against U.S. military action to take out its nuclear weapons program (and perhaps arsenal as well) and the mullahgarchy along with it:

Reports indicate that the Samarra bombing was done by a demolitions team that was inside the mosque up to 48 hours before the detonation. The explosives were arranged to collapse the dome while leaving the critical tombs of the 10th and 11th imams unharmed - since damage to the grandfather and father of the invisible 12th imam (who will return on judgment day) does not advance the Shia paocalypticism preached in Tehran. Instead the damage is arranged to show a frightening image of sacrilege on the videos and stills, aiding the provocateurs throughout the Shia regions of the Ummah.

The coordinated Shia-based assaults on hundreds of Sunni mosques that followed was directed by Iranian agents or fellow travelers. Signals source suspects the Iranians are using captured Salafists from Pakistan, men who are devoted to murdering Shia. These surrogates are given a stark choice by Iranian forces: conduct this murder campaign or we will just kill you where you hang.

The Shia attack on the Sunnis is the continuation of a thousand-year-old sectarian war. Saddam Hussein's regime interrupted the fight in Iraq. Now the Shia dogs of war are loose....

Tehran commands the civil war. Tehran commands the Shia agents who will now seek to murder all Sunni elements who resist a Shia-dominated Islamic Republic in Baghdad.

My first summary of this offensive is that Iran is committed to the domination of the Ummah, and that means destruction of the US in Iraq first, followed by the destruction of Israel in total.

Personally I'd rather al Qaeda be the perps; at least there's a general perception in our highest governing councils that we're at war with them. Iran's been at war with us for 27 years and American poobahs, including our erstwhile "cowboy-in-chief," still haven't figured that out.

Iran is committed to our destruction, and may have started their plan to make it happen. To what are we committed? How long will we continue to deny reality in favor of rapidly-evaporating fantasy? The answer to that question will be George W. Bush's ultimate legacy, one way or the other.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Built to Last

7 But (A) to each one of us (B) grace was given (C) according to the measure of Christ's gift.

8 Therefore it says, "(D) When He ascended on High, He (E) led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men."

9 (Now this expression, "He (F) ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into (G) the lower parts of Earth?

10 He Who descended is Himself also He Who ascended (H) far above all the heavens, so that He might (I) fill all things.)

11 And He (J) gave (K) some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as (L) evangelists, and some as pastors and (M) teachers, 12 (N) for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of (O) the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to (P) the unity of the faith, and of the (Q) knowledge of the Son of God, to a (R) mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the (S) fullness of Christ.

14 As a result, we are (T) no longer to be children, (U) tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by (V) craftiness in (W) deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth (X) in love, we are to (Y) grow up in all aspects into Him who is the (Z) head, even Christ, 16 from whom (AA) the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself (AB) in love.

-Ephesians 4:7-16

Port Storm Raging

Once the red nutbag haze stirred up by "Shotgungate" finally started to settle, and "Portgate" erupted in its place, pols on both sides of the aisle rose up in alarmed opposition to the Dubai/UAE ports deal. Per RCP's roundup, Democrat Senators Hillary Clinton and Robert Menendez are against it, as are Republican Governors George Pataki and Robert Ehrlich, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representative Peter King (R-NY), as well as a host of others, including the majority party leadership in both the House and Senate.

King's comments were not exactly equivocal:

"By having a company right out of the heartland of al-Qaida managing those ports without being properly cleared or investigated, to me is madness," Representative King told ABC News.

King cited "a number of reports about the port of Dubai itself, about weapons going through that port, to Iran, about corruption, and again about an al-Qaida presence. And I know there was no real investigation done on this matter."

"This is a classic situation, I think, of bureaucrats who just missed the boat here," he explained. "This went through. They were applying business as usual [rules] and they forgot it was post-9/11."

Former DOHS Secretary Tom Ridge concurred, if a bit less stridently:

"I think the anxiety and the concern [over the deal] that has been expressed by congressmen and senators and elsewhere is legitimate," Ridge told CNN.

"The bottom line is, I think we need a little bit more transparency here," he explained. "There are some legitimate concerns about who would be in charge of hiring and firing, security measures, added technology in these ports that we'll need to upgrade our security."

Appearing on Fox News, Ridge recommended that "members of congress who have expressed concern should be given a look at the agreement to see who ultimately has operational responsibility and what kind of information is going to be shared with whom once the transaction is completed."
These are legitimate concerns and valid questions that quite frankly deserve some straight answers from the White House. Unfortunately, and inexplicably given the huge public relations favor the Administration could do itself by belatedly offering some of the transparency to which Mr. Ridge refers, its spokesmen, ranging from Attorney-General Alberto Gonzeles to current DOHS Secretary Michael Chertoff to SecState Condoleezza Rice, have all spouted the same presidential line that became so infamous during the Harriet Miers debacle: "Trust me." No details, can't talk about the deal or the process by which it was approved or what was and was not examined and considered and evaluated, but we insist that everything's A-OK anyway and you'll just have to take our word for it. This in a political landscape that makes the White House digging in its heels on this transaction akin to a wildebeast falling into a pirhanna stream.

Much has been written over the years about Dubya's penchant for simply announcing or implimenting policies and never selling them before, during, or after the process. This caused the Bushies enough headaches in the first term when those policies were almost always spot-on right because the DisLoyal Opposition's relentlessly dishonest, vituperative criticism would erode public support for them. But now that they've grown a political tin ear and developed other symptoms of "second term-itis," it has become seriously debilitating to the President's standing as well as the potential viability of his party's majorities on Capitol Hill.

What other conclusion can the reasonable observer draw when GDub stumbles into such a belly-flop on national security, the issue he has owned despite the other side's most strenuous efforts to reprise the "hey-hey, ho-ho" days of Vietnam? Did nobody in the White House, including Karl the Great, really perceive how outsourcing management of our six biggest ports to an Islamic country - no matter how staunch an ostensible ally the UAE is - would be seen by the public at large? Or the effortless ease with which it could and would be exploited by the Dems?

Rest assured, Michelle Malkin is on the money with her denunciation of the cynical and hypocritical opportunism of Democrats somersaulting into the pose of born-again profilers now that an opportunity to get to Bush's right on his core issue, and the issue that is keeping them out of power, has arisen. Hillary was among the first in line with her faux hawkishness, and her fellow empire stater Chucky Schumer delivered a GOP ad fodder for the ages when he said that he'd rather turn the six American ports over to Halliburton than let them fall into the hands Dubai Ports World. A stance that would last only until it was fulfilled, and then the old anti-Cheney reflexes would take over like rigor mortis.

But so what? Democrats are demagogues; always have been, and never more so than these days when they have little more to lose by doing so. That, to me, underscores how badly the Bushies botched this decision. Homeland security in general and port security in particular has been the Donks' primary avenue of trying to manufacture credibility that they've so irretrievably forfeited pretty much everywhere else in the terror war policy arena. "Secrecy," "plutocracy," and "arrogance" have been among the most oft-used Dem buzzwords when attacking the President. Now here comes the Dubai Ports World deal, in which Bush appears to sell our major ports to a rich Arab shiekdom without a second, or even first, thought, much less a backward glance, behind closed doors, and imperiously drops it in the public's lap and will brook no requests for so much as a cursory explanation. In baseball this is like a closer helplessly serving up one down-the-middle, over-the-plate, hanging meatball pitch after another in the bottom of the ninth. In tennis it's like double-faulting away a set from 5-love. In boxing it's like repeatedly punching yourself in the groin. In quail hunting it's like...well, you know. These are unforced errors this President cannot afford to make, especially with his stewardship of the war already going up in Iranian nuclear smoke and artificially-induced Iraqi inter-sectarian strife.

RCP's Tom Bevan summed up what should have been no-brainer obvious to Rove & the boys:

The White House should have had the foresight to brief Governors, Senators, relevant House members and Mayors from all the ports involved to assuage any concerns and also to enlist their support. Instead, those very people - both Republican and Democrat - have come out attacking the deal, leaving the White House on its own defending what now looks like a huge political liability.

For going on three years now, the Bush White House has never seen these things coming, and then takes a vicious beating after they land. And their willingness to fight seems to run in inverse proportion to how worthwhile the cause is. It's like they have this masochistic streak that loves, in football parlance, to spot the other team three quarters and a four-touchdown lead.

Maybe that can work, on occasion, if you're the equivalent of Joe Montana. But George Bush's Joe Montana days are long behind him. You know how the Dems are also always attacking his competence? Well....

President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his Administration, the White House said Wednesday.
He didn't know about an eight-billion dollar deal to transfer management of six major American ports to a Middle Eastern emirate that has been a financial nexus of our enemies? Isn't it his job to know these things? Even just to not end up looking like a complete boob in full, garish public view?

This reminds me of the scene aboard Air Force One in Independence Day when President Whitmore is informed by his {ahem} secretive Secretary of Defense that yes, there really is an Area 51 and yes, they really do have a captured UFO stashed there. The look on Bill Pullman's face at that moment is absolutely priceless. Incredulity mixed with appalled, outraged anger at being kept in the dark about something so vitally important to national security. Admittedly, the UAE isn't exactly an invading space alien horde, and really, neither is al Qaeda for that matter, at least not any more, but if I'd been Dubya and found out about this ready-made shitstorm in the f'ing newspapers, I'd have been more than a little pissed about it.

Instead, he knee-jerkedly defended it:

Q Mr. President, leaders in Congress, including Senator Frist, have said that they'll take action to stop the port control shift if you don't reverse course on it. You've expressed your thoughts here, but what do you say to those in Congress who plan to take legislative action?

THE PRESIDENT: They ought to listen to what I have to say about this. They ought to look at the facts, and understand the consequences of what they're going to do. But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it, with a veto.

In over five years George Bush has never issued a veto. He didn't veto profligate appropriations bills, he didn't veto campaign finance reform (as he promised to in 2000), he didn't veto John McCain's "anti-torture" legislation that has signficantly tied the hands of U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts. But he will veto the outsourcing of U.S. ports management to an Islamic state? A veto that he is almost certain to lose? What in Allah's name for?

Go further through the presser transcript and it becomes abundantly clear that he really did learn of the Dubai Ports world transaction just this week and really has no deep idea of what it is he's defending:

Q The understatement today, and one of the concerns of lawmakers seems to be that they want more of a briefing, and they want more details about the things that you know, that have given you confidence that there aren't any national security implications with the port deal. Are you willing to either have your staff or to give any kind of briefing to leaders of Congress -

THE PRESIDENT: Look at the company's record, Jim, and it's clear for everybody to see. We've looked at the ports in which they've operated. There is a standard process mandated by Congress that we go through, called the CFIUS process. I'm not exactly sure if there's any national security concerns in briefing Congress. I just don't know. I can't answer your question.

Q It seems like - you've already heard from different Administration officials, saying, not in as strong terms as you have today, that there aren't problems with this deal, that the deal should go forward. But they seem to want more of a briefing. Would you be willing to give any additional briefings, either -

THE PRESIDENT: We'll be glad to send -

Q - either in a classified basis, or -

THE PRESIDENT: I don't see why not. Again, you're asking - I need to make sure I understand exactly what they're asking for.
Sounds to me like he's delegated a wee bit more than he should have on the more or less rubber-stamp operation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Now trust me, I understand as well as anyone the desirability of setting up an operation just the way you want it and then putting it on automatic pilot to the greatest extent possible, but not where national security is so obviously and overtly and politically concerned. You have to be on top of what is at the top of the priority list because getting caught flat-footed will cripple your credibility and perhaps get thousands more American civilians killed.

From the President we got, instead, this:

Q Why is it so important to you, sir, that you take on this issue as a political fight? Clearly, there's bipartisan -

THE PRESIDENT: I don't view it as a political fight. So do you want to start your question over? I view it as a good policy.

Q Why is it - clearly -

THE PRESIDENT: Are you talking about the energy issue?

Q No, I'm sorry, the ports issue.

THE PRESIDENT: It's not a political issue.

Q But there clearly are members of your own party who will go to the mat against you on this.

THE PRESIDENT: It's not a political issue.

Q Why are you - to make this, to have this fight?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't view it as a fight. I view it as me saying to people what I think is right, the right policy.

Does the expression, "Denial is not just a river in Egypt" come to anybody's else's mind besides mine? I don't know about you, but that exchange comes across to me as more than a little autocratic. "I've made my ruling, my decision is final, so sit down and shut up." Except, of course, that it wasn't his ruling; he's just been sent out to defend the folly carried out in his name.

But there is going to be a fight because it is a political issue, both precisely because of the President's own (Gosh, I hope Jon Fredersen, or whatever he's calling himself these days, doesn't read this site) bumbling.

Frank Gaffney tells us what we can expect if Bush pushes this fight he doesn't consider to be a fight:

Legislation will be enacted by veto-proof margins in both the House and Senate to block the DP World takeover of the port terminal and other management contracts currently held by the British company, P & O.

If so, the President will be unlikely to cast his first veto in a futile attempt to block the legislation. The deal will, therefore, be aborted.

Relations with the UAE, which has been helpful in some aspects of the War for the Free World post-9/11 — the factor that seems to have trumped all others in the secretive deliberations of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) about the DP World takeover, will be damaged unnecessarily.

If Bush meant it when he said, "It sends a terrible signal to friends around the world that it's OK for a company from one country to manage the port, but not a country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record from another part of the world," then I would think that the last thing he would want is a fight to the finish that he, and his good friends the Dubaians, can't win. But then again I would also think that if he meant what he said above, he would have made sure to be in the loop about the DPW deal and make a full-court press on Capitol Hill to sell it and pre-empt just such a sulfuric public reaction that should have been eminently predictable.

In any case, it's not like the deal requires DPW to play by many of our rules anyway:

The Bush Administration secretly required a company in the United Arab Emirates to cooperate with future U.S. investigations before approving its takeover of operations at six American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. It chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

As part of the $6.8 billion purchase, state-owned Dubai Ports World agreed to reveal records on demand about "foreign operational direction" of its business at U.S. ports, the documents said. Those records broadly include details about the design, maintenance or operation of ports and equipment.

The Administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries....

The concessions _ described previously by the Homeland Security Department as nprecedented among maritime companies _ reflect the close relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates. [emphases mine]

I'm not suggesting we give the UAE the finger by any means, but do we really want a "close relationship" with a country that "bans Israelis from visiting or working in their country, and [maintains] maps of the world [that] have Israel blackened out"? In which sharia is the law of the land? That had a warm relationship with the Taliban? And that, in any case, could be toppled by al Qaeda next Tuesday, and plays both sides of the table like our other "close friends," the Saudis?

I guess for me the question comes down to this: What is so dadblasted important about turning over control of six major ports to the United Arab Emirates that outweighs the additional incremental hazards the new arrangment creates for our already overwhelmed HLS apparatus?

With that question now adequately prefaced, I'll address my colleague's more Bushofilic perspective....

....tomorrow {g, d, & r}

UPDATE...WELL, "TOMORROW": The initial public opinion numbers are in on the DPW deal, and they brutally prove my point:

Everyone has been saying the politics of the Dubai Ports World deal is bad news for President Bush. Well, now we have an idea of just how bad. Rasmussen Reports has just released a poll showing that Americans now trust Democrats in Congress more than President Bush on the issue of national security by a margin of 43% to 41%. Only 17% of those polled favor the DPW deal, 64% oppose. [emphasis added]

As the old Head & Shoulders shampoo ads used to say, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Maybe if the Bush Administration had tried to sell turning over six major ports to a Middle East-based consortium, or even gave congressional leaders a discrete heads-up about it, they could have smoothed it over and not fallen into the political eel pit instead. But it's too late for that now. This deal is poison, it is leprosy, it is political bird flu, the public doesn't want it, and no Beltway Republican up for re-election in November - about 250 of them, to say nothing of GOP governors in the affected states, who have already loudly come out in vehement opposition - is going to touch this thing, much less support it, with the proverbial ten foot poll and a full radiation suit.

The President has one of two choices: he can quietly withdraw the deal, pending significant modifications to it to address security concerns at the very, very least, or he can fight for it all by his lonesome, get massacred politically, and likely still take his party down with him in the fall.

Leadership sometimes includes taking one for the team - particularly when the QB is the only one that doesn't have to worry about getting re-elected. Dubya got that on the Harriet Miers fiasco, finally. He'd be well advised to "know when to fold 'em" here as well.

It's All Alito's Fault

If Justice Alito hadn't taken the seat of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, would the South Dakota legislature have done this?

South Dakota moved closer to imposing some of the strictest limits on abortion in the nation, as the state Senate approved legislation that would ban it except when a woman's life is in danger.

The bill, designed to wage a national legal fight about the legality of abortion, passed 23-12 Wednesday. It next returns to the state House, which has passed a different version.

The measure would make South Dakota the first state to ban abortion in nearly all circumstances. Doctors would face up to five years in prison for performing abortions unless a woman needed one to save her life.

In a word, wow. Can anybody recall any time in the thirty-three years since Roe v. Wade that a state legislature has thrown down the abortion gauntlet this boldly? With federal courts stubbornly striking down even the most modest partial-birth abortion bans, there can only be one reason why South Dakota lawmakers are feeling their oats to this robust a degree - the slight move to the right of the SCOTUS, and perhaps the belief that Justices Stevens and/or Ginsberg may also be calling it quits in the very near future. Otherwise why would they waste their time passing a comprehensive abortion ban (which doesn't even include the rape/incest exceptions that I could live with) that wouldn't last the time it would take for NARAL to obtain a federal judge's injunction blocking it?

This new statute is clearly intended to rise to Olympus where, it is hoped, the Roberts-Scalia-Thomas-Alito-[McConnell? Luttig?] bloc will finally put Roe out of its well-earned misery. And maybe Kennedy would join the majority as well, if he's reading the prevailing winds. I guess we'll find out just how much of the social Left's hysteria was justified.

Just imagine if Roe was overturned right smack in the middle of the 2008 presidential campaign. On the Left it would be like the movie Scanners come to life.

We should be so fortunate....

[HT: CQ]

Have Sane Donks Had Enough?

This latest Zogby poll seems to say yes:

By objecting to virtually every initiative and proposal of the Bush Administration and congressional Republican majority, Democrats are undermining their party's chances of regaining the majority this fall, the John Zogby poll of 1,039 likely voters suggests.

While House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other visible Democrats in Washington pick fights with Republicans, the poll shows that 58% of rank-and-file Democratic voters say their leaders should "accept their lower position in Congress and work together with Republicans to craft the best legislation possible." Only 6% of Democratic respondents say the No. 1 goal for their party's lawmakers in Congress should be to bury Republican bills.

The poll suggests that many Democratic voters accept their party's minority status. Nearly a quarter of Democrats - 23% - say Republicans do a better job running Congress.

"Democrats nationwide now seem to be adopting this minority-status mind-set," says Fritz Wenzel, Zogby International spokesman. "Democrats are tired of the warring and bitter partisanship that goes on inside the Washington Beltway." [emphasis added]

If Zogby has an accurate reading of the non-Kos portion of the Democrat base, these results are little short of astonishing. Could the Dems have their own "silent majority"? Or at least a "placid plurality" that has grown weary of their party's endless jihads against George W. Bush and the GOP that have produced so much anger, bitterness, and strife with absolutely nothing to show for it at the ballot box? Could more and more Donks finally be ready to genuinely "move on"?

Well, it would certainly explain the burgeoning intra-party conflict that the Extreme Press is doing its utmost to try and ignore. It would seem to indicate that former Virginia governor Mark Warner will be a bigger player in the 2008 Dem presidential primaries than anybody has yet contemplated. And it runs at diametric odds with Dick Morris' newest angle that Al Gore will upend Hillary Clinton for the right to make his Nixon-like comeback.

More to the point, though, is that it harbors very ill for Dem chances this coming November.

Or will after the President comes to his senses and withdraws this Dubai ports deal.

[HT: PL]

A Different Perspective

This rarely happens, but I will have to disagree with Jim a little on this port deal business. First off, I think as more information is learned, the deal makes more sense. More about that below. Secondly, I think if anyone has earned our trust regarding national security, it is George W. Bush. He is not stupid, and I am sure he has looked at this closely. Would he really expend the resources he has expended in the Middle East fighting terrorism and then give them an open invitation through our ports? The more I read about this, the more I think there has been quite a knee-jerk reaction. Lastly...do you really want to agree with Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer? That alone should raise a red flag. Of course they're pandering to the unions, that goes without saying. As Ann Coulter says, the Democrats all of a sudden pretending to care about national security is a joke.

Rush Limbaugh has a good roundup on his web site regarding this question. Here are some excerpts:

Nuance 1: Osama bin Laden didn't have to buy the World Trade Center to blow it up. Why would anybody throw away 6.8 to 8 billion, whatever this deal is? Why would anybody throw away $8 billion for the purposes of blowing it up when you don't have to? All they'd have to do -- they own so many other ports -- is just load a container with something's going to blow up when it gets here and send it on its way, and then buy what's left on the cheap.

Nuance 2: The 'tsunami' loses sight of what's being sold! The business is not a port inspection business. It is a container port loading and unloading business!

Nuance 3: The largest company in this business is Hong Kong's Hutchinson Ports. They refuse to invest in the United States. They don't want to buy our ports. You know why? Because they don't want to mess with the unions, and they don't want to mess with the political land mines that go along with it. The second largest in this business is Denmark's APM Terminals, (whispering) and those are white European foreigners and you know what those white European foreigners did to the Indians, and you know what they did to women, and you know what they did to animals, and you know what they did to the land. And the second biggest company is Denmark's APM Terminals, white European foreigners. The next largest is Singapore PSA, owned by Singapore. (whispering) That's Asians, 'yellow people.' You know about them. And then, of course, Dubai World Ports, that would move them into fourth with this deal. And you know about them. (whispering) Arabs. Bombs! Blown-up ports! So we got the Hong Kong people, (whispering) the communist Chinese! Everybody knows the commies, the ChiComs, run Hong Kong.

Nuance 4: These foreign companies are not only foreign, but they are modernizing their ports all over the world, making container loading and unloading faster, safer, and more efficient, and I should say with less union assistance, which is, let me just cut to the chase, that's why Hillary and Schumer oppose the deal because they have heard from the AFL-CIO about it. That's why. Stand by, folks.

Nuance 5: It's an election year. The left is so vulnerable on national defense that they are having to track as far to the right of the Republicans as they can on this port issue. They've been praying for an opportunity that they could see an enemy somewhere and they finally had it shown up in the United Arab Emirates.

Nuance 6: The left is pulling a John Kerry. Note, they're not demanding to 'Stop the sale!' and there's some Republicans in on this, too, I know. They're not demanding to stop it. They're demanding to stall it. 'They want to be able to investigate it, sailor! Need a moratorium to look into what really happened.' Then we find out that Bush didn't even know as we pointed out yesterday until after it was a done deal, yet he is standing by it. They want to be able to stall the deal, the Democrats do, so they can look the voters in the eye and say,'I opposed this sale before I supported it,' or 'I support this sale before I opposed it,' whichever it turns out to be.

I think he makes some good points. The same people who are loading and unloading cargo now will be loading and unloading cargo after the sale is completed. Not that much will change, from what I understand. Here is what Bush said about it:

BUSH: If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward. The company has been cooperative with the United States government. The company will not manage port security, the security of our ports will be -- continue to be managed by the Coast Guard and the customs. The company is from a country that has been cooperative on the war on terror, been an ally in the war on terror. The company operates ports in different countries around the world, ports from which cargo has been sent to the United States on a regular basis. I think it sends a terrible signal to friends around the world that it's okay for a company from one country to manage the port but not a country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record from another part of the world can't manage the port.

And Rush's observation:

RUSH: He went on to say after this that if Congress passes a law preventing the sale that he'll deal with it with a veto. So I have to ask you another question. Those of you who have stuck with the president even though he wandered off the path when it comes to spending and some of these other, you know, straight-down-the-middle conservative issues, you've stuck with him primarily because of the security threat, the war on terror, and up against the Democrats, he has appeared deadly serious about not letting another attack like 9/11 happen. You have to just throw all that out if you think that this deal is bad. If you think Bush can be snookered like this, then he hasn't been worth supporting on any of this national security stuff up to now -- and yet I see people doing that.

Look, I also wondered what was going on when I first read about this, but I didn't post anything until I read more about it. As I said before, the more I read, the more I understand that it is not what the Democrats and a few Republicans are making it out to be. Again, one thing I trust Bush implicitly on is national security. I have no doubt that he has scrutinized this deal and he has obviously found it acceptable. That coupled with what I've learned in the past few days has eased my mind about it.

Just my 2 cents. I'm sure I'll get a few dollar's worth of opinion from Jim. :-)

JASmius adds: Does Jen really want to agree with Jimmy Carter on this port stuff? If that's not a red flag, then I'm Brad Pitt.

More later.