Monday, March 31, 2008

Senator Obama-About that Questionnaire......

"Yeah ok, that's my handwriting. But I still didn't write it."

Recently, I commented that the Clinton-Obama primary race was starting to look like the Great Sausage Race, where two brats take turns doing pratfalls. Last week, it was Hillary getting nailed on her phony Bosnia sniper fire story. Now it's Obama getting caught on an old questionnaire he submitted when running for state senator in Illinois. Both issues (which their respective supporters are dismissing as insignificant) cast doubts on their credibility.

Coincidentally, both snafus happened in 1996. The same year Hillary was "dodging sniper fire" in Tuzla, Obama was submitting-and amending a policy questionnaire in which he stated his positions on various issues. The issue has come to light thanks to Politico.Com, which was recently given the questionnaires in question.

In 1996, Obama, then running for state senator for Illinois, was requested to fill out a 12-page policy position questionnaire to the liberal, non-profit group, "Independent Voters of Illinois- Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO). In the form, Obama provided yes/no answers to questions regarding his positions on capital punishment, abortion, parental notification, gun control, government health care and other issues. The answers provided showed a uniformly liberal approach to the issues. As part of the process, Obama was apparently interviewed by the group, subsequent to which, an amended form was submitted the next day that contained Obama's handwritten notes with additions.

Late last year, in response to a Politico.Com article on the story, Obama's organization was queried about the questionnaire, which showed positions considerably more liberal then what he presently professes. The response from Obama's aides was that Obama not only had not filled out the form personally, but had never even seen or approved of the form, which had been filled out by an aide making erroneous answers not in line with Obama's actual beliefs-then or now. (It is not uncommon for political aides to fill out such forms on behalf of the politician.)

Just one problem. That was the amended form that was submitted and contained Obama's handwritten notes.

So now, the official party line is that while, yes, it is Obama's handwriting, that still doesn't show that he actually read or approved of the information provided.

So what does it all mean? If Obama's thinking on these issues has, in fact, evolved since 1996, why not say so? That is entirely normal. If Obama believes today what he said in 1996, why not say so? We can all disagree, but we could still respect the man's beliefs. Unfortunately, the amended form with Obama's handwritten notes suggest that he had a more hands-on involvement with the questionnaire than he and/or his aides have stated. At this point, even IVI-IPO is split on its support of Obama based on his shifting positions.

Whether Obama is a liberal or a super-liberal is beside the point. What is more important is that the senator is apparently being caught in a lie. First, he never saw the questionnaire, never read it, and never filled it out. What was written in 1996 did not reflect his views. Now-even though his handwriting is on the form-there "is still no evidence" that he read or approved the form.

So which is it, Senator? Hopefully, the mainstream news media will pin him down on this.

Sure they will.

The Clinton Campaign Recipe for Victory

"Add more BS, a little Bosnian sausage, some of Dr Wright's Hot Sauce, lots of Superdelegates, et voila!"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The "Drug Wars" (13), Oakland, Ca, ca. 1971

"Hey- Can't I say goodbye to my neighbors?"

Prior to joining DEA in 1973 as part of a government reorganization, I was working as a US Customs agent at Terminal Island (San Pedro) California. I was assigned to the Air Enforcement Detail. Our group was tasked with investigating the smuggling of drugs via small aircraft, either privately-owned or rented. This usually involved loads of several hundred pounds-or tons depending on the size of the aircraft-of marijuana coming out of Mexico. Our group had two planes and a helicopter at our disposal.

In developing intelligence, we contacted virtually all the small airports in Southern California trying to determine when and if known smuggler pilots were renting small planes. Anyway, one day ca 1971, we were "tipped off" that two guys in a van were seen at a small airport looking into the skies with binoculars.

That was it. Two guys with a van looking into the skies with binoculars. But our boss was a real gung-ho guy, who was eager to work around the clock based on the tiniest lead. So we were dispatched (grumbling) out to somewhere in San Bernadino County in an effort to find the mysterious van. By then, the van was nowhere around the airport, but armed with a plate number and description, we had our aircraft check out some known dry lake beds in the desert which were known as landing and off-loading sites. Lo and behold-we actually located the van parked on a dry lake bed. We set up surveillance in the area with our cars, plane and helicopter waiting for the load aircraft to arrive.

The next day, in the late afternoon, a plane landed on the dry lake bed and off-loaded several hundred pounds of marijuana in the van before taking off again. Having identified the plane by its tail number, we moved in to arrest the van drivers. As we arrived at the site, the van, loaded down now, was stuck in the sand with one of the suspects trying to dig it out from underneath. The initial reaction of his friend was; "Boy, are we glad to see you guys! Can you give us a hand?" Then he realized we were law enforcement-and he was under arrest. We then dragged his pal out from under the van by his legs.

We then took them to Terminal Island for booking and interviewing. By now, we had been up through one night and well into the next. I was looking forward to booking these guys into LA County Jail and going home for some sleep. But it was not to be. Both guys copped out and named the recipient of the load-who was in Oakland. They agreed to go through with their delivery of the van and the marijuana to Oakland.

So, after contacting the San Francisco Customs Office, we proceeded in a convoy to Oakland. It was about 1-2 am when we departed San Pedro. The next morning, we were meeting with our San Francisco counterparts and Oakland PD narcotics officers at the Oakland PD Hqs.

That afternoon, we set up surveillance in the neighborhood where the suspect lived. Apparently, he was the only white guy living in a black neighborhood. As usually happens, some neighbors began noticing the strangers sitting in cars. Eventually, our two cooperating defendants delivered the van into the garage of the suspect, we hit the place and arrested the bad guy.

As we were taking him out of the house in handcuffs, several neighbors had gathered in front of the house and were applauding the arrest and removal of this character from their neighborhood. Were they happy because they knew he was a doper-or just because he was the only white guy on the street? I never found out.

Hillary Wants to Crack Down on....Maggie Williams?

"Great news, borrowers- I got Maggie Williams on my team!!!"

It sure is reassuring to know that Hillary Clinton wants to crack down on those predatory lending companies that have been taking advantage of borrowers who have tried to buy houses they couldn't afford. To me, this issue raises the question of how much the government should involve itself in protecting people who make unwise financial decisions in their lives (I sort of go along with McCain on this issue.)

Now comes the revelation that Clinton campaign boss, Maggie Williams, was, from April 2000 to December 2007, on the board of directors of one of those very companies, Delta Financial Corp. (The company is now bankrupt.)

According to Newsday, which is reporting the story, Williams was hired in order to "create a code of best policies and improve the company's crisis management operation in the wake of state and federal predator lending problems that resulted in a 12 million dollar payout to borrowers". She reporedly was paid about $200,000 for her services. Also, according to Newsday, Delta engaged in the practice of requiring pre-payment penalties, one of the practices that Clinton has publicly criticized.

In case you have forgotten, Maggie Williams was Chief of Staff for Hillary Clinton during the White House years. It was Williams who was observed cleaning out Vince Foster's White House office when it was learned that Foster's body had been found in a local Washington area park.

That Maggie Williams.

So if I understand this correctly, Hillary is making predatory lending companies a cause celebre of her campaign-even while her new campaign manager was until recently on the board of directors of one of those very companies that the senator is condemning.

So this looks like just another typical Clinton revelation so commonplace when you are dealing with people as fundamentally corrupt and dishonest as the Clintons. Another case of what goes around comes around-and back around again and again.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

How's That Dream Ticket Lookin' Now?

Hillary Clinton's Bosnian Adventure

And combat experience too

Enough has been said by others about Hillary Clinton's made-up story about landing in Tuzla, Bosnia under sniper fire in 1996. I don't need to add any new details. I would like to make one observation based on my own life experience.

During my career as a DEA agent, I was involved in three shooting incidents: In one, a fellow agent was killed when he dropped his gun, and it accidentally discharged. In another incident, a fellow agent fired a shot at a suspect who was attempting to run him over with his car. Only the third incident was a full-blown shoot-out, in which three cops were wounded and the main suspect was killed.

My purpose in drawing on these experiences is simply to point out that when one is involved in a shooting incident it stays with you for the rest of your life. Not only does the memory remain, but the details remain clear. There is no honest explanation for "remembering" shots being fired when none were. (I should hasten to add that my experiences were as a law enforement officer as opposed to those of a soldier who may have engaged in numerous firefights in a war zone such as Viet Nam, Afghanistan or Iraq.)

Many of Hillary Clinton's defenders are attempting to pass this off as an "honest mistake" or a "misstatement". She herself has attempted to describe it in those terms. It is neither. On at least three occasions, Mrs. Clinton has recounted this story, which clearly never happened. Only now, when the videotape of her arrival in Tuzla surfaced has the truth been revealed.

There is only one clear explanation for this story. It is an intentional lie, and it is a direct reflection on Hillary Clinton's veracity, credibility and character.

While I Was Away

"Attention all passengers on the sundeck- be on the lookout for sniper fire"

This past week, I was off on a cruise to Mexico with my wife. I won't bore you with the cruise details, but I did manage to keep up with current events on the cabin TV. That was the good news. The bad news is that all I had was CNN, CNN Spanish and CNN International. That meant I had to get the liberal, Democratic slant on everything.

And the sports news! (CNN International) Check this out:

"Sri Lanka in command in opening test"
"Sidebottom fires England with 7 wickets"

As for the political news, I was able to learn that Hillary got caught with her foot in her mouth talking about braving sniper fire in Bosnia. (I will deal with that in my next posting.)

* No sooner did I hear that news than our ship struck an iceberg off the coast of Mexico. With a couple of other passengers, I managed to go below the hull and seal the leak-after getting all the passengers into life boats as a precaution. In the end, we were able to continue our journey.

But I digress. Once I got back into our cabin, I continued to follow the Clinton BS controversy. Of course, CNN's panel of liberal Democrats tried to downplay the incident. Candy Crowley dismissed it as no biggie, as did the "Anonymous" author, Joe Klein. Lanny Davis called it an "honest mistake". Yeah right, Lanny- just like when John Dillinger robbed those banks-that was an honest mistake too. Just like when Bill got caught with Monica-a lapse of judgement I think he termed it. Poor Anderson Cooper kept wondering why he had to report this story-as well as the Jeremiah Wright story.

* Then our ship was attacked by pirates about 10 knots off Acapulco. Me and a couple of other passengers grabbed our rifles and drove them off.

But I digress. Once we got things back to normal, I watched a couple of episodes of Larry King on Life Support. Interviews with Katie Couric, the widow of John Ritter, whose name escapes me-and of course, the big interview with Barack Obama (a re-run). It was the usual Larry King fare, only with re-runs and more re-runs ("That's why I wrote this book, Larry.")

Then there was the CNN presentation of "Shock and Awe", a hit piece on the Iraq War featuring their anti-American correspondents, Michael Ware and Nic Robertson. Ware described how he was with Baathist fighters when it was announced that Saddam Hussein had been captured. He described their heartbreak and sadness at the terrible news. He also recounted the battle of Fallujah, describing how heroic the resistance of our enemy was-a true inspiration to the Islamic world.

* After Apapulco, we arrived at Zihuatenejo (under a hail of sniper fire). Unperturbed, I walked ashore and proceeded to buy a couple of souvenirs before enjoying a Bohemia or two. Then back to the boat (past the same snipers).

But I digress. On a serious note, one of the highlights of the cruise was an informal event whereby veterans and active duty military could get together and chat. There were three generations of veterans present: one WW2 vet who participated in the Battle of the Bulge and the taking of the Bridge at Remagen, a few Viet Nam vets/Viet Nam era vets, and 6 active duty folks, including two young ladies. All were Iraq vets. It was an honor to meet these fine young men and women and tell them how much we appreciate their sacrifices. Since they were active duty and Iraq veterans, they got the most questions. Of course, they had to speak carefully about anything that smacked of policy, but they were unanimous that the news media was not reporting things accurately.

So that was it. The wife and I made it home alive. Now I can turn on Fox News and my "Hate Radio" shows and find out what really happened while I was away.

PS- I wonder how many "Worst Person in the World" awards Bill O'Reilly got from Krazy Keith Olbermann last week.

* (BS)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Harold Ickes and the "Republican Attack Machine"

"General Ickes has come to save you from the Republican Attack Machine!!!"

News item:

Robert Novak reported today in his column that Hillary Clinton's senior attack dog, Harold Ickes, told reporters on Tuesday the following: "The past two weeks have cast more doubt on whether Senator Obama is going to be able to stand up to the Republican attack machine".

Unbelievable. This coming from the mouth of one of the most vicious and odious members of the Clinton, well,... Attack Machine.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Mainstream Media Handling of the Obama-Wright Issue

Super Bowl Headline: "Wasn't Bill Belichek's post-game speech great?"

We should not overlook how the Mainstream Media is handling the flap over Pastor Jeremiah Wright. The tapes first made headlines when released by ABC News' Brian Ross and Fox News. Initially, the MSM tried to sit back and wait and see if the public caught on-in other words-if the story had legs. Why did the MSM take such a hesitant approach? Because, for the most part, they support Obama's candidacy.

After a couple of days, it was obvious that the story was causing a national sensation. Like Monica Lewinsky, they couldn't ignore or bury it when the whole country was talking about it. It was all over YouTube and the Internet-and Fox News and talk radio sure weren't going to ignore it. All the MSM could do was spin it.

And they are,in fact, spinning it. From Keith Olbermann to Chris Matthews to CNN, they are trying to put the best face possible on Obama's situation and his handling of it.

Typical is the reaction to Obama's speech in Philadelphia. To people like Chris Matthews, it was the greatest speech since Gettysburg. News headlines blared, "Obama makes historic speech on race". "Obama confronts race head on". CNN's Wolf Blitzer had a panel the other night, where virtually every participant was a Democrat, either supporters of Clinton or Obama, but unanimously praising Obama's speech. The only fly in the ointment for CNN was conservative, black talk show host, Larry Elder, who has been unremitting in his criticism of Obama's speech. (Larry has also pointed out the irony of the 8 American flags that were placed behind Obama on the stage for his speech-this the same man who made a point of telling us that he would no longer wear the flag lapel. According to one news reporter who was present at the speech, much care and discussion went into the placement of the flags on stage.)

But I digress. Just tonight, Obama appeared on Larry King on Life Support for a friendly venue interview. Even when faced with Lobbin' Larry's softballs, Obama contradicted himself again when he repeated the original line that Wright's statements had only recently come to his attention and were not made in his presence. Wait a minute. Didn't Obama admit in Philadelphia that he had been in the pew when some of the controversial statements were made? Which is it, Senator?

At any rate, it is the electorate who will sort this all out, and the polls are showing Obama losing support fast. Clinton is expected to win Pennsylvania big, but the other states are still up in the air. With Florida and Michigan seemingly passing on holding new votes, it appears that only the Superdelegates can save Hillary at the Denver Convention. As it appears almost certain now, Obama, with all his new baggage, will still carry a Superdelegate lead into the convention. He also needs to keep his lead in the popular vote, however slight. If Hillary can't even take a lead in the popular vote, then the only arguments she has to get Superdelegate votes would be that Obama has become unelectable because of the Wright issue, and that she has moved ahead in the polls. Nonetheless, if it plays out that way, Obama's supporters are going to feel they were robbed in a smoke-filled room.

What happens in Denver will be fascinating. How the MSM spins it will also be worth watching.

The Geraldine Ferraro Controversy

I feel compelled to say something in defense of Geraldine Ferraro here. First, let me state that I am no fan of Ferraro. I disagree with her on most issues. I consider her to be a highly partisan Democrat who doesn't budge an inch on most debates. Nevertheless, I think she has gotten a bum rap over her remarks about Barack Obama.

To paraphrase, Ferraro, who was an unpaid advisor to Hillary Clinton's campaign, told an interviewer that Obama would not have achieved so much in this campaign had he not been black. For that, Hillary repudiated her remarks and apologized to a black audience. In short order, Ferraro resigned from the campaign. Of course, her remarks drew strong criticism from Obama's campaign. Now, Ferraro is having to fight off charges of racism. Not content to roll over, Ferraro has struck back pointing out the contrast between her statements and those of Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

In my view, there is no evidence that Ferraro is racist in any way. Reasonable people can disagree about the accuracy of her remarks. (Ferraro has even acknowledged that she was picked for VP candidate in 1984 only because she was a woman.) I also would agree with Ferraro that it is ludicrous to compare anything she said with the vile statements of Wright, who Obama partially defended even while criticizing his remarks.

In my view, for Obama and his camp to go after Ferraro while equivocating about Wright is hypocritical. Let's also remember that Obama spoke out strongly on the Don Imus flap, calling for his firing because of offensive remarks he made about the Rutgers Womens basketball team.

Finally, it would be fitting and proper for both Clintons to stand up and state unequivocally that, while they may disagree with Ferraro, they reject any charges of racism against her. It would also be fitting if the Clintons also drew the obvious comparison between the comments of Wright and Ferraro.

Don't hold your breath. Hillary, while grateful for the break that may just pull the nomination out for her, is trying to keep a low profile on the Wright issue. Actually, she even has her own Jeremiah Wright. That would be Pastor James David Manning, of the ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem. Manning, who has the same oratorical style as Wright and supports Clinton, uses his sermons to call Obama a "long-legged freak with a white mama". And that's just for starters. This guy makes Jeremiah Wright look like Martin Luther King.

Hopefully in the end, most Americans will just recoil in horror at the whole Democratic primary campaign and walk away. So much for the "party of inclusion and tolerance."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Memoriam

Avraham David Moses, 16
Segev Pniel Avichayil, 15
Neriah Cohen, 15
Yonathan Yitchak Eldar, 16
Yochai Lipshitz, 18
Yonadav Haim Hirshfeld, 19
Ro'i Rote, 18
Doron Mehereta, 26

Would I Be Welcome in Jeremiah Wright's Church?


Now that I have written one posting on the Jeremiah Wright-Barack Obama controversy, I would like to pose a question as a white person: Would I be welcome in Barack Obama's church (Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago)?

Specifically, if I were to just walk into that church off the street to attend a service (as I have done with other churches on previous occasions), would I be welcomed? Would I be asked to leave-or told to leave? Would any other parishioners come up and greet me and welcome me to the service? Would I be ignored? Or perhaps, would I just have to sit there and listen to rants against white people and Jews-that would force me to get up and walk out?

When I was a younger man, I became involved (through a friend) with a Japanese-American church in Los Angeles. From 1971-1975, I was a regular member of that church. (I only left when I no longer lived in the state.) Along with a handful of others, I was one of the only whites in that church.

Actually, there were two separate congregations; one Japanese-speaking for first generation immigrants and English-speaking for native-born Japanese-Americans.

Not only was I welcomed, but I became a part of the church family. Ethnicity was never an issue. I even dated a couple of the girls in the congregation. There was never any politics from the pulpit, and never was any harsh word spoken against any ethnic group. Only the gospel was spoken of.

Now, I certainly realize that the Asian-American experience and the African-American experience are distinct from each other. But Asian-Americans have also suffered discrimination, and some of the older members of our church had experienced the relocation of World War II. I know (if my blog were more popular) that I would get tons of responses educating me on the differences. I get it. Enough said.

But my point is this: Given the unfortunate history of black-white relations in this country, does it even extend to the churches? If we are fellow Christians, cannot we even come together to worship in harmony? I recognize that churches have traditionally been largely segregated (usually by choice), but this is slowly breaking down. I have even been to white churches in North Carolina where there were a handful of black parishioners.

I don't believe that all black churches are like that of Jeremiah Wright. But they are out there. In Harlem, there is a church where the pastor is James David Manning, a Clinton supporter, who rants against Obama in obscene terms, referring to his "white mama". This is a Christian?

If people like Jeremiah Wright are indeed Christians, this layman would suggest that they have lost their way. Wright is old enough that he probably has suffered indignities in his life. Unfortunately, it appears that it has left him bitter and full of hate. I am sure there are millions of Christians in the world who struggle with their own feelings of hatred for whatever reason. However, when it is a pastor, a man of God, then that is really alarming.

There may well be a few whites who attend that church in Chicago. I cannot imagine how they could sit through such a sermon. It strikes me akin to a Jew going to a Nazi speech-or a black going to a KKK speech. Whoever walks into a church should be welcomed no matter what their ethnicity, and they should not be subjected to language that attacks them and their ethnicity. In short, a church should be a place of love-not hate.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ah-Wonderful, ah-Wonderful-ah

News items:

Congressman Mark Foley resigns over page scandal
Senator David Vitter visited prostitutes
Louisiana Congressman William "Cool Cash" Jefferson indicted for bribery
Senator Larry Craig arrested in airport men's room
Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi indicted in land scheme
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigns over prostitution scandal
New New York Governor inaugurated- admits to past affairs
Former NJ Governor McGreevey, ex-wife reportedly involved in 3-way sex
Obama's pastor says, "God damn America"
New New York Governor repays state government for "hotel room expenses" previously billed to state
Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick indicted for perjury
Puerto Rican Governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila indicted for corruption
White House aide resigns- FBI investigating
HUD chief Alphonso Jackson resigns amid criminal probe
Husband of Michigan Senator, Debbie Stabenow caught with prostitute
Brother of indicted Louisiana Congressman William "Cool Cash" Jefferson indicted
Louisiana Senator, David Vitter may be called as witness in prostitution trial
NY Rep. Vito Fossella caught in adultery scandal
Marc Dann, Ohio Attorney General resigns over sexual harassment/adultery scandal

(to be continued and expanded)

Stumbling Toward the Finish Line

The Great Sausage Race

In the light of developments of the past few weeks, the Democratic Primary race between Clinton and Obama is starting to look like the "Great Sausage Race" held during the Milwaukee Brewers home games.

Just as it looked like Barack Obama was on his way to victory, his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, has emerged and threatened to destroy the campaign. I won't dwell on that issue since my previous post has done that. At any rate, Obama will almost certainly go to the convention in Denver with a delegate lead that only the Superdelegates can reverse. Up until now, it appeared that there was no sensible way those Superdelegates could take the nomination away from Obama. Now they may have the reason to do so.

By the way, why hasn't the good reverend spoken out this week? Well, according to Bill O'Reilly, Wright is currently in Africa. How convenient. If true, that would remind one of the Godfather I movie when Michael Corleone was shipped off to Sicily after knocking off the corrupt New York Police Detective.

This is not to say that Hillary Clinton is making a strong drive of her own. On the contrary, while Obama twists in the wind, Hillary is keeping a low profile, much like the neighbor looking out the window and watching the house next door burn down with a sense of Schadenfreude. Meanwhile, her husband, Bill, has apparently broken out of his handcuffs and escaped from house arrest. Now he is telling everybody who will listen that Obama did a "hit piece" on him. Bill is now complaining that he was unfairly charged with playing the race card against Obama in South Carolina. Not only has Obama played dirty pool, but the news media has also treated him and Hillary unfairly. In short, he and Hillary are "Victims".

Then there is poor Geraldine Ferraro, who had to resign from her unpaid position on the campaign because she said that Obama would not be running for president if he were not black. Reasonable people can disagree on that point, but in the face of racism charges, Hillary not only repudiated Ferraro's remarks and apologized to black voters, but didn't even have the class to defend Ferraro against the racism charges. How simple it would have been to say you don't agree with the remarks, but Ferraro is no racist. In fact, Obama gave more support to Wright than Clinton did to Ferraro. Hillary Clinton has absolutely no class. Well, at least she married the right guy. As they say, there is a lid for every pot.

What a choice the Democratic Party will have come convention time. Do they bite the bullet and give the nomination to the candidate with the most delegates from the primaries even though he may be fatally flawed? Or do they bite the other bullet and take the nomination away from the candidate with the most delegates and hand the nomination to the ever-scheming, arrogant and corrupt Hillary Clinton, infuriating black voters in the process?

I'm sure Howard Dean will figure something out.

Obama's Speech- A Little Something for Everybody-and Nobody

Barack Obama's address on Race today in Philadelphia was a desperate bid to save his presidential prospects in the light of release of videotapes of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright's sermons. While much of the mainstream media has tried to downplay the story, Obama had obviously come to the conclusion that it was major news-and it was threatening to kill his campaign. While reactions to the speech are still playing out, I would like to offer my own reaction at this time.

Without repeating the various lines in his speech, suffice to say that, like most of his speeches, Obama's prepared remarks today were typically eloquent-especially in contrast to when he is answering questions on uncomfortable topics-as he was this week on the TV news circuit. The problem with the speech was, as I see it, that he tried to appeal to everyone, and, in the process, may have alienated everyone with the obvious exception of those who choose to believe and accept whatever he says because he is their guy.

Obama, while condemning Wright's remarks, stated that he could not disown the pastor any more than he could disown the black community. Personally, I am not sure the two are linked. I sure hope not although Wright's parishioners have spoken out loud and clear in their support of him. Is Obama the only member of the church who rejects Wright's sentiments?

Obama also reiterated the racial grievances of black Americans and made the usual calls for racial healing. Obama obviously felt he had to give something to his black listeners and speak of injustice. No question, Obama is walking a very thin tightrope here, trying to hold on to wavering white voters while not alienating black voters who may conclude he is an "Uncle Tom" (a ugly term also used by Wright in some of his sermons).

Obama spoke of Wright's good works and good qualities, stating that he will not turn his back on him. He also referred to his white grandmother, who allegedly referred to her fears of encountering black men on the street. He also acknowledged that he had, indeed, been in the pews on occasions when Wright made "controversial" statements. This is an apparent contradiction from statements he had been making just in the past few days to the effect that he had not been present during these particular diatribes. (Is it possible Obama realized that there may be some video out there showing him in the audience on these occasions-perhaps doing what everyone else was apparently doing-standing, clapping and cheering?)

It appears that Obama's theme is that, yes, he disagrees with Wright's statements about whites and America, but that he will not turn away from his spiritual mentor and his church. America must deal with black historical grievances and present-day "real anger", but he wants to bring about racial conciliation. In other words, Obama's speech had something in it for everyone, just what a politician's speech is supposed to be.

I still am left with serious questions about Mr Obama:

First, how could you sit there in that church for two decades and listen to this rhetoric and racial diatribes. Senator Obama, when Minister Wright was railing about white people, he was talking about your mother-and grandmother. Did you never take offense at that?

You talk about your love of this country. Yet, you sat there and listened to the worst things being said about your country by Wright. I don't know about you, sir, but I would have gotten up and walked out of my church and never gone back if the pastor talked like that about America-or about other ethnic groups not my own. But you, sir, are a sitting US Senator. If nothing else, as a US Senator and aspiring presidential candidate, what kind of judgement does this show? The same kind of judgement that allowed you to do business with a character like Tony Rezko?

Already, many news commentators sympathetic to Obama are raving about the eloquence of his speech. It is spin. The fact of the matter is that in attempting to please all sides, in my view, Obama has hurt his cause only more. As I acknowledged above, Obama is caught squarely in the middle of the racial divide in this country. He doesn't want to be regarded as simply the "Black Candidate", rather one who cuts across racial barriers. Sadly, that is going by the wayside very quickly. I don't know how the senator is going to reconcile these issues. Certainly many white voters who are wavering wanted Obama to cut his ties to Wright and the church in strong and forceful terms. To do so, however, would have alienated many black voters. So he tried to cut it both ways. I don't think it will work.

I don't know if Obama secretely sympathizes with Wright's views; I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. His continued membership in such a church and association with Wright would make any reasonable person suspicious. What is really sad and ironic is that the candidate and the campaign that held out hope of advancing black-white relations in America to so many, even among his opponents, is now turning into something that, in the end, may only set relations back.

All of the above, of course, is written from the perspective of a white male in his 60s who probably doesn't understand what goes on in black churches and has possibly deluded himself into thinking that over the course of his life, he had seen dramatic racial progress. All I can say is that if Jeremiah Wright is typical, then we have made very little progress. If there is actually someone out there who can bring Americans together, that person is not going to come out of the Trinity United Church of Christ of Chicago.

So is there a secret side to Mr Obama that he has tried to hide from the public? I don't know, but one thing is becoming more obvious every day.

Barack Obama is just another politician.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The "Drug Wars" (12) Cairo, Egypt 1995

"Hey Clyde, isn't that Fousesquawk riding on your back?"

One of the final overseas trips I took in DEA's Office of International Training before retirement was to Cairo in 1995. The event was the UN Conference in Crime Prevention, with countries from all over the world participating. The State Department, who funded DEA's international training programs, had asked all federal law enforcement agencies to send a training representative to the conference in order to hold seminars introducing our agency's training programs to the delegates. The purpose, according to the State Department, was to show the UN that while they were only talking about solutions, we (US agencies) were actually doing something tangible in the way of international police training. Only DEA, the FBI and BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms)chose to send a representative. I was selected to go on behalf of DEA.

Prior to leaving, there were several meetings to be held at State Department HQs in Washington. At the meetings, the DOS representative who would be coordinating our activities in Cairo, explained to us how everything was being arranged. Pick-up at the airport, security, hotel accommodations-and most importantly, how we would operate at the convention hall. According to this gentleman, we would be occupying a large hall just off the main assembly hall. We would hold two seminars a day, so that any delegates not busy in the main assembly could come in and hear our spiel offering our training programs and pick up brochures. It sounded like a really big deal.

We also had to go to a couple of "training" sessions at State-even though all three of us were professional instructors and had been trained by our own agencies upon assignment to the Office of Training. We each had to give a practice presentation in front of their own Training "expert", who critiqued our performances and offered up his suggestions for improvement. Somewhat degrading in our view, but this was the State Department. They generally tended to look down their noses at other agencies.

So off we went to Cairo. We arrived and were met and taken to our hotel, and later, to the convention hall to get our ID badges. The problem was when we saw the room we were supposed to use for our presentations. It was not much bigger than a regular hotel room and was in a far-off corner of the hall, well-removed from the general assembly hall. Typical State Department operation!

On the morning of the first day, we awaited the arrival of our "audience". A grand total of three delegates wandered in-2 from Mauritius. So we scrapped our prepared speeches, set aside the podium and sat around in a circle with the three gentlemen holding an informal discussion and handing them our brochures. Hopefully, the afternoon session would go better.

At three in the afternoon, 3 more arrived- including the two guys from Mauritious. Embarrassed we explained that there was no need to come back for the same presentation.

The next day ran pretty much the same. At that, we cancelled the room, taped 8x11" posters on the walls, set up a table in the main hallway, and sat around looking like potted plants trying to attract interest. We might as well have been selling cheap souvenirs. In the course of the week, we met with less than 10 delegates.

What did we do after hours? Well, we went sightseeing, shopping, visited the pyramids, rode camels, sailed down the Nile on a dinner cruise and ate lots of shish kabob- all paid for courtesy of the American taxpayer.

And that, dear readers, is an example of your tax dollars at work.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Where are the British Soccer Hooligans When You Need Them?

Muslim Protest in London- "Death to Fousesquawk!!"

The "Drug Wars" (11)-Bangkok, Thailand ca. 1977

During my tour of duty in Bangkok with DEA (75-78), I had occasion to travel back home to LA. This would have been in 76 or 77, I don’t recall. While I was home, my cousin came to visit. She was a film producer and brought a female friend who also worked in the film industry. The lady asked a favor when I returned to Bangkok in the next few days. She explained that her company was producing a film to be called, “The Deer Hunter”. Part of the film was to be filmed in Bangkok. She asked me to carry the script with me to Bangkok and that an associate would pick it up later in Thailand. I agreed, and a few days later, was on my way back to Thailand via Europe, script in hand.

I read the script on my way home with stops in Amsterdam and Rome. As I recall, a few weeks later, someone came to our apartment and picked up the script.

Later, I was contacted by someone from the film crew, and we met for lunch at the Oriental Hotel. I took along our Thai investigative asst, as the producers wanted advice on how to arrange for Thai cops to assist them in setting up crowd control, blocking off sites, etc for filming. As I recall, we put them in touch with some Thai cops.

When the filming actually began, probably in 77, the Viet Nam segment was filmed in Thailand, and Bangkok was used to portray Saigon. Numerous Americans and Europeans living in Bangkok were recruited to portray American servicemen and other bit parts. The “doctor” in the Viet Nam hospital scene (who tried to interview Christopher Walken) was one of our intelligence analysts who happened to be an amateur actor. The fellow who portrayed the European "Russian roulette organizer" was portrayed by the owner of the Metropolitaine, a prominent French restaurant in Bangkok.

One night, I went down to Pat Pong, the notorious red-light district, looking for a European informant I was working with who was being used as an extra. That night, they were filming a bar scene, using one of the bars and some of the girls as extras. While I was standing there, an American lady, who was working on the set, approached me and asked if I was American. She then asked me if I would be willing to be an extra in the bar scene. They would pay me $20.00. I said OK, and she told me to stand by. A few minutes later, she came back and took me across the street to wait in front of the bar, as Thai on-lookers furiously snapped photos, thinking I must be one of the stars.

After standing in front of the bar (which, if I remember correctly was the Mississippi something or other), she came back and told me I was not needed after all. I left without finding my informant.

A day or two later, I was informed by the Thai police that our informant had been shot to death on Sukhumwit Blvd in an apparent botched robbery attempt, in which he tried to fight back. To this day, I still don’t know if that was the true motive for the killing. or if it was related to his informing activities. He did, in fact appear in the above scene in the movie for a split second.

Of course, "The Deer Hunter" went on the win an Oscar as best picture of 1978, in spite of protests that it portrayed the Vietnamese people in a negative light.

Several years later, (late 80s) while I was stationed in Pittsburgh, one of the Pennsylvania State Cops attached to our office told me that he had also been used as an extra in the US-filmed segment in a bar as part of the wedding reception scene. Small world.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The 7th Inning Stretch

Ladies and Gentlemen, would you please rise and join Minister Jeremiah Wright in singing, "God Bless America"?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright- Here Comes the Kitchen Sink

Barack Obama-Jeremiah Wright

For months, we have been saying that Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was going to hurt Obama's campaign. Now that ABC's Brian Ross has released videotapes of Wright's sermons, Wright is front and center in the Democratic Primary election campaign. Is this stage one of the so-called "Kitchen Sink" that might derail Obama's path to the nomination?

I hope that every American gets the opportunity to see and hear Jeremiah Wright for themselves- the "God Damn America" rants, the justifications for 9-11, the references to Hillary Clinton as "white" this and "white that", as well as references to "Uncle Toms". According to Wright, American is an evil country, and he doesn't seem to have much use for white folks either. This man is a vile racist who hates his country. This is a man who claims that we invented the AIDS virus to infect non-whites. Christian minister? This sounds more like some radical Muslim cleric preaching Jihad in some London mosque.

Remember also that this is the same man who traveled with Louis Farrakhan to Libya in 1984 to meet with Moamar Khadafi. This is the same man who recently gave an award to Farrakhan. This is the church that emphasizes the so-called "black value system" and other "black principles" that can only tell other ethnic groups that they are not welcome.

Now that the tapes are out there for all to see and hear, Obama has reacted (as he had to) and released a statement today that he repudiates the offensive statements made by Wright. He claims not to have been present in church when these vile things were said.

It is not enough, and it is not convincing. Obama's explanations sound a lot like the old, "I just played the piano. I didn't know what was going on upstairs" line.

First of all, Barack Obama has been affilated with this church and this pastor (Wright recently retired) for almost 20 years. He has identified Wright as his mentor and inspiration. The title of his first book, The Audacity of Hope, came from one of Wright's sermons. Wright married Barack and Michelle Obama and baptized their children.

Obama's statements about Wright are not only insufficient, but lame. He says that the worst sermons were made when he was not present. C'mon! In his nearly 20 years attending the Trinity Church, he has not heard these rants, as he is claiming? That strains credulity. He implies that only in the past year has he learned of Wright's controversial pronouncements. He has stated that he only stayed in the church because Wright was retiring. No, Mr Obama, he was your mentor and inspiration-in your own words. You also put him on an advisory committee for your campaign. You and your wife have been listening to Wright's sermons for nearly two decades. Your explanations do not wash.

When one views the sermons, one not only hears the vicious words, but one sees and hears the wild applause and affirmations of the congregation. What were Barack and Michelle Obama doing during these sermons? Were they sitting there like potted plants?

Recently, Obama explained his relationship to Wright by referring to all the families who have a crazy uncle that they don't agree with. We can't choose our uncles, but we can choose our churches, Mr and Mrs Obama.

That leads me to Mrs Obama. In light of her recent speeches and questionable references to her country, I also want to hear the woman who would be our First Lady speak out about Dr Wright and answer the same questions as her husband.

But it is not enough to state that they don't agree with those statements. Will they remain in this church-and why have they been a part of it for almost 20 years?

In the interest of full disclosure, I had been hoping that Obama would get the nomination out of my intense revulsion toward Hillary Clinton. I even voted for him in the California Primary since, as an independent, I was precluded from voting for a Republican. Of course, I never entertained the thought that I might vote for him in November. I have written that Hillary would have to steal the nomination from Obama since he has the delegate lead and will hold it when the convention begins in Denver.

So, at this point, the Democrats may have to bite the bullet and choose between handing the nomination to Hillary-which she could not win from the voters-or allowing Obama, with this odious association, to become their standard-bearer.

So on goes the increasingly ugly Democratic Primary. Just this week, Hillary offered an apology to black voters for remarks made by Geraldine Ferraro about Obama. Who, if anyone, will Obama apologize to for Wright's dispicable rants?

Now that Obama has denied previous knowledge of Wright's words, if that proves not to be true, then he is finished. More importantly, is there a hidden side to Barack and Michelle Obama, two people who represent themselves as bridging the racial divide? I don't know, but I don't think this man has any business being a US senator, let alone President of the United States.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Speaking Appearance by Matthias Kuentzel at UC-Irvine

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Dr Matthias Kuentzel at the University of California at Irvine. Dr Kuentzel was invited to speak by the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, a pro-Israel group. Dr Kuentzel is a member of the organization, as well as a research associate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a German author and political scientist. He is the author of; Jihad and Jew Hatred-Islamism, Nazism, and the Roots of 9-11. In 2007, he was scheduled to give a speech at the University of Leeds (UK) on; Hitler's Legacy-Islamic Anti-Semitism in the Middle East. The university cancelled the event shortly before it was scheduled due to "security concerns" (actually, based on two letters sent to the university by Muslims protesting Dr Kuentzel's appearance.)

Dr Kuentzel began his lecture by describing the rejoicing that took place among Palestinians over the recent murder of 8 Jewish students. His thesis is that there is a nexus between Islamism and anti-Semitism. He described the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s as well as the activities and words of the Grand Mufti of Jereusalem, Muhammed Tahir Husseini, who was an ally of Hitler and actually lived in Berlin during the Third Reich. During those years, the Mufti participated in making anti-Jewish speeches that were broadcast into the Middle East from a radio station outside Berlin-broadcasts that were met with an enthusiastic reception.

Dr Kuentzel rejects the notion that anti-Zionism is separate from anti-Semitism. He described the situation of anti-Jewish feeling currently prevalent in the Middle East, describing the friendly reception he gets in the Middle East when people learn he is German, assuming he must be a Hitler-admirer.

In response to a question posed by me, he acknowledged that Germany's large Turkish population has become increasingly radical in the last few years in response to world events.

He also stated that the UN should act to outlaw suicide bombings, though he seemed less than optimistic about the world body's ability to have any real effect.

The audience for Dr Kuentzel's talk was small-about 20-25 people. I only knew or met a handful of the other attendees for the first time. Most were elderly and a few were retired professors.

Alarming as Dr Kuentzel's words were, it was refreshing to hear a sane voice coming out of Europe. I can't wait to get his book.

Ready to Lead on Day One?

"I am ready to lead on Day One"

As the Democratic Primary, especially the Clinton campaign, sinks deeper into chaos, the refrain of Hillary that she is ready to lead on Day One is looking more and more ludicrous. Consider the following.

In the past few days, statements by Geraldine Ferraro have come to light that have exacerbated the racial aspect of this campaign. Ferraro has stated (and refused to back down from her statement) that the only reason Obama has come so far in the campaign is because he is black. Ferraro also added that the only reason she got the VP nod in 1984 was because she was a woman. (I could have told her that in 1984.) In other statements, Ferraro has implied that Mrs Clinton has been treated unfairly as a woman.

Obama and his supporters are crying foul-that Ferraro is injecting race into the campaign. Some imply that the lady is a racist. Ferraro, not backing down, says that it is unfair to apply the racist tag on her because of her statement. Hillary, for her part, has mildly distanced herself from Ferraro's remarks-not enough to satisfy Krazy Keith Olbermann, who editorialized on his show last night that Clinton must more forcefully reject the "awful" words of Ferraro (quotes mine). Indeed, Olbermann became so emotional, I thought he was going to pull a gun and take hostages right there on the set. Meanwhile, Ferraro has resigned from her unpaid position on Hillary's campaign.

Thus, goes the race and gender war that is the Democratic Primary. How ironic for the so-called "Party of Inclusion and Tolerance".

Meanwhile, Hillary has now seemingly lost one of her Superdelegates in the person of one Eliot Spitzer. Interestingly, our mainstream news media is largely ignoring the fact that Spitzer is tied to Clinton. As a matter of fact, they don't even mention that he is a Democrat.

Another one of Hillary's big supporters is LA Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa (National Campaign Co-Chair). If you are not from California, you may not know that this incompetent clown is fresh off a scandal involving the break up of his marriage and affair with Telemundo reporter, Mirthala Salinas. Aside from that, Villaraigosa has presided over the collapse of LA under the weight of crime, murder, gang violence, illegal aliens (LA is a sanctuary city),and now, financial collapse. Just today, the mayor, who can barely put a complete sentence together, held an embarassing press conference where he is now advocating unpaid leave days for city employees in an effort to save money (for services to illegal aliens, no doubt.) One of the reporters had the temerity to ask him if he would dock himself for all the time he has been away from the city while campaigning for Clinton. Of course, Villaraigosa skirted that question.

If Hillary succeeds in stealing the nomination from Obama, I would suggest she pick another woman as her running mate. Between Bill, Eliot and Tony, her taste in men is terrible.

On the Obama front, the Illinois senator, reacting to Hillary's teasing comments about a Superticket, asked ironically why, if he were not qualified to be president, should he be considered for VP.

However, Obama is now facing rising questions about his radical and racist pastor, Jeremiah Wright-especially now that videotapes are coming out showing the good pastor's sermons, which are vitriolic attacks on America and white people. (Let's see how the mainstream media handles this story.) Add that to the Rezko trial in Chicago and Obama's friendship with William Ayers, former Weather Underground member from the 1960s, who continues to defend his past actions, which included bombing, and what you have is a recipe for coming disasters for the Illinois senator.

Then there is the question of what to do about Florida and Michigan. What are you going to do, Dems? Are you going to enforce the rules you set and not count the votes of those two states? Or will you throw out the rule book after the fact and accept those delegates-possibly helping Hillary get the nomination? How about a do-over-or mail in?

And you want to turn over health care to these people?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Will Spitzer Be Prosecuted?

It's all about the money

Now that Eliot Spitzer has resigned as Governor of New York, the big question is whether he will be charged for a criminal act. During the past two days since the story broke, speculation has run rampant that Spitzer might be using resignation as a bargaining chip against being prosecuted. From my own law enforcement experience, albeit drug law enforcement, I see a strong possibilty that Spitzer is in serious trouble.

According to published reports, the investigation arose when Spitzer's own bank alerted IRS to suspicious bank transfers (apparently to off-shore accounts). That led to a federal wiretap that identified the prostitution operation that involved the governor.

Those types of bank transfers have also been prominent in the drug trade, where traffickers used bank wire transfers to send drug proceeds or payments for drugs. The IRS, to their credit, educated banks decades ago as to what was happening and enlisted their cooperation in uncovering drug money movements.

Under federal law, financial institutions are required by law to report money transactions in excess of $10,000 to the IRS. Drug traffickers, aware of that requirement, resorted to sending smaller amounts under $10,000, often going to multiple banks and sending multiple shipments of funds. That is also a crime-called Structuring, in essence, attempting to circumvent the reporting requirements.

So now, the question is-what exactly did Spitzer do in sending money to a criminal enterprise in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars? Of course, many will argue that it makes no sense to prosecute a man for patronizing prostitutes, although others will argue-why prosecute prostitutes and not their customers? The Mann Act is also in play, but I think the money transfer to a criminal enterprise is Spitzer's most serious problem. At this point, it appears (though not yet proven) that the Governor of New York (and former Attorney General who prosecuted prostitution rings) has engaged in a conspiracy with a large scale criminal organization and violated currency transaction laws in order to cover up his illegal activity. Of importance is what quantities did Spitzer transfer to the Emperor's Club? Apparently, it was suspicious enough to cause the bank(s)in question to alert the IRS. If,in fact, the money transfers were illegal, and given the fact that they were sent to a criminal enterprise, then Mr Spitzer is in deep legal trouble.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Random Thoughts on the Democratic Primary Circus

top: "Hey Plaxico, wanna come to our victory party?"
left: Denver Convention 2008?
right: Eliot Spitzer's new movie

Did I hear the news right that Hillary Clinton is talking about asking Barack Obama to be her VP running mate? What gall! Sounds like the New England Patriots deluding themselves into thinking they won the Superbowl and inviting the Giants to their victory party. ("Sorry Pats- We have a previous commitment").

If Obama goes into the Denver Convention with a delegate lead, and leaves Denver without the nomination, how does one convince his supporters that he didn't get screwed? To my obsolete way of thinking, the only way Hillary wins the nomination fair and square is by overtaking Obama in the delegate count-without benefit of Florida and Michigan-and without the Superdelegates pulling it out for her in a smoke-filled room.

The way things look now, Denver may look like Chicago 1968-you know police batons, firehoses-and that's just inside the convention hall. Already, the ubiquitous Al Sharpton is revving up his motor and letting everyone know he won't stand for Obama getting jobbed out of the nomination. I can't wait.

It's been a bad week for Hillary's big supporters. Geraldine Ferraro is out there making statements to the effect that Obama is only a serious candidate because he is black-and refusing to back away in the face of a backlash. Result for Hillary? More embarrassment and more racial tension in the "party of inclusion and tolerance". Earlier, Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania and a Clinton supporter, had weighed in that a black candidate may not be able to get elected.

Then there is NY Governor (soon to be ex-Governor), Eliot Spitzer, one of Hillary's would be Superdelegates and proud member of the "Emperor's Club". Yet, even as more details leak out ($80,000 on hookers??), the Mainstream News Media bends over backwards not to mention that he is a Democrat, (unlike when Republicans get caught with their pants down). In addition, some Democrats are trying to rally around the now-disgraced governor. ("Prostitution should be legal". "It could have been a Bush wiretap", etc).

Speaking of Spitzer, I just checked out the Daily Kos and Hardly a word about the Pride of Albany and only in passing.

Don't forget the names Bill Ayers (ex-Weather Underground), Jeremiah Wright (Obama's controversial pastor)and Tony Rezko (currently on trial in Chicago on racketeering charges). All three are close to Obama and could very well derail his campaign at any time-including before the Denver Convention if Hillary gets desperate enough. If the Clintons do indeed throw the kitchen sink at Obama, that will be it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eliot Spitzer

Eliot Spitzer- Love Client Number 9?

It may be too early to comment on this breaking scandal regarding Eliot Spitzer, but since I have no desire to make political points over this issue, I will go ahead and give my take as things stand now. I will not recount the details as they have been reported, rather try to put it into perspective.

First of all, it would not be fair to try and frame this in political terms-liberal vs conservative or Democrat vs Republican. Suffice to say that this story serves to prove the point that these transgressions by public officials cut across party lines. Today, we have a scandal by a Democratic politician, the Governor of the State of New York, Eliot Spitzer. In recent months or years, we have seen similar sexual scandals by Republican politicians, specifically, Mark Foley, Larry Craig and David Vitter. We have also seen the indictment of Democratic Congressman, William Jefferson of Louisiana, for bribery. Other bribery investigations are still in progress against both Republican and Democratic politicians. No doubt, many Republicans are cheering the news today. Spitzer is not regarded as a well-liked personality, and he has few defenders.

In today's press conference, Spitzer, while not going into details, all but confirmed that the breaking story against him has merit. Will he resign? He did not say, and speculation is strong that he is holding that option open as a bargaining chip against any possible indictment.

Should Spitzer be indicted if he, is in fact, involved in patronizing a high-priced prostitution ring? I will let the evidence dictate that. Is there a crime possibly involved? Very possibly- especially if the New York Governor participated in ordering that a prostitute be sent from New York to Washington DC (across state lines) for his use-as is reported.

More importantly, if all this is true, should Spitzer continue as Governor? In my view, unless this is all a big mistake or misunderstanding-no, he should not. Once a public official violates the law, he or she no longer belongs in public office. Let us not forget that, as New York Attorney General, Spitzer prosecuted prostitution rings-in 2004 holding a strongly-worded press conference in announcing prostitution indictments.

Am I morally outraged at Spitzer's conduct? No. He is hardly the only man who has cheated on his wife and utilized the services of prostitutes. But he is the Governor of New York and formally Attorney General. First of all, a man in Spitzer's position who engages in this activity, automatically leaves himself/herself open to blackmail.

In addition, sexual transgressions, may or may not violate the law, public sensibility, or what have you. Sometimes, with everyday people, it is no one else's business. Not so with elected officials. Is it too much to ask that an elected official reign in his/her desires when they could interfere with their public service? As for patronizing prostitutes, there are legal ways to engage in that behavior. For example, Spitzer could have gotten on a plane and gone to a legal brothel in Nevada, thus not violating any laws. He could have traveled to any one of a number of foreign countries where prostitution is legal. Had that been the case, then I might argue that he should not have to resign. Unfortunately, Spitzer chose to engage in an illegal activity-supporting a lucrative and illegal enterprise and opening himself open to blackmail in the process.

In the coming days, further developments are sure to come. What I don't think will change is the principle behind this posting. While not trying to portray this as some typical Democratic scandal, hopefully, people like Nancy Pelosi or Howard Dean will think twice before talking about the so-called "Culture of Corruption" in the Republican Party. It affects both parties, and we as Americans, need to think about what is wrong with our system of politics that we are continually attracting people like Eliot Spitzer into "public service".

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Yes to multiculturalism. No to Multiculturalism

If the title confuses you, let me try to explain. There is one form of multi-culturalism that I am all for. There is another form that I oppose. Today, our society is tying itself up in knots over this issue, and it is the Multiculturalists, the folks on the far left and in our universities who are doing the tying.

As someone who has lived in three different foreign countries (Germany, Italy and Thailand)for a total of 11 years, who has learned several languages, visited over 50 other countries and is married to a Mexican immigrant, I consider myself to be a very multicultural person. It is not a question of being "tolerant", rather I genuinely like and am attracted to numerous different cultures. My wife and I have a circle of friends that probably consists of more than 50% of people from other countries. One of the great things about living in Southern California is the variety of nationalities, foods and languages.

In spite of all that, I remain firmly committed to the old concept that those who immigrate to America should assimilate into our culture and accept our values and traditions. If they don't, their children and grandchildren traditionally do.

I also think that, instead of focusing on our differences, we should focus on what binds us together as Americans-common values, freedoms and language (English).

Yet, there has been a movement in this country for the past couple of generations to move away from the old melting Pot concept and "celebrate our diversity". It is largely championed by the those on the far left-especially in our universities. It is called Multiculturalism. Ostensibly developed to combat racism and to get us all to love each other, it has accomplished neither. Instead, Multiculturalism has contributed only towards a form of Balkanization of Americans into competing tribes; whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and Arab-Americans, many of whom are Muslim-now a distinct minority group. So now we have observances like Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian-Pacific Islander Month and on and on. Indeed, the concept of Multiculturalism has become an industry in itself, with Diversity Consultants, Diversity Seminars and what have you.

Further, where once integration was the goal we strove to achieve after coming out of the darkness of enforced/de facto segregation, now it seems that in some quarters, integration is an outmoded concept. Go onto any university campus, and you will see Black Student Organizations, Mecha (for Mexican-American students, Muslim Student Unions and so on. The result is that Americans-especially young Americans are withdrawing into their own tribes. Is that a worthwhile goal? Not in my view. Yet, it is the goal and design of many on the far left. Why?

To me, the far left in America has a goal to tear this country down and rebuild it in their own image. What better way than to divide Americans-especially when they are young. Make sure that everyone identifies first and foremost with their "Group". Tell them they are victims in a white racist country that will never let them succeed no matter how hard they try. When people come along who prove that idea wrong, (Condoleeza Rice, Clarence Thomas, Ward Connolly for example,) they are castigated as sell-outs.

In addition, the emphasis on Multiculturalism has not done much to bring minority groups together. In places like Los Angeles, black and Hispanic gangs conduct armed warfare on the city streets, while their counterparts in prison are also killing and maiming each other. Mention Multiculturalism to them and they will laugh in your face.

It is especially ironic that, at a point in our history when we face a grave threat in the form of international Islamic terrorism, we would want to be divided. More than ever, we need to come together as Americans under a common threat. There are many aspects of our identity that we share as Americans. We cannot afford to forget about them. The Multiculturalists can talk all they want about "celebrating diversity". The fact is that if we really consider ourselves as part of different tribes-and competing ones at that- we will act like it. Do we really want to go in the direction of places like Rwanda, Kenya or Sudan? Oh, but that could never happen here, you say. I revert your attention back to the mean streets of LA and our prisons.

Ironically, today we see a major political party in America, one that boasts of being the party of inclusion and diversity, on the verge of a rupture over race and gender-all because their two remaining candidates consist of a white woman and a black man (Clinton-Obama). Not surprisingly, but sadly, their support-to a large extent-is breaking down along racial and gender lines, while most Hispanic Democrats are going to Clinton.

It may be naive to say so, but our ultimate goal has to be to achieve a common identity as Americans, drop the hyphens from our consciousness and our lexicon, and stand together as one people. That is not to say that we cannot respect the ethnic differences or old mother country heritage. However, if we are to survive as a people and a great nation, then those differences have to recede into the background.

The term multiculturalism is actually not a bad word in of itself. When I look at my own life (as a white male), multiculturalism has been and still is a central point of my being.

I just don't spell it with a capital "M".

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"I am not a Monster!"

The "Drug Wars" (10) Bangkok, Thailand 1975

The infamous case in the 1990s, when Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband's (John)penis in Virginia, drew national attention and got a lot of laughs. For me, it was a case of deja vu since we had witnessed a similar incident in Bangkok when I was stationed there in the 1970s. The incident, which involved a duck, gave rise to a new joke in the Thai lexicon that lives to this day.

One morning at about 4am, a Thai husband came home from a night of carousing and jumped into bed. Soon, he was fast asleep. His wife, up to here with all his playing around, took a knife and cut off the man’s penis, then threw it out the window into the garden.

Of course, the man’s screams brought neighbors who whisked him off to the hospital. The doctor told the man’s neighbors to go back to the house, find the organ and bring it back so that he could try and re-attach it.

So the neighbors rushed back to the house, by now accompanied by news reporters and photographers. Searching the yard, they found that the penis had been scarfed up by a duck. What ensued was the neighbors chasing the duck around the yard, while the photographers took pictures. As a result, photos of the scene and the duck with the organ in his bill appeared in all of Bangkok’s newspapers. I personally saw the picture in the Bangkok Post.

From that day, a legend was born, and to this day, a reference to a duck will bring laughter to any Thai.

Support Colombia

The flag of Colombia

If you are confused about which nation to support in the tense confrontation between Colombia on one side and Venezuela and Ecuador on the other, I would like to make the case for Colombia.

In recent decades, Colombia has had a negative image on account of the drug industry and the violence it has engendered. Colombian citizens traveling around the world have aroused scrutiny from Customs officials wherever they go. Yet, what many outsiders may not know is that many Colombian police, soldiers, political leaders, journalists and prosecutors have risked their lives and those of their families to fight the cartels and the successor to the drug trade, FARC, the revolutionary army that is trying to overturn Colombia's government-using drugs and kidnappings as a source of finance.

Unfortunately, Colombia, an ally of the US, has two unsympathetic neighbors in Venezuela, under the rule of Hugo Chavez, to the east and Ecuador, now under a leftist president in Raphael Correa-an ally of Chavez-to the southwest. In fact both countries have allowed FARC rebels to operate on their territory across from the Colombian border, using those sanctuaries to launch raids into Colombia.

The situation reached a crisis last week when Colombia launched a raid into Ecuadoran territory and killed a top rebel leader. A laptop that was seized showed that funds were going to FARC from Chavez to the tune of 300 million. According to Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe, he had become frustrated after having, on a half-dozen occasions, passed intelligence to Ecuador on the locations of FARC, only to have them disappear after being tipped off. Nevertheless, the reaction from Chavez and Correa was one of outrage. Correa followed Chavez's lead in breaking diplomatic relations and moving troops to the border. (Nicaragua, under Daniel Ortega, also broke relations with Colombia.)

At this point, the situation has been diffused somewhat by a meeting between the three leaders this week at a Latin American political conference. Yet, the problem of FARC operating in Venezuela and Ecuador, with the apparent support of the two presidents, is still a ticking time bomb that could lead to war.

If that should unfortunately come to pass, my sympathies are with Colombia. Of course, the US has no quarrel with Ecuador nor the people of Venezuela (We, of course, do have a quarrel with Chavez.) I have visited both Colombia and Ecuador and like both countries and their people immensely. I would hate to see any war break out in that region. However, both Ecuador and Venezuela are acting irresponsibly in allowing FARC rebels to operate from their territory. Colombia has a right to defend itself from attacks. Its current president, Uribe, is popular in Colombia and with good reason. He is courageously standing up to the rebels and drug trafficking in general. He has been a good ally to the US-even though he was snubbed in a disgusting manner by Democrats during a recent visit to the US. (Democrats seem to think that Uribe has human rights skeletons in his past.)

So we should hope that war does not break out, but, if it does, Colombia is the "good guy".

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Palestinian Terror-When Will the World Wake Up?

9-11- Palestinians celebrate

In the wake of the latest massacre of innocent Israeli civilians at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist, I think it is time that we as Americans, and, indeed, the rest of the civilized world come to some pretty hard conclusions about the Palestinians.

For decades now, the US has tried to achieve some sort of a diplomatic balance in the Middle East and achieve a peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. A noble goal, perhaps, but I don't think it is possible.

For all of my adult life, I have been reading about one Palestinian act of terror after another. There were the plane hijackings after the 1967 war. There was the Munich Olympics massacre. There were terror attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports, in which innocent Europeans were killed. There was the Achille Lauro boat hijacking in the 1980s in which Leon Klinghofer, an elderly American Jew in a wheelchair, was murdered and dumped overboard. Why was he singled out? Because he was an American Jew.

As the years passed,there were more plane hijackings, including one in Lebanon in which an American servicemen was killed in cold blood. There was the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut and the Marine barracks in Lebanon.

In the past few years, we have witnessed the suicide bombings in Israel that have killed so many innocents on buses and in pizza parlors.

On 9-11, Palestinians danced in the streets, just as they are dancing in the streets at today's news of 8 seminary students being murdered in Israel.

In addition, Palestinians cannot even live peacefully with each other, as one faction kills the other over control of "Palestine".

I could write all night about the long list of senseless violent acts by Palestinians, and I would still leave out numerous outrages.

Tonight, I am asking myself- why does one American administration after another try so hard to bring about peace between Israel and people who do not want peace? The fact is that Palestinians do not want peace. They do not want a two-state solution. They want it all, and they want Israelis/Jews either killed or driven into the sea or exile. They, like their Arab brethren in neighboring lands, cannot accept the idea of a Jewish state in the region. What they want is for all of the area to become Palestine.

But if there is a two-state agreement, what kind of state would this Palestine be? A sovereign entity that will work to undermine its neighbor inch by inch? A state that will make deals and alliances with Iran, Libya and Syria? Will it be, in effect, a terrorist state that will conspire with America's enemies even while we pour in aid? I think the answer is clear.

The truth is that the Palestinians are no friends of ours, and we should stop pretending they are.

Sorry folks, you can call me a racist all you want, but I have concluded that these people are not capable of running a responsible and peaceful country. If I am proved wrong, I will apologize.

The truth is that the Middle East could have had two states back in 1948. That was the UN plan. It was rejected by the Arabs, who quickly went to war-and were defeated. They tried again in 1967 and 1973 and failed. So the Palestinians resort to killing innocents-women, old men and children. How courageous.

And what is the reaction of the World? The Europeans tremble in their boots, held hostage by their already volatile Muslim populations and their need for oil. The UN is openly hostile of Israel and condemns every act of self-defense or retaliation carried out by the Israelis. When Israel retaliates against this latest act of terror-as it will and should, the UN will pass another resolution condemning the Jewish state. To most of the Europeans and the UN, the Jews are always the "inconvenient people", standing in the way of friendly relations with the oil producing countries. Ironically, the Germans, given their unfortunate history, are probably Israel's best friend in Europe.

Here at home, we are allowing new generations of Muslim immigrants and their anti-American anarchist allies on college campuses to stir up racial hatred, not only against Israel, but against Jews-and against our own country as long as we support Israel's right to exist. On university campuses, Muslim Student groups hold regular rallies and bring in hate-filled speakers to denounce Israel, Jews and America, glorifying suicide bombers. My own campus at UC Irvine is a classic example. Just this week, the MSU is sponsoring yet another anti-Israel event with the usual suspects of radical speakers like Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Mohammed Al-Ali-documented anti-Semites. They are being joined in their tirades by a few radical professors. Meanwhile, the administration and faculty hide under their desks and talk about free speech-also taking verbal shots at those who dare to criticize.

So what do we do? Do we in the spirit of expediency, allow the Israeli people and nation to be thrown under the bus and ignore the murderous outrages? I say no.

It is time that the US, Europe and all nations who care about common decency and civilized behavior take a stand for Israel. No cause can justify the slaughter of innocents.

Personally, at this point, I don't care much what Israel does to protect its people against this wanton murder. I will support them. If and when the Israeli Defence Force succeeds in wiping out the terrorists, once and for all, I will be dancing in the street.

For the Democrats-Iceberg Dead Ahead

The USS Democrat- "Land-ahoy! It must be Denver! Full Speed Ahead!"

Now that Hillary has had her big night Tuesday, winning Ohio and Texas (and cutting only about 8 delegates off Obama's lead), the Democratic Party is heading for a possible disaster.

First of all, Hillary's campaign is pushing for the Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated. That, of course, would represent a changing of the rules in the middle of the game. Is a compromise in the works? That may come in the form of a do-over, letting the primary be repeated, the reasoning here being that Obama did not really compete in those primaries. Also not yet decided is who would pay for the repeat primaries? No one seems to be stepping up on that front.

Then there is the matter of the Superdelegates, who have the option of voting however they wish in Denver regardless of which candidate has won the most primary delegates. How does Hillary justify that action? Easy (according to her). The New York Senator argues that the momentum is now going her way and she has won most of the big states, like New York, California and Texas. Thus, the superdelegates should vote for her even if Obama goes into the convention with the lead.

Like Rush Limbaugh, many conservatives (including me) are enjoying the sight of the Democrats rushing head-long toward the yawning crevice. As things appear now, Obama will, in fact, enter the convention with a delegate lead. If Hillary somehow succeeds in recapturing those delegates from Michigan and Florida, that will not sit well with Obama supporters. To use a football analogy, let's say that one team had two touchdowns negated by penalties in the first quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, with that team down by 10 points, the refs decided to reverse those penalties and give those touchdowns back. Would that be fair? Hardly. If the Democratic voters of Florida and Michigan have their votes negated, they should direct their anger at their state political leaders who broke the party rules and caused the problem. Even with Florida and Michigan reinstated, Obama will still probably enjoy a delegate lead.

That leaves the Superdelegates, elected Congresspeople, senators and party hacks. Will they really adjourn to a smoke-filled room and overrule the voice of the Democratic voters who voted for Obama-especially the African-American voters? For Hillary to get the nomination in such a fashion will leave one-half of the Democratic voters furious and disillusioned. Will they just get over it and turn out for Hillary in the general election? I don't think so.

And most importantly, what will be the reaction of the African-American voters who voted for Obama? For decades, they have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats, believing that only the Democrats would represent their interests. Will they conclude that they have been residing on the Democratic "plantation", as many observers, black and white maintain? Will they decide that black interests would be better served by making all parties compete for their votes-and giving real consideration to other parties?

Nevertheless, the Democrats appear unable to avoid the disaster on the horizon. From listening to Clinton and her supporters, it appears that the Clintons will do what they have always done; they will fight tooth and nail to the bitter end. That means if they have to twist arms, make deals and blackmail Superdelegates in Denver, then that is exactly what they will do. For the Clintons, it is not about the party; it is about them.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The "Drug Wars" (9)- Toronto, Canada 1982

While I was stationed in Milan, Italy in 1982, I was called to testify at a trial in British Victoria, Canada in connection with a case I had been involved in at my previous duty station in Los Angeles. It was a joint case with the RCMP, in which arrests were made both in California and Canada. At the conclusion of my testimony, I took a couple of days to visit my Mom in Los Angeles before returning to Italy.

Since my travel was paid for by the Canadian Government, I was required to fly on Air Canada. Thus, I flew to Toronto to make my connection back to Italy. While in Toronto, I took the opportunity to visit with one of my old Canadian RCMP colleagues (Tom), with whom I had worked in Bangkok when he was the Canadian Narcotic Attache in the 1970s.

Upon arrival at Toronto Airport at about 5pm, I was picked up by his son, whom I had known in Bangkok when he was a young boy. Now a young adult, he was in training to become a Mountie. The plan was for me to check into my hotel, pick up Tom at the RCMP and then go to their house for dinner.

"Mom's making a big dinner for you. We'll stop by the office, pick up Dad and then we'll go home for dinner," Tom's son told me.

By 6 pm, we were at RCMP Hqs, where Tom greeted me.

"Great to see you, Gary. The wife's got a great dinner planned for you. We'll stop in the mess (RCMP pub), have a quick beer and then go to our house."

"Sounds like a plan," I answered.

The mess was full of Mounties. They were having a national drug training conference, and there were Mounties from all over the country. I was introduced to everyone from Toronto and we ordered a beer.

Then another beer, and another. After each round, Tom said, "Let's have one more beer, then we'll go."

Soon it dawned on me that, like Australians, Canadians, especially cops, tended to put drinking first. Other things tended to be shoved to the side. As the hours passed, I realized that we were not going home for dinner that night. At one point, one of the other cops told me that (after one more round) he would show me some of the wonderful bars in Toronto.

"Sounds like a plan," I answered.

So one more round became several more rounds (each one supposed to be the last.) By now, Tom was going nose to nose with a Mountie from Nova Scotia who was giving his son some lip. In one corner of the room, a couple of Francophone Mounties were arguing with Anglophone Mounties. I thought about Tom's wife stewing at home with that great dinner.

Finally, at about midnight, realizing that no one was going anywhere, I gave up on the whole thing. I got up and walked out the door, passing Tom's son, passed out on the floor and missing one shoe. I jumped in a cab and went back to my hotel. I had a flight to catch the next day.

A couple of years later, I heard that Tom and his wife had...well,...divorced.

Empty Suit Press Conference in LA

Bratton, Delgadillo, Villaraigosa
"Yeah, we're really crackin' down now."

There was a big press conference in LA today that centered around illegal alien gang members. Attending were representives from local and federal law enforcement as well as LA political leaders. More specifically, LA Mayor Tony Villaraigosa took a break from running around the country trying to get Hillary Clinton nominated (He is her national co-chair and has drawn local criticism for not being around), City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo (a master of misappropriation of city resources). Police Chief William Bratton, who throws his own officers under the bus when they lay their hands on rioting illegal immigrant demonstrators, and Sheriff to the Stars, Lee Baca. The FBI was there as well as ICE. In addition, there was a representative from El Salvador's Ministry of Justice.

The main topic of concern was illegal alien gang members, especially MS-13 of El Salvador, a particularly vicious and murderous bunch that operates back and forth between our two countries. This week, LA is hosting a week-long conference of federal/state and local agencies plus officials from Central America, Spain and Canada. During the press conference, it was announced that LAPD and the Salvadoran National Police will exchange 4 liaison officers from each entity to help train and advise their counterparts.

CNN's outspoken commentator, Lou Dobbs, was less than impressed, noting that the above number represented half of the assembled dignitaries at the press conference.

I am all for state/local/federal and international police agencies working together to combat this problem. That is precisely what I spent many years doing as a DEA agent fighting drug trafficking. I am all for LA working together with the Salvadorans (and Mexicans). What I think would be especially helpful is for LA to cease being a sanctuary city for illegal aliens and cooperate more fully with ICE and other federal agencies. I think that ICE should have representatives in the LA County Jail to monitor the status of foreign arrestees. International agreements dictate that when a foreign national is arrested, his or her consulate must be notified. Why not notify immigration authorities as well? That's what virtually every other country does.

Unless there is a genuine effort to turn over law-breaking illegal aliens, especially gang members) to ICE, it is hard to conclude that this is anything more than window dressing. LA's leaders from the Mayor to the Chief of Police have made it very clear that they are not inclined to combat illegal immigration in their city. Thus, LA is a sanctuary city. The federal officials participating in the press conference must have been biting their collective lips at hearing the likes of Villaraigosa and Bratton talk about cracking down.

Meanwhile, the same day in Washington, an advocacy group for illegal aliens (People Without Borders) was holding their own press event to demand legalization for the "13million undocumented workers in the US". As their name would indicate, this group doesn't believe that our nation should have enforceable borders or enjoy any degree of sovreignty. One of their spokespersons delighted in pointing out that none of the remaining presidential candidates will be strong on illegal immigration.

Sadly, it was probably only the latter group that really believed the words they were uttering.