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10451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 07, 2008, 06:46:41 AM
If we wish to critique Reagan's presidency, I'd start with his failure to engage Iran after Hezbollah killed lots of Americans, including 241 military personnel in Beirut. It took Israel to finally end Imad Mughniyeh's long and bloody career. Of course, we are living today with the spectre of a nuclear jihadist Iran thanks to Jimmy "The Dhimmi" Carter.
10452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: June 07, 2008, 01:02:31 AM
http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/10869/

**Content Warning-graphic photos from Mexico's drug violence**
10453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 06, 2008, 10:50:25 PM
And were it not for Israel's strike on Osirak, the 1st. Gulf war might have turned out quiet differently. Thank god Israel did what it did. Reagan isn't running for president. Barack Huissein Obama and John McCain are. Obama and his leftist cronies hate both America and Israel.
10454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: June 06, 2008, 10:39:29 PM
Woof Rachel:



If the courts can change the definition of marriage from being between a man and a woman, why not poligamy too?  As the following article shows, this is not only a theoretical question.

Marc
===============


It seems like we are discussing two different topics that could have two different answers
 
One -- Should gay marriage be legal according to the  US Constitution and State Constitutions and various case law etc?
 
Two --- Is  allowing gay marriage the right thing to do?
 Obviously even when it was legal for a man to rape and  beat his wife it was still wrong.  An abolitionist  who helped a  slave escape was legally stealing someones property  but they were doing the right thing.
 
What is legal and what is moral  is not and should not  be the same in all cases and I believe we should err on the side of personal liberty.

I believe many peoples problem with gay marriage is that they want push their religious views on others and they don't particularly want all that much separation between religion and state.  I understand  that when G-d created the universe in the Bible  he did not created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. However  G-d did create  Adam and Steve today   and it would be wrong for them them  to try to marry women just so  can have the same rights as everyone else.

**Where is the right to "gay marriage" that you assert, to be found in any legal code? It's not to be found anywhere in the US constitution or in any other part of common law. Humans engage in a variety of sexual behaviors, yet western civilization recognizes heterosexual monogamy as having a special status and doesn't recognize other sexual behaviors as having the same status and has legally prohibited certain behaviors throughout modern history.**
 
Canada currently has laws  on the books that make gay marriage legal and polygamy illegal . In that particular case they just weren't enforcing the polygamy part of it.
 
I believe polygamy is wrong ethically  because it essentially turns women and children into property.   I don't see a  connection between  treating women as object and  the  life partnership that I see in gay marriage

**So you believe polygamy is wrong, so that law should be enforced. Does this count as you imposing your beliefs on others? If not, why not?**
 
I do want  clarify what I said   about everyone should have a right to marriage. I believe marriage  should be  only for people over the age of 18 with some exception for teen pregnancy/ emancipated minors.   This would stop the pedophile thing.

**Again, you wish to rewrite the concept of marriage to fit your personal moral perspective. Why do you wish to allow an arbitrary number like 18 to determine marriage? Again, you are engaging in discrimination and wanting the legal system to enforce your morals on others. Why is it wrong when others do it, yet right for you?**
 

I find  incest deeply disturbing   and I am not sure how to deal with it.  It would not be a healthy situation for children and  could case genetic defects.

**You wish to interfere in the private lives of others? Are you espousing some sort of genetic supremacism?**

I wonder how attractive Cleopatra could  have been since  her family tree was a stick. I sort of feel like it should be illegal but what two consenting adults do behind close doors is their business. I don't see a connection between incest and gay marriage.   An incestuous relationship is unhealthy a  gay relationship can be very healthy.

**How so? Both are taboo according to western social mores. If you wish to reshape our social structure, can you give more explaination of what you use to define as healthy vs. unhealthy?**

I don't  see a strong connection  between legalizing  gay marriage and legalizing the pedophilia, polygamy, etc.    If you legalize absinthe you don't have to legalize  crack cocaine .

**If we are to throw out as marriage as solely between a single adult male and a single adult female who are not related, then why retain any limits? NAMBLA says that "intergenerational sex" should be recognized as just as valid as "gay marriage". They assert that their movement will become socially and then legally recognized just as the gay rights did. If judeo-christian morality should be thrown out, then what moral code should this nation have? If we have no shared code of morality, then anything is permissible, is it not?**
10455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: June 06, 2008, 08:49:00 PM
Poor Americans, so close to Mexico, and with a still unsecured border.......
10456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: June 06, 2008, 08:16:13 PM
Obama and McCain
Thomas Sowell
Thursday, June 05, 2008

Now that the two parties have finally selected their presidential candidates, it is time for a sober-- if not grim-- assessment of where we are.

Not since 1972 have we been presented with two such painfully inadequate candidates. When election day came that year, I could not bring myself to vote for either George McGovern or Richard Nixon. I stayed home.

This year, none of us has that luxury. While all sorts of gushing is going on in the media, and posturing is going on in politics, the biggest national sponsor of terrorism in the world-- Iran-- is moving step by step toward building a nuclear bomb.

The point when they get that bomb will be the point of no return. Iran's nuclear bomb will be the terrorists' nuclear bomb-- and they can make 9/11 look like child's play.

All the options that are on the table right now will be swept off the table forever. Our choices will be to give in to whatever the terrorists demand-- however outrageous those demands might be-- or to risk seeing American cities start disappearing in radioactive mushroom clouds.

All the things we are preoccupied with today, from the price of gasoline to health care to global warming, will suddenly no longer matter.

Just as the Nazis did not find it enough to simply kill people in their concentration camps, but had to humiliate and dehumanize them first, so we can expect terrorists with nuclear weapons to both humiliate us and force us to humiliate ourselves, before they finally start killing us.

They have already telegraphed their punches with their sadistic beheadings of innocent civilians, and with the popularity of videotapes of those beheadings in the Middle East.

They have already telegraphed their intention to dictate to us with such things as Osama bin Laden's threats to target those places in America that did not vote the way he prescribed in the 2004 elections. He could not back up those threats then but he may be able to in a very few years.

The terrorists have given us as clear a picture of what they are all about as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis did during the 1930s-- and our "leaders" and intelligentsia have ignored the warning signs as resolutely as the "leaders" and intelligentsia of the 1930s downplayed the dangers of Hitler.

We are much like people drifting down the Niagara River, oblivious to the waterfalls up ahead. Once we go over those falls, we cannot come back up again.

What does this have to do with today's presidential candidates? It has everything to do with them.

One of these candidates will determine what we are going to do to stop Iran from going nuclear-- or whether we are going to do anything other than talk, as Western leaders talked in the 1930s.

There is one big difference between now and the 1930s. Although the West's lack of military preparedness and its political irresolution led to three solid years of devastating losses to Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, nevertheless when all the West's industrial and military forces were finally mobilized, the democracies were able to turn the tide and win decisively.

But you cannot lose a nuclear war for three years and then come back. You cannot even sustain the will to resist for three years when you are first broken down morally by threats and then devastated by nuclear bombs.

Our one window of opportunity to prevent this will occur within the term of whoever becomes President of the United States next January.

At a time like this, we do not have the luxury of waiting for our ideal candidate or of indulging our emotions by voting for some third party candidate to show our displeasure-- at the cost of putting someone in the White House who is not up to the job.

Senator John McCain has been criticized in this column many times. But, when all is said and done, Senator McCain has not spent decades aiding and abetting people who hate America.

On the contrary, he has paid a huge price for resisting our enemies, even when they held him prisoner and tortured him. The choice between him and Barack Obama should be a no-brainer.
10457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 06, 2008, 07:23:08 PM
http://michellemalkin.com/2008/06/06/how-todays-media-would-have-covered-d-day/

Contrast the media from then to now.
10458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: June 06, 2008, 06:56:35 PM
Independent.co.uk
Mexico’s war on drugs: Journey into a lawless land

With 1,400 dead this year alone, and gangs pinning up 'wanted' posters naming police they wish to see killed, Mexico's war on drugs is spiralling out of control. Richard Grant risked his life to travel through the mountains of the Sierra Madre – the most dangerous region of all – and witnessed the terrifying slide into anarchy

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

If someone had come up to me in my early twenties, when men are supposed to be at their most reckless, and offered me a fortune to go into a place like the Sierra Madre, I would have thought about it for about three seconds before saying no. But after years spent reporting gangs in South Central LA, where I had a gun pointed at me for the first time, the Zapatista uprising in southernmost Mexico, and riots in Haiti, my acceptable level of risk kept rising. I had begun to think the Sierra Madre would not be that dangerous, and besides, I was curious about the nature of anarchy. The forbidden mystique of the Sierra got the better of me.

The Sierra Madre Occidental, the Mother Mountain range of the Mexican West, begins just south of the Arizona border and extends for nearly 900 miles. It contains no cities or large towns, only two paved roads and almost nothing in the way of law and order. This rugged cordillera has always defied the efforts of governments – Aztec, Spanish and Mexican – to enforce control, and it is now one of the biggest production areas in the world for marijuana, opium and heroin, and a staging point for Colombian cocaine.

It is not the sort of place where you can just turn up without an introduction, and I spent years trying to make contacts who could take me in under their protection. Time and again, I was told that it was too dangerous to take a gringo into the mountains, because the drug lords were feuding, or battling the army. Finally, I found a way to get into the Sierra Madre, spent four months travelling down the range and was extremely lucky to escape from the mountains without getting killed.

Along the way, I glimpsed Mexico's future. In the past 18 months, and particularly in the last two weeks, the murderous narco-anarchy I saw in the Sierra Madre has gone nationwide. President Felipe Calderon has gone to war against Mexico's drug cartels, all of which were started by Sierra Madre clanfolk who came downhill – and he is now discovering that the Mexican state isn't strong enough to defeat them.

In Mexico City, cartel gunmen assassinated the nation's police commander in the grounds of his home. In the state of Chihuahua, drug gangs have, in the past fortnight, put up hit lists and wanted posters with names and photographs of police commanders, and offers of reward money for their deaths. In the border city of Juarez, the list was posted on a police memorial statue. No one dared take it down, and so far 17 names have been crossed off it – dead.

The narcos are also feuding with other, with 1,400 drug-related murders so far this year, and many towns and cities are under a virtual curfew. Several police departments have resigned en masse in terror, and three police commanders have fled to the United States requesting asylum. President Calderon is claiming signs of progress, but it looks like the whole nation is unravelling, turning feral, descending into lawlessness.

****

The morning I left for the Sierra Madre, the sun was shining brightly. With my guide, I crossed the border at Douglas, passed through two Mexican army checkpoints looking for guns and drugs, then entered the foothills. My grand adventure was under way at last.

Crossing the line into the state of Sonora, I made my first stop in the town of Yecora. A three-piece band was playing on a flatbed truck and a crowd of 30 or 40 people had gathered. I love norteño music.

I parked and rolled the window down. It was good, raw, soulful, caterwauling norteño. A hundred years ago, they sang corridos in the Sierra about famous bandits, outlaws, revolutionaries, or particularly bloody feuds and heroic-tragic deaths. Now they sing about the drug lords, who sometimes commission the songs out of vanity, and events both real and imagined from the lives of drug growers, local bosses, regional traffickers, smugglers, dealers, pilots, assassins. There's a great deal of macho bragging and posturing, and despite the accordions and polkas, the music form it most resembles is gangsta rap.

I walked over to the back of the crowd as the band was singing a narcocorrido about some drug lord who was the king of the Sierra, with many houses, fine women and impressive machine-guns.

The next song had hardly begun when three drunk men with twitching lips came up to me. They offered to sell me marijuana at $100 a kilo, premium quality, good price, "special for you". When I said I had just pulled over to hear the music they got very suspicious and accused me of working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, which is something you never want to hear in the Sierra Madre. I laughed it off with as much casual disdain as I could muster, said that I was a British tourist, bid them a sudden farewell and concentrated on maintaining a relaxed and deceptively speedy gait as I walked back to my truck.

I drove all the way out of the mountains without stopping again. Late that night, with enormous relief, I collapsed at a motel. I was safe.

Soon afterwards, I arrived in the town of Alamos. It would take a while to find someone willing and able to take me deeper into the mountains from there. Crossing the Sierra on a paved and well-travelled highway was one thing, but going into the mountains above Alamos by myself was different.

I studied the calm, impassive expressions on the faces of the grandmothers sitting in their doorways, the young couples arm in arm, the off-duty drug dealers standing outside the cantina, wearing silk shirts decorated with pictures of roosters, scorpions, pick-up trucks, AK-47s and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

I went into a cantina called Casino Señorial, a big concrete barn with the walls painted Tecate red and gold, white plastic tables and chairs and a giant, pulsating, multicoloured jukebox in the corner. The place was three-quarters full with men, and I could tell from the hard faces, lean shanks and tyre-tread sandals that most of them had come down from the Sierra.

On the wall behind the bar was a stuffed mountain lion, caught in the act of tearing the throat out of a stuffed deer. Fake blood was smeared around the wound and splattered down the wall. I sat down at the bar and ordered a caguama, a giant sea-turtle, or in this case a quarter-gallon bottle of Tecate beer.

Three women appeared and paraded on the concrete floor on stiletto heels. The whores collected money from the bartender and fed it into the jukebox. The music was all narcocorridos – "I'm one of the players in the Sierra where the opium poppy grows... I like risky action, I like to do cocaine, I walk right behind death with a beautiful woman on each arm... I've got an AK-47 for anyone who wants to try me..."

A group of men beckoned me over to their table. One of them was clearly in charge, a big, paunchy man with a glassy-eyed smile and a magnificent Roman nose. The others called him El Pelicano, The Pelican, and warned me that he and the younger man next to him were cops from the region.

I pulled up a chair and sat down and The Pelican thumped his empty caguama on the plastic table. The bartender scurried over with a fresh one and The Pelican looked at me to pay. They all looked ripped on cocaine, including the two cops.

Their lips were writhing and they were chewing at their tongues and guzzling down beer at a crazy pace. Five minutes after it arrived, the caguama was empty and The Pelican thumped it down on the table. Again I paid and five minutes later I paid again, and so on for the next 20 minutes.

They started making motions, as if lifting a key or a spoon to their nostrils. "Do you like perico?" asked the younger cop. Cocaine was perico, parakeet, because it made you chatter without knowing what you were saying.

"Not now, thank you," I said. Call me paranoid, but the idea of doing cocaine with Mexican cops made me nervous.

I got up to go to the bathroom and the two cops followed me in there. Then The Pelican raised his forefinger to stop me leaving, took out a plastic bag of cocaine, scooped a little mound on the end of his pocket knife and offered it to me.

They wanted me to buy some, which looked like a classic Mexican set-up: I would buy the cocaine, the cops would bust me and extort a large bribe, which they would then spend on cocaine. My instincts were telling me to leave but I didn't know how. To leave a Mexican drinking session before it reaches its natural conclusion, which is absolute drunkenness, is considered rude and disrespectful, and in the rougher parts of the Sierra it is a frequent cause of homicide.

The Pelican thumped down another empty caguama and I pulled out my wallet again and found that it was empty. A godsend!

I showed it to everyone at the table, thanked them for their fine company and outstanding hospitality and assured them that my house was at their orders if they were ever in Tucson.

I got up to leave and The Pelican said: "No, we need more perico. We need more beer. You can get more money from the wall of the bank. We are friends. Or are you too proud to drink with Mexicans?"

"We are friends without doubt," I said. "And there are no better people in all the world to drink with than Mexicans. I will go to the bank and get money from the wall."

I made my reeling exit, and headed towards and into the welcoming darkness of my guest-house.

****

The old adobe town of Urique was founded by a gold prospector in 1690. The sun was behind the canyon wall and the long dusk had begun. Behind Rafael's restaurant was a garden with some fruit trees and white plastic tables and chairs. There, I met two young men called Pancho and José. They had gel-spiked hair and were wearing cargo pants and Nike trainers.

"You want to buy some?" said Pancho without further ado, referring to the local marijuana, "$100 a kilo."

"Ah, no thank you."

"How about grenades? I have some good grenades and a rocket for them."

"The rocket shoots the grenades?"

"Yes. It works very well, very strong." He held up his arm and slapped it.

"It's not my business, but why would anyone need rocket-propelled grenades in Urique Canyon?"

Pancho gave me the patient, pitying look. "Helicopters," he said. "Sometimes the army comes in helicopters. We used to string cables across the canyons to bring them down, but these work much better."

"But I don't need to shoot down any helicopters."

"Hombre, you can use them for anything you want. If there are bandits on the road ahead, you stop and – BOOM!"

"How about some parakeet?" chimed in José. "We can get some right now from Pancho's aunt."

"No thank you. But tell me, how are the police here? Do they make trouble?"

"There is no problem," said José. They both grinned. "My brother is a police officer and we are training to be police officers ourselves."

Not so long ago, the largest town in each municipio would have a single resident comisario, or police officer, and he was responsible for law and order over hundreds of square miles of rugged, roadless mountains. His only real work was to confiscate moonshine, then sell it back to the townsfolk out of his office. That was the extent of the law unless there was a killing and the killer was considered too dangerous or troublesome for the victim's family members to kill. In that case, the local people would send for the judiciales, the state police, and they would ride up into the Sierra on mules.

Now, there are stations of municipal police officers in places like Urique and Chinipas. Pancho and José would soon be joining their ranks. Once they had their badges, guns and the power of arrest, their potential earnings would increase. Units of the state police and AFI (Mexico's equivalent of the FBI) were stationed in the Sierra Madre now, too, but this didn't mean that law and order had arrived. It usually meant more armed, ruthless men in town looking for a piece of the drug action – and a rise in teenage pregnancies and drink-driving accidents.

Trying to distinguish between police officers and drug traffickers can be a futile exercise in Mexico. The traffickers don't just buy protection against arrest; they hire state and federal policemen to transport loads for them and carry out executions.

Where once there was a relatively simple form of lawlessness in the Sierra, now things are more complicated, based on shifting arrangements of corruption financed by organised crime, linked to global black markets and affected by national and international politics. There are enormous amounts of money at stake now, and this was what drew the law into the Sierra Madre and also made it imperative to co-opt the law and keep it at bay.

****

Baborigame was an ominous, grim-looking town in a wide valley with heavily logged mountains around it. When Randy, another of my guides, first came here in the early 1990s, there was no law and no electricity, and a killing almost every night. The arrival of the law had resulted in a decline in the murder rate in town, and an increase in the murder rate out in the ranches.

The torrent of drug money that had flowed through Baborigame in the 1980s and 1990s had left almost no trace. The streets were unpaved and potholed. The drains didn't work. Aside from a few "narco" houses with bright paint and fancy wrought-iron fences, people lived in squalid shacks and adobes.

By this point in my journey I was tired and run down and I had lost tolerance for machismo. It is the root of the worst evil in Mexico, the real reason why men kill each other and rape women in such horrifying numbers. Not that those numbers are available; according to The Washington Post, fewer than 1 per cent of rapes are reported in Mexico.

In the Sierra Madre the practice known as rapto – a man kidnapping a girl and forcing her to marry him – is commonplace. This is what happened to Chana, a woman I met. From Coloradas de la Virgen, she was now living in Baborigame. Raped at 15 and made pregnant, she had to marry the rapist so he could help her to raise the child. She had another child with her rapist husband and then he was murdered, leaving her with two children to raise. It happens to thousands of women like Chana every year. It is indefensible, but it is the code of the mountains.

Back near Alamos, I picked up another guide, Gustavo. One of his jobs was doing clerical and translating work for the municipio, or county police department, and this gave him access to the murder reports and crime statistics from the area. I started looking into the numbers.

The population of the municipio was approximately 23,000, with 9,000 in Alamos, 3,000 in San Bernardo and the rest scattered in small mountain villages and ranches. Gustavo said they were averaging 90 reported murders a year, and that it was safe to add at least another 20 unreported murders to that figure. Let's call it 100 murders a year, committed by a population of 23,000.

I knew that Mexico's overall murder rate was twice that of the United States, but here was a rural county with a murder rate eight times higher than the most homicidal US cities.

We drove into a village of about two dozen shacks, most of them built out of crudely woven sticks and dried mud with palm-thatch or corrugated tin roofs. More often than not, they also had a solar panel, a TV satellite dish and a big American pick-up parked out front.

"With the money from your first crop you buy clothes, jewellery and guns," said Gustavo. "I can assure you that every one of these huts has at least one pistol and one rifle inside. Then you buy your truck, your solar, your satellite and TV. The last thing you spend money on is the house."

We drove on to the next village, Aguacaliente. It looked deserted. We walked along the stream looking for the hot springs that gave the village its name. A middle-aged man appeared in a blue shirt and white hat and walked down the banks holding a bucket. "That's a woman's job," said Gustavo. "He was sent down here to see what we're doing."

The man introduced himself as Señor Espinoza and we all shook hands. Gustavo ran through his clan credentials. With no prompting, Señor Espinoza started talking about the soldiers. "We had a nice crop growing in the hills and we were ready to pick it when the army came with planes and helicopters and a captain that could not be fixed."

"It is these new college-educated army officers," said Gustavo.

"There are a couple of them near Alamos who can't be fixed. They are not reasonable men," said Espinoza. "We used to grow a lot of opium here and the army have stopped that too. It makes no sense. The army and the federales were getting their share, the politicians were getting their share from the mafia, the gringos were getting their drugs and the people here were able to make a living. It was a good system for everybody and now it is broken. Even if we get a reasonable captain during the next harvest, we have no money now and will not be able to fix things with him."

He bid us a courteous farewell, apparently satisfied that we were harmless. We walked back to the truck and sat in the cab making peanut butter sandwiches.

"Gustavo," I said, looking in the rear-view mirror. It didn't look good. There were two young men leading horses directly towards us and they had very hard stares on their faces. Gustavo looked over his shoulder. Two more men appeared and then all four of them pulled down their hats, and when Gustavo saw that, with a piece of bread half-smeared with peanut butter on his knee, he said, "Go, go, go! Go now! Go!"

I started the engine and slewed out of there, fish-tailing in the sand.

****

The largest component of Mexico's economy is still drug trafficking, estimated at about $50bn. According to a leaked study conducted in 2001 by Mexico's internal security agency CISEN, if the drug business was somehow wiped out, Mexico's economy would shrink by 63 per cent.

As Gustavo pointed out, the drug business was not a healthy occupation or a good influence on society. It makes boys neglect their schooling and any other ambitions they might harbour. It causes men to die young and violently and worsens corruption.

Coming back across the Cuchujaqui river in the gathering dark, tired and beaten up from a long day on bad roads, Gustavo spoke. "The thing about Mexico is that everyone is out to get everyone else, except within your family and very closest friends. We live with our senses and suspicions on full alert. Maybe someone thinks your wife is prettier than his so he whispers something to the police, or the mafia, and the next thing the police are planting drugs in your truck and you're going to jail for 10 years, or there's a bullet in your head and you may never know why."

He paused a moment and let out a long sigh: "I don't know if you can understand what it is like to live this way."

© Richard Grant 2008. Extracted from Bandit Roads, to be published tomorrow (Little, Brown, £16.99). To order the book for the special price of £15.99 (inc P&P), call Independent Books Direct on 0870 079 8897
10459  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 06, 2008, 04:13:50 PM
You can thank the CIA's moronic NIE that assessed Iran as having suspended it's nuclear program for the delay in acting. Now we're almost out of time to do anything and Iran has had greater opportunity to harden it's defenses and disperse it's nuclear materials.
10460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: June 06, 2008, 03:59:30 PM
A headline from the future with President Obama: "The Sunni-Shia Nuclear Arms Race Escalates".

I wonder how much gas will be then....
10461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: June 05, 2008, 05:31:44 PM
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/06/the-guardian-po.html

June 05, 2008

The Guardian Position

Regular readers may remember the Danish journalist, Jakob Illeborg, and his rhetorical contortions. In February, following the republication of the Muhammad cartoons, while Muslim youths were burning down Danish schools on a nightly basis, Mr Illeborg went to enormous lengths to convince Guardian readers that,

The Danes could, with some justification, be seen as fire starters.

This claim is, it seems, based on a belief that to exercise and defend, even belatedly, the most basic values of a free society is actually to “rock the boat” and invite upon oneself a week of rioting, violence and murderous intimidation. When the 73-year-old cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was forced into hiding following a plot to murder him, several Danish papers republished Westergaard’s cartoon as both an affirmation of free speech and an expression of solidarity. This was, according to Illeborg,

A headstrong idealistic response.

Given Mr Illeborg’s articles appear on a website named Comment is Free, one might find this disapproval a tad peculiar. Though perhaps not quite as peculiar as his willingness to denounce as “headstrong” a perfectly legal activity, while carefully avoiding any such pejoratives when referring to those making death threats and setting fire to schools. Mr Illborg is, however, quite skilled at double standards and juggling contradiction, as demonstrated by his dual assertion that,

The fire starters are frustrated young Muslim men who claim that their action is sparked by the re-publication of one of the prophet cartoons –

And,

although it probably has little to do with religion.

Illeborg’s most recent article, titled Denmark Loses Tolerance, once again demonstrates a craven doublethink that has come to define much of the Guardian’s commentary on the subject of Islam. In an attempt to illustrate “how far Denmark has moved from the liberal values it was once proud of,” Illeborg highlights, of all things, Monday’s suicide bomb attack on the Danish embassy in Islamabad. Just pause for a moment. Think about that. A claim that Danes are “losing tolerance” is illustrated with an Islamist attack on a Danish embassy in which 6 people died and burned body parts were left strewn across the road.

Ever since the prophet cartoon crises of 2006 and 2008, Islamist extremists around the world have been threatening bloody revenge on Denmark.

Ah, bloody revenge. For a cartoon. Note that the intolerance which most troubles Mr Illeborg is that of “headstrong” Danes who wish to retain a freethinking culture, and not the rather more emphatic intolerance of men so vain they blow off people’s limbs and burn them to death. At this point one might reflect on how it is that some among us have come to accept the idea that an unflattering cartoon is a comprehensible “cause” of death threats and dismemberment. The cause is not, it seems, lunatic pride cultivated in the name of piety.

Monday's attack, is of course, indefensible,

Wait for it.

but

There we go.

it raises questions about the wisdom of the much-debated cartoons and Danish reactions to Muslim wrath. Not because anything about any cartoon - no matter how provocative - justifies such acts of violence, but because the cartoons ended up playing into the hands of extremists who could utilise it to “prove” how badly the west behaves towards Muslims.

Having previously made quite a few excuses for Islamic violence and its accommodation, Illeborg goes on to say,

Denmark has now become a target, and while [this] should in no way be excused, we ought to have known better.

The claim that “we ought to have known better” implies a great many things that Illeborg takes care not to state too clearly. Apparently, it’s okay to have certain rights provided we don’t actually use them or defend them against assault. Or, as Illeborg previously chose to word it, rather coyly:

Most of us agree that the Danish newspapers have the right to print the cartoons, but they don’t have an obligation to do so.

Likewise, in order to believe that publishing the cartoons constitutes being “headstrong” or “behaving badly” one would first have to forget the series of violent events that prompted them and on which they passed comment. Then one would have to imagine that backing down in the face of threats and intimidation will not invite more of the same. One would also have to believe that even the most ludicrous religious vanities, including fantasies of dominion, are deserving of respect. Not just tolerance, mind, but respect, which is not the same thing at all. And, by implication, one would have to believe that the taboos and ticks of Islam should, as a matter of courtesy, extend to non-Muslims, even those who find Muhammad an absurd and contemptible figure.

One might deduce from such thinking that the values of a free society - on which Mr Illeborg’s livelihood depends - are best defended by an unending accommodation of Islamic neurosis and supremacist posturing. Indeed, one might suppose that “liberal values” are actually best affirmed by their abandonment, and that being “tolerant” means touching one’s toes and hoping no one takes advantage. Behold The Guardian Position™, dutifully assumed: cowardice masked as compromise, tarted up in moral drag.
10462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: June 01, 2008, 09:19:41 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/06/01/british-cop-warns-christians-leafletting-in-muslim-areas-is-a-hate-crime/

British cop warns Christians: Leafletting in Muslim areas is a “hate crime”
POSTED AT 9:16 PM ON JUNE 1, 2008 BY ALLAHPUNDIT   


Well, no. Not yet, anyway.

The preachers, both ministers in Birmingham, were handing out leaflets on Alum Rock Road in February when they started talking to four Asian youths.

A police community support officer (PCSO) interrupted the conversation and began questioning the ministers about their beliefs.

They said when the officer realised they were American, although both have lived in Britain for many years, he launched a tirade against President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…

“He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam and said that he was going to take us to the police station.”…

West Midlands Police, who refused to apologise, said the incident had been “fully investigated” and the officer would be given training in understanding hate crime and communication.

Funny how British cops keep “misunderstanding” hate crimes laws. I have some legal training myself and after reading this story from April, I’d say the cop here has a pretty firm handle on where the law is headed. Spend some time with that last link and see how far down the road they already are. In America, as far as I know, hate crimes constitutionally can only be charged in connection with another criminal offense. You can’t be charged with hate; you can be charged with assault and have your sentence enhanced if they prove the assault was motivated by hate. Thoughtcrime + actual crime = hate crime, in other words. In the U.K., it sounds like they’re flirting with knocking out that pesky “actual crime” element and just going the whole nine Orwellian yards.

Exit quotation, per the cop: “You have been warned. If you come back here and get beaten up, well you have been warned.” They’re being silenced for their own safety, you see, and if that “logic” sounds distressingly familiar, well, it should. (Bonus nuance: As longtime HA readers know, the cop’s worries about this sort of thing being especially unwelcome in Birmingham are not necessarily unfounded.)
10463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: May 31, 2008, 10:23:42 PM
Horror In Hamburg   
By Stephen Brown
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 30, 2008

A young female form lying crumpled on a sidewalk. Blood flowing from multiple stab wounds. Police cars. Ambulances. Flashing lights. Emergency personnel working frantically to save an innocent life that had barely begun.
It is a scene that is becoming all too common in Western Europe with its growing Muslim population, as the northern German city of Hamburg experienced in May yet another horrifying honor murder of a young female.

Morsal Obeidi, barely 16, arrived in Hamburg from the war-torn country of Afghanistan when she was three, probably barely remembering her country of origin in her new homeland. The German Muslim student, who had won a prize in her multicultural school for tolerance and peaceful co-existence with others, was stabbed 20 times by her 23-year old brother, Ahmed, who ambushed her at a commuter train station.

The reason for Morsal’s murder is a common one for female Muslim victims of honor killings who emigrate to the West with their families and grow up between two cultures: she was living too western a lifestyle.

“She had a different life than the family wished,” admitted Ahmed, who assaulted his sister so severely that he wounded himself and had to be treated in hospital.

According to one report, Ahmed’s younger sister started her teenaged rebellion when she was 14. The schoolgirl was tired of living by the rules of the family’s Afghan-Muslim culture that see the daughters confined at home and made to do housework when not at school while the sons have all the freedom they want.

Such girls from South Asian and Muslim communities are also monitored very carefully after reaching puberty, as the male members of the family are very concerned that they remain virgins until marriage, since this involves their “honor.” One German Muslim woman wrote that the physical attributes she developed upon turning 13 filled her Turkish father with “deep worry.” This male obsession with virginity is manifested in the expression, common in these traditional cultures, that “…a man’s honor lies between a woman’s legs.”

Ahmed was most likely one of those male family members concerned about his sister’s chastity. It was reported he watched Morsal very closely and, when he was not available, he had cousins, uncles and aunts do it for him.

Morsal’s rebellion against such strict control included such normal, western behaviour for teenaged girls as wearing “uncovered hair, makeup and jeans” as well as smoking, drinking and staying out late, all of which brought her into conflict with her family. But all in all, it was reported the young schoolgirl simply wanted the same freedoms her German classmates had.

Like in many families where honor murders occur, violence was already extensive in Morsal’s. Before her death, the teenager had suffered numerous assaults at the hands of her father, Ahmed and a 13-year-old brother, who had once knocked her tooth out. An older sister is also suspected of mistreating her.

“You dress like a tramp,” Ahmed said to his sister once before beating her up, his sense of moral superiority being somewhat misplaced, since he himself has an extensive criminal record, starting when he was 13. This ‘man of honor’ is a thief and had already knifed others in fights, once being stabbed eight times himself in an argument involving prostitutes outside a brothel.

Such domestic violence had caused the tormented Afghan-German girl to spend nights at youth shelters. But like many immigrant teenagers from traditional cultures, with their deep sense of family which they do not want to give up overnight, she always returned home. But the final straw leading to her tragic death may have been the young girl’s staying away from home for three nights in a row.

Sadly, Morsal’s was not the only honor murder to occur in Germany this year.

Last March in Berlin, an 18-year old boy stabbed his grandparents to death after his German mother had separated from his Turkish father and got a new boyfriend. The murders were carried out at the behest of the father, according a newspaper report, to restore his honor. The father and son had already assaulted the grandfather and boyfriend earlier in separate instances, while the father had threatened his wife’s family many times with death, causing his spouse to flee to a women’s shelter.

The wife’s unavailability is probably what caused her parents to be targeted as well the fact the grandmother approved of the separation (no surprise there). The son carried out the killing, since, like in other honor murders in Germany, the Muslim families often get the underage sons to do the killing because the maximum sentence for a minor for murder is only ten years, and often less.

Like in the Berlin case, a Kurdish man from Iraq murdered his wife for leaving him, for which he received a life sentence at his trial last fall in Munich. Leaving the husband can often be a death sentence for the wife in traditional Muslim families.

This particular killer showed no remorse whatsoever and was even smiling in the court room. Only three hours after a successful divorce court hearing in 2006, the murderer ambushed his ex-spouse on the street, stabbed her twelve times (the knife broke, stopping the assault) and then poured gasoline over her prostrate body lying on the sidewalk, burning her alive. This was all done before the eyes of their five-year-old son with the sadistic killer telling the court you can’t take children into consideration when it concerns honor.

Also at his trial, the Kurd said he had killed his wife because she had betrayed him and that his “religion and culture” forbid that. Laughably, he also partly blamed German laws for his murderous rage. He whined that in Germany “…only women have rights. So they become stuck-up and believe they can do whatever they want.”

The killer also admitted he first received permission from his wife’s father in Iraq to murder his daughter. When it is believed a woman has dishonoured the family, even if married, it is usually her birth family that kills her, since it was responsible for her upbringing and thus it is the one “dishonoured.”

This ongoing clash between the religious and cultural values of Muslim societies with those of western civilization manifested themselves in two other honor murder trials in Germany.

In Monchengladbach, a city in the Rhineland, a Turkish immigrant received a life sentence last February for shooting his wife and daughter to death on the street in 2007. Again, it was a case of a wife leaving her husband with their children after years of brutal treatment that included rapes and beatings.

Like the Kurd in the Munich case, this criminal also showed no remorse and also murdered his wife in dramatic fashion. After she had fallen to the ground with the first shot, the ‘man of honor’ put his foot on her and fired twice more directly into her head. One female Muslim lawyer at the trial said such theatrical executions are meant to show “…that the man is doing everything to restore his honor and that he defended himself against the rebellious wife.”

And last March in Bonn, a father was facing a life sentence for having murdered his 17-year-old daughter in 1993. The native Syrian, along with two nephews, strangled the young victim with a cord because, like Morsal Obeidi, she wanted to “live like German girls.” They later buried the body in a wood.

The father’s undoing was that he made his other daughter witness the murder as a warning as to what would happen to her if she ever decided to determine her own life.

“If you don’t behave according to our rules, the same thing is going to happen to you,” she was told.

Racked by guilt that made her life a living hell, the surviving sister informed the police of the honor killing 14 years later.

Like after the Hatun Surucu honor murder in Berlin in 2005 that awoke Germany to this social horror in their midst, German politicians and authorities are again falling all over themselves after the Morsal Obeidi killing in Hamburg. They say they will examine the youth shelters’ role in failing to prevent the tragic murder (as if they are to blame), as well as nebulously promising to do more to protect women facing such danger as well as explain to them their rights.

In reality, while these measures will help somewhat, much like a band aid, the real problem has to do with the values the murderers acquire in their countries of origin. As long as these men believe they have a cultural and religious right to control women, determine their lives (especially their sexuality), treat them like eternal minors, and even murder them when they transgress some archaic, tribal code of honor, then it appears there is not much Western countries can do after they arrive within their borders, since they despise our culture and, like the Kurd in the Munich trial, hold our laws in contempt.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that parts of western European cities, where Muslims form the majority of the population, are now ruled by sharia law where these anti-civilization values can grow and spread.

But every voice, especially those of victims like Morsal, makes a difference. A spirit of change exists in every culture, including the Muslim. It is the Muslim women that have to be compulsorily educated in massive fashion if honor murders are ever to be stopped. Making Muslim womens’ visas and those of their family members’ contingent on this understanding of compulsory education would benefit enormously in this effort. No half measures. More Muslim women would determine their own lives if they were not so afraid of honor killings. And a real sense of urgency is needed to deal with this social nightmare facing these young female souls.

But in the end, it is we Westerners who have to stand up for the life-affirming values we hold dear and change our laws substantially to reflect this. Western legal codes were written when the predatory and barbaric practice of honor murder was unknown due to the absence of these immigrant groups. This must be rectified and the new reality reflected in new laws, since the bottom line is that we cannot have women being killed at sixteen if we are to call ourselves human.

Stephen Brown is a columnist for Frontpagemag.com. A scholar and former news reporter, his field of expertise is Muslim forced marriages and honor killings. Email him at alsolzh@hotmail.com
10464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: May 31, 2008, 09:12:29 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/05/31/one-potatoe-two-potatoe-three-potatoe-four/

One potatoe, two potatoe, three potatoe, four
POSTED AT 11:45 AM ON MAY 31, 2008 BY ED MORRISSEY   


How many “potatoe” moments does it take for the media to start a doofus narrative on a candidate? Barack Obama provided yet another during his visit to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota yesterday:

Democrat Barack Obama paid an unscheduled late-night visit to Mount Rushmore Friday, visiting the national memorial at closing time and joking that his ears were too big to ever be included in such a display. …

He did express curiosity about the filming of a chase scene in “North by Northwest,” Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint that included a death-defying scramble over Rushmore’s presidential faces.

“How did they get up there in the first place?” he asked ranger Wesley Jensen.

“They didn’t. It was a movie set,” Jensen told him.

“Pretty spiffy, isn’t it,” said the Illinois senator, summing up his overall impressions.

Well, maybe the Young Gaffer’s friends in Hollywood can explain how movies get made, at least before they actually keep their promises and bug out for Italy.

How many times did Quayle misspell potato before the American media and popular culture proclaimed him an idiot? We can add this to Obama’s existing list of gaffes and blunders:

The Selma March in 1965 did not contribute to his birth in 1961.
Kansas tornadoes in May 2007 killed 12 people, not “ten thousand”.
Afghans do not speak Arabic.
Misunderstanding Memorial Day, and then claiming to see “fallen heroes” in the Memorial Day audience.
Same day: putting Auschwitz in western Germany, not Poland.
“57 states”.
Again … how many times did Quayle misspell potato? (via The Corner)

Update: I wonder if he asked to see the Team America headquarters, too ….
10465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Name that war!!! on: May 31, 2008, 07:03:31 PM
**Unless/until islamic theology rejects the belief that the verses from the koran below no longer are valid, then the jihad will continue until islam conquers all.**


9:5. Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun {unbelievers} wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat {the Islamic ritual prayers}), and give Zakat {alms}, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.


8:39. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.

8:67. It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

9:29. Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

9:33. It is He {Allah} Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate (it).
10466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Name that war!!! on: May 31, 2008, 06:46:43 PM
The war against the global jihad. Islamo-fascism is redundant, as islam is inherently totalitarian and imperialistic in nature.
10467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: May 31, 2008, 04:24:05 PM
http://weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/154vgolw.asp

Are We Serious?

They're at war, we're catching crooks.
by Thomas Joscelyn
06/09/2008, Volume 013, Issue 37

Willful Blindness
A Memoir of the Jihad
by Andrew C. McCarthy
Encounter, 250 pp., $25.95

In the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, America has tried to understand how she could have been so blind. Countless books, articles, documentaries--in addition to the 9/11 Commission's high-profile investigation during a hotly contested presidential election year--have all attempted to answer one central question: How could a small band of al Qaeda terrorists execute the greatest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor?

For Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, the answer begins with a series of fateful events in the early 1990s. And in his exceptional new book, he documents a series of missteps that led America to consistently misjudge both the scale and the nature of the terrorist threat. McCarthy exposes a fundamental flaw in the government's counterterrorism strategy prior to September 11. While our enemies were waging a war, we were prosecuting them as mere criminals. Much of the burden of dealing with an imminent national security threat was, therefore, placed on the criminal justice system. But as McCarthy demonstrates in meticulous fashion, the courts are a poor substitute for the real battlefield, so much so that our terrorist enemies were consistently able to outflank us.

McCarthy's story is centered on the trial of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman ("The Blind Sheikh") and 11 of his followers. McCarthy led the prosecution of this dirty dozen in 1995. In landmark convictions, Rahman and his cohort were found guilty of participating in a broad conspiracy to attack Americans, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a follow-on plot to destroy landmarks in the New York area just months later.

It is no exaggeration to say that the convictions stand out as a singular achievement in counterterrorism history. At the time, the law was so ill-equipped to handle such a case that McCarthy and his team had to charge the sheikh with violating a Civil War-era statute prohibiting seditious conspiracy! The sheikh slyly avoided discussing precise tactics, preferring instead to lend his voice to theological justifications for violence. His blessing was crucial for the terrorists to move forward, but America's laws were not written with someone like Rahman, or his type of violence, in mind.

In McCarthy's words, "The legal system circa 1993 was woefully unprepared for radical Islam." Therefore, pinning these events on Rahman--who clearly, at the very least, inspired them--was no small feat.

McCarthy, however, does not rest on his laurels. In fact, one senses that if it were up to him, the trial of Rahman and his cohort would never have happened. The terror network centered on Rahman should have been years earlier--or, better yet, never allowed to develop on American soil in the first place. And in the aftermath of the events of 1993, the criminal justice system should not have been our frontline defense.

As McCarthy writes, "In the eight years between the World Trade Center's bombing and its destruction, the high-profile court cases that constituted the Clinton administration's counter-terrorism strategy resulted in the convictions of exactly twenty-nine terrorists." By way of contrast, consider that the former National Security Council official Richard Clarke has stated that "perhaps over 10,000 terrorists" were trained "at the camps in Afghanistan" alone. Clearly, America was not on a war footing.

From McCarthy's perspective, the missteps began in 1989 when the FBI prematurely abandoned its investigation into a group of jihadists conducting firearm drills in Calverton, Long Island. One of those jihadists, El Sayyid Nosair, went on to murder an extremist Jewish leader named Rabbi Meir Kahane on November 5, 1990. Despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, Nosair was acquitted of Kahane's murder and convicted of only lesser charges.

This miscarriage of justice, McCarthy explains, was further compounded by an incompetent investigation. Nosair left behind a treasure trove of information, including handwritten notes, connecting him to a broader terror network then operating in New York and New Jersey. But authorities failed to analyze much of it. Instead, Nosair was branded a "lone gunman" and the 40-plus boxes of evidence seized with Nosair were ignored, thereby allowing his fellow conspirators to initially escape scrutiny.

Nosair was no lone wolf, as McCarthy makes clear, but one of Sheikh Rahman's gaggle of followers. And together they had more grandiose designs. For example, in one of his initially overlooked notebooks, Nosair expressed his desire to destroy America's "high world buildings which they are proud of and their statues which they endear and the buildings in which gather their heads [their leaders]."

On February 26, 1993, more than two years after Kahane's murder, a powerful truck bomb was detonated underneath the World Trade Center. Seven people were killed, including an unborn child, but the damage could have been much worse: The terrorists responsible, some of whom had consulted Nosair in prison and attended the firearm drills in Long Island, wanted to kill thousands.

Nor did Rahman's jihadists stop there. They soon began plotting yet another, more devastating, attack. This time they wanted to simultaneously destroy several landmarks in the New York area, including the United Nations building and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels. That plot never got off the ground because of a well-placed FBI informant named Emad Salem. Rahman's followers thought the Egyptian Salem was a committed jihadist who could provide them with invaluable explosives expertise. Instead, Salem led them down a path of misdirection: The plotters mixed the chemicals for a bomb in a Queens warehouse under Salem's (and the FBI's) watchful eye. Once a critical mass of evidence was collected, Rahman and his minions were rounded up, thereby short-circuiting their bomb making, and convicted as a result of McCarthy's relentless prosecution.

But as McCarthy reveals, even this success has a troublesome back story. The FBI first recruited Salem to serve as a mole prior to the World Trade Center bombing. Skittish agents, who mishandled Salem from the first, alternated between fears that they could not corroborate his testimony and that Salem's fellow plotters would be successful despite Salem's meddling. In the latter case, the FBI would have known about a plot that it failed to stop--a surefire recipe for public scorn. The bureau, therefore, decided to end Salem's employment several months before the World Trade Center bomb was detonated.

The failure to properly vet Nosair's documents, or to continue using Salem's services in the months leading up to the World Trade Center bombing, is bad enough. What's worse is that Sheikh Rahman was allowed to freely operate and inspire these terrorist acts from American soil in the early 1990s. At that point, for more than a decade, Rahman had provided the religious justification for numerous terrorist plots in Egypt, including the assassination of Anwar Sadat. He was the spiritual head of Egypt's two main terrorist groups, both of which were instrumental in aiding al Qaeda's rise. And he was a player in the jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, where he made numerous allies, including Osama bin Laden himself.

Yet, despite his dark past, Rahman was repeatedly granted U.S. visas. It is ironic, then, that while the sheikh could not safely preach in Cairo, he could preach in mosques in Brooklyn and Jersey City.

Had McCarthy stopped at telling the story of the many tactical failures that allowed Rahman's terrorists to menace America in the early 1990s, Willful Blindness would have been an invaluable addition to the literature of 9/11. But he takes his argument a step further, showing how these tactical failures were merely symptoms of a larger strategic failure to comprehend the nature of our terrorist enemies. In the process, McCarthy has given us one of the most important books on jihadist terrorism.

The strategic failure McCarthy exposes is ongoing, and extends even to something as basic as naming the enemy. Just as Willful Blindness was released, the State Department and other agencies published an edict banning the use of the word "jihadist" (as well as similar terms) from the government's lexicon. The thinking is that the terrorists like to call themselves "jihadists," thereby appropriating an Islamic term which can have far more benevolent meanings, such as the struggle for spiritual betterment or simply to do good.

It is true that, in some Islamic traditions, "jihad" has been endowed with such inoffensive meanings. But as McCarthy rightly argues, "jihad" has far more frequently been used to connote violent campaigns against infidels since the earliest days of Islam. When Sheikh Rahman called on his followers to wage "jihad," they knew that their master did not mean for them to become absorbed in prayer.

Moreover, Washington is apparently too obtuse to notice that Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda's terrorists, Tehran's mullahs, and Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi clerics have called for a militant brand of jihad persistently over the past several decades. All of these parties know how their words will be interpreted by the Muslim masses, and no fiat from the Washington bureaucracy will undo this widely accepted meaning.

Not only does Washington have a hard time properly naming our jihadist enemies, it still fails to understand that terrorist-sponsoring regimes have long backed them. Here, McCarthy has been at the forefront of explaining how jihadist terrorism is frequently, but not exclusively, a tool of hostile regimes: Writing in these pages in 1998 ("The Sudan Connection"), he explored the many ties between the 1993 plotters and the Sudanese regime then led by an Islamic radical named Hassan al-Turabi. Indeed, Turabi and Rahman were longtime friends and allies. McCarthy returns to this aspect of the story in Willful Blindness to show how Sudan's U.N. delegation provided material support to Rahman's terrorists as they plotted to blow up New York's landmarks. (The Clinton administration even expelled two Sudanese delegates because of their involvement.)

Sudan's sponsorship went far beyond Rahman's goons. In the early 1990s Turabi forged a broad terrorist coalition that included Osama bin Laden's core group of followers, all of al Qaeda's affiliates, and a number of other organizations. Turabi envisioned bringing all of these parties together in one grand anti-American terrorist coalition. And he received the support of the two leading state sponsors of terrorism: Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the mullahs' Iran. Out of this witch's brew of state and nonstate actors grew the network that we commonly call "al Qaeda."

It is beyond my scope here to summarize all of the evidence that supports this thesis, but suffice it to say that McCarthy is exactly right when he asserts,

It is not difficult to find some current or former intelligence official ready and willing to opine that Sunnis [such as Rahman and bin Laden] would never cooperate with secularists or Shiites--overlooking abundant evidence of the Ba'athist Saddam Hussein coddling Sunni jihadists and a years-long history of collaboration between al Qaeda and Shiite Hezbollah.

McCarthy argues that, more than a decade after the Blind Sheikh was convicted of inspiring terrorism on American soil, America remains largely blind. Even the September 11 attacks did not fully awaken our nation, or its leaders, from their slumber. An implacable hate drives our enemies to never-ending violence. For them, we are the "other," infidels who deserve to be slaughtered as victims of a religious jihad, and there are many who are willing to support their war on us.

Thomas Joscelyn is a terrorism researcher, writer, and economist living in New York. He is the author, most recently, of Iran's Proxy War Against America (Claremont Institute).
10468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: May 31, 2008, 04:16:51 PM
Whitewashing the Thai Jihad   
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 30, 2008

In a story Wednesday on a jihadist attack on a wedding party and other jihad activity in Thailand, Agence France Presse added a concluding paragraph that was typical of mainstream media coverage of the Thai jihad and of jihad activity in general. For while AP, Reuters, AFP and the rest never saw a piece of Palestinian propaganda they didn’t like, they also never saw a jihad they couldn’t whitewash.

AFP’s concluding paragraph blandly placed all the blame for the conflict on the non-Muslim Thai government:

More than 3,000 people have been killed since separatist unrest broke out in January 2004 in the south, which was an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate until mainly Buddhist Thailand annexed it in 1902, provoking decades of tension.

All was well, you see, until the Buddhists of Thailand, motivated apparently only by rapacious imperialism, annexed the poor autonomous Malay Muslim Sultanate. AFP does not mention, of course, that the Malay Sultanate at that time was making war against the Siamese during the war between Siam and Burma, and Thailand conquered it in that context -- making it Thai by a right of conquest that has been universally recognized throughout human history (except, of course, when it comes to Israel and to any Muslim land that is conquered by non-Muslims).

Along with this come the media’s allergy to the word “jihad,” and its frequent recourse to the passive voice when discussing what the jihadists did. Sometimes inanimate objects act, apparently of their own accord. For example, in a March story on bombings in southern Thailand, Reuters’ lead paragraph stated: “Bombs killed three men and wounded 21 people in three separate attacks in Thailand’s troubled Muslim far south, police said on Sunday.” Reuters gives no hint as to who is doing the bombing and who are the victims – which in itself is a clear indication that the bombers are not the government or pro-government vigilantes, but jihadists.

The story continues in this vein. Its second paragraph tells us that a bomb was hidden in the car, but with no hint as to by whom. In paragraph 5 we learn that in the three southern provinces, “2,500 people have been killed in gun and bomb attacks since a separatist insurgency erupted in January 2004.” The separatist insurgency just erupted, you see, like a volcano. It was an act of God, a force of nature. Here again Reuters gives the reader no hint as to who the separatist insurgents are, or who killed the overwhelming majority of those 2,500 people. In paragraph 6, we learn how the “suspected militants” set off another bomb, but once again are given no hint as to who these militants are.

Same thing in paragraph 7: unidentified “insurgents” ambush the security forces. In paragraph 8, it’s simply a “bomb,” a random, accidental object, that unaccountably wounded four people. But also in that paragraph we learn that this is all taking place in “the three far south provinces which formed an independent sultanate until annexed by Thailand a century ago.” Reuters and AFP are in step on this: the only background they give suggests that Thailand is entirely responsible for provoking the conflict, and should simply have left the Malay Muslims alone.

Only in paragraph 10 of the Reuters story are we finally told that “Buddhist monks” are among the chief targets of the still-unidentified “militants” -- which should lead the informed reader to identify them as Islamic jihadists and Sharia supremacists. But they come to that identification with no help from Reuters.

In reality, the Thai jihadists are uniquely brutal even by the standards of their jihadist brethren, and are fighting to correct the outrage, as they see it, of non-Muslim rule over a Muslim population in southern Thailand. But the AFP and Reuters stories exemplify the kind of coverage that jihad activity receives from the mainstream media as a matter of course. The perpetrators of jihad violence are not identified, their ideology is never discussed, and the conflicts they provoke are blamed on their victims. This kind of coverage is of a piece with the U.S. government’s new see-no-jihad, speak-no-jihad, hear-no-jihad policy: both appear to be based on wishful thinking. Both seem to emanate from the idea that if we simply do not allow ourselves to notice jihad activity, it will somehow fade away from neglect. If we pretend that Islam is peaceful, violent Muslims will lay down their arms.

The price we will have to pay for these fantasies could be very high.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His next book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is coming this November from Regnery Publishing.
10469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: May 31, 2008, 03:27:32 PM
http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/2008/05/021221print.html

May 29, 2008

The great war against nothing in particular

Andy McCarthy wonders, since "war" and "terror" are no good, if it's okay if we call this present conflict the "On" -- "or would that offend all the moderate prepositions?"

"War on terror" has always been a stupid and misleading term. But this recommendation to abandon it is even more stupid and misleading.

New adventures in Washington's absurd flight from reality: "Security chief decries ‘war on terror,’" by Demetri Sevastopulo in the Financial Times, May 28 (thanks to Jed Babbin):

The west needs a more comprehensive strategy to counter al-Qaeda propaganda and the US should stop using the term “war on terror”, according to a top intelligence official.
Charles Allen, the senior intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security, says the phrase is counter-productive because it creates “animus” in Islamic countries.

“[It] has nothing to do with political correctness,” Mr Allen said in an interview. “It is interpreted in the Muslim world as a war on Islam and we don’t need this.”...

It has everything to do with political correctness, Mr. Allen. The jihadists say they are fighting an Islamic jihad. Understanding the jihad theology gives us unique insight into the motives and goals of the jihadists. If the Muslim world sees our resistance to these people as a war on Islam, maybe they aren't all that reliable as friends of the United States in the first place. But if they're really upset about this, they ought to be directing their ire against the Muslims who use Islam in this way -- which they are not doing -- instead of against non-Muslims who merely take note of the usage.

Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary, does not agree with suggestions that the phrase is equated with a war on Islam, says Russ Knocke, his spokesman.
“We are at war with terrorism, and its underlying ideology – not Islam – and we’ve gone out of our way to make that point,” says Mr Knocke. “In truth, war has been declared upon us.”

Indeed you have gone out of your way to make that point, Mr. Knocke -- even to the point of dealing in half-truths and comforting falsehoods and avoiding unpleasant truths. But in truth, war has been declared upon us -- by Muslims, in the name of Islam. No amount of denial or sugarcoating this fact will make it go away.

Peter Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, in an interview said the phrase ”war on terror” was the “dumbest term…you could use”. The Michigan lawmaker, who criticises the Bush administration for using an overly aggressive tone, says he has urged Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, not to use the expression.
It is indeed a "dumb" term. It is war on a tactic, not on a foe. But this foe we are afraid to name.

Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for Mr Hadley, said the White House recognises that “the use of the word ‘Islamic’ before the word terrorist can be heard by Muslims…as lacking nuance, which may incorrectly suggest that all Muslims are terrorists or that we are at war with Islam”.
"Islamic terrorists" suggests neither, although the fear of using it suggests knee-knocking abject dhimmitude in the White House. "Islamic terrorists" no more suggests that all Muslims are terrorists than the phrase "Italian fascists" suggests that all Italians are fascists, or than the phrase "courageous intelligence analysts" suggests that all intelligence analysts are courageous. And it doesn't suggest we are at war with Islam, either, unless all Muslims are terrorists -- which is the very point that these politically correct mau-mauers would strenuously deny.

“While we want to be mindful to the way our messages are heard by Muslim audiences, we also think war on terror accurately describes the fight we are in,” he added.
Well, think again. It no more accurately describes this fight than "war on bombs" or "war on hijacked airplanes that crash into skyscrapers" would.

While the military in general tends to echo the langauge [sic!] of the president, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs who recently met with moderate Muslim leaders to hear their concerns, tries to ensure his language does not create the perception of a war against Islam, Captain John Kirby, his spokesman, said.
“The chairman is aware of the concerns voiced by many in the Muslim community about the phrase ‘war on terror’,” Captain Kirby said.

“He is committed – when speaking of it – to focusing his language and efforts on the violent extremists we are fighting. This is not a war on Islam. It’s a war against lethal enemies who are using a warped view of that faith to justify killing innocent civilians.”

And part of their warped view is that they present themselves to peaceful Muslims as the true and pure Muslims, as we have seen again and again -- and they get recruits that way. But that is too politically incorrect a fact for us to notice, much less try to counter. We are to swallow the dogma that the jihadists' Islam is warped, and that virtually all Muslims see it as such, no matter what the evidence to the contrary.

That is part of the message that Mr Allen would like the US to emphasise in countering al-Qaeda propaganda around the globe. He says the west needs to orchestrate a “very structured”, almost cold war-style communications strategy to accomplish this....
In the Cold War we were against Communism. There was not this politically correct word-mincing going on at high levels.

Frank Cilluffo, a terrorism expert at George Washington University and former special assistant to Mr Bush for homeland security, says the US government can take a series of steps to help counter al-Qaeda. He agrees that the US should abandon the concept of a “war on terror” – which “fuels the adversaries narrative” – and “decouple religion from ideology”.
Cilluffo is terminally naive if he thinks the U.S. can accomplish this and have any credibility among Muslims in doing so. He is also apparently unaware (although he has heard a couple of presentations by me, and I was in there pitching, folks) that Islam traditionally has had a political and social, i.e., an ideological component. This aspect of Islam wasn't invented by bin Laden, or Khomeini. It is as old as Muhammad, and central to Islam. Does he really think that the U.S, by playing word games, can eliminate or "decouple" it from Islamic piety? Good luck with that.

In the long term, however, Mr Cilluffo says the solution will have to come from within the Muslim community, partly by imams and Islamic scholars stressing that al-Qaeda has deliberately misinterpreted the Koran to justify violence, which he adds will help “take the jihadi cool out of the narrative”.
Here again is that ever-elusive unicorn, the interpretation of the Qur'an that rejects violence. Frank Cilluffo and everyone else in Washington fervently believe it exists, and are ready to buy all kinds of snake oil in search of it. Unfortunately, there is no such traditional or mainstream understanding of the Qur'an that fits this bill. One could conceivably be invented, although then it will be denounced in Islamic communities as bid'a -- innovation.

One would think that it would be worthwhile to understand all this, so as to formulate a realistic strategy based on genuine reality. But instead, official Washington is retreating farther and farther into Fantasy Based Policymaking.

Posted at May 29, 2008 6:37 PM
10470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: May 30, 2008, 04:27:15 AM
Crafty,

The reason homosexuality is prohibited by the US military is due to the issues of group cohesion, not worries about personal courage.
10471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: May 30, 2008, 04:06:02 AM
More than anything, my biggest objection to so-called "gay marriage" is that it's been rejected by the voting public and must be forced upon them by judicial fiat.

One of the roles of US Government and particularly judges has always been protection of minority rights.

**Not so. The role of the federal government is enumerated in the constitution, and nowhere will you find the phrase "minority rights". Although it's a popular, but corrosive idea that has been pushed by the left since the 60's, rights belonging to defined groups does not exist in the US constitution. Individuals have rights, not groups.**

The Federalist #10 and #51 #78 etc

"This independence of the judges is equally requisite to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effects of those ill humors, which the arts of designing men, or the influence of particular conjunctures, sometimes disseminate among the people themselves, and which, though they speedily give place to better information, and more deliberate reflection, have a tendency, in the meantime, to occasion dangerous innovations in the government, and serious oppressions of the minor party in the community"

 The quote is harsh and does not totally fit this situation. I am not accusing anyone of having ill humors etc---

**Where in the constitution might I find the right to "gay marriage" ? Do you believe the intent of the founding fathers of this nation was to have "gay marriage" as a right in this nation?**

It is the California Constitution because it is the California supreme court. I tried to examine the text but it is really long.  I gave up because I  am never going to live in that state. There is something very wrong with the weather there .  I believe the founding fathers created  a system of government to  protect the rights of the people. I am more interested in the  government  they created than what particular  rights they wanted people to have. After all some of them believed in slavery and  they didn't give woman the right to vote.   

**Just because the CA. Supreme court recently issued a ruling doesn't alter the state's constitution. There is a big difference between caselaw and the constitution.**

Marriage by definition has changed. Men used to have the right to beat and rape their wives.

**Yes, and the laws changed by legislation, not by judicial fiat.**

My basic though that all human beings are created in the image of G-d have certain rights including a right to marriage.

**Does a pedophile have the right to marry a child then? Should laws against bigamy and incest be purged as well? If not, why are they different?**


10472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 29, 2008, 09:00:47 AM
http://www.nypost.com/seven/05292008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/the_quit_iraq_time_travelers_112963.htm?page=0

THE QUIT-IRAQ TIME-TRAVELERS

Sadr: Lost big to forces of Iraqi democracy.

May 29, 2008 --
WHENEVER retreat-now activists or their favored presidential aspirant are confronted with our progress in Iraq, their stock reply is, "Al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq in 2003."
Well, I happen to agree with Sen. Barack Obama and his supporters on that count: At most, the terrorists had a tenuous connection with Saddam's regime. But it's 2008, not 2003. And our next president will take office in 2009. It's today's reality that matters.
It's as if, in June 1944, critics had argued from facts frozen in June 1939. ("Why invade Normandy? Hitler's content with Czechoslovakia.")
In the course of a war - any war - the situation changes, enemies evolve and goals shift. A war to preserve the Union becomes a war to end slavery; a war to defeat one set of totalitarian systems empowers a new network of tyrannies. It's a rare war whose end can be forecast neatly at its outset.
And you don't get any do-overs.
To date, not one "mainstream media" journalist has pressed the leading advocates of unconditional surrender to describe in detail what might happen after we "bring the troops home now."
There's plenty of unchallenged sloganeering, but no serious debate. This selective political softball and pep-rally journalism serves neither our country nor our political process well.
So, let's bring those quit-Iraq time-travelers back to mid-2008 and fill them in on what's happened since they were ideologically stranded five years ago:
* After our troops reached Baghdad, al Qaeda's leaders made a colossal strategic miscalculation and publicly declared that Iraq was now the central front in their jihad against us. Matter of record, in the enemy's own words.
* Some Iraqi Sunni Arabs, lamenting the national pre-eminence they'd lost, rallied to the terrorists.
* Al Qaeda in Iraq and its affiliates then embarked on a campaign of widespread atrocities: videotaped beheadings, mass bombings of civilians, assassinations, widespread rape (of boys and girls, as well as of women), kidnappings and brutal efforts to dictate the intimate details of Iraqi lives.
* Al Qaeda's savagery alienated the Sunni Arab masses in record time. Suddenly, those American "occupiers" looked like saviors.
* By the millions, Sunni Muslims turned against al Qaeda and turned to the US military, inflicting a catastrophic propaganda defeat on the terrorists.
* Supported by the population, US and Iraqi forces inflicted a massive military defeat on al Qaeda. At present, the terror organization's own Web masters admit that al Qaeda is nearing final collapse in Iraq.
Those are facts.
If we nonetheless quit Iraq in 2009, the defeated remnants of al Qaeda will be able to declare victory, after all. The organization will be able to re-launch itself as the great Muslim victor over the Great Satan. We'll have thrown away a potentially decisive triumph and revived the fortunes of the fanatics who brought us 9/11.
And the above only detailed the defeat of al Qaeda. Far more is happening in Iraq, all of it good: Muqtada al-Sadr and his thugs have suffered a series of lopsided defeats; Muqtada's hiding in Iran, afraid to return; a democratically elected government has finally taken charge in Baghdad - and gained enormously in popularity.
Iraqis look forward to the next round of elections (to the dismay of every Persian Gulf autocracy). Crucial legislation has been refined, passed and implemented. Iraq's economy is booming - and its government has begun paying its own way.
Want more good news? Iran has failed in its bid to take control of Iraq. And our military leaders are drawing down our troop levels according to a sensible plan, with the prospect of more troop cuts to come.
What don't the critics like? Democracy? The defeat of al Qaeda? Muslims turning to the US military for help? Troop cuts? The dramatically improved human-rights situation? What's the problem here?
The answer's simple: Admitting that they've been mistaken about Iraq guts the left's argument for political entitlement. If the otherwise deplorable Bush administration somehow got this one right, it means the left got another big one wrong.
So be prepared for frequent time-machine trips until November. The encouraging reality of today's Iraq will go ignored in favor of an endless mantra of "Al Qaeda wasn't there in 2003 . . ."
The bottom line? Al Qaeda let the war's opponents down.

Ralph Peters' new book, "Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World," hits stores on July 4.
10473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: May 29, 2008, 08:50:14 AM
This is the end result of "lawfare". Wonderful.   angry
10474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 28, 2008, 04:29:14 PM
**Oh, if only this were true.....**



May 28, 2008, 4:00 a.m.

Ahmadinejad Sets Lance Straight
Cookies with the tyrant.

By Robert Ferrigno

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad watched as two of his bodyguards checked the young, room service fellow, doing a quick spectrographic scan of the tea and biscuits on his silver cart to insure they hadn’t been poisoned.

“Is the suite to your liking, your Excellency?” asked Millard Holt, counsel for Rapp, Tapp, and Tippytoe, chief lobbyists for the state of Iran. “We always recommend the Four Seasons to all our clients —”

“Are you a Jew?” asked Ahmadinejad.

“No… no, I’m not,” said Holt, his voice high and nasal “I’m here to brief you prior to meeting President Obama, Excellency. Our source within the White House has informed us that the president’s opening remarks will be very conciliatory, very favorable to our interests. He’s going to call for increased trade, a stepdown of all U.S. military exercises in the region, an exchange of scholars —”

“You look like a Jew,” said Ahmadinejad.

The room-service fellow, a lanky long-haired blonde in a white uniform, rolled the cart over, laid out bone china cups on the coffee table. He had a Snoopy gold earring stud.

“Well . . . hmmm . . . a Jew?” Holt adjusted the perfect Windsor knot in his necktie. “I hate to disagree with your Excellency, but my family came over on the Mayflower — ”

“What is this Mayflower?” demanded Ahmadinejad.

“A sailing ship that brought the original settlers to America,” said Holt, puffing up slightly, his smooth cheeks the color of rare veal. “The Founding Fathers, if you will — ”

“Your family owned a slave ship,” sneered Ahmadinejad, as though he had cracked the code. “I knew you were a Jew.” He flicked his fingers in dismissal. “Out of my sight.”

The room-service fellow stood frozen, the silver teapot in his hand. “Whoa.”

“You there,” said Ahmadinejad, addressing him. “What’s your name?”

“Lance.”

“Lance?” said Ahmadinejad. “Like a spear?”

“I guess.” Lance flipped his head, swung his hair out of his eyes. “If, it makes you feel better, I didn’t know what the Mayflower was either.”

“Sit down, Lance. I want to talk with you about President Obama. You’re not a Jew, are you?”

“I don’t think so.”

“You would know if you were, I can assure you. Now sit, sit.” Ahmadinejad stroked his beard as Lance seated himself across from him. “These conciliatory — he made air quotes with his fingers — “proposals of Obama’s, they’re a ruse, designed to convince us that he is weak and out of his depth. Well, it won’t work.”

“I’m not really supposed to hang out with the guests,” said Lance. “I used to be a lifeguard, and the pool manager really ripped me for that.”

“I’m sure no one here will rip you, in spite of what your Zionist newspapers print.”

“Cool.” Lance pointed at the almond crescents. “Can I have a cookie?”

“Of course.” Ahmadinejad clapped his hands and two of his bodyguards sprang forward. One poured them tea, the other served cookies. “Do you agree with my appraisal of your president, Lance?”

“I wasn’t really listening, no offense.” Powdered sugar drifted onto Lance’s chin as he chewed. “I was going to vote for Big O, because like everybody was, but I got really wasted the night before and figured, heck, he can make it without me.”

“Obama is popular with young people, isn’t he?” said Ahmadinejad. “I too am popular with the young people in my country.”

“Where’s that?”

Ahmadinejad looked at his bodyguards, decided Lance was serious. “Iran.”

“Axis of Evil, Axis of Evil,” chanted Lance. He suddenly grinned. “Psyche.”

“Ha ha.” Ahmadinejad dropped three sugar cubes into his mint tea, gently stirred. “Let me be equally honest. Your young president, he is very crafty. Very dangerous.”

“You are talking about President Obama, right?” Lance slurped his tea, made a face. “Can I get a Red Bull?”

“A Red Bull for the young American,” Ahmadinejad said to one of his bodyguards, his dark eyes never leaving Lance’s. “So . . . tell me, are you CIA?”

“A spy?’ Lance shook his head. “Wish I was though. James Bond rocks, especially the new one . . . what’s his name?”

“Daniel Craig,” said Ahmadinejad.

“Right. Guy’s got a real sixpack.”

“A splendid sixpack,” agreed Ahmadinejad.



Lance looked around. “I should probably go. My supervisor’s gonna —”

“Stay a while longer.” Ahmadinejad leaned closer, whispering. “I’ve had many heated discussions with the Council of Mullahs. They are convinced that your new president is a naïve fool, easily pressured, easily duped . . . how do you say? A baby with a Snickers bar? Lance, I think that Snickers bar is filled with plastic explosive and whoever steals it from that baby is going to be very surprised and very sorry.”

“You want a Snickers? There’s one in the mini-bar.”

Ahmadinejad fingered his prayers beads, clickety-clack, clickety-clack. “The whole idea of us meeting without any preconditions, a superpower yielding such a huge advantage without hesitation . . . I must tell you, it is unheard of. I saw the Grand Ayatollah himself shouting landslide and clapping his hands with delight as your election returns were announced, but Lance, I, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I was not clapping.”

“I think I heard something about that preconditions thing . . . ” Lance reached for the can of Red Bull the bodyguard brought. He took a long swallow, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Didn’t Larry King ask him . . . or Chris Mathews?”

Ahmadinejad nodded. “You are much more knowledgeable than you appear. Yes, Chris Mathews asked Obama about our upcoming talks, and your president said of course there were preconditions, he was going to insist that I first name the Three Stooges.”

“I think that was a joke, dude.”

“You would be thinking wrong, Lance. It was a trap. He didn’t say the original Three Stooges. He left it ambiguous. So if I said Moe, Larry and Curly, your Big O could call off the meeting or embarrass me in front of the cameras, saying the correct answer was Moe, Larry and Shemp.”

Lance reached for another almond crescent. “Or Curly Joe.”

“Indeed.” Ahmadinejad offered the plate of cookies. “What do you think Obama’s true intentions are?”

“Probably just wants to hang out with you. Show people he’s trying.”

“No, no, no,” said Ahmadinejad, finger wagging. “He told the New York Times that he didn’t think my country was a threat, at least not like the former Soviet Union.”

“I got to tell you, Mahmoud, right? I got to tell you, Mahmoud, that was reassuring, because that last guy in the White House, he totally hated on you. Scared me —”

“Lance. Pay attention. Your president, he’s an educated man, is he not?”

“Big O’s Harvard all the way. Dude must have just smoked his SATs.”

Ahmadinejad held up a fist. “We currently have eight thousand centrifuges producing weapons-grade plutonium, and that’s not counting the ones I can’t tell you about.” He raised one finger. “We train Hezbollah, which has killed thousands of Americans and Israelis.” He raised another finger. “We supply upgraded IEDs to Iraqi freedom fighters to kill your countrymen.” He raised a third finger. “We’ve promised to wipe Israel off the map.” A fourth finger. “And Obama considers us no threat? How dare he?”

“I never thought of it that way. He’s totally disrespecting you, dude.”

“You understand, Lance. Try telling that to the Grand Ayatollah, see where that gets you.”

“Someplace bad I bet, right?”

“Your new president is a creation of the CIA,” said Ahmadinejad, expansive now. He stretched out his slippered feet, tugged at his wispy beard. “Obama pretends to be the naïf with the glittering smile, the schoolmarm asking children not to run in the hall: Let’s talk things over. Let’s turn the thermostat down. Let’s share your toys. Let’s be friends.”

“Won’t you be my neighbor?” sing-songed Lance.

Ahmadinejad clicked his teacup against Lance’s can of Red Bull in a toast. “This isn’t the first time the CIA has installed an American president.”

“That Nixon guy?”

“Nixon?” Ahmadinejad had a high-pitched laugh. “No, Ronald Reagan. You’re too young to remember, but the newscasts were full of stories about the handsome but bumbling actor who had been elected president, the cowboy who kept jellybeans on his desk in the oval office and rode a horse every chance he could.” He set his teacup down with a clatter. “One of the great talking heads dismissed Ronald Reagan as an amiable dunce. An amiable dunce. It worked too. Completely fooled Gorbachev. By the time Reagan got through with him, the Soviet Union was in ruins and Gorbachev was out of a job.”

“Wow.”

“Wow, indeed.” Ahmadinejad stood up, shook Lance’s hand. “Have you heard about the Hidden Imam?”

“Who?”

“I must pray now,” said Ahmadinejad, “but the next time we speak, I shall tell you of the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, and his plan for the world.”

“No, dude, Scientology gives me headaches.”

“Goodbye, Lance.”

The bodyguards ushered Lance out into the hallway. A few minutes later, he was in the stairwell, shaking his head as he debriefed to his handler. “Tell Big O we’re going to have to come up with a new narrative. Ahmadinejad is wise to the whole thing.”

— Robert Ferrigno is author, most recently, of Sins of the Assassin.
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NmQzMGRjMGRiYTNkZjM3NjM3YzE3YTkyYTMwZGFlNzI=
10475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 28, 2008, 04:26:51 PM
Tom,

We got into this problem like we generally get into every crisis. The politicians care about getting re-elected, meaning they try to push legislation  that puts money (pork) into the voters' pockets while not pissing the voters off. The high level gov't bureaucrats are busy trying to create bigger gov't entities so the get to the next supergrade of pay. The general public is busy watching "American Idol" or the next distraction of the moment, so what starts out as small problems grow until the public is jarred out of it's slumber by the neglected issue when it impacts them directly. Then the sheep stampede towards "Somebody do SOMETHING NOW!".

Then it's back to sleep. Until next time....

Illegal immigration is a good example of the above, or the rise of Hitler if you want to look back farther.
10476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 28, 2008, 04:07:20 PM
Tom,

Look up the environmental laws passed at the federal and state level since the 1970's. We haven't built an oil refinery since the 70's either. Thank the NIMBYs/environmentalists for this. No dark conspiracy, no cabal of oilmen plotting global hegemony with the help of "bankers" (codeword for the JooooOOOOoooos). After all, no conspiracy theory is complete without some semetic types pulling strings from the shadows, so Henry Kissinger makes dark deals with Iran and Iraq, despite both being under different governments after Henry leaves State.

This clown doesn't even know how to pronounce Bill Maher's name correctly. I'm sure the rest of his research is just as dilligent.

So, if one has no grasp of history, economics or geopolitics, his ideas make sense.


10477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: May 28, 2008, 03:35:51 PM
http://www.churchnewspaper.com/Editorial.aspx

Religious trends and our religious future

If recent reports of trends in religious observance prove to be correct, then in some 30 years the mosque will be able to claim that, religiously speaking, the UK is an Islamic nation, and therefore needs a share in any religious establishment to reflect this. The progress of conservative Islam in the UK has been amazing, and it has come at a time of prolonged decline in church attendance that seems likely to continue.
This progress has been enthusiastically assisted by this government in particular with its hard-line multi-cultural dogma and willingness to concede to virtually every demand made by Muslims. Perhaps most importantly the government has chosen to allow hard-liners to act as representing all Muslims, and more liberal Muslims have almost completely failed to produce any leadership voices to compete, leading many Britons to wonder if there are indeed many liberal Muslims at all, surely a mistake.
At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland’s aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.
While men-only gentlemen’s clubs are now being dubbed unlawful, we hear of municipal swimming baths encouraging ‘Muslim women only’ sessions and in Dewsbury Hospitals staff waste time by turning beds to face Mecca five times a day — a Monty Pythonesque scenario of lunacy, but astonishingly true. Prisons are replete with imams who are keen to inculcate conservative Islam in any inmates who are deemed to be culturally ‘Muslim’: the Prison service in effect treats such prisoners as a cultural block to be preached to by imams at will. Would the Prison service send all those with ‘C of E’ on their papers to confirmation classes with the chaplain?! We could go on.
The point is that Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast, at the same time as demography is showing very high birthrates. Charles Taylor’s new and classic work on the Secular Age charts the rise of the secular mindset and what he calls the ‘excarnation’ of Christianity as it is levered out of state policy and structures. Christianity is now regarded as bad news, the liberal elite’s attack developed in the 1960s took root in the educationalist empire, and to some extent even in areas of the church.
Today the Christian story is fading from public imagination, while Islam grows apace. There needs to be some fresh thinking in this area where the claims of Christ are sensitively explained. Our church leaders must develop ways of explaining this, as our feature on mission and evangelism this week demonstrates.
10478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 28, 2008, 08:59:00 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/05/28/al-qaeda-wonders-how-it-lost-iraq/

Al Qaeda wonders how it lost Iraq
POSTED AT 9:00 AM ON MAY 28, 2008 BY ED MORRISSEY   


Perhaps these might just come from the terrorists’ versions of Harry Reid, but Strategy Page reports that al-Qaeda websites have begun postmortems on their mission in Iraq. Given their belief that Allah has handed AQ a mandate to re-establish the Caliphate in a greater ummah, the network has to explain how they managed to lose the country set square in the middle of southwest Asia. Their explanations don’t differ much from ours, actually:

Al Qaeda web sites are making a lot of noise about “why we lost in Iraq.” Western intelligence agencies are fascinated by the statistics being posted in several of these Arab language sites. Not the kind of stuff you read about in the Western media. According to al Qaeda, their collapse in Iraq was steep and catastrophic. According to their stats, in late 2006, al Qaeda was responsible for 60 percent of the terrorist attacks, and nearly all the ones that involved killing a lot of civilians. The rest of the violence was carried out by Iraqi Sunni Arab groups, who were trying in vain to scare the Americans out of the country.

Today, al Qaeda has been shattered, with most of its leadership and foot soldiers dead, captured or moved from Iraq. As a result, al Qaeda attacks have declined more than 90 percent. Worse, most of their Iraqi Sunni Arab allies have turned on them, or simply quit. This “betrayal” is handled carefully on the terrorist web sites, for it is seen as both shameful, and perhaps recoverable.

Recovery looks increasingly unlikely. With the Iraqi Army now conducting operations throughout Iraq and the Americans able to focus on logistical support, the terrorists have fewer infidels to target. The Iraqis see the Americans as less of a threat than the lunatic jihadists who created tens of thousands of “involuntary martyrs”.

In this case, the arrogance of proclaiming the Caliphate under Osama’s leadership played a key role in the “betrayal” by Iraqi Sunni insurgents. Most of them fought to regain control over Iraq from the Shi’ites liberated from Sunni oppression with the fall of Saddam Hussein. The proclamation of the Caliphate under a foreign leader angered them, and as AQI proved itself inept against the counterinsurgency operations of General David Petraeus, it became a joke. It exposed AQ and AQI as pretenders, lunatic-fringe radicals who had no concept of governance other than through rape and murder.

Now AQ has a major public-relations and recruiting problem on its hands. As long as the network scored victories against the West, more radical Muslims could entertain the fantasy that Osama had that mandate from Allah to establish the supremacy of Islam. Now that Osama has lost Iraq, that fantasy has been dashed — and Osama exposed as just another pretender, with AQ as his butcher squad, one that kills many more Muslims than infidels. Their defeat shows that the violent jihad strategy fails when superior force gets brought to bear against it, which hardly points to a mandate from heaven.

That defeat will resonate throughout the Islamic world. The victory of rationality and democracy in Iraq cannot be denied, even by AQ itself.
10479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 28, 2008, 08:54:38 AM
Ok, I watched the first 45-50 minutes of this drivel. At least it confirmed that my tin foil detector is calibrated. Unless Mr. Williams was saving up all the hard evidence for the last 20 minutes, there is nothing of merit to his claims.  Typical conspiracy lunacy, small bits of facts strung together with giant leaps of logic and misinformation.
10480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 27, 2008, 11:26:53 AM
http://centerforsecuritypolicy.org/Home.aspx?CategoryID=132&SubCategoryID=137

Set America Free
CSP Decision Brief | May 19, 2008

by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

 

Q.  What do the following recent events have in common?

The President of the United States has prostrated himself for the second time in five months before the King of Saudi Arabia, pleading for more oil.  Despite Mr. Bush’s inducements – an array of advanced, offensive arms; the promise of nuclear technology with which the Saudis can expect (like the North Koreans, Iranians, Pakistanis, etc.) to acquire the ultimate weapons; and U.S. help securing Saudi Arabia’s borders (something the President has declined to do at home) – the American plea was spurned.  The contempt felt by the House of Saud was captured in its oil minister’s quip, “If you want more oil, buy it.”


         The Senate rejected, by a vote of 56-42, an initiative offered by Republicans that called for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska and some offshore waters now closed to exploration and exploitation of their substantial oil reserves.


          In addition, that chamber’s appropriations committee refused by a similar party-line vote to lift its moratorium on oil-shale production in Colorado.  It seems that, if we want more oil, we will have to buy it at ever increasing prices from the Saudis and others even more unfriendly to this country’s national security and economic interests – like Venzuela’s Hugo Chavez or Russia’s Vladimir Putin, perhaps even Iran’s Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

One thing the Senate and House did agree upon, by overwhelmingly bipartisan majorities, was suspending purchases of oil to fill the remaining three percent of the capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserves.  This action will have negligible (if any) impact on energy prices.  But it will ensure that less oil will be available to us than would otherwise have been the case in the event, for example, the next terrorist attack on the Saudi oil infrastructure succeeds where others have failed and seriously disrupts world supplies.

        Then there is the newly formed coalition, ostensibly spearheaded by the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association, that has launched a multi-million dollar lobbying effort aimed at discouraging the development of one alternative to oil: domestically produced or imported ethanol.  Wrongly asserting that producing this transportation fuel from corn is largely responsible for rising food prices and the attendant global shortages, this instant grassroots (read, “astroturf”) coalition appears to want America to remain essentially dependent on oil. Wonder where the money for this campaign is coming from?

A. These actions – taken against the backdrop of soaring energy prices and the attendant hemorrhage of U.S. petrodollars to, among others, people who wish us ill – represent the sort of behavior in which only a nation utterly unserious about energy security could indulge.

The truth of the matter is that, no matter what we do, we are going to need oil for the foreseeable future.  As a result, we should do our utmost to find it and exploit it in places that are either under our control (for example, near where the Cubans and Chinese are getting it off the coast of Florida) or at least friendly to us (notably, Canada, Mexico and Brazil).

It is equally axiomatic that, no matter what we do, we are almost certainly going to have less oil than we need, certainly at prices we can afford.  The question is:  Are we going to do something to meet the shortfall?  Or are we simply going to allow the economy and security of the United States to bleed-out at the hands of the Saudi-led OPEC cartel?

The Set America Free Coalition – an initiative launched several years ago by unlikely array of national security-, environmental- and energy-minded people and organizations from across the political spectrum – is advancing practical, near-term alternatives to that unappetizing and unacceptable prospect.

At the moment, the Coalition is mounting its own campaign aimed at achieving in the immediate future, a simple yet far-reaching goal: Ensuring that each of the 17 million new cars added to America’s highways each year is capable of being powered by ethanol (from whatever source), methanol (ditto) or gasoline (or some combination thereof).

There are already some 6 million of these Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) on our roads today.  Most of these are American-made (name another technology in which Detroit has a competitive advantage?)  It costs less than $100 per car to equip new cars with this feature.

Ask yourself, and your elected representatives and would-be Presidents: As each of these cars will last, on average, roughly 17 years, do we want any more of them to be built the old way – namely able to use only gasoline?  Can we responsibly continue for another generation to lock our transportation sector (the principal, and most profligate, consumer of imported oil) into dependence on oil substantially imported from unfriendly places?

Dr. Robert Zubrin – a leader of the Set America Free Coalition and author of the terrific new book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil –  observes that at today’s oil prices, we are allowing the Saudis and their friends to impose the equivalent of a 40 percent income tax at a cost of approximately $3300 on every man woman and child in this country.  We literally cannot afford to allow such lunacy to continue.

Sooner or later, Congress will adopt an Open Fuel Standard requiring every new car sold in America to be an FFV.  The effect will be, in short order, to create an immense and highly competitive market for alternative, “Freedom Fuels” that we can make here or buy from friends.  That, in turn, will set America free by beginning to end its cars’ present addiction to oil.  Why wait any longer?
10481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 27, 2008, 11:17:16 AM
Let's Drill   
By Fred Barnes
The Weekly Standard | Monday, May 19, 2008

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, the Mr. Magoo of American politics, stumbled onto the truth last week. He discovered the law of supply and demand. "We want to put [more oil] on the market to increase supply and lower prices," Reid said. "With oil and gas prices continuing to break record highs every day, much more needs to be done."

Indeed it does. But Reid won't allow it. His understanding of economics only extends to matters in which he might embarrass President Bush. The oil he wants on the market is the oil the administration is buying for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), now nearly full. Reid got his way. The administration now plans to stop oil shipments to the SPR next month.

Beyond that, Reid and his party are committed to suppressing increased oil production in this country, as they wait for that magical day when fossil fuels are no longer needed to supply the nation's energy needs.

That day may come in 50, 60, 70 years--or never. In the meantime, America needs oil, and the good news is we're awash in the stuff. If the oil reserves miles off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and in federally owned lands in the West and Alaska were tapped, our dependence on foreign oil could begin to be reversed. In 10 years, half of America's oil could be produced at home (up from 40 percent), with more coming from increased exports from Canada.

We wouldn't achieve energy independence. That's a pipedream, and anyway it isn't necessary in a global economy with multiple producers. But America would be taking a big step toward energy security and reducing the flow of dollars to unstable countries--notably Iran and Venezuela--that do not wish us well.

So more oil production would strengthen America's national security. By increasing the supply of oil, it would reduce the price, or at least ease the pressure on price from rising world demand. And the mere commitment to boosting production would have a soothing effect on a world market easily spooked by threats to supply.

But there's a problem: Eighty-five percent of the untapped domestic sources of oil have been put off-limits. There's a federally mandated moratorium on drilling offshore, and huge roadblocks to exploiting the oil on the vast federal lands have been erected.

"What keeps these areas closed are exaggerated environmental fears, strong prejudice against oil companies and sheer stupidity," wrote Robert Samuelson recently. Lifting the moratorium requires action by Congress and the White House. So don't hold your breath. The Democratic Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environmental lobby, which regards oil exploration, much less drilling, as a sin against nature.

Advances in technology, however, make serious offshore oil spills a thing of the past. One hundred eight platforms were destroyed and hundreds more damaged in the Gulf of Mexico by hurricanes Rita and Katrina without a single major spill. Californians may remember the damaging spill off Santa Barbara, but that was 40 years ago and was the result of ancient technology.

New technology also means the coastlines would not be marred by unsightly oil platforms. Drilling now goes miles deeper to capture oil once out of reach--and much farther offshore. The moratorium doesn't take this into account. It blindly bars drilling for 200 miles off the Atlantic and Pacific shores.

The United States is virtually alone in treating offshore production as taboo. Great Britain and Norway drill off their coasts without polluting the North Sea. Brazil has achieved energy independence not only by ethanol use but also by expanded offshore oil production. China is now drilling at Cuba's behest in waters halfway to the coast of Florida.

There's another compelling reason to boost domestic production. Oil from current sites is gradually being depleted. Unless new sources come on line in the next few years, America will produce less oil at home and become even more dependent on oil from abroad, the Middle East in particular.

Reid and Democrats, OPEC's best friends, aren't noticeably concerned. Their next step is to remove tax incentives to explore and drill for more oil. And Senator Hillary Clinton is eager to impose a new windfall profits tax on oil revenues. These measures have no purpose other than to punish oil companies. They are counterproductive.

When you remove incentives to produce something and when you slap higher taxes on its producers, one thing happens: You get less of the product. In the case of oil, we need more of it and will for the foreseeable future. The oil is there for the getting. But it won't come out of the ground on its own.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.
10482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 27, 2008, 10:19:32 AM
I'm sure there was wailing and the gnashing of teeth just to contemplate good news from Iraq in America's newsrooms.....
10483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: May 27, 2008, 10:13:23 AM
My tin foil hat alarm is going off, however I'll watch the video before rendering a more firm opinion.

How would the IMF and World Bank act as middle men in the global oil trade?

"2. One of the if not the largest oil fields in the world is in Gull Island, Alaska and would supposedly last us 200 years however we cannot dig there for many of the following reasons."** What reasons?**

"4. Back in the 1960s or early 1970s, then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger went to the middle eastern countries to negotiate a deal with them to sell us their oil and in return, they must denominate all oil sales on US Dollar currency.  Another part of the deal was that they had to take a portion of the oil revenues and buy our national debt.  The Saudi's agreed however Iran and Iraq did not."

 **Kissinger was Sec. of State from  from 1969-1975. At that time, the Shah was very much a client of ours until the 1979 Islamic revolution. Iraq was ruled by the Baath party, but Saddam didn't rise to power until 1979. To the best of my knowledge, the Saudis have been selling oil for the US dollar since at least the end of WWII. Those historical timelines don't seem to mesh with the conspiracy claims asserted.**

"5. Iraq supposedly had plans to start denominating oil in foreign currency and had to be taken care of.  He named the name of a guy who was sent into Iraq to tell their leaders that if they invaded Kwuait that we would not intervene.  This was supposedly a set up.  When we didn't finish the job the first time around, we had to go back."

** If this was indeed a set up, then why leave Saddam in power? That would be pretty stupid to set up a war and then not bother to get the payoff from it.**

6. Iran is now a major threat to us because they are already denominating their oil in Euros and Yen.  China has already negotiated millions upon millions of barrels of oil contracts in Yen currency.

 **China's currency is the Yuan or Renminbi, although i'm sure the PRC has Yen holdings, I doubt they would trade oil for Japan's Yen, given the Chinese-Japanese hostility today. Iran supplies about 5% of the world's oil supply, so they aren't exactly a major player. Oil is fungible, so not matter whom you buy from, you pay the market price.**

7. Iran supposedly has a plan to flood the world with cheap oil which could have a devastating effect on our economy and the value of our dollar.  You can google Petrodollar warfare and read a lot about it.

 **Cheap oil would help our economy, not hurt it. Iran has flooded the world with high grade counterfeit dollars, causing us to change the dollar format in response, that DID hurt us.**


10484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 26, 2008, 02:27:58 PM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080525/FOREIGN/541243918/1001&template=printart

Article published May 25, 2008
U.S. terror attack seen apt to follow '08 vote

May 25, 2008


By Rowan Scarborough - When the next president takes office in January, he or she will likely receive an intelligence brief warning that Islamic terrorists will attempt to exploit the transition in power by planning an attack on America, intelligence experts say.

After all, that is what happened to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at a time when their national security teams and their counterterrorism plans were in flux.

Islamic terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in February 1993, in Mr. Clinton's second month as president. Al Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks came in the Bush presidency's first year. The strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon happened as the White House national security director was formulating a comprehensive plan for combating Osama bin Laden's terror network, which had declared war on the United States.

The pattern is clear to some national security experts. Terrorists pay particular attention to a government in transition as the most opportune window to launch an attack.

"If I were asked by the newly elected president, I would strongly encourage him to be extremely vigilant during the transition period and within the first six months of his administration against an attack by al Qaeda on American interests at home or abroad," said Bart Bechtel, a retired CIA operations officer and assistant chief academic officer at Henley-Putnam University.

Mr. Bechtel said he thinks al Qaeda operatives will debate a future course based on who is elected.

Both Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain, a former Navy fighter pilot, have had extensive exposure to military security issues.

Both have attacked first-term Sen. Barack Obama's ability to handle national security.

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, has focused on Mr. Obama's stated willingness to meet with any world leader, including Iran's, without preconditions. Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat, ran TV ads implying Mr. Obama is not qualified to manage an international crisis.

"I could see al Qaeda waiting to determine who was going to be the president and depending on which it is, taking an initial measure," Mr. Bechtel said. "For instance, Obama may be viewed as someone who will accomplish what al Qaeda would like him to do, which is get out of the Middle East, and give him an opportunity to move in that direction. Failing that, they may decide to test him with a substantial attack on America or some American interest and see how he reacts."

A U.S. intelligence official declined to comment on how the next president will be briefed.

Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, has vowed to remove all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months. He regularly has referred to the war against terror as centered in Afghanistan, while the Bush administration takes a broader view and sees Iraq as an opportunity to inflict a battlefield loss on al Qaeda. The White House has trumpeted the fact that the county has suffered no homeland terror strikes since Sept. 11, 2001.

Retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, a former Air Force chief of staff and an Obama campaign co-chairman, told The Washington Times that Mr. Obama's rivals are underestimating his ability to meet a challenge. Gen. McPeak likened him to Abraham Lincoln.

"I think people are only now beginning to realize that Barack is not your run-of-the-mill, ordinary Illinois politician," he said. "He's more like another Illinois politician who everybody underestimated."

Gen. McPeak added, "I feel bad about giving Barack advice because every time I do, I know that he's thought about it already. So I would draw him aside and say, 'The minute you're inaugurated, you will be tested.' He'll say, 'Oh, you mean like Kennedy was with the Bay of Pigs?' He'll show me some way that he's thought about that some time ago. The guy is absolutely scary smart. The real mistake al Qaeda can make is the one everybody else makes of underestimating the man."

Mr. Bechtel said bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders are likely weighing their next step right now.

"They are in a wait-and-see situation right now," he said. "They run the risk, if they attack before the election, of really influencing the way the election goes, to their detriment. If there's an attack, I really believe McCain is going to run away with the election, and I don't think they want that. I think they really would like Obama as their first choice and Clinton as their second."

Kenneth Katzman, a terrorism specialist at the Congressional Research Service, said "Al Qaeda has a pattern of testing new American leaders."

"Even now, al Qaeda is probably trying to plan something for after the U.S. inauguration," he said. "I think to a certain extent, al Qaeda tested President Clinton's administration several times. The response was ineffective. I think al Qaeda concluded it could attempt something as ambitious as 9/11, but concluded the time was better after a new president, who would not have time to review his strategy on al Qaeda. The time settled on was the summer or early fall, after a new president was inaugurated. They chose September because they wanted all the officials to be back at their desks from summer vacations."

A Congressional Research Service report last month noted that January will mark the first change in administrations since the 2001 al Qaeda attacks.

"Whether an incident of national security significance occurs just before or soon after the presidential transition, the actions or inactions of the outgoing administration may have a long-lasting effect on the new president's ability to effectively safeguard U.S. interests and may affect the legacy of the outgoing president," the report states.

The report urges the Bush administration to deliver extensive threat briefings to the president-elect's national security team.

Congress foresaw such a need when it wrote the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The law allows for presidential candidates to obtain pre-election security clearances for its chosen transition officials so they can immediately be briefed on security threats by the outgoing administration.

On al Qaeda's ability to attack America again, Mr. Bechtel said, "I think they are still somewhat fractured. If you want to look at it as a piece of window glass, it's broken, but there are lots of sharp pieces out there. I think within the tribal areas of Pakistan, they feel pretty darn comfortable."
10485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 25, 2008, 03:00:07 PM
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-daily16feb16,1,3514744.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Deeds, not words.
10486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Memorial Day on: May 25, 2008, 09:22:48 AM
http://michellemalkin.com/2008/05/25/remembrance-gratitude-fortitude/

Freedom isn't free.
10487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 24, 2008, 04:27:05 PM
An Atomic Assist   
By Amir Taheri
New York Post | Friday, May 23, 2008

BUOYED by their modest electoral success last month, critics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's provocative foreign policy were preparing to launch a series of attacks on him in the Islamic Majlis, Iran's ersatz parliament. But then Ahmadinejad got an unexpected boost from Barack Obama.
Ali Larijani, Iran's former nuclear negotiator and now a Majlis member, was arguing that the Islamic Republic would pay a heavy price for Ahmadinejad's rejection of three UN Security Council resolutions on nukes. Then the likely Democratic presidential nominee stepped in.

Obama announced that, if elected, he wouldn't ask Iran to comply with UN resolutions as a precondition for direct talks with Ahmadinejad: "Preconditions, as it applies to a country like Iran, for example, was a term of art. Because this administration has been very clear that it will not have direct negotiations with Iran until Iran has met preconditions that are essentially what Iran views, and many other observers would view, as the subject of the negotiations; for example, their nuclear program."

"Talking without preconditions" would require America to ignore three unanimous Security Council resolutions. Before starting his unconditional talks, would Obama present a new resolution at the Security Council to cancel the three that Ahmadinejad doesn't like? Or would the new US president act in defiance of the United Nations - further weakening the Security Council's authority?

President Bush didn't set the preconditions that Obama promises to ignore. They were agreed upon after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran was in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Acting in accordance with its charter, the IAEA referred the issue to the Security Council.

Dismissing the preconditions as irrelevant would mean snubbing America's European allies plus Russia and China, all of whom participated in drafting and approving the resolutions that Ahmadinejad doesn't like.

Such a move would make a mockery of multilateral diplomacy - indeed, would ignore such diplomacy in exactly the way that critics claim the Bush administration has.

Obama clearly hasn't asked British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy what they think of the United States' suddenly changing course and granting Ahmadinejad's key demand in advance.

Maybe Obama hasn't been properly briefed about the "preconditions" he gets so worked up about. He cites Iran's "nuclear program" as a precondition. Wrong: No one has asked, or could ask, Iran to stop its nuclear program - period. On the contrary, Iran's participation in in the Non-Proliferation Treaty gives it the right to seek help from other signatories, including the US, to access the latest technology in developing its nuclear industry - for peaceful purposes.

The Security Council isn't asking the Islamic Republic to do something dishonorable, humiliating or illegal. All it's asking Ahmadinejad to do is to stop cheating - something the Islamic Republic itself has admitted it has done for 18 years. The Security Council has invited Iran to "suspend" - not even to scrap - a uranium-enrichment program clearly destined for making bombs, in violation of the NPT.

Iran has not a single nuclear-power station and thus doesn't need enriched uranium - except for making bombs. Its sole nuclear plant is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2009. But that can't use the type of uranium that Iran is enriching; the station requires fuel of a different "formula," supplied by Russia, which is building the project, for the next 10 years. (And the Russians have offered to provide fuel for the plant's entire lifetime of 37 years.)

Another precondition asks Tehran to explain why it is building a heavy-water plant at Arak - when it has absolutely no plans for plutonium-based nuclear-power stations. The Arak plant's only imaginable use is to produce material for nuclear warheads.

Finally, the IAEA and the Security Council are asking Tehran to allow international inspectors access to all sites related to the nuclear project - access that Iran is obliged to provide under the NPT.

In short, the minimum show of goodwill on Ahmadinejad's part would be to comply with the UN resolutions before he goes to the White House for talks with President Obama on other issues.

Obama's words on "preconditions" have helped ease domestic pressure on Ahmadinejad to comply with the United Nations and the IAEA. The Iranian president is telling his domestic critics to shut up until after the US election. Why, after all, should he make concessions that a putative President Obama has already dismissed as unnecessary?
10488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 24, 2008, 04:09:12 PM
In a statement of almost incredible stupidity, the New York Times stated:

“Everybody knew President Bush was aiming at Senator Barack Obama last week when he likened those who endorse talks with `terrorists and radicals’ to appeasers of the Nazis.”

During the Cold War, I remember that it was said that if a Soviet official or supporter began a statement like that—everyone knows—what followed invariably is a lie. So it is in this case. For several years, the main criticism of Bush has been his strategy of pressure and isolation on Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and assorted terrorists. There have been hundreds of op-eds, eds, speeches, reports, and other formats on this point. It is the administration’s number-one problem. Suddenly, it applies only to Senator Barack Obama. What rubbish.

Equally, the principle issue is not just one of contacts with extremist forces but how much toughness, pressure and isolation as opposed to concessions (of which negotiations are one) and compromises are offered. For example, there have been numerous ongoing contacts with Iran over the nuclear issue for years, supported by the Bush administration. They have all failed. For someone to come and say that negotiations have not been tried is pretty ridiculous. The hidden element there is really as follows:

--The real fault is with us, not them.
--You haven’t offered enough.
--And the assessment that no agreement is possible because of the other side’s aims and behavior is always unacceptable. This implies that even if you talk with them and get nowhere, you just have to keep listening to grievances, avoiding giving offense, trying, conceding, and apologizing.

In this context, what better example could there be of this dangerous malady than Obama, the apparent Democratic nominee and possible future president of the United States?

According to Obama at an Oregon rally, Iran does not “pose a serious threat” to the United States. His reasoning is as disturbing—or more so—than his conclusion. Obama explained that Iran has less to spend on defense and if it “tried to pose a serious threat to us they wouldn’t . . . stand a chance.”

We can now feel secure that the Iranians won’t load their soldiers onto landing craft and storm the New Jersey beaches. Unfortunately, that isn’t their military strategy. Perhaps Obama doesn’t understand that the average B-1 bomber costs less than a suicide bomber. Has he heard about asymmetric warfare?

Forget that. Has he heard of terrorism, the Marine barracks’ bombing, or September 11?

According to Obama:

"Iran, they spend one one-hundredth of what we spend on the military. I mean if Iran tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance. And we should use that position of strength that we have to be bold enough to go ahead and listen. That doesn't mean we agree with them on everything. That doesn't, we might not compromise with them on any issues. But, at least we should find out are there areas of potential common interest and we can reduce some of the tension that have caused us so many problems around the world."

One cannot pretend away the implications of this paragraph. Let’s list them:

--No understanding that Iran follows strategies designed to circumvent that problem of unequal power including terrorism, guerrilla war, deniable attacks, long wars of attrition, the use of surrogates, and so on.

--The only way Obama sees for using the U.S. “position of strength” is to listen to their grievances, as if we are not familiar with them. In short, the only thing you can do when stronger is to get weaker. Presumably the same applies when you are the weaker party.

--Why is he so totally unaware that dialogue has been tried? A decade with the PLO, longer with Hizballah by other Lebanese, four straight years of European engagement with Tehran over the nuclear issue, multiple U.S. delegations to talk with the Syrians, and so on. Was nothing learned from this experience?

--And what happens afterward if Obama’s dialogue doesn’t work? What cards would he have left? What readiness to try another course? Perhaps by then the Iranians will have nuclear weapons and other gains negating that “position of strength” so fecklessly frittered away.

--What possible issues can the United States find to compromise with Iran? Let’s say: give them Lebanon (oh, we already did that); ignore their sponsorship of terrorism; give them Iraq; give them Israel; withdraw U.S. forces from the region, accept their having nuclear arms. What?

--Why should the United States be able to reduce tensions through negotiations when Iran wants tensions? There is an important hint here: if the United States makes concessions it might buy off tensions. Since Iran and the others know about Obama’s all-carrots-no-sticks worldview, they will make him pay a lot to get the illusion of peace and quiet.

--There is no hint, not the slightest, of his understanding the option of using power to intimidate or defeat Iran, or as a way to muster allies. If Obama had the most minimal comprehension of these issues, he would fake it with some blah-blah about how America would combine toughness with flexibility, deterrence with compromise, steadfastness in order to gain more from the other side in negotiations. A critical element in peace-keeping, peace-making, and negotiations is to act tough and be strong in order to have leverage. Even in responding to criticisms, Obama has only talked about whether negotiations are conditional or unconditional and at what level they should be conducted. He is oblivious to the fact that the chief executive does things other than negotiations.

--If this is Obama’s strategy while Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons what would he do in dealing with a Tehran owning them?

Make no mistake, Obama is channelling Neville Chamberlain—precisely because what he says shows his parallel thinking. Many people may get a chill listening to Obama but it certainly isn’t a Churchill. Apologists, sympathizers, and wishful-thinkers keep endowing this would-be emperor with beautiful suits of clothes. He doesn’t have any.

And at present, even more if Obama wins, the threat is of an Iran that’s aggressive precisely because it knows that it will not have to confront U.S. forces. Tehran knows that it can sponsor terrorism directly against U.S. forces in Iraq, and also against Israel and Lebanon, because that level of assault will not trigger American reaction.

Yet anyone who doesn’t want to get into war with Iran should be all the more eager to talk about sanctions, pressures, deterrence, building alliances and backing allies; in short, combating Iran indirectly to avoid having to confront it directly.

All the more so now, however, Syria won’t split away from Iran; Iran won’t give up on its nuclear program; Hamas won’t moderate; Hizballah won’t relent. Why should they when they not only believe their own ideologies but also think they are winning? In each case, too, they are banking on an Obama victory—whether accurately or otherwise-- to bring them even more.

A lot of positive factors could be cited to show why Iran and its allies will ultimately lose. But it can happen in an easier way or a harder, longer way. There are too many Chamberlains and not enough Churchills, perhaps none at all. Things are bad, very bad, for the West right now. The beginning of repairing those strategic fortunes is to recognize that fact.

All quotes taken from the full text at http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1189.
10489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 24, 2008, 04:07:30 PM
May 24, 2008

Barry Rubin: The Fall of Lebanon
Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, explains why May 21, 2008 is a date that should live in infamy.

“If you have tears, prepare to shed them now…. Oh, what a fall was there… Then I, and you, and all of us fell down.” .--William Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar,” Act 3, Scene 1 May 21, 2008, is a date—like December 7 (1941) and September 11 (2001)—that should now live in infamy. Yet who will notice, mourn, or act the wiser for it?
On that day, the Beirut spring was buried under the reign of Hizballah.

Speaking on October 5, 1938, after Britain and France effectively turned Czechoslovakia over to Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill said, “What everybody would like to ignore or forget must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat….”

In contrast, Assistant Secretary of State David Welch said that the agreement over Lebanon was, "A necessary and positive step." At least when one sells out a country one should recognize this has happened rather than pretend otherwise. But this is precisely what took place at Munich, when the deal made was proclaimed as a concession that brought peace and resolved Germany’s last territorial demand in the region.

Churchill knew better and his words perfectly suit the situation in Lebanon today:

“The utmost [Western diplomacy] has been able to gain for Czechoslovakia…has been that the German dictator, instead of snatching the victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course.”

Yes, that’s it exactly. On every point, Hizballah, Iran, and Syria, got all they wanted from Lebanon’s government: its surrender of sovereignty. They have veto power over the government; one-third of the cabinet; election changes to ensure victory in the next balloting; and they will have their candidate installed as president.

The majority side is not giving up but is trying to comfort itself on small mercies. The best arguments it can come up with are that now everyone knows Hizballah is not patriotic, treats other Lebanese as enemies, and cannot seize areas held by Christian and Druze militias. It isn’t much to cheer about.
Nevertheless, as in 1938, a lot of the media is proclaiming it as a victory of some kind, securing peace and stability in Lebanon.

Not so. If Syria murders more Lebanese journalists, judges, or politicians, no one will investigate. No one dare diminish Hizballah’s de facto rule over large parts of the country. No one dare stop weapons pouring over the border from Syria and Iran. In fact, why should they continue to be smuggled in secretly? No one dare interfere if and when Hizballah, under Syrian and Iranian guidance, decide it is time for another war with Israel.

This defeat was not only total, it was totally predictable. Just as Churchill said:
“If only Great Britain. France and Italy [today we would add the United States, of course,] had pledged themselves two or three years ago to work in association for maintaining peace and collective security, how different might have been our position…. But the world and the parliaments and public opinion would have none of that in those days. When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have affected a cure.”

Instead there was a lack “of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong….” Actually, though, as Churchill knew, when he spoke these faults were still not corrected. The folly continued.

And so is what comes next? Back to Churchill:

“All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, Czechoslovakia recedes into the darkness.” That country suffered because it put its faith in the Western democracies and the League of Nations (now the United Nations). In particular, she was betrayed by France whom the Czechs then, and the Lebanese today, trusted to help them.

The UN Security Council on May 22 endorsed the Lebanon agreement even though it totally contradicted the Council’s own resolution ending the Hizballah-Israel war, thus betraying the commitments made to Israel about stopping arms smuggling, disarming Hizballah, and keeping that group from returning to south Lebanon. The UN’s total reversal of its demands from two years ago—constituting a total victory for Hizballah—did not bring a flicker of shame or even recognition that this in fact had happened.

All this is a victory for terrorism. It is quite true that the Lebanese Shia—like the German minority in Czechoslovakia which Hitler promoted—has genuine grievances and that Hizballah has real support in its own community. But how did it overcome the other communities, the other political forces in Lebanon? Through assassination and bombing (albeit done by Syria’s surrogates rather than directly), by intimidation and fear, by demagoguery and war.

Iran and Syria help their allies; the West doesn’t. And so the message was: We can kill you; your friends cannot save you. Look at their indifference! Despair and die.

And here, regarding the future, we can only quote Churchill’s speech extensively:

“In future the Czechoslovak State cannot be maintained as an independent entity. I think you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured only by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi regime. Perhaps they may join it in despair or in revenge. At any rate, that story is over and told. But we cannot consider the abandonment and ruin of Czechoslovakia in the light only of what happened only last month. It is the most grievous consequence of what we have done and of what we have left undone in the last five years - five years of futile good intentions, five years of eager search for the line of least resistance….”

Lebanon will not disappear as a country on the map, of course—contrary to the Iranian alliance’s intentions toward Israel—but it is now going to be part of the Iranian bloc. This is not only bad for Lebanon itself but also terrifying for other Arab regimes. The Saudis deserve credit for trying to save Lebanon. But what will happen now as the balance of power shifts? They are less inclined to resist and more likely to follow the West’s course and adopt an appeasement policy.

Again, Churchill in 1938:

“Do not let us blind ourselves to that. It must now be accepted that all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will make the best terms they can with the triumphant Nazi power. The system of alliances in Central Europe upon which France has relied for her safety has been swept away, and I can see no means by which it can be reconstituted. The road down the Danube Valley to the Black Sea, the road which leads as far as Turkey, has been opened.

In less than four years, that is where German armies were marching, thankfully a situation far worse than we can expect in the Middle East. Yet the trend toward appeasement and surrender could well be similar. Churchill said:

“In fact, if not in form, it seems to me that all those countries of Middle Europe… will, one after another, be drawn into this vast system of power politics--not only power military politics but power economic politics--radiating from Berlin, and I believe this can be achieved quite smoothly and swiftly and will not necessarily entail the firing of a single shot.”

His specific example was Yugoslavia whose government within three years was ready to join Germany’s bloc. (It was prevented from doing so only by a British-organized coup but was then invaded and overrun by the German army.)

Only the names of the countries need be changed to make Churchill’s point apply to the present:

“You will see, day after day, week after week [that]…many of those countries, in fear of the rise of the Nazi power,” will give in. There had been forces “which looked to the Western democracies and loathed the idea of having this arbitrary rule of the totalitarian system thrust upon them, and hoped that a stand would be made.” But they would now be demoralized. But they would now be demoralized, at best less active in resisting; at worst. going over to the other side.

Churchill knew that his country’s leader had good intentions but that wasn’t enough. His analysis of British thinking applies well both to Europe, to President George Bush’s current policy, and very well to the thinking of Senator Barack Obama:

“The prime minister desires to see cordial relations between this country and Germany. There is no difficulty at all in having cordial relations between the peoples. Our hearts go out to them. But they have no power. But never will you have friendship with the present German government. You must have diplomatic and correct relations, but there can never be friendship between the British democracy and the Nazi power, that power which…vaunts the spirit of aggression and conquest, which derives strength and perverted pleasure from persecution, and uses, as we have seen, with pitiless brutality the threat of murderous force. That power cannot ever be the trusted friend of the British democracy.”

Churchill understood that his nation’s enemies took their ideology seriously and that their ambitions and methods were incompatible with his country.

And finally, Churchill understood the trend: things will get worse and would even make it politically incorrect to criticize the enemy:

“In a very few years, perhaps in a very few months, we shall be confronted with demands with which we shall no doubt be invited to comply. Those demands may affect the surrender of territory or the surrender of liberty. I foresee and foretell that the policy of submission will carry with it restrictions upon the freedom of speech and debate in Parliament, on public platforms, and discussions in the press, for it will be said--indeed, I hear it said sometimes now - that we cannot allow the Nazi system of dictatorship to be criticized by ordinary, common English politicians. Then, with a press under control, in part direct but more potently indirect, with every organ of public opinion doped and chloroformed into acquiescence, we shall be conducted along further stages of our journey.”

In short, what could be called “Germanophobia” or seen as war-mongering in resisting German demands and aggression would be…verboten, something often seen in contemporary debates when political correctness trumps democratic society and pimps for dictatorial regimes and totalitarian ideology..

Churchill predicted victory but only if the free countries—and even some not so free whose interests pushed them to oppose the threat—were strong and cooperated:

“Do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”

Wow. Well if you don’t see yet the parallelism with the current time let me continue on my own. Lebanon's brief period of independence has ended. Lebanon is now incorporated--at least in part and probably more in the future--into the Iranian bloc.

Only three years ago, after the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, almost certainly ordered at the highest level of the Syrian government, a popular mass movement called the Beirut spring helped push out the Syrian military. The resulting government was called "pro-Western" in the newscasts, but it might have well been called pro-Lebanon.

Forget about the Israel-Palestinian (and now Israel-Syrian) negotiations or the latest reports from Iraq or Afghanistan. What has happened in Lebanon is far more significant. When all these other developments are long forgotten, the expansion of the Syrian-Iranian zone of influence to Lebanon will be the most important and lasting event.

Basically, the supporters of the Lebanese government--the leadership of the majority of the Sunni Muslim, Christian, and Druze communities--capitulated to the demands of Hizballah. And who can blame them? With a steady drumbeat of terrorist acts and assassinations, with the Hizballah offensive seizing Sunni west Beirut, with the lack of support from the West, they concluded that the battle was unwinnable.

Politicians, intellectuals, academics, and officials in the West live comfortable lives. Their careers prosper often in direct relationship to their misunderstanding, misexplaining, and misacting in the Middle East.

Then, too, all too many of them have lived up to every negative stereotype the Islamists hold of them: greedy for oil and trade; cowardly in confronting aggression, easily fooled, very easily divided, and losing confidence in their own societies and civilization.

10490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 24, 2008, 03:26:12 PM
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/30072_CAIR_Sabotaging_Anti-Terror_Training_in_Seattle

CAIR Sabotaging Anti-Terror Training in Seattle
Sat, May 24, 2008 at 9:53:52 am PST

In Seattle, the Hamas-linked Council on American Islamic Relations is doing what it always does—sabotaging efforts to educate law enforcers about Islamic terrorism: Does course on Islam give law enforcers wrong idea?

And again, the Seattle Times quotes representatives of CAIR without a single word about their ties to terrorist groups or their status as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas funding trial.

Some local Muslim community members are upset about a training course for local law enforcement, saying it could promote stereotypes and ethnic and religious profiling.

The program, called “The Threat of Islamic Jihadists to the World” and conducted by a Miami-based company, began Thursday and continues today at the Port of Seattle. It is billed as providing insight into the formative phases of Islam, the religion’s different branches, radical Islam and how to respond to terrorist acts.

But Arsalan Bukhari, president of the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said the program appears to be linking an entire religion to terrorism.

“Most police officers don’t have a basic grounding in Islam, so before you teach them about Islam, how can you teach them about radical Islam?” he asked. “It just makes you nervous because when a law-enforcement person pulls someone over, when they see a Muslim person or someone who appears Muslim to them — all this information they just learned kicks in.”

Bukhari believes the need for police training on issues of profiling and bias was highlighted by an incident last summer in which the FBI launched an international search for two men who took photos below deck on a Washington state ferry. The FBI announced earlier this month that the men were tourists, not terrorists. Bukhari said law-enforcement agencies need to learn about Islam, but not just in the context of terrorism.

But Solomon Bradman, CEO of Security Solutions International, which is conducting the program, said, “I can’t take the responsibility of my course linking their religion to terrorism. I think their religion got linked to terrorism a long time ago.”

And the police chief of the Port of Seattle is embracing the terror-linked Saudi-funded front group.

Port Police Chief Colleen Wilson met with local CAIR representatives and offered to have them come in to do additional training. Bukhari said CAIR intends to do so.
10491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: May 23, 2008, 08:10:55 PM
More than anything, my biggest objection to so-called "gay marriage" is that it's been rejected by the voting public and must be forced upon them by judicial fiat.

One of the roles of US Government and particularly judges has always been protection of minority rights.

The Federalist #10 and #51 #78 etc

"This independence of the judges is equally requisite to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effects of those ill humors, which the arts of designing men, or the influence of particular conjunctures, sometimes disseminate among the people themselves, and which, though they speedily give place to better information, and more deliberate reflection, have a tendency, in the meantime, to occasion dangerous innovations in the government, and serious oppressions of the minor party in the community"

 The quote is harsh and does not totally fit this situation. I am not accusing anyone of having ill humors etc---

**Where in the constitution might I find the right to "gay marriage" ? Do you believe the intent of the founding fathers of this nation was to have "gay marriage" as a right in this nation?**
10492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why oil is expensive on: May 23, 2008, 10:45:04 AM
Luft: Since we all seem to agree that fuel flexibility in our cars is the lowest hanging fruit, let's talk about how to make this happen. In the past two sessions of Congress there was strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House for flex fuel legislation. More than 30 senators from Sam Brownback on the right to Ted Kennedy on the left co-sponsored a bill including a requirement that at least 50 percent of new cars be flex fuel.

Presidential candidates are also in agreement. Both Barack Obama's and John McCain's energy platform include strong flex fuel provisions. Obama campaign pledged that an Obama Administration would ensure that all new vehicles have FFV capability by the end of his first term in office.

Less clear is how the automakers would respond. While it is true that the Big Three previously pledged to make 50 percent of their cars flex fuel by 2012, no industry likes to be told what to do and we should not expect the automakers, to embrace a full mandate without a fight, particularly after their recent defeat in the battle over mandatory fuel efficiency standards. (The Big Three also resisted other mandated low cost features like seat belts and airbags.) The Japanese automakers who don't have experience with this technology are likely to be even less enthusiastic.

But considering the low cost of fuel flexibility and the simplicity of retooling the production lines, this is certainly something they can live with.

So it’s basically in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to make this vision of fuel choice come true. Instead of complaining about the "insane" profits of oil companies the Democratic leadership in Congress could serve America best by pushing a flex fuel legislation and bringing it to a vote before the elections.

It is important to ensure that the legislation doesn't enable automakers to get away with making E-85 cars that can only accommodate ethanol. True fuel flexibility is one that enables all alcohols to compete. The cars should therefore be warranted to run on both ethanol and methanol. With such legislation presented before the Senate all three senators who are running for president would be forced to endorse it, which means that the next president would be on board.

Extra $100 per car is less than the price of one barrel of oil, and equipping every car in the US with the feature would cost roughly $20 billion over the next two decades, much less than what the Fed forked over one weekend to save Bear Sterns. The same Congress that spent billions on regulating an open standard for high definition TV should be able to give us an open fuel standard for our cars.

Korin: The Arab oil embargo in the Seventies led to massive Japanese automaker entry into the US market. While US automakers were building huge cars, the Japanese had the more efficient vehicles that appealed to consumers at a time of high gas prices. Today, other competitors waits in the wings should US autos stall on the road to fuel choice. Not so long ago a Chinese automaker showed an under $10,000 family sedan at the Detroit auto show. Take that car, make it a flex fuel plug in hybrid, and you have an under $20,000 fuel choice enabling family sedan. Coming soon to a Walmart near you.

The Chinese are not waiting for us to move toward alcohol fuels or electrification of transportation. We can lead the train or we can run after it, and absent the policies discussed above and summarized below, the latter is more likely every day.

To summarize, the three key policies for breaking oil's monopoly in the transportation sector, the sector from which oil's strategic value is derived, are: an Open Fuel Standard so most new cars sold in the US will be gasoline-ethanol-methanol FFVs; repeal of the 54 cent a gallon tariff on ethanol imports; consumer tax credits for plug in hybrids (this is the policy that helped hybrids move past the early adopter hump.)


Gartenstein-Ross: There is broad agreement on this panel about the significance of the energy security problem that we face, as well as the steps that the government needs to take to address this critical issue; thus, I will keep my remarks atypically short. I offer an apology to Jamie if he’s disappointed that this symposium lacks the fireworks of some of the previous symposia in which I have participated—but I don’t think that’s a terribly bad thing in this case, since energy security is an issue where acting in the near-term is more important than lengthy debate.

I will follow Luft’s suggestion that we discuss how to make the fuel flexibility mandate happen. I agree with him that automakers are likely to fight against a full mandate, and also think it likely that iterations of this legislation will be offered that involve E-85 cars rather than true fuel flexibility. So it is critical to ensure that any legislation on fuel flexibility that is signed into law not be watered down through the legislative process or subjected to the kind of bureaucratic capture that too frequently occurs in this country. I know that a large number of conservative activists read FPM (although I do not see energy security as an issue that should break along partisan lines). Informed members of the public should serve as energy security watchdogs, demanding of our politicians the full implementation of policies necessary to counter our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.


McFarlane: Gal and Anne often make the point that we ought to be realistic politically in structuring our approach to new legislation -- as is required to mandate Flex-Fuel vehicles. It does not good to be doctrinaire -- and lose. Or as President Reagan once told me, "Bud, if you go over the cliff, flags flying, you still go over the cliff." Specifically it does no good to take on the major oil companies. Indeed our point is not anti-oil, we will need oil for a long time and it is in all our interests for American oil companies to produce as much oil as they can for as long as they can.

Rather, our approach to the public and to members of both parties ought to be cast in terms of the political, economic and security costs of doing nothing -- losses which are measured in trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and the gradual control of American industries by foreign sovereigns.

We must also stress that the global war against Islamism -- especially as its financial support grows in proportion to oil revenues flowing to the Persian Gulf -- will someday go nuclear. Unless we get serious toward moving our four-part agenda, we may run out of time.


FP: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Robert Zubrin, Gal Luft, Anne Korin and Bud McFarlane, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.
10493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why oil is expensive on: May 23, 2008, 10:44:17 AM
Korin: The goal is indeed independence, not in the sense of autarky (not importing any oil) but in the sense of regaining ability to act independently, without need to kowtow or defer to petrodictators chief among them the Saudi royal family, a family which controls a quarter of the world's oil reserves and essentially all swing capacity on the global oil market (the mafia never had it so good.) To regain our independence we must strip oil of its strategic value. Salt presents a compelling historical parallel. Salt was once a strategic commodity, control of which determined geopolitical power and ability to sway world affairs. With the advent of electricity and refrigeration salt lost its strategic status as it was no longer the only option for preserving meat. Oil's strategic value derives from its domination of the transportation sector, which in turn accounts for two thirds of oil consumption - as Gal noted, we essentially no longer use oil to generate electricity (an inconvenient fact that renders bizarre the protestations of many politicians that solar, wind, or nuclear can reduce oil demand.)

Stripping oil of its strategic value will require fuel competition in the transportation sector. Flexible fuel vehicles, as Robert noted, provide a platform on which fuels can compete. For a very modest premium, they enable a driver to choose amongst a variety of liquid fuels, made from a variety of feedstocks, from coal to agricultural material. It costs 50 cents a gallon to make methanol from coal. Methanol has about half the energy of gasoline, so that's one dollar per gasoline equivalent gallon. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal. China and India also have a lot of coal, and indeed China is rapidly expanding its coal to methanol capacity.

We need to remove the ridiculous 54 cent a gallon import tariff on sugarcane ethanol - we don't tax oil imports, so why are we taxing imports of an alternative fuel? It's not because of the oil industry, it's because of corn ethanol protectionists who'd rather be big fish in a small pond than open the dam and turn the pond into a sea. As Gal notes, it is also critical to get electricity into the transportation fuel market. Flex fuel plug in hybrids will mean the Saudis will need to figure out how to monetize sand. Perhaps they can learn to blow glass.


Gartenstein-Ross: I am of the opinion that energy security is the most pressing challenge we face. It should be the top issue in the current presidential campaigns because our oil dependence is without a doubt our Achilles’ heel, yet no candidate has been seriously pushing the issue. This comes on top of the systemic failure of our political leaders, including the Bush administration and the presidential administrations that preceded it, to curtail our dangerous dependence on oil. (Interestingly, the one real exception was the Carter administration’s Fuel Use Act, which is a major reason that, as Luft and Korin note, only 2 percent of our electricity comes from oil today.) Energy security has a cognizable impact on virtually all the other major issues that our country now faces.

There is the economy. Today, more than three out of four Americans believe that the country is in recession—and it is not difficult to recognize that high energy prices are a primary driver. Oil prices have more than doubled in the past fifteen months, rising from around $50 a barrel in early 2007 to about $110 a barrel today. Such a dramatic rise in energy prices will of course harm the U.S. economy. As Zubrin stated, this equates to a $500 billion per year tax on the U.S. economy, affecting all sectors. We depend on long supply lines to transport agriculture to consumers, as well as the vast majority of products that you can buy off store shelves. All prices—the price of food, the price of consumer goods—are pushed upward by the rising price of oil.

There is terrorism and our international political adversaries. One distinctive characteristic of Islamic terror movements is that they explicitly find religious sanction for their actions. Their interpretation obviously is not shared by all Muslims, as the world would look much different if we were at war with over a billion people. What helps extremist interpretations of Islam gain a foothold? One clear answer is petrodollars. Numerous analysts have connected radicalization in various regions to extremist charities, mosques, and madrasas funded by oil money. Some of the charities funded by petro-dollars are “dual-use,” not only propagating an extreme interpretation of Islam but also directly funding terrorist groups. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez famously declared in his opening address to an OPEC conference in 2006 that “the American empire will be destroyed.” Do we want to be dependent on political leaders like that because of their oil resources?

The Bush administration has had more than seven years to steer the country’s energy policy, yet its combined policies amount to slapping a few Band-Aids on a hemorrhaging wound. (This is of course not just the Bush administration’s fault: as a country, we have had more than forty years to address this issue since the dangers of our oil dependence became crystal clear.) For example, the primary strategy of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is a new national mandatory fuel economy standard that, in President Bush’s words, “will save billions of gallons of gasoline.” But as Zubrin shows in his commendable book Energy Victory, conservation-based strategies are not, and will not be, sufficient. If we could duplicate the technical success that Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards achieved from 1975 through 1990, Zubrin writes, we would not cut our oil consumption at all. Instead, it would reduce our expected rate of increase of oil usage by only 2.2 million barrels a day, during a period when the world as a whole is likely to raise its consumption another 30 million barrels per day. Whatever demand we eliminate would be replaced fifteen times over.

President Bush has also congratulated himself on the ethanol policies that his administration has undertaken, but they are a far cry from the large market for ethanol that Zubrin’s policy recommendations would spur. (By Bush’s account, we produced 6.4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2007 versus the approximately 200 billion gallons of gasoline and petroleum diesel that we use annually.)

But fortunately, while our oil dependence is currently causing great harm, I don’t think the immediate solutions are mysterious. I agree strongly with the recommendations put forward by Zubrin and Luft in this symposium. Fuel flexibility should be the first major policy we push for because it provides immediate relief from this grave problem, but we should also move toward electrification of the transportation sector. The bottom line is that we are worse off, and our enemies in a better position, for each day that action is delayed.

McFarlane: As the panel has made clear, we have the means at hand to overcome the vulnerability of our economy and the challenge to our very way of life that is posed by our reliance on foreign oil. It starts with mandating that all cars and trucks sold in the US be flex-fuel, and then that we accelerate the production of plug-in hybrid-electric and all-electric cars and trucks, and that we build them out of carbon composite materials as Boeing is doing today in its new 787 Dreamliner.

We cannot consider this as nice-to-have, P-C, green "someday" matter. This is a matter of grave urgency. Today if an attack on any of a dozen very vulnerable Saudi oil processing facilities were successful, we would be facing oil at $200/barrel overnight. That would lead within weeks (not months) to the collapse of the Japanese economy, and before long to those of our European allies and ultimately of our own.

And even if such an attack does not occur, consider the price we are paying for our reliance on foreign oil. Last year we spent over $300 billion on foreign oil. Think for a moment of what $300 billion could buy in terms of better schools, health care, highways and bridges, law enforcement, a partial solution to our sub-prime mortgage problems, and a dozen other domestic priorities. But that's just the beginning.

Think about the half trillion dollars we spend every year -- yes, 'trillion' every year -- on the defense budget, and that doesn't count the supplemental appropriations for the war in Iraq. At least $200 of that $500 billion pays for forces that are deployed in the Middle East or to protect lines of communication between here and there and to our allies in Europe and Japan. Add it up -- $500 billion for defense, another $300 billion to pay for foreign oil, and with the price now above $100/bbl, the total from now on will be at least 1 trillion every year -- yes every year -- until we start changing our ways.

Of course the foregoing costs are just the financial dimension. Far more important are the costs in human lives, families shattered by separation, and the loss of loved ones. This is truly an intolerable condition -- one that is all the more unconscionable considering that we have the means at hand to overcome it.

Zubrin: I would like to make an additional point. As bad as $100 per barrel oil is for us, it is much worse for the poorer nations of the world. It is one thing to pay $100 per barrel for oil when you live in a country where the average person makes $40,000 per year. It is quite another if you live in a country where the average person makes $1,000 per year. To many third world countries, particularly in Africa, the effects of OPEC looting are not merely recessionary, but genocidal. Indeed, the jacked up oil price is nothing else than a huge regressive tax levied by the world’s richest people on the world’s poorest people.

Consider this: This year, Saudi Arabia’s high-priced oil business will reap that nation’s rulers over $300 billion. Much of this bounty will be wasted on a wild assortment of narcissistic luxuries. The rest go towards funding of network of over twenty thousand Wahhabi madrassas worldwide. There, millions of young boys will be instructed that the way to salvation is to kill Christians, Jews, Buddhists, animists, and Hindus, all as part of a global campaign to create reactionary theocratic states that totally degrade women and deny all political, religious, intellectual, scientific, artistic, or personal freedom to everyone.

Simultaneously, Kenya, a nation whose population of 36 million is half again as great as that of Saudi Arabia, will scrape up around $3 billion in export earnings, and use these funds to buy badly needed fuel, farm machinery, and replacement parts for equipment. (Kenya, incidentally, is not one of the world’s fifty poorest nations. There are many others much worse off.)

Distributed elsewhere, the loot garnered by the Saudi terror bankers could triple the foreign exchange of 50 counties comparable to Kenya. Distributed elsewhere, the $1.3 trillion per year taxed out of the world economy by the all the OPEC tyrannies could lift the entire third world out of poverty.

By shifting to alcohol fuels, we can shift a very substantial amount of capital flows in precisely such a direction. Many third world countries are tropical nations with very high agricultural potential. Within a few years of the establishment of a flex fuel mandate, we will have a much larger domestic market for agricultural produce to make ethanol than American farmers can deliver to. That is a very GOOD thing. It means that we will be able to give them all the business they can handle, and still have market share left over, which we could open to Latin American and Caribbean ethanol, but dropping the current tariff. So countries like Haiti, which desperately needs an export income source, will be able to get it by growing sugar ethanol for export to the USA. In the same way, Europe would be able to drop its agricultural trade barriers, and open itself up to ethanol exported from Africa, and Japan likewise from south Asia. Effectively, we would be able to redirect about a trillion dollars a year that is now going to OPEC and send it to the global agricultural sector instead, with about half going to advanced sector farmers and half going to the third world. This would create an enormous engine for world development.

Ethanol has been criticized by certain opponents who have alleged that its production from corn takes away from the food supply, and that large irrigation requirements draw power that exceeds that provided by the ethanol. Such analyses, however, are false. When ethanol is made from corn, all of the protein in the corn is preserved for use as animal feeds, and virtually no ethanol corn grown in the USA is irrigated. In fact, for the expenditure of a given amount of petroleum, nearly ten times as much ethanol can be produced as gasoline.

World food prices have been rising recently, at a rate of 4 percent a year, and oil cartel propaganda organs have been quick to place the blame on bio-fuel programs. But these are false accusations. Despite the corn ethanol program, US corn exports have not declined at all in recent years, and our overall agricultural exports this year are up over 23 percent. So its not corn ethanol that is driving up global food prices, including those for fish, fruit, and every kind of crop. Rather it is high fuel costs, which have risen 40 percent over the past year due to vicious OPEC price rigging. Not only that, these high fuel costs are driving up the cost of not just food, but nearly every product that needs to be transported anywhere in the world. And again, the hardest hit victims are the world's poor.

For the sake of social justice, OPEC must be destroyed.


10494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why oil is expensive on: May 23, 2008, 10:42:50 AM
Symposium: Energy Independence and the Terror War   
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 02, 2008
What is the best way for us to achieve energy independence? What is the urgency for us to do so in terms of our conflict with Islamo-Fascism? To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests are:

Robert “Bud” McFarlane, Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. Currently, he serves as Chairman and CEO of McFarlane Associates Inc., developing energy projects in third world countries and working to develop alternative fuels so as to reduce US reliance on foreign oil.




Robert Zubrin, the president of Pioneer Astronautics and also president of the Mars Society. For many years he worked as a senior engineer for Lockheed Martin. In addition, he is the author of the critically acclaimed nonfiction books The Case for Mars, Entering Space, Mars on Earth; the science fiction novels The Holy Land and First Landing; and articles in Scientific American, The New Atlantis, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mechanical Engineering, and The American Enterprise. He has appeared on major media including CNN, CSPAN, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, NBC, ABC, and NPR. He is the author of the new book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil.




Gal Luft, one of America 's most influential energy independence advocates. He is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) a Washington based energy policy think tank and co-founder of the Set America Free Coalition, an alliance of national security, environmental, labor and religious groups promoting ways to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. He specializes in strategy, geopolitics, terrorism, energy security and economic warfare.



Anne Korin, Chair of Set America Free Coalition.




and


Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of My Year Inside Radical Islam, which documents his time working for the extremist Al Haramain Islamic Foundation.




FP: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Robert Zubrin, Gal Luft, Anne Korin and Bud McFarlane, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Robert Zubrin, let’s begin with you.

What kind of policy do you favor to create energy security?


Zubrin: I'm glad you used the words "energy security," not "energy independence." While admittedly, being energy independent would be an improvement on our current position, it is not good enough, because if the oil cartel still controlled the world market, they could still collapse our economy by collapsing that of our allies and trading partners like Japan and Europe, and they would still be harvesting trillions that they could use to finance jihad and the takeover of our corporations and media organizations.

So even if it were possible, walling ourselves in a defensive "energy independent" position would not suffice. Rather, we have to take the offensive and destroy the power of the oil cartel internationally. The key to doing that is to destroy the vertical monopoly that they have on the world's vehicle fuel supplies. The US Congress could strike a devastating blow in this direction simply by passing a law requiring that all new cars sold in the United States be flex fueled -- that is able to run on any combination of gasoline, methanol, or ethanol. Such cars are existing technology and only cost about $100 more than the same vehicle in non-flex fuel form.

If such a law were passed, it would make flex fuel the international standard for cars, as not only the Detroit Big 3, but all the foreign manufacturers would shift their lines over immediately in response. This would put 50 million cars on the road in the USA within 3 years capable of running on alcohol fuels, and hundreds of millions more worldwide. With such a market available, alcohol production and distribution facilities would multiply rapidly, and gasoline would be forced to compete at the pump against alcohol fuels produced in any number of ways from any number of sources everywhere in the world. (Methanol, for example, can be produced from any kind of biomass, without exception, as well as from coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash. There are many starchy or sweet crops that can be used to make ethanol, with cellulosic options increasingly viable as well.)

This opening of the fuel market would put a permanent constraint on OPEC's ability to raise fuel prices. Instead of being able to raise oil prices to $200/barrel, which they are already discussing, prices would be forced back down to $50/barrel, because that is where alcohol fuels become competitive. Then, once such an alcohol fuel infrastructure is well in place, we can proceed to roll the oil cartel right off the map by instituting tax and tariff policies that favor alcohols over petroleum. That's how we beat the Islamists.

If we don't do that, with our current imports of 5 billion barrels per year, they will use a $100/barrel price to tax us $500 billion per year (and rob the world at a rate of $1.2 trillion/year). The NY Times today had a front page article quoting leading economists as saying that this huge tax (more than triple the size of the current economic stimulus treasury give-back) is grinding our economy into recession. So it is, but it is worse than that. If they are allowed to keep taxing us in this way, they will use that enormous monetary power to not only massively grow their jihadi movement, but to take over most of the major corporations and media organizations in the US, Europe, and Japan within a decade.

So not only our economy, but our independence is at stake. We need to break the oil cartel, and forceful action to create fuel choice internationally is the way to do it.

Luft: I share Robert's sense of urgency about reducing the strategic value of oil by opening the transportation sector to healthy competition, and fuel flexibility should indeed be the first item on our agenda. There is no reason why the $100 addition which allows cars to burn alcohol should not be - just like seat belts, air bags or rear view mirrors - a standard feature in every car sold worldwide. This would be a low premium insurance policy against future supply disruptions and a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding of our economy. But flex fuel alone would not be sufficient to solve our energy problem. In the U.S. today we use annually roughly 140 billion gallons of gasoline and additional 60 billion gallons of petroleum diesel. We simply don't have the resource base to replace all of this with alcohol and bio-diesel, even if we tapped into our vast coal reserves and diverted all of our food crops into fuel production. So we need solutions beyond liquid
fuels.

In order to achieve significant petroleum displacement we must begin to electrify the transportation sector by speeding the commercialization of plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars. Unlike in the 1970s, today only 2 percent of our electricity is made from oil. Almost all of our electricity is made from domestic energy resources like coal, nuclear power, natural gas and hydro. In other words, on the electricity front, unlike the Europeans who rely on imported natural gas for their light and heating, Americans are already energy independent. Using electrons for transportation, instead of gasoline, essentially means shifting from an imported resource which poses a national security threat to an array of abundant domestic energy sources. In addition, electricity is cheaper and cleaner than gasoline. It costs about 3 cents per mile to run a car on electricity--roughly one fifth of the cost of driving the same mile on gasoline. This cost differential protects us from a counterattack by OPEC.


The oil cartel will surely respond to the emerging alcohol economy by dropping crude prices to a level that would make ethanol and methanol economically unatractive. This is exactly what they did in the 1980s in response to a massive effort by Western countries to wean themselves from oil. Oil dropped to $8 a barrel and alternative fuels producers lost their shirts. If cars had full fuel flexibility, allowing them, in addition to burning alcohols, to also tap into the grid, OPEC would have to drop prices to $5 a barrel to compete with 3 cents per mile of electric drive. This is way below where they can afford to go considering their youth bulges and domestic economic conditions. This is why the commercialization of plug in hybrid electric vehicles, which allow us to drive the first chunk of our daily driving on electricity after which the car begins to burn liquid fuel, is so critical. Congress should therefore provide tax incentives to early adopters of plug in hubrids--just as it did in the case of regular hybrids--while facilitating the emergence of a viable battery industry in the U.S. A flex fuel plug-in hybrid will run approximately 500 miles on a gallon of gasoline. This could really pull the plug on OPEC.


10495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Lebanon on: May 23, 2008, 10:34:15 AM
http://counterterrorismblog.org/2008/05/print/millions_in_criminal_proceeds.php

Counterterrorism Blog

Millions in Criminal Proceeds + Iran's Oil Millions = Hearts, Minds, Votes for Hezbollah

By Andrew Cochran

Our future national counterinsurgency or asymmetric threat strategy must take into consideration the success which Hamas, Hezbollah, and other segments of the jihadist community have had in building and operating a social services network which influences the local populace. Matthew Levitt has written extensively on that success; see his post here on November 21, 2007, "Zakat-Jihad Activism," in which he discusses an excellent "Military Review" article, "S.W.E.T. and Blood: Essential Services in the Battle Between Insurgents and Counterinsurgents." Matt noted, "(t)his tactic (sometimes also described as dawa activities) not only produces significant grassroots support, it also creates an ideal means to launder and transfer funds as well as a means of providing activists day jobs and a veneer of legitimacy. It many cases, it also serves as a logistical support network for less altruistic activities."

Hezbollah already has such a network in Lebanon, as Matt pointed out in a Washington Institute article. Nothing the U.S. has done has prevented Hezbollah from providing such services outside of Lebanese government channels. For instance, despite the Treasury Department's designation in 2007 of Jihad al-Bina, Hezbollah's construction company in Lebanon, that company is operating with little hindrance; David Schenker tells me that the company's subsidiary is rebuilding much of Dahyia. Hezbollah's diplomatic victory this week will enable further development of that network.

Hezbollah has two sources for hundreds of millions of dollars. First, it has a long history of using criminal activities around the world, including inside the U.S., to raise funds, as Matt wrote on November 8, 2007 and as Dennis Lormel wrote on July 16, 2006. I was told this week by two experts that recent estimates of the funds raised through such activity run from $100 to 300 million. Second, of course, it is the ward of the Iranian regime; Walid Phares recently put that support level at upwards of $1 billion, thanks to the extraordinary price of oil. And we should have no doubt that Hezbollah will use a considerable portion of those funds to buy popular support inside Lebanon. No other group there has that type of financial muscle, and in my opinion, it will enable Hezbollah to maintain and expand its power through the 2009 parliamentary elections and beyond.

By Andrew Cochran on May 22, 2008 4:37 PM
10496  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 23, 2008, 09:04:30 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/05/23/vets-for-freedom-obama-will-go-to-iran-but-not-iraq/

Obama's priorities.
10497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: May 22, 2008, 10:30:58 PM
More than anything, my biggest objection to so-called "gay marriage" is that it's been rejected by the voting public and must be forced upon them by judicial fiat.
10498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 20, 2008, 03:57:00 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/05/20/on-budgeting-and-asymmetrical-threats/

More on Barry-O's cluelessness.....
10499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 19, 2008, 08:40:31 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/05/19/iran-not-a-serious-threat/

Iran not a “serious threat”?
POSTED AT 9:15 AM ON MAY 19, 2008 BY ED MORRISSEY   


Barack Obama gave an interesting description of Iran and the threat it poses to the United States and our national interests at an appearance in Oregon last night. “They don’t pose a serious threat to us in the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us,” Obama told a cheering audience, explaining why he doesn’t think we need to worry about “tiny” countries like Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran. Obama also displays a weird sense of history when he suggests that the Berlin Wall fell because we engaged Mikhail Gorbachev:


Wow. Where to begin with this silliness?

Let’s start with the Soviet Union. We talked with the Soviet Union because they also had nuclear weapons. Obama seems to forget that the entire point of our Iran policy is to prevent being put in the position of having to cut deals with a terrorist-supporting, radical Islamist non-rational state. When the enemy already has the capability of destroying you several times over, negotiations are needed to keep one side from initiating a war. Only an idiot would think that the negotiations intended on disarming the Soviets, or they us. The same dynamic applies to our engagement with Mao Zedong and Red China; Mao was smart enough to hold himself out as a potential partner in a power balance against the Soviets.

The Soviet Union collapsed economically; they did not just decide to capitulate. The Berlin Wall did not fall as a result of negotiations, but because the regime propping it up ceased to exist. Why did the Soviet Union collapse? Because Ronald Reagan won an economic war with Moscow, forcing it to spend more and more and falling further and further behind. The Strategic Defense Initiative provided the coup de grace to the Soviets, who knew they could never match us in missile defense, and tried negotiating an end to the economic war instead, with disastrous results.

That would be the same SDI that Democrats staunchly opposed, sneeringly called “Star Wars” and proclaiming it a threat to peaceful coexistence. They wanted a decades-long series of summits instead of the end of communism, which sounds strikingly familiar in Obama’s speech. Reagan had to fight the Democrats to beat the Soviets, not through presidential-level diplomacy but through economic isolation and military strength.

Listen to Obama talk about the “common interests” supposedly shared between the US and the Iranian mullahcracy. What interests would those be? The destruction of Israel, the denial of the Holocaust, the financial and military support of Hamas and Hezbollah, or the killing of American soldiers in Iraq? And please point out the presidential-level, unconditional contacts that brought down the Berlin Wall. Our “common interests” didn’t exist between the East German and American governments; they existed between the people of East Germany and America in the promise of real freedom. When the Soviet power structure imploded, it was the people of East Germany who tore down the wall, not Mikhail Gorbachev, who watched it happen impotently.

Furthermore, the danger in Iranian nuclear weapons has nothing to do with the capacity of its Shahab-3 ballistic missiles. Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist organizations will allow them to partner with any small group of lunatics who want to smuggle a nuclear weapon into any Western city — London, Rome, Washington DC, Los Angeles, take your pick. That’s the problem with nuclear proliferation; it doesn’t take a large army to threaten annihilation any longer, which is why we work so hard to keep those weapons out of the hands of non-rational actors like Iran. The Soviets may have been evil, but they were rational, and we could count on their desire to survive to rely on the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction. The Iranians believe that a worldwide conflagration will have Allah deliver the world to Islam, so a nuclear exchange may fall within their policy, and that’s assuming we could establish their culpability for a sneak nuclear attack to the extent where a President Obama would order a nuclear reprisal.

This speech reveals Obama to have no grasp of history, no grasp of strategic implications of a nuclear Iran, and no clue how to secure the nation and handle foreign policy.
10500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: May 17, 2008, 09:44:14 PM
http://www.city-journal.org/printable.php?id=2574

Steven Malanga
Illegal in More Ways than One
Identity theft in America goes hand and hand with illegal immigration.
Spring 2008


As everyone knows, America is experiencing an epidemic of identity theft. In the last five years alone, complaints to the Federal Trade Commission from U.S. residents who have had their identity stolen have skyrocketed 60 percent, to 258,427 in 2007—one-third of all consumer fraud complaints that the commission receives. What’s less well understood, however, is how illegal immigration is helping to fuel this rash of crime. Seeking access to jobs, credit, and driver’s licenses, many undocumented aliens are using the personal data of real Americans on forged documents. The immigrants’ identity theft has become so pervasive that the need to combat it is “a disturbing front in the war against illegal immigration,” according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The FTC’s latest statistics help show why. The top five states in terms of reported identity theft in 2007 all have large immigrant populations—the border states of Arizona, California, and Texas, as well as Florida and Nevada. People who pilfer legitimate identities in these states are much more likely than in other parts of the country to use them to gain employment unlawfully—the most common reason that illegal aliens steal personal information. In Arizona, for instance, 36 percent of all identity theft is for employment purposes, compared with only 5 percent in Maine, a state with far fewer illegal aliens. “To many law enforcement leaders in Arizona, this suggests that Arizona’s identity-theft epidemic is directly linked to the problem of illegal immigration,” says a recent report by Identity Theft 911, an Arizona company that helps businesses and individuals protect themselves.

Government investigations have only begun to uncover the extent of the crime wave. When ICE agents raided six Swift meat-processing plants in December 2006, they found widespread evidence of fraud involving the use of real people’s identities; the feds eventually charged 148 illegal aliens in the case with crimes related to identity theft. In the first year and a half after Arizona created a special unit to deal with identity theft, investigators said that they were able to purchase more than 1,000 phony documents that made use of real people’s identities. A so-called three-pack—a Social Security card, a driver’s license, and a permanent-resident card—costs on average just $160 in the state.

Government statistics probably grossly underestimate the size of the problem. Many local police departments don’t track identity theft accurately, and the FTC only reports complaints that it receives. By combining data on complaints with FTC consumer surveys—which show that far more people have had their identity stolen than report it—Identity Theft 911 estimates that in Arizona alone, some 1.57 million people, or a quarter of the state’s population, have been victims over the last six years. About one-fifth are children—whose Social Security numbers are especially valuable targets, since the kids usually aren’t employed, making discovery of the fraud less likely. “We just don’t know how they’re getting all this information on minors,” says Maryann McKessy, bureau chief for fraud and identity-theft enforcement in the Maricopa County attorney general’s office.

One disturbing theory: health-care employees with access to children’s files are working for organized gangs that trade in illegal documents and are willing to pay richly for the data. “We have a major problem with workers in medical offices stealing patients’ identities, selling them and making a direct profit,” Sergeant James Bracke of the Phoenix Police Department told authors of the Arizona report. The gangs can afford these bribes because identity theft has become such a big business. In Phoenix, “coyotes,” the smugglers who lead illegal immigrants over our borders, have created a network of phony-document producers and safe houses where undocumented workers can wait until they get their fraudulent papers.

Americans who have their identity stolen by these gangs are in for major headaches. Among the complaints filed with the FTC is that of a Texas man arrested for a crime committed by an illegal alien who had filched his identity. In another case, highlighted by Nevada senator John Ensign in last year’s immigration-reform debate in Congress, the Internal Revenue Service hit a woman with a $1 million back-tax bill, even though she was a stay-at-home mom. An investigation later found that 218 illegal aliens were using her Social Security number. A Los Angeles police detective—who, ironically, worked in the department’s fraud bureau—was unable to buy a home because of bills piled up by an illegal immigrant who stole his Social Security number to gain employment at a processing plant. Then the IRS served the cop with a bill for $40,000 in back taxes; when he protested, the agency threatened to send his case to collection. Other legal residents have had their unemployment claims or workers’ compensation cases rejected after government records showed that someone with their Social Security number was working.

Despite all this, efforts to crack down on identity theft have proved controversial. Ensign offered an amendment to last year’s immigration-reform bill that would have barred illegals from Social Security benefits if they obtained work using stolen identities, but the amendment went down to defeat after critics complained that it was unfair to refuse benefit payments to those who had contributed to the Social Security system, even if they did so under a false identity. Ultimately, the immigration bill itself was defeated, in part because of controversy over its provisions to offer amnesty to illegal aliens, including those who might have stolen identities.

Frustrated by what some see as a tepid federal response, local officials in the hardest-hit areas have stepped up antitheft efforts. In Arizona, a new law makes it a felony to use the identity of another person to obtain a job. Local law enforcement agencies, like the Maricopa County attorney general’s office and the Phoenix Police Department, have expanded their fraud units. Even private businesses have gotten into the fight. Last year, the Arizona offices of A. G. Edwards, the national brokerage firm, held “community shred-a-thons” to give people a chance to destroy outdated financial records and other documents that might provide information to identity-theft gangs.

But many local law enforcement agencies still don’t treat the theft as a serious crime. Until they do, Americans who have had their identity stolen will pay the price in time, stress, and expensive legal bills.

Steven Malanga is senior editor of City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of The New New Left, a collection of his City Journal essays.
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