Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why
on: March 24, 2008, 09:25:44 AM
Why do terrorists stop?
POSTED AT 9:30 AM ON MARCH 24, 2008 BY ED MORRISSEY
Michael Jacobson asks why some high-profile terrorist attacks didn’t happen, and relates how defections and resignations plague even the most extreme terror organizations — and the petty reasons why. One terrorist quit the follow-up to the 9/11 attacks because he tired of the extremism. Another al-Qaeda terrorist quit because Osama bin Laden wouldn’t pay for his wife’s C-section. Jacobson wants us to find a pattern that we can use to defuse the biggest weapons AQ and other terror groups have:
Why do some terrorists drop out? We rightly think of al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups as formidable foes, but the stories of would-be killers who bail give us some intriguing clues about fault lines that counterterrorism officials should exploit. The reasons for a change of heart can be strikingly prosaic: family, money, petty grievances. But they can also revolve around shaken ideology or lost faith in a group’s leadership.
It’s become a truism of counterterrorism that we must understand how and why individuals become jihadists in the first place. But almost nobody is studying the flip side of radicalization — understanding those who leave terrorist organizations. We’d do well to start. Figuring out why individuals walk away from terrorist groups can help governments predict whether an individual — or even a cell — is likely to go through with a plot. Understanding the dropouts should also make it easier for governments to determine which terrorists might be induced to switch sides, help stop radicalization and craft messages that could peel away people already in terrorist organizations. The more we know about why terrorists bail, the better we can fight them.
So where to start? Despite al-Qaeda’s reputation for ferocity and secrecy, plenty of wannabes wind up dropping out from it and its affiliates[.]
One obvious point comes from Jacobson’s essay, although Jacobson doesn’t offer a way to capitalize on it. AQ handlers impress on their suicide jihadists to keep from contacting their families. Jacobson notes that Ziad Jarrah, who piloted United 93 on 9/11, almost dropped out of the plot because of his relationship with his German fiancée. Ramzi Binalshibh had to talk him into staying in the plot, but another potential member dropped out when he returned to his family in Saudi Arabia after leaving the training camp in Afghanistan. Family ties, therefore, should provide a means to negating the attraction to the nihilistic strain of Islam.
But how could the US leverage that? We can’t. Even though it is the most effective manner in disarming the human time bombs produced by terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the US has little influence on whether jihadists contact their families, or even whether the families would want to disarm their brainwashed members if they made contact. That leaves us with other methods of squeezing the terrorist groups, especially financially but also operationally.
Here we can have some direct impact. The loss of funds makes it harder for AQ and other organizations to pay their people, and that creates dissent. One early AQ member “fumed” over the lack of compensation he received and began embezzling from Osama. When Osama demanded restitution, Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl — who at one point tried to acquire uranium for AQ — went on the run, fearing for his life. L’Houssaine Kerchtou wanted to kill bin Laden when he got turned down for the $500 reimbursement for his wife’s C-section in Morocco.
Others have left over tactics and lack of success. Osama’s own son Omar left after 9/11, asking what good the mass murder had accomplished, telling a journalist that the organization consisted of “dummies”. Another AQ leader left during the Afghan jihad, resentful that people with less military experience than himself were in command and botching the job in late 2001. Failure breeds resentment and a lack of confidence in leadership.
Jacobson wonders whether we can learn from these lessons, but in fact we already have. It shows that terrorists don’t stop when people surrender; rather, they stop when they start losing. The myth that fighting terrorists breeds more terrorists ends with Jacobson’s essay. If we cut off their funds, kill them on the field, and stop their attacks before they begin, terrorists get the message. It won’t stop the Osamas and the Baitullah Mehsuds, but it eventually cuts them off from their recruiting base and their experienced underlings. It takes longer than some attention spans can handle, but that is the path to victory for the West.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: March 20, 2008, 09:26:35 AM
From the Los Angeles Times
Obama blew it
What the candidate should have said about race.
By Michael Meyers
March 20, 2008
Tim Rutten's column, "Obama's Lincoln moment" and The Times editorial, "Obama on race" both miss the mark.
In my considered judgment as a race and civil rights specialist, I would say that Barack Obama's "momentous" speech on race settled on merely "explaining" so-called racial differences between blacks and whites -- and in so doing amplified deep-seated racial tensions and divisions. Instead of giving us a polarizing treatise on the "black experience," Obama should have reiterated the theme that has brought so many to his campaign: That race ain't what it used to be in America.
He should have presented us a pathway out of our racial boxes and a road map for new thinking about race. He should have depicted his minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., as a symbol of the dysfunctional angry men who are stuck in the past and who must yield to a new generation of color-blind, hopeful Americans and to a new global economy in which we will look on our neighbors' skin color no differently than how we look on their eye color.
In fact, I'd say that considering the nation's undivided attention to this all-important speech, which gave him an unrivaled opportunity to lift us out of racial and racist thinking, Obama blew it.
I waited in vain for our hybrid presidential candidate to speak the simple truth that there is no such thing as "race," that we all belong to the same race -- the human race. I waited for him to mesmerize us with a singular and focused appeal to hold all candidates to the same standards no matter their race or their sex or their age. But instead Obama gave us a full measure of racial rhetoric about how some of us with an "untrained ear" -- meaning whites and Asians and Latinos -- don't understand and can't relate to the so-called black experience.
Well, I am black, and I can't relate to a "black experience" that shields and explains old-style black ministers who rant and rave about supposed racial differences and about how America ought to be damned. I long ago broke away from all associations and churches that preached the gospel of hate and ethnic divisiveness -- including canceling my membership in 100 Black Men of America Inc., when they refused my motion to admit women and whites. They still don't. I was not going to stay in any group that assigned status or privileges of membership based solely on race or gender.
We and our leaders -- especially our candidates for the highest office in the land -- must repudiate all forms of racial idiocy and sexism, and be judged by whether we still belong to exclusionary or hateful groups. I don't know any church that respects, much less reflects, my personal beliefs in the absolute equality of all people, so I choose not to belong to any of them. And I would never -- as have some presidential candidates -- accept the endorsement of preachers of the gospel according to the most racist and sexist of doctrines.
But someone's race or religion is not mine or anybody else's concern. I couldn't care less that Wright is a Christian or that Louis Farrakhan professes to be a Muslim. I couldn't care less whether the hateful minister who endorsed John McCain is, deep inside, a decent man or a fundamentalist. But I do care about these pastors' divisive and crazed words; I do care that their "sermons" exploit and pander to the worst fears and passions of people based on perceptions and misperceptions about race. I hate that these preachers' sermons prejudge people's motives or behavior based on their race or ethnicity. I hate the haters, and I expected Obama to make a straightforward speech about what has become the Hate Hour -- and the most segregated hour -- in America on Sunday mornings.
I expected Obama, who up to now had been steering a perfect course away from the racial boxes of the past, to challenge racial labels and so-called black experiences. We're all mixed up, and if we haven't yet been by the process of miscegenation, trans-racial adoptions and interracial marriage, we sure ought to get used to how things will be in short order.
That would have been the forward-looking message of a visionary candidate. But Obama erred by looking backward -- as far back as slavery. What does slavery have to do with the price of milk at the grocery store? He referenced continuing segregation, especially segregated public schools, but stopped short. What is he going to do about them? How does he feel about public schools for black boys or single-sex public schools and classes? What does the gospel according to Wright say about such race-based and gender-specific schemes for getting around our civil rights laws?
We can't be united as a nation if we continue to think racially and give credence to racial experiences and differences based on ethnicity, past victim status and stereotypical categories. All of these prejudices surrounding tribe-against-tribe are old-hat and dysfunctional -- especially the rants of ministers, of whatever skin color or religion, who appeal to our base prejudices and to superstitions about our supposed racial differences. The man or woman who talks plainly about our commonality as a race of human beings, about our future as one nation indivisible, rather than about our discredited and disunited past, is, I predict, likely to finish ahead of the pack and do us a great public service.
Michael Meyers is executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition and a former assistant national director of the NAACP. These views are his own.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: March 20, 2008, 09:04:58 AM
March 20, 2008, 5:00 a.m.
The Wright Stand
Judgment, character and Barack Obama.
By Peter Wehner
Several years ago my wife and children attended a Presbyterian church in Washington, D.C. We liked and respected the senior pastor, we had close friends in the congregation, and we felt spiritually nourished by the congregants and the worship. Two of our children were baptized there.
Not long after the attacks of September 11, my wife and I heard two different visitors — one in remarks during a church service, the other while teaching an adult Sunday-school class — that were derogatory of and inflammatory toward Israel.
Upon hearing the words of these two people — which I found both shocking and disquieting — I immediately raised concerns with the senior pastor. He tried to reassure me and then put me in touch with an associate pastor who was in charge of a ministry to Palestinian Christians (one I had been previously unaware of). I engaged in conversations and written correspondence with the associate pastor and the head of the board of elders over this issue; in the process, I discovered that our church hosted an annual conference which featured only speakers who were highly critical of the state of Israel. For the first time it became clear to me that the church we attended was deeply biased against the Jewish state. When what we deemed to be adequate counter steps were not taken, we left the church, in good measure because of this matter and how it was handled.
I thought of this episode in our lives in the aftermath of learning about the bigoted and vicious anti-American statements by Barack Obama’s pastor, friend, and spiritual adviser, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr. of United Trinity Church of Christ.
I don’t for a moment believe that Senator Obama shares Wright’s manifold and manifest hatreds. What bothers me — particularly as one who has had good things to say about Obama in the past — is why Obama apparently never raised any concerns with Wright about his rhetoric or the black liberation theology being practiced at United Trinity. This was the obvious and appropriate thing to do.
Reverend Wright clearly preaches from a particular cast of mind, one with which Obama was surely familiar. If Obama isn’t willing to voice his concerns and objections with Wright and stand up for his country as it is being slandered by his pastor, what can we expect from Obama when he is asked to stand up against some of the world’s worst dictators?
The options aren’t particularly good for Senator Obama. He either agreed with the views and core beliefs of Reverend Wright, which would essentially disqualify him as a serious candidate for the presidency; or he didn’t agree with Wright but for decades sat passively by and accepted Wright’s teaching and rants. Didn’t Obama consider, even once, pulling Wright aside and pointing out — as any true friend would, in a civil but forceful way — that hailstones of hate simply have no place in a church and that the “social gospel” is not synonymous with preaching bigotry and anti-Americanism?
Beyond that, Senator Obama’s speech on Tuesday, for all the praise it has garnered in many quarters, created additional doubts about Obama’s candor and his willingness to speak up and speak out against a charismatic, forceful, and pernicious figure.
ABC News reports that earlier this month Obama, at a community meeting in Nelsonville, Ohio, said, “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.” Obama went on to say, “[Wright] has said some things that are considered controversial because he’s considered that part of his social gospel; so he was one of the leaders in calling for divestment from South Africa and some other issues like that.”
Last Friday, as Senator Obama was making the round on cable TV trying to explain Wright’s remarks that were being replayed over and over again, Obama indicated that he had never heard his pastor of 20 years make any comments that were anti-American until last week. But in his Philadelphia speech two days ago, Senator Obama seemed to change his explanation:
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely — just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country.
This is where things begin to get sticky for Obama. In half-a-month we’ve gone from Wright and his church being essentially non-controversial; to Obama implying that the venomous statements by Wright came as news to him; to admitting that he was in the pews when Wright spoke as a “an occasionally fierce critic” of American domestic and foreign policy. Those remarks were so fierce that even Obama, himself an orthodox liberal who has scorched the Bush administration, was clearly made uncomfortable by what Wright said.
It also begs the question: What exactly did Wright say that Obama strongly disagreed with? Was Wright in fact presenting a “profoundly distorted view of this country”? The odds are a good deal better than even that he was. But Obama has yet to answer those questions — and he probably won’t, at least with any specificity, unless he’s forced to do so. This story, which seemingly changes in every re-telling, is beginning to resemble nothing so much as Bill Clinton’s evolving explanation about his draft notice. It was then that most of America was introduced to “Slick Willie.”
Senator Obama’s speech on Tuesday was a brilliant effort to deflect attention away from what remains the core issue: what did Obama hear, when did he hear it, and what did he do about it? The answers, as best we can tell at this stage, is that Obama heard some very harsh things said from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ; that Obama heard them said a long time ago and probably repeatedly; and that he did little or nothing about it. This from a man who tells us at almost every stop along the campaign trail that he has the “judgment to lead.”
One always wants to be careful about making sweeping conclusions about any individual, particularly one as interesting and compelling as Senator Obama. All of us, in replaying our lives, would change certain things. We would all hope to show more integrity, more courage, more honor. Nevertheless, in a presidential campaign we have to judge based on the available evidence. And given his deep and long-standing association with Reverend Wright, it is fair to ask whether Senator Obama — a gifted writer and speaker and a man of obvious intelligence and appeal — has the appropriate judgment and character to lead this nation. Spending 20 years at Trinity United Church of Christ under the leadership of Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. doesn’t tell us everything we need to know about Barack Obama — but it may well tell us enough.
— Peter Wehner, former deputy assistant to the president, is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTU2N2ViMGFkN2VmMzdmMTk1YzVlMDc0NzUyODQyMmQ=
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
on: March 19, 2008, 10:31:57 AM
NPR = NATIONAL PROGRESSIVE RADIO
March 16, 2008 12:00 AM
Four short segments of conservative views were enough to flood NPR with angry phone calls and email. So much for “fairness,” writes Pam Meister.
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by Pam Meister
Imagine you’re a typical NPR listener, tuning in as you sip your Starbucks Café Latte — made with skim milk and a shot of cinnamon — work the New York Times crossword puzzle, and think about how great it is that you don’t have to stop for gas on your way to work this morning because you drive a Prius. Suddenly, you’re jolted out of your comfortable morning routine by the unimaginable: a segment entitled “Conversations with Conservatives.”
Choking on your latte and misspelling “pestiferous” on your crossword, your head begins to spin as Rev. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, discusses the status of evangelical voters. But surely it’s just an anomaly. An early April Fool’s Day joke. Yeah, that must be it! And fortunately, it was only seven minutes.
But the next day, you hear Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, talking about which fiscal policies appeal to Republican voters. And the day after that, radio talk show host and CNN personality Glenn Beck discusses core conservative values. And on the last day of February, you are treated to David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, blathering on about the challenges that Sen. John McCain faces when it comes to proving himself to the conservative base.
If there’s a reason to abolish Leap Year and February 29, then having David Keene spoil your Starbucks experience surely must be it. Who can you call? There has to be someone.
The Washington Times reports that for daring to air the views of conservatives on its morning drive show during the final four days of February, NPR fielded “more than 60 angry e-mails and phone calls … calling the programming ‘shameful’ and a ‘lovefest with radical, right-wing nuts.’ There were only a few … that praised the series as ‘refreshing’ and ‘articulate,’ among other things.”
National Public Radio is funded in part by federal tax dollars. The last time I checked, both liberals AND conservatives are required to pay federal taxes. So what’s wrong with having four seven-minute segments out of the year where conservative ideas are brought forth? You know, throw them a Milk Bone once in a while to pretend you care about them while you spend their money on things like Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion.”
The problem with many liberals is that while they say they espouse tolerance, love for your fellow man, and discussing problems instead of resorting to fisticuffs, when they’re actually expected to “walk the walk,” things get ugly. To them, just listening to conservative ideas is akin to Dracula finding out about a nationwide tainted blood supply. It’s painful when liberals realize that not everyone thinks the way that they do: that there are unenlightened souls out there who don’t recycle, who go to church once in a while, who respect our military, and who don’t think that the sun shines out of Barack Obama’s nether regions. So, being the enlightened, progressive types that they are, instead of listening respectfully to what the other side has to say — and possibly learning something new — they stick their fingers in their ears, chant “I can’t hear you,” and complain to the person in charge about how awful the experience was.
It’s sort of like the people who believe that vandalizing and bombing military recruiting stations is a great way to get their message of peace out to the masses.
They also institute “speech codes” at universities — ostensibly so that no college student will get his widdle feewings hurt — but in reality limiting students’ First Amendment rights in the name of keeping certain “unwanted speech” off campus.
In an ironic twist, the same people want to see the Fairness Doctrine brought back. They think that it’s a way to silence folks like Rush Limbaugh and Neil Boortz, whose very existence means that even driving that Prius isn’t enough to erase the negative feelings that must result from knowing these individuals are adding to the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere simply by existing. Wait a minute, that’s it: Rush Limbaugh causes global warming!
But the knife cuts both ways. Want the Fairness Doctrine? Fine, but be prepared to listen to more conservatives on NPR. In fact, NPR’s ombudsman Alicia Shepard has a wish list that includes “Thomas Sowell, Janice Shaw-Crouse, Shelby Steele, and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr. as possible guests.
“’There are dozens of diverse conservative voices, but NPR and all news organizations need to work much harder to bring them into the conversation,’ Ms. Shepard noted.”
And if they don’t want conservatives on NPR, that’s fine too. Just send conservatives a refund for their portion of the taxes that support it.
Now that’s progressive.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenoma
on: March 18, 2008, 10:32:04 AM
The Obama Bargain
By SHELBY STEELE
March 18, 2008
Geraldine Ferraro may have had sinister motives when she said that Barack Obama would not be "in his position" as a frontrunner but for his race. Possibly she was acting as Hillary Clinton's surrogate. Or maybe she was simply befuddled by this new reality -- in which blackness could constitute a political advantage.
Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama, June 4, 2007.
But whatever her motives, she was right: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position." Barack Obama is, of course, a very talented politician with a first-rate political organization at his back. But it does not detract from his merit to say that his race is also a large part of his prominence. And it is undeniable that something extremely powerful in the body politic, a force quite apart from the man himself, has pulled Obama forward. This force is about race and nothing else.
The novelty of Barack Obama is more his cross-racial appeal than his talent. Jesse Jackson displayed considerable political talent in his presidential runs back in the 1980s. But there was a distinct limit to his white support. Mr. Obama's broad appeal to whites makes him the first plausible black presidential candidate in American history. And it was Mr. Obama's genius to understand this. Though he likes to claim that his race was a liability to be overcome, he also surely knew that his race could give him just the edge he needed -- an edge that would never be available to a white, not even a white woman.
How to turn one's blackness to advantage?
The answer is that one "bargains." Bargaining is a mask that blacks can wear in the American mainstream, one that enables them to put whites at their ease. This mask diffuses the anxiety that goes along with being white in a multiracial society. Bargainers make the subliminal promise to whites not to shame them with America's history of racism, on the condition that they will not hold the bargainer's race against him. And whites love this bargain -- and feel affection for the bargainer -- because it gives them racial innocence in a society where whites live under constant threat of being stigmatized as racist. So the bargainer presents himself as an opportunity for whites to experience racial innocence.
This is how Mr. Obama has turned his blackness into his great political advantage, and also into a kind of personal charisma. Bargainers are conduits of white innocence, and they are as popular as the need for white innocence is strong. Mr. Obama's extraordinary dash to the forefront of American politics is less a measure of the man than of the hunger in white America for racial innocence.
His actual policy positions are little more than Democratic Party boilerplate and hardly a tick different from Hillary's positions. He espouses no galvanizing political idea. He is unable to say what he means by "change" or "hope" or "the future." And he has failed to say how he would actually be a "unifier." By the evidence of his slight political record (130 "present" votes in the Illinois state legislature, little achievement in the U.S. Senate) Barack Obama stacks up as something of a mediocrity. None of this matters much.
Race helps Mr. Obama in another way -- it lifts his political campaign to the level of allegory, making it the stuff of a far higher drama than budget deficits and education reform. His dark skin, with its powerful evocations of America's tortured racial past, frames the political contest as a morality play. Will his victory mean America's redemption from its racist past? Will his defeat show an America morally unevolved? Is his campaign a story of black overcoming, an echo of the civil rights movement? Or is it a passing-of-the-torch story, of one generation displacing another?
Because he is black, there is a sense that profound questions stand to be resolved in the unfolding of his political destiny. And, as the Clintons have discovered, it is hard in the real world to run against a candidate of destiny. For many Americans -- black and white -- Barack Obama is simply too good (and too rare) an opportunity to pass up. For whites, here is the opportunity to document their deliverance from the shames of their forbearers. And for blacks, here is the chance to document the end of inferiority. So the Clintons have found themselves running more against America's very highest possibilities than against a man. And the press, normally happy to dispel every political pretension, has all but quivered before Mr. Obama. They, too, have feared being on the wrong side of destiny.
And yet, in the end, Barack Obama's candidacy is not qualitatively different from Al Sharpton's or Jesse Jackson's. Like these more irascible of his forbearers, Mr. Obama's run at the presidency is based more on the manipulation of white guilt than on substance. Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson were "challengers," not bargainers. They intimidated whites and demanded, in the name of historical justice, that they be brought forward. Mr. Obama flatters whites, grants them racial innocence, and hopes to ascend on the back of their gratitude. Two sides of the same coin.
But bargainers have an Achilles heel. They succeed as conduits of white innocence only as long as they are largely invisible as complex human beings. They hope to become icons that can be identified with rather than seen, and their individual complexity gets in the way of this. So bargainers are always laboring to stay invisible. (We don't know the real politics or convictions of Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan or Oprah Winfrey, bargainers all.) Mr. Obama has said of himself, "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views . . ." And so, human visibility is Mr. Obama's Achilles heel. If we see the real man, his contradictions and bents of character, he will be ruined as an icon, as a "blank screen."
Thus, nothing could be more dangerous to Mr. Obama's political aspirations than the revelation that he, the son of a white woman, sat Sunday after Sunday -- for 20 years -- in an Afrocentric, black nationalist church in which his own mother, not to mention other whites, could never feel comfortable. His pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a challenger who goes far past Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in his anti-American outrage ("God damn America").
How does one "transcend" race in this church? The fact is that Barack Obama has fellow-traveled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life, failing to stand and challenge an ideology that would have no place for his own mother. And what portent of presidential judgment is it to have exposed his two daughters for their entire lives to what is, at the very least, a subtext of anti-white vitriol?
What could he have been thinking? Of course he wasn't thinking. He was driven by insecurity, by a need to "be black" despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity. And anyway, wasn't this hatred more rhetorical than real?
But now the floodlight of a presidential campaign has trained on this usually hidden corner of contemporary black life: a mindless indulgence in a rhetorical anti-Americanism as a way of bonding and of asserting one's blackness. Yet Jeremiah Wright, splashed across America's television screens, has shown us that there is no real difference between rhetorical hatred and real hatred.
No matter his ultimate political fate, there is already enough pathos in Barack Obama to make him a cautionary tale. His public persona thrives on a manipulation of whites (bargaining), and his private sense of racial identity demands both self-betrayal and duplicity. His is the story of a man who flew so high, yet neglected to become himself.
Mr. Steele, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and the author of "A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win" (Free Press, 2007).
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
on: March 18, 2008, 09:19:13 AM
If this was an atrocity, the MSM would be all over it. Instead our heroes are recognized on blogs and message boards while the MSM largely ignores them.
edited by Marc to add:
The name may not ring a bell but if you’re a blog reader you’ve heard of him. So valorous were his actions that even a media not inclined to celebrate the heroism of U.S. troops noticed his death when it happened. What kind of man are we talking about here? He won the Silver Star for pulling a comrade to safety in May 2006; four months later he was on a roof in Ramadi with three other SEALs when an insurgent tossed a grenade up. It bounced off his chest and dropped to the floor in front of them. “He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it,” said one of the three. His family will be at the White House on April 8 to receive the recognition due.
There is a clip at the URL as well.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion
on: March 16, 2008, 09:03:33 PM
And it protects everyone’s property — including women’s — from being taken from them. Unlike in Iran, where wearing a head scarf is legally mandated and enforced by special religious police, the Islamist view in most other Muslim countries is that the head scarf is one way of implementing the religious duty to dress modestly — a desirable social norm, not an enforceable legal rule.
**Uh-huh, ask the women in muslim countries (like parts of France) what happens to them in public if they don't wear the hijab in public. We won't get into what happens to women in Saudi Arabia either.**
And mandating capital punishment for apostasy is not on the agenda of most elected Islamists.
**Not yet. Besides, there is no need for it to be a legal process when observant muslims are glad to kill an apostate without governmental sanction, as is happening in muslim enclaves in europe, Canada and Texas.**
For many Muslims today, living in corrupt autocracies, the call for Shariah is not a call for sexism, obscurantism or savage punishment but for an Islamic version of what the West considers its most prized principle of political justice: the rule of law.
**Again, it's not about "the rule of law", it's about imposing "Islamic law".**
The Sway of the Scholars
To understand Shariah’s deep appeal, we need to ask a crucial question that is rarely addressed in the West: What, in fact, is the system of Islamic law? In his lifetime, the Prophet Muhammad was both the religious and the political leader of the community of Muslim believers. His revelation, the Koran, contained some laws, pertaining especially to ritual matters and inheritance; but it was not primarily a legal book and did not include a lengthy legal code of the kind that can be found in parts of the Hebrew Bible. When the first generation of believers needed guidance on a subject that was not addressed by revelation, they went directly to Muhammad. He either answered of his own accord or, if he was unsure, awaited divine guidance in the form of a new revelation.
**This is why under sharia law allows for girls as young as 9 to be married to adult men. Muhammad's 3rd. wife, Aisha was 6 when he married her. Being a prophet of god, Muhammad waited until she was 9 before consummating the marriage. He was in his 50's at this time. Isn't sharia wonderful?**
With the death of Muhammad, divine revelation to the Muslim community stopped. The role of the political-religious leader passed to a series of caliphs (Arabic for “substitute”) who stood in the prophet’s stead. That left the caliph in a tricky position when it came to resolving difficult legal matters. The caliph possessed Muhammad’s authority but not his access to revelation. It also left the community in something of a bind. If the Koran did not speak clearly to a particular question, how was the law to be determined?
The answer that developed over the first couple of centuries of Islam was that the Koran could be supplemented by reference to the prophet’s life — his sunna, his path. (The word “sunna” is the source of the designation Sunni — one who follows the prophet’s path.) His actions and words were captured in an oral tradition, beginning presumably with a person who witnessed the action or statement firsthand. Accurate reports had to be distinguished from false ones. But of course even a trustworthy report on a particular situation could not directly resolve most new legal problems that arose later. To address such problems, it was necessary to reason by analogy from one situation to another. There was also the possibility that a communal consensus existed on what to do under particular circumstances, and that, too, was thought to have substantial weight.
This fourfold combination — the Koran, the path of the prophet as captured in the collections of reports, analogical reasoning and consensus — amounted to a basis for a legal system. But who would be able to say how these four factors fit together? Indeed, who had the authority to say that these factors and not others formed the sources of the law? The first four caliphs, who knew the prophet personally, might have been able to make this claim for themselves. But after them, the caliphs were faced with a growing group of specialists who asserted that they, collectively, could ascertain the law from the available sources. This self-appointed group came to be known as the scholars — and over the course of a few generations, they got the caliphs to acknowledge them as the guardians of the law. By interpreting a law that originated with God, they gained control over the legal system as it actually existed. That made them, and not the caliphs, into “the heirs of the prophets.”
Among the Sunnis, this model took effect very early and persisted until modern times. For the Shiites, who believe that the succession of power followed the prophet’s lineage, the prophet had several successors who claimed extraordinary divine authority. Once they were gone, however, the Shiite scholars came to occupy a role not unlike that of their Sunni counterparts.
Under the constitutional theory that the scholars developed to explain the division of labor in the Islamic state, the caliph had paramount responsibility to fulfill the divine injunction to “command the right and prohibit the wrong.” But this was not a task he could accomplish on his own. It required him to delegate responsibility to scholarly judges, who would apply God’s law as they interpreted it. The caliph could promote or fire them as he wished, but he could not dictate legal results: judicial authority came from the caliph, but the law came from the scholars.
The caliphs — and eventually the sultans who came to rule once the caliphate lost most of its worldly influence — still had plenty of power. They handled foreign affairs more or less at their discretion. And they could also issue what were effectively administrative regulations — provided these regulations did not contradict what the scholars said Shariah required. The regulations addressed areas where Shariah was silent. They also enabled the state to regulate social conduct without having to put every case before the courts, where convictions would often be impossible to obtain because of the strict standards of proof required for punishment. As a result of these regulations, many legal matters (perhaps most) fell outside the rules given specifically by Shariah.
The upshot is that the system of Islamic law as it came to exist allowed a great deal of leeway. That is why today’s advocates of Shariah as the source of law are not actually recommending the adoption of a comprehensive legal code derived from or dictated by Shariah — because nothing so comprehensive has ever existed in Islamic history. To the Islamist politicians who advocate it or for the public that supports it, Shariah generally means something else. It means establishing a legal system in which God’s law sets the ground rules, authorizing and validating everyday laws passed by an elected legislature. In other words, for them, Shariah is expected to function as something like a modern constitution.
The Rights of Humans and the Rights of God
So in contemporary Islamic politics, the call for Shariah does not only or primarily mean mandating the veiling of women or the use of corporal punishment — it has an essential constitutional dimension as well. But what is the particular appeal of placing Shariah above ordinary law?
The answer lies in a little-remarked feature of traditional Islamic government: that a state under Shariah was, for more than a thousand years, subject to a version of the rule of law. And as a rule-of-law government, the traditional Islamic state had an advantage that has been lost in the dictatorships and autocratic monarchies that have governed so much of the Muslim world for the last century. Islamic government was legitimate, in the dual sense that it generally respected the individual legal rights of its subjects and was seen by them as doing so. These individual legal rights, known as “the rights of humans” (in contrast to “the rights of God” to such things as ritual obedience), included basic entitlements to life, property and legal process — the protections from arbitrary government oppression sought by people all over the world for centuries.
**Lies, lies, lies. Where did this magical islamic land exist? Were there rainbows and unicorns and halal gumdrop trees there too?**
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why Shariah
on: March 16, 2008, 09:02:01 PM
A Harvard Prof writes in the NY Times:
By NOAH FELDMAN
Published: March 16, 2008
Last month, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, gave a nuanced, scholarly lecture in London about whether the British legal system should allow non-Christian courts to decide certain matters of family law. Britain has no constitutional separation of church and state. The archbishop noted that “the law of the Church of England is the law of the land” there; indeed, ecclesiastical courts that once handled marriage and divorce are still integrated into the British legal system, deciding matters of church property and doctrine. His tentative suggestion was that, subject to the agreement of all parties and the strict requirement of protecting equal rights for women, it might be a good idea to consider allowing Islamic and Orthodox Jewish courts to handle marriage and divorce.
The practical application of Shariah in most Muslim countries (as here, in this Egyptian courtroom) is in matters of family law.
Then all hell broke loose. From politicians across the spectrum to senior church figures and the ubiquitous British tabloids came calls for the leader of the world’s second largest Christian denomination to issue a retraction or even resign. Williams has spent the last couple of years trying to hold together the global Anglican Communion in the face of continuing controversies about ordaining gay priests and recognizing same-sex marriages. Yet little in that contentious battle subjected him to the kind of outcry that his reference to religious courts unleashed. Needless to say, the outrage was not occasioned by Williams’s mention of Orthodox Jewish law. For the purposes of public discussion, it was the word “Shariah” that was radioactive.
**And rightly so. As europe's rapid cultural demise looms before it.**
In some sense, the outrage about according a degree of official status to Shariah in a Western country should come as no surprise. No legal system has ever had worse press. To many, the word “Shariah” conjures horrors of hands cut off, adulterers stoned and women oppressed.
**Funny enough, this is the result of sharia law creating the horrors of hands cut off, adulterers stoned and women oppressed. Go figure.**
By contrast, who today remembers that the much-loved English common law called for execution as punishment for hundreds of crimes, including theft of any object worth five shillings or more? How many know that until the 18th century, the laws of most European countries authorized torture as an official component of the criminal-justice system?
**Well, most people with a basic grasp of history know this. The western world, based in judeo-christian philosophy, evolved secular governments and the concept of human rights and freedoms and legal protections separate from any religious structure, meanwhile sharia law, being based on the quran, ahadith and sunna has very little, if any room for evolution or change.**
As for sexism, the common law long denied married women any property rights or indeed legal personality apart from their husbands. When the British applied their law to Muslims in place of Shariah, as they did in some colonies, the result was to strip married women of the property that Islamic law had always granted them — hardly progress toward equality of the sexes.
**Again, trying to whip the western world for sins of the past while ignoring the brutal oppression of the islamic world of today takes a special sort of dishonesty. Given that under sharia law, a woman is only half a witness in court, can be divorced at will, but can only divorce her husband with a sharia court's approval and can be beaten at will by her husband and in the case of divorce, loses custody of her children, i'm not sure many feminists will cheer sharia law in the west as "progress".**
In fact, for most of its history, Islamic law offered the most liberal and humane legal principles available anywhere in the world. Today, when we invoke the harsh punishments prescribed by Shariah for a handful of offenses, we rarely acknowledge the high standards of proof necessary for their implementation. Before an adultery conviction can typically be obtained, for example, the accused must confess four times or four adult male witnesses of good character must testify that they directly observed the sex act.
**And now, reality:http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR440172004?open&of=ENG-2F5
The new Sharia penal codes
The new Sharia penal codes which have been introduced in 12 states in northern Nigeria since 1999, includes death by stoning for behaviour termed as zina the perpetrator of which is defined as "whoever, being a man or a woman fully responsible, has sexual intercourse through the genital [sic] of a person over whom he has no sexual rights and in circumstances in which no doubt exists as to the illegality of the act". Zina was previously punishable by flogging for Muslims under the Penal Code. However, in the States that have introduced new Sharia penal codes, zina now carries a mandatory death sentence if the accused is married, while 100 lashes is the mandatory sentence if the accused is not married. This applies to Muslims only. Of particular interest is that by using the death penalty to regulate sexual behaviour, other rights are being violated, such as the right to be free from discrimination, freedom of expression and association as well as the right to privacy.
"...we cannot imagine or envisage a Nigerian being stoned to death (...) it has never happened. May it never happen."
President Olusegun Obasanjo commenting on the sentence of death by stoning under Sharia penal codes at a public appearance on 1 October 2002.
Amnesty International believes that zina as a criminal offence only for Muslims negates the principle of equality before the law and equal protection of the law. The organization furthermore opposes the criminalization of consensual sexual relations between people over the age of consent. The application of the death penalty for zina offences combined with the gender-discriminating rules of evidence within the Sharia penal codes have meant that women have disproportionately been sentenced to death for zina in northern Nigeria since the introduction of new Sharia penal codes. Amnesty International has raised this concern by campaigning on the cases of Safiya Yakubu Hussaini, Amina Lawal and Fatima Usman. At least 11 death sentences have been handed down since 1999 by Sharia courts in the States of Bauchi, Jigawa, Katsina, Niger and Sokoto and in four of these the convicted are women. Three of these cases concern women accused of zina. Only two men were sentenced for zina in the same period. As of May 2004, three people have lodged appeals against their death sentences and are awaiting dates for a hearing. Two of the women, Safiya Yakubu Hussaini and Amina Lawal, have had their convictions and sentences for zina quashed on appeal. The most recent woman convicted of zina is Fatima Usman who received her death sentence in May 2002 by the Sharia court of Gawu-Babangida, Niger State.
Although at present no-one sentenced to death for zina under the new Sharia penal legislation has yet had their sentence carried out, Amnesty International remains concerned that prescribing the death penalty for the behaviour termed as zina is in violation of international law including Article 6 of the ICCPR, to which Nigeria is a state party, and which states "sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes". The definition of zina de facto recognizes that men have in certain cases, namely marriage, sexual rights over women. This in itself is a violation of the principle of equality between the sexes and results in women in reality having less control over their sex life than men. Other capital offences under the new Sharia penal codes include rape, so called "sodomy", incest and robbery, amongst other.
July 10, 2006
Will Pakistan ease harsh Sharia rape laws?
As I have noted many times, Islam's evidence laws put victims of rape in Islamic societies at considerable risk. It is good to see that some Pakistanis have noticed this also.
"After TV Debates, Pakistan May Ease Laws on Rape Reporting," from the NY Times, with thanks to DFS:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, July 8 — The young audience fell into confused silence and then buzzed with whispers after Mir Ibrahim Rahman announced that there was no difference between an apple and an orange.
Mr. Rahman, 28, chief executive of the immensely popular Geo TV network, was speaking last Sunday at a youth conference in Rawalpindi, the garrison city adjacent to the capital, Islamabad. His absurd statement, he immediately made clear, was meant to illustrate the failings of a set of Islamic decrees known collectively as the Hudood Ordinance.
The laws, introduced in 1979 and criticized internationally since, include a clause stating that to prove rape, a woman must have at least four male witnesses. If the woman fails to provide proof, she herself faces the charge of adultery.
"The Hudood Ordinance makes no distinction between rape and adultery," Mr. Rahman explained to his audience. "It is just like saying there is no difference between an apple and an orange."
That flaw, critics say, has put many women behind bars. Of about 6,000 women in Pakistani custody awaiting trial as of March, 4,621 were being held on Hudood violations, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent group. Some 1,300 women awaiting trial were ordered released on Friday, after President Pervez Musharraf allowed bail in nonviolent offenses.
Pakistani society has remained bitterly divided over the laws. Orthodox clergymen have often portrayed the laws as divine ("hudood" refers to punishments in the Koran for adultery and fornication, as well as for consuming alcohol, making false accusations and stealing). Rights advocates have demanded absolute repeal since 1980's. They maintain that the Hudood Ordinance not only negates the rights of women but is also a misinterpretation of Islam.
Now, there are signs that the laws may be, at the least, softened. And Mr. Rahman — who has pressed for public debate over them in television shows, advertising campaigns and personal appearances at seminars, like the one last Sunday — may be a major reason.
Of course, these laws are based on the notorious incident in which Muhammad's wife Aisha was accused of adultery. The brouhaha was settled when Muhammad received a revelation from Allah requiring four witnesses: "Why did they not bring four witnesses to prove it? When they have not brought the witnesses, such men, in the sight of Allah, (stand forth) themselves as liars!" (Qur'an 24:13).
That will be hard to reform.
Posted at July 10, 2006 8:44 AM
The extremes of our own legal system — like life sentences for relatively minor drug crimes, in some cases — are routinely ignored.
**Do I really need to cover the brutal punishments for the possession of alcohol under sharia law?**
We neglect to mention the recent vintage of our tentative improvements in family law. It sometimes seems as if we need Shariah as Westerners have long needed Islam: as a canvas on which to project our ideas of the horrible, and as a foil to make us look good.
**There is no need for projection. A clear examination of the islamic world's horrors need no exaggeration.**
In the Muslim world, on the other hand, the reputation of Shariah has undergone an extraordinary revival in recent years.
**Yes, this is true. As the global jihad has gained steam since 9/11, the civil movement for imposing sharia on all the nations of the world has gained momentum.**
A century ago, forward-looking Muslims thought of Shariah as outdated, in need of reform or maybe abandonment. Today, 66 percent of Egyptians, 60 percent of Pakistanis and 54 percent of Jordanians say that Shariah should be the only source of legislation in their countries. Islamist political parties, like those associated with the transnational Muslim Brotherhood, make the adoption of Shariah the most prominent plank in their political platforms. And the message resonates. Wherever Islamists have been allowed to run for office in Arabic-speaking countries, they have tended to win almost as many seats as the governments have let them contest. The Islamist movement in its various incarnations — from moderate to radical — is easily the fastest growing and most vital in the Muslim world; the return to Shariah is its calling card.
Page 2 of 6)
How is it that what so many Westerners see as the most unappealing and premodern aspect of Islam is, to many Muslims, the vibrant, attractive core of a global movement of Islamic revival?
**Is it because those westerners rightly see the brutal, totalitarianism theocracy inherent in this islamic revival? I'd say yes.**
The explanation surely must go beyond the oversimplified assumption that Muslims want to use Shariah to reverse feminism and control women — especially since large numbers of women support the Islamists in general and the ideal of Shariah in particular.
**They believe it's "the will of god".**
Is Shariah the Rule of Law?
One reason for the divergence between Western and Muslim views of Shariah is that we are not all using the word to mean the same thing. Although it is commonplace to use the word “Shariah” and the phrase “Islamic law” interchangeably, this prosaic English translation does not capture the full set of associations that the term “Shariah” conjures for the believer. Shariah, properly understood, is not just a set of legal rules. To believing Muslims, it is something deeper and higher, infused with moral and metaphysical purpose.
At its core, Shariah represents the idea that all human beings — and all human governments — are subject to justice under the law.
**Lies, lies, lies. Under sharia, non-muslims are lesser beings. Under sharia, muslims that leave islam are to be killed. Under sharia, a non-muslim can be put to death for killing a muslim, but a muslim cannot be put to death for killing a non-muslim.**
**Under Islamic law, which unlike judeo-christian civilization does not recognize a separation between the religious and secular government. Islam is all controlling, from the personally spiritual to the laws of a society and the nation-state on a geo-political basis.
In fact, “Shariah” is not the word traditionally used in Arabic to refer to the processes of Islamic legal reasoning or the rulings produced through it: that word is fiqh, meaning something like Islamic jurisprudence. The word “Shariah” connotes a connection to the divine, a set of unchanging beliefs and principles that order life in accordance with God’s will. Westerners typically imagine that Shariah advocates simply want to use the Koran as their legal code. But the reality is much more complicated. Islamist politicians tend to be very vague about exactly what it would mean for Shariah to be the source for the law of the land — and with good reason, because just adopting such a principle would not determine how the legal system would actually operate.
Shariah is best understood as a kind of higher law, albeit one that includes some specific, worldly commands. All Muslims would agree, for example, that it prohibits lending money at interest — though not investments in which risks and returns are shared; and the ban on Muslims drinking alcohol is an example of an unequivocal ritual prohibition, even for liberal interpreters of the faith. Some rules associated with Shariah are undoubtedly old-fashioned and harsh. Men and women are treated unequally, for example, by making it hard for women to initiate divorce without forfeiting alimony. The prohibition on sodomy, though historically often unenforced, makes recognition of same-sex relationships difficult to contemplate. But Shariah also prohibits bribery or special favors in court. It demands equal treatment for rich and poor. It condemns the vigilante-style honor killings that still occur in some Middle Eastern countries.
**No it doesn't. Honor killing have a root in islamic theology and are given lenient treatment in sharia courts. I like how the author glosses over the death penalty for homosexuality commanded in the qu'ran.**
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: March 16, 2008, 10:12:52 AM
Report Details Saddam's Terrorist Ties
BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
March 14, 2008
WASHINGTON — A Pentagon review of about 600,000 documents captured in the Iraq war attests to Saddam Hussein's willingness to use terrorism to target Americans and work closely with jihadist organizations throughout the Middle East.
The report, released this week by the Institute for Defense Analyses, says it found no "smoking gun" linking Iraq operationally to Al Qaeda. But it does say Saddam collaborated with known Al Qaeda affiliates and a wider constellation of Islamist terror groups.
The report, titled "Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents," finds that:
• The Iraqi Intelligence Service in a 1993 memo to Saddam agreed on a plan to train commandos from Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the group that assassinated Anwar Sadat and was founded by Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
• In the same year, Saddam ordered his intelligence service to "form a group to start hunting Americans present on Arab soil; especially Somalia." At the time, Al Qaeda was working with warlords against American forces there.
• Saddam's intelligence services maintained extensive support networks for a wide range of Palestinian Arab terrorist organizations, including but not limited to Hamas. Among the other Palestinian groups Saddam supported at the time was Force 17, the private army loyal to Yasser Arafat.
• Beginning in 1999, Iraq's intelligence service began providing "financial and moral support" for a small radical Islamist Kurdish sect the report does not name. A Kurdish Islamist group called Ansar al Islam in 2002 would try to assassinate the regional prime minister in the eastern Kurdish region, Barham Salih.
• In 2001, Saddam's intelligence service drafted a manual titled "Lessons in Secret Organization and Jihad Work—How to Organize and Overthrow the Saudi Royal Family." In the same year, his intelligence service submitted names of 10 volunteer "martyrs" for operations inside the Kingdom.
• In 2000, Iraq sent a suicide bomber through Northern Iraq who intended to travel to London to assassinate Ahmad Chalabi, at the time an Iraqi opposition leader who would later go on to be an Iraqi deputy prime minister. The mission was aborted after the bomber could not obtain a visa to enter the United Kingdom.
The report finds that Abdul Rahman Yasin, who is wanted by the FBI for mixing the chemicals for the 1993 World Center Attack, was a prisoner, and not a guest, in Iraq. An audio file of Saddam cited by the report indicates that the Iraqi dictator did not trust him and at one point said that he thought his testimony was too "organized." Saddam said on an audio file cited by the report that he suspected that the first attack could be the work of either Israel or American intelligence, or perhaps a Saudi or Egyptian faction.
The report also undercuts the claim made by many on the left and many at the CIA that Saddam, as a national socialist, was incapable of supporting or collaborating with the Islamist al Qaeda. The report concludes that instead Iraq's relationship with Osama bin Laden's organization was similar to the relationship between the rival Colombian cocaine cartels in the 1990s. Both were rivals in some sense for market share, but also allies when it came to expanding the size of the overall market.
The Pentagon study finds, "Recognizing Iraq as a second, or parallel, 'terror cartel' that was simultaneously threatened by and somewhat aligned with its rival helps to explain the evidence emerging from the detritus of Saddam's regime."
A long time skeptic of the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq and a former CIA senior Iraq analyst, Judith Yaphe yesterday said, "I think the report indicates that Saddam was willing to work with almost any group be it nationalist or Islamic, that was willing to work for his objectives. But in the long term he did not trust many of the Islamist groups, especially those linked to Saudi Arabia or Iran." She added, "He really did want to get anti-American operations going. The fact that they had little success shows in part their incompetence and unwilling surrogates."
A former Bush administration official who was a member of the counter-terrorism evaluation group that analyzed terror networks and links between terrorists and states, David Wurmser, said he felt the report began to vindicate his point of view.
"This is the beginning of the process of exposing Saddam's involvement in Islamic terror. But it is only the beginning. Time and declassification I'm sure will reveal yet more," he said. "Even so, this report is damning to those who doubted Saddam Hussein's involvement with Jihadist terrorist groups. It devastates one of the central myths plaguing our government prior to 9-11, that a Jihadist group would not cooperate with a secular regime and vice versa."
The report concludes that Saddam until the final months of his regime was willing to attack America. Its conclusion asks "Is there anything in the captured archives to indicate that Saddam had the will to use his terrorist capabilities directly against the United States?" It goes on, "Judging from Saddam's statements before the 1991 Gulf War with the United States, the answer is yes." As for after the Gulf War, the report states, "The rise of Islamist fundamentalism in the region gave Saddam the opportunity to make terrorism, one of the few tools remaining in Saddam's 'coercion' tool box." It goes on, "Evidence that was uncovered and analyzed attests to the existence of a terrorist capability and a willingness to use it until the day Saddam was forced to flee Baghdad by Coalition forces." The report does note that it is unclear whether Saddam would have authorized terrorism against American targets in the final months of his regime before Operation Iraqi Freedom five years ago. "The answer to the question of Saddam's will in the final months in power remains elusive," it says.
March 14, 2008 Edition > Section: Foreign > Printer-Friendly Version
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenoma
on: March 15, 2008, 05:35:56 PM
March 15, 2008, 0:15 a.m.
Barack Obama and his cookie-cutter race huckster.
By Mark Steyn
The Reverend Jeremiah Wright thinks that, given their treatment by white America, black Americans have no reason to sing “God Bless America.” “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America,” he told his congregation. “God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human.”
I’m not a believer in guilt by association, or the campaign vaudeville of rival politicians insisting this or that candidate disassociate himself from remarks by some fellow he had a 30-second grip’n’greet with a decade ago. But Jeremiah Wright is not exactly peripheral to Barack Obama’s life. He married the Obamas and baptized their children. Those of us who made the mistake of buying the senator’s last book, The Audacity of Hope, and assumed the title was an ingeniously parodic distillation of the great sonorous banality of an entire genre of blandly uplifting political writing discovered circa page 127 that in fact the phrase comes from one of the Reverend Wright’s sermons. Jeremiah Wright has been Barack Obama’s pastor for 20 years — in other words, pretty much the senator’s entire adult life. Did Obama consider God Damn America as a title for his book but it didn’t focus-group so well?
Ah, well, no, the senator told ABC News. The Reverend Wright is like “an old uncle who says things I don’t always agree with.” So did he agree with goofy old Uncle Jeremiah on September 16th 2001? That Sunday morning, Uncle told his congregation that the United States brought the death and destruction of 9/11 on itself. “We nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye,” said the Reverend Wright. “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards.”
Is that one of those “things I don’t always agree with”? Well, Senator Obama isn’t saying, responding merely that he wasn’t in church that morning. Okay, fair enough, but what would he have done had he happened to have shown up on September 16th? Cried “Shame on you!” and stormed out? Or, if that’s a little dramatic, whispered to Michelle that he didn’t want their daughters hearing this kind of drivel while rescue workers were still sifting through the rubble and risen from his pew in a dignified manner and led his family to the exit? Or would he have just sat there with an inscrutable look on his face as those around him nodded?
All Senator Obama will say is that “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.” And in that he may be correct. There are many preachers who would be happy to tell their congregations “God damn America.” But Barack Obama is not supposed to be the candidate of the America-damners: He’s not the Reverend Al Sharpton or the Reverend Jesse Jackson or the rest of the racial-grievance mongers. Obama is meant to be the man who transcends the divisions of race, the candidate who doesn’t damn America but “heals” it — if you believe, as many Democrats do, that America needs healing.
Yet since his early twenties he’s sat week after week listening to the ravings of just another cookie-cutter race huckster.
What is Barack Obama for? It’s not his “policies,” such as they are. Rather, Senator Obama embodies an idea: He’s a symbol of redemption and renewal, and a lot of other airy-fairy abstractions that don’t boil down to much except making upscale white liberals feel good about themselves and get even more of a frisson out of white liberal guilt than they usually do. I assume that’s what Geraldine Ferraro was getting at when she said Obama wouldn’t be where he was today (i.e., leading the race for the Democratic nomination) if he was white. For her infelicity, the first woman on a presidential ticket got bounced from the Clinton campaign and denounced by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann for her “insidious racism” indistinguishable from “the vocabulary of David Duke.”
Oh, for cryin’ out loud. Enjoyable as it is to watch previously expert wielders of identity-politics hand-grenades blow their own fingers off, if Geraldine Ferraro’s an “insidious racist,” who isn’t?
The song the Reverend Wright won’t sing is by Irving Berlin, a contemporary of Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin and Lorenz Hart, all the sophisticated rhymesters. But only Berlin could have written without embarrassment “God Bless America.” He said it directly, unaffectedly, unashamedly — in seven words:
God Bless America
Land that I love.
Berlin was a Jew and he suffered slights: He grew up in the poverty of New York’s Lower East Side. When he made his name and fortune, his marriage to a Park Avenue heiress resulted in her expulsion from the Social Register. In the Thirties, her sister moved in with a Nazi diplomat and proudly flaunted her diamond swastika to Irving. But Berlin spent his infancy in Temun, Siberia (until the Cossacks rode in and razed his village) and he understood the great gift he’d been given:
God Bless America
Land that I love.
The Reverend Wright can’t say those words. His shtick is:
God damn America
Land that I loathe.
I understand the Ellis Island experience of Russian Jews was denied to blacks. But not to Obama. His experience surely isn’t so different to Berlin’s — except that Barack got to go to Harvard. Obama’s father was a Kenyan, he spent his childhood in Indonesia, and he ought to thank his lucky stars that he’s running for office in Washington rather than Nairobi or Jakarta. Instead, his whiney wife Michelle says that her husband’s election as president would be the first reason to have “pride” in America, and complains that this country is “downright mean” and that she’s having difficulty finding money for their daughters’ piano lessons and summer camp. Between them, Mr. and Mrs. Obama earn $480,000 a year (not including book royalties from The Audacity of Hype), but they’re whining about how tough they have it to couples who earn 48 grand — or less. Yes, we can. But not on a lousy half-million bucks a year.
God has blessed America, and blessed the Obamas in America, and even blessed the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose bashing of his own country would be far less lucrative anywhere else on the planet. The “racist” here is not Geraldine Ferraro but the Reverend Wright, whose appeals to racial bitterness are supposed to be everything President Obama will transcend. Right now, it sounds more like the same-old same-old.
God Bless America
Land that I love.
Take it away, Michelle.
© 2008 Mark Steyn
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZjE3NDc3YTU0ZGM5NGEzZTdkNjcyZjBiNDVjMjU5MGQ=
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenoma
on: March 14, 2008, 05:51:44 PM
Oprah’s boards burning with Wright responses; Wright accuses America of creating the HIV virus
POSTED AT 11:47 AM ON MARCH 14, 2008 BY ED MORRISSEY
As I noted earlier, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has more than one high-profile member in his congregation. Besides presidential hopeful Barack Obama, Wright also preaches his message to Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and beloved media personalities in America. She has an active on-line community at Oprah.com, and her forums have had almost 300 posts from members in the past 24 hours after the revelations of race-baiting and hatred at Trinity United Church. Most talk about their concern over the content of Wright’s sermons:
I have to agree with Dick Morris [who appeared on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor last night]. We both intensely dislike Hillary and Bill. But, it needs to be said that Rev. Wright strikes me as a very dangerous, divisive, and anti-American racist. …
This is extremely troubling. Rev. Wright is one of the worst I’ve seen anywhere in America. He is truly dangerous. .. .. .. Obama’s failure to distance himself from this very dangerous anti-American will become more damaging in the next few days. …
I was upset as well. It’s beyond inflammatory and much worse than anything Geraldine Ferrarro said, yet I don’t hear a peep out of Obama. What is pastor said is beyond disgusting. To blame the US for what happened on 9/11. And I am NO fan of the Clintons, but those things he said about Hillary and Bill…and did you “see” the tapes or just hear them? This would certainly explain Michelle Obama’s anger.
Let’s wait and see if the mainstream media steps up to the plate. They took great glee in attacking Mitt Romney and his LDS faith, let’s see if they go after Obama. …
Obama should not be held responsible for what Rev. Wright says from the pulpit. However, being a member of a church that is racist is not much different than being a white person who belongs to a country club that doesn’t admit Blacks. …
The threads also pointed to an allegation made by Wright that the US created the HIV virus, presumably for deliberate infection of certain populations. In a speech made at Howard University in January 2006, he offered the following conspiracy theories:
Mr. Wright thundered on: “America is still the No. 1 killer in the world. . . . We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers . . . We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Ghadhafi . . . We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”
His voice rising, Mr. Wright said, “We supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-Semitic. . . . We care nothing about human life if the end justifies the means. . . .”
Concluding, Mr. Wright said: “We started the AIDS virus . . . We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty. . . .”
It isn’t so much the anger that Wright manifests that will be off-putting to mainstream Americans of all creeds and colors, but the conspiracy-theory lunacy that he spews. Almost all Americans gave up on supremacy theories decades ago; most of those who espoused them are dead. No one has argued in the mainstream in any way, shape, or form for that kind of nonsense since the Dixiecrat movement died out in the 1960s. An ill-worded valediction for Strom Thurmond six years ago drew so much condemnation that it forced Trent Lott out of his leadership position in the Senate, although to be fair, former Klan member Robert Byrd remains in the Senate — as a Democrat.
Most Americans would find the notion that we are crypto-supremacists insulting and offensive. And yet two of the most popular people in the US choose to attend the church of a minister who apparently makes that a recurring theme of his ministry. In Obama’s case, he has given over $22,000 to support Wright and his message in 2006 alone.
Given the intense media interest in Mormon underwear and LDS doctrine in the fall of 2007, one might expect a little more scrutiny of the much more political and racially-charged message coming from the pulpit of the Trinity United Church. It looks like that may have already begun, and the reputations of both Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey rest on how quickly and adeptly they can distance themselves from the debacle.
Update: Barack Obama tried pushing back, but this seems rather weak:
Q: I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s all over the wire today (from an ABC News story), a statement that your pastor (the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side) made in a sermon in 2003 that instead of singing “God Bless America,” black people should sing a song essentially saying “God Damn America.”
A: I haven’t seen the line. This is a pastor who is on the brink of retirement who in the past has made some controversial statements. I profoundly disagree with some of these statements.
Q: What about this particular statement?
A: Obviously, I disagree with that. Here is what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor. There are times when people say things that are just wrong. But I think it’s important to judge me on what I’ve said in the past and what I believe.
Cherry-pick? Perhaps Senator Obama can explain the context that would justify “God damn America” and the accusation that America created HIV. That dog won’t hunt.
Howard Dean left his church over a bike path. We laughed at the superficiality of that choice, but Obama has a much better reason to repudiate Trinity — and Wright’s supposed retirement won’t come nearly in time to rescue him from this problem.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: March 14, 2008, 08:30:30 AM
Saddam supported at least two al-Qaeda groups: Pentagon Update: What it means
POSTED AT 8:15 AM ON MARCH 14, 2008 BY ED MORRISSEY
Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that an investigation into over 600,000 documents captured at the end of the invasion of Iraq showed no operational links to al-Qaeda — or at least, that’s how the media reported it. After a strange few days in which the Pentagon delayed the report, it finally hit the internet last night — and it’s clear that the analysis done by the media was superficial at best. If no operational “smoking gun” could be found, the report still shows that Saddam Hussein had plenty of ties to all sorts of terrorist groups, including radical Islamist jihadis.
For instance, how about their support for The Army of Muhammad, a known al-Qaeda subsidiary operating in Bahrain? On pages 34-35 of the report, we find communications between their Bahrain agent and IIS headquarters confirming Army of Mohammad’s loyalty to Osama bin Laden. What is the response from Baghdad?
The agent reports (Extract 25) that The Army of Muhammad is working with Osama bin Laden. …
A later memorandum from the same collection to the Director of the IIS reports that the Army of Muhammad is endeavoring to receive assistance [from Iraq] to implement its objectives, and that the local IIS station has been told to deal with them in accordance with priorities previously established. The IIS agent goes on to inform the Director that “this organization is an offshoot of bin Laden, but that their objectives are similar but with different names that can be a way of camouflaging the organization.”
AoM had ambitious plans — including attacks on American interests. On page 35, the Iraqis list their aims as attacking Jewish and American interests anywhere in the world, attacking American embassies, disrupting American oil supplies and tankers, and attacking the American military bases in the Middle East. The Iraqi support for AoM may not be an operational link, but it’s certainly a financial link that goes right to Osama bin Laden. The Iraqis certainly understood that much, and hoped to keep it quiet.
Nor was that Saddam’s only support for an AQ subsidiary. Saddam put money into Egypt’s Islamic Jihad. The IJ opposes the Hosni Mubarak regime for a number of reasons, but primarily because of Egypt’s shaky diplomatic relations with Israel. One leader of IJ that Westerners can easily name was Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became Osama’s chief deputy and primary mouthpiece to the world.
Even when working separately, the report notes that Saddam and Osama worked to develop the same terrorist pool from which they would draw support and operational agents. Put simply, Saddam’s more secular aims and Osama’s drive for an Islamic Caliphate worked in tandem to increase the threat of terrorism. Saddam endeavored to create a “business model” for terrorism, especially when it could assist in his own pan-Arab vision. He funded and trained terrorists of all stripes in Iraq, from secular Arab Marxists to radical jihadists (page 41-42).
The media also skipped over the conclusion of the study, which begins thusly:
One question remains regarding Iraq’s terrorism capability: Is there anything in the captured archives to indicate that Saddam had the will to use his terrorist capabilities directly against United States? Judging from examples of Saddam’s statements (Extract 34) before the 1991 Gulf War with the United tates, the answer is yes.
In the years between the two Gulf Wars, UN sanctions reduced Saddam’s ability to shape regional and world events, steadily draining his military, economic, and military powers. The rise of Islamist fundamentalism in the region gave Saddam the opportunity to make terrorism, one of the few tools remaining in Saddam’s “coercion” toolbox, not only cost effective but a formal instrument of state power. Saddam nurtured this capability with an infrastructure supporting (1) his own particular brand of state terrorism against internal and external threats, (2) the state sponsorship of suicide operations, and (3) organizational relationships and “outreach programs” for terrorist groups. Evidence that was uncovered and analyzed attests to the existence of a terrorist capability and a willingness to use it until the day Saddam was forced to flee Baghdad by Coalition forces.
So we have Saddam supporting at least two AQ subsidiaries, one of which had open aspirations to attack American interests, and evidence from these captured materials that Saddam planned to use his terrorist capabilities to conduct war on the United States. Perhaps in the world of the mainstream media the big news from this would be “no smoking gun” connection to an actual attack, but for the rest of us, it shows that Saddam needed to go — and the sooner, the better. (via the Weekly Standard)
Update and Bump: Several points need to be made more clear. First, it’s pretty apparent that the vast bulk of the reporting on this paper has come from leaks within the Pentagon, and not from a read of the paper itself. Stephen Hayes more generously attributes it to a shortsighted focus on the executive summary, but even that makes clear that Saddam used Islamist radical terrorist groups to his advantage, and that state support of terrorism grew so large as to require an expansion of government bureaucracy to manage it. Anyone who reads the executive summary would be compelled to look for the support within the body of the document.
Furthermore, one has to remember the purpose and structure of al-Qaeda. It is not a top-down hierarchical organization like the PLO. Rather, it serves as a framework for a web of affiliated terrorist organizations, both for funding and for inspiration. AQ’s leadership structure maintains communications and coordination with these groups, which often merge with and split into other organizations. The report itself tries to remind readers of this, and sees Saddam and Osama as using essentially the same network for the same ends, when their interests overlap. That’s why Iraq’s IIS winds up funding the Army of Mohammad and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad — both of which are authentically AQ, and in the case of AoM, Iraq funded it specifically because of its goals of attacking American interests.
Reader Sam Pender points out that Egyptian Islamic Jihad actually has more significance than most in the AQ network. EIJ at one time provided the lion’s share of AQ’s leadership, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, and certainly that was true in the period between 1991 and 2003. Saddam’s support for EIJ shows a more direct connection to AQ leadership than anyone had predicted before the capture of the documents on which this report is based.
Update: The FBI’s Deputy Director for counterterrorism testified before Congress about the connection between AQ and EIJ on December 18, 2001:
Although Al-Qaeda functions independently of other terrorist organizations, it also functions through some of the terrorist organizations that operate under its umbrella or with its support, including: the Al-Jihad, the Al-Gamma Al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group - led by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and later by Ahmed Refai Taha, a/k/a “Abu Yasser al Masri,”), Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and a number of jihad groups in other countries, including the Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, the Kashmiri region of India, and the Chechen region of Russia. Al-Qaeda also maintained cells and personnel in a number of countries to facilitate its activities, including in Kenya, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. By banding together, Al-Qaeda proposed to work together against the perceived common enemies in the West - particularly the United States which Al-Qaeda regards as an “infidel” state which provides essential support for other “infidel” governments.
Saddam Hussein provided funding for EIJ for the same reasons. And when one starts to consider the differences between Afghanistan’s Taliban after 9/11 and Saddam, the gaps narrows considerably. The Taliban gave AQ shelter while probably not realizing the extent to which it made them a target; Saddam funded their main leadership source and at least one of their subsidiaries in order to help them succeed in their mission against the US. That’s at least arguably an act of war, attempting to use terrorists as a proxy to fight it — and it very clearly fell within the post-9/11 Bush doctrine.
Update: Eli Lake at the New York Sun gets the story correct: “Report Details Saddam’s Terrorist Ties”. I guess this means he actually read the report.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics
on: March 14, 2008, 04:15:32 AM
Trying to hang on, Detroit's mayor says the issue is not his sex scandal, but racism.
NEWSWEEK WEB EXCLUSIVE
Updated: 1:02 PM ET Mar 13, 2008
You might think the resignation of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer would put more pressure on Detroit's embattled mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, to do the same. But Kilpatrick, seven weeks into his own text sex scandal, shows no signs of giving up the fight. In fact, with a prosecutor contemplating perjury charges and his city council in revolt, Kilpatrick has chosen the nuclear option in this deeply divided city. At the end of an otherwise routine state-of-the-city speech Tuesday night, Kilpatrick went off on a racially explosive tirade against his critics and the media.
"In the past 30 days I've been called a n----- more than any time in my entire life," he told a cheering, invitation-only crowd of 1,500 at Detroit's gilded Orchestra Hall. "In the past three days I've received more death threats than I have in my entire administration. I've heard these words, but I've never heard people say them about my wife and children. I have to say this, because it's very personal to me." He stole a glance at his wife and twin 12-year-old sons standing at attention in a luxury box above the stage. "I don't believe a Nielsen rating is worth the life of my children or your children. This unethical, illegal lynch-mob mentality has to stop."
An African-American man might be making a serious run at the White House, but here in Motown the old-school politics of race still define this struggling city. Census data show this is the most racially divided urban center in America, with 81 percent of the city black and a roughly equal percentage of the surrounding suburbs white. Politicians on both sides of Detroit's cultural fault line—the 8 Mile Road made famous by Eminem—have stoked racial fears for decades in order to get elected and stay in power. Kilpatrick, a Democrat, is no stranger to this tactic. There was plenty of racial rhetoric in his bruising 2005 re-election campaign. But last summer, long before this scandal erupted, Kilpatrick joined with the NAACP to bury the N word in a ceremony complete with horse-drawn casket and burial plot. "Today we're not just burying the N word, we're taking it out of our spirit," Kilpatrick said in his eulogy. "Die, N word, and we don't want to see you 'round here no more."
That was then. Now Kilpatrick, 37, is fighting for his political life as he faces the prospect of perjury charges—a felony punishable by 15-years in jail—for what many people now believe was lying under oath about an illicit affair with his then-chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Last summer, while testifying in a whistleblower lawsuit brought by two Detroit cops, Kilpatrick and Beatty vehemently denied they were lovers and that they had fired the cops for investigating the mayor's security detail, which could have revealed their clandestine relationship. Then the Detroit Free Press in January unearthed text messages that contradicted their sworn testimony. (Example: "I need you soooo bad," Kilpatrick texted Beatty on his city-issued pager in 2002. "I want to wake up in the morning and you are there.") Since then, court documents have become public—despite Kilpatrick's efforts to keep them sealed—that disclose a secret deal the mayor cut last fall to settle the whistleblower suit in exchange for destroying the incriminating text messages, which mysteriously never came out at trial. The settlement cost Detroit taxpayers $9 million.
Kilpatrick's strategy for survival initially followed a familiar narrative arc. After a week of seclusion he emerged, with wife Carlita by his side, to make a vague public apology, while admitting no legal wrongdoing. (Carlita, like Hillary, didn't simply stand by her man but spoke up for him, saying that while she is "hurt," "there is no question I love my husband.") Kilpatrick also embraced the Almighty, whom he said was "whipping" him for his transgression but had "ordained" him to be the mayor of Detroit. "I believe I'm on an assignment from God," he told local radio station WMXD.
Then his tone turned tough. First there was the unsuccessful court battle over the lawsuit settlement, which went all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court. More recently Kilpatrick hired an A-list legal and PR team known for defending high-profile political figures. He lawyered up with Chicago defense attorney Daniel Webb, who represented former Illinois governor George Ryan in the racketeering trial he lost last year. (Kilpatrick has already indicated a willingness to fight any charges, with Detroit's general counsel, Sharon McPhail, arguing there isn't a strong enough case to prove perjury.) Kilpatrick also brought in Washington PR pro Judy Smith, who represented Monica Lewinsky and provided counsel to Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings, when he famously accused his critics of engaging in a "high-tech lynching."
Kilpatrick's fiery oratory on live TV Tuesday night seemed to echo those long-ago confirmation hearings. "And it's seriously time," Kilpatrick thundered, as ministers in the audience raised their hands in praise. "We've never been here before—and I don't care if they cut the TV off—we've never been in a situation like this before where you can say anything, do anything, have no facts, no research, no nothing, and you can launch a hate-driven, bigoted assault on a family."
Will it work? One former Kilpatrick adviser sure doesn't think so. "The mayor engaged in the most repulsive form of race baiting I've seen in 30 years of political consulting," said veteran Detroit political operative Sam Riddle, who worked on Kilpatrick's 2005 re-election. "That was no ad-lib. That was a calculated move to pimp the emotions of Detroit so he can build a political base predicted on the politics of race. But it won't work. Detroit is fed up with this guy. They know he used their money to cover up the text messages, and they know he lied on the stand. He ought to man up like Eliot Spitzer and resign." Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican, Wednesday called on Kilpatrick to resign after condemning his speech as "race baiting on par with David Duke and George Wallace."
Kilpatrick reiterated in his speech: "I won't quit." The mayor's press secretary Denise Tolliver defended his use of the N word, saying he was just repeating what is being written to him in e-mails, one of which she read to NEWSWEEK. It contained many uses of the N word and other racial slurs directed at Kilpatrick and his family. She said the Detroit police are investigating that e-mail and other threats the mayor received. She also acknowledged that three Detroit business leaders, including former Detroit Pistons star Dave Bing, met with Kilpatrick Wednesday morning and raised concerns about the "emotional" nature of his unscripted ending. "He did get emotional," says Tolliver. "The mayor is human."
The businessmen weren't the only ones raising concerns. African-American commentators in Detroit's local media scorned Kilpatrick's racial remarks. "The shameful, divisive words he used to draw false lines between those who want him to own up and those he expects to give him a pass will serve only to prolong the agony in this community," wrote Detroit Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson. "His words represent the height of irresponsibility, and seeped into gross negligence."
But for Kilpatrick, media attacks like that will only serve to strengthen his case with his base. Decades of divisive politics in Detroit have conditioned voters on both sides of 8 Mile to believe that each is out to get the other. That's why white suburbanites boast about how many years it has been since they've visited the city. And it's why Kilpatrick finds an accepting audience for his accusations of bigotry. "Using the N word was part of the necessary pandering he had to make to his voters," said Detroit political consultant Eric Foster. "He's telling his base, 'The white media and the white folks are attacking your black mayor, and I need you to rally around me'."
Whether they actually will remains to be seen next year, when Kilpatrick hopes to run for re-election. First he has to get past Kym Worthy, the county prosecutor, another powerful African-American politician up for re-election. The key difference is that Worthy's constituents in Wayne County include a majority of mostly white suburbanites. And nine out of 10 of those in the suburbs have an unfavorable opinion of Kilpatrick, according to pollster Steve Mitchell. On Wednesday Worthy said she needs two more weeks to decide if she'll bring charges, because she received new information that she declined to specify. "It's about being thorough," she said.
If Kilpatrick does manage to survive where Spitzer and so many others have fallen, the mayor of Motown will write a new chapter in the politics of scandal. "This is a political-science lesson," says Foster. "If Kilpatrick can make it through this he will be a case study for a lot of politicians in trouble." If he doesn't, though, he'll join Spitzer and all those others in the growing political hall of shame.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: March 14, 2008, 03:46:43 AM
March 14, 2008, 0:00 a.m.
It’s Identity, Stupid
Is this campaign about anything else?
By Charles Krauthammer
Elections can be about policy, personality, or identity. The race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is surely not about policy. The differences between the two are microscopic.
It did not start out that way. Last year, when Hillary was headed toward a coronation, she deliberately ran to the center. She took more moderate views on Iraq, for example, and voted to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.
When she began taking heat for these positions from the other candidates and the Democratic party’s activist core, and as her early lead began to erode, she quickly tacked left and found herself inhabiting precisely the same ideological space as Obama.
With no substantive differences left, the Obama-Clinton campaign was reduced to personality and identity. Not advantageous ground for Hillary. In a personality contest with the charismatic young phenom, she loses in a landslide.
What to do? First, adjust your own persona. Hence that New Hampshire tear and an occasional strategic show of vulnerability to soften her image. It worked for a while, but personality remakes are simply too difficult to pull off for someone as ingrained in the national consciousness as Clinton.
If you cannot successfully pretty yourself, dirty the other guy. Hence the relentless attacks designed to redefine Obama and take him down to the level of ordinary mortals, i.e. Hillary’s. Thus the contrived shock on the part of the Clinton campaign that an Obama economic adviser would tell the Canadians not to pay too much attention to Obama’s anti-NAFTA populism or that Samantha Power would tell the BBC not to pay too much attention to Obama’s current withdrawal plans for Iraq.
The attack line writes itself: Says one thing and means another. So much for the man of new politics. Just an ordinary politician — like Hillary.
That same maladroit foreign-policy adviser is caught calling Hillary a monster. A resignation demand nicely calls attention to the fact that the Obama campaign — surprise! — hurls invective. And a strategic mention of Tony Rezko, the Chicago fixer who was once Obama’s patron, nicely attaches to Obama a whiff of corruption by association.
These attacks have a cumulative effect. Obamamania is beginning to wear off. Charisma is intrinsically transient. But Hillary’s attacks have succeeded in hastening its dissipation.
So if there are no policy issues between them and the personality differences have been whittled down, what’s left? Identity. Race, age, and gender. Is this campaign about anything else?
Nationally, the older white woman — Clinton — carries the senior vote, the white vote and the women’s vote. The younger black man — Obama — carries the youth vote, the black vote and the male vote. This was perhaps inevitable in the first campaign in which a woman and an African-American have a serious chance at the presidency. But it received a significant gravity assist from Bill Clinton’s South Carolina forays into racial politics.
Did Bill Clinton deliberately encourage racial polarization by saying before South Carolina that one expects women to vote for Hillary and blacks for Obama? Or, after the primary, by dismissing Obama’s victory with: “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice”?
With Bill Clinton you never know. And there is no proving cause and effect, but the chronology is striking. Two weeks before the South Carolina primary, Obama was leading Hillary among blacks by only 53 percent to 30 percent. Ten days later, Obama was ahead 59 to 25. On Election Day, he got 78 percent of the black vote. By the time the campaign trail reached Mississippi on Tuesday, Obama was getting 92 percent of the black vote. And only 26 percent of the white vote.
The pillars of American liberalism — the Democratic party, the universities, and the mass media — are obsessed with biological markers, most particularly race and gender. They have insisted, moreover, that pedagogy and culture and politics be just as seized with the primacy of these distinctions and with the resulting “privileging” that allegedly haunts every aspect of our social relations.
They have gotten their wish. This primary campaign represents the full flowering of identity politics. It’s not a pretty picture. Geraldine Ferraro says Obama is only where he is because he’s black. Professor Orlando Patterson says the 3 A.M. phone call ad is not about a foreign policy crisis but a subliminal Klan-like appeal to the fear of “black men lurking in the bushes around white society.”
Good grief. The optimist will say that when this is over, we will look back on the Clinton-Obama contest, and its looming ugly endgame, as the low point of identity politics, and the beginning of a turning away. The pessimist will just vote Republican.
© 2008, The Washington Post Writers Group
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NjE4NzFjYTI1NDJhZWRhNjlmNDNjMThkZGVlYjVkMzI=
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Code Pink vs. the Marines
on: March 12, 2008, 10:08:01 PM
Document drop: Unclassified memo warns military personnel of anti-war threats to recruiters, Army installations/facilities
By Michelle Malkin • March 12, 2008 10:47 PM
Responding to my reporting on the Left’s escalating war against military recruiters, a source sent me the following unclassified memo issued this week warning military personnel and civilian employees across the country to be on alert against possible threats and violence by anti-war and anti-recruiter protesters gearing up for demonstrations on the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. Officials are on guard against the Pittsburgh nuts threatening to “cage” recruiters, as well as the threats against the Tacoma, WA recruiting station. I believe it is in the public interest to underscore the ongoing threats our military personnel face here at home.
Like the memo says: “Remain vigilant.”
Oh, and by the way, the Times Square recruitment station bomber has still not been identified and caught.
Subject: FW: SUBJECT: HQ USNORTHCOM FORCE PROTECTION ADVISORY 00002 (UNCLASSIFIED)
For your information. As the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war approaches, protest groups are increasing activity, some to include a direct threat to Recruiters, other Soldiers, others with DoD decals and their families. Areas of concern include Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; Pittsburgh; Washington, DC.; Chicago; Chapel Hill, NC; New York; Orlando and many locations in
Mitigation recommendations include standard AT/FP precautions to include:
- Avoid known risks
- Remain vigilant
- Use the Buddy system
- Inspect vehicles
- Do not engage belligerents
Subject: SUBJECT: HQ USNORTHCOM FORCE PROTECTION ADVISORY 00002
**************** UNCLASSIFIED// ****************
POC/ERIK FEY/CIV/USARNORTH PMO/DSN 471.1452// GENTEXT/REMARKS// 1. (U) THIS MESSAGE PROVIDES SITUATIONAL AWARENESS AND RECOMMENDED MITIGATION ON UNITED STATES ARMY INSTALLATIONS AND ARMY LEASED FACILITIES IN THE USNORTHCOM AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY.
2. (U) SITUATION: AS THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE IRAQI WAR APPROACHES, NUMEROUS PROTEST GROUPS HAVE STEPPED UP THEIR RHETORIC ON PROTESTING AT MILITARY FACILITIES SUCH AS RECRUITING STATIONS. WHILE MOST ARE PEACEFUL SEVERAL GROUPS HAVE TAKEN ON A MORE MILITANT TONE AND HAVE ISSUED STATEMENTS THAT FORM A DIRECT THREAT TOWARDS CERTAIN RECRUITING STATIONS. RECRUITERS AND ALL OTHER DOD EMPLOYEES ARE REMINDED TO BE VIGILANT AND AWARE OF THEIR SURROUNDINGS.
3. (U//FOUO) KNOWN LOCATIONS AND EVENTS:
3.1 (U) TACOMA, WA: 1230, 15 MARCH 2008, LOCAL PROTEST GROUPS HAVE ANNOUNCED THEIR INTENTION TO SHUTDOWN THE TACOMA MALL AND THE RECRUITING STATION LOCATED AT THE MALL TO CALL ATTENTION TO THE UPCOMING ANNIVERSARY OF THE START OF THE IRAQ WAR. THEY WANT TO “MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL TO CONTINUE AS THE IRAQ WAR APPROACHES ITS 5TH YEAR.” ANTICIPATED ACTIVITIES INCLUDE DISTRIBUTING ANTI WAR AND ANTI MILITARY LITERATURE, CONFRONT LOCAL RECRUITERS OR PERSONS TRYING TO ENTER THEIR FACILITIES, AND ATTEMPTS TO INTERACT WITH SOLDIERS, FAMILY MEMBERS AND/OR CIVILIANS WHO APPEAR TO BE MILITARY OR HAVE DOD DECALS ON THEIR VEHICLES. RECENT PROTESTS AGAINST THE WAR AT THE PORT OF OLYMPIA HAVE BEEN MARKED BY INCREASED LEVELS OF VIOLENCE. DOD PERSONNEL, FAMILY MEMBERS AND CIVILIANS SHOULD AVOID CONTACT, TO INCLUDE CONVERSATIONS OR DIALOGUE WITH PROTESTERS. PROTESTERS MAY BE FILMING ACTIVITIES FOR REPORTING IN INDEPENDENT MEDIA OR USE IN LEGAL ACTIONS. COMMANDERS AND SUPERVISORS SHOULD STRONGLY ENCOURAGE THEIR SOLDIERS, FAMILY MEMBERS, AND CIVILIANS TO AVOID THE TACOMA MALL AREA DURING HIS TIME AND TO REPORT INCIDENTS OF VIOLENCE TO LOCAL POLICE. SOURCE: FT LEWIS FORCE PROTECTION DAILY 4 MARCH 2008.
3.2 (U//FOUO) MULTIPLE LOCATIONS, 15 & 19 MARCH 2008, BROAD SPECTRUMS OF NATIONAL GROUPS HAVE ORGANIZED FOR A NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION CALLED “UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE” AND “CALL TO ACTION” AGAINST THE WAR IN IRAQ. MARCH 19, 2008 MARKS THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE U.S. INVASION OF IRAQ. PROTEST GROUPS THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES HAVE COMBINED TO BE PART OF THE LARGEST DAY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE EVER, COVERING FIFTY STATES. ON MARCH 19TH, MASS DEMONSTRATIONS WILL TAKE PLACE THROUGHOUT THE NATION, SPECIFICALLY IN CITIES SUCH AS CHICAGO, MINNEAPOLIS, NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., ORLANDO, CHAPEL HILL, SC, TAMPA, BATON ROUGE, SAN DIEGO, SEATTLE, SAN FRANCISCO, OAKLAND, AND SACRAMENTO, TO MENTION A FEW. STUDENT DEMONSTRATION WEBSITES HAVE ANNOUNCED THEIR ATTEMPT TO SHUT DOWN THE HOLLYWOOD RECRUITING STATION ON 15 AND 19 MARCH AS THEY PLAN TO DEMONSTRATE HEAVILY ON HOLLYWOOD BLVD. SOURCE: 6TH RECRUITING BDE
3.3 (U//FOUO) PITTSBURG RECRUITING STATION, PA: 19 MARCH 2008, PITTSBURG ORGANIZING GROUP (POG) WILL BE HOLDING A TORCH-LIT MARCH TO A MODERN DAY CASTLE OF ABOMINATIONS-OUR LOCAL MILITARY RECRUITING STATION. THE GROUP INTENDS TO,”…EVICT IT AND EVERYTHING INSIDE OF IT, OCCUPY THE LOCATION, AND TRANSFORM IT INTO SOMETHING USEFUL FOR THE COMMUNITY. WE’LL ALSO BE BRINGING A MOVABLE CAGE IN WHICH TO CONFINE MILITARY RECRUITERS UNTIL THEY NO LONGER POSE A DANGER TO OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS…..” SOURCE: TRADOC
3.4 (U//FOUO) 19 MARCH 2008, NATIONALLY: A KNOWN PROTEST GROUP IS ALSO CALLING FOR A “CALL TO ACTION” ON THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE U.S. INVASION OF IRAQ, AND THE BEGINNING OF THE 6TH YEAR OF WAR TO HAVE DEMONSTRATORS BE A PART THE LARGEST DAY FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE PROTESTS, COVERING ALL 50 STATES. SOURCE: TRADOC
3.5 (U//FOUO) SEATTLE 19 MARCH 2008, PROTEST ON 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF IRAQ WAR. DEMONSTRATORS WILL CONVERGE ON WESTLAKE PARK AT 6 PM. THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE MARCHED IN SEATTLE IN 2002 AS THE WAR BEGAN IN A SPIRITED EVENING MARCH TO THE FEDERAL BUILDING. ON MARCH 19, 2008, THEY ARE ENCOURAGING THE COMMUNITY TO MARK THE ANNIVERSARY WITH DIVERSE AUTONOMOUS ACTIONS THROUGHOUT THE DAY SUCH AS FREEWAY BANNERING, VIGILS, TEACH-INS, WALK-OUTS AND DIRECT ACTION/CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, CULMINATING WITH AN EVENING PROTEST CONVERGENCE AT WESTLAKE PARK AT 6 PM
3.6 (U//FOUO) FT. LEWIS DEMONSTRATION FOR GI RIGHTS 22 MARCH 2008, A COALITION OF ORGANIZATIONS INCLUDING VETERANS AND PEACE ACTIVISTS ARE CALLING FOR A DEMONSTRATION SUPPORTING GI RIGHTS AT THE GATES OF FT. LEWIS. SOURCE: FT LEWIS FORCE PROTECTION DAILY 04 MAR 08.
4. (U) MITIGATION: BELOW ARE RECOMMENDED MITIGATION MEASURES TO IMPLEMENT, WHEN APPROPRIATE.
4.1 USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM WHEN OPENING AND CLOSING LEASED FACILITIES.
4.2 SCREEN ALL MAIL PARCELS AND PACKAGES.
4.3 AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WORKDAY, ENDING OF THE WORKDAY, AND PRIOR TO
VEHICLE USE, CONDUCT A VEHICLE INSPECTION.
4.4 SOLDIERS, CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES, CONTRACTORS, AND FAMILY MEMBERS NEED TO STAY ALERT, NOTICE SURROUNDINGS, AND REMAIN VIGILANT.
4.5 COMMANDERS AT ALL LEVELS SHOULD ESTABLISH RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL POLICE IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE LOCAL THREATS.
4.6 KEEP FAMILY MEMBERS INFORMED.
4.7 TALK TO OTHER SERVICE PERSONNEL TO SHARE INFORMATION.
4.8 PRACTICE OPSEC. DON’T PROVIDE PERSONAL INFORMATION TO ANYONE YOU DON’T
4.9 AVOID HIGH RISK AREAS.
4.10 COMMANDERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO UPDATE ALERT ROSTERS AND REVIEW EMERGENCY EVACUATION PLANS/RALLY POINTS.
4.11 ENSURE ALL FACILITIES HAVE EMERGENCY PHONE LISTS POSTED (FBI, FIRE, POLICE, HOSPITALS, EMS ETC).
4.12 BE AWARE OF AND AVOID LOCAL PROTESTS
4.13 REPORT ALL POTENTIAL PROTEST ACTIVITIES TO YOUR NEXT HIGHER
5. (U) PROVIDE COPIES OF ALL SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY REPORTS TO [redacted.]
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: March 12, 2008, 09:42:01 PM
YUSUFALI: Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."
PICKTHAL: When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.
SHAKIR: When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: March 12, 2008, 09:32:38 PM
Severed fingers of 5 hostages delivered to U.S. officials in Iraq
By Hannah Allam, McClatchy Newspapers
Wed Mar 12, 5:46 PM ET
BAGHDAD _U.S. authorities in Baghdad have received five severed fingers belonging to four Americans and an Austrian who were taken hostage more than a year ago in Iraq , U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The FBI is investigating the grisly development, and the families of the five kidnapped contractors have been notified, American officials said on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Authorities confirmed that the fingers belonged to hostages Jonathon Cote , of Gainesville, Fla. ; Joshua Munns , of Redding, Calif. ; Paul Johnson Reuben , of Buffalo, Minn. ; Bert Nussbaumer of Vienna, Austria ; and Ronald J. Withrow , an American who was kidnapped separately from the others.
No information was available on when or how the fingers were delivered to U.S. authorities. Some relatives of the missing men said that they'd heard weeks ago that the DNA of the hostages had been obtained, but they'd been given no details.
The first four men were security contractors with Kuwait -based Crescent Security and were captured in a brazen ambush of their 43-truck supply convoy in the southern Iraqi town of Safwan, near the Kuwaiti border, on Nov. 16, 2006 .
There was no word on a fifth contractor who was seized with them, John Young , of Kansas City . Contrary to Austrian news reports, none of the fingers belonged to him, authorities said.
"The government is in touch with us, but they said nothing has been verified yet," said Sharon DeBrabander , Young's mother. "I certainly don't understand why my son's wasn't found. What does that mean?"
Withrow, a computer specialist who worked for JPI Worldwide, was kidnapped separately at a phony checkpoint near the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Jan. 5, 2007 , according to news reports. Very little information is publicly available about his abduction; the bodies of his Iraqi translator and driver were discovered the next day. His employer is a Las Vegas -based company that provides Internet and technological support to remote or war-torn areas around the globe, according to the company's Web site.
The Austrian weekly magazine News first reported the delivery of the five fingers in Wednesday's edition, citing unnamed authorities working on the case.
Austrian officials said at a news conference in Vienna that U.S. officials had provided information about "fingerprints and DNA traces that were positively matched to Nussbaumer," the Austrian hostage. They didn't confirm that the sample was a severed finger.
Relatives of the American hostages said they received phone calls from U.S. authorities early Wednesday, though initially they were told only that fingerprints or DNA had been obtained. Later, at least one father said he'd been notified that his son's finger had been delivered by the hostage-takers, but there still was confusion among the relatives about the development.
"All we have right now is prayers," said Mark Munns , the father of former Marine Joshua Munns , 25, who has spent his past two birthdays in captivity. "I don't know how to make head or tails of what's going on. Are they still alive? A whole bunch of stuff goes through your head."
State Department representatives check in with the families in a telephone conference call every Monday, though several relatives have complained that they're being kept in the dark about the investigation. The FBI has told them that the information is classified to preserve the integrity of the investigation— little solace for families who've gone 18 months with scant news.
"I know we're in a war on terror, but to not tell the families anything and let us sit out here for 18 months just isn't right," Mark Munns said.
The Crescent contractors appeared in two hostage videos released in December 2006 and January 2007 in which they pleaded for the United States to withdraw troops from Iraq and to free all Iraqi prisoners. In the videos, they appeared in good condition and said that they were being treated well.
No financial demand has been made public, and it's unclear what group is holding the men. All of the hostages were seized in southern Iraq , where powerful Shiite Muslim militias operate with relative freedom.
"I'm hoping this may be a sign that the hostage-takers sent the fingers to prove they have the guys and may want to deal. I'm trying to look at the positive of this," said Mark Koscielski , a Minnesotan who is in close contact with the families of the hostages and maintains a Web site, www.Save5.net
, dedicated to the abducted men. One of the hostages, Reuben, is a former Minneapolis police officer.
READ EARLIER STORIES ABOUT THE HOSTAGES:
Abducted contractors appear in videotape: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/staff/Hannah(underscore)allam/story/15282.html
Coalition forces launch search for missing security contractors: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/staff/Hannah(underscore)allam/story/15043.html
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
on: March 12, 2008, 05:59:40 PM
Are Iraqi Insurgents Emboldened by Antiwar Reporting?
By Alex Kingsbury
Wed Mar 12, 2:44 PM ET
Are insurgents in Iraq emboldened by voices in the news media expressing dissent or calling for troop withdrawals from Iraq? The short answer, according to a pair of Harvard economists, is yes.
In a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the authors are quick to point out numerous caveats to their findings, based on data from mid-2003 through late 2007.
Yet, their results show that insurgent groups are not devoid of reason and unresponsive to outside pressures and stimuli. "It shows that the various insurgent groups do respond to incentives and shows that a successful counter insurgency strategy should take that reality into account," says one of the paper's coauthors, Jonathan Monten, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
The paper "Is There an 'Emboldenment' Effect in Iraq? Evidence From the Insurgency in Iraq" concludes the following:
--In the short term, there is a small but measurable cost to open public debate in the form of higher attacks against Iraqi and American targets.
--In periods immediately after a spike in "antiresolve" statements in the American media, the level of insurgent attacks increases between 7 and 10 percent.
--Insurgent organizations are strategic actors, meaning that whatever their motivations, religious or ideological, they will respond to incentives and disincentives.
But before partisans go wild on both sides of the aisle, here are just three of the important caveats to this study:
--The city of Baghdad, for a variety of reasons, was excluded from the report. The authors contend that looking at the outside provinces, where 65 percent of insurgent attacks take place, is a better way to understand the effect they have discovered. Other population centers like Mosul, Basra, Kirkuk, and Najaf were included in the study.
--The study does not take into account overall cost and benefit of public debate. Past research has shown that public debate has a positive effect on military strategy, for example, and, in the case of Iraq, might be a factor in forcing the Iraqi government to more quickly accept responsibility for internal security.
--It was not possible, from the data available, to determine whether insurgent groups increased the overall number of attacks against American and Iraqi targets in the wake of public dissent and debate or simply changed the timing of those attacks. This means that insurgents may not be increasing the number of attacks after all but simply changing the days on which they attack in response to media reports.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science
on: March 11, 2008, 09:45:40 PM
Good thinking, dems.
Energy independence — it has become the buzzword for the 2008 presidential election. We want to move away from Middle East oil, at the very least, in order to keep from being held as economic hostages by hostile governments in the region. We can avoid that by increasing importation from Canada, whose tar sands in Alberta have deep reserves that our friends would like to sell to us. Problem solved, right?
Quick — what country has the world’s largest oil reserves? Saudi Arabia? Iran? Nigeria? Venezuela? Wrong on all counts. The answer is Canada. And our neighbor to the north is worried we don’t want it.
Canada has an estimated 1.6 trillion barrels of oil on its territory, much of it locked in tough-to-excavate tar sands in the province of Alberta. By comparison, oil-rich Saudi Arabia has an estimated 270 billion barrels left. It isn’t even close.
Yet, according to the Financial Times of London, Canada’s government recently sent U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates a letter of warning that it might not be able to sell the U.S. any of its oil, which the Pentagon desperately needs for national defense.
For that, you can thank the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, passed with great gusto and self-righteousness by the Democratic Congress.
The bill classified oil from tar sands as an alternative fuel, which places restrictions on its use. Unlike regular crude, the US government cannot buy alternative fuels unless they release less greenhouse gas. The tar-sands crude unfortunately doesn’t qualify, and it’s not even close; it produces much more of those emissions than regular crude.
The Canadians, needless to say, are nonplussed over this action by Congressional Democrats. They want to sell us the crude, and our armed services could certainly use a reliable source of energy not dependent on mullahcracies and kleptocracies. However, even though we already have reliable and friendly trade with Canada on oil for commercial purposes from these tar sands, the US military will take a pass and stick with the Nigerians, Venezuelans, and Saudis.
Does that make any sense at all?
Canada will find buyers for its Alberta tar-sands product. American energy companies have already signed up for sales and development, of course, but that’s not where the big sales will go. The Chinese, who are much less picky about where they get the energy supplies for its military, will almost certainly leap at the chance to get in line ahead of the US for the product.
It’s precisely this lack of strategic long-term thinking that makes people nervous about putting Democratic leadership in Congress together with Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the White House. Congress needs to revisit these restrictions ASAP.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Spitzer Affair
on: March 11, 2008, 09:02:27 PM
Amid Charges of Spitzer Tryst, Embattled Prostitute "Kristen" Expected to Resign
New York - At a hastily scheduled morning press conference at the headquarters of New York's exclusive Emperors Club prostitution ring, high priced call girl "Kristen" announced that she would temporarily step aside in the wake of charges that she had engaged in sex with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.
"I made a serious mistake and betrayed the trust of my co-workers, my many clients, and my pimps," she said in a quiet voice cracking with emotion. "I will be taking a leave of absence to earn their forgiveness, and redeem myself in the eyes of the entire expensive whore community."
The embattled prostitute did not mention Spitzer by name, and stopped short of offering an official resignation. But longtime sex industry insiders say that it will be difficult for Kristen to return to her post in light of mounting federal wiretap evidence that she had sexually serviced the Governor on at least two occasions.
"It will be hard for her to spin her way out of this," said Destinee Rizzo, editor of the trade journal Executive Concubine."After taking on clients like that, her days as a five diamond, high-roller suite call girl are over. Frankly, with all the press coverage she'll be lucky to get a job as a $5 truck stop lot lizard in Kentucky."
"The big problem now is to keep this incident from threatening the whole expensive whore industry," added Rizzo.
The revelation brought an immediate and angry reaction from Greymont Preston IV, spokesman for the powerful consumer watchdog group Profligate Wastrels United. "For that kind of money, there's an expectation that these girls have been with Snoop Dogg or Charlie Sheen," said Preston. "But please -- Eliot Spitzer? When our members are spending five thousand dollars to snort cocaine off an ass, they want to know that ass has some standards."
Preston said his organization would push for new industry guidelines, including a "black box" john tracking system, but stopped short of calling for government regulation.
"Unfortunately, that would involve meeting with members of Congress, and many of our member don't want to risk having the photos become public," said Preston.
Lafester "Sly" Williams, president of the Big Dollar Pimp Association, said his group would comply with greater oversight and control systems.
"We want to assure the expensive whore buying public -- whether they are drug dealers, washed out big league ball players, or compulsive gamblers on a temporary hot streak -- that when they purchase one of our products, that fine bitch will now be DNA tested and certified 100% free of contaminants from politicians or journalists," said Williams.
Despite the new assurances, Rizzo says it may take years for the whore industry's luxury segment to recover from the incident.
"The saddest thing is what it done to the youngsters, those starry-eyed 17 and 18 year old boys out there who dream someday of blowing thirty or forty thousand dollars on a hotel room full of beautiful, high end hookers," said Rizzo. "Sure, only a few ever achieve it, but that boyhood dream has always been universal. After the Spitzer incident, thought, I'm just not sure whether that's true anymore."
As to underscore that concern, as Kristen walked toward the exit of the press conference to her waiting 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV, she was approached by a teenage boy, a forlorn questioning in his eyes.
"Say it ain't so, Kristen," he begged. "Say it ain't so!"
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread
on: March 10, 2008, 09:03:11 AM
Feminists Say the Darndest Things
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, March 10, 2008
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Mike Adams, a professor at UNC-Wilmington. He is a popular speaker for Young America's Foundation and writes a column for Town Hall. He is the author of the new book, Feminists Say the Darndest Things: A Politically Incorrect Professor Confronts "Womyn" on Campus.
FP: Mike Adams, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Adams: Hi and thanks for having me. Please hurry up, though. There's are some feminists wearing "Hillary 2008" tank tops trying to turn my car over in the parking lot. I hate California.
FP: Right ok.
What inspired you to write this book?
Adams: I wrote a series of columns called "Why I don't Take Feminists Seriously" two years ago. They were so popular that readers asked me to write a whole book on the subject. So I did it - not because I generally do what people ask me to do. I did it because I thought I could make a lot of money and buy a lot of guns.
FP: Expand for us on why leftist feminists have so much hatred.Adams: They real aren't as full of hatred as most people think. Feminists often pretend to be angry and offended in order to win debates or, I should say, prevent debates from ever happening. If you can act angry and offended, especially on a college campus, you can shut down the other side using a speech code. I'm willing to bet that the average feminist is more likely to fake a temper tantrum than she is to fake an orgasm.
FP: Well, sounds like a subject for another book.
Tell us a bit about the leftist feminists' disposition toward communism as well as toward the First and Second Amendments.
Adams: Well, we all know that feminists are quite censorious, for the reasons I mentioned above. But feminist opposition to the Second Amendment is a little more perplexing. One would think that gun ownership would provide a good way to equalize physical differences between men and women and, hence, to reduce domestic violence and rape.
But feminists have no interest in using explicit constitutional rights to invoke personal responsibility. They prefer using implicit constitutional rights to avoid responsibility. If you want more elaboration, read Roe v. Wade, 1973.The feminist love of Marxism, like their constant "offense" at different ideas, is also fake.
If a feminist is reading a copy of The Communist Manifesto, you can bet she has a four dollar latte in the other hand. She will only occasionally invoke Marxist language when confronted with some statistic indicating unequal outcome for women.
Her goal then is just to invoke such language in order to win some temporary political victory. You will never see feminists boarding leaky boats and heading towards Cuba to escape their male capitalist oppressors in America. In Cuba, feminists can't afford four dollar lattes.
FP: Crystallize for us the leftist feminists' obsession with sex and abortion. And yet, when it comes to female genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriage, forced veiling and segregation, honor killing and other barbarities that women suffer under Islamic gender apartheid, these same Western feminists are silent. What gives?
Adams: I support a woman's right to have equal opportunity. But I do not applaud a woman's right to be just like a man. That is different. Increasingly, college women are - under the guidance of feminists - acting more and more like college boys who just want to get drunk and have sex without commitment.
I believe that feminism has become a political movement that seeks to obtain unlimited rights for woman without corresponding responsibilities via the suppression of feminism.Under my definition, helping oppressed women in other countries falls outside the scope of the movement's interests.
FP: But still, if leftist feminists in the West really care about women you would think they would support their sisters who are brutalized and mutilated by Islam’s gender apartheid. Why don’t they take a stand?
Adams: I'm afraid that part of the answer is that feminists - like leftists in general - are afraid of Islamic terrorists. Look at what has happened to Van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. That is why I think events like Islamic Fascism awareness week are so important. Do something on 100 campuses simultaneously and it's pretty hard to retaliate. Maybe the feminists can learn something from David Horowitz.
FP: I would be in disagreement with you here. I don't think this is a matter of fear. Leftist feminists, like radical leftists in general, support our totalitarian enemies because they have a kindred ideology with them.
They share the instinct for tyranny and destruction - and they are filled with self-loathing. In the end, leftist feminists yearn to submit to, and submerge themselves within, a despotic monolith. Because they despise their own society and are bent on its destruction, they cannot concede that adversarial cultures may be more evil, because that would legitimize their own host society - and they can't allow that. It would rob them of the moral indignation -- and the identity of being victims -- that lies at the foundation of their politics of hate. But in any case, a discussion and debate on this issue belongs in another time and place my friend.
Let's move on. What sense of humor do you find that leftist feminists have?
Adams: I haven't found any. I've only been looking for a few years, though. If I find an example, can we do another interview?
FP: Yes for sure.
The feminists of your study appear to be terrified to act as individuals. Why do you think?
Adams: I think that feminists today are shrinking in numbers. Hence the herd mentality. That is also why they speak of race and sexual orientation so often. They need coalitions to approach a majority. It is a classically Marxist tactic employed by feminists who are not necessarily true believers in Marxism.
FP: How do you think the whole Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas battle was influenced by feminism?
Adams: I think the whole Anita Hill controversy was brewing for years.
People fail to realize that feminists were beginning to craft "hostile environment" sexual harassment codes before the Hill/Thomas controversy. They just needed a big controversy to propel them into the implementation stage. Oddly, the campuses have been far more hostile ever since these codes have been put into place. Relations between men and women have never been so bad.
But, make no mistake about it; these codes hurt women worse than men. They give the false impression that women are easily "offended" and made to feel "uncomfortable." This exacerbates a false stereotype that women are emotionally inferior. The codes represent regress, not progress.
FP: What does Hillary Clinton's success say about feminists' contention that women are marginalized from positions of power by American institutions?
Adams: The Hillary "success" story sends a very bad message; namely, that an unqualified woman can go a long way, but only if she is perceived to be a victim of mistreatment by a man.
FP: What exactly do you mean that Hillary is unqualified? There are many negative things that could be said about her, but are you sure "unqualified" is fair?
Adams: Absolutely fair. No one can be Commander-in-Chief unless he/she is able to articulate one clear position on the Iraq War. In that sense, Hillary is unqualified as was John Kerry.
Rodham Clinton is not dumb. She is not confused. She is simply willing to change her position on the war depending on how well it is going - at least how well it is going at that moment in the minds of the American people. That makes her morally unqualified to hold the office.
FP: So what is the future of feminism in America?
Adams: In the closing pages of my book, I've tried to give some advice on where feminism should go. I believe feminism should become less self-absorbed. I believe feminists should recognize that America is not a "patriarchal" and "oppressive" nation. There is no better place to be a woman than the US. So, I think women should start to focus on global equality. They should stop tearing men down in the US and start lifting women up in places like Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
FP: Mike Adams, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Adams: Thank you so much for having me.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
on: March 09, 2008, 06:54:13 PM
**Here is a nice little example of media bias. Listen to this ISNA infomercial on NPR and contrast it with what is really known about ISNA.**http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/newvoice/kristasjournal.shtml
ISNA's Lies Unchallenged Again
by Steven Emerson
August 11, 2007
In an otherwise important article published by Newsweek this past Wednesday (An Unwelcome Guest), reporters Mike Isikoff and Mark Hosenball detailed a Department of Justice outreach event, cancelled at the last minute because of one of the invitees was a high ranking official with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) - a potentially embarrassing fact since ISNA was recently named as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the current trial against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) in Dallas.
The cancelled event was slated for the same day as President Bush's speech at the Islamic Center of Washington D.C., problematic in its own right for several reasons, as I reported at the time, including the presence of Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), also an un-indicted co-conspirator in the HLF case. Recent testimony and evidence in the HLF trial has conclusively linked CAIR's founders with HAMAS, and its American affiliate, the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood.
But back to ISNA; Newsweek put a call into ISNA to ask about its status as un-indicted co-conspirators in the HLF trial, and this is the result:
In a brief telephone interview with NEWSWEEK Wednesday, Magid pointed a reporter to an e-mail statement saying that the ISNA was seeking an immediate retraction of the government's "unfounded allegations" in the Holy Land case. "ISNA is not now and has never been involved in any covert or illegal activity and has never supported any terrorist organizations," the statement read. "Rather, ISNA is an open and transparent membership organization that strives to be an exemplary and unifying Islamic organization … ISNA hereby reaffirms its unqualified condemnation of all acts of terrorism." (emphasis added)
Isikoff and Hosenball, however, let that statement go unchallenged. And this is the same Newsweek that, several months ago, uncritically reported that new ISNA President Ingrid Mattson was, "bringing the moderate viewpoint to the world."
Yet, as I recently reported here, ISNA's sympathy with terrorism, and individual terrorists, runs quite deep.
ISNA has never condemned terrorist groups like HAMAS or Hizballah by name. More notably, in June of 1997, two and a half years after HAMAS was officially designated as a terrorist organization by the United States government (and long after common sense and reality indicated as such), top HAMAS official Mousa Abu Marzook thanked ISNA (and several other U.S.-based Islamist and "civil rights" organizations), writing that ISNA supported him through his "ordeal" – Marzook had been detained at JFK airport in 1995 and arrested and the Israelis were seeking his extradition. Marzook wrote that ISNA's efforts had "consoled" him.
ISNA's magazine, Islamic Horizons, is a hotbed of pro-jihadist literature, and has long championed HAMAS and HAMAS officials, notably Mr. Marzook himself. In the November/December 1995 issue, almost a full year after HAMAS was officially designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, Islamic Horizons published an article titled, "Muslim Leader Hostage to Israeli Interests." That leader was Marzook, characterized by ISNA as:
[a] member of the political wing of Hamas, disliked by the Zionist entity for its Islamic orientation, continues to be held hostage in the U.S. at the whims of his Zionist accusers.
And in the September/October 1997 issues, two and a half years after the designation of Hamas as a terrorist group, Islamic Horizons published an article describing Marzook as:
[j]ailed without trial in New York for-months for alleged ties to organizations seeking Palestinian rights.
The pro-Hamas rhetoric and apologia in Islamic Horizons is off the charts, yet ISNA continues to get a free pass as a "moderate" organization by much of the government and media, who have probably not bothered to pick up a copy of its magazine.
Additionally, evidence has been introduced during the HLF trial which further exposes ISNA's claim of "unqualified condemnation of all acts of terrorism" as lies, at the same time, undercutting HLF's innocent claims that the organization only assisted impoverished widows and orphans, and establish long-standing ISNA ties to HAMAS. Exhibits entered into evidence a few days ago at the HLF trial include an expense voucher from the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), an ISNA subsidiary, made out for $10,000 in the name of Musa Abu Marzook, as well as a check drawn on a NAIT account in the same amount made out to Marzook. Another check for $10,000 on the same account was made out to Marzook's wife, Nadia Elashi. Another check for $30,000 was made out to the Islamic University of Gaza (and has Shukri Abu Baker/OLF written on the memo line), a school long known to be controlled by HAMAS, and which counted such notables as former HAMAS leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantissi and current HAMAS leader Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar as professors, and the recently deposed HAMAS Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is a former dean of the University.
Beyond the evidence in the HLF trial, ISNA counts among its former leadership such luminaries as convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami al-Arian. According to his own bio:
Dr. Al-Arian has also been an active community leader. He helped establish the largest grass roots organization in the U.S., the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 1981, and its many affiliates such as the Muslim Arab Youth Association (1977), the Islamic Association for Palestine (1981), Islamic Committee for Palestine (I.C.P), Islamic Community of Tampa (1987) and Islamic Academy of Florida (1992). (emphasis added)
ISNA also granted an official "Certificate of Affiliation" to al-Arian's "charity," the Islamic Concern Project (a.k.a. the Islamic Committee for Palestine/ICP).
Al-Arian was a frequent speaker at ISNA events, which have also hosted speakers such as Abdurrahman Alamoudi, currently serving a 23 year prison sentence for acting as a financial courier for a State sponsor of terrorism, having admitted his role participating in an Al Qaeda-inspired plot to assassinate the then-Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Mohammed Salah, recently convicted and sentenced for obstruction of justice related to lying about his HAMAS connections in a civil law suit against U.S.-based HAMAS front groups.
ISNA officials can say they "condemn acts of terrorism" all they want, but the evidence supporting their ties to, and true feelings about, terrorist groups like HAMAS and PIJ, is overwhelming. The Department of Justice has started to take note. One can only hope that other branches of the government and mainstream media will follow suit.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe
on: March 09, 2008, 05:53:22 PM
MI5 TARGETS FOUR MET POLICE OFFICERS 'WORKING AS AL QAEDA SPIES'
Last updated at 22:37pm on 09.03.08
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Warning: Terror moles reportedly work in the Met
Four police officers in Britain's top force are reportedly under close secret service surveillance after being identified as Al Qaeda spies, it emerged today.
MI5 are said to have homed in on the the "sleeper" agents passing secrets from Scotland Yard to the terror group only in recent weeks.
The suspected spies are believed to have used methods similar to those employed by the IRA in the 1970s as they infiltrated the police and the Army in Northern Ireland.
Bombed: Police began searching for spies after July 7 attacks
All four are understood to be Asians living in London and are feared to have links both with Islamic extremists in Britain and worldwide terror groups - including al-Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
MI5 chiefs reportedly believe the suspected moles have been planted as sleepers - agents under deep cover - to keep al-Qaeda informed of anti-terror raids planned by London's Metropolitan Police.
They are said to fear the four could have already accessed sensitive information about secret operations to root out terror cells planning further attacks in the UK.
Scotland Yard refused to discuss allegations that a sleeper cell of al Qaida spies is being kept under secret service surveillance after infiltrating the Metropolitan Police.
According to the News of the World, in the past few weeks MI5 agents have identified four officers suspected of passing secrets from the force.
All four are allegedly Asians living in London and are feared to have links with Islamic extremists in Britain and worldwide terrorist organisations.
MI5 bosses reportedly fear the moles may have been planted to keep al Qaida informed of anti-terror raids, and may have already accessed sensitive information about ongoing operations.
Secret service agents are said to be monitoring the suspects, who work at different London police stations. A Yard spokesman said: "All police officers and police staff, upon joining the Metropolitan Police Service and during their careers undergo a range of security checks.
"These are robust and vary accordingly to the type and sensitivity of the individual postings.
"We take matters of security very seriously and if any issues arise about individuals, they may be subject to further assessment.
"This could lead to restrictions being put in place relating to where an individual may work within the organisation or could lead to their dismissal."
"If there are people within the police force feeding information to terror groups this needs to be stopped.
"Since the names came to light there has been a non-stop effort to find out everything about their backgrounds."
The officers' names apparently emerged during a low-profile investigation into police force infiltration which has been going on since the July 2005 London bombings.
Last year MI5 believed there were up to eight police staff—uniform and civilians with links to extremist groups.
Now agents, helped by anti-terror police, are understood to be watching the four suspects - who work at different police stations around London - around the clock while searching for the vital evidence needed to make arrests.
The officers' every move at work is being monitored along with their phone calls, it was claimed.
Homeland security agents are reportedly sifting through their bank account transactions.
MI5 experts are also understood to be building a family tree for each one and trying to put together a picture of their links to their home countries.
Their names are being cross-referred with lists of men who have been to terror training camps in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
What is clear is that the infiltration methods used by the officers under suspicion bear hallmarks of the IRA in the past.
The police source said: "The IRA tried to infiltrate and they succeeded to a certain extent.
"By just slipping under the radar it takes suspicion away from you.
"If you are a young Pakistani of English origin and you feel you want to do something for the cause of Islam, what better way than to join the enemy and attack from within?"
MI5 believes other sleeper cells are trying to infiltrate public services across Britain in order to gain vital intelligence.
Even exiled cleric Omar Bakri has revealed how Islamic extremists were working at the heart of the NHS and other vital services.
Failed asylum seeker Omar Altimimi was jailed for nine years last July for keeping manuals on detonating car bombs.
Before his conviction he had applied to work as a cleaner for Greater Manchester police.
Numbers of officers from ethnic minorities have risen since the Met was accused of being institutionally racist in the Stephen Lawrence public inquiry report.
MP Patrick Mercer, Tory terrorism advisor, said: "This discovery by MI5 comes as no surprise to me.
"Recruiting ethnic people into key public sector organisations - in place to protect us - is a risk.
"Our vetting procedures have to be toughened before it's too late."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenoma
on: March 09, 2008, 05:36:52 PM
Third-grade teacher Fermina Katarina Sinaga, now 67, has perhaps the most telling story. In an essay about what he wanted to be when he grew up, Obama "wrote he wanted to be president," Sinaga recalled. "He didn't say what country he wanted to be president of. But he wanted to make everybody happy."
When Obama was in 4th grade, the Soetoro family moved. Their new neighborhood was only 3 miles to the west, but a world away. Elite Dutch colonists once lived there; the Japanese moved in during their occupation of Indonesia in World War II. In the early 1970s, diplomats and Indonesian businessmen lived there in fancy gated houses with wide paved roads and sculpted bushes.
Obama never became terribly close with the children of the new school--this time a predominantly Muslim one--where he was enrolled. As he had at the old school, Obama sat in a back corner. He sketched decidedly American cartoon characters during class.
"He liked drawing Spider-Man and Batman," said another friend, Widiyanto Hendro Cahyono, 46. "Barry liked to draw heroes."
Then, one day about a year after he had arrived, Obama was gone.
"Suddenly we asked, `Where's Barry?'
" remembered Ati Kisjanto, 45. "And we were told he had already moved away."
Not one of `the brothers'
As much as young Obama stood out physically in the classrooms of Indonesia, so, too, did he at Punahou School, the elite private prep academy his mother moved him back to Hawaii to attend.
Obama, his mother and new baby sister, Maya, moved into a small apartment near the school's sprawling, lush campus. And from the first day of 5th grade right up until his graduation in 1979, the young man was one of only a small number of black students at a school heavily populated by the children of Hawaii's wealthy, most of them white and Asian.
Then and now, Punahou and Hawaii liked to see themselves as more diverse and colorblind than the rest of the nation. But the reality felt far different for the handful of African-Americans attending classes there.
Rik Smith, a black Punahou student two years older than Obama, remembers a Halloween when white students would dress as slaves, coming to school in tattered clothes with their faces painted black with shoe polish. "Like being black was a funny costume in and of itself," recalled Smith, now a doctor who specializes in geriatrics in California.
"Punahou was an amazing school," Smith said. "But it could be a lonely place. ... Those of us who were black did feel isolated--there's no question about that."
As a result, the handful of black students at Punahou informally banded together. "The brothers," as Lewis Anthony Jr., an African-American in the class of 1977 put it, hung out together, often talking about issues involving race and civil rights. They sought out parties, especially at the military bases on the island, where African-Americans would be in attendance.
Obama, however, was not a part of that group, according to Anthony and Smith. Both of them seemed surprised to hear that in "Dreams"--which neither of them had read--Obama writes about routinely going to parties at Schofield Barracks and other military bases in order to hang out with "Ray," who like Anthony and Smith was two years ahead of him in school.
"We'd all do things together, but Obama was never there," Smith said, adding that they often brought along the few other black underclassmen. "I went to those parties up at Schofield but never saw him at any of them."
Obama devotes many words in his book to exploring his outsider status at Punahou. But any struggles he was experiencing were obscured by the fact that he had a racially diverse group of friends--many of whom often would crowd into his grandparents' apartment, near Punahou, after school let out.
One of those kids was Orme, a smart, respectful teenager from a white, middle-class family. Though Orme spent most afternoons with Obama and considered him one of his closest friends, he said Obama never brought up issues of race, never talked about feeling out of place at Punahou.
"He never verbalized any of that," Orme said during a telephone interview from his home in Oregon. "He was a very provocative thinker. He would bring up worldly topics far beyond his years. But we never talked race."
Whatever misgivings Obama had about Punahou, attending the school was largely his decision.
When his mother, a woman said to have been born with a keen sense of wanderlust, announced she was returning to Indonesia, Obama, then a teenager, asked to stay in Hawaii, according to Soetoro-Ng, 36, who still lives in Honolulu. Once again, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, who had been as much parents as grandparents throughout the young man's life, said he could live with them.
"I don't imagine the decision to let him stay behind was an easy one for anyone," Soetoro-Ng said. "But he wanted to remain at Punahou. He had friends there, he was comfortable there, and to a kid his age, that's all that mattered."
One place Obama has said he found a sense of community was on the basketball court. A member of the varsity squad, though not a starter, Obama and his teammates brought Punahou the state championship in 1979, his senior year.
Adept at nailing long jump shots, Obama was called "Barry O'Bomber" by teammates. Alan Lum, who later would coach the basketball team at Punahou as well as teach elementary school there, recalled Obama as always being the first to confront coaches when he felt they were not fairly allotting playing time.
Obama wasn't shy about advocating for himself and his fellow backup players, Lum said. "He'd go right up to the coach during a game and say, `Coach, we're killing this team. Our second string should be playing more.'
But it was on the court in the off-season that Obama seemed to be even happier. Back then, Punahou was a completely open campus, with several basketball courts where 20-something men from Honolulu would come in the late afternoon for what often turned into flashy, highly competitive pickup sessions. Many of the men were black.
Orme would stay for the games.
"At the time, it was about basketball," said Orme, who has remained friends with Obama over the years and who plays basketball with him almost every Christmas when the two return to Hawaii to visit family. "But looking back now I can see he was seeking more from those guys than that. He was probably studying them and learning from them. He was a younger black man looking for guidance."
Old friend disputes memoir
Every senior graduating from Punahou gets to design a quarter-page in the yearbook. They compose notes to friends and family and include photos or quotes that best represent them.
On page 271 of the 1979 Oahuan, Obama's entry reflects the crossroads he found himself at as he prepared for life beyond Hawaii. He thanked "Tut and Gramps," his nicknames for Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, but didn't mention his faraway mother.
He also thanked the "Choom Gang," a reference to "chooming," Hawaiian slang for smoking marijuana. Obama admits in "Dreams" that during high school he frequently smoked marijuana, drank alcohol, even used cocaine occasionally.
"Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man," Obama wrote in "Dreams."
In the book, Obama discusses race and racism at his high school with one other Punahou student, "Ray,'' the young black man described in detail in "Dreams" as perpetually angry at the white world around him. "It's their world, all right," Ray supposedly shouts at Obama. "They own it and we in it. So just get the f--- outta my face."
But Kakugawa, in the interview Saturday, said Obama's recollection of that conversation was mistaken. "I did say we were playing in their world," he explained, "but that had nothing to do with race. He knew that."
Kakugawa explained that he had meant they were playing in the world of the elite people who populated and ran Punahou--famous Hawaiian families like the Doles, owners of the pineapple fortune, or the original developers of Waikiki, the tourist mecca. "It just wasn't a race thing," he reiterated again and again.
Obama confirmed in an interview earlier this month that the Ray character in "Dreams" actually is Kakugawa.
In another passage from the book, Ray complains that white Punahou girls don't want to date black guys and that he and Obama don't get enough playing time as athletes, speculating that they'd be "treated different if we was white. Or Japanese. Or Hawaiian. Or f------ Eskimo."
But Kakugawa, a convicted drug felon, said Saturday that he had never been the "prototypical angry black guy" that Obama portrays. Because of his biracial heritage, he said, he was "like everyone in Hawaii, a mix of a lot of things."
A close friend and track teammate of Kakugawa, John Hagar, also said he was surprised by Obama's description of the character representing Kakugawa as an angry young black man. "I never picked up on that," Hagar said. "He was just one of those perfect [ethnic] mixes of everything you see in Hawaii."
Asked Saturday about Kakugawa's recollections, the Obama campaign declined to make the senator available. But spokesman Bill Burton said Obama "stands by his recollections of these events as related in his book."
"There's no doubt that Keith's story is tragic and sad," Burton added.
While Obama rocketed to political prominence, his friend headed down the troubled road Obama had feared he was following. Since 1995, Kakugawa has spent more than 7 years in California prisons and months in Los Angeles County Jail on cocaine and auto theft charges.
Another story put forth in "Dreams" as one of Obama's pivotal moments of racial awakening checks out essentially as he wrote it. Obama recounts taking two white friends, including Orme, to a party attended almost entirely by African-Americans.
According to the book, the characters representing Orme and the other friend asked to leave the party after just an hour, saying they felt out of place. The night, Obama later wrote, made him furious as he realized that whites held a "fundamental power" over blacks.
"One of us said that being the different guys in the room had awakened a little bit of empathy to what he must feel all the time at school. And he clearly didn't appreciate that," Orme said. "I never knew, until reading the book later, how much that night had upset him."
As Obama's senior year drew to a close, his mother sent him letters from afar, about life in Indonesia and her work there with non-profit groups doing economic development. She also sent advice about his future. College would be his next stop. She mixed encouragement to keep up his grades with laments about American politics.
"It is a shame we have to worry so much about [grade point], but you know what the college entrance competition is these days," she wrote. "Did you know that in Thomas Jefferson's day, and right up through the 1930s, anybody who had the price of tuition could go to Harvard? ... I don't see that we are producing many Thomas Jeffersons nowadays. Instead we are producing Richard Nixons."
In the spring of 1979, Obama's mother and Maya, Barack's younger half sister by almost nine years, flew to Hawaii for his high school graduation. If young Obama had struggled to find a place at Punahou, it was well hidden on this day as well. He laughed and posed for photos with friends.
With a trimmed Afro, Hawaiian flower leis around his neck, Obama was surrounded by the disparate people who shaped him. In one photo he hugs his beaming sister.
In a striking snapshot with his grandparents, Stanley smiles proudly while Madelyn hugs him fiercely, as though she doesn't want to let him go forth into a world far from the remote island that for so long had been his home.
Kirsten Scharnberg reported from Honolulu and Kim Barker from Jakarta, Indonesia; Tribune staff reporter Ray Gibson contributed to this report.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenoma
on: March 09, 2008, 05:35:45 PM
The not-so-simple story of Barack Obama's youth
Shaped by different worlds, an outsider found ways to fit in
By Kirsten Scharnberg and Kim Barker
March 25, 2007
The life stories, when the presidential candidate tells them, have a common theme: the quest to belong.
A boy wants to find his place in a family where he is visibly different: chubby where others are thin, dark where others are light.
A youth living in a distant land searches and finds new friends, a new language and a heartbreaking lesson about his identity in the pages of an American magazine.
A young black man struggles for acceptance at an institution of privilege, where he finds himself growing so angry and disillusioned at the world around him that he turns to alcohol and drugs.
These have been the stories told about the first two character-shaping decades of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's life, a story line largely shaped by his own best-selling memoir, political speeches and interviews.
But the reality of Obama's narrative is not that simple.
More than 40 interviews with former classmates, teachers, friends and neighbors in his childhood homes of Hawaii and Indonesia, as well as a review of public records, show the arc of Obama's personal journey took him to places and situations far removed from the experience of most Americans.
At the same time, several of his oft-recited stories may not have happened in the way he has recounted them. Some seem to make Obama look better in the retelling, others appear to exaggerate his outward struggles over issues of race, or simply skim over some of the most painful, private moments of his life.
The handful of black students who attended Punahou School in Hawaii, for instance, say they struggled mightily with issues of race and racism there. But absent from those discussions, they say, was another student then known as Barry Obama.
In his best-selling autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," Obama describes having heated conversations about racism with another black student, "Ray." The real Ray, Keith Kakugawa, is half black and half Japanese. In an interview with the Tribune on Saturday, Kakugawa said he always considered himself mixed race, like so many of his friends in Hawaii, and was not an angry young black man.
He said he does recall long, soulful talks with the young Obama and that his friend confided his longing and loneliness. But those talks, Kakugawa said, were not about race. "Not even close," he said, adding that Obama was dealing with "some inner turmoil" in those days.
"But it wasn't a race thing," he said. "Barry's biggest struggles then were missing his parents. His biggest struggles were his feelings of abandonment. The idea that his biggest struggle was race is [bull]."
Then there's the copy of Life magazine that Obama presents as his racial awakening at age 9. In it, he wrote, was an article and two accompanying photographs of an African-American man physically and mentally scarred by his efforts to lighten his skin. In fact, the Life article and the photographs don't exist, say the magazine's own historians.
Some of these discrepancies are typical of childhood memories -- fuzzy in specifics, warped by age, shaped by writerly license. Others almost certainly illustrate how carefully the young man guarded the secret of his loneliness from even those who knew him best. And the accounts bear out much of Obama's self-portrait as someone deeply affected by his father's abandonment yet able to thrive in greatly disparate worlds.
Still, the story of his early years highlights how politics and autobiography are similar creatures: Each is shaped to serve a purpose.
In its reissue after he gave the keynote address at the Democratic convention in 2004, "Dreams from My Father" joined a long tradition of political memoirs that candidates have used to introduce themselves to the American people.
From his earliest moments on the national political stage, Obama has presented himself as having two unique qualifications: a fresh political face and an ability to bridge the gap between Americans of different races, faiths and circumstances. Among his supporters, his likability and credibility have only been boosted by his stories of being an outsider trying to fight his way in.
As much as he may have felt like an outsider at times, Obama rarely seemed to show it. Throughout his youth, as depicted in his first book, he always found ways to meld into even the most uninviting of communities. He learned to adapt to unfamiliar territory. And he frequently made peace--even allies--with the very people who angered him most.
Yet even Obama has acknowledged the limits of memoir. In a new introduction to the reissued edition of "Dreams," he noted that the dangers of writing an autobiography included "the temptation to color events in ways favorable to the writer ... [and] selective lapses of memory."
He added: "I can't say that I've avoided all, or any, of these hazards successfully."
Life without a father
It was a complicated time.
Hawaii had become a state only two years before Obama's birth, and there were plenty of native Hawaiians still deeply unhappy about it. The U.S. military was expanding on the island of Oahu, home to the new capital of Honolulu. And a young, iconoclastic white woman who had defied the social mores of the day by marrying a dashing black man from Kenya was coping with the fact that her new husband essentially had abandoned her and their young child in 1963 to study at Harvard.
Oblivious to all of this was a perpetually smiling toddler the entire family called Barry. In snapshots, the boy is a portrait of childhood bliss. He played on the beach. He posed in lifeguard stands. He rode a bright blue tricycle with red, white and blue streamers dangling from the handlebars.
In the six weeks since Obama announced his intention to run for the White House, he routinely has suggested that his diverse background--raised for a time in the Third World, schooled at elite institutions and active in urban politics--makes him the best-suited candidate to speak to rich and poor, black and white, mainstream voters and those utterly disenchanted with the political system.
Not as well known is the fact that the many people who raised him were nearly as diverse as the places where he grew up. There was his mother, Ann, a brilliant but impulsive woman; his grandmother Madelyn, a deeply private and stoically pragmatic Midwesterner; his grandfather Stanley, a loving soul inclined toward tall tales and unrealistic dreams.
"Looking back now, I'd say he really is kind of the perfect combination of all of them," said his half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng. "All of them were imperfect but all of them loved him fiercely, and I believe he took the best qualities from each of them."
During her son's earliest years, Obama's mother, whose full name was Stanley Ann Dunham because her father desperately had wished for a boy, attended college at the University of Hawaii. Known as Ann throughout her adult life, she kept to herself. She became estranged from her husband, Barack Obama Sr., after his departure for Harvard and rarely saw the group of friends that they had made at the University of Hawaii.
One of those friends, Neil Abercrombie, then a graduate student in the sociology department, frequently would see young Obama around town with his grandfather Stanley, whom Obama called "Gramps."
"Stanley loved that little boy," said Abercrombie, now a Democratic congressman from Hawaii. "In the absence of his father, there was not a kinder, more understanding man than Stanley Dunham. He was loving and generous."
A close friend of Obama's from their teenage years, Greg Orme, spent so much time with Dunham that he, too, called him "Gramps." Orme recalled that years later, at Obama's wedding reception in Chicago, Obama brought the crowd to tears when he spoke of his recently deceased maternal grandfather and how he made a little boy with an absent father feel as though he was never alone.
Madelyn Dunham, a rising executive at the Bank of Hawaii during Obama's Punahou days, was more reserved but seemed to love having her grandson's friends over to play and hang out.
"Those were robust years full of energy and cacophony, and she loved all of it," Soetoro-Ng said of her grandmother, who has lived alone since her husband died in 1992.
Ann and the boy lived with the Dunhams in Honolulu until Obama was 6. Then his young mother, now divorced, met and married an Indonesian student studying at the University of Hawaii.
In one family photo before the mother and son moved to Indonesia, Obama walks barefoot on Waikiki Beach, arms outstretched as though embracing the entire beautiful life around him. The sailboat the Manu Kai (bird of the sea, in English) is about to set sail behind him.
Obama, too, was about to journey far from these familiar shores.
Memories of a racial awakening?
Obama has told the story--one of the watershed moments of his racial awareness--time and again, in remarkable detail.
He is 9 years old, living in Indonesia, where he and his mother moved with her new husband, Lolo Soetoro, a few years earlier. One day while visiting his mother, who was working at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Obama passed time by looking through several issues of Life magazine. He came across an article that he later would describe as feeling like an "ambush attack."
The article included photos of a black man who had destroyed his skin with powerful chemical lighteners that promised to make him white. Instead, the chemicals had peeled off much of his skin, leaving him sad and scarred, Obama recalled.
"I imagine other black children, then and now, undergoing similar moments of revelation," Obama wrote of the magazine photos in "Dreams."
Yet no such Life issue exists, according to historians at the magazine. No such photos, no such article. When asked about the discrepancy, Obama said in a recent interview, "It might have been an Ebony or it might have been ... who knows what it was?" (At the request of the Tribune, archivists at Ebony searched their catalogue of past articles, none of which matched what Obama recalled.)
In fact, it is surprising, based on interviews with more than two dozen people who knew Obama during his nearly four years in Indonesia, that it would take a photograph in a magazine to make him conscious of the fact that some people might treat him differently in part because of the color of his skin.
Obama, who has talked and written so much about struggling to find a sense of belonging due to his mixed race, brushes over this time of his life in "Dreams." He describes making friends easily, becoming fluent in Indonesian in just six months and melding quite easily into the very foreign fabric of Jakarta.
The reality was less tidy.
Obama and his mother joined her new husband, a kind man who later would become a detached heavy drinker and womanizer, family members in Indonesia say. Their Jakarta neighborhood resembled a village more than the bustling metropolis the city is today. Electricity had arrived only a couple of years earlier. Half the homes were old bamboo huts; half, including the Soetoro house, were nicer, with brick or concrete and red-tiled roofs.
Former playmates remember Obama as "Barry Soetoro," or simply "Barry," a chubby little boy very different from the gangly Obama people know today. All say he was teased more than any other kid in the neighborhood--primarily because he was bigger and had black features.
He was the only foreign child in the neighborhood. He also was one of the only neighborhood children whose parents enrolled him in a new Catholic school in an area populated almost entirely by Betawis, the old tribal landowning Jakarta natives who were very traditional Muslims. Some of the Betawi children threw rocks at the open Catholic classrooms, remembered Cecilia Sugini Hananto, who taught Obama in 2nd grade.
Teachers, former playmates and friends recall a boy who never fully grasped their language and who was very quiet as a result. But one word Obama learned quickly in his new home was curang, which means "cheater."
When kids teased him, Obama yelled back, "Curang, curang!" When a friend gave him shrimp paste instead of chocolate, he yelled, "Curang, curang!"
Zulfan Adi was one of the neighborhood kids who teased Obama most mercilessly. He remembers one day when young Obama, a hopelessly upbeat boy who seemed oblivious to the fact that the older kids didn't want him tagging along, followed a group of Adi's friends to a nearby swamp.
"They held his hands and feet and said, `One, two, three,' and threw him in the swamp," recalled Adi, who still lives in the same house where he grew up. "Luckily he could swim. They only did it to Barry."
The other kids would scrap with him sometimes, but because Obama was bigger and better-fed than many of them, he was hard to defeat.
"He was built like a bull. So we'd get three kids together to fight him," recalled Yunaldi Askiar, 45, a former neighborhood friend. "But it was only playing."
Obama has claimed on numerous occasions to have become fluent in Indonesian in six months. Yet those who knew him disputed that during recent interviews.
Israella Pareira Darmawan, Obama's 1st-grade teacher, said she attempted to help him learn the Indonesian language by going over pronunciation and vowel sounds. He struggled greatly with the foreign language, she said, and with his studies as a result.
The teacher, who still lives in Obama's old neighborhood, remembers that he always sat in the back corner of her classroom. "His friends called him `Negro,'
" Darmawan said. The term wasn't considered a slur at the time in Indonesia.
Still, all of his teachers at the Catholic school recognized leadership qualities in him. "He would be very helpful with friends. He'd pick them up if they fell down,'' Darmawan recalled. "He would protect the smaller ones."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: March 08, 2008, 09:30:02 PM
March 08, 2008, 9:00 a.m.
Chain, Chain, Chain, Chain of Fools
When everybody’s a victim, nobody’s a victim.
By Mark Steyn
Well, we will have Hillary Clinton to kick around some more, at least for another few weeks. The Mummy (as my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls her) kicked open the sarcophagus door and, despite the rotting bandages dating back to Iowa, began staggering around terrorizing folks all over again. “She is a monster,” Obama adviser Samantha Power told a reporter from the Scotsman — and not a monster in a cute Loch Ness blurry long-distance kind of way but something far more repulsive and in your face. “You just look at her and think, ‘Ergh,’” continued Ms. Power, warming to her theme perhaps more than is advisable even in an interview with an overseas newspaper.
The New York Times took a different line. The only monster is you — yes, you, the American people. Surveying the Hillary-Barack death match, Maureen Dowd wrote: “People will have to choose which of America’s sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?”
Do even Democrats really talk like this? Apparently so. As Ali Gallagher, a white female (sorry, this identity-politics labeling is contagious) from Texas, told the Washington Post: “A friend of mine, a black man, said to me, ‘My ancestors came to this country in chains; I’m voting for Barack.’ I told him, ‘Well, my sisters came here in chains and on their periods; I’m voting for Hillary.’ ”
When everybody’s a victim, nobody’s a victim. Poor Ms. Gallagher can’t appreciate the distinction between purely metaphorical chains and real ones, or even how offensive it might be to assume blithely that there’s no difference whatsoever. But, if her sisters really came here in chains, it must have been Bondage Night at the Mayflower’s Swingers’ Club. On the other hand, Barack’s ancestors didn’t come here in chains either: his mother was a white Kansan, so was presumably undergoing menstrual hell with the Gallagher gals, and his dad was a black man a long way away in colonial Kenya. Indeed, Senator Obama would be the first son of a British subject to serve as president since those slaveholding types elected in the early days of the republic. As some aggrieved black activist sniffed snootily on TV, Barack isn’t really an “African-American” — unless by “African-American,” you mean somebody whose parentage is half-American and half-African, and let’s face it, no one would come up with so cockamamie a definition as that.
As for victims, you have to feel sorry for John Edwards. He was born in a mill. He weighed 1.6 pounds and what did his dad get? Another day older and deeper in debt. John spent most of his childhood in chains workin’ in the coalmine. He spent most of the 19th century as a spindly seven-year-old sweep with rickets cleaning chimneys in Dickensian London until Fagin spotted him and trained him up as a trial lawyer. And it worked swell in the 2004 primary but it counted for nothing this time round because, even with all that soot on his face, he’s still a white boy. Bill Richardson was the first Hispanic candidate but nobody needs a Hispanic called “Bill Richardson”. Hillary assumed she’d be the last identity-pol standing in a field of bouffant poseurs like Joe Biden, only to discover that by the time she got to the final round the Democratic primary process had descended to near parody — or, as the New York Times headline put it, a “Duel Of Historical Guilts.”
That’s one “historical guilt” too many. If it’s Historical Guilt vs. Joe Biden and John Edwards, bet on Historical Guilt, and the Democratic base uniting around Hillary and baying “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar”. Instead, it’s “I Am Woman, Hear Me Whine About The Unfairness Of It All,” as the Clintonites go nuclear and accuse Obama, the ultimate cool black dude, of “imitating Ken Starr,” the ultimate uptight squaresville honky. Which may be a marginally less ineffective line of attack than Gloria Steinem (now 112 but still fabulously hot) complaining to The New York Observer that way too many Americans want “redemption for racism” but not enough want “redemption for the gynocide.” Which may, in turn, be a marginally less fatal shot in the foot than former Carter-administration honcho Andrew Young’s perplexing boast that Bill Clinton has slept with more black women than Obama.
The Democratic primary season seems to have dwindled down into a psycho remake of Driving Miss Daisy. The fading matriarch Mizz Hill’ry (Jessica Tandy) doesn’t want to give up the keys to the Democratic-party vehicle but the dignified black chauffeur Hokey (Morgan Freeman) insists it’ll be a much smoother ride with him in the driver’s seat, full of gear change you can believe in, etc. Yet, just as he thinks the old biddy’s resigned to a nomination as Best Supporting Actress, the backseat driver plunges her hat pin into his spine, wrests the wheel away and lurches across the median.
Is the Democratic presidential process a Karl Rove plot? Right now, neither Mizz Hill’ry nor Hokey can win without the votes of the “super-delegates,” whose disposition is apparently in flux. The gay super-delegates, as I noted a week or two back, are apparently sticking to Hillary like the Hello, Dolly! waiters to Carol Channing. But others are said to be moving Barackwards. Are they jumping to a stalled bandwagon? One Historical Guilt gives upscale white liberals a chance to demonstrate their progressive bona fides in unison and with nary a thought. Two Historical Guilts shrivels from transformative feelgood fluffiness into sour tribalism. Like Hillary’s “I Am Woman” routine, Obama’s cult of narcissism — “We are the change we have been waiting for” — would have been a shoo-in against Biden, Dodd, and Edwards. But the gaseous platitudes wafting up to Cloud Nine are suddenly very earthbound. “Yes, we can!” is an effective pitch if you’re the new messiah, not so much when you’re pulling in a very humdrum fortysomething percent against a divisive and strikingly inept campaigner.
Go back to that Maureen Dowd line: “People will have to choose which of America’s sins are greater.”
“People won’t, Democrats will,” the blogger Orrin Judd responded. “People will elect John McCain in November, demonstrating that we don’t share their guilt.”
Maybe. But a Democrat nominating process that’s a self-torturing satire of upscale liberal guilt confusions will at least give us a laugh along the way.
© 2008 Mark Steyn
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MjczMDE2Zjk3ODlhNDUwMGQyOGExNTU5YTE1OTBjMTE=
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Australia
on: February 25, 2008, 07:37:21 PM
There are exemptions for the daily prayers for devout muslims in non-muslim lands, or are unable to pray due to work or other things (like jihad). Much like muslim taxi drivers refusing to drive guide dogs or people in possession of alcohol, this is forcing sharia law on the western world incrementally. Islam is to dominate and not be dominated, and they will push that agenda as long as we'll let them.