Least and most desired 2008 Republican contenders for president

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John Hawkins surveyed several right wing bloggers, including moi, to find out who we wanted least and most to win the Republican nomination for president in 2008. The list is here.

Speaking of presidential conteners, the WaPo did a write-up on Senator Chuck Hagel today and his pondering of a potential bid for the White House.

I don’t see a Hagel candidacy going anywhere. As someone else here said earlier this week, Hagel is just like a Republican John Kerry as it relates to the Iraq war, and Republicans won’t forget that during primary season.

Also, Insight Magazine talks about how former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani will have a hard time appealing to conservatives – especially social conservatives.

Sign the pledge

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Want to show your opposition to the Republicans in the Senate who plan on siding with the Dems by voting to express their opposition to Bush’s surge plan? Dean Barnett explains exactly how you can do it.

Already aware of the pledge but just haven’t gotten around to signing it? Click here to do just that.

Lots of ‘signatures’ on there already, including one from yours truly.

UN: Iran is planning to start nuke development as early as next month

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Via the AP:

DAVOS, Switzerland – Iran expects to start installing thousands of centrifuges in an underground facility next month, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Friday. The installation would pave the way to large-scale uranium enrichment, a potential way of making nuclear weapons.

On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, Mohamed ElBaradei said: “I understand that they are going to announce that they are going to build up their 3,000 centrifuge facility … sometime next month.”

He did not elaborate. But U.N. officials, who demanded anonymity because the information was confidential, emphasized that Iran had not officially said it would embark on the assembly of what will initially be 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz. But they said senior officials have informally told the International Atomic Energy Agency the work would begin next month.

Iran ultimately plans to expand its enrichment program to 54,000 centrifuges, which spin uranium gas into enriched material to produce nuclear fuel. That would give it the capacity to produce dozens of nuclear warheads a year, if it chose to develop weapons.

Diplomats briefed on the IAEA’s latest findings said earlier this month the Iranians recently finished all pre-assembly work at their Natanz facility, which is underground as protection against attack. And senior Iranian officials have repeatedly said recently that large-scale installation work at Natanz would begin soon.

But the comments by the U.N. officials were the first independent confirmation that the Iranians had informed the IAEA _ the U.N. nuclear monitor _ of such plans, even if informally.

Considering that the Dems who voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution would have preferred we had the ‘support of the UN’ before we went into Iraq – and who quickly changed their minds on the war not long after the first shot was fired – seem to worship at the altar of the UN, I’d like for everyone, including Senator Jay Rockefeller and others earlier in the week who tried to downplay the threat from Iran and who accused the administration of ‘erroneously talking up the threat’ ‘like they did the Iraq threat’ to acknowledge this information and stand up and apologize for falsely accusing the admin overstating the threat from Iran. Let me repost what was said earlier this week by Senator Rockefeller (emphasis added):

Rockefeller was quoted as saying the administration is building a case against Tehran even as American intelligence agencies still know little about Iran’s internal dynamics or its intentions in the Middle East. “To be quite honest, I’m a little concerned that it’s Iraq again” Rockefeller reportedly said during an interview in his office.

[…]

According to the New York Times article, the Rockefeller comments reflect the mounting concerns being voiced by other influential Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senator Joe Biden of Delaware about the Bush administration’s approach to Iran. The Democrats have warned the administration is moving toward a confrontation with Iran when the United States has neither the military resources nor the support among American allies and members of Congress to carry out such a move.

The article said, “Because Mr. Rockefeller is one of a handful of lawmakers with access to the most classified intelligence about the threat from Iran, his views carry particular weight. He has also historically been more tempered in his criticism of the White House on national security issues than some of his Democratic colleagues.

What a joke! And one that isn’t funny. I’d REALLY be laughing if this issue weren’t so gravely serious.

I won’t hold my breath for these clueless wonders to admit they were wrong.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had Democrats tell me that our ‘real focus’ should ‘always have been on Iran’ – and now that it’s clear we have been focusing closely on Iran, and are so now more than ever, Democrats want to act like the threat is overhyped?

The evidence couldn’t be more clear that the Dems simply cannot be trusted on matters related to our national security, because they will be against whatever the President is for, even after once being for what he was formerly against!

The President to Iraq naysayers in Congress: “I am the decision-maker”

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Uh oh! I’m waiting for the “dictator” accusations to start flying anytime now from the usual suspects. MSNBC is reporting this on their front page but there’s no link to the story just yet.

Update: Here’s the story, via AP:

WASHINGTON – President Bush, on a collision course with Congress over Iraq, said Friday “I’m the decision-maker” about sending more troops to the war. He challenged skeptical lawmakers not to prematurely condemn his plan.

“I’ve picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed,” Bush said in an Oval Office meeting with senior military advisers.

The president had strong words for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are lining up to support resolutions opposing his decision to send 21,500 troops to Iraq. He challenged them to put up their own ideas. “Some are condeming a plan before it’s even had a chance to work,” he said.

Bush said lawmakers agree that failure in Iraq would be a disaster and that he chose a strategy that he and his advisers thought would help turn the tide in Iraq.

Good news in the WOT: Admin has authorized “kill or capture” program towards Iranian operatives in Iraq, elsewhere

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… authorized last fall, to be specific. Via the WaPo:

The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran’s influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort.

For more than a year, U.S. forces in Iraq have secretly detained dozens of suspected Iranian agents, holding them for three to four days at a time. The “catch and release” policy was designed to avoid escalating tensions with Iran and yet intimidate its emissaries. U.S. forces collected DNA samples from some of the Iranians without their knowledge, subjected others to retina scans, and fingerprinted and photographed all of them before letting them go.

Last summer, however, senior administration officials decided that a more confrontational approach was necessary, as Iran’s regional influence grew and U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran appeared to be failing. The country’s nuclear work was advancing, U.S. allies were resisting robust sanctions against the Tehran government, and Iran was aggravating sectarian violence in Iraq.

“There were no costs for the Iranians,” said one senior administration official. “They are hurting our mission in Iraq, and we were bending over backwards not to fight back.”

Three officials said that about 150 Iranian intelligence officers, plus members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Command, are believed to be active inside Iraq at any given time. There is no evidence the Iranians have directly attacked U.S. troops in Iraq, intelligence officials said.

But, for three years, the Iranians have operated an embedding program there, offering operational training, intelligence and weaponry to several Shiite militias connected to the Iraqi government, to the insurgency and to the violence against Sunni factions. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the CIA, told the Senate recently that the amount of Iranian-supplied materiel used against U.S. troops in Iraq “has been quite striking.”

“Iran seems to be conducting a foreign policy with a sense of dangerous triumphalism,” Hayden said.

The new “kill or capture” program was authorized by President Bush in a meeting of his most senior advisers last fall, along with other measures meant to curtail Iranian influence from Kabul to Beirut and, ultimately, to shake Iran’s commitment to its nuclear efforts. Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful, but the United States and other nations say it is aimed at developing weapons.

The administration’s plans contain five “theaters of interest,” as one senior official put it, with military, intelligence, political and diplomatic strategies designed to target Iranian interests across the Middle East.

This is great news, but my question is: Why was this information leaked to the press?

Whatever the admin does, I hope they DON’T send the captured to Gitmo. The last thing we need to hear is that these thugs should get a ‘fair trial.’

Hat tip: Bob Owens, who notes that the WaPo appears to be “appalled” at the concept of the administration authorizing the killing or capture of enemy operatives.

Captain Ed:

This new strategy has its risks. By getting more aggressive and applying lethal force against Iranian infiltrators, the White House runs the risk of escalating the conflict with Iran across the region. Mistakes can be made, and any time the scope of a mission gets widened, the risk of error is greatest at the beginning. The mullahcracy could decide they have nothing left to lose and start launching rocket strikes throughout the region, especially on Israel and American positions in Iraq, touching off a wider war.

The latter is most unlikely. Teheran understands that it cannot afford to use offensive action against the Americans and the British, or even Israel, until it possesses a nuclear weapon as a balancing threat. Even if it had one — which only gets more likely as time goes on — the Iranians will realize that it has essentially bought them nothing. The less-millenial factions among the Iranian ruling class will understand that a nuclear launch will invite a nuclear response, and the fact is that the US and Britain have a much larger inventory of such weapons, with much more accurate targeting.

Basically, Iran is taking what action we have been willing to allow to this point. We’re about to redefine that, and while some will howl about “escalation”, any war on terror would eventually have to address Iran. It’s better to do it now by blunting their efforts in Iraq than wait until they have a nuke and have to fight them from Israel and Saudi Arabia. If they’re stupid enough to continue provoking us in Iraq, then they have to pay the consequences — and it’s about time they did.

Yep.

Will they be bringing white flags along for the visit?

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The SF Chronicle is reporting this morning that Pelosi, Murtha, and a few other Dems have visited Baghdad this week for a quick ‘fact finding’ mission and to meet with Prime Minister al-Maliki.

What the hell are they meeting with him for? Hopefully not in an attempt to act as representatives of this country’s foreign policy objectives towards Iraq.

Will be interesting to see what pictures, if any, come out of that trip – especially if they sit down and meet with any of the troops.

Read more via Michelle Malkin, K.Lo

Senator Chuck Schumer on the “Today” show – priceless

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Mark Finkelstein at Newsbusters has a partial transcript of yesterday’s “Today” show where David Gregory interviewed Senator Chuck Schumer. It’s very revealing, as you’ll soon see (emphasis added):

Gregory: “The Vice-President is dismissive of this [resolution] effort yesterday saying it’s not going to stop the president, and in fact he goes further, saying this will be detrimental to the troops on the ground.”

Schumer: “Absolutely not, and I think it’s going to be shown, when this resolution comes up, and it is non-binding, my guess is that not only are we going to get a vast majority of Democrats to vote for it in one form or another, but close to a majority of the Republicans. And that is going to shock even Vice-President Cheney.”

Gregory: “But how can the public really buy the Democrats support the troops but don’t support the mission? How can you do both?”

Schumer: “Well, that’s the difficulty. A resolution that says we’re against this escalation, that’s easy. The next step will be how do you put further pressure on the administration against the escalation but still supporting the troops who are there? And that’s what we’re figuring out right now.”

Click here to see the video.

Finkelstein also has a recap of this morning’s “Today” show co-host Meredith Vieira interviewing Senator Chuck Hagel, who was very cagey on the answer to the question of whether or not he believed our troops were “fighting and dying for nothing.”

Daniel Pipes debates London Mayor Ken “Red” “Livingstone

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The NYSun has a recap today of last Saturday’s London debate between anti-Islamofascist warrior Daniel Pipes and notorious pro-Islamofascism Mayor of London Ken “Red” Livingstone. Here are some highlights:

Mr. Livingstone’s world is one gigantic conspiracy, with American neoconservatives pulling the strings. The Cold War was, he said, a conspiracy cooked up in Washington in 1943, just as the war on terror was devised by a “nexus around the White House and Wall Street.” He stopped short of claiming that the CIA had ordered the September 11 attacks, but they had certainly created Al Qaeda. The state of Israel was an American conspiracy too: It “should never have been created” but the Americans, who of course control the United Nations, set it up on Arab land because they and the British were too anti-Semitic to accept Jewish refugees in their own countries. This is pretty rich coming from Mr. Livingstone — the mayor who was censured by his own party for abusing a Jewish reporter as a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Such fantasies are as commonplace as his assertions of moral equivalence between the “crude Islamophobia” of American neoconservatives and Islamist terrorists. But when Mr. Pipes pointed out that the Americans would have been mad to invade Iraq for the sake of oil, since the predictable effect had been to raise oil prices, the mayor replied that “the people in the White House were mad” and went on to make the apocalyptic prediction that if the war on terror continued, there would be “casualties in the tens of millions.” The audience did not know what to make of this, and gave the mayor a distinctly muted response.

Mr. Pipes, however, was rewarded for his sweet reasonableness — which contrasted sharply with the malevolent extremism of Mr. Livingstone and Ms. Yaqoob — with hearty rounds of applause. He got a few laughs, too, as when he told one of his critics that Hezbollah “did not get to eliminate Israel this time round — I give you my condolences.” Much of the audience having never seen a real, live American neoconservative in the flesh before and doubtless surprised that he had neither horns nor a tail, listened with rapt attention to what he had to say.

In essence, Mr. Pipes had a warning for Londoners: Thanks to the multicultural policies of politicians like Mayor Livingstone, “your city is a threat to the rest of the world.” He listed 15 countries in which Islamists from Britain had carried out terrorist attacks, ranging from Pakistan to America. Since last weekend he could have added a 16th — Somalia. Britain, he said, was now regarded by some experts as the biggest threat to American security.

British audiences aren’t usually told this. They aren’t told that “the Islamists have declared war on us,” let alone have the war aim stated clearly: victory. They need to hear the likes of Daniel Pipes much more often. If the State Department won’t send them over, let the think tanks do it. We want to hear them echo George Cohan’s 1917 song, “Over There”: “The Yanks are coming/ … We’ll be over, we’re coming over/ And we won’t come back till it’s over/ Over there.”

Read the rest here.

Pipes shares his thoughts on the debate here.

Pipes is right about Livingstone and other appeasers like him because those who choose to act as moral relativists over the issue of Islamofascism, who essentially take the attitude of ‘we deserve what we get’ and who also take a sympathetic view of Islamofascists only embolden the radical extremist Islamists all over the world hell bent on the destruction and domination of the west. Not only that, but their attitude influences public opinion at home, too, and it’s not difficult for opinions like that to firmly take root in places like the UK where you already have more ‘tolerant’ attitudes towards different cultures than we do here.