Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What Was She Thinking?

Democrats can't win no matter how hard they try. Every time they assay to land a whopping insult on the presidential kisser they just wind up making themselves look laughable. The latest exhibit is this photo of Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan trying to call attention to the president's inadequacies on the Senate floor.

No doubt Michigan Republicans are archiving this shot for use in future campaign ads.

Al-Qaeda on the Run

Maybe Tim Russert should interview Oliver Poole, the reporter who penned the following article in Britain's Telegraph. Given that it contains some positive developments in the war against al-Qaeda, however, Mr. Russert would probably not be interested.

Insurgent groups in one of Iraq's most violent provinces claim that they have purged the region of three quarters of al-Qa'eda's supporters after forming an alliance to force out the foreign fighters. If true, it would mark a significant victory in the fight against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa'eda in Iraq, and could partly explain the considerable drop in suicide bombings in Iraq recently.

Considerable drop in suicide bombings? We thought the country was going all to pieces.

"We have killed a number of the Arabs, including Saudis, Egyptians, Syrians, Kuwaitis and Jordanians," said an insurgent representative in the western province of Anbar. The claims were partly supported by the defence ministry, which said it had evidence that Zarqawi and his followers were fleeing Anbar to cities and mountains near the Iranian border.

Iran? Why Iran? Iran wouldn't harbor terrorists would it? The left will soon be snorting that this claim is just disinformation put out by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, the Satanic trinity, to create a pretext for war with Iran.

It is this move that is believed to have prompted a statement a fortnight ago from the insurgent groups in the central city of Hawija that they were declaring war on al-Qae'da. It is being interpreted by intelligence experts as a response to an unwanted influx of foreign fighters seeking refuge. Iraq's Sunni Muslim insurgents had originally welcomed al-Qa'eda into the country, seeing it as a powerful ally in its fight against the American occupation.

But relations became strained when insurgents supported calls for Sunnis to vote in last December's election, a move they saw as essential to break the Shia hold on government but which al-Qa'eda viewed as a form of collaboration. It became an outright split when a wave of bombings killed scores of people in Anbar resulting in a spate of tit-for-tat killings.

In reaction, the insurgent groups formed their own anti-al-Qa'eda militia, the Anbar Revolutionaries. The group has a core membership of 100 people, all of whom had relatives killed by al-Qa'eda. It is led by Ahmed Ftaikhan, a former Saddam-era military intelligence officer. It claims to have killed 20 foreign fighters and 33 Iraqi sympathisers. Many more are said to have fled. The United States has confirmed that six of Zarqawi's deputies were killed in Ramadi.

Osama al-Jadaan, a tribal chief, has claimed that with the support of the Iraqi army his supporters have captured hundreds of foreign fighters, and has sought to prevent jihadis entering the country from Syria.

So the insurgency has had it with al-Qaeda and is cleaning them out, or claiming to. Of course, this will make it much more difficult for the malcontents to fight against the coalition and more likely that they'll eventually start laying down their arms. It's going to be messy there for a long time, but the trend lines, despite what we hear from the defeatist media, are pointing in the right direction. Iraqi security forces are gaining in numbers, competency, and operational experience. Attempts to build a government continue. The people want peace. But it would all fall apart if we were to pull out too soon and leave a vacuum that the most ruthless would fill.

The nay-sayers, having had their hopes of a civil war dashed in recent weeks, are now promoting the case that the administration's incompetence and bull-headedness made the situation much more difficult to manage than it needed to be, and perhaps they're right, but how do we know? How can we say for certain that had we sent in more troops to keep the peace after toppling Saddam that the results would have been significantly different from what they are? I tend to believe that we should have used more troops, but whether they would have prevented the insurgency or not, who knows?

An Evil Twin?

Here's an interesting wrinkle in the case of presidential advisor Claude Allen who has been charged with fraud in a scheme to steal goods from a Target store in Gaithersburg, MD: Allen has an identical twin. Michelle Malkin wonders why the left thinks that's funny.

We take no position, of course, on the significance of this development with respect to Allen's (Claude) guilt or innocence. We just thought you might like to know about it.

Senator Quixote

Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI), often portrayed as a serious voice along the left-most aisle of the Senate chamber, has made himself look more like a ridiculous Don Quixote tilting at windmills with his attempt yesterday to curry favor among the MoveOn crowd. Feingold introduced a resolution into the Senate calling for censure of President Bush on the grounds that the president has broken the law by directing the National Security Agency to listen in on phone calls made by suspected terrorists to people in this country who may be accomplices.

Feingold claims that Bush did not follow the protocols established to govern such eavesdroppings and therefore deserves censure. This is absurd, of course, but absurdity does not have much deterrent effect upon the Ahabs on the left obsessed with their pursuit of Moby George.

It is absurd because 1) It's not at all clear that the president lacks the authority to do what he has done; 2) In any case, his actions were taken to protect the American people, not to benefit himself in any way; 3) He hasn't done anything that everyone of his predecessors both themselves approved of and carried out without complaint from the Democrats; 4) Senate leaders of both parties were kept apprised of the existence and findings of the program.

Feingold, the only Senator to oppose the Patriot act in 2001, left the chamber immediately after introducing his proposal, not even sticking around to debate its merits. Presumably he was in a rush to leap astride his steed and search out further villainous windmills in Washington to impale upon his sturdy lance. Or perhaps he left in order to spare himself the embarrassment of watching his fellow Democrats moonwalking away from his risible resolution.

Know Them By Their Fruits

I was reminded of Matthew 7:21-23 when I read this story of people who call themselves Christians but who demonstrate at funerals of dead soldiers in the most vile and despicable ways, exploiting the grief of bereaved families in order to make a hateful socio-theological statement:

Five women sang and danced as they held up signs saying "thank God for dead soldiers" at the funeral of an army sergeant who was killed by an Iraqi bomb. For them, it was the perfect way to spread God's word: America was being punished for tolerating homosexuality.

For the hundreds of flag waving bikers who came to this small town in Michigan Saturday to shield the soldier's family, it was disgusting. The fringe group of fire and brimstone Baptists from Kansas has been courting controversy for more than 15 years, traveling the country with their hateful signs and slogans.

Pastor Fred helps said he and his congregants are targeting the funerals because God's way of punishing an "evil nation" of "fags and fag enablers" is to "pick off its children."

"I don't have any sympathy for these parents. They're all going to hell," Phelps said. "The family's in pain because they haven't obeyed the Lord God."

The Westboro Baptist Church first gained national notoriety when they picked the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998 for being gay. In Flushing, Michigan they turned their leather-clad backs to the five women and held flags and tarps up so that mourners walking past wouldn't see the signs saying "God hates fags," "fag vets" and "America is doomed."

Many found it hard to hide their anger when Margie Phelps, the daughter of Westboro's founder, called out "All this for little old us? Oh, you shouldn't have. I feel so special," before she started singing "the Pope, the Pope, the Pope is on fire. He don't get no water let the heretics burn" in front of a Catholic church.

Jesus says in the passage in the gospel of Matthew mentioned above that:

You will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you. Depart from me you who practice lawlessness."

Perhaps the worst photo of the Westboro haters appeared in our local paper. It was of a child holding up a sign at the funeral of a young man who was killed in Iraq. The sign had the words THANK GOD FOR IEDs.

Christ also has a word for people who would put children up to that sort of evil. He said: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to stumble, it is better for him that a millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matt. 18:6).

The people at Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas will some day have a lot to answer for, not the least of which is the unChrist-like image of Christianity that they have presented to a world eager to believe the worst of Christians. Pastor Phelps is an answer to their prayers.