Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Motto for Rep. William Delahunt: "Res Ipsa Loquitur"

* Update, 6/30, below)

They are some people who know better. But for the sake of some small, momentary advantage, they willfully deliver a low blow that is so far beneath the line of decency, that thereafter they are viewed with revulsion.

That is because they have revealed an inexcusable darkness in their soul. Jane Fonda is such a person. William Ayres is such a person. And now William Delahunt may have joined that team.

When a United States Congressman openly express glee that a top American official is exposed on television, so that al-Qaeda can thereby get a good look at him, he is certainly to be condemned, especially where the government official has had considerable involvement in the War on Terror.

Representative William Delahunt (D - MA) is that Congressman. Click on the video and just listen to what he says to David Addington, Chief of Staff to the Vice President, and formerly a counsel to the CIA. And, notice the vicious look of contempt on Delahunt's face when he says it!

Not only is it patently obvious to anyone what Delahunt meant, but he thereafter publicly lied about it, and, of course, now refuses to truly apologize.

The man couldn't even cook up a believable lie about it! That makes it doubly insulting to the intelligence of anyone who hears it, and compounds the inexcusable offensiveness of his original comment.

It seems to me that the people in his district in Massachusetts have a job to do, and that is to vote this man out of office.

What are others saying about this incident? Well, for starters:

Powerline: Here, here, here, here, and here. John Hinderaker's comments are especially strong on this issue. In his latest post, John destroys Delahunt's preposterous "claim" that he was saying that he was glad to see Mr. Addington.

As John put it:
It is sad that we have vicious haters like Bill Delahunt in Congress, but it is good that when the mask slips for a moment, and viewers can see how they really think, haters like Delahunt have no recourse but to lie.

HotAir: Here, and here. In the first post, Allahpundit links to the CBS coverage, via Politico.

In the second post, Ed Morrissey posts a link to a portion of the Mark Levin radio show. Delahunt had called in to "explain" his comments. He gamely tried to repeat the rubbish about being the one who was glad to see Addington, rather than al-Qaeda.

Unfortunately, Mark Levin surprisingly let the guy off the hook by asking him, "did you misspeak?" Delahunt quickly said he had, and further that there was no malice intended. Levin thereupon told Delahunt that he took him at his word.

But when you look at the incontrovertible evidence -- the video clip -- you can see that there is simply no truth at all to what he now says. He got caught and is now trying to lie his way out of it.

Ed Morrissey didn't buy it either, saying the Congressman deserves censure, as is being called for by and, further, Ed opined that "Delahunt is a first-class jerk and, after listening to this clip, a bit of a weasel as well, but let’s not make him into Adam Gadahn and sound hysterical."

Somehow, I don't believe there is any danger of that, but this clip should get as much circulation to as many decent folks as possible. The thing speaks for itself.

When the New York Times recently published the name of the interrogator who broke the captured 9/11 terrorist planner, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (and pointed out that the man was married and a father, as well as naming the company he now works for), the thought occurred to me that some congressional committee would try to compound the crime by finding a way to trot him out in front of television cameras.

Rep. Delahunt apparently decided to save the honors for David Addington, by sitting in on a hearing of a subcommittee he is not even a member of, and questioning witnesses until he got what he thought was a clear shot.

* Update, 6/30). Powerline has another post up, this one a video clip appeal from a former counter terrorism expert, Major Eric Egland, who has served in all theaters of operation where we are fighting terrorism, and who urges people to contact their Congressman to put pressure on Rep. Delahunt to apologize from the floor of Congress for what he said.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Hillary Or Else! Say NJ Fundraisers:
Money "Bigs" aka "The Group" Pressure Obama to Show Respect

At least some members of a cadre of heavyweight Democrat fundraisers for Hillary Clinton in New Jersey -- known by their somewhat pretentious moniker, "The Group" -- have recently been throwing their weight around, trying to openly pressure Barack Obama into selecting Hillary Clinton as his running mate.

Designated by political web site, Politickernj earlier this year as big "winners" in the Presidential primary sweeps held back on Super Tuesday, they are now looking for respect -- they say for Hillary Clinton. But clearly it is also for themselves.

Max Pizarro reported the latest on Politickernj late last night, in a piece entitled, "Post primary loss, The Group waits for Obama to show Clinton 'respect.'"

Here are the first few grafs from Max's story:

Hillary Clinton’s top fundraisers in New Jersey want Barack Obama to offer their vanquished candidate the vice-presidency in a show of respect to her and her 18 million supporters.

"If I don’t see the respect for Hillary Clinton, I will vote for him, but will I be a proactive person? No," said John Graham, national co-chair of fund-raising for the Clinton campaign and one of the money men in that small and powerful circle of Clinton fundraisers in New Jersey known as "The Group."

"Respect is offering her the position with her right of taking it or not taking it," Graham explained. "He can win without her, but Hillary in the picture gives him Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida."
Naturally, they do not want the personally raised $4.4 million dollars, or the $6 million total that they helped raise here for the junior senator from New York in her unsuccessful bid for the brass ring, to be entirely flushed down the drain, given her still-born national campaign.

But publicly pressuring Barack Obama to show her the proper respect and offer her the position, while several of the members who participated in a conference call -- not just Graham -- suggested they would not be "pro-active" unless Senator Obama does what they demand?

She, of course, won the New Jersey primary battle on Super Tuesday ( February 5th) but the nationwide results, generally viewed as indecisive at the time, turned out to be the high water mark of her campaign. Earlier in the season, our Democrat-controlled legislature, along with the Governor, changed the state's Presidential race participation vote back to Super Tuesday (from early June), which ended up putting the state as merely one state among the many -- 24 states in all. What resulted was a horde-rush of returns from which she failed to cross the finish line, as had been anticipated by her supporters.

Barack Obama survived. And Hillary's campaign, lacking any real plan going forward, literally collapsed by the side of the road for a spell. She had no strategy and insufficient resources going forward. She tried to play catch-up, losing race after race for 11 or 12 weeks. Obama had lapped her in the race. By the time she started to close in again -- next door in Pennsylvania -- it was too late. Obama eventually crossed the finish line.

Our Legislature and Governor thereby wasted significant taxpayer funds changing the date, and inadvertently may have eliminated any influence the State could have had if we held the presidential primary at the regular primary date in early June. Ironically, New Jersey could well have been in a position of "king-maker" in the Democrat sweepstakes.

Now, it seems The Group wants to make up for their political loss, represented by their fundraising prowess earlier this year, by pressuring Obama into signing on Hillary for the number two slot, in order for them to be "pro-active." Are they essentially suggesting that in order for them to pay, they want Obama to play? Sure sounds that way!

It would also seem that the core members of "The Group" for Hillary Clinton may have changed a bit, as well. Cited here was the list of members as reported on Politickernj by Wally Edge, on November 20, 2007.

Back then, according to Wally, the list consisted of the following six individuals:

John Graham, Michael Kempner, Alfred DeCotiis, William Harla, Rev. Reginald Jackson, and Mayor Meryl Frank [of Highland Park].
Now, as reported on Politickernj by Max Pizarro, we learn the core membership of The Group includes "around eight people."

Here is how he put it last night:
A cadre of around eight people that includes [John] Graham, Al DeCotiis, Michael Kempner, Reginald Jackson and Zenon Christodoulou, The Group ended up personally pulling in $4.4 million for Clinton, and served as the Jersey catalyst for raising $6 million total for the New York senator’s presidential campaign.
As you can see, Zenon Christodoulou is new to the list -- at least to the Hillary-centric list. He's from North Branch in Somerset County, and a newly-elected Vice-Chair of the Democratic County Committee in that Republican stronghold, who will reportedly be busy with the local freeholder race, as well as concentrating the Congressional race of Assemblywoman Linda Stender against Hunterdon County's State Senator, Republican Leonard Lance. So will John Graham be involved on Stender's behalf.

Looking back, it was barely one year ago that at least some of those on what is now the current list of The Group were busy raising money and awareness, pulling for Mark Warner of Virginia to run for President.

Prognostication in politics is a spotty talent to be sure, as Governor Corzine and Senator Menendez also learned this year!

Times change; and frustration apparently mounts.

But Max's story only named five of eight people in The Group. The original Hillary list as cited by Wally, also included Bill Harla and Mayor Meryl Frank . . . that would make seven.

Again from Max's story today:

On Wednesday, core members of The Group participated in a conference call in which they discussed the way forward. Graham said Newark Mayor Cory Booker reached out to him at a recent fund-raiser for U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy at the Robert Treat Hotel and at least one representative from the fund-raising arm of the Obama campaign placed a phone call to him. But to date there’s been no formal meeting or armistice between the democratic presidential campaigns here.

Like Graham, several participants in yesterday’s conference call said they’d be loathe to go all out for Obama unless Clinton is on the ticket. Asked today if Clinton wants to be vice-president under Obama, Graham said, "she’ll take it."

Core members of a core group. Interesting. Did a few of the members -- say, Harla and Frank -- demur when it came to employing the obvious pressure tactics? Did they, in other words, decide not to participate in the conference call? As for the "several participants" who, like Graham agreed with the pressure tactic -- how many is "several?"

Then, too, who might be that elusive and unnamed eighth member of The Group? Could it possibly be someone especially close to one of the other members, from days gone by?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Morning, Partner!"

William Harla, a law partner at Decotiis, Fitzpatrick, Cole & Wisler, LLP, of Teaneck, a real powerhouse Democrat-leaning law firm in New Jersey, was one of the top fund-raisers for Senator Hillary Clinton here in the Garden State, during this just-completed Presidential nomination cycle.

Last fall, Wally Edge on Politickernj identified Billy as a core member of The Group, a heavy weight caboodle of Hillary Clinton finance operators here in New Jersey, who spearheaded an operation of 75 fund-raisers to raise at least one million dollars "at a December 12 event at the State Theater in New Brunswick."

A former Deputy Attorney General with a real talent for key appellate work, Harla moved from the A.G.'s Office into the Counsel's Office way back in the Florio Administration. He was the Deputy Chief Counsel to Florio, when Christie Todd Whitman surprised the State, and was elected Governor back in 1993, thus denying the tax-happy Florio a second term. Harla left State service early in '94, and went into private practice. In the interim, Bill has pretty much been a fixture at Decotiis, where he is a managing partner in the Teaneck office, representing a variety of clients as a lobbyist.

This past week, in partial recognition of his significant fundraising prowess on behalf of Hillary Clinton during the year, he was invited to personally attend the event on Tuesday evening in New York, the one where Hillary delivered her defiant I ain't going nowhere . . . at least tonight speech.

As were the other attendees, Harla was reportedly told ahead of time that he could bring one guest with him. Apparently viewing it at least in part as a business opportunity, he asked friend and law partner, Wayne Hasenbalg. Wayne was a former Chief of Staff to former New Jersey Attorney General, Cary Edwards, way back at the end of the Kean Administration. In fact, he may have had something to do with the recognition of Harla's work as a DAG, way back in the day. But in the interim, Hasenbalg has played, among other roles, a Republican partner in the lobbying firm State Street Partners, which was a hot ticket lobbying firm during the brief McGreevey heyday. He left there early this past December, according to ELEC filings, and has since joined Decotiis.

But I digress!

So, the other night, there they were -- Harla and Hasenbalg -- attending Hillary Clinton's expected swansong. Like any good attorneys, they were busy working the room, when they somehow became engaged in a conversation with a gal who was also "networking" in earnest. At one point during the brief conversation, she apparently introduced her guest for the evening to Harla and Halsenbalg.

"I'd like you to meet my partner, [name]," she said, introducing Harla and Halsenbalg to another woman, who was attending the event with her.

Smiles all around.

Bill Harla then reciprocated, saying, "And, I'd like you to meet my partner, Wayne Hasenbalg."

There was reportedly a moment of silence at that point, when the gal reportedly sought further clarification.

"Life partner?" she asked.

Another brief moment of silence.

"Uhhh , no, business partner," Harla meekly offered. The light was beginning to shine.

In spite of a mutual agreement that the story would stay with them, by the next morning, the incident had somehow gotten back to senior partner, Al Decotiis. Harla has since told a few friends that Al stuck his head briefly in Harla's office, smiled and said, "Morning, partner!"

* Spelling of Decotiis corrected throughout. We regret the error.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Funny Stuff -- Barry, 'Splain Me That Again?

Hillary Clinton has now officially suspended her campaign for President, and has endorsed the suddenly fully experienced Barack Obama.

Apparently, Senator Obama has recently enlisted the personal help of one of her biggest supporters, Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey, to explain to him some of the intricacies of high-level, constituent-sensitive public sector finance theory.

How else would you possibly explain the clip below? (H.T. Gateway Pundit, here, via Allahpundit, here.)

Boy! Let's just hope there are no federal toll roads!

In order to get a complete understanding of what he was saying, I guess the rest of us will just have to wait until the "Highfalutin' Public Finance For Dummies" version goes on-line!

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The Long Goodbye -- Understatement of the Year?

UPDATES, below: 5:25 pm and 9:00 pm:

In politics, like humor, timing is everything. Over the course of this campaign, Hillary Clinton has demonstrated some very bad timing.

Earlier this year, she thought quite incorrectly, that Super Tuesday was to be "her time." She simply had no campaign plan going forward -- no future campaign strategy to run on. Super Tuesday was to be a knockout. And, as a result, Barack Obama proceeded to run up an impressive string of wins thereafter that secured the nomination for him. Her partial recovery in the late rounds, beginning in Pennsylvania, was a case of too little too late.

This morning, or should I say this early afternoon, she threw in the towel. The New York Times political coverage, posted by Katharine Q. Seelye on their political blog, The Caucus, carried the ongoing story of Hillary Clinton's then anticipated speech -- which was to be delivered beginning at noon today at the National Building Museum-- bowing out of the 2008 race for the presidency.

But according to the live television minute-by-minute coverage, she had not even left the house by 12:20 pm, though her elderly mother was reportedly already waiting in the car! That was a bad image -- and bad timing. One commentator on Fox, Susan Estrich, perhaps harkened back to her "duty" of covering up for candidates, blamed it all on husband Bill. She actually said straight-faced that he was undoubtedly on the phone, thus delaying the departure -- conveniently, of course, ignoring the reality of cell phones, as well as undercutting the perception of discipline that Hillary should have had under the circumstances.

Today's piece posted on The Caucus, was entitled The Long Goodbye: Clinton to Endorse Obama.

The Long Goodbye -- likely an understatement to be sure! And, knowing the Clintons, even with the completion of today's speech, it will not end this year. Believe me, the long "conversation" she began with is not over! She may have suspended her campaign, and endorsed Senator Obama, but she did not and will not release her delegates unconditionally, at least until she gets what she wants.

The primary season this year was embarrassingly punctuated with a revealing and uneasy racial tension within the Democrat party, one initiated by Bill Clinton with his "fairy tale" comment in New Hampshire, and exponentially escalated with his demeaning comparison of Obama's victory in South Carolina to that of Jesse Jackson, back in 1984 and 1988. That comparison was rightfully seen, as noted at the time by Steve Kornacki in The New York Observer, as "misrepresenting history," as well as ungracious, and politically inapt. But Clinton surrogates like Geraldine Ferraro and Governor Rendell dutifully jumped on, and an unseemly scene played out in public, one that still rankles. Very bad timing!

Then, late in the campaign, both Hillary and her surrogates trotted out the victim card by charging everyone in sight with sexism, including "the media," and Barck Obama himself.

Today's speech, of course, became necessary because she failed to make it at the obvious juncture -- this past Tuesday night -- when Barack Obama won the race by securing a sufficient number of delegates, including unelected super delegates, to win the nomination.

That night, Clinton gave a singularly uncharitable speech, barely acknowledging the accomplishments of Barack Obama, and ending it in a defiant tone, saying that she was, "not going to make any decisions tonight."

Today's speech, which started over 45 minutes late, began with an opener that, given the cheers, she had to begin at least three times -- "Well, this isn't exactly the party I planned, but I appreciate the company."

And then, Hillary launched into her endless stump speech talking points, once again punctuated by her allusion to the "18 million" reminder that it was she who got the most votes.

However, she also spoke about the many accomplishments of Senator Obama, and said, suspending her campaign, and committing to "throw my full support behind him." As for the disappointment and "what if" thoughts that would inevitably arise in the minds of her supporters, she cautioned, "Please, don't go there."

But she did not say she released her delegates. She pointedly noted that in the four decades she has been in politics, Democrats have won the White House only three times, noting that the person who won two of them was sharing the stage with her -- Bill Clinton, and his record, ruefully suggesting how much better she feels the nation would be if more Democrats had been elected.

In an acknowledging nod, she did say, "I am standing with Senator Obama to say, 'Yes we can.'"

And yet, at no time during the speech today did she even breathe a single word about the Republican nominee, Senator John McCain. In fact, she has had little but praise for him in the past few weeks.

Then, in an almost sing-song manner to her supporters, she uttered a few staccato line-closers, to wit, "and that is why we have to help elect Barack Obama president." Somehow, they did not sound terribly enthusiastic, or very convincing. And, perhaps picking up or her lack of emotional commitment, the lines certainly did not sit that well with the crowd of supporters around her. By that time, their enthusiasm had quite audibly abated.

Finally, her substantial focus on herself and her campaign during the speech, ticking off all the personal accomplishments and paralleling her personal quest in politics with that of all women in all fields with this speech, she appeared to be advancing a more subtle continuation of her gambit, begun the other night, to grasp for the vice-presidential nod. She also seemed to be continuing her effort to retire her huge campaign debt. It was $30 million last month, but she certainly spent a bundle in May. That means that the $12 million she and Bill lent to the campaign as of then, probably climbed somewhat.

At least in this speech, she had the grace not to tick off the web site address where supporters can go to help her retire that debt.

By only suspending her campaign, she was obviously also keeping the door open to raising the money to pay off the debt she accumulated in the closing weeks of the campaign.

And that fact, possibly more many others, may figure strongly in the calculus of Barack Obama in deciding who his running mate will be. He does not need to be financially hobbled by his running mate. But, he does not need to have Hillary Clinton openly competing with him for campaign dollars.

Perhaps in their little private chat on Thursday night at Diane Feinstein's home in Washington, D.C., Senator Obama found a way to assure the junior senator from New York that he will indirectly do all he can to help her retire that debt, without having committed to a spot on the ticket, thus prompting her polite exit from the campaign today.

Just by not naming someone else immediately, and abruptly pushing her completely off the stage, he helps her accomplish that goal. Primarily, he just wants an abbreviated goodbye, so she doesn't continue sucking all the wind out of the arena. Good luck on that one! In politics, as he knows, November is right around the corner.

And timing, after all, is everything.

UPDATE: 5:25 pm:
One also wonders if Senator Obama will request Hillary to publicly ask for a cease fire, or, in at least one case even deliver a private scolding to one of her more, shall we say, vocal supporters, Larry Johnson at NoQuarter, who has been actively poisoning the well for Obama for a few weeks now, with repeated posts about the rumor of the existence of a nasty video tape of Michelle Obama allegedly ranting on about "Whitey." As of 2:08 pm today, after her speech was delivered, Larry was showing no sign whatsoever of calling off his attack.

An Update on the Michelle Obama Rant
By Larry Johnson . . .

The recording that shows Michelle Obama saying disparaging things about white folks is for real. It is not part of some elaborate dirty trick. The people who have seen her comments describe it as “stunning” or “devastating.” I have not spoken directly with the people who have seen the tape, but I have spoken to two of my friends who are friends with those who watched the tape/dvd.

. . . .

Update II, 9:00 pm 06/07:

Five new posts on various anti-Obama topics on Larry's web site since the first one we noted, above, all put up just after Hillary's conciliatory speech. Busy now, aren't they?

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Monday, June 02, 2008

One-Half Is Less Than Three-Fifths

History has taught us that one of the most deeply flawed and, indeed, tragic conceptions contained in the original charter of our representative government, was the product of compromise, and was first embodied in the original United States Constitution by our founders at Article I, Section II, paragraph 3, providing, in pertinent part:

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included in this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and exluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.
. . . .

My emphasis was obviously added for the last phrase.

That was the original written basis for the census-like formula that (among other things) established the number of Members of the House of Representatives that each State would send to the Congress, with the proviso that each slave only constituted three-fifths of a person, for that purpose.

A long, bloody and bitter Civil War later, followed by several corrective amendments to the United States Constitution, including Section II of the XIV Amendment, the women's suffrage movement, followed by the XIX Amendment, and a score of Supreme Court opinions later, we Americans had for the most part hopefully rid ourselves of that particular sort of scourge.

Well . . . perhaps not.

It seems that the Democrat Party has decided, in their infinite wisdom, that, through absolutely no fault of the 2.35 million Democratic voters who participated in the primaries in the States of Florida and Michigan, the delegates that they voted for (or, that the Rules & Bylaws Committee has now somehow devined that they voted for, using exit polls) in their respective primary elections this year, will only be able to cast one-half of a vote on any matter that may come before the convention, including the vote to select the party's standard-bearer in the fall election. And it would also include for or against any ratification vote that may work it's way to them regarding the Credentials Committee's ruling on this matter when and if it gets to them!

Bit of a disadvantage for those Florida and Michigan folks, wouldn't you think?

Of course, the immediate thought that comes to mind, is that one-half is even less than three-fifths!

Isn't anyone who participated in that process deeply embarrassed? Maybe this needs a good dose of the old "political button routine" to bring it home!

Here is just one suggestion:

* The original thought connecting the two fractions in my mind, was a snarky comment posted by one Kralizek, here, on a written piece on the subject of the outrage over the Rules & Bylaws Committee Meeting, posted by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.

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Clinton Supporters: "McCain Will Win"

Harriet Christian, from New York City, an obviously frustrated supporter of both Hillary Clinton, and of the effort to count all votes of the delegates from Michigan and Florida, was reportedly tossed out of Saturday's meeting of the Democrat Rules Committee in Washington (H.T. DrudgeReport, 06/02), and she stopped to express her strong views as she left the meeting room. Her expressed views also included a comment that the Democratic Party has passed over the nomination of Hillary Clinton, "for an inadequate black man."

At the end of the video, she predicts a McCain win in the fall. You can also hear her obviously embarrassed son in the background telling someone that, "My mother gets a little exorcised." Here's betting he gets a little piece of her mind when she views this video on YouTube!

Yesterday, in one of several updates to a prior post, we also posted a link to a video (H.T. Powerline, here) of a female protester from California, also a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, and, as well, of the need to count 100% of the vote.

She said her support was for the "rights of the Democratic Party," but she did not refer in any way to race. But she opposes the nomination of Barack Obama. Her strong view that the 2.35 million votes should count 100%, is what she said distinguishes Democrats from Republicans, that "democrats are obsessed with everyone's vote counting," She also said that, though Obama looked good at first, that the controversial personalities surrounding Obama -- Reverend Wright, William Ayres "the bomber," and Rezko, the embezzler -- amounted to what she termed "food for the Republicans," that would ensure a Republican victory in the fall. And, she said she would vote for McCain as well, if Hillary did not get the nomination.

As you can see, she was outside during a demonstration on behalf of Clinton's challenge to the ruling earlier this year, that had stripped both Michigan and Florida from seating the delegates selected in their primaries. Note that she says she travelled all the way to Washington from her home on the West Coast, just for the protest. The outside protest was later interrupted by a downpour.

Here is the clip of this voter again, this time embedded in the post.

Also posted on YouTube by firedoglake is a clip of a third protester, Deborah Foster, a phys-ed school teacher from Long Island, New York, who shows bruises on her arm she said she received when she was forceably removed from the meeting for chanting "Denver, Denver!" Unlike the others, her frustration was almost exclusively reserved for the "party bosses." As she put it, "Those idiot bosses in there have given me two winners in forty years!" And then, jabbing her finger in the air for emphasis, but with a little smile on her face, "The party elite sucks!" Obviously, she believes that Obama is far less likely to win in the fall.

How typical are these voters? How strong are their views? For example, how much of their views are driven by their adherence to the principle underscoring the protest -- that every vote should count? And how much is driven by loyalty their to Hillary Clinton, who they support for the nomination?

Are we witnessing a phenomenon that will resonate to the benefit of Senator McCain in the fall general election?

As we post this, Hillary is announcing that her post-primary speech will be delivered tomorrow evening in New York, rather than in South Dakota, perhaps laying the groundwork for ending her quest for the nomination.

Will she make a strong effort to bring these voters back to the Democrat fold?

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Acknowledging Success in the Counter-Insurgency

Replying to the last post,* suggesting that Senators Obama and McCain consider holding a Presidential debate in Iraq, I got a funny but sarcastic e-mail from one friend and regular reader saying, "Obama can stay there after the debate." I also replied sarcastically in turn, "Heh. Maybe he could be a community organizer." Another sardonic e-mailer followed with: "And let Senator Byrd be the moderator."

But that got me thinking. Addressing the situation on a more serious level, one thing that continues to surprise me is that Senator Obama does not acknowledge, in any respect, the extraordinary work and sacrifice of our military over the past year by specifically addressing the notable success of the counter-insurgency operation, implemented through the leadership of General Petraeus.

In spite of the risks, that strategy has turned the tide in huge areas of Iraq.

Here we have in Senator Obama someone who should be able to appreciate first-hand the difficulties of confronting demagoguery and building trust in a situation involving severe social dislocation, through his work as a "community organizer." Obviously, I am not suggesting there is a direct correlation, given the exponentially greater dangers our military encounters, but certainly he could candidly recognize and acknowledge their work in winning the support of Iraqis, in reversing the explosive potential we faced before the surge began.

Whether or not one opposed the initial incursion into Iraq, is simply immaterial in that sense. Lawrence Wright, the author of "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, arguably the seminal book on the rise of al-Qaeda, has acknowledged in an interview with Hugh Hewitt that, though he opposed the incursion into Iraq, he is now finds himself opposed to the withdraw.

From Hugh's interview with Wright:
Lawrence Wright: "Well, you know, there are two really important intellectual centers in the Arab world. One is Egypt, the other is Iraq. And the idea behind the invasion of Iraq, which I was opposed to, was to set up this model democracy that would then become a beacon for reform all over the region. It’s going to be really hard to achieve the goal that we had set out, although now, I am in the awkward political position of being opposed to withdrawing. I think we should stay there as long as we can to try to hold this entity together until they are able to remain stable, create a fairly reliable electoral process, police force, and that kind of thing, and take care of themselves. I don’t know if we can achieve that, but it’s hopeful to see that Iraq has been, you know, I don’t want to say that they’ve been put to death completely in Iraq, but they certainly are in retreat. And that’s critical, because if al-Qaeda won in Iraq, who knows how far it would go."
I also believed that the Democrats' 2006 demands for immediate withdraw and redeployment, or even their silly withdraw schedule amendment last summer, containing the unworkable "targeted counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda" language so effectively responded to on the Senate floor by Senator McCain, were utterly irresponsible. Hamstrung in the ability of our military to respond as a result of the myriad Democrat limitations, we could now be witnessing a real humanitarian debacle, had we simply "cut and run" the way they intended.

Who can dispute that al-Qaeda in Iraq, and indeed the entire movement, would have gained a huge victory by our military defeat, underscoring their history of tempestuous rampage, and perhaps even justifying it in the minds of many people throughout the world?

And who can also doubt that this would have spelled out a major strategic setback for the United States in the most dangerous region in the world?

As it is, Lawrence Wright now reports reports in his article in The New Yorker (H.T.Hugh Hewitt, here) that even a "mastermind" behind the al-Qaeda justifications for the employment of extreme violence, Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, aka, "Dr. Fadl," a man whose early works were used to underscore the "justification" for such extremely violent jihad, has now openly repudiated those views.

A year ago, Dr. Fadl sent out a fax outlining his latest views from where he is confined in Tora prison in Egypt.

From the beginning of Wright's article in The New Yorker:

Fadl was one of the first members of Al Qaeda’s top council. Twenty years ago, he wrote two of the most important books in modern Islamist discourse; Al Qaeda used them to indoctrinate recruits and justify killing. Now Fadl was announcing a new book, rejecting Al Qaeda’s violence. “We are prohibited from committing aggression, even if the enemies of Islam do that,” Fadl wrote in his fax, which was sent from Tora Prison, in Egypt.

Fadl’s fax confirmed rumors that imprisoned leaders of Al Jihad were part of a trend in which former terrorists renounced violence. His defection posed a terrible threat to the radical Islamists, because he directly challenged their authority. “There is a form of obedience that is greater than the obedience accorded to any leader, namely, obedience to God and His Messenger,” Fadl wrote, claiming that hundreds of Egyptian jihadists from various factions had endorsed his position.

By all means, please read the New Yorker article, and Hugh Hewitt's extremely important interview of Lawrence Wright.

And if you have not done so, please try to pick up a copy of The Looming Tower. It is truly an extraordinary read.

*(This post began as my own comment on our prior post, but took on a life of it's own.)

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