Friday, April 20, 2007

The Affirmative Action AG

Alberto Gonzales went before the Senate Judiciary Committe yesterday to explain how the Department of Justice's bungling created a scandal where none should have existed. His performance revealed what happens when the president appoints someone to a key government job because 1) he's friendly with the person, and 2) that person happens to be of a minority ethnic background, thus showering the president with PC-bonus points for appointing "the first..." to that office. Even the (still) pro-Bush National Review couldn't hide its digust with what transpired.

Judging by his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, there are three questions about the U.S. attorneys mess that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wants answered: What did I know? When did I know it? And why did I fire those U.S. attorneys?

As the day dragged on, it became clear — painfully clear to anyone who supports Gonzales — that the attorney general didn’t know the answers. Much of the time, he explained, he didn’t really know much at all — he was just doing what his senior staff recommended he do.

Gonzales began the day with an apology. “Those eight attorneys deserved better,” he said in an opening statement. “They deserved better from me and from the Department of Justice which they served selflessly for many years.” Gonzales also took the blame for his own statements about the case that were, in the words of Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, “at variance with the facts.” “My misstatements were my mistakes — no one else’s,” Gonzales told the committee. “ I accept complete and full responsibility.”

It wasn’t a terribly auspicious beginning, and it’s fair to say that things went downhill from there, despite Gonzales’ weeks of preparation. And it did not take long for it to become clear that Gonzales’ big problem was not with committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy and his fellow Democrats, who brought righteous indignation and little else to the hearing, but with Republicans, who brought simple, straightforward questions — questions Gonzales often failed to answer.

Mr. Gonzales had "weeks of preparation" before taking his seat before the committee, yet he couldn't answer even simplest questions regarding decisions he himself had allegedly made put to him by senators of his own party.

Under examination from Republican Sens. Sam Brownback, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions, Tom Coburn and others, Gonzales maintained, in essence, that he did not know why he fired at least some of the eight dismissed U.S. attorneys. While Gonzales was able to give a reason for each firing, it appeared that in a number of cases, he had reconstructed the reason after the fact; he didn’t know why he fired the U.S. attorneys at the time, other than the dismissals were recommended by senior Justice Department staff.

Brownback began his questioning in a gentle, collegial way. “I’d like to get just a series of facts and the factual information out on the table on why this list of U.S. attorneys out of the 93 were terminated,” Brownback said. He then methodically went down the names of the eight U.S. attorneys who had been fired, starting with Daniel Bogden, the U.S. attorney in Nevada sacked in the group firing of last December 7.

“Senator, this is probably that one that to me, in hindsight, was the closest call,” Gonzales began. “I do not recall what I knew about Mr. Bogden on December 7th. That’s not to say that I wasn’t given a reason; I just don’t recall the reason. I didn’t have an independent basis or recollection of knowing about Mr. Bogden’s performance.”

Alberto Gonzales is the Attorney General of the United States. He is responsible for managing the U.S. Department of Justice. He reports directly to the President of the United States, who appointed him. Yet he could not recall why he made critical decisions - or why he'd been advised by others to make them - or recall important meetings just five months ago. The impression Mr. Gonzales - who, again, had been preparing for this cross-examination for weeks - left with the senators and observers was of a man obviously out of his depth, floundering in a job he hasn't the intellectual capacity to handle. A man clearly taking orders ("advice") from his senior staff (who are actually running the department) while he appears as a figurehead at press conferences. Alone, without anyone to feed him responses, he flails about like a drowning man looking desperately for a lifejacket. It was a sad spectacle that revealed volumes about the Bush administration and those manning critical positions at the President's appointment.

The saddest aspect of the whole debacle is that Mr. Gonzales probably doesn't understand why he is being pilloried by even members of the president's party.

Gonzales explained that he had admitted his mistakes and had taken responsibility for them. “Well, I believe there are consequences to a mistake,” Coburn replied. “And I would just say, Mr. Attorney General, it’s my considered opinion that the exact same standards should be applied to you in how this was handled. And it was handled incompetently. The communication was atrocious. It was inconsistent. It’s generous to say that there were misstatements. That’s a generous statement. And I believe you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered. And I believe that the best way to put this behind us is your resignation.”

And that was that. After the hearing ended, the White House went into damage control mode, issuing a statement that President Bush was “pleased” with Gonzales’s performance and has “full confidence” in the attorney general. Perhaps that’s true. But things can change. If Gonzales has lost the support of Sam Brownback and Jeff Sessions and Lindsey Graham and Tom Coburn and other Republicans on the committee, he might soon lose his support at the White House, too.

Mr. Gonzales isn't the only person in the Bush administration who is out of his depth. The problem begins in the Oval Office and gets worse as it goes down from there.

Conservatives should watch Gonzales' testimony and shudder. After all, without their near rebellion, Harriet Miers would be sitting on the Supreme Court right now.

The Baghdad Wall

In Baghdad, where U.S. forces are trying to quell the escalating sectarian violence by putting additional soldiers on Baghdad's bloody streets (the "surge"), the American military has come up with a way to reduce the violence between Sunni and Shia neighborhoods - one which the administration isn't trumpeting, for fairly obvious reasons.

US soldiers are building a three-mile wall to separate one of Baghdad's Sunni enclaves from surrounding Shia neighbourhoods, it emerged today.

The move is part of a contentious security plan that has fuelled fears of the Iraqi capital's Balkanisation.

When the barrier is finished, the minority Sunni community of Adamiya, on the eastern side of the River Tigris, will be completely gated. Traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers will provide the only access, the US military said.

"Shias are coming in and hitting Sunnis, and Sunnis are retaliating across the street," Captain Scott McLearn, of the US 407th brigade support battalion, told the Associated Press.

The project, which began on April 10, is being worked on almost nightly, with cranes swinging enormous concrete barriers into place.

Although Baghdad is rife with barriers around marketplaces and areas such as the heavily fortified Green Zone, this is the first in the city to be set up on sectarian lines.

The concrete wall, which will be up to 12ft high, "is one of the centrepieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence," US officials said.

The officials said the barrier would allow authorities to screen people entering and leaving Adamiya "while keeping death squads and militia groups out".

The Adamiya wall is not something the Bush administration would rather not talk about, even if it proves fantastically successful in reducing sectarian violence. Why? First, because it concedes the glaringly obvious point that Iraq is riven along sectarian lines and that any hope for "national reconcilliation" under a democratic regime is a pipe dream.

Saddam's brutal despotism held the country together through terror and intimidation. Absent that force, the very unnatural creation that is Iraq is unraveling. The failure of Iraqis to put aside ethnic and religious differences and congeal instantly into a happy, peaceful, pro-Western democracy truly baffles the neoconservatives who still provide intellectual guidance for the administration. For decades they have bought into the myth of the "proposition nation." Under this fable, America isn't a nation whose people are bound by blood or language or culture or geography, but rather by espousing certain ideas: democracy, equality before the law, free market capitalism, etc. Anyone who embraces these ideas is an American, under this line of though, regardless of color, creed, tongue or location. Combine this with their massive misunderstanding of the "melting pot" myth, and you have one of the greatest intellectual delusions ever foisted upon a nation, or the world. Contrary to the "proposition nation" myth, America congealed as a great nation because its the overwhelming majority of its people - at least until now - shared a common ethnic, religious and cultural background (European) and spoke a common language (English). Immigrants to America were forced to assimilate to this common national character, no matter where they came from, because their numbers were to small to resist assimilation.

Nations rise and advance when peoples of common ethnicity create a common religion, culture and language. These assets help to forge bonds of trust among groups living in a given geographic area; that trust fosters social cooperation and reduces fear and mutual suspicion among groups, reducing violence. "Diversity" in ethnicity, language and cultural practices errodes the bonds of trust that are necessary to keep a society functioning smoothly. As diversity increases, the society fragments with groups self-segregating along ethnic, religious, linguistic or cultural lines. This is sometimes known as balkanization after the region of Europe where Catholicism, Islam, Orthodox Christianity clash among diverse ethnic and lingustic groups, providing the flash point for centuries of conflict and the outbreak of one world war.

Neoconservatives were all too willing to apply their misunderstanding of America - and nationhood in general - to Iraq and made it the centerpiece of America's foreign policy (and immigration policy as well, with equally disastrous consequences). But reality has an annoying way of ruining false theories. Iraqis just won't behave as the neocons want them to - centuries or religious and cultural differences just get in the way. The wall is a sign that Iraqis won't accept a "proposition nation" along the Tigris and Euphrates. It stands as a concrete billboard advertising the complete failure of the administration effort to "bring democracy to Iraq" and all the intellectual errors on which the project was based.

The second reason the administration won't do much to publlicize the wall is that someone might get the idea that if a wall could work to keep Sunnis and Shias apart in Baghdad, a similar wall might just keep Mexico from invading the U.S. But we can't have anyone thinking that, especially since Mr. Bush hates the half-hearted border wall that congress approved last year along a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border, and has done everything in his power to undermine it.

But a wall in Baghdad cannot hide the truth.

Some Sunnis living in Adamiya have welcomed the attempt to improve security but warned that it was another sign of the deep hostility between Sunnis and Shias.

Others were sceptical about the latest initiative to staunch the bloodshed in Baghdad, which reached new heights when a series of suicide bombings killed more than 200 people in a single day this week.

"I don't think this wall will solve the city's serious security problems," Ahmed Abdul-Sattar, a 35-year-old government worker, told the Associated Press. "It will only increase the separation between our people, which has been made so much worse by the war."

Meanwhile, the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, will today arrive in Iraq, where he is expected to meet sectarian leaders and government officials in Baghdad.

In his third trip to the country in four months, he is expected to put pressure on the Shia prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, to move faster on reconciliation with the Sunnis, who have been elbowed aside since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"The clock is ticking," Mr Gates told reporters yesterday. "I know it's difficult ... but I think that it's very important that they bend every effort to getting this legislation done as quickly as possible."

What boggles the mind is that four years into this mess, the administration and its acolytes still believe that the Shia want reconcilliation with the Sunnis - or that the Sunnis are willing to accept reconcilitaion with people whom they despise for religious reasons. But, then, some people simply refuse to learn.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Here It Comes...

As if the cost of President Bush's disastrous misadventure in Iraq wasn't already high enough in terms of American lives and treasure, it now turns out that the cost for the U.S. will be even higher. After hearing the ridicious "we are fighting them over there, so we won't fight them over here" nonsense ad nauseam for the past three years, the Bush administration has decided that, we will be bringing them over here after all - at our own expense.

The United States could take in up to 25,000 Iraqi refugees this year -- more than three times the number it previously agreed to admit -- in an effort to provide some relief to the crisis affecting several Arab countries, the State Department said yesterday.

The department also said it plans to allow Iraqis and Afghans working for the U.S. government in their respective countries to immigrate to the United States after only three years of service instead of the current 15 required by law.

"It's fair to say that, if we get the referrals [from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees], we could resettle up to 25,000 Iraqi refugees within the president's determination this year," said Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration.

The Bush administration apparently believes that it is a good idea to bring 25,000 people whose lives the U.S. upended by invading their country - a country whose population is almost entirely Muslim - to settle in the U.S. This shouldn't be a surprise; after all, this the same administration who thought it was a good thing to invade Iraq in the first place, and an even better idea to invade Iraq with a fraction of the force need to properly occupy and rebuild it. Given the events of the past seven years, it is manifest lunacy to allow more Muslims to immigrate to any Western country, the U.S. in particular. While some of these immigrants might be grateful to America for rescuing them, many more may quietly harbor anger at the country whose staggering ineptitude destroyed their lives in Iraq. And, as Muslims, they will all be open to recruitment by Islamist radicals, many of whom may slip into the U.S. by posing as America-friendly Iraqi refugees. This is such a spectacularly bad idea that it could only have been agreed to by the Bush administration, which has given birth to so very many terrible policies already.

UNHCR estimates there are more than 4 million displaced Iraqis around the world, including 1.9 million inside Iraq and 2.25 million in neighboring countries, of which 1.2 million are in Syria, 750,000 in Jordan, 100,000 in Egypt and 200,000 in the Persian Gulf states. Only those who have left Iraq are formally considered refugees.

At the same conference, Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, announced Washington's plan to make it easier for Iraqis and Afghans working for the United States to move to the United States.

Hundreds of local employees, known as Foreign Service nationals, in Iraq and Afghanistan would be eligible to apply for immigrant visas, commonly referred to as green cards. U.S. officials said those people, many of whom have lost family members, deserve a reward for their sacrifice.

"We want to do right by people who have served well and honorably on behalf of their country and the United States, and we think that's important," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

He urged Congress to swiftly pass a bill the Bush administration is about to send to Capitol Hill concerning special immigrant visa (SIV) applications.

Mr. McCormack - like the administration he serves - is out of his mind. Permitting a mass immigration of Iraqis to the U.S. will likely be remembered as the greatest domestic security disaster since the FBI sat by idly while a dozen or so Saudis learned to fly (but not land) commercial airplanes back in 2000.

Americans need to contact their Senators and Representatives and block this asinine proposal before the influx begins. The U.S. clearly does owe Iraqis displaced by the war some form of compensation, but resettlement in the U.S. is not an option.

That the Bush administration would even contemplate this reveals two things: First, that it has no respect for the American people (who would never support such a measure) or the concept of American cultural or territorial integrity. Of course, this administration has been showing its disregard for these things consistently over the past six years, so it should come as no surprise. Second, the admission of refugees represents a tacit admission by the administration of the horrendous failure of the whole Iraqi enterprise, and its quiet recognition that Iraq isn't going to get any better, but only worse.

At least we now know that George Bush plans to punish Americans for no longer backing his failed war by dumping tens of thousands of potentially hostile Muslims inside the U.S. Just as he has allowed millions of Latin Americans to invade the U.S., bankrupting state and local governments, and dilluting the culture that it took Americans two centuries to build. The consquences of this - if permitted - will reverberate for decades.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Taking a Stand Against Islamic Separatism

Muslim immigrants in Minnesota have recently been demanding the right to conduct business according to Islamic tradition and customs. This simply echoes a pattern observed generally among Muslim immigrants to non-Muslim (but especially Western) nations worldwide. Muslim immigrants arrive, form communities, grow in numbers, and then demand special rights and separate facilties, legal systems and rules to "accomodate" their Islamic culture. These communities then become self-segregated enclaves, rife with Islamist fundamentalism and seething with rage against their adopted country's culture. This tactic doesn't work too well in non-Western nations, which eager to protect their own national cultures, resist Islamic infiltration, but in the West the poison of multiculturalism has dulled Western cultural self-defense, prompting Westerners to kowtow before each new demand (see Europe). Nevertheless, public officials in Minnesota seem to be taking an actual stand against the Muslims.

Airport commissioners insist it's simply a customer-service issue. But many Muslim taxi drivers say it's an unfair new penalty that violates their religious prohibitions against handling alcohol.

Both sides agree that the dispute, part of a cultural conflict in the Twin Cities that has already drawn national attention, is probably heading for a court challenge, which in turn could become a national test case.

On an 11-0 vote Monday, Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) members voted to crack down on drivers refusing service, making Minnesota the first place in the country to decide how to treat Muslim cabbies who decline to transport alcohol-toting riders on religious grounds.

Starting May 11, any airport taxi drivers who refuse riders will face 30-day suspensions. Drivers will have their licenses revoked two years for a second offense.

"We're just sending a message that if you want to drive here at this airport, you have to take all our customers," said Steve Wareham, director of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Naturally, the Muslim organizations behind the cabbies' effort to carve out special rights for Muslims are frustrated and planning litigation. There is some precedent for allowing specific religious communities to avoid certain legal requirements that pertain to everyone else (the article cites Amish buggies that are allowed to use public roads without legally required reflective signs); however, the Amish do not threaten American culture. Muslims quite manifestly do. It may be that the consequence of Muslim immigration is that traditionally acccepted exceptions for religious communities will have to be abandoned in favor of strict adherence of the concept of one law for all.

Hassan A. Mohamud, an imam at the Islamic Da'wah Center in St. Paul, called the stricter sanctions frustrating and disappointing.

"We see this as a harsh penalty against fellow Americans only because they are practicing their faith," the Muslim scholar said. "This does not reflect the American values of tolerance and accommodation."

Roughly three-quarters of the 900 licensed cabbies at the airport are Somali and most are Muslim.

American values of tolerance and accomodation do not require Americans to eviscerate their own cultural heritage for the benefit of invaders who would use those values to undermine the nation. Previous waves of immigrants were not met with "tolerance and accomodation;" they were forced by law, by custom and by force of culture to assimilate to American culture and society. Thus a nation was forged. The idea that America should bend to accomodate immigrants (and not the other way around) is a manifestation of recent, multiculturalist thinking, whose ultimate goal is not the accomodation of immigrants, but the annihilation of America.

Of course the vital question every Minnesotan should be asking is: why are there 600+ Somalis legally living in Minnesota (presumably with their families)? Were the American people ever asked if they wanted to import hundreds (actually thousands) of immigrants from Somalia, or from Africa in general? And what would have been their response if they had been asked. The multiculturalist elites in Washington know the answer to that last question, which is why the public was never asked in the first place.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rhetoric and Reality

While launching its public relations offensive for a new bill on "comprehensive immigration reform" (read: amnesty), the Bush administration has spent the last week or so talking tough about law enforcement on the border and praising the job that National Guard troops, deployed to the border last year, have done to deter illegal border crossings. But even as the words slither out of his mouth the reality of President Bush's management of border security looks starkly different.

... As planning begins to reduce the number of National Guard troops along the border with Mexico, less than 1,000 of 6,000 new U.S. Border Patrol agents that the Bush administration wants in place by the end of next year have been hired.

As of March 17, the Border Patrol has only been able to hire and train 593 new agents or 9 percent of the administration's goal, according to Javier Rios, a Border Patrol spokesman in Washington.

Screening new agents and a lengthy training process have resulted in the relatively small number of new hires. By the end of 2008, the administration wants a Border Patrol force of about 18,000 agents, up from the 12,000 in place when the president ordered the troops to the border last June.

Guard commanders in California and other states assigned to the border duty are starting to put together plans to reduce the troop presence.

There were 1,389 members of the California Guard's air and ground units on the border last week, a number that probably will fall to between 1,000 and 1,100 by the fall, said Lt. Col. Jon Siepmann, a Guard spokesman in Sacramento.

'This has always been a temporary mission,' he said, adding that the assignment officially ends in December 2008. 'Our end strength (later this year) will be based on what the Border Patrol says it needs.'

The positioning of National Guard soldiers on the border was a shameless stunt perpertated by an administration that desperately wants to increase the number of aliens in the U.S., not decrease it. Rarely has an American administration lied so openly, so brazenly and so consistently about its intentions. Of course, this is the same administration that gave us the Iraq debacle. So it should hardly be a surprise.