THEY have been admirers of the president since the attacks of September 11, 2001, but now some of George W Bush’s staunchest supporters are accusing him of “losing his way" in the war on terror.Skipping a bunch of stuff here...
Conservatives in America are contrasting Tony Blair’s clarity of purpose since the July bombings in London and the vacillations of the Bush administration about the future of Iraq and the nature of the terrorist threat.
Under siege last week at his holiday ranch in Crawford, Texas, from the peace activist Cindy Sheehan, one of the military’s “gold star" mothers whose son died in Iraq, and under pressure from opinion polls showing dwindling American support for the war, Bush is on the defensive.
Blair by contrast is getting credit for naming the enemy as Muslim extremists and for criticising the Wahhabi ideology spreading from Saudi Arabia, which remains a leading American ally. Although faulted for allowing “Londonistan" to grow into a haven for terrorism in the first place, the prime minister is regarded as going on the offensive while the Bush government dithers.
“Since the London bombings, Tony Blair has emerged as the public face of the global war on terror," said Nile Gardiner, a former adviser to Baroness Thatcher and who is now based with the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “He is setting the agenda with tough new anti-terrorist measures."
Indeed, many neoconservatives who back Bush are not convinced about the rest of his administration. In the current issue of The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative magazine, Bill Kristol, the editor, states pointedly: “The president seems determined to complete the job. Is his defence secretary?" One right-wing expert on the Middle East accused Rumsfeld of behaving like “the crazy aunt you couldn’t shut up". “The problem is not the president or at least not his views," the expert said. “It’s his mismanagement of the cabinet."Those are definitely some real blunders made by Bush and his team, but I think they're still capable of upending everything and changing everyone's mind. There's plenty of time left in the second term, and I don't think Bush wants to go out quietly.
For Andrew McCarthy, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank, Bush has simply “lost his way". “After Bush won the election on national security grounds, he went six months without talking about Iraq while his opponents were kicking us for what we were doing out there," he said.
Bush was also at fault for offering conflicting signals about the war on terror, in particular by negotiating with insurgents in Iraq and soft-pedalling on relations with Syria, McCarthy said. “The best thing about the Bush doctrine was its moral clarity. You can’t say, ‘You’re either with the terrorists or with us’ and then go out and say, ‘Let’s have a powwow with the insurgents’."
“I have great admiration for what Bush has done, but there has been a dangerous lapse in focus," McCarthy said. “Americans will support the president from now until the end of time if they think national security is at risk. “We need to convey that our goal is to degrade the power of Islamic extremists to commit terrorist attacks."
Historically, the role of imams in preaching a version of Islam for violent political ends is indisputable.(a thimbleful of the good cognac to cba)
From Ayatollah Khomeini's role in unleashing a religious-political movement in Iran, to the blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman's responsibility in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, or from the fatwa (religious ruling) of Sheikh Qaradhawi (the popular Egyptian cleric based in Qatar) that it is permissible for Muslims to engage in suicide bombings against Israelis and American soldiers in Iraq, to his followers repeating the same here in Canada -- imams and their acolytes have done their share in shaping the mentality of jihadis (Muslim warriors).
Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed legislation in Portland that would make Oregon the first state to require prescriptions for everyday cold and allergy medications that can be converted into methamphetamine.In other words, even more draconian, freedom-robbing, absurd to the point of farcical measures are coming. What's the reason for all this? It certainly isn't a meth epidemic. Meth is actually trending down, and the media hype is just that: hype. Driven by...government funding battles! I bet you're all surprised. Maia Szalavitz at George Mason U has more of the sordid details:
The requirement applies to any medication containing pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in making meth. Tom Holt, executive director of the Oregon State Pharmacy Assn., said he thought the law would drive pseudoephedrine-containing products off the market.
"This is a tremendous start, but we must recognize that it is just that, a start," Kulongoski said, referring to the state's fight against meth.
Cold and Allergy Drugs to Require Prescriptions
As Jack Shafer points out in Slate for coverage of a supposedly deadly epidemic, Newsweek left out some very important numbers: The number of meth-related deaths and whether meth use is increasing or decreasing. The latter number was seemingly eliminated because it didn’t fit the story — meth use has generally been declining, with 4.7% of high school seniors reporting use in the last year in 1999, compared to 3.4% in 2004. [Note Shafer has it as 4.3% but the chart says 4.7]Welcome to manipulation. Thanks a lot, you dicks.
There was a minor uptick between 2003 and 2004, with 3.2% reporting use in 03, but the research does not say whether it was statistically significant. The mortality figures are genuinely hard to get, however.
Nonetheless, just as with crack cocaine, at the peak of the epidemic that was supposedly ravaging the country, only 5% of the population report even trying methamphetamine and just .3% report using it in the last month. For the latest “most addictive drug ever," this means that just 6% of those who’ve tried it are still using it. Of course, this survey may underestimate actual use rates to some extent because it does not include the homeless and those in institutions and because people may be reluctant to admit to illegal activities, still, the same research reports 40% of the population has used marijuana. And as for the notion that meth addiction is impossible to treat, see our earlier article here: it isn’t.
The supposed crime wave caused by methamphetamine is also hard to credit. While cities between 50,000 and 100,000 in size do report a minor increase in violent crime as do those between 250,000 and 499,000, the smallest towns and the biggest cities are still reporting a downward trend and the overall national trend continues declining. And property crime, which is often linked to drug addiction, is down across the board. This was certainly not the case during the crack years.
As for meth as an “equal opportunity drug," this is yet another myth. In all addictions, the worst cases are concentrated amongst the poor, less educated and unemployed. For example, the proportion of people with a diagnosable drug problem of any kind in the last year is .15% for college graduates, but more than double that — .32% — for people with less than a high school education.]. The rate of addiction amongst people receiving food stamps is four times that for those who do not require food assistance.
In terms of race, meth is a white and Hispanic drug: 2.3% of white high school seniors report crystal meth use in the last year and 2.5% of Hispanic 12th graders do. But just 1.4% of black high school seniors used meth in the last year — and not one black addict appears in the recent meth media blitz.
So why the wave of meth hype now? The “news hook" appears to be a poll, conducted by the National Association of Counties, which surveyed 500 law enforcement groups in 45 states and found that 58% rated meth as the number one drug problem. This clashes, however, with the drug czar’s obsessive focus on reducing marijuana use.
But there’s a money issue underneath it all: Counties are fighting a federal budget cut which would take $634 million from local law enforcement for anti-drug task forces. Is it any wonder the feds want to play down meth, while the counties hype it up? Of course, a budget battle—between two law enforcement agencies that haven’t given us a drug-free America yet and don’t seem likely to do so — is a far less sexy story than “moms on meth…" And so, meth madness continues, without giving us greater understanding of either methamphetamine or the people whose lives are genuinely ravaged by addiction.