‘We Welcome Being Terrorists’: 15 Years Ago

Andrew McCarthy has an excellent column today on the fifteenth anniversary of the radical Islamist declaration of war against the United States. In one hour or so, exactly fifteen years will have passed since the first attack on the World Trade Center, a truck bomb that intended to demolish the symbol and home of American economic power. It would take eight more years for the terrorists to finish the job, but their intent was clear from the beginning:

Only a few weeks before the bombing, the blind sheikh, who had been in constant communication with his co-conspirators, had attracted a crowd of followers at a Brooklyn rally. “God has obliged us to perform jihad,” he thundered. “The battalions of Islam and its divisions must be in a state of continuous readiness . . . to hit their enemies with strength and power.”
The “enemies at the foremost of the work against Islam,” he declared, were “America and the allies.” For them, he had a warning:

If those who have the right [to have something] are terrorists then we are terrorists. And we welcome being terrorists. And we do not deny this charge to ourselves. And the Qur’an makes it among the means to perform jihad for the sake of Allah, which is to terrorize the enemies of God and our enemies too. . . . Then we must be terrorists and we must terrorize the enemies of Islam and frighten them and disturb them and shake the earth under their feet.

Radical Islam had sought an Armageddon for its declaration of war. But the paltry number of deaths, an absolute miracle under the circumstances, denied the jihadists the monstrous “victory” they’d hoped for. Simultaneously, it confirmed us in our determination to regard them as mere criminals.
That they would learn from their errors faster than we from ours is now clear.

McCarthy prosecuted Omar Abdel Rahman and sent the “blind sheikh” and his cohorts to federal prisons for the rest of their lives. It did nothing to deter the terrorists. Indeed, as McCarthy points out, it motivated them to redouble their efforts to demolish the WTC or force us to capitulate to their demands.
WTC I was a failure, but what followed would not be. Unlike Americans, who calculate war success in minutes and days, radical Islamists calculate it in years. While we throw up our hands after a couple of weeks of tactical and strategic recalculation, al-Qaeda and its affiliates remain fixed on their mission.
After fifteen years, we should understand that the terrorists will not quit until we surrender. While they continue to make war on us, we cannot pretend that peace exists.

AOL Hot Seat Question Of The Day

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Mubarak To Assad: Lebanon Is Your Fault

Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak gave an indication that he may not attend next month’s Arab Summit due to the interference of Syria into Lebanon’s politics. In an interview broadcast initially in Bahrain, Mubarak said that the political crisis in Lebanon had its roots in Damascus, and that Bashar Assad needs to end his interference. Otherwise, the summit would be pointless:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Syria was part of the problem in Lebanon, calling on Damascus to help resolve the 15-month crisis before hosting an Arab summit next month.
“The summit will be held in Syria and Syria is linked to the Lebanese problem. Therefore I hope that Syria would solve the problem,” Mubarak said in remarks aired on Al Arabiya television on Tuesday.
“We should not be (in Damascus) resolving a problem that Syria is a party to,” Mubarak said during a visit to Bahrain as part of tour of Gulf Arab countries aimed at unifying positions ahead of the annual Arab League summit. …
“I hope the Arab summit is held with full force (attendance). But there are problems such as the Lebanon problem which is a fundamental one,” said Mubarak, whose country and regional power Saudi Arabia have been leading mediation efforts to help Siniora’s government resolve the standoff.

Mubarak becomes the second Arab head of state to hint at his absence at the summit. Earlier, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has let it be known that he will not attend the event, either. The withdrawal of two key states will undermine any diplomatic efforts at the summit. Their absence will also humiliate Syria and Bashar Assad, who already has troubles with the other Arab states over his alliance with the Iranians.
Arab leaders usually use more subtle language in their dealings with each other than with outsiders. Mubarak’s blunt recrimination will sting all the more, and it could motivate other Arab states to skip the Damascus meeting. They have more ties to Saudi Arabia and Egypt than with Syria, and they also see the Iranian-Syrian terror client Hezbollah as a potential threat to their own power.
Assad may find it useful to expedite the presidential selection process in Lebanon after this interview got bounced around the region by al-Arabiya. We will shortly see how seriously Assad wants this summit to succeed, and to reflect a little pan-Arab brotherhood on his regime.

It’s Kitchen Sink Time

The Hillary Clinton campaign has begun to throw everything they have left in the cupboard against Barack Obama as the window of opportunity begins to close on their candidate. Mike Allen and John F. Harris at Politico report that the campaign has also begun to turn on itself in its last throes on the national stage, and as polling numbers continue to drop nationwide:

With a week to go before climactic tests in Texas and Ohio, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign team has slipped into full recriminations mode.
Looking backward, interviews with a cross-section of campaign aides and sympathetic outsiders suggest a team consumed with frustration and finger-pointing about the apparent failure of several recent tactical moves against Barack Obama.
Looking forward, it is clear Clinton’s team has only a faint and highly improvisational strategy about what to do over the next seven days. Simply put, there is no secret weapon.
At Tuesday night’s debate in Ohio, aides are mapping plans for drawing persistent attention to Obama’s record without attempting any knock-out punch theatrics that could backfire.
Many recent decisions have done exactly that. This has left the campaign awash in anger over who is to blame.

The Clintons never got the message this cycle. They won in 1992 with James Carville fist-in-face tactics, but in sixteen years, people have tired of it. They want candidates who focus on themselves, not on their opponents. Both Barack Obama and John McCain managed to figure this much out, as did Mike Huckabee to a certain extent. They talked about their own narratives, while their opponents floundered by talking about others.
Hillary should have stuck with her own narrative. When she did that, she controlled the race. Only after she panicked after that disastrous November 2nd debate, in which she flip-flopped on drivers licenses for illegal aliens, did she come out hard against Obama. That’s when her campaign started discussing his kindergarten essays as evidence of his supposedly overweening ambition. Until then, she ruled the polls.
This will be instructive in the general election. With two candidates who seem to understand this mood in the American electorate, the question will be whether any negative or “contrast” politicking will work. The first candidate who can successfully manage it will win the election.

Pork Moratorium Only Mostly Dead?

House Republicans had an opportunity to take a bold stand on pork by declaring a unilateral moratorium on earmarking in 2008. Instead, they offered one in conjunction with the Democrats, who scoffed at the notion of ending the bacon ride for even a single year. Porkbusters decried the lost opportunity for Republicans in building a message of clean government and real transparency.
Jim DeMint has taken up the cause in the upper chamber instead. He plans on introducing legislation that will force the moratorium on the entire Congress:

Hoping to bring the House fight over earmark reform to the Senate, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will propose a full one-year moratorium on considering bills with earmarks as part of the fiscal 2009 budget resolution, the lawmaker said Monday.
DeMint, who will discuss the moratorium during today’s weekly GOP luncheon, said he believes his proposal could create the political room needed to bring reform to the process.
“Let’s get real. Even Rep. Henry Waxman [D-Calif.] over in the House says ‘We’re not going to fix it while we’re doing it,’” DeMint said, adding that “the only way we’ll fix it is if we say ‘Let’s go cold turkey for a year.’ The best thing we could do this year is come up with some good reform ideas.” Waxman recently agreed to suspend the use of earmarks, one of the few Democrats who have joined with Republicans on the issue.

DeMint will propose an amendment on the upcoming budget resolution. It would force the Senate to go on record opposing or supporting the moratorium, an unpleasant prospect in an election year. If passed, the amendment would make any bill with earmarks, as defined by the Senate, out of order. That includes appropriations and authorizations, cutting down on the potential work-arounds.
Will the Senate pass the bill? Probably not. They may not even get all of the Republicans to vote yes. Ted Stevens and Thad Cochran would be two likely nay votes. John McCain would probably fly back to DC to cast a yes vote, though, and that kind of pressure might push more Republicans into supporting it. McCain could also use the vote to highlight a key difference between himself and Barack Obama if Obama either skips the vote or votes to oppose it.
It’s time to contact your Senators. Let them know that the voters have tired of seeing Congress use our money to protect their incumbencies. Call 202-224-3121 and make your case politely and in detail. Support DeMint and other leaders on pork reform and help force Congress into more responsible and accountable governance.

CBS Polling Still As Good As Ever

CBS and the New York Times have a new poll out that looks at the Democratic primary race and at the general election. In the former, it uses a rather small sample, but in the latter the sample gets weighted — as usual — in favor of Democratic voters. Barack Obama has taken a lead in the national numbers for the primary, not exactly breaking news:

A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds Barack Obama with a 16-point lead over rival Hillary Clinton among Democratic primary voters nationwide.
Obama, coming off 11 straight primary and caucus victories, had the support of 54 percent of Democratic primary voters nationally. Clinton had 38 percent support.
In a CBS News poll taken three weeks ago, shortly before Super Tuesday, Obama and Clinton were tied at 41 percent. Clinton led by 15 points nationally in January.
The former first lady has lost her advantage among women, according to the poll: The two leading Democrats now have even levels of support among female primary voters.

How did CBS reach this conclusion? They polled 427 Democratic voters. That isn’t an exceptionally strong sample, and it produces a conclusion that is a likely outlier. Gallup, AP, and Rasmussen all show Obama leading but in a much closer race.
The problems increase when the poll includes Republicans. They show Obama beating John McCain by twelve points, 50-38. However, the sampling and weighting explains the strange notion that John McCain would only get 38% of a general election vote. The sample of 1152 respondents comprises 358 Republican voters, 420 Democrats, and 337 independents. Here’s how they weight the sample:
Democrats – 419
Republicans – 318
Independents – 325
Get the math? They deducted 40 Republicans, 12 independents, and a grand total of 1 Democrat for their weighted sample. The original configuration would have made Democrats 37.6% of the sample, and Republicans 32% – almost exactly how Rasmussen
breaks out party affiliation. Instead, the weighting makes Democrats 39.5% of the sample, and Republicans just a shade under 30%.
If your butcher did this, you’d demand that he take his thumb off the scale. These results are completely useless, and once again CBS and the New York Times report more on their own credibility than on the mood of the electorate.

East German Women And Infanticide

The rate of infanticide in Germany varies widely between the regions of the former West Germany and East Germany. Der Spiegel reports that the issue has become a political hot potato, and that the suggestion by the governor of the formerly communist-run state Saxony-Anhalt that communism could be the cause has people demanding his resignation:

Wolfgang Böhmer, governor of the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, faces opposition calls to resign after he said women in the east had “a more casual approach to new life” than in the west.
Böhmer, who trained as a gynaecologist, was responding to research showing that the risk of a baby being killed by its mother is three to four times higher in the east than it is in the west of Germany.
Barely a month goes by in Germany without media reports of infanticide. One of the most shocking cases (more…) was that of Sabine Hilschinz, 42, from the eastern city of Frankfurt an der Oder, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2006 for killing eight of her babies. She is seeking to have the ruling overturned in an appeal that started this month.
“Statistics don’t necessarily imply a causal link,” Böhmer told the German newsmagazine Focus in an interview published on Monday. “But the accumulation cannot be denied. I think it can mainly be explained with a more casual approach to new life in eastern Germany.” In the German Democratic Republic abortion right up to the 12th week was allowed in 1972. The women took the decision on their own. Today, to obtain an abortion at that late stage, women are required to receive a professional consultation.

Bohmer blamed the “widespread fixation on the state” for cheapening human lives. It could also have been the actual application of communism by Soviet and East German leaders that contributed to that as well. Joseph Stalin killed millions through deliberate starvation, bloody purges, and internal fights; East Germany’s leaders had just as few scruples if lower body counts.
Communism as a system devalues the individual. It reduces their worth to simple calculations of productivity. By eliminated the foundations of liberty as an innate part of humanity as a vestige of the divine within us, Communism made the state divine instead, and the people within it merely producers. In that kind of oppressive system, the dispirited will see babies as little more that exo-fetuses.
The reaction to Bohmer shows that Germany still has unification issues almost two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The forty-five year split of the country created very different cultures across the divide, and it left the Germans in the East poor, defensive, and wary. If Bohmer faces this much grief over pointing out the obvious cultural effects of Communism even with this evidence in support, then the country may need another generation to fully heal.

Did Saddam Figure’s Millions Influence Obama?

The Times of London follows the money in the journalistic tradition of Watergate and finds a strange connection between Tony Rezko, Barack Obama, and Nadhmi Auchi. The latter, one of Britain’s richest men, has a long history of shady financial dealings as well as numerous connections to Saddam Hussein, who he helped to power. According to the Times, Auchi sent a lot of money to Rezko just before his wife bought property adjacent to the Obamas in a land deal that has already raised a lot of eyebrows:

A British-Iraqi billionaire lent millions of dollars to Barack Obama’s fundraiser just weeks before an imprudent land deal that has returned to haunt the presidential contender, an investigation by The Times discloses.
The money transfer raises the question of whether funds from Nadhmi Auchi, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, helped Mr Obama buy his mock Georgian mansion in Chicago.
A company related to Mr Auchi, who has a conviction for corruption in France, registered the loan to Mr Obama’s bagman Antoin “Tony” Rezko on May 23 2005. Mr Auchi says the loan, through the Panamanian company Fintrade Services SA, was for $3.5 million.
Three weeks later, Mr Obama bought a house on the city’s South Side while Mr Rezko’s wife bought the garden plot next door from the same seller on the same day, June 15.

Why is this important to the land deal?

Mrs Rezko paid the asking price for the garden but the Obamas bought the house for $1.65 million, – $300,000 less than the asking price. The sellers deny they offered the Obamas a discount on the house because the garden had fetched full price from Mrs Rezko.

They took 15% less than the asking price? That’s a rather remarkable discount. And how exactly did the Rezkos afford to buy the adjacent plot? It cost $625,000, and they needed to make a $125,000 down payment on the land. Yet at the time, Tony Rezko had “no income, negative cash flow, no liquid assets, no unencumbered assets [and] is significantly in arrears on many of his obligations” — according to a sworn court statement a year later. His wife had an income of $37,000 and assets of around $35,000.
How could they qualify for a mortgage on the adjacent plot? Where did they get the money for the down payment? More importantly, why did Auchi lend so much money to Rezko, when Rezko had been in such financial straits? And why was Auchi so interested in Rezko in the first place?
Let’s take another look at Auchi:

Auchi’s brother was among the many Baathists killed by Saddam, but the execution did not inhibit Auchi’s business dealings with Iraq which, he says, didn’t stop until the Gulf war of 1991. His first coup in the West was to broker a deal to sell Italian frigates to the Iraqi Defence Ministry, for which he received $17m in commission. Italian investigators claimed that a Panamanian company owned by Auchi was used to funnel allegedly illegal payments. Auchi denied he had done anything wrong.
In the mid-1980s he got to know Pierfrancesco Pacini Battaglia, a man whose role in directing money to politicians led Italians to call him ‘the one below God’. Saddam Hussein had ordered the construction of a pipeline from Iraq to Saudi Arabia. Battaglia and Auchi secured the contract for a Franco-Italian consortium. In a statement to New York lawyers Battaglia alleged he knew how. ‘To acquire the contract it was necessary, as is usual, especially in Middle Eastern countries, to pay commission to characters close to the Iraqi government… In this case, the international intermediary who dealt with this matter was the Iraqi, Nadhmi Auchi.’ Auchi has denied any wrong-doing.

Nick Cohen suggests that Britain only extradited Auchi to France to face fraud charges in 2003 because our invasion of Iraq had ended his usefulness as an expert on the Hussein regime for MI-6. In any case, Auchi also allegedly had a hand in defrauding the UK’s National Health System after his fleecing of the French oil company Elf.
Rick Moran pines for the late Mike Royko, who would have known exactly what to do with these connections:

At this point, unless there is a deliberate, concerted effort by the large media outlets to allow this story to die once Rezko is convicted, I find it probable that other revelations are yet to come that will show Obama to be just another machine politician, skirting the edge of ethics and the law – perhaps even going over the line and engaging in criminal activities.
Obama is not the Agent of Change. He is a calculating politician who plays the game the same way politicians have been playing it for hundreds of years – receiving money in exchange for favors from government for his friends and cronies. And if Mike Royko were alive, one has to believe that despite agreeing with his politics, Royko would have been relentless in taking Obama down, hammering away in his own inimitable style at the influence selling, the sweetheart deals, the pay for favors, and all the rest of this sleazy mess.
No Royko today. But we have an army of bloggers who can push this story into the mainstream and force the media to expend the resources necessary to get to the bottom of the Rezko-Obama enterprise. True, like Whitewater it is a very complex story and there is very little ease in the telling. But given the stakes, an effort should be made nonetheless.

There seems to be a lot more to Rezko than just slumlording. When a figure like Auchi gives a low-rent figure like Rezko that kind of money, he’s not looking to expand tenement ownership.

Alert The Media, And CQ Shutdown FAQ

I will join Duane Patterson on the Hugh Hewitt show tonight at 6:40 pm CT to discuss my move to Hot Air. Hugh’s on his Hugh Cruise, and Dean Barnett took suddenly ill, so Duane gets the center seat tonight.
In the meantime, I want to address a few of the most asked questions in comments and e-mails today.
Q. You’re going to change your style.
Not if Michelle and I both have our way. Michelle wants my voice at Hot Air, not for me to adopt someone else’s voice. I plan on writing in the same way that I have for the last four and a half years; I doubt I could write in any other fashion. I certainly wouldn’t want to. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I couldn’t write the way I like, and Michelle wouldn’t have offered it if I did.
The best I can do to alleviate those concerns is to tell people to keep reading me and keep me honest.
Q. What about your personal posts about the First Mate and Little Admiral?
I’ll be doing those at Hot Air as well. I’m also bringing the AOL Hot Seat Poll on those days when I write the question. I’m bringing the whole deal with me when I go to Hot Air. Well, except for the mess in my office, which the First Mate insists I jettison.
Q. Can’t we just cross-post to Captain’s Quarters?
As you might imagine, I would have loved to keep CapQ going. However, the idea here is to help build the Hot Air blog, and it makes sense to redirect the traffic from CapQ. I’ll keep the archives live permanently.
Q. I can’t read Hot Air at military facilities.
We need to ask the DoD about that one, don’t we? I’m sorry that will be a problem for some, because I know I have a lot of military readers. Hopefully it won’t always be a problem.
Q. What about BTR?
Please see this post. I’m sorry to leave; I think they’re terrific.
Q. Don’t you think blog consolidation is a problem?
Not really, no, not when it produces better results and stronger voices. If I didn’t think that would be the result of this move, I wouldn’t do it.
Q. The comment section at Hot Air is too restrictive.
As long as people don’t get personally abusive, I don’t think that anyone at HA has a problem with dissent. I’m hoping that all of CapQ’s commenters comes with me to Hot Air, so that we can continue to debate each other in a much wider pool of responders.
I’ll add more as issues come up. Many thanks to all who have sent or posted their congratulations.

Obama’s Negatives Going Up

While Hillary Clinton has not found a way to break the consecutive primaries losing streak against Barack Obama, now at 10 or 11 depending on whether one counts the expatriate poll, she has managed to force Obama to talk a little more specifically about policy. That apparently has cost Obama some ground, according to Rasmussen, although not so much against Hillary. His negatives have risen seven points in the last month, and now are ten points higher than those of John McCain:

Thirty-four percent (34%) of all voters say they will definitely vote for John McCain if he is on the ballot this November. Thirty-three percent (33%) will definitely vote against him while 29% say their support hinges on who his opponent is.
Barack Obama has the same number who will definitely vote for him–34%. But, more people are committed to voting against him than McCain. Forty-three percent (43%) say they will definitely reject him at the ballot box. For 18%, their support depends on his opponent.
For Hillary Clinton, 32% will definitely vote for her if she is on the ballot and 46% will definitely vote against. Core opposition to Clinton, the best-known of the candidates as the long campaign season began, hovered in the high 40s through most of the past year.

The excitement of Obama has not resonated across the political spectrum as once thought. While he has undoubtedly gained momentum among Democrats, it has slowed in the general electorate. He has only picked up five points in committed voters while gaining seven points among opposed voters and now has a negative balance.
John McCain, on the other hand, appears to have much more momentum than Obama. He has gained 12 points in the same period, while not adding any opposed voters at all. His balance is a +1, while Obama’s is a -7.
The crosstabs show a few surprises. McCain actually does slightly better among younger voters (54%) than Obama (51%), and much better among seniors (44%, 24% for Obama). He does better in the “Other” and “White” ethnic categories, but Obama hasn’t locked up as much of the black vote as he’ll need. Only 60% say they will definitely vote for him, while 19% say they will definitely vote against him. McCain gets 9% of the black vote — about what Republicans normally get — but 37% will wait to see who runs against him, and another 8% aren’t sure.
This data looks somewhat different than the media portrayals of a huge national movement coalescing behind Obama. It may be more likely that the activists have turned out in force for Obama, and that the enthusiasm we see now will remain limited to that subset on the Left.