Saturday, March 10, 2007

Does anyone in DC remember the Marielitos?

Kim Priestap has a great post over at WizBangBlog regarding a proposal to detain the Guantanamo Bay facility and replace it with a US-based detention facility at Quantico, Virginia. As Kim states:

Democrat: Bring Guantanamo Detainees to the US

What a stunningly bad idea. James D. Moran (D-VA) wants to bring the worst, most dangerous terrorists this world has ever known, whose goals are to kill as many Americans as possible, to America. Some of these detainees are still in Gitmo because they are so dangerous that their own countries don't want them back. Yet, Moran thinks it would be a great idea to hold the Gitmo detainees in Quantico.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

A Virginia Democrat seeking to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would favor bringing detainees to secure East Coast locations, including Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Rep. James P. Moran, D-8th, said yesterday that he favors bringing Guantanamo detainees who have been charged with offenses to military brigs in the jurisdiction of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"That's the most conservative circuit court" in the nation, said Moran, a senior member of the House defense appropriations subcommittee. "So nobody can charge [the detainees] won't get a speedy and disciplined trial."

The ideas he floated provoked attacks from Virginia Reps. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th, the chief deputy GOP whip, and Jo Ann Davis, R-1st, whose district includes Quantico.

Virginians are not happy with Moran's idea, either, and I don't blame them one bit:

However, some residents near Quantico were taken aback by the possibility. "Nobody wants that kind of stuff here. Would you? Leave them where they are," said John Rogojan of Stafford County. His home along state Route 610 in northern Stafford is across the road from the Marine base's border,. The base includes land in Stafford and neighboring Prince William County.

It doesn't matter how secure Quantico is.The whole concept of having terrorists like those at Guantanamo who want to murder Americans on a massive scale here in our country is scary and dangerous.

House Republican Eric Cantor responded to Moran's idea:

"Virginians neither want nor need hundreds of terrorists with connections to 9/11 groups like al-Qaida in our commonwealth," Cantor said.

"This shocking lack of judgment demonstrates that liberal Democrats do not understand that these terrorists want to kill Americans and destroy our way of life. These dangerous, terrible people should not be allowed into our country."

He's absolutely right. Not only do the the Democrats not understand the terrorism threat, but I really question if they believe there is a terrorism threat.

Congressman Moran is on Fox and Friends now and is explaining how important it is to provide these evil, murderous terrorists due process. That's really his biggest concern? He thinks providing these terrorists due process is more important than protecting Americans from these terrorists by keeping them out of this country? He also said the jihadists use Guantanamo as a recruiting tool, but that's complete bunk. There weren't any Islamic terrorists in Guantanamo prior to 9/11, yet Khalid Sheik Muhammad had no problem recruiting hijackers for the 9/11 attacks. Nor were there any terrorists in Guantanamo when terrorists struck World Trade Center the first time. Or when they attacked our embassies in Africa. Or when they struck the USS Cole.

As for myself, I see a clear correllation between this idea and the situation the U.S. found itself in 23 years ago. It's funny how this asshat (Congressman Moran / ed.'s note: change that "a" to an "o" and the irony is perfect!) doesn't remember the riots caused by disenchanted (& imprisoned) Cuban Marielitos.

For those of you who don't recall, in 1984 Fidel Castro opened up the Cuban port at Mariel, and told everyone who wanted to leave to, essentially, "get out while the gettin's good." Not just political dissendents were allowed to leave: Fidel opened the doors of the prisons and institutions for the criminally insane as well. Those who weren't convicted felons or (violently) mentally ill were allowed to stay in the U.S., but the doors that had been opened by Castro closed as soon as the boats left Mariel, and the U.S. was left to deal with those who were denied immigration status yet could not be sent back to Cuba.

Need I tell you that riots ensued in the institutions (in Louisiana and Georgia) where the disallowed Marielitos were housed, and that these same people had to be housed in Level 4 prisons on 23-hour lockdown? Need I also tell you how expensive this has been?

Let's face it: Guantanamo is cost efficient, legal and the conditions are probably superior to where these detainees will be housed once in the U.S., Quantico included.

In the end, I do believe Guantanamo will be closed as a political statement. With that in mind, I will enjoy hearing the Dems explain why they are spending ten times the amount of money to house these detainees here the U.S. they spent to keep them in Guantanamo.

I also eagerly await their excuses when the burden of this "humanitarian gesture" is to be shared by the municipalities in which these detainees are imprisoned (and I believe it will be in multiple locations, not just in Virginia). Imagine the uproar as those same Dem's contituents realize how there is now less money to go to them.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Project(RED) is a Failure

According to this article in Advertising Age, the celebrity-centered Project Red is a miserable failure (

As author Mya Frazier notes:

It's been a year since the first Red T-shirts hit Gap shelves in London, and a parade of celebrity-splashed events has followeed: Steven Spielberg smiling down from billboards in San Francisco; Christy Turlington striking a yoga pose in a New Yorker ad; Bono cruising Chicago's Michigan Avenue with Oprah Winfrey, eagerly snapping up Red products; Chris Rock appearing in Motorola TV spots ("Use Red, nobody's dead"); and the Red room at the Grammy Awards. So you'd expect the money raised to be, well, big, right? Maybe $50 million, or even $100 million.

Try again: The tally raised worldwide is $18 million.
There are many reasons for the failure of the Project(RED) campaign. Inferior-quality products selling at a premium over Gap's price point was the key issue in the clothing retailer's soft sales. Over-focus on celebrity instead of the charity's beneficiaries was also a large part of the problem: could anyone say what Project(RED) was actually about? No. But they could tell you it had something to do with Bono and Oprah, and maybe Gwyneth, too. Let's not even get started on the idiocy of American Express' "I am an African" campaign staring Giselle Bundchen and the aforementioned Ms. Paltrow (my cynicism about that campaign transcends rationality).

Motorola and Apple comprised the remaining Members of the Project(RED) quadrille: the former as a way of reviving its sagging RAZR sales amid the absence of new products, esp. in comparison to its closest competitor, high-end cell phone manufacturer Nokia. Apple, IMO, recognized early on that its Project(RED) contibution, the limited edition red Nano, was underperforming (a "fire sale" at it's Michigan Avenue store revealed many of them for resale, the reason for which was labelled as ((and I love this)) "Remorse") and put their participation on the back-burner. Smart move.

Around the time of the campaign's extravagant launch, I read an interview with one of the founders of Project(RED). He stated that creating a conduit for charity funding wasn't his real goal. Rather, (*and I paraphrase*), he wanted to engender a new business model whereby people were motivated to spend money by the cassociation of an item with a charitable cause (no matter how tangential the connection).

Project(RED)'s manifesto (see here: ) bears this out:

RED is not a charity. It is a business model. You buy RED stuff. We get the money. Buy the pills and distribute them. They take the pills, stay alive and continue to take care of their families and contribute socially and economically in their communities.

If they don't get the pills, they die. We don't want them to die. We want to give them the pills. And we can. And you can. It's easy.

All you have to do is upgrade your choice.

While the founders of Project(RED) may think consumers weren't tuned into the blatant cynicism of such a statement, it would appear that in this, too, they underestimated their consumer.

So what do the charities think about endeavors such as this?

Non-profits are in fact quite concerned about what Project(RED) represents for the future of traditional giving, and whether such enterprises are a short-term or long-term trend:

Mark Rosenman, a longtime activist in the nonprofit sector and a public-service professor at the Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, said the disparity between the marketing outlay and the money raised by Red is illustrative of some of the biggest fears of nonprofits in the U.S.

"There is a broadening concern that business is taking on the patina of philanthropy and crowding out philanthropic activity and even substituting for it," he said. "It benefits the for-profit partners much more than the charitable causes."

High minded as RED may have seen itself, I think consumers saw through the "raising awareness" ploy. After all, 'awareness raising' seems to be all about a consumer experience, whether it is buying a pair of jeans or walking the Avon 3-Day Walk Against Breast Cancer. People are finding out that very little of the money they spend (or raise, as in the case of Avon) is actually seeing it's way to the charity, and they are getting hip to the fact that this may be just a high-minded appeal to conspicuous consumption.