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.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Balkans
on: February 24, 2008, 02:26:12 PM
February 24, 2008
Yippy Ti Yi Yo, Europe!
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
In the last few days, we’ve been reminded yet again that Europe’s radical secularism, atheism, socialism, multiculturalism, childlessness, and aging population make a fascinating but unstable mix — a lovely, fragile orchid in a thinly protected greenhouse.
Kosovo has just declared its independence from Serbia, and what follows could be nightmarish. An oil-rich, bellicose, and rearming Russia doesn’t much like the new breakaway state. But France, Germany, and most of the European Union — other than its Orthodox members and those in close proximity to Vladimir Putin — encouraged it. To paraphrase Joseph Stalin, “How many divisions does the E.U. have?”
Recently Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking on German soil, told cheering Turkish workers and Germans of Turkish ancestry that assimilation is "a crime against humanity" — in between demands that the European Union admit his increasingly Islamicized Turkey to full membership. The American press passed over Erdogan’s broadside, but it was a revolutionary, nationalist appeal to German residents of Turkish backgrounds, over the head of, and contrary to, the German government itself — eerily like, mutatis mutandis, Hitler’s appeal in the late 1930s to the supposedly oppressed Germans of Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile Norway is about to request 100,000 Turkish guest workers for its cash-rich but labor-poor economy. The French, however, are sighing ‘been there, done that,’ as police sweep public housing projects in the Paris suburbs looking for Muslim immigrants implicated in past riots.
The British press claims that Muslim immigrants committed over 17,000 acts of “honor” violence in Britain last year. Perhaps in response, the Archbishop of Canterbury conceded that imposition of a parallel system of sharia law in the United Kingdom might be “unavoidable.” Iran just warned Denmark to silence its newspapers, which once again are republishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
Meanwhile, many European NATO troops in Afghanistan rarely venture into combat zones, even as U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pleads in vain for Europe to send over a few more thousand from its nearly two-million-man standing army. A recent Pew poll revealed that in many European countries only about 30-40 percent of those surveyed have a positive opinion of the United States.
How do all these diverse narratives and agendas add up? The vaunted European multicultural, multilateral, utopian and pacifist worldview is now on its own and thus will get hammered as never before in the unrelenting forge of history. Very soon there will be no more George W. Bush to dump on, hide behind, and blame for the widening cracks in the Atlantic alliance. Instead Europeans may well have to call on the old pro, Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, to lead them in negotiating sessions with jihadists, Iran, and Russia.
Consider Kosovo again. Europe is invested, quite rightly I think, in promoting its independence. But it is a Muslim country in a post-9/11 landscape, with a history of drawing not only Albanian but also Middle Eastern jihadists to its defense. Russia and Serbia together have the military wherewithal to invade it tomorrow — Serbia by land, Russia by air — and end its breakaway experiment — to the relief of some Eastern European and Orthodox European states, and to the humiliation of the E.U. What stops them is not a few NATO peacekeepers but the commitment of the United States to use its vast resources to further the European agenda of stopping Serbian ethnic cleansing and aggression.
Yet consider our dilemma. Why would we intervene abroad in a third war when our allies have lectured us ad nauseam about the amorality of military intercession, have shown little interest in fighting jihadism in Afghanistan or Iraq, and have made clear that they want very little to do with the United States? And after 9/11, why would the United States rush to the aid of a Muslim country in a war whose earlier incarnation, under Bill Clinton, was never authorized by the U.S. Congress or the U.N.?
In short, I doubt the United States will “surge” anything in the Balkans. We will be quite happy to see a postmodern European solution to an essentially European problem. No doubt Sen. Harry Reid or Speaker Nancy Pelosi will remind the public that President Bill Clinton never got a formal congressional treaty authorization to deploy and station American troops in the former Yugoslavia.
The more labor that a secular, increasingly sterile European populace imports, the more social problems will accrue from unassimilated Muslim immigrants who like the economy and freedom of the West but are reluctant to relax any of their own religious and cultural views to participate fully in the postmodern society of their hosts. The resulting “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” is not a static situation, but one that will be resolved either in multicultural/appeasement fashion (grant de facto sharia law at home and seek friendly realignment with Middle Eastern dictatorships abroad) or with tough assimilationist and immigration policies, coupled with increasingly explicit distrust of expansionary Islam.
Europe is short on energy and depends on illiberal Russia and the Middle East for its fuel. Both these regions are sick and tired of Europe’s empty lectures about human rights and feel only disdain for its absence of military might to back up its sermonizing. But Europe is also anti-American, and now in a world of Ahmadinejihads, Putins, Chinese communist apparatchiks, and thuggish Latin American strongmen, it has more or less alienated the only reliable and capable resource it might have drawn on — the goodwill of the United States.
Europe is in a classic paradox. Emotionally and culturally, Europeans are invested in a leftist such as Obama who reflects their soft socialist values and fuzzy multilateralism. But given their inherent military weakness and rough neighborhood, they have grown to count on an antithetical America — religious, conservative, militarily strong — that is not afraid to use force to fulfill its obligations to preserve the shared Western globalized system from its constant multifarious challenges. I’m not sure they privately want a President Obama calling Sarkozy or Merkel and announcing, “I think we should co-chair a worldwide Islamic conference to hear out Iran’s grievances.” Much better it would be for the U.S. to ensure that Iran doesn’t get the bomb — at which point the French elite would trash America in Le Monde for being unilateral, cowboyish, and preemptive.
Our response to this Euro-neuroticism?
We are weary and tired of it. As our ancestors out West used to sing, “Yippy ti yi yo, get along little dogies, It's all your misfortune and none of my own…”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Balkans
on: February 24, 2008, 09:05:27 AM
Kosovo's stark warning
CSP Security Forum | Feb 22, 2008
by Caroline Glick
Kosovo's independence may cause more problems than it solves.
Kosovo's US-backed declaration of independence is deeply troubling. By setting a precedent of legitimizing the secession of disaffected minorities, it weakens the long-term viability of multi-ethnic states. In so doing, it destabilizes the already stressed state-based international system.
States as diverse as Canada, Morocco, Spain, Georgia, Russia and China currently suffer problems with politicized minorities. They are deeply concerned by the Kosovo precedent. Even the US has latent sovereignty issues with its increasingly politicized Hispanic minority along its border with Mexico. It may one day experience a domestic backlash from its support for Kosovar independence from Serbia.
Setting aside the global implications, it is hard to see how Kosovo constitutes a viable state. Its 40 percent unemployment is a function of the absence of proper economic and governing infrastructures.
In November, a European Commission report detailed the Kosovo Liberation Army's failure to build functioning governing apparatuses. The report noted that "due to a lack of clear political will to fight corruption, and to insufficient legislative and implementing measures, corruption is still widespread... Civil servants are still vulnerable to political interference, corrupt practices and nepotism." Moreover, "Kosovo's public administration remains weak and inefficient."
The report continued, "The composition of the government anti-corruption council does not sufficiently guarantee its impartiality," and "little progress can be reported in the area of organized crime and combating of trafficking in human beings."
Additionally, the prosecution of Albanian war criminals is "hampered by the unwillingness of the local population to testify" against them. This is in part due to the fact that "there is still no specific legislation on witness protection in place."
The fledgling failed-state of Kosovo is a great boon for the global jihad. It is true that Kosovar Muslims by and large do not subscribe to radical Islam. But it is also true that they have allowed their territory to be used as bases for al-Qaida operations; that members of the ruling Kosovo Liberation Army have direct links to al-Qaida; and that the Islamic world as a whole perceived Kosovo's fight for independence from Serbia as a jihad for Islamic domination of the disputed province.
According to a 2002 Wall Street Journal report, al-Qaida began operating actively in Kosovo, and in the rest of the Balkans, in 1992. Osama bin Laden visited Albania in 1996 and 1997. He received a Bosnian passport from the Bosnian Embassy in Austria in 1993. Acting on bin Laden's orders, in 1994 his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri set up training bases throughout the Balkans including one in Mitrovica, Kosovo. The Taliban and al-Qaida set up drug trafficking operations in Kosovo to finance their operations in Afghanistan and beyond.
In 2006, John Gizzi reported in Human Events that the German intelligence service BND had confirmed that the 2005 terrorist bombings in Britain and the 2004 bombings in Spain were organized in Kosovo. Furthermore, "The man at the center of the provision of the explosives in both instances was an Albanian, operating mostly out of Kosovo... who is the second ranking leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Niam Behzloulzi."
Then, too, at its 1998 meeting in Pakistan, the Organization of the Islamic Conference declared that the Albanian separatists in Kosovo were fighting a jihad. The OIC called on the Muslim world to help "this fight for freedom on the occupied Muslim territories."
Supporters of Kosovo claim that as victims of "genocide," Kosovar Muslims deserve independence. But if the Muslims in Kosovo have been targeted for annihilation by the Serbs, then how is it that they have increased from 48% of the population in 1948 to 92% today? Indeed, Muslims comprised only 78% of the population in 1991, the year before Yugoslavia broke apart.
In recent years particularly, it is Kosovo's Serbian Christians, not its Albanian Muslims, who are targeted for ethnic cleansing. Since 1999, two-thirds of Kosovo's Serbs - some 250,000 people - have fled the area.
The emergence of a potentially destabilizing state in Kosovo is clearly an instance of political interests trumping law. Under international law, Kosovo has no right to be considered a sovereign state. Even UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from 1999, which the KLA claims provides the legal basis for Kosovar sovereignty, explicitly recognizes Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo.
For Israel, Kosovo's US-backed declaration of independence should be a source of alarm great enough to require a rethinking of foreign policy. Unfortunately, rather than understand and implement the lessons of Kosovo, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government is working actively to ensure that they are reenacted in the international community's treatment of Israel and the Palestinians. Today, Israel is enabling the Palestinians to set the political and legal conditions for the establishment of an internationally recognized state of Palestine that will be at war with Israel.
By accepting the "Road Map Plan to a Two-State Solution" in 2004, Israel empowered the US, the EU, Russia and the UN, who comprise the international Quartet, to serve as judges of Palestinian and Israeli actions toward one another. In November 2007, at the Annapolis conference, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government explicitly empowered the US to "monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map."
That these moves have made Israel dependent on the kindness of strangers was made clear this week when Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni instructed Israel's ambassadors to launch a campaign to convince the international community that Israel and the Palestinians are making great strides in their negotiations toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. Livni's move was precipitated by growing European and US dissatisfaction with the pace of those negotiations and by reports from the meeting of Quartet members in Berlin on February 11. There all members voiced anger at the slow pace of negotiations and opposition to Israel's military actions in Gaza, which are aimed at protecting the western Negev from rocket and mortar attacks.
The US representative at the Quartet's meeting, Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, reportedly told his colleagues, "First, we must not allow the suicide bombing in Dimona and the shooting on Sderot to affect the negotiations."
Welch reportedly added, "It is also important to us that neither the Palestinians in Gaza nor the Israelis in Sderot are hurt. Also, we must continue to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas and Salaam Fayad."
Moreover, Ran Koriel, Israel's ambassador to the EU, reportedly warned Livni that the Russians are pushing for the re-establishment of a Fatah-Hamas government. Several EU states, including France, are reconsidering their refusal to recognize Hamas.
If Israel had not empowered the Quartet generally and the US specifically to determine whether the PA and Israel are behaving properly, a European or Russian decision to recognize Hamas would have little impact. But given their role as arbiters, Quartet members can take punitive action against Israel if it fails to comply with their wishes. The Quartet can replace international law in determining who can assert sovereignty over Gaza, Judea and Samaria and how Israel can exercise its own sovereignty. And so, Livni is reduced to begging them not to recognize Hamas.
Once the US decided in 1999 to commit its own forces to NATO's bombing of Serbia and subsequent occupation of Kosovo, the jig was up for Serbian sovereignty over the area. The fact is, NATO forces in Kosovo were deployed for the express purpose of blocking Serbia from exercising its sovereignty over Kosovo, not to prevent violence between the Kosovars and the Serbs or among the Muslims and Christians in Kosovo. That is, NATO deployed in Kosovo to enable it to gain independence.
And if US or NATO forces are deployed to Gaza or Judea and Samaria, they will not be there to protect Israelis from Palestinian terror or to prevent the areas from acting as global terror bases. They will be there to establish a Palestinian state.
Failing to understand the meaning of Kosovo, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government refuses to understand this point. Indeed, the government is actively lobbying NATO to deploy forces in Gaza. Just as it wrongly hoped that UNIFIL forces in south Lebanon would fight Hizbullah for it, so today, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government insists that NATO forces in Gaza will fight Hamas for it.
If applying the lessons of UNIFIL to Gaza is too abstract for the Olmert-Livni-Barak government, Israel has experience with EU monitors in Gaza itself to learn from. Wrongly assuming that the Europeans shared Israel's interest in preventing terrorists and weapons from entering Gaza, Israel requested that EU monitors set up shop at the Rafah terminal linking Gaza to Egypt after Israel withdrew from the border in 2005. Yet whenever confronted by Fatah and Hamas terrorists, rather than fight the EU monitors flee to Israel for protection. And its monitors' experience with Palestinian terrorists taking over the border has never caused the EU to question its support for Palestinian statehood.
Then, too, since the US, EU, UN and Russia all consider Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to be one territorial unit, it is not surprising that Israel's request for NATO forces in Gaza has been greeted by a US plan to deploy NATO forces in Judea and Samaria. If NATO forces in Gaza would do nothing to secure the border with Egypt or to fight terrorists and would scuttle Israeli operations in the area, NATO forces in Judea and Samaria would not simply prevent Israel from protecting its citizens who live there. They would also prevent Israel from taking action to prevent the Palestinians from attacking central Israel and asserting control over the border with Jordan. And yet, as The Jerusalem Post reported this week, Israel is conducting talks with the US regarding just such a NATO deployment.
What the Serbs made NATO fight its way in to achieve, Israel is offering NATO on a silver platter.
Not surprisingly, Abbas's adviser and PA propaganda chief Yasser Abd Rabbo reacted to Kosovo's declaration of independence by recommending that the Palestinians follow the example. Abd Rabbo said, "Kosovo is not better than us. We deserve independence even before Kosovo, and we ask for the backing of the United States and the European Union for our independence."
For its part, the Olmert-Livni-Barak government has responded to Kosovo's declaration of independence with customary confusion. But the lessons of Kosovo are clear. Not only should Israel join Russia, Canada, China, Spain, Romania and many others in refusing to recognize Kosovo. It should also state that as a consequence of Kosovo's independence, Israel rejects the deployment of any international forces to Gaza or Judea and Samaria, and refuses to cede its legal right to sovereignty in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem to international arbitration.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: February 24, 2008, 08:54:26 AM
In 2002, when the number of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe hit a twelve-year high, French Jewish leader Roger Cukierman observed a peculiar phenomenon on the European street -a loose fusing of extreme Left, Right, and Muslim political forces-what Cukierman terms the "brown-green-red alliance." The three disparate constituencies have incompatible ideologies, but all three have a shared hatred for the pluralized world order, globalized market economies, U.S. preponderance, and the state of Israel. Cukierman has observed these forces forming an alliance of convenience in the post-9/11 world with potentially dangerous results.
The same pattern is also emerging in the United States with groups of the extreme Left forging bonds with specific Muslim organizations, and here again we find the MSA figures prominently. Given the MSA's propensity for radical politics in a campus environment, it is no surprise that it has become arguably the Muslim organization most enmeshed with American leftists. Consider the following:
· Perhaps as a reward for its total opposition to every U.S. policy since the September 2001 attacks, the MSA has been given a seat on the steering committee for International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). ANSWER is an organization dedicated to defending rogue states and fighting "U.S. imperialism," and has been distinguished by its ability to organize the largest peace demonstrations in North America. ANSWER was formed by International Action Center, a communist organization that supports Stalinist regimes worldwide, including North Korea and Hussein's Iraq. 
· In its aggressive protest activities against recent Middle East wars, the MSA has developed strong working ties with numerous activist groups of the extreme Left. Among them: Free Palestine Alliance, Nicaragua Network, Kensington Welfare Rights Union, Mexico Solidarity Network, Korea Truth Commission, Young Communist League, Young Peoples' Socialist League, and Black Radical Congress.
As these examples suggest, the MSA boasts institutional ties with a host of radical issue-specific activist groups, all of them vehemently opposed to U.S. policy, and many of them openly anti-American.
The Center for Security Policy's Alex Alexiev argues, "The majority of Muslim Student Associations at U.S. colleges are dominated by Islamist and anti-American agendas, as are most of the numerous Islamic centers and schools financed by the Saudis. Intolerance and outright rejection of American values and democratic ideals are often taught also in the growing number of Deobandi schools that are frequently subsidized by the Saudis."
The following examples illustrate both the degree and pervasiveness of hate-America vitriol that characterize the MSA:
· Taliban propaganda is featured on the website of the University of Southern California MSA chapter.
· One featured article in Al-Talib (a magazine developed by the UCLA chapter of the MSA and not affiliated with the Taliban of Afghanistan) entitled, "The Spirit of Jihad," praised Osama bin Laden as a "prominent Muslim activist." The article goes on to say, "When we hear someone refer to the great mujahideen Osama bin Laden as a 'terrorist,' we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter; someone who has forsaken wealth and power to fight in Allah's cause and speak out against oppressors." 
· Another Al-Talib article entitled "Americanization" states, "A dangerous weapon has once again been unfurled by the U.S. military in this War on Terrorism ... This weapon comes in the form of cultural warfare ... In this new War on Terrorism, the colossal brunt of this production machine is now squarely targeted at the Muslim population." 
· At an Al-Talib event to offer support for Imam Jamil al-Amin, convicted of killing a policeman, guest speaker Imam Abdul-Alim Musa said, "When you fight [the U.S.] you are fighting someone that is superior in criminality and Nazism ... the American criminalizer is the most skillful oppressor the world has ever known ...They beat the British at everything, isn't that right? They are a better colonizer, a better murderer, a better killer, a better liar, a better thief, a better infiltrator than old British." 
This anti-Americanism blends together almost seamlessly with a virulent discourse against the Jews and Israel. Consider the following:
· At the 2001 MSA West conference, hosted by UCLA, cleric Imam Muhammad al-Asi stated, "Israel is as racist as apartheid could ever be ... you can take a Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew."
· The MSA continues to celebrate violence against Israel on its websites. At the MSA Northwest site, for example, images of Hamas suicide squads and child soldiers are proudly displayed above jihadist poetry, whose verse (erratically capitalized) celebrates violence: "...two soldiers spotted me in their sight ... i had to blast 4 shots hitting each one in the face and waist. a trace of blood drips from my arm as i make my away thru streets with an injured zionist as a hostage ... seen a group of israeli soldiers run out and began pulling the trigger when sounds of rounds began playing a deadly melody. Each gun dropped two ..." 
· In 2002, the MSA at the University of Michigan helped host the Second National Student Conference for Palestine Solidarity Movement. At that conference, one of the guest speakers was ex-University of Florida professor Sami al-Arian, who is now awaiting trial on terrorism-related charges.
Ironically, although one of the founding missions of the MSA is to increase favorable awareness of Muslim life among non-Muslims, the effect of the MSA's activities is the opposite: they confirm the worst suspicions of American society at large. The MSA's refusal to identify jihadists and jihadist sympathizers within its ranks, its indiscriminate opposition to U.S. policies following the September 11 attacks, its vitriolic anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric, and its solidarity with "Leftover Left" radical activist organizations, together reinforce an image that the MSA, and by extension, Muslim college students, are a divisive, angry, and potentially violent group on our campuses. By monopolizing the Muslim student voice in America with "radical chic" to create a "single Muslim bloc," an opportunity to forge a healthy discourse on the diverse attitudes of Muslim students is lost to the confrontational language of radical dissent and resistance.
Universities that host student organizations have an obligation to enforce basic standards of conduct, standards that the MSA has clearly breached. At the very least, MSA's most egregious behavior must face censure from those responsible for monitoring student conduct. University administrators must unchain themselves from cultural relativism and the ideology of "validation" and deal squarely with such misdeeds.
More importantly, however, the problem of the Muslim Students' Association illustrates the great question that confronts the West today: how does it cultivate liberalism in Muslim communities living at home and abroad? Just as the U.S. policy of détente with the Arab world collapsed after September 11, to be replaced by a "forward strategy of democracy," it may be time to adopt a "forward strategy" within U.S. borders, focused on promoting moderate voices in mosques and campuses. To improve campus life for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, universities should work with moderate students to inaugurate a new Muslim students' organization, one that eschews the radical politics of the "old world" in favor of authenticity, diversity, and integration. A new Muslim student organization would return to the primary mission of religiously-based campus groups-to celebrate and share in the fellowship of faith.
 "The Constitution of the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada," Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada, Washington, D.C., at http://www.msa-national.org/about/constitution.html
 WorldNetDaily, Mar. 18, 2003, at http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=31571
 Frontpage Magazine, Apr. 4, 2003, at http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=7098
 Sakeena Mirza and Ameena Qazi, "Robbing the Poor," al-Talib, vol. 12, no. 3, at http://www.al-talib.com/articles/v12_i3_a04.htm
 "A Little Taste of History," Muslim Students' Association of U.S. and Washington, D.C., at http://www.msa-national.org/about/history.html
 Alex Alexiev, "The Missing Link in the War on Terror: Confronting Saudi Subversion," Center for Security Policy, at http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/index.jsp?section=static&page=alexiev
 FrontPage Magazine, Apr. 23, 2003, at http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=7395
 "List of Organizations that Donate Islamic Books and Da'wah Materials," Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada, Washington, D.C., at http://www.msa-natl.org/resources/Donation_Books.html
 "Senators Request Tax Information on Muslim Charities for Probe," Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, Jan. 14, 2003, at http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2004&m=January&x=20040114155543zemogb0.8868524&t=usinfo/wf-latest.html
. For details, see http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/164
 Hamid Algar, "Wahhabism: A Critical Essay," in Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Adair T. Lummis, eds., Islamic Values in the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 124.
 Stephen Schwartz, "Terrorism: Growing Wahhabi Influence in the United States," testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, June 26, 2003, at http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/congress/2003_h/030626-schwartz.htm
 MSA Starter's Guide: A Guide on How to Run a Successful MSA, 1st ed. (Washington, D.C.: Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada, Mar. 1996), at http://www.msa-natl.org/publications/startersguide.html
 "Religious Accommodations Task Force," Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada, Washington, D.C., at http://www.msa-national.org/taskforces/religious.html
 Shabana Mir, "Gender-based Exclusionism at a Muslim Student Association, Part I," The American Muslim, July/Aug. 2003, at http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/2003jul_comments.php?id=347_0_21_0_C
 "Rally against the Patriot Act," University of Pennsylvania Muslim Students' Association, at http://www.upenn-msa.org/subcommittees/pmj/patriotact.html
 "MSA National Demands an Immediate End to the Inhumane U.N. Sanctions," Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada, Washington, D.C., Apr. 6, 2001, at http://www.msa-national.org/media/pressreleases/040601.html
 "Muslim Students Condemn U.S. Attack on Iraq," Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada, Washington, D.C., Dec. 17, 1998 at http://www.msa-national.org/media/pressreleases/121798.html
 MSA Starter's Guide, at http://www.msa-natl.org/publications/startersguide.html
 Oubai Mohammad Shahbandar, "Open Letter from an Arab-American Student," FrontPage Magazine, June 2, 2003, at http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=8143
 "MSA National Political Action Task Force, America: Post 9/11," Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada, Washington, D.C., at http://www.msa-national.org/media/actionalerts/political.pdf
 The Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2003.
 Oubai Shahbandar, "U.S. Muslims as Patriots," The Arizona Republic, Oct. 11, 2003.
 Quoted by Mark Strauss, "Anti-Globalism's Jewish Problem," Foreign Policy, Nov./Dec. 2003.
 "National Conference against War, Colonial Occupation and Imperialism, May 17-18, New York City," ANSWER, at http://www.internationalanswer.org/news/update/041203m17conf.html
 Alexiev, "This Missing Link on the War on Terror," at http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/index.jsp?section=static&page=alexiev
 Syed Rahmatullah Hashimi, "Taliban in Afghanistan," University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Mar. 10, 2001, at http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/Taliban/talebanlec.html
 Al-Talib, July 1999, quoted in FrontPageMagazine.com, Apr. 23, 2003, at http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=7113
. Al-Talib is listed as an official MSA Project by the UCLA chapter of MSA, at http://www.msa-ucla.com/projects.htm
 Ghaith Mahmood, "Americanization: Solutions for a Small Planet?" al-Talib, vol. 12, no. 3, at http://www.al-talib.com/articles/v12_i3_a05.htm
 Erick Stakelbeck, "Islamic Radicals on Campus," FrontPage Magazine, Apr. 23, 2003, at http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=7395
"UCLA Sponsors of Terrorism," FrontPage Magazine, Apr. 4, 2003, at http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=7098
 Atlantiz Miztery, "Palestine in War," South Seattle Community College Muslim Students' Association, at http://sscc.msanw.org/forum.htm
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: February 24, 2008, 08:53:02 AM
**Let's see what the New Duranty Times didn't find newsworthy about the Muslim Student Association....**
Islamism's Campus Club
By Jonathan Dowd-Gailey
Middle East Quarterly | 6/2/2004
The northern Virginia-based Muslim Students' Association (MSA) might easily be taken for a benign student religious group. It promotes itself as a benevolent, non-political entity devoted to the simple virtue of celebrating Islam and providing college students a healthy venue to develop their faith and engage in philanthropy. Along these lines, its constitution declares the MSA's mission as serving "the best interest of Islam and Muslims in the United States and Canada so as to enable them to practice Islam as a complete way of life."
Today, over 150 MSA chapters exist on American college campuses (divided into five regional chapters), easily establishing this organization as the most extensive Muslim student organization in North America. A Washington, D.C.-based national office assists in the establishment of constituent chapters and oversees fundraising and conferences while steering a plethora of special committees and "Political Action Task Forces."
Yet consider some of these recent activities of the MSA:
· At a meeting in Queensborough Community College in New York in March 2003, a guest speaker named Faheed declared, "We reject the U.N., reject America, reject all law and order. Don't lobby Congress or protest because we don't recognize Congress. The only relationship you should have with America is to topple it ... Eventually there will be a Muslim in the White House dictating the laws of Shariah."
· During an October 2000 anti-Israeli protest, former MSA president Ahmed Shama at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) stood before the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, shouting "Victory to Islam! Death to the Jews!" MSA West president Sohail Shakr declared at the same rally, "the biggest impediment to peace [in the Middle East] has been the existence of the Zionist entity in the middle of the Muslim world."
· Prior to September 11, 2001, the MSA formally assisted three Islamic charities in fundraising: the Holy Land Foundation, Global Relief, and Benevolence Foundation. After that date, all three were accused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of having serious links to terrorism and were ordered closed. The MSA issued a formal statement of protest: "How three of the nation's largest Muslim charities could be made inoperable at the peak of the giving season of Ramadan seemed unbelievable."
This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is overwhelming evidence that the MSA, far from being a benign student society, is an overtly political organization seeking to create a single Muslim voice on U.S. campuses-a voice espousing Wahhabism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism, agitating aggressively against U.S. Middle East policy, and expressing solidarity with militant Islamist ideologies, sometimes with criminal results.
A Saudi Creation
On its website, the MSA describes its emergence as spontaneous and disavows any link to foreign governments. In fact, the creation of the MSA resulted from Saudi-backed efforts to found Islamic bodies internationally in the 1960s. Alex Alexiev of the Center for Security Policy states, "The Saudis over the years set up a number of large front organizations, such as the World Muslim League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, the Al Haramain Foundation, and a great number of Islamic "charities." While invariably claiming that they were private, all of these groups were tightly controlled and financed by the Saudi government and the Wahhabi clergy."
In the United States, two leading Saudi-backed organizations were the MSA and the Islamic Society of North America (the MSA's adult counterpart), both of which received major funding, direction, and influence from Riyadh.
Personnel, money, and institutional linkages bound these organizations together from their inception, and all roads led eventually to Riyadh. Ahmad Totonji, an MSA co-founder, later served as vice-president for the notorious Saudi SAAR Foundation (a network of charities named after Saudi benefactor Sulayman 'Abd al-'Aziz ar-Rajhi), which closed down in 2001 after federal agents discovered links to terrorist groups. Another MSA co-founder, Ahmad Sakr, served on a number of Saudi-affiliated organizations, such as the World Council of Mosques. The MSA is very much a result of Saudi "petro-Islam" diplomacy.
Current estimates suggest that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spends $4 billion annually on international aid, with two-thirds of that sum devoted to strictly Islamic development. Much of this largesse has ended up at Islamist organizations like MSA. Funded through private donations or through foundations and charities (only some of which the MSA officially reports), MSA offers its Saudi benefactors a powerful tool. However, until the MSA's tax records are made public (on January 14, 2004, the Senate Finance Committee publicized a list of Islamic organizations whose financial records are sought, including the MSA), the exact extent of foreign funding for the organization cannot be known.
But even without the tax records, there is plenty of evidence for the MSA's strident advocacy of the Saudi-style Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. In "Wahhabism: A Critical Essay," Hamid Algar of the University of California-Berkeley writes, "Some Muslim student organizations have functioned at times as Saudi-supported channels for the propagation of Wahhabism abroad, especially in the United States ... Particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, no criticism of Saudi Arabia would be tolerated at the annual conventions of the MSA. The organization has, in fact, consistently advocated theological and political positions derived from radical Islamist organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaati Islam."
The MSA has played a major role in spreading Wahhabism. "Its numerous local chapters," Algar explains, "would make available at every Friday prayer large stacks of the [Mecca-based] World Muslim League's publications, in both English and Arabic. Although the MSA progressively diversified its connections with Arab states, official approval of Wahhabism remained strong."
Stephen Schwartz goes further, stating in his June 2003 testimony to the U.S. Senate's Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, "Shia and other non-Wahhabi Muslim community leaders estimate that 80 percent of American mosques out of a total ranging between an official estimate of 1,200 and an unofficial figure of 4-6,000 are under Wahhabi control ... Wahhabi control over mosques means control of property, buildings, appointment of imams, training of imams, content of preaching including faxing of Friday sermons from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and of literature distributed in mosques and mosque bookstores, notices on bulletin boards, and organizational and charitable solicitation ... The main organizations that have carried out this campaign are the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which originated in the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)."
The MSA reflects a prime characteristic of militant Islamic groups: a refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of secular society and personal spirituality. The MSA's Starters Guide contains an open call to Islamicize campus politics: "It should be the long-term goal of every MSA to Islamicize the politics of their respective university ... the politicization of the MSA means to make the MSA more of a force on internal campus politics. The MSA needs to be a more "In-your-face" association."
All of this, the guide explains, results from the MSA's duty "to bring morality back into the campus" and to convince students to practice Islam "as a complete way of life."
In the process, the MSA preaches a creed of "special treatment" and "self-segregation" that sounds reminiscent of, and may actually borrow from, Afro-centric campus politics of the 1990s. Demanding that universities be more "Muslim-friendly," the MSA's newly established National Religious Accommodations Task Force (RATF) directs local MSA chapters to insist that universities provide separate housing and meals for Muslims only.
The politics of segregation practiced by the MSA have included blanket marginalization of its own female members. Shabana Mir, writing for the American Muslim, summarizes the plight of Muslim women on campus: "It is particularly important to know what is happening with Muslim women pursuing higher education. Many Muslim women in MSAs are working toward the justice and the equality that Islam ordains for humankind. A survey of sisters' participation in MSAs conducted in 1994 shows that women's activism in MSAs is at an abysmally low level due in large part to "brother domination." A related problem is "there is a common attitude that strict segregation should exist between the genders and that sisters should not appear in public!" On an MSA mailing list, a popular article gives a long list of conditions that women must fulfill to gain access to the mosque. These include obtaining permission from her male guardian, wearing hijab [veil], not wearing "fancy clothes" or perfume, not mixing with men, leaving immediately after the prayer, and so on!" 
Just as the MSA promotes a single theology, it similarly projects a monolithic political voice, one openly antagonistic to Muslim American diversity and in complete opposition to existing U.S. foreign policy. Although Muslim students in the United States exhibit the full range of political views found in America today, the MSA invariably adopts lopsided adversarial positions, as in these three cases:
Patriot Act: The MSA categorically opposes this legislation, describing it as "infamous." Chapters across the country have agitated against it, as well as against virtually every other security initiative since 9/11. At an MSA rally at the University of Pennsylvania, the co-chair of Muslims for Justice declared, "the Patriot Act is sending us in a backwards spiral, where the destination is chaos."
Afghanistan: The MSA opposed the military intervention against the Taliban regime, instead calling for a "police investigation." MSA National further advised that the entire matter would be best addressed at the International Criminal Tribunal. MSA chapters organized rallies demanding a ceasefire and held "Solidarity Fasts" to honor Afghans who, the MSA charged, would face massive starvation as a result of the war.
Iraq: Even before the crisis of 2003, the MSA opposed every U.S. policy towards Iraq over the last twelve years. It strongly opposed the United Nations (U.N.)-authorized sanctions, claiming that the sanctions were "nothing short of a systematic genocide being carried out against civilian people." The MSA condemned former president Clinton's 1998 strike against Iraq following Saddam Hussein's ouster of U.N. weapons inspectors, declaring that its "brothers and sisters in Iraq are once again being terrorized by the self-appointed champions of democracy."
MSA National consistently pledges support for the war on terror and claims to merely "represent" student views. But it maintains control of the political agenda, leaving the chapters simply to mobilize support. Its chapters pointedly ignored the New York Shi'ites who held vigils for their Iraqi brethren and the Michigan Kurds who rallied for Hussein's ouster. The MSA's decision to mobilize against the Bush administration took place without public debate and with no attempt at representing diverse views within the MSA. This approach is in keeping with the MSA's goal, as its official literature states, that the student body "be convinced that there is such a thing as a Muslim-bloc."
Muslim students who refuse to submit to the MSA's position often find themselves harassed by their MSA peers. Oubai Shahbandar, an Arizona State University (ASU) student, expressed support for the Iraqi invasion and suffered condemnation from MSA members. Shahbandar states, "When I, a proud American of Arab descent and Muslim faith, took a stand on behalf of the liberation of my oppressed Iraqi brethren, the ASU Muslim Students' Association personally attacked me for not being a real Muslim and announced to the ASU student body in editorials in the student paper that I, Oubai Mohammad Shahbandar, was a hater of Arabs and Muslims."
Shahbandar also explains what the MSA preaches on his campus: "We are told America's foreign policy is based on racist neo-imperialism; we are taught that national security is a foul epithet to be reviled; we are told the Jews and Israel are to blame for the hatred against us."
Playing the Victim
The MSA's adoption of the politics of victimization is reminiscent of wider campus trends of the 1990s. In the days immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the MSA stated, "In light of the Bush administration's casting blame for the attack on Osama Bin Laden, MSA National recognizes that Muslim students on college campuses will be subject to backlash."
Ominously, an "awareness" document describes post 9/11 Homeland Security policies in the same terms as do extremist Muslims abroad-that is, as an assault explicitly against Islam. America: Post 9/11, an MSA document, states, "Soon after [9/11], the attacks against our religion began at the hands of the media and the political establishment."
Not surprisingly, the MSA has expressed resistance, outrage, and cynicism with virtually every high-profile arrest of Muslim Americans charged with conspiring with terrorists. When former University of South Florida (USF) professor Sami al-Arian was arrested for directing U.S. operations for the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Florida campus MSA chapter held a press conference and stated: "We come before you today on behalf of the Muslim Student Association at USF as well as the National Muslim Student Association of the U.S. and Canada to express our shock, deep concern, and plea for justice regarding the recent arrests of two USF professors, Dr. Sami al-Arian and Sameeh Hammoudeh ... we are concerned that the USF professors were arrested for their political views."
The problem is that the MSA has been unable or unwilling to recognize that some Muslims, including its members, have crossed the line between political advocacy and material support for jihadist activities. In fact, MSA members and activities have repeatedly surfaced in police investigations. Some of these arrests received national media coverage, including the following:
· In February 2003, former head of the MSA chapter at the University of Idaho, Sami Omar al-Hussayen, was arrested with an indictment that he raised over $300,000 for the Islamic Assembly of North America, a group under federal investigation for funding terrorist groups. FBI agents believed Hussayen was communicating with two radical clerics, nicknamed the "awakening sheikhs," known for inspiring young Muslims to pursue the path of jihad and credited as major ideological mentors to Osama bin Laden.
· In April 2003, the home of Arizona State University MSA president Hassan Alrafea was raided by the FBI, whose agents confiscated his computer and unspecified documents.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenoma
on: February 23, 2008, 09:26:27 AM
Michelle Obama’s America–and mine
By Michelle Malkin • February 20, 2008 08:04 AM
Barack Obama–the guy who effectively mocked the Clintons for not saying what they mean–is now trying to spin his wife’s comments by explaining that she, uh, didn’t really mean what she said.
I give you your morning snort-starter:
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama sought Tuesday to clarify his wife’s statement that she is proud of the U.S. “for the first time in my adult life.” He said her newfound pride is about the political system and was not meant to disparage her country…”Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn’t at all what she meant,” Obama said. “What she meant was, this is the first time that she’s been proud of the politics of America,” he said. “Because she’s pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she’s not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she’s encouraged.”
Jim Hoft has the vid of Michelle Obama repeating the line twice. She meant what she said.
My column this week gives you two Michelles, two Americas. John Edwards was right after all!
Michelle Obama’s America—and mine
Copyright Creators Syndicate 2008
Like Michelle Obama, I am a “woman of color.” Like Michelle Obama, I am a working mother of two young children. Like Michelle Obama, I am a member of the 13th Generation of Americans born since the founding of our great nation.
Unlike Michelle Obama, I can’t keep track of the number of times I’ve been proud—really proud—of my country since I was born and privileged to live in it.
At a speech in Milwaukee this week on behalf of her husband’s Democrat presidential campaign, Mrs. Obama remarked that “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”
Mrs. Obama’s statement was met with warm applause from other Barack supporters who have apparently also been devoid of pride in their country for their adult lifetimes. Or maybe it was just a Pavlovian response to the word “change.” What a sad, empty, narcissistic, ungrateful, unthinking lot.
I’m just seven years younger than Mrs. Obama. We’ve grown up and lived in the same era. And yet, her self-absorbed attitude is completely foreign to me. What planet is she living on? Since when was now the only time the American people have ever been “hungry for change?” Michelle, ma belle, Barack is not the center of the universe. Newsflash: The Obamas did not invent “change” any more than Hillary invented “leadership” or John McCain invented “straight talk.”
We were both adults when the Berlin Wall fell, Michelle. That was earth-shattering change.
We’ve lived through two decades’ worth of peaceful, if contentious election cycles under the rule of law that have brought about “change” and upheaval both good and bad.
We were adults through several launches of the Space Shuttle, in case you were snoozing. [Ed. note: Speaking of which, welcome back, Atlantis!] And as adults, we’ve witnessed and benefited from dizzyingly rapid advances in technology, communications, science, and medicine pioneered by American entrepreneurs who yearned and succeeded to change the world. You want “change?” Go ask the patients whose lives have been improved and extended by American pharmaceutical companies who have flourished under the best economic system in the world.
If the fall of communism, American ingenuity, and a robust constitutional republic don’t do it for you, hon, then how about American heroism and sacrifice?
How about every Memorial Day? Every Veteran’s Day? Every Independence Day? Every Medal of Honor ceremony? Has she never attended a welcome home ceremony for the troops?
For me, there’s the thrill of the Blue Angels roaring over cloudless skies. And the somber awe felt amid the hallowed waters that surround the sunken U.S.S. Arizona at the Pearl Harbor memorial.
Every naturalization ceremony I’ve attended, where hundreds of new Americans have raised their hands to swear an oath of allegiance to this land of liberty, has been a moment of pride for me. So have the awesome displays of American compassion at home and around the world. When millions of Americans rallied to help the victims of the 2005 tsunami in southern Asia—including members of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group that sped from Hong Kong to assist survivors—my heart filled with pride. It did again when the citizens of Houston opened their arms to Hurricane Katrina victims and folks across the country rushed to their churches, Salvation Army, and Red Cross offices to volunteer.
How about American resilience? Does that not make you proud? Only a heart of stone could be unmoved by the strength, valor and determination displayed in New York and Washington and Shanksville, Pa., on September 11, 2001.
I believe it was Michael Kinsley who quipped that a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. In this case, it’s what happens when an elite Democrat politician’s wife says what a significant portion of the party’s base really believes to be the truth: That America is more a source of shame than pride.
Michelle Obama has achieved enormous professional success, political influence, and personal acclaim in America. Ivy League-educated, she’s been lauded by Essence magazine as one of the 25 World’s Most Inspiring Women; by Vanity Fair as one of the “10 World’s Best Dressed People; and named one of “The Harvard 100″ top influencers. She has had an amazingly blessed life. But you wouldn’t know it from her campaign rhetoric and her griping over her and her husband’s student loans.
For years, we’ve heard liberals get offended at any challenge to their patriotism. And so they are again aggrieved and rising to explain away Mrs. Obama’s remarks.
Like Lady MacBeth*, Lady Michelle and her defenders protest too much.
Update: Yes, my English teachers are going to kill me. The Shakespeare reference is to Hamlet, not MacBeth!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenoma
on: February 22, 2008, 10:21:22 PM
Michelle Obama thesis was on racial divide
By: Jeffrey Ressner
February 22, 2008 08:07 PM EST
Michelle Obama's senior year thesis at Princeton University, obtained from the campaign by Politico, shows a document written by a young woman grappling with a society in which a black Princeton alumnus might only be allowed to remain "on the periphery." Read the full thesis here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
"My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before," the future Mrs. Obama wrote in her thesis introduction. "I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second."
The thesis, titled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community" and written under her maiden name, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, in 1985, has been the subject of much conjecture on the blogosphere and elsewhere in recent weeks, as it has been "temporarily withdrawn" from Princeton's library until after this year's presidential election in November. Some of the material has been written about previously, however, including a story last year in the Newark Star Ledger.
Obama writes that the path she chose by attending Princeton would likely lead to her "further integration and/or assimilation into a white cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant."
During a presidential contest in which the term "transparency" has been frequently bandied about, candidates have buried a number of potentially revealing documents and papers. In Hillary Rodham Clinton's case, there's been a clamoring for tax records, White House memos and other material the candidate's team has chosen to keep from release. The 96-page Princeton thesis, restricted from release by the school's Mudd Library, has also been the subject of recent scrutiny.
Earlier this week, commentator Jonah Goldberg remarked on National Review Online, "A reader in the know informs me that Michelle Obama's thesis ... is unavailable until Nov. 5, 2008, at the Princeton library. I wonder why."
"Why a restricted thesis?" asked blogger-pastor Louis Lapides on his site Thinking Outside the Blog. "Is the concern based on what's in the thesis? Will Michelle Obama appear to be too black for white America or not black enough for black America?"
Attempts to retrieve the document through Princeton proved unsuccessful, with school librarians having been pestered so much for access to the thesis that they have resorted to reading from a script when callers inquire about it. Media officers at the prestigious university were similarly unhelpful, claiming it is "not unusual" for a thesis to be restricted and refusing to discuss "the academic work of alumni."
The Obama campaign, however, quickly responded to a request for the thesis by Politico. The thesis offers several fascinating insights into the mind of Michelle Obama, who has been a passionate advocate of her husband's presidential aspirations and who has made several controvesial statements, including this week's remark, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." That comment has fueled debate on countless blogs, radio talk shows and cable news for days on end, causing her to explain the statement in greater detail.
The 1985 thesis provides a trove of Michelle Obama's thoughts as a young woman, with many of the paper's statements describing the student's world as seen through a race-based prism.
"In defining the concept of identification or the ability to identify with the black community," the Princeton student wrote, "I based my definition on the premise that there is a distinctive black culture very different from white culture." Other thesis statements specifically pointed to what was seen by the future Mrs. Obama as racially insensitive practices in a university system populated with mostly Caucasian educators and students: "Predominately white universities like Princeton are socially and academically designed to cater to the needs of the white students comprising the bulk of their enrollments."
To illustrate the latter statement, she pointed out that Princeton (at the time) had only five black tenured professors on its faculty, and its "Afro-American studies" program "is one of the smallest and most understaffed departments in the university." In addition, she said only one major university-recognized group on campus was "designed specifically for the intellectual and social interests of blacks and other third world students." (Her findings also stressed that Princeton was "infamous for being racially the most conservative of the Ivy League universities.")
Perhaps one of the most germane subjects approached in the thesis is a section in which she conveyed views about political relations between black and white communities. She quotes the work of sociologists James Conyers and Walter Wallace, who discussed "integration of black official(s) into various aspects of politics" and notes "problems which face these black officials who must persuade the white community that they are above issues of race and that they are representing all people and not just black people," as opposed to creating "two separate social structures."
To research her thesis, the future Mrs. Obama sent an 18-question survey to a sampling of 400 black Princeton graduates, requesting the respondents define the amount of time and "comfort" level spent interacting with blacks and whites before they attended the school, as well as during and after their University years. Other questions dealt with their individual religious beliefs, living arrangements, careers, role models, economic status, and thoughts about lower class blacks. In addition, those surveyed were asked to choose whether they were more in line with a "separationist and/or pluralist" viewpoint or an "integrationist and/or assimilationist" ideology.
Just under 90 alums responded to the questionnaires (for a response rate of approximately 22 percent) and the conclusions were not what she expected. "I hoped that these findings would help me conclude that despite the high degree of identification with whites as a result of the educational and occupational path that black Princeton alumni follow, the alumni would still maintain a certain level of identification with the black community. However, these findings do not support this possibility."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: February 20, 2008, 10:56:16 AM
Wrong Call on Telecoms
By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
The Washington Times | Wednesday, February 20, 2008
We interrupt this congressional recess to bring you an announcement: While the House of Representatives is vacationing this week, terrorists are probably communicating about plots to kill Americans without fear that their plans will be intercepted by U.S. intelligence.
If one or more of those mortal plots are, as a result, succeed, we won"t need an independent commission to assign blame. The buck will stop squarely at the desk of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who refused to allow a vote on permanent renewal of the Protect America Act (PAA).
That legislation provides, in effect, authority for the commander in chief to monitor our adversaries" battlefield communications — something successive presidents have routinely done since the Founding of the republic. Unfortunately, in the current, ongoing War for the Free World, the battlefield is global and the enemy"s signals are conveyed by a bewildering array of media not anticipated back in 1978 when Congress first imposed significant, but relatively modest restrictions on how and when American signals intercepts could take place.
To be clear, I believe such authority is inherent in the president"s powers under our Constitution. Unfortunately, a federal court found otherwise last year. This led first to a mad scramble to enact the Protect America Act in Fall 2007 and then, as that temporary, six-month legislation was ready to expire last weekend, to a continuing test of wills between the Democratic House leadership and President Bush. Incredibly, the House left town without scheduling a vote to reenact the PAA on a permanent basis.
Prominent among the stated justifications for this dereliction of duty by the House of Representatives is that the Senate version of the PAA re-enactment — passed recently with broad bipartisan support — included a provision anathema to the lower chamber"s Democratic leadership: It offered immunity from litigation for private telecommunications companies whose help in collecting signals intelligence was indispensable in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Sadly, this dereliction is not an isolated incident. In 2007, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — an organization identified by the Justice Department as a Muslim Brotherhood front organization and an un-indicted co-conspirator in a terrorism financing case — threatened to sue several individuals identified to date only as "John Does." These Americans responded, as did the telecoms, to a request for help by their government. They reported worrisome and provocative behavior on the part of a group of "Flying Imams" prior to a flight from Minneapolis to Arizona in 2006.
Congress and the public reacted vociferously when word got out concerning CAIR"s threats to those who fulfilled the oft-stated request by law-enforcement agencies across America to the effect that, "If you see something, say something." Within days, it became clear that substantial majorities in both the House and Senate favored relief for the John Does.
Then as now, though, Nancy Pelosi and other, like-minded House leaders used their positions to try to prevent enactment of the needed legislation. In the case of the John Does, however, the outcry to protect the country and those who heed official appeals for help toward that end became simply irresistible. At the instigation Republican Reps. Peter King of New York and Pete Hoekstra of Michigan and Sens. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Independent Democrat, and Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, the obstructionists were forced to allow a vote that overwhelmingly repudiated the naysayers.
Mrs. Pelosi has evidently learned nothing in the intervening months about either the national security implications or the politics of obstructionism in the service of trial lawyers and at the expense of the common defense. All other things being equal, it seems likely she will be rolled again when Congress reconvenes in another week.
After all, as the director of national intelligence, Vice Adm. Mike McConnell, observed on the "Fox Sunday Morning" program last weekend: "We cannot do this mission without help and support from the private sector. ... f you think about the private sector global communications, many people think the government operates that. Ninety-eight percent of it is owned and operated by the private sector." Therefore, cooperation of the telecoms with U.S. intelligence is not simply nice to have; it is essential.
The problem is that, even if Mrs. Pelosi is forced to relent relatively soon, our intelligence agencies" "situational awareness" of terrorist activities may suffer lasting harm. As Andrew McCarthy, one of the prosecutors in the trials regarding the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, put it in a recent blog posting at National Review Online:
"Every day we don't fix this problem, the problem — the investigative leads you don't get, the connections you don't make, the things you don't learn but which you should know — metastasizes. Intelligence is dynamic: You can't stop collecting for a day, a week, a month or more and then figure you are picking up right where you left off. What you have lost tends to stay lost."
America can ill afford in time of war for the House Speaker to play games with legislation designed to ensure that patriots — be they individual John Does, telecommunications companies or other corporations — are not penalized for doing their civic duty. We can only pray that, by the time she gets around to doing hers, our enemies have not advanced undetected the plots that will put still more of us at risk.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters
on: February 16, 2008, 01:29:09 PM
**When the next 9/11 comes, thank a democrat.**
February 15, 2008, 5:30 p.m.
When the Clock Strikes Midnight, We Will Be Significantly Less Safe
The Democrats’ FISA talking points are nonsense.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
According to top Democrats, the expiration of the Protect America Act (PAA) when the clock strikes midnight Sunday is no big deal. Our ability to monitor foreign threats to national security, they assure us, will be completely unaffected.
This is about as dumb a talking point as one can imagine. And it is just as demonstrably false.
Think for a moment about Tuesday’s crucial Senate bill overhauling our intelligence law that Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow the House to consider before recessing Friday — for a vacation. (Democrats evidently had no time for national security, having exhausted themselves on such cosmic matters as a baseball pitcher’s alleged steroid use and unenforceable, unconstitutional contempt citations in a stale investigation into something that wasn’t a crime and that no one but MoveOn.org cares about any longer).
In a Senate controlled by the Democrats, the bill passed by an overwhelming 2-to-1 margin. To attract such numbers, the Bush administration (as I detailed yesterday) gave ground on critically important issues of executive power and expansion of the FISA court’s role.
Democrats surely did not want to give President Bush this legislative victory, and President Bush certainly did not want to cave on these issues. But both sides compromised precisely because they understood that failing to do so, failing to preserve current surveillance authority, would endanger the United States.
Now, maybe they did it because they didn’t want to be blamed if something catastrophic happened; I prefer to think it was because they felt it their obligation to prevent something catastrophic from happening. But either way, the certainty that a failure to act would mean an exorbitant increase in the odds of catastrophe clearly weighed on both sides.
That is why so many Senate Democrats went along. That is why Democrats in both houses agreed to the PAA in the first place. That is why 34 House Democrats defied their leadership on Wednesday, voting against another temporary extension of the PAA in an effort to force a vote on the Senate bill — which, had Pelosi allowed it to come to the floor, would have become law by a healthy bipartisan margin.
If the expiration of the PAA made no difference, as top Democrats are speciously claiming now, there is not the remotest chance any of those things would have happened.
So how can they make such an argument? Here is the sleight of hand.
The PAA permitted, without court authorization for up to one year, surveillance of foreign targets outside the U.S. who were communicating with other foreigners outside the U.S. The PAA was passed in August 2007 with a six-month sunset provision (which expires at midnight). But the end of the PAA does not mean the immediate end of all surveillance authorized by the PAA.
Let’s say we started surveillance on Pakistani Suspected Terrorist A on December 1, 2007. The PAA provides that even if the PAA sunsets, any surveillance authorized under it may continue for the full year from the start date of the surveillance. Thus, to the extent Democrats are saying the PAA’s expiration would not affect the monitoring of Pakistani Suspected Terrorist A, they are correct — that surveillance may continue through November 30, 2008.
But here’s the problem: What if, tomorrow, for the first time, Pakistani Suspected Terrorist B comes on our radar screen — to say nothing Pakistani Suspected Terrorists C though ZZZ? Let’s say, as is entirely possible (if not likely), that B & Co. are not necessarily affiliated with al-Qaeda or any currently known terrorist group. Starting tomorrow, there will be no PAA authority to begin monitoring those suspected terrorists.
To that rather obvious point, leading Democrats counter, “Wait just a second — you can still go to the FISA court.”
Can you see what’s happening here? The whole reason Congress enacted the PAA in the first place is because FISA was never meant to apply to foreigners outside the U.S. communicating with other foreigners outside the U.S. We are not supposed to need court authorization for that. We are not supposed to have to write affidavits, approved by the attorney general and others, demonstrating probable cause that such people are agents of foreign powers — as well as demonstrating that other alternative investigative techniques would not yield the same intelligence.
Those are protections afforded by the FISA statute. Foreigners outside the U.S. are supposed to be outside the protection of the FISA statute, just as they are outside the protection of the Constitution. Saying the government can go to the FISA court is no answer: Government is not supposed to have to go to the FISA court. These people are not supposed to have FISA rights. They are not supposed to have Fourth Amendment rights.
We are talking about thousands upon thousands of communications, totally outside the U.S. (in the sense that no person inside our country is a participant) which the intelligence community used to be able to intercept and sift through without any burdensome judicial procedures whatsoever. That is how FISA was written, and that is how FISA was understood for almost 30 years. Then last year, a secret FISA-court ruling attempted to bring all those communications under FISA-court control — apparently on the theory that, because some digital bits of these conversations may zoom through U.S. hubs in global telecommunications networks, somehow a conversation between a guy in Pakistan and a guy in Afghanistan should now be considered a U.S. wire communication.
But FISA was not intended to protect Pakistanis and Afghans. It was intended to protect people inside the U.S. from being subjected to national-security surveillance absent probable cause that they were acting as foreign agents.
Requiring FISA compliance for foreign-to-foreign communications does not protect anyone inside the U.S. It protects non-Americans, some of whom will be terrorists and none of whom is entitled to any protection under American law. It makes it impossible for the intelligence community to monitor all the foreign-to-foreign communications that we used to monitor because we will never be able to show, for every target, probable cause that he is an agent of a foreign power — as FISA requires. The PAA did not call for that; it simply required a certification that we were monitoring people believed to be outside the United States.
The claim that the expiration of the PAA will not open a huge gap in surveillance coverage is laughable. Right now, we are permitted to collect foreign-to-foreign communications absent probable cause that the target is an agent of a foreign power. As of 12:00 A.M., we will no longer be permitted to do that. It is absurd to suggest that this huge drop-off in collection will have no impact on our security.
The July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate stated:
globalization trends and recent technological advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack — all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader.
Translation: There are ever larger numbers of potentially hostile operatives who are galvanized by jihadist ideology without necessarily being connected to a known terrorist organization. Casting a broad surveillance net to collect intelligence overseas is how we detect and thwart any threat they may pose. It’s how we protect Americans in the homeland and on the battlefield.
As of midnight, that net is gone.
— Andrew C. McCarthy, an NRO contributing editor, directs the Center for Law & Counterterrorism at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWU3NmEwNzhmYjVkZDdlNzVmZDhhODVmMmViZTRlODM=
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: February 03, 2008, 04:20:33 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 01, 2008
Leading for Patriotism or Lust?
John McCain scored the most memorable soundbite in the recent GOP debate, repeatedly telling rival Mitt Romney that "led for patriotism, not profit." The Arizona Senator was referring to his tour as executive officer (and later, commander) of a Navy Replacement Air Group in Jacksonville, Florida during the late 1970s, contrasting that experience with Mitt Romney's career in the business world.
There is a slight irony in McCain citing that assignment as proof of his leadership abilities. While he was, by most accounts, an effective commander, the Jacksonville assignment also marked a dark chapter in McCain's personal life, a period marked by serial philandering and the end of his first marriage.
Those events are described--delicately--in Robert Timberg's The Nightingale's Song, a best-selling chronicle of the U.S. Naval Academy, as viewed through the lives (and military service) of five graduates: McCain; Virginia Senator Jim Webb; former National Security Advisers Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter, and Iran-Contra figure-turned-media personality Oliver North.
Of the five, Timberg provides the most flattering potraits of Webb and McCain; Poindexter and McFarlane receive less laudatory treatment and the author can barely contain his contempt for Ollie North. While acknowledging the personal--and professional--problems of his subjects during their military careers, Timberg offers a (slightly) charitable explanation for the poor personal conduct that plagued McCain's assignment as group commander.
There was a dark side to the Jacksonville tour. The storybook marriage that had survived separation, pain and prison began to fray. Off-duty, usually on routine, cross-country flights to Yuma and El Centro, John began carousing and running around with women. To make matters worse, some of the women to whom he was linked by rumor were his subordinates. In some ways, the rumors were an extension of the John McCain stories that had swirled in his way since Academy days--some true, some with an element of truth, some patently absurd. Asked about them, he admitted to a series of dalliances during this period, but flatly denied any with females, officer or enlisted, under his command.
Though officially frowned upon, romantic relationships between officers of different grades are not uncommon and for the most part, free of a superior-subordinate element. Many have led to marriage. But fraternization between officers and enlisted members is considered over the line, not because of caste discrimination, but because the color of authority is too vivid, almost impossible to soften.
At the time, the rumors were so widespread that, true or not, they became part of the McCain persona, impossible not to take note of. What is true is that a number of POWs, in those first few years after their release, often acted erratically, their lives pockmarked by by drastic mood swings and uncharacteristic behavior before achieving a more mellow equilibrium.
More troubling, sad beyond words, was the failure of the marriage. If there was one couple that deserved to make it, it was John and Carol McCain. They endured nearly six years of unspeakable trauma with courage and grace. In the end, it was not enough. They won the war, but lost the peace.
To his credit, McCain has admitted his indiscretions during this period. And, Carol McCain has refused to publicly criticize her former husband, or discuss the end of their marriage in detail. She told Robert Timberg that "I attribute it more to John turning 40 and wanting to be 25 again than I do anything else." So, chalk it up as another middle-aged man suffering a mid-life crisis.
But we'd say the Jacksonville tour raises questions about McCain's judgment and leadership, issues that have never been fully explained. True, John McCain wasn't the first fighter jock to lose a marriage due to extra-curricular activities. It's also true that he had a reputation as a wild man, dating back to his time at the Academy and early tours as an attack pilot.
Still, the John McCain who led a naval training group wasn't the same junior aviator of the early 1960s. As the unit commander, McCain was supposed to set the example, both on and off-duty. Military regulations on adultery, fraternization and improper relationships don't differentiate between those that begin in the workplace, or in the Officers' Club. And, as one of the Navy's best-known officers (thanks to his heroism as a POW), you could argue that McCain had a special responsiblity to uphold standards.
If Timberg's description is correct--and McCain has never disputed it--then the Senator was potentially guilty of multiple violations of military law as a senior officer. Yet, there is no account of Captain McCain being investigated on accusations of adultery and fraternization, despite those "widespread rumors" that became a part of the McCain persona. Did he get a pass because of his POW status or family ties, as the son and grandson of Navy admirals? That's another question that has never been answered.
Obviously, no one is demanding that McCain be court-martialed for events that happened 30 years ago. But his misconduct in Jacksonville is relevant to McCain's subsequent political campaign. Those extra-marital "dalliances" reflect faulty judgment and poor choices, traits that have been evident in the Senator's subsequent legislative record. Anyone remember the Keating 5? McCain-Feingold? McCain-Leiberman? McCain-Kennedy? Voting against the Bush tax cuts on more than one occasion? Blocking conservative judicial nominees as part of the "Gang of Fourteen?"
That's why the Senator's repeated references to his Jacksonville tour struck us as a bit puzzling. If command of that group represented John McCain at his best (as a leader), then it highlighted some of his worst personal qualities as well. That's the "rest" of the Jacksonville story, which should provide some campaign grist for the Democratic attack mill.
We also wonder if McCain's reputation in Jacksonville is one reason that the area rejected him overwhelmingly in last week's Florida primary. Of the state's four major military regions, Jacksonville (the third-largest Navy town in the United States) was the only one that McCain lost, and by double-digit margins.
ADDENDUM: We disagree with Timberg's explanation that McCain's conduct was "typical" of erratic behavior among former POWs in the late 1970s. During the early stages of our military service, we had the opportunity to meet--and know--several men who had been held in the Hanoi Hilton. While most suffered re-adjustment problems (to varying degrees), all the POWs we knew remained faithful to their wives.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: February 03, 2008, 09:19:52 AM
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Mark Steyn: It's a shame one of them has to win
President McCain? Or Queen Hillary? Henry Kissinger said about the Iran/Iraq war in the '80s that it's a shame they both can't lose. Conservatives have a slightly different problem: It's a shame that neither of them will lose – that, regardless of who takes the oath come next January, the harmonious McCain-Clinton consensus policies on illegal immigration and Big Government solutions to global warming will prevail. Where's Neither-of-the-Above when you need him?
Alas, the only Neither-of-the-Above in the offing is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose candidacy would shake things up only insofar as we'd all suddenly be demanding: OK, where's None-of-the-Above when you need him? Mayor Bloomberg is a former Democrat, former Republican, and current Independent, if by "Independent" you mean "Man who agrees with the conventional wisdom on illegal immigration, global warming, health care and everything else."
Democracies get the political leaders they deserve, and that's particularly true in the United States, where the primary system allows rank-and-file citizens to choose not merely which party to vote for (as in Britain, Canada and Europe) but also which individuals will be the candidates of those parties. True, it helps to be wealthy – up to a point. But it wasn't enough for John Edwards, the curiously unconvincing "angry populist" muttering darkly that "they" would never stop him telling the truth about 9-year-old girls shivering without a winter coat because daddy had been laid off at the mill. "They" didn't need to stop him. The champion of America's mythical Coatless Girl laid himself off last week. High on a hill, the Lonely Coatherd suddenly realized he was yodeling to himself.
Yet Sen. Edwards can't even claim the consolation prize of Most Inept Candidate of 2008. The Rudy Giuliani campaign went from national front-runner to total collapse so spectacularly that they'll be teaching it in Candidate School as a cautionary tale for decades to come. As each state's date with destiny loomed, Giuliani retreated, declining to compete in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina. "America's Mayor" turned out to be Hizzoner of a phantom jurisdiction – a national front-runner but a single-digit asterisk in any state where any actual voters were actually voting.
Giuliani's fate unnerves me because, unlike the Coatless One, Rudy had the support of a lot of my columnar confreres: John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary; Andy McCarthy and Lisa Schiffren at National Review; and David Frum, author of the new book "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again." Yet he backed a candidate who took off and barely cleared the runway before nose-diving into the sod.
Rudy's views on abortion were always going to be a deal-breaker for a key segment of the Republican base. And his views on gun control were likewise beyond the pale for another big faction. That didn't leave much except his cleanup of New York (whose problems were blessedly alien to Iowa and New Hampshire) and, more recently, his "war on terror" credentials, which boils down to his marvelous performance on 9/11, barreling through the dust-choked streets of Lower Manhattan and showing leadership amidst the chaos – plus a splendid coda a couple of weeks later when he told some unsavory Saudi prince to take his gazillion-dollar donation and shove it. Every malign check from the House of Saud ought to meet the same fate: perhaps we could have a constitutional amendment to that effect.
As for his performance on Sept. 11, well, yes, he was good, and he was effective on a day when so many agencies of government, at least at the federal level, had failed spectacularly – FAA, INS, FBI, CIA, all the fancy-pants money-no-object acronyms, none of whose mediocrities paid any political price for their failures.
In 2000, Rudy had been in full public meltdown. His wife learned she was heading for divorcee status from a mayoral news conference. But, unlike so many officials on 9/11, in his rendezvous with history, Rudy Giuliani rose to the occasion. You would hope that would not be so exceptional, but apparently it is.
In contrast to the moral clarity Rudy showed in returning the Saudi check, the repugnant mayor of London, after the 2005 Tube bombings, artfully attempted to draw a distinction between Muslim terrorists blowing up his own public transit (which he didn't approve of) and Muslim terrorists blowing up Israeli public transit (which he was inclined to be sympathetic to).
In contrast with Giuliani's take-charge attitude, the boob presiding over New Orleans, Ray Nagin, raged as wildly as Katrina: "To those who would criticize, where the hell were you?" roared Mayor Culpa, pointing the finger in all directions. "Where the hell were you?" We were in a town you're not the mayor of, happily.
If Rudy's performance was "exceptional," that's less a reflection on him than on the general standards of officialdom. It seems odd to me that so many experts would expect the "America's Mayor" pitch to outpunch abortion and guns with the Republican base: 9/11 will be seven years old by Election Day 2008. A lot of voters have moved on, including a lot of Republican voters. And many of those Republican voters who still regard the forces unleashed that day as an ongoing threat want something different from the Orange Alert remove-your-shoes security-state approach. If this is a "long war," as the administration took to calling it, "America's Mayor" seemed in large part to embody an early phase that has already receded into history.
Another colleague of mine, Michael Ledeen, suggests that the rise of McCain through New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida indicates that for many voters "the war" is still the issue, because, after all, what else has the senator got going for him? Surely, it's not his global-warming hysteria or illegal-immigration amnesty or demonization of capitalism. It's because he's Mister Surge.
The senator is an eloquent defender of the U.S. armed forces. A President McCain will not permit a military defeat in Iraq. But it's not clear to me he has much of a strategic vision for the ideological struggle, for the real long-term battlefield in the mosques and madrassahs of Pakistan and Indonesia and Western Europe. McCain's lead is no evidence of popular commitment to "the long war," and, absent any surprising developments, this will not be a war election.
The Clintons are nothing if not lucky, and Hillary must occasionally be enjoying a luxury-length cackle at the thought of being pitted against a 71-year-old "maverick" whose record seems designed to antagonize just enough of the base into staying home on Election Day. In the 2000 campaign season, running in a desultory fashion for the New York Senate seat, Rudy Giuliani waged a brief half-hearted campaign just long enough to leave the Republican Party with no one to run against Hillary except a candidate who wasn't up to the job.
Has he managed to do the same this time round?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe
on: February 03, 2008, 08:54:13 AM
Asian PCs 'blocking crackdown on honour killings'
By MILES GOSLETT and DANIEL BOFFEY - More by this author »
Last updated at 13:56pm on 3rd February 2008
Some Asians in the police and in Government jobs have been accused of blocking the crackdown against so-called honour killings.
It is alleged they are not only failing to help desperate women trying to flee abuse and arranged marriages but are actively encouraging punishment for those they believe are breaking traditional taboos.
Terrified victims who seek official help are even being tracked down by a network of Asian men working in Government departments and social services, according to a study written by the think-tank Social Cohesion.
One woman was found by her family after she signed on at a Jobcentre where a member of the Asian community was working.
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The study follows the horrific case of 20-year-old Banaz Mahmod whose body was found in a suitcase after she was raped and strangled with a bootlace by hitmen hired by her family
The report also claims some Asian police officers actually return women to their abusive families or refuse to act against men enforcing 'traditional' roles.
Meanwhile, non-Asian officials and police officers are scared of acting against families who abuse their relatives for fear of being branded as racist, the report says.
The study follows the horrific case of 20-year-old Banaz Mahmod, from Mitcham, South London, whose body was found in a suitcase after she was raped and strangled with a bootlace by hitmen hired by her family.
She was killed for falling in love with a man the family disapproved of – despite unsuccessfully asking police for help five times.
In one plea she recorded a video message that helped convict her father and uncle of her murder.
Controversially, the report accuses one of the Government's closest advisers on Muslim matters, the Muslim Council of Britain, of hampering attempts to criminalise forced marriage.
It said: "The MCB has sought to block legislation aimed at ending honour-based violence. Almost all women's groups interviewed for this report say that the MCB has done little or nothing to end honour-based violence...
"In many northern towns...South Asian women are often afraid to seek help because they know that Asians working in local government believe that women who break traditional taboos deserve to be punished."
Report contributor Nazir Afzal, of the Crown Prosecution Service, added: "Domestic violence is not an issue the Muslim Council of Britain wants to know about."
David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth who is on the Home Affairs Select committee investigating forced marriages and domestic violence, said: "Thousands of girls are being taken to Pakistan every year for marriage, although it is best described as abduction and rape."
James Brandon, one of the report's authors, said: "It is estimated that ten women a year in Britain die through honour killings and honour violence. The Government must change the way it approaches this problem."
The MCB said: "Our position has always been clear: so-called honour killings are murder. They are severe criminal offences which we condemn."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe
on: February 02, 2008, 09:57:39 PM
**"America Alone" continues to be proven accurate. It's wonderful how well "multiculti" is working out. Keep in mind that under sharia law, no non-muslim is ever justified in self-defense and any muslim has the right to rob, rape, enslave and murder any non-muslim.**
SPIEGEL ONLINE - February 1, 2008, 10:32 AM
'WE'RE SITTING ON A POWDER KEG'
Immigrants Protest Death of Moroccan Teenager in Cologne
By Barbara Schmid and Andreas Ulrich
Following the violent death of a Moroccan teenager in Cologne, hundreds of immigrants have taken to the streets in nightly demonstrations to protest what they see as evidence of their second-class status in Germany. Police warn the city could be ready to explode.
Members of the immigrant community have been protesting the death of a teenager in Cologne.
The owner of an electronics shop on Cologne's Kalker Hauptstrasse had rolled down the shutters on the windows in case there was unrest. Now they have photos of a 17-year-old Moroccan boy taped to them. The teenager, whose name was Salih, was killed in front of the shop two weeks ago.
The sidewalk is a sea of candles as hundreds of people chant: "Salih! Salih! We want justice!" They feel that Salih was one of them -- a youth from an immigrant family.
For the police, the case is clear cut. According to their version of events, Salih allegedly wanted to mug a 20-year-old German man, who tried to defend himself. But he panicked and pulled out a pocketknife that he plunged into Salih's heart with an unlucky stab. Prosecutors said it was a clear case of self-defense, and there are witnesses. But none of that matters any longer.
Every night last week, up to 300 protestors gathered at the spot where Salih died to demand "justice" instead of letting his killer walk free. They are protesting against "racism in Germany" -- but since it appears clear that this case involves self-defense, it's obviously about more than just the unfortunate Salih. It's more about how immigrants and their children feel they are currently being treated in Germany.
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The incident has struck a chord with those who feel disenfranchised from German society -- those without a proper education or vocational training, those without a future. The frustration is palpable. "We're sitting on a powder keg," warns former police commissioner Winrich Granitzka, who is also head of the Christian Democratic group in Cologne's city council. "There's the danger we could see a situation like in the suburbs of Paris."
Cologne certainly isn't Paris and the district of Kalk can't be compared with the high-rise suburban ghettoes surrounding the French capital. But Kalk, which used to be home to a chemical plant, is certainly depressing. The only bright spot is the large and colorful new shopping center, which stands out from its gray surroundings.
Immigrants and people with at least one non-German parent make up 54.7 percent of Kalk's population. The amount of young people between 15 and 18 living there is above average; education levels, on the other hand, are below average. Some 90 percent of people without a job in the area count as long-term unemployed.
"It seems to me as if they only send losers here," says Kemal Düzardic, a 22-year-old friend of the dead teenager. He and the others gather near the photos and candles even in the cold and the rain. One question weighs heavily on their minds. What if a German had died and the killer had been one of them?
A mere eight hours after the incident happened, the police announced it had been a case of self-defense and no charges would be pressed. The statement was "somewhat unfortunately formulated," admits Cologne police officer Catherine Maus in hindsight.
The "unfortunate" wording came at a particularly unfortunate time. "We have too many criminal foreigners," Roland Koch, the conservative governor of the state of Hesse, said in late December. In his re-election campaign, which many observers considered xenophobic, Koch made clear he thought immigrants should assimilate and shouldn't expect Germans to accommodate their cultural practices.
Of course, many of the Kalk youths who were born and raised within sight of Cologne's towering cathedral and speak the local German dialect don't consider themselves "foreigners." But Koch's populist attacks still resonated throughout the immigrant community.
"Stop this Racist," was the headline in the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, accompanied by a caricature of the Christian Democrat politician with an extra-long nose. The Social Democrats, the left-wing Left party, the Greens and even a few Christian Democrats distanced themselves from Koch. Only the mass circulation newspaper Bild took his side and delighted in featuring new stories about "foreign" repeat offenders with long criminal records on an almost daily basis.
But the people with immigrant backgrounds in Kalk read Bild too. "What's with this crap?" says one irritated young man. "We grew up here, we aren't criminals. So why are we treated differently than other Germans?"
'We Feel like Second-Class Citizens'
For more than 40 years, the German mainstream tried to assert that Germany wasn't a "country of immigration." That attitude has had repercussions. Around 72 percent of Germany's 1.7 million Turks -- the largest group of foreigners living in the country -- don't have proper vocational qualifications. Some 40 percent of young people from immigrant families neither study nor pursue a traineeship after they leave school. They do odd jobs or hang around -- and they make up a disproportionate amount of violent offenders.
"The city of Cologne does a lot for integration," says police director Michael Temme, who has been keeping a careful eye on how his officers have been policing the demonstrations. But he admits there are "hot spots" in the city, including in Kalk. And so every evening he finds himself wondering if this will be the night when a spark finally ignites the powder keg, if this will be the night when shop windows get shattered and cars go up in flames.
"We feel like second-class citizens," says a middle-aged Moroccan man. "It will never stop, maybe it will even get worse," adds a young man. A group of intimidating-looking youths chant: "Salih, Salih!" They want a different kind of justice. It sounds more like a call for revenge.
"Something needs to happen to shake up Germany," says Social Democratic parliamentarian Lale Akgün, quoting a phrase made famous by former President Roman Herzog. "We need, at long last, social policies that are based on acceptance, and we need a fundamental reform of both education and social policy," she says. Germans need foreigners and foreigners need Germans, she says.
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It's an opinion shared by demographers and labor market experts. If people aren't given the opportunity to get vocational skills and qualifications, there will be "mass unemployment with a simultaneous dearth of skilled labor," according to the Institute for Employment Research (IAB).
A study commissioned by the Bertelsmann Foundation has calculated that a lack of integration of immigrants in Germany has already cost the country €16 billion. Many immigrants are unemployed, earn less and pay smaller amounts of tax and social security contributions.
The protesters in Cologne's Kalk district know this and that's what makes the situation so explosive. There's a feeling of not getting a fair chance and of being disenfranchised.
Around a fifth of foreign children see themselves as being "strongly discriminated against" or "individually disadvantaged," according to a survey by the Germany Youth Institute (DJI) in Munich. More than half feel they are neither respected nor treated equally. "Those are strong opinions that they have formed based on their own experiences," says DJI researcher Jan Skrobanek.
"We're not welcome here," says 14-year-old Fatima from Kalk. She ostentatiously pulls down her headscarf to cover her face as she stands in front of Salih's photo. "After elementary school we all get shoved into the Hauptschule," she says, referring to the lowest level of Germany's three-tier high school system. "None of us go to Realschule (apprenticeship-track high school), only Germans go there," she says. Her three older siblings couldn't find a traineeship after finishing high school. Fatima doesn't believe her luck will be any better.
Experts agree that youth crime in Germany isn't an ethnic problem, but rather a social one. Immigrant children from middle-class families and those that do well in school generally aren't troublemakers. Those that manage to find an apprenticeship or a job have a "significantly smaller feeling of being disadvantaged," according to youth researcher Skrobanek.
"We have to do everything we can to lower the high proportion of 40 percent of young immigrants without vocational qualifications," Maria Böhmer, the German government's commissioner for integration affairs, announced recently.
The federal government wants to spend €350 million over the next three years to work toward that goal. An employer will receive a subsidy of at least €4,000 if they give an apprenticeship to an applicant that has already unsuccessfully applied for one. It's a beginning.
"But immigrants have to do their part as well," insists Social Democrat Lale Akgün. "They have to give up their attitude of rejection and join society."
In a survey carried out by the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen, one-third of immigrant parents admitted that they would have problems with a German son-in-law. Hence, not much can be expected from the older generation -- which makes the future prospects of the children that much worse.
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"Many children experience an inconsistency in the way that they are raised which they find very challenging," says Haci-Halil Uslucan from the University of Magdeburg. At home they might be raised in a patriarchal fashion that puts an emphasis on obedience, while at school they are taught self-responsibility, individual choice and equality. "This disconnect is extremely difficult to deal with," says Uslucan.
Anyone interested in establishing equal opportunities and preventing young immigrants from drifting into criminality has to start promoting language development and education as early as kindergarten, says economist and criminologist Horst Entorf.
Salih, the dead teen from Kalk, had never had any run-ins with the police. "He wanted to get his high school diploma," says his 23-year-old brother Abdallah, who is studying electronics. Abdallah was part of the street protests last week. But the more radical protesters made him uneasy.
A few days ago, the Moroccan consul general visited Abdallah and his parents. He explained to them that the police investigation had been carried out conscientiously. But Abdallah still wonders whether a foreigner would have been released so quickly.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: January 31, 2008, 07:53:40 PM
When it comes to Iran's nuclear program, it's probably already too late. If it's not, by jan. 2009 it certainly will be. If we are going to move against Iran, President Bush will have to be the trigger puller.
As far as the war against the global jihad, it'll still be there in 2012. We may have a few more 9/11's under our belt by then, but let the dems shut down Gitmo and defang us globally. Much of the casualties CONUS will be in those densely populated blue states. We'll see how reality shapes future politics.