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Jack Kelly

GUN FREE ZONES: AN INVITATION FOR MASS MURDER

Matthew Murray, 24, entered the New Life church in Colorado Springs as services were getting out Dec. 9, and opened fire, killing Stephanie Works, 18, her sister, Rachael, 16, and wounding two others. There were shootings earlier this year at shopping malls in Omaha and Salt Lake City, where the body count was higher. Murray attacked a church because if you want to kill Christians, that's a good place to find them.  Why the other would-be mass murderers choose shopping malls for their murder sprees? An obvious reason is because shopping malls are a target rich environment.  If you want to kill a lot of people, go to where there are a lot of people to kill.  The other reason is that these shopping malls proudly advertised themselves as "gun free zones."

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THE IRONY OF INTEL INCOMPETENCE

"Blowback" is an intelligence term for adverse, unintended consequences of secret operations. The CIA first used it in a report on the 1953 operation that overthrew the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. Some in the intelligence community (IC) have been working with liberal journalists and Democrats on Capitol Hill to embarrass President Bush and to stymie his foreign policy initiatives. The most successful of these covert operations was the Valerie Plame affair, in which White House officials were falsely blamed for "outing" a CIA undercover officer who was not in fact undercover. (It was then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who inadvertently disclosed Ms. Plame's identity.) The most recent is the new National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and hasn't resumed it. Michael Ledeen, a former consultant to the National Security Council, described the NIE as "policy advocacy masquerading as serious intelligence." The apparent purpose of the NIE is to make it politically impossible for President Bush to take military action against Iran. But the effort has been so bald that it is blowing back on its authors.

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FRED THOMPSON AND THE IOWA CUCKOO’S NEST

Those who watched the Republican presidential "debate" in Iowa yesterday (12/12) now understand why the Des Moines Register is such a lousy newspaper. "That was not just the worst debate of 2007, that was the worst debate in Western history, and that includes the ancient Greeks," said columnist Charles Krauthammer.  "There is no record in any major European record of a debate this transcendingly and crushingly dull." This wasn't the fault of the candidates, all of whom turned in credible performances.  The blame for this flop belongs to the debate's moderator, Des Moines Register editor Carolyn Washburn.  While most commentators compared her to an overbearing elementary school teacher, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard likened her to Nurse Ratched, the villain in Ken Kesey's 1962 novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." There was a ray of hope.  The highlight of the debate, such as it was, came when Fred Thompson, like Kesey's hero Randle McMurphy, defied Nurse Ratched.  His putdown was quickly put up on YouTube:

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THE SWAG NIE

Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, and probably won't be able to build a bomb before 2015 if it does restart it, a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has concluded.  That's very good news...if it's true. But that's a BIG if.  The NIE is a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Assed Guess), not a statement of proven fact.  It's a SWAG from an Intelligence Community (IC) whose predictive record about the Middle East has been poor.  It's a SWAG that's challenged by Israeli intelligence, whose predictive history is much better.  And it's a SWAG that is diametrically opposed to the last SWAG the IC issued on Iran's nuclear program. An IC that had "high confidence" in a 2005 NIE that Iran was building a bomb and was resistant to international pressure now has "high confidence" that Iran stopped building it two years before that NIE was issued! 

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THE DANGER OF DEMOCRAT DENIAL

Denial is the first stage of grieving. Democrats seem stuck there when it comes to the war in Iraq. It's odd that his fellow Democrats are mourning success in Iraq, Sen. Joseph Lieberman said in a speech Nov. 8: "Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq, reluctant to acknowledge the progress we are now achieving, or even that the progress has enabled us to begin drawing down our troops there." Democrats have been enabled in their denial by a news media which has been reluctant to report the dramatically improving circumstances in Iraq.  But that's changing.  The New York Times has had positive stories two days in a row.  The Los Angeles Times and Newsweek have noticed. This is dismaying for Democrats because journalists are herd animals.  When the bell cows point toward a new story line, the herd stampedes in that direction.  "The herd is likely to grow larger because the evidence of success in Baghdad and elsewhere is so palpable that reporters, regardless of their view of the war, were bound to acknowledge it at some point," said Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard. So Democrats had better work their way through the denial phase of grief fast, because if they're saying in January what they've been saying in November, they'll look ridiculous -- or worse.

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A CHURCH IN BAGHDAD

Thanksgiving was celebrated a week early at the reopening of St. John's Assyrian Catholic Church in the al Doura district of Baghdad.  The pews were packed. The church had been shuttered after two nearby churches were bombed in 2004.  The al Doura neighborhood had been predominantly Christian until al Qaeda began targeting Christians.  Since then, most of the Christians have fled to Syria, Jordan, or northern Iraq.  Now they are returning. The reopening of St. John's is a heartwarming story of Iraqis reaching across sectarian divisions for peace, and a powerful indicator of how much the security situation in Baghdad has improved since the troop surge began.  On Nov. 7 Michael Yon, a former Special Forces soldier turned freelance journalist, took a photograph of Iraqis, Moslems as well as Christians, placing a cross atop the refurbished church.  The photo bears a startling resemblance to that of the Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima in 1945. Here it is, truly symbolic of what American victory is achieving in Iraq:

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DECLARING DEFEAT

We're floundering in a quagmire in Iraq. Our strategy is flawed, and it's too late to change it. Our material resources have been squandered, our best people killed, and our reputation around the world is circling the drain.  We must withdraw immediately. No, I'm not channeling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  I'm channeling Osama bin Laden, for whom the war in Iraq has been a catastrophe. Al Qaeda had little presence in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein.  But once he was toppled, Al Qaeda's chieftains decided to make Iraq the central front in the global jihad against the Great Satan.  "The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this third world war, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation," Osama bin Laden said in an audio tape posted on Islamic Web sites in December, 2004.  "It is raging in the land of the Two Rivers.  The world's millstone and pillar is Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate." Jihadis, money and weapons were poured into Iraq from all over the Moslem world.  All for naught.  Al Qaeda has been defeated in Iraq.

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COULD HILLARY VANISH IN A PUFF OF SMOKE?

Most pundits in Washington have already conceded the Democrat nomination to Sen. Clinton because of the large leads she holds in national opinion polls.  But that lead is illusory, because normal people don't pay much attention to politics a year before the election.  It's not a surprise that there are a lot of undecideds in the national polls, or that the frontrunners in both parties are the candidates with the highest name recognition. The polls in Iowa -- where a higher proportion of voters is paying attention, because the Iowa caucuses are less than two months away -- tell a different story.  There, Hillary Clinton's lead over Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is within the margin of error. Sen. Obama is so wet behind the ears dolphins could swim there.  But he's a likeable guy, and people tend to vote for the candidate they like.

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BESLAN IN AMERICA?

On Sept. 1, 2004, Chechens affiliated with al Qaeda seized a middle school in Beslan, Russia.  In the three day siege, 334 people --most of them children -- were killed.  Could something like that happen here? * In May of 2006, two Saudi students at the University of South Florida boarded a school bus.  They were "cagey and evasive" in explaining why they boarded the bus, said a spokesman for the Hillsborough County sheriff. * In March of 2007, the FBI issued a bulletin to law enforcement warning that Moslems "with ties to extremist groups" were signing up to be school bus drivers. *  A Houston television station reported in August of this year that 17 large yellow school buses have been stolen. Al Qaeda prefers middle schools because the girls are old enough to rape, but the boys aren't big enough to fight back, says retired Army LtCol. Dave Grossman, who runs a private security firm.  Why would al Qaeda contemplate something so monstrous?

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THE PELOSICRAT PREREQUISITE FOR GOP VICTORY

Perennial presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat congressman from Ohio, told a group of bloggers last week he plans to force House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take up his measure to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. Ms. Pelosi "is working very quietly and very effectively behind the scenes" to gather votes to impeach President Bush, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Cal) told a town hall meeting in Los Angeles Oct. 17. Mr. Kucinich, Ms. Watson and Ms. Pelosi are three of the reasons why I think historians will regard the Democrat sweep in the 2006 midterms as the essential prerequisite to the Republican victory in the 2008 presidential election.

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ANOTHER LIBERAL MEDIA BASTION BITES THE DUST

The New Republic is one of the founding bastions of American liberalism, founded in 1914.  For months now, its youthful editors have been standing by a story of their "Baghdad Diarist" alleging revolting behavior by our soldiers in Iraq. The allegations were shown to be false, no witnesses were found, still the editors stood their ground.  Then they had a telephone conversation with their Diarist, one Pvt. Beauchamp, who refused in the conversation to confirm his story. The phone conversation took place on Sept. 6 and was taped.  When it was leaked this week, New Republic readers discovered that the editors, having never told them about the conversation, had been lying to them all along.  There goes the credibility of yet another liberal bastion.

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THE REAL FAILURE IN IRAQ IS MEDIA COVERAGE

It's getting harder to write negative stories about the situation in Iraq, but Jay Price and Qasim Zein of the McClatchy Newspapers did their best: "A drop in violence around Iraq has cut burials in the huge Wadi al Salam cemetery (in Najaf) by at least one third in the past six months, and that's cut the pay of thousands of workers who make their living digging graves, washing corpses or selling burial shrouds," they wrote Oct. 16. Nostalgia for the bad old days was also evident in the decision of the Washington Post to publish Tuesday (10/16) an op-ed signed by 12 former U.S. Army captains deploring the situation in Iraq.  The Post neglected to mention that none of them have been in Iraq since Gen. Petraeus took command and we started winning this war. Perhaps the Post chose veterans whose information is old and stale because those serving in Iraq now might not say what the editors of the Washington Post would like to have you hear.

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THE BEAT OF VICTORY IN IRAQ

The last days on earth of Abu Osama al Tunisi apparently were filled with anxiety: "We are desperate for your help," he said in a letter to al Qaeda chieftains. A copy of the letter was found by U.S. troops sifting through the rubble of the building in Musayb, about 40 miles south of Baghdad, where on Sept. 25 Mr. al Tunisi had been meeting with two local al Qaeda operatives when an F-16 cut their discussion short. Mr. al Tunisi was responsible for bringing foreign al Qaeda recruits into Iraq and placing them in operational cells, U.S. military spokesmen said.  That effort suffered a major blow when "Muthanna," the al Qaeda emir for the Iraq-Syrian border region, was killed in early September. Al Tunisi and Muthanna were among 28 local, city or regional al Qaeda leaders killed or captured in September.  Two other very big shots nailed last month were Muhammad al Afari, who was responsible for the bloody attack on the Kurdish Yazidi sect in August, and Abu Taghrid, who ran a car bomb network. Al Tunisi wasn't alone in calling for help.  "Al Qaeda has lost half its leadership over the summer, and American intelligence collectors have amassed a huge number of desperate messages from al Qaeda leaders and operatives," reports StrategyPage. The beat of victory goes on.

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ARE SENATE DEMOCRATS HIGH ON ANTI-SMART DRUGS?

"Maybe he was just high on his drugs again," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.  "But that shouldn't be an excuse." That sounds suspiciously like the sort of personal attack Democrats claim to decry.  And Sen. Harkin was just one of an impressive number of big foot Democrats to take to the Senate floor last Monday (10/01) to calumniate conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. It's odd enough to have the Senate Majority Leader, his deputy, and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, among others, take up the Senate's time to attack a radio talk show host, instead of, say, working on the appropriations bills that were supposed to have been enacted into law before the new fiscal year began Oct. 1st.  But there was something odder still about Monday's performance.

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SHOULD RUDY DONATE TO NEWT’S CAMPAIGN?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hasn't been getting as much attention as he likes lately.  So he's told a few folks he'll run for president if he can raise $30 million by the end of November. My advice to Newt is to buy lottery tickets.  But wealthy supporters of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani should consider helping Mr. Gingrich out. We have in effect semifinal matches between Mr. Giuliani and Sen. McCain for the more moderate GOP vote, and between Mr. Romney and Mr. Thompson for the more conservative vote.  A Gingrich candidacy would split the conservative vote in the early primaries further. Since I'm for Rudy, that's reason enough for me to be excited about a Gingrich candidacy.  But I have a less cynical reason.

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“AL QAEDA IS THE ENEMY OF ALLAH”

Last Thursday (9/13) al Qaeda killed with a roadside bomb Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, the founder and leader of the Anbar Salvation Council, the coalition of Sunni tribes that banded together to fight al Qaeda.  He, more than any person save Gen. David Petraeus, is responsible for the dramatic turnaround in Iraq. The political "leadership" in Iraq has ranged from poor to frightful, in large part because Saddam Hussein ruthlessly murdered anyone who might one day oppose him.  But Sheikh Abu Risha rose far above mediocrity.  "It is an Iraqi national disaster," Iraq's national security adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, said at Sheikh Abu Risha's funeral Friday.  "What Abu Risha did for Iraq, no single man has done in the country's history." By murdering the Lion of Anbar, al Qaeda hopes to fragment the Anbar Salvation Council, weaken Sunni efforts to fight the terror group, and to foment strife between Sunni and Shia. It could work out that way.  But the murder of Sheikh Abu Risha also may backfire.  More than 1,500 mourners attended his funeral.  Mourners chanted "We will take our revenge," and "There is no God but Allah and al Qaeda is the enemy of Allah," the BBC reported.

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A GENERAL WHO DEFEATS TERRORISTS IN IRAQ AND DEMOCRATS IN DC

Fresh from having put al Qaeda to flight in Iraq, General David Petraeus routed the Democrats in Washington this week. Gen. Petraeus came to Washington in obedience to a law passed by Democrats that he report on the situation in Iraq. But Democrats wanted to pick a fight with him, because they didn't like what he had to say. "There is a long American tradition of savaging failed generals," wrote Michael Gerson in the Washington Post.  "It is more novel to attack a successful one." And not very wise.  When asked in a New York Times/CBS poll who they trust the most on Iraq, 21 percent of respondents chose Congress.  Sixty eight percent chose the U.S. military. When asked about the MoveOn ad, Gen. Petraeus had this classy response: "Needless to say I disagree with the message of those exercising the First Amendment right that so many generations of soldiers have fought and died protecting." While Gen. Petraeus was being classy, Democrats were not.

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OSAMA AS A COFFEE HOUSE COMMIE

There was something odd about the Osama bin Laden video made public last week, noticed Web logger George Maschke (Booman Tribune). "The video freezes at about 1 minute and 58 seconds, and motion only resumes again at 12:30," (10½ minutes later)  Mr. Maschke said.  "The video then freezes again at 14:02 and remains frozen until the end.  All references to current events occur when the video is frozen." Could the current events references have been added to an older tape? Osama is dressed just as he was in his last video, released in 2004.  But that may be simply because there isn't much of a selection at the mall near his cave. Bin Laden sounds more like Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's nutty talk show host, than like an Islamic terrorist leader.

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HOW TO IMPROVE CONGRESS’ UNDERSTANDING OF THE MILITARY

Next week, Gen. David Petreaus will make his report to Congress on the situation in Iraq.  Much will be written about what he has to say.  I'd like to devote a few words to those who will be passing judgment on Gen. Petreaus' report, relative to their military service to America - or lack thereof. We are in the midst of a world war, as the disruption this week of bomb plots in Denmark and Germany reminds us, or ought to.  It figures to be a long war.  What Congress does or doesn't do in response to Gen. Petreaus' report largely could determine whether we win or lose. But the number of senators and representatives who are veterans -- that is to say, who have the experience to make an informed judgment about what Gen. Petreaus has to say -- is the lowest it's been in half a century. There's an easy way to fix that.

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ARE THE DEMOCRATS COMITTING HARA-KIRI IN CALIFORNIA?

Democratic leaders in California have pledged to spend millions of dollars to defeat an initiative proposed by a Republican lawyer to divide California's electoral votes by congressional district.  If Thomas Hiltachk can gather enough signatures, the Presidential Election Reform Act will be on the ballot next June. If it passes, it will take effect for the 2008 presidential election in California. [Who Thomas Hiltachk is will blow you away.  See note at end.  -JW] Democrats may have their work cut out for them.  A Field poll indicated 47 percent of voters in the Golden State favored it, with 35 percent opposed. Democratic angst is understandable.  With 55 electoral votes, California is by far the biggest electoral prize.  And it's a prize which has been safely in Democratic hands.  In the last four presidential elections, Democrats have won by landslides. But within California there are 20 congressional districts that reliably vote Republican -- an electoral bloc the size of Ohio.  If it were taken away from the Democrats and given to the GOP, its difficult to see how the Democrats can win the presidency in 2008. The Dem's act of hara-kiri, however, is in what they are proposing to counter the congressional district plan.  It is pure political insanity.

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THE MORAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEMOCRAT AND REPUBLICAN VOTERS

Three scandals involving politicians were made public in the past week.  The difference in coverage by the media explains a lot. You've heard about the arrest of Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho for allegedly soliciting homosexual sex in a restroom in the Minneapolis airport.  That's been all over the news since the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported it Monday. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that a lower middle class family in suburban San Francisco has contributed $45,000 to Hillary Clinton and $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, contributions they almost certainly couldn't afford on the $49,000 annual salary chief breadwinner William Paw earned as a postal worker.  On Wednesday, the Federal Elections Commission levied the third highest fine in its history -- $775,000 -- on the George Soros' funded group, ACT (Americans Coming Together) for flouting campaign finance laws in the 2004 election.  ACT claimed it was using money for non-partisan purposes when in fact it was spending millions to defeat President Bush, the FEC said. Sex scandals are, er, sexier than money scandals, which is one reason why you've heard more about the travails of Sen. Craig than you have about Mr. Paw or ACT.  There is another.  And it reveals the grave moral difference between Republican and Democrat voters.

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THE JIG OF MEDIA FRAUD

A great moment in journalism it wasn't.  At 6:58 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, Aug. 14, Agence France Presse distributed a photograph by Wissam al-Okaili, an AFP stringer, of an elderly Iraqi woman holding two cartridges in one hand.  The caption that accompanied the photo read: "An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she said hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City." I used the word "cartridges."  The caption writer used the word "bullets."  Let me explain the difference for the benefit of the photo editors at AFP.  A cartridge consists of three elements: the bullet (the pointy thing at one end); the propellant (the gunpowder stuff) that forces the bullet through the barrel of the gun when the trigger is pulled; and the casing, in which the bullet and the propellant are held together until the cartridge is fired.  Once the cartridge is fired, the bullet and the casing go their separate ways. So here's the AFP photo:

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PRIMARY INSANITY

America's democracy has always had its flaws, but it has long been considered the best. Our political "leaders" are changing that. Those of you who have lives may not have noticed that our presidential nominating process, which in recent years has been teetering on the brink of insanity, has plunged into madness. The Iowa caucuses traditionally have been held eight days before the New Hampshire primary.  If New Hampshire moves its primary to Jan. 8, and Iowa keeps the normal separation, then the Iowa caucuses would be held on New Year's Day. Though caucus goers may make better choices when they're roaring drunk, and it would be delightful to make political reporters work that day, this is unlikely to happen.  New Hampshire is likely to opt for its first ever Saturday primary, so Iowa can hold its caucus during the election year, though barely after the college football bowl games have ended.  But at this writing it is possible the voting for president in 2008 will begin in 2007.

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PROOF OF WARMING: IT’S ALMOST AS HOT AS THE 1930s

It was a small change, made quietly two weeks ago on the website of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  But it could have big implications. Al Gore claimed in his 2006 crockumentary "An Inconvenient Truth" that nine of the ten hottest years in history have been in the last decade, with 1998 the warmest year on record. Not so, says the GISS, which is affiliated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Columbia University, and is headed by Dr. James Hansen, scientific godfather of global warming alarmism.  According to the GISS, the hottest years ever in the U.S. were, in order: 1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938 and 1939.  Only one year in the last five (2006, 4th) is on this list, and only three in the last ten, compared to four in the 1930s.

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THE LEFT’S ANTI-MILITARY DISHONESTY

What began as a controversy over the credibility of the New Republic's "Baghdad Diarist" is morphing into questions about the integrity of Franklin Foer, editor of the venerable liberal magazine. The controversy began July 13 when the Diarist, a soldier in Iraq, wrote of three instances of shocking behavior.  The soldier has now been identified as Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp.  It is clear that he lied - either to Army investigators or to the magazine. But why was the liberal magazine's editor so eager to believe his lies? [Note by JW: Franklin Foer interviewed me at length for a story he was writing on the Reagan Doctrine in 2003.  The description and quotes of me are accurate, but the whole article turned out to be an anti-conservative screed.  The cover story, Founding Fakers, in the August 18, 2003 issue of The New Republic, demonstrates Foer's left-wing intellectual dishonesty.]

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JUST HOW PRO-TERRORIST ARE THE DEMOCRATS?

NBC News obtained last week a bulletin the Transportation Security Administration sent July 20 to airport officials and local law enforcement. "A surge in recent suspicious incidents at U.S. airports may indicate terrorists are conducting pre-attack security probes and 'dry runs' similar to dress rehearsals," the bulletin said. Passengers aboard United Air Lines Flight 93 almost certainly prevented either the U.S. Capitol building or the White House from destruction on 9/11.  The suspicions of a teenage clerk in a video store in New Jersey likely prevented a murderous attack on U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix. Our first line of defense against a terror attack is a vigilant public. Which is why it is puzzling that Democrats would seek to punish Americans who report suspicious behavior to the authorities.

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BAD NEWS FOR AL QAEDA (AND DEMOCRATS) IN IRAQ

CNN's Michael Ware said in a broadcast last January that Ramadi (capital of Iraq's Anbar province) is "the true al Qaeda national headquarters."  If that were true, al Qaeda is in bigger trouble in Iraq than most of us realize. Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt devoted his show on July 11 to the (overwhelmingly negative) opinions of Iraq war veterans on the demands of Democrats that U.S. troops be pulled out.  One call was from "Bruce in Upland," whose son is a soldier currently serving in Iraq. "I will speak for my son who right now is bored out of his mind in Ramadi, because he hasn't heard a shot fired in combat now in about six or seven weeks," Bruce said.   There were about 22 enemy incidents per week in Ramadi in April, said Marine Major Jeff Pool, the public affairs chief for U.S. forces in western Iraq..  That's declined to "about two per week." (An enemy incident is any type of direct or indirect fire, from a sniper to a mortar or an IED attack.) "Anbar is returning to a state of normalcy, so I consider the soldier in Ramadi being bored a true measure of progress, said Maj. Pool. So why do Democrats in Congress keep insisting we're losing?

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THE NEXT WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST

This Monday (7/16), the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to take up a report from Secretary General Ban Ki Moon which recommends the UN act to reduce the flow of arms from Syria to Hezbollah. That same day or next, the Security Council also is expected to receive a report from its International Investigation Commission about the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which most Lebanese believe was orchestrated by Syria. How will Syria respond? Here's a clue: The Iranian news agency IRNA and several Arab newspapers have reported Syria has ordered all Syrian nationals residing in Lebanon to leave the country before Monday.

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DEMOCRATS ARE OUTRAGED! THAT’S RICH…

"Scooter" Libby will serve as much time in prison for lying under oath to a federal grand jury as Bill Clinton served for lying under oath to a federal grand jury. Democrats in Congress were outraged.  "As Independence Day nears, we are reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under law," said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.  "This commutation completely tramples on that principle."   Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said President Bush should be impeached for "crimes against the Constitution of the United States." That's rich, as in Marc Rich, the financier who fled the country to avoid prosecution for tax evasion, fraud and "trading with the enemy."  On his last day in office, President Clinton pardoned Mr. Rich after his ex-wife, Denise (with whom Mr. Clinton reportedly had been sleeping) donated $1 million to the Democratic party and $10,000 to the Clintons' legal defense fund.

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IF NAPOLEON SCRATCHED A LIBERAL, HE’D FIND…

PBS is the beau ideal of many liberals when it comes to free speech.  Their point of view is subsidized by the taxpayers.  Other points of view are suppressed. Now in yet another triumph for the liberal view of free speech (free for me but not for thee), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled city officials may override the First Amendment if the exercise of free speech by some city employees offends the delicate sensibilities of liberals. Liberal intolerance of other than liberal opinions is behind efforts to reinstate the inaptly named "Fairness Doctrine" in radio. I see this every day at the very liberal newspaper where I work.  Conservatives often write angry letters to the editor, criticizing the arguments made in an editorial, or what they perceive as the slant in a news story.  Liberals unhappy with my columns often demand that I be fired.  They object not just to my point of view, but to the fact that it was expressed.  To paraphrase Napoleon...

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OPERATION ARROWHEAD RIPPER

Imagine it's June 7, 1944, the day after the D-Day invasion.  You pick up your newspaper.  There's no mention of Normandy on the front page, and only a brief reference to it in a roundup story on an inside page. The biggest battle since the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime is under way in Iraq.  Its outcome could determine whether the war is won or lost.  But our news media have paid less attention to it than to Paris Hilton's legal troubles. The heart of the offensive is Operation Arrowhead Ripper, in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, involving some 8,000 American and 2,000 Iraqi troops.

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ON THE WRONG TRACK

In the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released Tuesday, 69 percent of those polled think things in this country "are seriously off on the wrong track." The "wrong track" numbers haven't been this high since the late 1970s.  There were good reasons then for public discontent.  The economy was stagnant, but inflation was soaring. The Watergate scandal and our defeat in Vietnam were fresh in the public mind. But today the stock market is hitting record highs; inflation and unemployment are near record lows.  Our discontent is less with our circumstances than with our perception of our political "leadership." President Bush's polling numbers have been plumbing the political depths for quite some time. But he's less unpopular than...

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FATAH AND HAMAS

Hamas "fighters" took gunmen captured from the rival Fatah organization from their headquarters in Rafah in the Gaza Strip and "shot them to death gangland style in the street in front of their families," the Associated Press reported Thursday. Jamal Abu Jadian, a top Fatah commander, fled his home dressed as a woman. "But when Abu Jadian arrived at a hospital a few hundred meters away from his house, he was discovered by a group of Hamas gunmen, who took turns shooting him in the head with automatic rifles," the Jerusalem Post reported. That sort of behavior can sow mistrust between partners. At least 30 people were killed and 80 wounded in fighting between the rival Palestinian factions Wednesday, bringing the total for the week to...

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THE SILVER LINING OF BUSH’S DARK CLOUD

President Bush has cast a huge, dark cloud over the Republican party.  But in that cloud's very size there may be a silver lining for the GOP. Most of those Americans who don't think President Bush made a mistake by going to war in Iraq are appalled by how clumsily the war has been conducted.  The president's strong backing for the "comprehensive" immigration reform bill now before the Senate, compounded by his attack on the character and motives of those who oppose it have split the GOP.   "Using advanced, hi-tech tools, Karl Rove has found the last pocket of support for Bush and destroyed it with laser-like efficiency," said Democratic Web logger Mickey Kaus of the illegal immigration controversy. If present trends continue, Mr. Bush may be fortunate that his dog, Barney, can't tell pollsters what he really thinks. But in Mr. Bush's uncanny ability to alienate Republicans nearly as much as he does Democrats may lie the GOP's salvation.

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YET AGAIN THE NEW YORK TIMES ON THE SIDE OF TERRORISTS

The FBI announced Saturday three Moslem men have been arrested for plotting to blow up fuel tanks and pipelines at John F. Kennedy international airport. The New York Times ran a story about the plot in Sunday's paper.  On page 30.  The front page was reserved for a sympathetic story about Omar Ahmed Khadr, a suspected al Qaeda terrorist being held at Guantanamo Bay.  We learned early in that story that Mr. Khadr was only 15 when he was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002; that he is "nearly blind in one eye" from the firefight in which he killed one American soldier and maimed another, and that he "doesn't trust Americans."  Only much deeper in the story does reporter William Glaberson mention that young Mr. Khadr's father was a senior deputy to Osama bin Laden.

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NANCY PELOSI IS AIDING AND ABETTING TERRORISTS

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has stepped up his support for terror since he received a friendly visit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early April. Human rights advocates in Syria have gone into hiding. "Many Syrian... pro-democracy activists have privately expressed dismay at Ms. Pelosi's message of friendship to the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad," reported the New York Observer.  "They say that Ms. Pelosi's visit, no matter how well intentioned, has effectively pulled the rug out from under them." Ms. Pelosi's embrace of the Syrian dictator "made the regime feel that Americans were divided on how to deal with Syria," said a human rights advocate interviewed by reporter Katherine Zoepf.  "This sends a message to the regime that the pressure is off, that it can do what it likes." Shortly after Ms. Pelosi left Damascus, Syria's best known human rights lawyer, Anwar al-Bunni, was arrested on a trumped up charge.  He reportedly has been tortured.

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WHAT DOES GEORGE BUSH SEE IN TEDDY KENNEDY’S EYES?

For a pretty decent, mild-mannered, soft-spoken guy, George W. Bush sure has a knack for engendering rage. Liberals tend not to like the president because of what he's trying to do.  Conservatives are upset with him chiefly because of how frequently he botches what he tries to do. President Bush is a stubborn man.  This is both a strength, and a weakness.  When he thinks he's right, the president sticks to his guns, come Hell or high water.  That's basically how he faced down congressional Democrats (whose positions on issues are driven more by polls than by a sense of right and wrong) over funding for the war in Iraq. But the president is often wrong when he thinks he's right.  At a press conference in Slovenia in June, 2001, Mr. Bush famously said of Russian president Vladimir Putin: "I looked the man in the eye.  I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy...I was able to get a sense of his soul." Since then the former KGB officer has been dismantling democracy in Russia and working night and day to frustrate U.S. foreign policy. Many conservatives could have told Mr. Bush that if you look into Ted Kennedy's eyes, you won't see a soul much more trustworthy than Vladimir Putin's.   

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THIS IS MADNESS

Here's an example of the false advertising for the Senate immigration bill. Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher asked an immigration lawyer friend what he thought of the bill.  This was his reply: "This bill has no enforcement at all.  It says, in effect, that no Y (guest worker) or Z (amnesty) visas will be issued to anybody until the following steps are taken.  But in the meantime, provisional Y and Z visas will be issued, with exactly the same effects and benefits except they can't be turned into green card status." This is madness.  To grant an amnesty before the border is secure is to invite another massive influx of illegals. It gets worse. 

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QUELLING QUALMS ABOUT RUDY

I'm against abortion under most circumstances.  So why does Rudy Giuliani's firm declaration of support for a procedure I abominate make me more likely to support him for the Republican nomination for president? I'll be a single issue voter in 2008.  If we don't win the war on Islamic terror, nothing else will matter very much.  All of the "top tier" Republicans who seem today to have a realistic chance of winning say the right things about the war on terror.  So does George W. Bush.  Mr. Bush is an honest, brave, compassionate man whose heart is in the right place.  But his head's been somewhere else.  The mistakes his administration have made have put our mission in Iraq in serious jeopardy.  After over six years of the Bush administration, I yearn for competence in the White House.  I want a president who will run the government, instead of being intimidated by his own bureaucracies.  I want a president who will appoint competent people to key positions, not the likes of Alberto Gonzales or Michael Brown.  I want a president who not only understands what's at stake in the war on Islamic terror, but who can communicate those stakes effectively to the American people.  Which is why I'm attracted to Rudy.

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MOSLEMS NEED AN ISLAMIC VACCINE

The arrest of six young Moslem men for planning to murder soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey made me think of Salman Rushdie. In 1988, Mr. Rushdie published a novel which received, arguably, the most negative review in history.  The Ayatollah Khomeini, then ruling Iran, issued a fatwa condemning Mr. Rushdie to death.  Khomeini's beef was more with its title, The Satanic Verses, than with its contents.  The title refers to three short verses in Sura (chapter) 53 of the Koran - and they are the thread which could unravel radical Islam, which is why Islamists want them dropped down the memory hole. What's this got to do with the Fort Dix Six?  Maybe plenty.

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