Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: October 23, 2008, 09:23:55 AM
Why Does Obama's Pastor Matter?
By John Perazzo
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, February 04, 2008
Barack Obama, in a way that recalls John F. Kennedy, a politician to whom he's frequently compared, has carefully controlled and burnished his image to create the impression of an independent figure, free from dogma and ideological entanglements. But there is one man who threatens to undermine Obama's appealing narrative as a man above the ugly quarrels and divisive partisanship of the past: his longtime pastor and spiritual adviser, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
On March 1, 1972, Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. became the pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC), a position he still holds to this day. Because he has been a revered figure in the life of presidential aspirant Barack Obama for two decades, Wright's political views, which he commonly draws from the tenets of liberation theology, are worthy of some scrutiny—if only to shed light on the teachings that have had enough resonance to retain Obama as a TUCC congregant since 1988. So great is Obama's respect for Wright, that the former sought the Reverend's counsel before formally declaring his candidacy for U.S. President. Moreover, Obama and his wife selected Wright to perform their wedding ceremony and to baptize their two daughters. These are honors of considerable magnitude, and it is reasonable to speculate that if we learn more about Rev. Wright, we may gain some insight into the personal qualities and belief systems Barack Obama holds in high regard.
When we read the writings, public statements, and sermons of Rev. Wright, we quickly notice his unmistakable conviction that America is a nation infested with racism, prejudice, and injustices that make life very difficult for black people. As he declared in one of his sermons: "Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!... We [Americans] believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God."
In a similar spirit, Wright laments "the social order under which we [blacks] live, under which we suffer, under which we are killed." Depicting blacks as a politically powerless demographic, he complains that "African Americans don't run anything in the Capital except elevators." On its website, Wright's church portrays black people as victims who are still burdened by the legacy of their "pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism," and who must pray for "the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people."
Wright detects what he views as racism in virtually every facet of American life. In the business world, for instance, he attributes the high unemployment rate of African Americans to "the fact that they are black." Vis-à-vis the criminal justice system, he similarly explains that "the brothers are in prison" largely because of their skin color. "Consider the 'three strikes law,'" he elaborates. "There is a higher jail sentencing for crack than for cocaine because more African Americans get crack than do cocaine." Notwithstanding Wright's implication that the harsh anti-crack penalties were instituted by racist legislators for the purpose of incarcerating as many blacks as possible, the Congressional Record shows that such was not at all the case. In 1986, when the strict, federal anti-crack legislation was being debated, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)—deeply concerned about the degree to which crack was decimating the black community—strongly supported the legislation and actually pressed for even harsher penalties. In fact, a few years earlier CBC members had pushed President Reagan to create the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
In Wright's calculus, white America's bigotry is to blame not only for whatever ills continue to plague the black community, but also for our country's conflicts with other nations. "In the 21st century," says Wright, "white America got a wake-up call after 9/11/01. White America and the western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just 'disappeared' as the Great White West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns."
Remarkably, no mention of jihad—the ageless Muslim tradition of aggressive, permanent warfare whose ultimate aim is to achieve Islam's dominion over the human race at large—managed to find its way into Wright's analysis. Rather, he assured us that the 9/11 atrocities were ultimately traceable to the doorstep of U.S. provocations. In fact, Wright apparently sees no reason to suspect that Islam may be incompatible in any way with Western traditions. "Islam and Christianity are a whole lot closer than you may realize," he has written. "Islam comes out of Christianity."
Apart from America's purported racism, Wright also despises the nation's capitalist economic structure, viewing it as a breeding ground for all manner of injustice. "Capitalism as made manifest in the 'New World,'" says Wright, "depended upon slave labor (by African slaves), and it is only maintained by keeping the 'Two-Thirds World' under oppression." This anti-capitalist perspective is further reflected in TUCC's "10-point vision," whose ideals include the cultivation of "a congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY." Dispelling any doubt that this is a reference to socialism and the wholesale redistribution of wealth, the TUCC mission statement plainly declares its goal of helping "the less fortunate to become agents of change for God who is not pleased with America's economic mal-distribution!"
This view is entirely consistent with Rev. Wright's devotion to the tenets of liberation theology, which is essentially Marxism dressed up as Christianity. Devised by Cold War-era theologians, it teaches that the gospels of Jesus can be understood only as calls for social activism, class struggle, and revolution aimed at overturning the existing capitalist order and installing, in its stead, a socialist utopia where today's poor will unseat their "oppressors" and become liberated from their material (and, consequently, their spiritual) deprivations. An extension of this paradigm is black liberation theology, which seeks to foment a similar Marxist revolutionary fervor founded on racial rather than class solidarity. Wright's mentor in this discipline is James Cone, author of the landmark text Black Power and Black Theology. Arguing that Christianity has been used by white society as an opiate of the (black) masses, Cone asserts that the destitute "are made and kept poor by the rich and powerful few," and that "[n]o one can be a follower of Jesus Christ without a political commitment that expresses one's solidarity with victims."
Many of Wright's condemnations of America are echoed in his denunciations of Israel and Zionism, which he has blamed for imposing "injustice and … racism" on the Palestinians. According to Wright, Zionism contains an element of "white racism." Likening Israel's treatment of Palestinians to South Africa's treatment of blacks during the apartheid era, Wright advocates divestment campaigns targeting companies that conduct business in, or with, Israel.
Given Wright's obvious low regard for the U.S. and Israel, it is by no means surprising that he reserves some of his deepest respect for the virulently anti-American, anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. "When Minister Farrakhan speaks, Black America listens," says Wright. "Everybody may not agree with him, but they listen … His depth on analysis when it comes to the racial ills of this nation is astounding and eye opening. He brings a perspective that is helpful and honest. Minister Farrakhan will be remembered as one of the 20th and 21st century giants of the African American religious experience. His integrity and honesty have secured him a place in history as one of the nation's most powerful critics. His love for Africa and African American people has made him an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose."
Wright's paean to Farrakhan was parroted in the November/December issue of TUCC's bimonthly magazine, the Trumpet, which featured an interview with the NOI "icon" who, according to the publication, "truly epitomized greatness." "Because of the Minister's influence in the African American community," the Trumpet announced that it was honoring him with an "Empowerment Award" as a "fitting tribute for a storied life well lived."
This seems an odd distinction to confer upon someone whose anti-American, anti-white, anti-Semitic statements are numerous. For example, in 1996 Farrakhan told a Tehran newspaper that God would "bestow upon Muslims" the honor of "destroy[ing] America." In February 1998, he sent a cordial and supportive letter to Saddam Hussein, calling him a "visionary" who had earned the Iraqi people's "love," and whose demise would "mean a setback for the goal of unity [among Muslims]." In July 2002, he declared that America, "with blood dripping from [its] hands," had no moral authority by which to overthrow Saddam. In February 2005, he condemned the United States for waging a war "against Islam," adding: "[T]here's no way that I, as a Muslim, could countenance my children or grandchildren fighting a war against fellow believers in any part of the world."
Farrakhan also has a long, well-documented history of venom-laced references to the white "blue-eyed devils" and Jewish "bloodsuckers" who purportedly decimate America's black communities from coast to coast. Moreover, he has referred to white people as "the skunks of the planet."
On a 1984 trip to meet with the Libyan dictator (and America's arch enemy) Muammar Qadhafi, Farrakhan was accompanied by none other than Jeremiah A. Wright.
Farrakhan has long considered Qadhafi to be his trusted "friend," "brother," and "fellow struggler in the cause of liberation for our people." In 1996, the NOI leader formed a partnership with Qadhafi, who pledged $1 billion to help Farrakhan develop a Muslim political lobby in the U.S. Said Qadhafi: "We agreed with Louis Farrakhan and his delegation to mobilize in a legal and legitimate form the oppressed minorities—and at their forefront the blacks, Arab Muslims and Red Indians—for they play an important role in American political life and have a weight in U.S. elections." "Our confrontation with America," added Qadhafi, "was [previously] like a fight against a fortress from outside, and today [with the NOI alliance] we found a breach to enter into this fortress and confront it."
Farrakhan's October 16, 1995 Million Man March ranks among the events about which Rev. Wright has written most extensively and passionately. Wright attended the rally with his son, and has described it as "a once in a lifetime, amazing experience." When a number of prominent African Americans counseled fellow blacks to boycott the demonstration because of Farrakhan's well-documented history of hateful rhetoric, Wright derided those critics as "'Negro' leaders," "'colored' leaders," "Oreos," and "house niggras" whose most noteworthy trait was their contemptible "Uncle Tomism." "There are a whole boat load of 'darkies' who think in white supremacist terms," added Wright. "… Some 'darkies' think white women are superior to black women…. Some 'darkies' think white lawyers are superior to black lawyers. Some 'darkies' think white pastors are better than black pastors. There are a whole boatload of 'darkies' who think anything white and everyone white is better than whatever it is black people have."
In the book titled When Black Men Stand up for God, a collection of sermons and reflections on the Million Man March, Wright identifies Kwanzaa founder Maulana Karenga as an attendee of the rally. In the end notes that follow a transcript of one of Wright's sermons, Karenga is described as "an internationally acclaimed social activist and scholar in Pan African Studies"; "the founder and creator of Kwanzaa, the well-known African American holiday"; and "the director of Pan African Studies and Visiting Lecturer in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside." Unmentioned is the fact that Karenga is a self-identified "African socialist" whose "Seven Principles of Blackness," which are observed during Kwanzaa, are not only the Marxist precepts of parity and proletariat unity, but are also identical to those of the 1970s domestic terrorist group, the Symbionese Liberation Army. Nor is it noted that in 1971 Karenga was convicted of torturing two women who were members of United Slaves, a black nationalist cult he had established.
On its website, Wright's church describes itself in distinctly racial terms, as being an "Unashamedly Black" congregation of "African people" who are "true to our native land, the mother continent, the cradle of civilization," and who participate in TUCC's "Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community."
Some have suggested that such seemingly exclusionary assertions, coupled with Wright's own racially loaded statements and his close affiliation with Farrakhan, indicate that Wright is guilty of racism. But Wright casually dismisses this charge, stating: "I get tickled every time I hear a 'Negro' call me a racist. They don't even understand how to define the word. Racism means controlling the means." In other words, Wright employs a rhetorical escape hatch that permits him to evade all charges of racism simply by claiming that only the "dominant" (i.e., white) demographic is capable of such ugliness. The implication is that no deed or utterance, however hateful or vile, is egregious enough to qualify any black person as a racist; that blacks are always the victims of racism, never its perpetrators.
American voters ought to have more than a passing interest in the fact that when Barack Obama formally joined TUCC in 1991, he tacitly accepted this same Jeremiah Wright as a spiritual mentor. Moreover, he pledged allegiance to the church's race-conscious "Black Value System" that encourages blacks to patronize black-only businesses, support black leaders, and avoid becoming "entrapped" by the pursuit of a "black middle-classness" whose ideals presumably would erode their sense of African identity and render them "captive" to white culture.
In addition, voters should examine carefully the question of whether Obama shares Wright's socialist economic preferences. They ought to be aware, for instance, that the Democratic candidate is on record as having said that his religious faith has led him to question "the idolatry of the free market." Moreover, Obama's voting record and his issue positions show him generally to favor high spending and increased government intervention in all realms of life.
When Rev. Wright's controversial statements and positions recently became more widely publicized, Obama said, "There are some things I agree with my pastor about, some things I disagree with him about." It is the duty of every American voter to determine exactly where those agreements and disagreements lie.
 When Black Men Stand up for God (Chicago: African American Images), 1996, p. 17.
 Ibid., p. 102.
 Ibid., p. 17.
 Ibid., p. 17.
 John DiIulio, Jr., "My Black Crime Problem, and Ours," City Journal (Spring 1996), pp. 19-20.
 When Black Men Stand up for God, p. 16.
 Blow the Trumpet in Zion (Minneapolis: Fortress Press), 2005, pp. 8-9.
 When Black Men Stand up for God, p. 10.
 Ibid., pp. 11, 37.
 Ibid., p. 80.
 Ibid., p. 11.
 Ibid., p. 81.
 It should be noted that Wright's church has conducted Kwanzaa programs for its congregants. See When Black Men Stand up for God, p. iv.)
 When Black Men Stand up for God, p. 25.
 Ibid., p. 102.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: October 23, 2008, 09:07:44 AM
**If instead of co-founding the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers had co-founded a KKK chapter that had murdered civil rights workers, and he was quoted as saying "I wish I'd done more" in 2001, would you still minimize his conduct and defend any politician that associated himself with him?**
"When and where was this"?
My legal friend graduated from Chicago Law School in the 70's.
My female friend graduated from Northwestern about 5 years ago.
I graduated from USC with a degree in economics also in the 70's.
SC is the west coast bastion of conservatism.
Was this your question?
Don't know about "reasons of insanity"; that I bet could be a whole other topic. But our legal system is all we have
(and frankly I think it's pretty good). You are innocent until proven guilty regardless of what people may think.
Not Guilty Does Not Mean Innocent
All too often when I listen to the radio or read the newspapers, I hear or see "at arraignment, the defendant pled innocent" or "the defendant was found innocent by the jury." The word "innocent" is being misused. "Innocent" cannot and should not be substituted for "not guilty."
Technically, only three pleas can be entered by a defendant who is brought before the court to answer the charges against him. Under the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendant may plead not guilty, guilty or nolo contendere to any crime with which he is charged and over which the court has jurisdiction. The rules that are applicable to the criminal sessions of the trial court do not provide the defendant with the option of pleading innocent. There is no such plea available.
Similarly, the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure provide for only two possible verdicts that can be returned by a jury: guilty or not guilty. There is no verdict of innocent. And, not guilty does not mean innocent.
When a jury returns a verdict of not guilty, that means that the state has not convinced the jury beyond a reasonable doubt as to all the elements of the crime with which the defendant has been charged. For example, in a first degree murder case, the state must prove that the defendant deliberately and with malice unlawfully caused the death of another human being. If the defendant presents a valid defense that he killed the victim in self-defense, then the defendant is not innocent of homicide -- he did in fact kill another human being -- but he is "not guilty" of homicide because the state did not convince the jury that the defendant acted with premeditated malice aforethought.
Not guilty because of the law of evidence
There are other reasons that the defendant can be found not guilty although he committed the crime.
For example, suppose that a victim of rape is so terrified by the event that she cannot identify the defendant as her attacker. Tests prove that the defendant was the rapist but, for some reason, those tests cannot be admitted at trial. At trial the defendant presents an alibi defense that the jury believes. The jury may return a verdict of not guilty although the defendant did in fact commit the crime. Certainly, we do not think of the defendant as innocent.
Here is another example. Suppose that two defendants, A and B, are jointly tried for murder. Both A and B made confessions to the police in which each implicates himself but blames the other for the actual murder. The confessions are not introduced at trial because of a Supreme Court rule of law. The jury finds the defendants not guilty because the state was prevented by a rule of law from introducing enough evidence to prove them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They are not innocent of the crime.
Not guilty by reason of insanity
Another way in which a defendant may be found not guilty is if he is found "not guilty by reason of insanity." The insanity defense is based on the principle of Anglo-American law that before an individual can be punished for a wrongful act, he must have appreciated the criminality of his conduct.
The insanity defense has always been the subject of public debate. The debate resurfaced after John Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity after his trial for the attempted assassination of President Reagan. After the verdict, many bills were introduced in Congress to eliminate or restrict the defense and in October 1984, a new law was passed which makes the insanity defense one that the defendant must prove by clear and convincing evidence. Twelve states enacted a statute providing for an alternative verdict: guilty but mentally ill. These new statutes reflect the increasing public hostility toward acquitting defendants on the basis of the insanity defense. These defendants are not innocent; they are, in those 12 states, guilty but insane.
These examples show that the term not guilty should be used instead of innocent. Not guilty is the language of the rules providing for pleas and verdicts and is technically more accurate than innocent.
The legal system and legal terminology should be respected. I suggest that the media should make an effort to use the correct terminology when commenting on court cases. The word innocent should not be used promiscuously.
I do understand the vetting process; two FBI Agents came to my door a few months ago to inquire about a neighbor's son
who was under consideration (accepted) to become a Federal Prosecutor. Great kid; I said nice things. And frankly I have
read nothing to exclude Obama nor have I seen ANY reliable source saying he "could not get even a minimal security clearance for a low
level job". It's all conjecture and BS - your a smart guy; you know it's silly and absurd. Security Clearance Guidelines
Allegiance to the United States
The Concern. An individual must be of unquestioned allegiance to the United States. The willingness to safeguard classified information is in doubt if there is any reason to suspect an individual's allegiance to the United States.
Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
a. Involvement in any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorism, sedition, or other act whose aim is to overthrow the Government of the United States or alter the form of government by unconstitutional means;
b. Association or sympathy with persons who are attempting to commit, or who are committing, any of the above acts;
c. Association or sympathy with persons or organizations that advocate the overthrow of the United States Government, or any state or subdivision, by force or violence or by other unconstitutional means;
d. Involvement in activities which unlawfully advocate or practice the commission of acts of force or violence to prevent others from exercising their rights under the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any state.
Security Clearance Guidelines
The Concern. A security risk may exist when an individual's immediate family, including cohabitants, and other persons to whom he or she may be bound by affection, influence, or obligation are not citizens of the United States or may be subject to duress. These situations could create the potential for foreign influence that could result in the compromise of classified information. Contacts with citizens of other countries or financial interests in other countries are also relevant to security determinations if they make an individual potentially vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or pressure.
Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
a. An immediate family member, or a person to whom the individual has close ties of affection or obligation, is a citizen of, or resident or present in, a foreign country;
b. Sharing living quarters with a person or persons, regardless of their citizenship status, if the potential for adverse foreign influence or duress exists;
c. Relatives, cohabitants, or associates who are connected with any foreign government;
d. Failing to report, where required, associations with foreign nationals;
e, Unauthorized association with a suspected or known collaborator or employee of a foreign intelligence service;
f. Conduct which may make the individual vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or pressure by a foreign government;
g. Indications that representatives or nationals from a foreign country are acting to increase the vulnerability of the individual to possible future exploitation, coercion or pressure;
h. A substantial financial interest in a country, or in any foreign owned or operated business that could make the individual vulnerable to foreign influence.
Security Clearance Guidelines
The Concern. Conduct involving questionable judgment, untrustworthiness, unreliability, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations could indicate that the person may not properly safeguard classified information. The following will normally result in an unfavorable clearance action or administrative termination of further processing for clearance eligibility:
a. Refusal to undergo or cooperate with required security processing, including medical and psychological testing; or
b. Refusal to complete required security forms, releases, or provide full, frank and truthful answers to lawful questions of investigators, security officials or other official representatives in connection with a personnel security or trustworthiness determination.
Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying also include:
a. Reliable, unfavorable information provided by associates, employers, coworkers, neighbors, and other acquaintances;
b. The deliberate omission, concealment, or falsification of relevant and material facts from any personnel security questionnaire, personal history statement, or similar form used to conduct investigations, determine employment qualifications, award benefits or status, determine security clearance eligibility or trustworthiness, or award fiduciary responsibilities;
c. Deliberately providing false or misleading information concerning relevant and material matters to an investigator, security official, competent medical authority, or other official representative in connection with a personnel security or trustworthiness determination;
d. Personal conduct or concealment of information that may increase an individual's vulnerability to coercion, exploitation or duress, such as engaging in activities which, if known, may affect the person's personal, professional, or community standing or render the person susceptible to blackmail;
e. A pattern of dishonesty or rule violations, including violation of any written or recorded agreement made between the individual and the agency.
f. Association with persons involved in criminal activity.
Security Clearance Guidelines
a. Improper or illegal involvement with drugs, raises questions regarding an individual's willingness or ability to protect classified information. Drug abuse or dependence may impair social or occupational functioning, increasing the risk of an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.
b. Drugs are defined as mood and behavior altering substances and include:
(1) Drugs, materials, and other chemical compounds identified and listed in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, as amended (e.g., marijuana or cannabis, depressants, narcotics, stimulants, and hallucinogens), and
(2) Inhalants and other similar substances.
c. Drug abuse is the illegal use of a drug or use of a legal drug in a manner that deviates from approved medical direction.
Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
a. Any drug abuse (see above definition);
b. Illegal drug possession, including cultivation, processing, manufacture, purchase, sale, or distribution;
c. Diagnosis by a credentialed medical professional (e.g., physician, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist) of drug abuse or drug dependence;
d. Evaluation of drug abuse or drug dependence by a licensed clinical social worker who is a staff member of a recognized drug treatment program;
e. Failure to successfully complete a drug treatment program prescribed by a credentialed medical professional. Recent drug involvement, especially following the granting of a security clearance, or an expressed intent not to discontinue use, will almost invariably result in an unfavorable determination.
Glad we agree on the housing issue. I don't get it. Why can't McCain run on fiscal conservatism, experience, and a little mix of compassion?
It's not a bad story and he is a very qualified man. What's with all the waffling, pandering, etc.
Heck if he had chosen a more qualified
VP (it's not ageism he's just old) I still might have voted for him.
As for "domestic terrorism" I don't approve and I say lock them up. And if guilty, they deserve to spend a long time in jail or worse. But I
want a legal and fair conviction, not speculation, rumor, and hate to dominate their so called "guilt". McCarthy did that and America suffered.
If they are innocent via our legal system then they are equal to both of us before the law and in society.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Clusterfcuk
on: October 22, 2008, 06:48:12 PM
AMERICA THE WEAK
US RISKS TURMOIL UNDER PREZ O
Posted: 4:51 am
October 20, 2008
IF Sen. Barack Obama is elected president, our re public will survive, but our international strategy and some of our allies may not. His first year in office would conjure globe-spanning challenges as our enemies piled on to exploit his weakness.
Add in Sen. Joe Biden - with his track record of calling every major foreign-policy crisis wrong for 35 years - as vice president and de facto secretary of State, and we'd face a formula for strategic disaster.
Where would the avalanche of confrontations come from?
* Al Qaeda. Pandering to his extreme base, Obama has projected an image of being soft on terror. Toss in his promise to abandon Iraq, and you can be sure that al Qaeda will pull out all the stops to kill as many Americans as possible - in Iraq, Afghanistan and, if they can, here at home - hoping that America will throw away the victories our troops bought with their blood.
* Pakistan. As this nuclear-armed country of 170 million anti-American Muslims grows more fragile by the day, the save-the-Taliban elements in the Pakistani intelligence services and body politic will avoid taking serious action against "their" terrorists (while theatrically annoying Taliban elements they can't control). The Pakistanis think Obama would lose Afghanistan - and they believe they can reap the subsequent whirlwind.
* Iran. Got nukes? If the Iranians are as far along with their nuclear program as some reports insist, expect a mushroom cloud above an Iranian test range next year. Even without nukes, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would try the new administration's temper in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.
* Israel. In the Middle East, Obama's election would be read as the end of staunch US support for Israel. Backed by Syria and Iran, Hezbollah would provoke another, far-bloodier war with Israel. Lebanon would disintegrate.
* Saudi Arabia. Post-9/11 attention to poisonous Saudi proselytizing forced the kingdom to be more discreet in fomenting terrorism and religious hatred abroad. Convinced that Obama will be more "tolerant" toward militant Islam, the Saudis would redouble their funding of bigotry and butchery-for-Allah - in the US, too.
* Russia. Got Ukraine? Not for long, slabiye Amerikantsi. Russia's new czar, Vladimir Putin, intends to gobble Ukraine next year, assured that NATO will be divided and the US can be derided. Aided by the treasonous Kiev politico Yulia Timoshenko - a patriot when it suited her ambition, but now a Russian collaborator - the Kremlin is set to reclaim the most important state it still regards as its property. Overall, 2009 may see the starkest repression of freedom since Stalin seized Eastern Europe.
* Georgia. Our Georgian allies should dust off their Russian dictionaries.
* Venezuela. Hugo Chavez will intensify the rape of his country's hemorrhaging democracy and, despite any drop in oil revenue, he'll do all he can to export his megalomaniacal version of gun-barrel socialism. He'll seek a hug-for-the-cameras meet with President Obama as early as possible.
* Bolivia. Chavez client President Evo Morales could order his military to seize control of his country's dissident eastern provinces, whose citizens resist his repression, extortion and semi-literate Leninism. President Obama would do nothing as yet another democracy toppled and bled.
* North Korea. North Korea will expect a much more generous deal from the West for annulling its pursuit of nuclear weapons. And it will regard an Obama administration as a green light to cheat.
* NATO. The brave young democracies of Central and Eastern Europe will be gravely discouraged, while the appeasers in Western Europe will again have the upper hand. Putin will be allowed to do what he wants.
* The Kurds. An Obama administration will abandon our only true allies between Tel Aviv and Tokyo.
* Democracy activists. Around the world, regressive regimes will intensify their suppression - and outright murder - of dissidents who risk their lives for freedom and justice. An Obama administration will say all the right things, but do nothing.
* Women's rights. If you can't vote in US elections, sister, you're screwed. Being stoned to death or buried alive is just a cultural thing.
* Journalists. American journalists who've done everything they can to elect Barack Obama can watch as regimes around the world imprison, torture and murder their foreign colleagues, confident that the US has entered an era of impotence. The crocodile tears in newsrooms will provide drought relief to the entire southeastern US.
Sen. John McCain's campaign has allowed a great man to be maligned as a mere successor to George W. Bush. The truth is that an Obama administration would be a second Carter presidency - only far worse.
Think Bush weakened America? Just wait.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: October 22, 2008, 05:35:35 PM
"This just demonstrates how corrupt and immoral Chicago and academics are" Gee, one of my best friends went to
the University of Chicago Law School. I don't think he's corrupt or immoral and he seemed to like and respect
most of his teachers. Another friend went to Northwestern. She loved it and raves about the school and
the professors she had. Note, she is a registered Republican and quite conservative. I think your statement is absurd
about Chicago and academia.
"... academia is nothing but leftist indoctrination. ..." Actually, I think academia represents all aspects (as it should)
of politics and religion. Most of my teachers happened to be toward the right.
**When and where was this?**
"Not convicted does not mean "innocent". Actually it does. We have a basic right of being presumed "innocent" until convicted.
Being in Law Enforcement I thought you would know that.
**Just because someone has not been convicted does not mean they didn't commit the crime, it means they haven't been convicted in the criminal justice system. I've been face to face with lots of criminals that evaded conviction by claiming "not guilty by reason of insanity" for all sorts of horrific things. It sure doesn't mean they didn't do the crime, but they are not guilty by the legal standard. Al Capone was never convicted of murder, though he committed many.**
"... could not get even a minimal security clearance for a low level job, ..." I noticed this ridiculous statement making the rounds
on conservative talk shows and blogs; it's all conjecture and not true to my knowledge. Or do you have an unbiased factual source (I know that's hard
for you GM) to indicate otherwise.
**If you understood the background vetting process for federal employment and or law enforcement, you'd know this is indeed true.**
And actually it seems it's McCain when he gets "in a position of power" who is going to "save my house"; redo the loan and let the taxpayers eat the loss.
Even Obama is not that "liberal"; Obama suggested that the banks who made the bad loan eat the loss; makes sense to me and/or let the
homebuyer (who never should have bought the house in the first place) move out. Why is the taxpayer going to lower mortgages for deadbeats?
You made a deal; stick to it. And now you want to void the deal and reward deadbeats with taxpayer money? This is the Republican philosophy?
Not my philosophy.
So please address your minimization of domestic terrorism. Do you do so for all domestic terrorists, or do you favor some over others?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: October 22, 2008, 10:34:11 AM
Justice Department Reopens Civil Rights Cases
The Justice Department has decided to prosecute about a dozen civil rights cases that are decades old. A guest explains why.
RAY SUAREZ: For many of the families of the beaten victims, the lynched and murdered during the 1960s civil rights movement, it's been justice delayed and denied, in some cases for 50 years.
State and federal law enforcement officials have successfully prosecuted several decades-old civil rights cases in recent years. In January, former Ku Klux Klan member James Seale was indicted for the kidnappings and murders of Charles Moore and Henry Dee in Meadville, Mississippi, in 1964.
But there are still hundreds of crimes for which no one was ever prosecuted. Now the Justice Department has announced a new initiative to reopen investigations into those so-called cold cases.
At a press conference last month in Washington, FBI Director Robert Mueller explained why, after so much time, it was still important to search for answers.
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI Director: In too many instances, the truth has been hidden for too long. Many individuals have, quite literally, gotten away with murder.
We cannot turn back the clock. We cannot right these wrongs. But we can try to bring a measure of justice to those who remain.
We know that some memories may fade, some evidence may be lost, and some witnesses may pass away. We know that, no matter how much work we devote to an investigation, we may not always get the result that we're hoping for. But in other cases, we will.
RAY SUAREZ: The unprosecuted cases include those of Lamar Smith, who was shot dead on the lawn of a Brookhaven, Miss., courthouse in 1955. Despite several eyewitness accounts of the shooting, no one was ever arrested.
William Lewis Moore was shot and killed in Attalla, Ala., in 1963, during a one-man march against segregation. Ballistics tests proved the identity of the gun owner, but no one was indicted.
And O'Neal Moore, a deputy sheriff in Bogalusa, La., was gunned down in his patrol car in 1965. Authorities arrested one suspect but released him two weeks later.
It's unclear which cases will be prosecuted first, but the Justice Department says several investigations are already under way.
Difficulty of pursuing old cases
RAY SUAREZ: For more now on reviving these investigations, we're joined by Jerry Mitchell, investigative reporter for the Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi. He's been covering the efforts to prosecute civil rights-era cases for some two decades.
Jerry Mitchell, it also appears that, in addition to government and traditional law enforcement involvement, you've got outsiders who are feeding information to these investigative bodies.
JERRY MITCHELL, The Clarion-Ledger: It's very true, and it's kind of been happening that way for some time, kind of in a piecemeal effort rather than some kind of centralized effort, with each jurisdiction kind of working on these cases.
You have families who have pushed these authorities to go forward with the cases and others, the media, for example. That's how this thing has kind of happened over all this time.
RAY SUAREZ: Now, I understand the attention has coalesced around some 74 cases, but, surprisingly, some of those cases are around 60 years old. What's the likelihood of finding a likely suspect, much less finding one who's still alive?
JERRY MITCHELL: It's going to be very difficult. I think in probably the majority of these cases, they probably are not going to be able to bring a case. Either suspects are going to be dead, witnesses are going to be dead, the trail's going to be just simply too cold, unfortunately.
Looking for evidence, witnesses
RAY SUAREZ: And did law enforcement agencies in those days take the kind of care of preserving chains of evidence, preserving photographs and footprint molds and that kind of thing?
JERRY MITCHELL: Well, at times. Not universally all didn't, but law enforcement has improved dramatically since those days. Now, the FBI did thoroughly investigate some of these cases, and, obviously, we have those photographs and things like that. The Mississippi burning case, the killings of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney, there's something like 40,000 pages of documents, as well as photographs.
RAY SUAREZ: Now, a lot of people have talked about the trail going cold on some of these cases, but conversely, after this amount of time, are there people who are more willing to talk today than they were then?
JERRY MITCHELL: Absolutely. You have some of these Klansmen who have been afraid to come forward, who were Klansmen, say, in those days, and maybe are willing to come forward now. They want to, you know, rid their consciences of this guilt or whatever else they're feeling.
And so I think, definitely, there are converse things that happen, in terms of some positive, some negative, in terms of bringing these cases about.
Success rates for convictions
RAY SUAREZ: Now, some of the most notorious cases from those days have been retried decades later. But haven't there also been cases where grand juries have been unwilling to indict or juries unwilling to convict?
JERRY MITCHELL: There's been quite a bit of success in bringing these cases overall, I'd say. There have been 29 different killings from the civil rights era have been reexamined. There have been 27 arrests and overall there's been 22 convictions. So that's a pretty good ratio.
RAY SUAREZ: In some of the towns involved, people have been of more than one mind about whether this was worth doing.
JERRY MITCHELL: Absolutely.
RAY SUAREZ: One elderly attorney said, "Everybody thinks those days are behind us and we're moving forward in the correct direction." One African-American young man said, "Look, this kind of thing wouldn't happen today. I'm not sure we need to go back to those times."
JERRY MITCHELL: Right.
RAY SUAREZ: Why do this?
JERRY MITCHELL: Well, I think there are several reasons. One is, you know, there's no statute of limitations on murder, and there's a reason for that. There's a reason that murder doesn't have a statute of limitation, because information may come about -- you know, in Indiana, the daughter of a man who committed murder came forward after several decades. She was a child at the time.
You have, also, you know, the families themselves. I know I was talking to one woman one time whose daughter had been murdered -- it was not a civil rights activist. It was a white woman. And she had told me, "Why are you writing about these cases all the time? Why don't you just leave it alone?"
And she mentioned about her daughter being murdered, and the man she believed was the killer had been acquitted. So he couldn't be tried again. And I said, "Well, how would you feel if he could be tried again?" She said, "Well, I'd be all for it." And I said, "Well, don't you think these families feel the same way?"
RAY SUAREZ: Beyond the 74 that are the now-focus of this cold case squad, are there tens, dozens, scores more of these unexplained killings that we'll, in fact, never know what happened?
JERRY MITCHELL: Unfortunately, yes. I mean, I know that the Southern Poverty Law Center, they have, I think, a list of about 127 killings that we know of, and some of those we just have a name and maybe a date. We know very little more than that.
And so, obviously, those kind of cases are going to be extremely difficult to resurrect and bring about. But then there are the others that we know nothing about that didn't even make the list, unfortunately.
RAY SUAREZ: And, Jerry Mitchell, thanks for joining us.
JERRY MITCHELL: Thank you
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: October 22, 2008, 10:15:36 AM
"Bill Ayers and his wife were prime suspects" Heck I think anyone with long hair back then was a "prime suspect" to the police.**It appears that despite the fact that Obama couldn't get even a minimal security clearance for a low level federal job, many are willing to overlook his many serious character issues and connections to avowed enemies of this nation because he's "gonna save their house", then I guess we deserve what we'll get from putting him in a position of power.**
**The problem is you don't think. Ayers co-founded a terrorist group and wishes he'd "done more" terrorist acts. The group he helped found murdered cops and set off bombs.**
Note, the fact remains Ayers was never convicted of any crime.
**Neither has Bin Laden. Does this mean he has a tenure track position waiting for him?**
And how many years ago was this???
**No statute of limitations on murder. Just like the Klansmen that killed civil rights activists even earlier, justice can take decades but still comes calling. Would you minimize those deaths from that domestic terrorist group just as readily as you minimize the deaths from the Weather Underground?**
And whatever his past, Ayers is now and has been for a number of years a very respected professor and member of Chicago's academic elite.
**This just demonstrates how corrupt and immoral Chicago and academia are.**
If you are in Chicago of course you know this guy and perhaps have had interaction. I bet the list is long of respected people in Illinois who have had
contact with Ayers. For that matter I bet I could go to Harvard and find a few professors with a nefarious past. Just think of all the future leaders
of business and our country who might be influenced by these radicals. Shocking huh?
**That's part of the problem, most of academia is nothing but leftist indoctrination. Outside of the hard sciences, most academics are various shades of red.**
So what is your point? As the officer in the story pointed out, Ayers was innocent.
**Not convicted does not mean "innocent".**
Does the voting public even care? Rather I think they care about the economy, keeping their house, the war,...
Odd, McCain/Palin would rather talk about Ayers than the economy. Is it because McCain/Palin are losing?
Desperate people do desperate things; that doesn't make it right or logical.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Survey on bare knuckle punching
on: October 22, 2008, 09:49:33 AM
The Fist Reflex
An involuntary discharge experiment conducted by International Defensive Tactics and Research Foundation (I.D.T.) between December 1991 and September 1993 showed that being trained to use your fists may lead to having an involuntary discharge.
Phil Messina, President of Modern Warrior® Defensive Tactics Institute states, "The fist reflex is a response which occurs when an individual psychologically associates making a fist with high stress confrontational situations".
All experiment participants were police officers, male and female with an average time in service of three and one half years. No Modern Warrior® students were permitted to participate. One group struck heavy bags at a minimum of 800 strikes with their fists, the second group struck heavy bags at a minimum of 800 strikes with open hands and the third group just did the final stress simulation. The final simulation consisted of having an officer enter a smoke filled room, where the smoke has an odor and taste, strobe lights are on, the terrain is obstructed and wind is created by the use of high speed fans. All senses are overloaded. Suddenly gunshots go off (on tape) and a figure comes running at the officer waving hands and screaming. The figure runs into the officer unless the officer moves away. This scenarios purpose is to stress out the officer enough to cause an involuntary discharge of the officer´s firearm.
Each group had 50 participants. From the fist group there were 18 involuntary discharges. Nine of those officers had their finger off trigger prior to discharge. From the non-fist group there were 3 involuntary discharges, with 2 finger off trigger prior to discharge. From the control group 1 finger off trigger prior to discharge.
"Post Experiment interviews strongly indicated that a high percentage of participants who had involuntary discharges had studied martial arts emphasizing fisted strikes. Boxers were foremost in this category," said Messina.
Based partially on these experiments Modern Warrior® DT Institute has taken all fisted strikes out of their Police Defensive Tactics curriculum and replaced them with palm strikes and other open handed alternatives when counter striking becomes necessary.
Using fisted strikes as the primary hand technique of police defensive tactics training is a perfect example of how sport martial arts influence police training. Many DT Instructors have a boxing or karate background, they teach what they like to do. Defensive tactics has to be based on what law enforcement officers will encounter in the field, not what an instructor encountered in the ring. The primary strike should make sense for police work. The primary hand technique for law enforcement should be the palm strike. - GD
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Survey on bare knuckle punching
on: October 22, 2008, 09:46:17 AM
Modern Warrior® Articles
To Punch or Not to Punch, That is the Question!
by George Demetriou
It´s not uncommon. Police officer attempts to arrest suspect, suspect violently resists, officer delivers punch to suspect´s head. Officer injures hand. Many officers have broken their hands, and most will say injuries are a reality of the job. Maybe, but what if there was an alternative to punching that was safer and more effective?
Actually there is. The palm strike. It´s the heel of the palm you make contact with, but it´s referred to as a palm strike. To execute a palm strike, its important to have the right hand position. The hand is pulled back as far as possible, locking the wrist and the fingers should be allowed to curl slightly forward. The palm and finger tips should face the target. Contact is made with the very bottom of the palm just before the wrist.
Officer Safety - Palm Strike vs. Fisted Strikes
When knuckles meet skull during a confrontation, the skull will always win. I don´t think anyone will argue that former heavyweight Champ Mike Tyson is an accomplished puncher. When Mr. Tyson punched former Heavyweight contender Mitch Green on the head, Tyson´s hand broke. Neither man wore gloves for the bout. The fight took place on a Harlem street corner. You can see why boxers pay someone good money to tape their hands.
My question to those in law enforcement is: If men who get paid lots of money to punch people, who train constantly to develop their punches, break their hands in street fights what makes you think it won´t happen to you?
Strong hand injuries are the number one arrest-related injury in police work. This will continue as long as defensive tactics are strongly influenced by martial arts (this includes boxing) that emphasize fisted strikes.
"The most common injury occurs when you strike with the last two knuckles. The 5th metacarpal breaks (between the knuckles of the middle finger and pinkie), commonly referred to as a boxer´s fracture," states James Prattas, MD of Metropolitan Hospital in NYC. Dr. Prattas, also a martial artist stated, "I can´t think of any reason to strike with a fist over using a palm strike."
"A fracture will take 6-8 weeks to heal, while a sprain (tear in ligament) could take up to 6 months to heal. Rehabilitation could take 3-4 months, according to Faye Grant, a Registered Occupational Therapist, from the Hand Therapy Center, in Floral Park, NY.
Police officers who seriously injured their hands during a violent confrontation were asked if they thought they could get a solid grip on their firearms after the injury. The answer was sometimes, "I don´t know," but most often just, "No."
"Grip strength comes from the ulnar side (pinky side) of the hand. A boxer´s fracture would significantly affect your grip. Try to hold anything with a handle without using your fourth finger," says Stuart Kandel, Orthopedic Surgeon from Bay Shore, NY. "It would be much easier to disarm an officer who received this fracture."
The Medical Doctors, Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists the author interviewed all agreed that with the palm strike done correctly the chances of injuring the hand are slim. "The position of Maximum Boney stability in the hand is the close-pack position which is full extension of the hand. Full extension of the hand is the palm strike position," according to Bill Partridge, Physical Therapist of Nassau/Suffolk Physical Therapy in Syosset, NY.
Taking shooting and/or firearm retention into consideration, the palm strike seems to be the logical choice of strikes.
Another serious health related problem we have to consider is cutting the knuckles on the perpetrator´s teeth. Punches are usually directed to the head area including the face. The mouth is something you definitely want to avoid. However the teeth may be struck inadvertently. "Everyone you encounter violently has AIDS, until proven otherwise, humans have the most infectious mouths, once you break skin you are introducing all those germs to your body", says Dr. Prattas. "The heel of the palm making impact with the mouth distributes contact area equally making it difficult to break skin if the teeth are struck. With a punch, one knuckle may hit the teeth, breaking skin easily." "The skin on the Dorsal side (top of the hand) is easily cut because it is very thin. The opposite is true of the skin on the palm," says O.T.R. Faye Grant.
According to Dr. Kandel, "When you open your hand from a fist tendons pull back. If the knuckles are cut when a full taut fist strikes teeth the act of opening the hand pulls bacteria in. Serious infection can set in 24-48 hours later".
Germs do not fester as easily in the fleshy palm of the hand as they do in the knuckles. There have been cases where cuts caused by human teeth on knuckles resulted in the hand being surgically removed to stop the spread of Gangrene.
Effectiveness of Palm Strikes
The palm strike is safe for the officer to use, but it´s also quite effective. A palm strike done on a slightly upward angle has a tremendous amount of leverage. One need only to strike a heavy bag suspended from a stand or ceiling to see this. Compare the reactions of the bag when you punch or palm strike. There´s a more violent jump in the bag when you palm strike.
Punches have a primary effect on the target struck. A punch to the head will usually affect the area the knuckles made contact with. Palm strikes have a secondary effect. A palm strike to the head won´t cause much damage to the contact point, but will have an effect on the neck and usually jars the body. A palm strike done under the chin will often produce a one shot knock-out due to the whip lash effect. A palm strike anywhere to the head area will almost always affect balance, because the strike will take the assailant´s ears out of line with his hips. This opens up other parts of the body for combinations or a takedown. The palm strike can be used effectively to the head, body, hip socket and knees. Punches are best used against muscular parts of the body to avoid injury to the puncher. Palm strikes are good to grab off of and make it easier to strike someone with an object in your hand. You never know when you´ll get caught having to strike while you are holding your radio and firearm.
Another nice bonus of palm strikes is they don´t seem as violent as clenching your fist and striking someone. Having your hands open will make the strike to appear a push to the untrained eye. Palm strikes will go over better than punches on the evening news.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena
on: October 22, 2008, 09:03:24 AM
**I know that the current narrative from the left/MSM is that the Weather Underground was just a youthful indiscretion to be ignored. Just a reminder of who they killed.**
Weather Underground: Honoring the Cops They Killed
From left: Sergeant Brian McDonnell, Officer Waverly Brown, Sergeant Edward O'Grady
Chris Cosgriff / PoliceLink
October 13, 2008
Editor’s Note: With the recent headlines mentioning the Weather Underground, the focus has been on who said what and who did what when. What has been overlooked, and seemingly forgotten, is the sacrifice of three real American heroes. This article’s only purpose is to honor those three fallen heroes.
If you’ve been keeping up with the presidential race then you’ve likely heard mention the accusations and denials from both campaigns about alleged ties between Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president, and Bill Ayers. Plenty has been written about their relationship from both sides of the campaign, and I have absolutely no interest in exploring that relationship further.
I am interested only in honoring the memories of three fallen police officers and holding responsible those who actually planned and committed these murderous attacks against the American people and our criminal justice system.
Ayers, who has long held a position as a college professor in Chicago, has a surprisingly nefarious past. He happens to be the founder of a domestic terrorist group called the Weather Underground, which he has written about extensively in his own memoir, Fugitive Days: A Memoir.
The Weather Underground was responsible for bombing several government targets throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, including the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, and a building used by the New York City Police Department. To finance their domestic terrorism activities the group also conducted “traditional” robberies, which occasionally led to murder.
What you don’t usually hear in modern-day news coverage of the group, is that three of those murders were of police officers killed in the line of duty.
On February 16, 1970, a bomb exploded at a San Francisco, California, Police Department substation, fatally wounding Sergeant Brian McDonnell. McDonnell died of his wounds two days later. A second officer, Robert Fogarty was partially blinded by the bomb’s shrapnel. Although the case has never officially been solved, members of the Weather Underground, including Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, were prime suspects.
On October 20, 1981, several members of the Weather Underground undertook the robbery of a bank to finance their terrorist activities. During the robbery the group murdered an armored car guard and two members of the Nyack, New York, Police Department – Officer Waverly Brown and Sergeant Edward O’Grady,. a Vietnam War veteran. Unlike with Sergeant McDonnell’s murder, this case was quickly solved and several members of the group were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
Sergeant McDonnell, Officer Brown, and Sergeant O’Grady were just three of over a dozen law enforcement officers killed by radical, domestic terrorist groups during the 1970s and 1980s. Their memories may be forgotten by those who killed them and walk free – whether through lack of arrest and prosecution in McDonnell’s case or having served their sentences in Brown’s and O’Grady’s cases – but they will never be forgotten by their brothers and sisters in law enforcement.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: October 22, 2008, 08:34:43 AM
The increasingly erratic, super-gaffetastic Joe Biden
by Michelle Malkin
If the prospect of Joe Biden sitting a heartbeat away from the presidency doesn’t give you palpitations, you are not paying attention.
Hysterical Sarah Palin-bashers on the unhinged left and elitist right have dominated campaign press coverage and pop culture. They’ve ridiculed her family, her appearance, and her speech patterns. They’ve derided her character, her parenting skills, her readiness, and her intellect.
Meanwhile, the increasingly erratic, super-gaffetastic Joe Biden gets a pass. What does the guy have to do to earn the relentless scrutiny and merciless mockery he deserves? Answer: Wear high heels, shoot caribou, and change the “D” next to his name to an “R.”
Team Obama is hammering John McCain as “erratic” in the closing days of the election campaign. There are now 615,000 Google hits and counting using the search terms “erratic McCain.” Last week, the New York Times devoted an entire article to the Obama-Biden line of attack, titled “In Friendly Region, Biden Cites McCain as Erratic.”
Who’s erratic? Throughout the primary and general election cycles, Biden has lurched from attacking Obama as not-ready-for-primetime (“The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training,” September 2007) to ready-to-lead (“Barack Obama is ready. This is his time,” August 2008) and back again. This week, Biden warned America that an Obama victory would invite a dangerous global showdown between tyrants and the naïf Obama. “Mark my words,” Biden said Sunday at a Democratic fund-raiser. “It will not be six months [after the inauguration] before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.” In a follow-up appearance, he told followers to brace for the worst and “gird your loins.”
Out of Biden’s mouth, this is called candor. Out of anyone else’s mouth, it would be “fear-mongering,” “negative campaigning,” and a “distraction.”
Tooting his own horn while vandalizing his running mate’s, Biden bragged: “I’ve forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know.” Yeah. Colleagues like that guy who had a mere 143 days of Senate experience before launching his presidential bid and choosing you to shore up his meager credibility, Joe.
In fact, Biden has spent the entire campaign questioning his running mate’s judgment. Last month, he mused out loud: “Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more than I am to be vice president of the United States of America…She is easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America and quite frankly it might have been a better pick than me.” Biden assailed the campaign’s position on clean coal, openly criticized the campaign’s idiotic ad attacking John McCain for not using e-mail, and warned the pro-gun control Obama that “if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he’s got a problem.”
Dan Quayle will have “POTATOE” etched on his gravestone. But how many times have late-night comedians and cable shows replayed the video of senior statesman and six-term Sen. Biden’s own spelling mishap last week while attacking John McCain’s economic plan?
“Look, John’s last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S.”
No, Joe. “D’-O-H” is a three-letter-word.
Nightly news shows still haven’t tired of replaying Sarah Palin’s infamous interview with Katie Couric. But how many times have they replayed Joe Biden’s botched interview with Couric last month – in which he cluelessly claimed: “When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.’”
Er, here’s what really happened: Roosevelt wasn’t president when the market crashed in 1929. As for appearing on TV, it was still in its infant stages and wasn’t available to the general public until at least ten years later.
During the lone VP debate earlier this month, the increasingly erratic, super-gaffetastic Joe Biden demonstrated more historical ignorance that Sarah Palin would never have been able to get away with: “Vice President Cheney’s been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history,” Biden said. “He has the idea he doesn’t realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the executive — he works in the executive branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.”
Article 1 of the Constitution defines the role of the legislative branch, not the executive branch. You would think someone who has served 36 years in government – the same someone who is quick to remind others of his high IQ and longtime Senate Judiciary Committee chairmanship – would know better.
Joe Biden’s erratic and gaffe-tastic behavior is the least of America’s worries. He’s worse than a blunderbuss. He’s an incurable narcissist with chronic diarrhea of the mouth. He’s a phony and a pretender who fashions himself a foreign policy expert, constitutional scholar, and wordly wise man. He’s a man who can’t control his impulses.
And he could be a heartbeat away. Now, back to your regularly scheduled Palin-says-“You Betcha” skit.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
on: October 18, 2008, 02:35:29 PM
October 18, 2008, 7:00 a.m.
Joe the Plumber vs. Joe the Hair-Plugger
Put that in your pipe and solder it.
By Mark Steyn
Give a man enough rope line and he’ll hang himself. There was His Serene Majesty President-designate Barack the Healer working the crowd at some or other hick burg, and halfway down the rope up pops a plumber to express misgivings about the incoming regime’s tax plans.
Supposedly, under the Obama tax plan, 95 per cent of the American people will get a tax cut. You’d think that at this point the natural skepticism of any sentient being other than six-week-old puppies might kick in, but apparently not. If you’re wondering why Obama didn’t simply announce that under his plan 112 per cent of the American people will get a tax cut, well, they ran it past the focus groups who said that that was all very generous but they’d really like it if he could find a way to stick it to Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove and whatnot. So 95 per cent it is.
By the way, like the nightly news shows, this column now has an exclusive lavishly funded Fact Check Unit set up at great expense (a colorful graphic with the words “FACT CHECK ALERT!”) in a lame attempt to pass off our transparent political bias as some sort of scientific exercise. Our accredited credentialed licensed expert Fact Checkers from the University of Factology in the Czech Republic are standing by to rigorously Fact Check the candidate’s claims. We check facts so you don’t have to. All you have to do is sign up to our Fact-Check-Me-Now! service and we’ll send you a daily Fact Check on your Facts Machine, which costs only $79.95 from Radio Shack (sorry, no checks).
Anyway, our Fact Check Unit ran the numbers on the Obama tax-cut plan and the number is correct: “95.” It’s the words “per cent” immediately following that are wrong: that’s a typing error accidentally left in from the first draft. It should read: Under the Obama plan, 95 of the American people will get a tax cut.
Joe the Plumber expressed his misgivings about the President-in-waiting’s tax inclinations, and the O-Man smoothly reassured him: “It’s not that I want to punish your success,” he told the bloated plutocrat corporate toilet executive. “I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
In that sentence about you spreading the wealth around, there’s another typing error: that “you” should read “I, Barack.” “You” will have no say in it. Joe the Plumber might think he himself can spread it around just fine, but everyone knows “trickle-down economics” don’t work. So President-presumptive Obama kindly explained the new exquisitely condescending “talking-down economics:” Put that in your pipe and solder it.
Evidently the O-Mighty One was not happy after his encounter with Joe. He’s still willing to talk to Ahmadinejad without preconditions. But never again will he talk to Joe the Plumber without preconditions. Outraged at the way the right-wing whackos were talking up Joe the Plumber as if he were an authentic regular Joe like Joe Biden, the O-Bots of the media swung into action. Vast regiments of investigate reporters were redeployed from the Wasilla Holiday Inn back to the Lower 48.
“We need you down here checking out this Joe the Plumber,” editors barked to journalists.
“But I’m this close to wrapping up the Wasilla Town Library banned-book investigation!”
“Forget it! The Atlantic Monthly is claiming Joe the Plumber is Trig’s real father. We can’t get behind on this. Get to Minneapolis Airport. Joe the Plumber was seen in the bathroom with Senator Larry Craig.”
“Yes, but he was installing a stopcock…”
“Look, you went to Columbia School of Journalism. This is what we bold courageous journalists do. We’re the conscience of the nation. We speak truth to plumber.”
“Er, shouldn’t that be ‘Speak truth to power’?”
“That’s the old edition of the handbook. Now we speak truth to power-tool operators. Joe the Carpenter, Joe the Plasterer, Joe the Electrician… When you’re building utopia, you don’t want any builders getting in the way.”
Alas, as a result of this massive investment of journalistic resouces, no investigative reporter will be free to investigate ACORN voter-registration fraud or Obama’s ties to terrorist educator William Ayers until, oh, midway through his second term at least.
Under the headline “Is ‘Joe The Plumber’ A Plumber? That’s Debatable”, John Seewer of the Associated Press triumphantly revealed that Joe is not a “licensed” plumber. In fact, he doesn’t need to be licensed for the residential plumbing he does, but isn’t that just typical of Bush-McCain insane out-of-control deregulation? It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that most of these subprime homeowners got Joe in to plumb their subprime bathrooms. Next thing you know, the entire global economy goes down the toilet. Coincidence?
Joe is now the most notorious plumber in American politics since the Watergate plumbers. And they weren’t licensed, either. It turns out Joe doesn’t even make 250 grand, and it’s only the 250-thousand-a-year types who’ll be paying more (please, no tittering) under Good King Barack. Joe Biden — that’s Joe the Bluecollar Senator — said that he didn’t know any 250,000-dollars plumbers in his neighborhood, or even in the first-class club car on Amtrak he rides every night to demonstrate his bluecollar bonafides. On Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer emphasized this point, anxious to give the apostate plumber one last chance to go with the flow:
“Well, I just want to ask you now about the issue that was raised, because it’s been a little confusing to me as I try to sort it out here. To get straight here, you’re not taking home $250,000 now, am I right?”
“No. No. Not even close,” confessed Joe.
So what’s he got to be worried about?
The heart of the American Dream is aspiration. That’s why people came here from all over the world. Back in eastern Europe, the Joe Bidens and Diane Sawyers of the day were telling Joe the Peasant: “Hey, look, man. You’re a peasant in the 19th century, just like your forebears were peasants in the 12th century and your descendants will be peasants in the 26th century. So you’re never gonna be earning 250 groats a year. Don’t worry about it. Leave it to us. We know better.” And Joe the Peasant eventually figured that one day he’d like to be able to afford the Premium Gruel with just a hint of arugula and got on the boat to Ellis Island. Because America is the land where a guy who doesn’t have a 250-grand business today might just have one in five or ten years’ time.
I’m with Joe the Plumber, not Joe the Hair-Plugger. He’s articulated the animating principles of America better than anyone on either side in this campaign. Which is why the O-Bots need to destroy him. As Obama’s catchphrase goes:
“Joe the Plumber!
Can we fix him?
Joe the Plumber!
Yes, we can!”
For the record, I am not a government-licensed pundit. But I expect they’ll fix that, too.
© Mark Steyn 2008
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTUzMWU1ZDExNzM5ZDFkZmIyMDYxYTk3ZjhjYTdlZjI=
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101
on: October 17, 2008, 11:49:57 PM
Special Dispatch Series - No. 2085
October 17, 2008 No. 2085
Muslim Brotherhood Website: Jihad Against Non-Muslims Is Obligatory
On a website devoted to Ramadhan, the Muslim Brotherhood posted a series of articles by Dr. Ahmad 'Abd Al-Khaleq about Al-Walaa Wa'l-Baraa, an Islamic doctrine which, in its fundamentalist interpretation, stipulates absolute allegiance to the community of Muslims and total rejection of non-Muslims and of Muslims who have strayed from the path of Islam.
In his articles, the writer argues that according to this principle, a Muslim can come closer to Allah by hating all non-Muslims - Christians, Jews, atheists, or polytheists - and by waging jihad against them in every possible manner.
For full report, visit http://www.memriiwmp.org/content/en/report.htm?report=2877
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 16, 2008, 08:26:10 PM
|**What of Samantha Power's plan for Israel? **http://sandbox.blog-city.com/speaking_truth_to_power.htm
Speaking truth to Power
posted Monday, 3 March 2008
Samantha Power is the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide, and she has a professorship at Harvard (in something called "Global Leadership and Public Policy"). She is also a senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama. This isn't an honorific: she has worked for Obama in Washington, she has campaigned for him around the country, and she doesn't hesitate to speak for him. This morning, the Washington Post has a piece on Obama's foreign policy team, identifying her (and retired Maj. Gen. Scott Garion) as "closest to Obama, part of a group-within-the-group that he regularly turns to for advice." Power and Garion "retain unlimited access to Obama." This morning's New York Times announces that Power has an "irresistable profile" and "she could very well end up in [Obama's] cabinet."
She also has a problem: a corpus of critical statements about Israel. These have been parsed by Noah Pollak at Commentary's blog Contentions, by Ed Lasky and Richard Baehr at American Thinker, and by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.
Power made her most problematic statement in 2002, in an interview she gave at Berkeley. The interviewer asked her this question:
Let me give you a thought experiment here, and it is the following: without addressing the Palestine-Israel problem, let’s say you were an advisor to the President of the United States, how would you respond to current events there? Would you advise him to put a structure in place to monitor that situation, at least if one party or another [starts] looking like they might be moving toward genocide?
Power gave an astonishing answer:
What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially mean sacrificing—or investing, I think, more than sacrificing—billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.
Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. It’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Friedman has called “Sharafat” [Sharon-Arafat]. I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible. And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention.... Any intervention is going to come under fierce criticism. But we have to think about lesser evils, especially when the human stakes are becoming ever more pronounced.
It isn't too difficult to see all the red flags in this answer. Having placed Israel's leader on par with Yasser Arafat, she called for massive military intervention on behalf of the Palestinians, to impose a solution in defiance of Israel and its American supporters. Billions of dollars would be shifted from Israel's security to the upkeep of a "mammoth protection force" and a Palestinian state—all in the name of our "principles."
This quote has dogged Power, and she has gone to extraordinary lengths to put it behind her. Most notably, she called in the Washington correspondent of the Israeli daily Haaretz, Shmuel Rosner, to whom she disavowed the quote:
Power herself recognizes that the statement is problematic. "Even I don't understand it," she says. And also: "This makes no sense to me." And furthermore: "The quote seems so weird." She thinks that she made this statement in the context of discussing the deployment of international peacekeepers. But this was a very long time ago, circumstances were different, and it's hard for her to reconstruct exactly what she meant.
It must be awful, at such a young age, to lose track of why you recommended the massive deployment of military force, and not that long ago. So let me help Samantha Power: I can reconstruct exactly what she meant.
Power gave the interview on April 29, 2002. This was the tail end of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, Israel's offensive into the West Bank in reaction to a relentless campaign of Palestinian suicide bombings that had killed Israeli civilians in the hundreds. The military operation included the clearing of terrorists from the West Bank city of Jenin (April 3-19). At the time, Palestinian spokespersons had duped much of the international media and human rights community into believing that a massacre of innocent Palestinians had taken place in Jenin. It had not, but the name of Israel had been smeared, particularly in academe. At Harvard, pro-Palestinian activists canvassed the faculty for support of a petition calling on Harvard to divest from Israel. (It was published on May 6.)
Power at the time was executive director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, which she founded in 1999. In 2001, she had recruited a celebrity director for the Carr Center: Michael Ignatieff, a Canadian intellectual and journalist who, like herself, had come to prominence writing about atrocities in the Balkans and Africa. A profile of Ignatieff in March 2002 described the division of labor in the Carr Center: "He shares administrative responsibilities with Samantha Power, the center's executive director. The division of labor works wonderfully, he says: 'She does all the work.'" Power later told a Canadian journalist that "their social relationship was based on three Bs: baseball, bottles and boys. They talked about the Boston Red Sox, of whom she is a fanatic supporter; they spent evenings together 'yelling and laughing' over bottles of wine, and she found him a kind and sympathetic confidant when it came to affairs of the heart."
The Carr Center under this management team generally steered clear of the Middle East. But in that spring of 2002, the pressure to come up with something was very great. Ignatieff, who had been to the Middle East a few times, took the lead. On April 19, 2002, only ten days before Power emitted her "weird" quote, Ignatieff published an op-ed in the London Guardian, under this headline: "Why Bush Must Send in His Troops." I wrote a thorough critique of this piece over five years ago, so I won't repeat my dissection of its flaws. As I showed then, the op-ed includes every trendy calumny against Israel.
More relevant now are Ignatieff's policy conclusions. "Neither side is capable of making peace," he determined, "or even sitting in the same room to discuss it." The United States should therefore move "to impose a two-state solution now."
The time for endless negotiation between the parties is past: it is time to say that all but those settlements right on the 1967 green line must go; that the right of return is incompatible with peace and security in the region and the right must be extinguished with a cash settlement; that the UN, with funding from Europe, will establish a transitional administration to help the Palestinian state back on its feet and then prepare the ground for new elections before exiting; and, most of all, the US must then commit its own troops, and those of willing allies, not to police a ceasefire, but to enforce the solution that provides security for both populations.
Ignatieff ended with a grand flourish:
Imposing a peace of this amplitude on both parties, and committing the troops to back it up, would be the most dramatic exercise of presidential leadership since the Cuban missile crisis. Nothing less dramatic than this will prevent the Middle East from descending into an inferno.
So this was the thrilling idea that swept the Carr Center that April: a "dramatic exercise of presidential leadership," through a commitment of U.S. troops to impose and enforce a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Middle East would be saved. The "amplitude" of this notion made divestment seem small-minded. Samantha Power did not misspeak ten days later in her Berkeley interview. She was retailing a vision she shared with her closest colleague. Power went a bit further than Ignatieff, when she spoke about how this show of presidential courage "might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import." Ignatieff would never have written that. But it was implicit in his text anyway.
So Ignatieff's op-ed was exactly what Power meant. That she should claim no recollection of any of this context seems... weird. Or perhaps not. Remember, Ignatieff wasn't talking about deploying "international peacekeepers," the context Power now suggests for her words. He specifically proposed United States troops, followed by anyone else who was "willing." Their job wouldn't be to keep the peace, but to "enforce the solution." Far better today for Power to have some kind of blackout, than to tell the truth about the "dramatic exercise" she and Ignatieff envisioned.
("Iggy," by the way, left Harvard in 2005 to plunge into Canadian politics, and he is now deputy leader of Canada's opposition Liberal Party. He still has strong views on what Americans should do. "I've worn my heart on my sleeve for a year," he recently announced. "I'm for Obama.")
Is there a conclusion to be drawn from this genealogy of a truly bad policy idea? Ignatieff himself may have hit on it. Last year he published a reflection on what he'd learned since experiencing real (as opposed to academic) politics. "As a former denizen of Harvard," he wrote, "I’ve had to learn that a sense of reality doesn’t always flourish in elite institutions. It is the street virtue par excellence. Bus drivers can display a shrewder grasp of what’s what than Nobel Prize winners."
Just substitute Pulitzer for Nobel
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 15, 2008, 06:20:12 PM
This fifteenth-century-like hatred and prejudice is infuriating and frustrating for Jewish leadership. It is also endless. Egyptian television just finished airing a 41-part series based on the decades-old screed called Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “It was as anti-Semitic as anything you’ve ever seen,” says Zuckerman.
Making and airing a series like the Protocols is, of course, part of an orchestrated strategy by Arab dictators determined to stay in power. “Mubarak and the others try to distract their populations with hostility towards Israel and the Jews,” says Zuckerman. “You simply can’t believe the things they write in the Arab press. We confront them, but what can you do about that?”
Similarly, the outrageous, flamboyantly anti-Israel behavior of the United Nations has routinely dumbfounded Jewish leaders. In recent weeks, the U.N. has condemned Israel for building a fence to keep out suicide bombers and for destroying three empty buildings in Gaza.
“Israel is held to a different standard,” says Zuckerman. “It is not allowed to live like other members of the family of nations any more than individual Jews were allowed to live like everyone else in their individual countries.”
Aside from the occasional specious accusation from the likes of Pat Buchanan, the Jean-Marie Le Pen of America, that Jews are responsible for the war in Iraq, the battle here is being fought mostly on college campuses.
Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident who is Israel’s minister for Jerusalem and diaspora affairs, completed a thirteen-college speaking tour here several weeks ago. He wrote an account of his extraordinary road trip for an Israeli newspaper in which he described being welcomed by robust anti-Israel demonstrations, bomb threats, and pro-Palestinian protesters with signs reading RACIST ISRAEL and WAR CRIMINALS. He was even hit in the face with a pie thrown by a Jewish student screaming, “End the occupation.” But the most discouraging moments were surely those he spent talking to some Jewish grad students at Harvard. They told Sharansky the atmosphere on campus is so overwhelmingly anti-Israel that they’re afraid to speak out in support of the Jewish state. They don’t want to be identified as pro-Israel because they fear being ostracized and having their grades affected.
Alan Dershowitz, who is a professor at Harvard Law School, argues that Sharansky overstated the problem. But listen carefully to how he characterizes it: “We are not losing so badly on the campuses today.”
But he believes it is critical that students know all the facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—not just the version put out by the left. “Remember,” he says, “the goal of the campus divestiture movement is not divestiture but to miseducate an entire generation of students so that in fifteen or twenty years, the leaders of America will be like the leaders of France.”
One thing is clear. The traditional means of battling anti-Semitism are as dated as the rules of conflict that once protected humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross and the United Nations from attack. “The old bag of tricks may work for your donors and for your own self-image as tough guys fighting back,” says David Harris. “But if the bottom line is, are you changing attitudes? Are you reversing images and stereotypes in Europe and the Muslim world? If that’s the measuring stick, then it’s very hard to say any of the organizations have been particularly effective.”
Part of the problem was the element of surprise. Everyone was caught totally off guard by the wave of hostility that spread across Europe. Foxman argues that the ADL never let down its guard either in America or in Europe, but there was a complacency that had settled over Jews. Perhaps it was what some call the golden age of the nineties, when the Israelis and Palestinians, guided by the Oslo accords, appeared headed toward an agreement.
Whatever it was, Foxman says he regularly got into arguments with people telling him it was time for the ADL to close its doors. “ ‘Stop counting swastikas in bathrooms,’ ” he says people told him. “ ‘The threat is assimilation, not anti-Semitism. We should be spending the money on Jewish education.’ ”
The miasma of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism that has settled over much of the world had its genesis at the Camp David–Taba peace talks almost three and a half years ago. Never had the two sides been so close to making a deal on a two-state solution. The deal, which many on both sides never thought they would see, was there for the signing.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians a state on 97 percent of the occupied territories with most of East Jerusalem as its capital. The offer included Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount and $30 billion in compensation for the refugees. Short of removing the state of Israel from the Middle East entirely, the offer was everything the Palestinians had been asking for.
In an interview with reporter Elsa Walsh, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar said he told Arafat that if he didn’t make the deal, it would be a “crime against the Palestinians.” Of course, Arafat not only didn’t make the deal, he walked out of the meeting, got on a plane, and left. No negotiating, no stalling, no attempts to massage the offer. Nothing. He never even made a counterproposal.
Initially, Arafat’s recalcitrance looked like not only a crime against the Palestinian people but a huge public-relations blunder as well. In the U.S., in Europe, and even behind closed doors in the Muslim world, people were quickly turning against him. Slowly, however, a revisionist movement began. A second story line, pushed by people like Clinton aide Robert Malley, emerged. This narrative, prominently promoted in a controversial front-page New York Times article, said the offer wasn’t all it appeared to be. And in any event, there were many reasons Arafat simply could not make the deal: It robbed him of his dignity as a Muslim man because peace was offered not won; it required signing an end-of-conflict clause, which meant the Palestinians would have to give up their dream of all the land.
In addition, the revisionists claimed, negotiations went too fast, Arafat was surprised by the offer, he needed more time, he needed more assurances of cover from the other Arab leaders, and on it went. As chief American negotiator Dennis Ross said, in the final analysis, Arafat couldn’t sign any agreement because “to end the conflict is to end himself.”
“Arafat may have believed the moment had come when he could break Israel,” says Leonard Fein. “And it’s not clear he was wrong. After he walked out at Camp David, he was offered a much better deal at Taba.”
Fein is shocked that after all that has happened since then, a third of Israelis say they approve of the Geneva Accords, the peace agreement worked out by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo. Since neither man holds an official position, the deal, which appears to be even sweeter than the one offered by Ehud Barak at Taba, is theoretical.
“But if I were Arafat,” Fein says, “I’d be breaking out the champagne.”
Shockingly, after Arafat walked out of the negotiations three years ago, he was able to turn world opinion 180 degrees almost overnight by restarting the violence. He revved up the second intifada, and the savagery continues on both sides. But strategically it was a very clever move. He knew he could provoke the Israelis to overreact, and that’s exactly what happened.
Now there were horrific visuals of Israeli soldiers bulldozing houses, shooting at crowds, and generally manhandling and mistreating Palestinians, broadcast round the clock on television all over the Arab world. Prince Bandar said that even though he and Crown Prince Abdullah knew intellectually that the violence was Arafat’s fault, they couldn’t ignore the television images.
The American Jewish Committee’s David Harris was living in Europe at the time, and he remembers how the Palestinian narrative began to take hold. “A kind of quick collective amnesia set in among the Europeans, and at times I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. The people I discussed the issue with largely dismissed, ignored, or relativized the Israeli side of the story.”
Harris believes that embracing the Palestinian story line enabled the Europeans to avoiding facing some difficult questions. Had it been a mistake to support Arafat all along? Why had they been funding Palestinian Authority institutions, including schools that continue to dehumanize Jews and continue to use textbooks and maps that picture a world with no Israel?
Many believe that taking the Palestinian side after Arafat blew up the peace process even provided the Europeans a kind of expiation of their collective Holocaust guilt. According to this view, Israeli violence enabled the Europeans to say, “Look, you are an occupying, colonialist state engaging in war crimes. You no longer have the moral high ground.”
Finally, bashing the Israelis enabled the various governments to try to curry favor with their alienated Muslim populations. “The whole thing just kept spiraling,” Harris says. “And very quickly the story line was this: Israeli violence was unjustified, and therefore they were actually responsible for the Palestinian violence unleashed on them.”
The overarching question is, what to do now? What is the best strategy to deal with the groundswell of hate? Can things be turned around? Paraphrasing Jonathan Swift, Zuckerman says, “You cannot reason people out of what they have not been reasoned into.”
In the Muslim world, the traditional model used by Jewish organizations to fight anti-Semitism is useless. It requires working from the inside by finding sympathetic, like-minded leaders willing to form an alliance for the greater good.
“There are a few ecumenically minded Islamic leaders,” says Harris. “But they’re in the minority, and with only a very few exceptions they tend to be afraid of becoming too public. So without a critical mass of Muslim partners, the best we can do is blow the whistle, shine the spotlight, and urge Western governments to raise the issue.”
In Europe, there are, as bleak as the landscape appears, a few bright spots. French president Jacques Chirac did finally come to the U.S. in September to meet with the leadership of America’s Jewish community; four of his country’s most prominent Jews—David de Rothschild, Ady Steg, Simone Veil, and Roger Cukierman—came with him. Leaders here seem to have mixed emotions about this. I talked to Abe Foxman about the meeting several times, and in our first discussion, he focused on the positive. “He came because he got the message and he cares about what was being said here,” Foxman offered, adding, however, that Chirac waited until long after the national elections in France were over.
“He also came because he believes we have power and influence. It’s the same at the U.N. Even when they’re censuring Israel, leaders of most of the countries are eager to meet with us because they believe in the mythology. They believe the road to Washington is paved through the Jewish community.”
Later, however, Foxman said he was embarrassed for the Jewish leaders the French president brought with him. “It’s not the Middle Ages, where you parade your Jews around and say, ‘See how good everything is?’ ”
Nevertheless, at one of these meetings Roger Cukierman, who is the head of crif, the largest Jewish organization in France, raised a critical issue that most American Jews, at least, are loath to talk about. Cukierman said that the beginning of the anger toward Jews and the explosion of hate in France—which has both the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe—can be pinpointed to September 2000, when Palestinian-Israeli violence restarted in earnest.
Surely it feeds on preexisting anti-Semitism, but there was, J. J. Goldberg says, a new catalyst. “I would argue that it’s not the same anti-Semitism that’s been going on for 2,000 years.”
When Palestinian violence began and Israel sent troops into the West Bank, justifiably or not, it was like putting a match to a dry field, and the fires have been burning out of control ever since.
And the harsh reality is this: Palestinian society is in tatters, the infrastructure has been wrecked, the economy essentially destroyed, and death for the cause has been romanticized as the highest value. But Palestinians are winning the war of perception, with the war played out on television screens across Europe and the Middle East. They are scoring regular world-opinion-changing victories in the media, successfully romanticizing suicide bombers as heroes.
It is possible even Ariel Sharon has begun to get the message. During a Cabinet meeting on November 30, Gideon Meir, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, gave a presentation to Sharon depicting the way Israel is portrayed in the foreign media. “I showed him examples of both distorted coverage and legitimate pictures of bad Israeli behavior,” Meir says, pointing out that the prime minister was appalled by both. “I would not say that everything is anti-Semitism, but these images go a long way towards inflaming hatred of the Jews.”
But of course it’s not just about the media coverage. “Anti-Semitism is being spread through those who teach Islam, and it’s metastasizing,” says Orthodox feminist Blu Greenberg. “It took Christianity 2,000 years to clean up its act and now it’s being taught again through a religious system. I’m frightened for my grandchildren.”
Most American Jewish leaders believe they are up against huge forces around the world and that ultimately they cannot fight this fight alone. “We have to make people understand that anti-Semitism is not a uniquely Jewish problem,” says Harris. “It’s a cancer which left unchecked infects and ultimately kills democratic societies,” he says. “That’s the message we have to get out.”
Find this article at: http://www.nymag.com/nymetro/news/religion/features/n_9622
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 15, 2008, 06:19:09 PM
The Return of Anti-Semitism
Israel has become the flash point—and the excuse—for a global explosion of an age-old syndrome. Why has hating the Jews become politically correct in many places? And what can be done about it?
By Craig Horowitz
Published Dec 8, 2003
On the second floor of the plaza hotel, in a gaudy meeting room with lots of gold-painted wall filigree and faux-Baroque details, about 400 representatives of the Anti-Defamation League from around the country gathered one recent morning for the group’s 90th-anniversary conference.
As they settled in for a sober two-day program reflecting the grim situation Jews find themselves in (speakers included John Ashcroft, Thomas Friedman, and Israel’s ambassador to the U.N.), ADL national director Abraham Foxman rose to give the opening address.
Foxman, a professional noodge who has been sounding the alarm for more than three decades whenever he senses the slightest whiff of anti-Semitism—his new book is Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism—began slowly, talking in an almost melancholy tone about his grandchildren and the uncertain future they face as Jews. But Foxman, who was sheltered during the Holocaust by his Christian nanny, quickly gained momentum and urgency, cataloguing stark examples of what he called “the world’s growing crescendo of irrationality.”
He invoked the shattered glass of Kristallnacht and mentioned Hitler several times, allusions that surely found their target with the mostly middle-aged-and-older crowd. As he has been doing for more than a year now, he described the threat to the safety and security of the Jewish people as being “as great, if not greater, than what we faced in the thirties.”
It was Foxman at his best: passionate, indignant, and connecting naturally with other Jews. His fears are their fears. His hopes for the future are their hopes. The speech clearly resonated with the audience.
But there was one small problem. The centerpiece of the speech, its theme, was misleading. There’s no question these are troubled times. But the notion that Jews in 2003 ought to use the Holocaust as a kind of lens to help them see their current predicament more clearly is, to say the least, problematic. The analogy no longer holds.
“Comparing what’s going on today to the thirties is both wrong and dangerous,” says Alan Dershowitz, who also has a new book, The Case for Israel, which is practically a point-by-point guide for responding to the Jewish state’s critics. “The old labels don’t apply, and the old diagnoses don’t address the problem. They substitute emotion for reason, and we can’t win this war with emotion. We need to look forward. We need to start thinking about the 2030s, not the 1930s.”
The war to which Dershowitz is referring is the global explosion of hate and hostility directed at Israel and at Jews themselves. For the past eighteen months or so, members of the Jewish community—intellectuals, activists, heads of various organizations, and laypeople—have been struggling desperately to find an effective strategy to address the new reality.
It’s been slow going. “The organized Jewish community has just not reacted strongly enough,” says Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America.
Part of the reason for this is that they are facing a new problem, an enemy they haven’t seen before. The stunning result of the burgeoning anti-Israel, anti-Zionist emotion is a kind of politically correct anti-Semitism. Foxman’s analogy to the thirties is right in this respect: It is once again acceptable in polite society, particularly among people with left-of-center political views, to freely express anti-Jewish feelings. What only two or three years ago would have been considered hateful, naked bigotry is now a legitimate political position.
The new p.c. anti-Semitism mixes traditional blame-the-Jews boilerplate with a fevered opposition to Israel. In this worldview, the “Zionist entity” has no legitimacy and as a result no right to do what other nations do, like protect itself and its citizens. It is true that immediately labeling someone anti-Semitic because he criticizes Israel is a long-standing, often bogus tactic that has been used by Jews to stymie debate. The new anti-Semitism, however, is in some sense the inverse problem, with criticism of Israel being a kind of Trojan horse in which age-old anti-Semitic feelings are concealed.
“Israel has become the Jew among nations,” says Mort Zuckerman, who in addition to his media holdings is the former chairman of the Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “It is both the surrogate—the respectable way of expressing anti-Semitism—and the collective Jew.”
The irony here is that Israel, which was supposed to be the solution to centuries of anti-Semitism, is providing a flash point and a kind of cover for p.c. anti-Semitism. Recently, The Forward, the savvy weekly newspaper that focuses on Jewish life here and abroad, published its annual list of the 50 most influential American Jews. In its introduction, in a dramatic public expression of the thing that’s on every Jew’s mind, the paper explained that this year’s list is dominated by people shaping the debate over the most critical question of the day: “Why has the world turned against us, and what is to be done about it?”
For most Jews, certainly those tied to the common-sense-based, moderate political middle, the momentum change is disorienting. How could this have happened when they believed so strongly in all the right things, like ending the occupation and dismantling the settlements? Fair-minded and compassionate, they regularly expressed concern for Palestinian suffering, and they cheered when Ehud Barak made an offer that appeared to finally clinch a peaceful two-state solution.
But when Yasser Arafat walked away from the peace talks and triggered the incomprehensible wave of suicide bombings, events took a very strange turn. First, the violence guaranteed the election of Ariel Sharon. I was in Jerusalem during election week in 2001, and the city was covered with bumper stickers and signs that read ONLY SHARON WILL KEEP US SAFE. The intifada also decimated Israel’s left. Jews everywhere wanted something done. Enough was enough. They wanted a show of force, and they got it.
American Jews felt adrift at first, then angry, as if they’d been betrayed. If their hearts were in the right place, why hadn’t the results been better?
But after a little more than three years, it’s clear the use of force hasn’t worked either. Palestinian violence hasn’t stopped. And the Sharon government’s hard line has generated runaway sympathy for the Palestinians and at least an equal amount of hostility toward the Israelis. Suddenly, Jews find themselves less and less able to claim the moral high ground as they are now cast as the villains in the conflict. No matter what Israel does—negotiate, fight, put up a fence—it only seems to make things worse.
“I feel sick to my stomach,” says writer and activist Leonard Fein. “I go to meetings where despondence is thick on the table. I also feel scared because Israel is rudderless.”
In the classic, angst-laden, self-absorbed, you-shouldn’t-know-from-it comedic tradition of everyone from Lenny Bruce to Larry David, it is a difficult time to be Jewish. Only now it isn’t funny. “Many people in the Jewish community, especially liberals, don’t know what to think,” says J. J. Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Forward. “They feel powerless. They see their hopes and dreams, indeed their world, in flames, and they don’t have any idea what to do about it.”
One critical issue is how much of the resurgent anti-Semitism is the result of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Billionaire George Soros infuriated many in the Jewish community a couple of weeks ago when he was quoted by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency blaming the policies of George Bush and Ariel Sharon for the rise in anti-Semitism. But he is certainly not alone in this view, even among Jews.
“I have no doubt that the occupation and our policies in dealing with the Palestinians are an integral part of the return of anti-Semitism,” says Zeev Sternhell, a political-science professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem who specializes in anti-Semitism.
Most Jewish leaders, however, instinctively respond that blaming Israel is blaming the victim. “It’s not about this or that Israeli policy,” says Malcolm Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a mix of anger and exasperation in his voice. “It’s about Israel’s right to exist.”
Indeed, public opinion has swung so far to the Palestinian side that for the first time in decades, the very legitimacy of a Jewish state has been widely called into question. Columnists in mainstream European newspapers like the Guardian in England and Le Monde in France regularly challenge the validity of Israel and of Zionism.
Even here, serious (albeit leftist) publications like The New York Review of Books have published pieces attempting to revive the notion of a one-state solution. In this scenario, all of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza would become a binational Jewish and Palestinian state, which would, by virtue of the population figures, become a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority in a very short time.
The language of the debate has become so polarized, so grotesquely distorted—words like genocide, apartheid, and fascism are used regularly—that legitimate criticism of Israel is near-impossible to hear.
This is unfortunate, because within Israel and in the diaspora there continues to be disagreement over policy. Sharon remains a divisive figure even at home, where Israelis have begun to tire of his hard line with the Palestinians. Recently, for example, Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli Army’s chief of staff, said that the continuing military pressure on the Palestinians was fueling hatred of Israel. He called for gestures to ease Palestinian hardship and for Israeli leadership to do a better job of trying to work with Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia than it did with his predecessor.
In a piece written for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot and reprinted in The Forward, Avraham Burg, former speaker of Israel’s Knesset and currently a Labor Party Knesset member, lamented, “We were supposed to be a light unto the nations. In this we have failed.”
Even more strikingly, Burg writes later in the piece: “Israel, having ceased to care about the children of the Palestinians, should not be surprised when they come washed in hatred and blow themselves up in the centers of Israeli escapism. They consign themselves to Allah in our places of recreation, because their own lives are torture. They spill their own blood in our restaurants in order to ruin our appetites, because they have children and parents at home who are hungry.”
In the churning swirl of anti-Israel hostility, some of the most powerful World War II imagery has been excruciatingly (for anyone who suffered during the war) co-opted: Israelis have become Nazis committing genocide against the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon is the modern incarnation of Hitler, the Israeli army is the Wehrmacht, or, worse, the SS, and Ramallah and Jenin are Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
The Israelis are racists, imperialists, colonialists. And the suicide bombers, the murderers who pack bombs with nails and razor blades to cause the maximum civilian carnage, are freedom fighters, objects of sympathy and (in some quarters) even admiration, as long as the innocent people they’re killing are Jewish. (Even Avraham Burg’s emotional plea runs the risk of sounding like an apologia for the murderers.)
Israel, the democracy with a freely elected government; Arab representatives in the Knesset; a thriving, often hysterical free press; and a citizenry that is still, after all that’s happened, overwhelmingly in favor of a negotiated two-state solution (two thirds of Israelis are believed to support a two-state solution), is the object of hate, scorn, and revulsion among the left everywhere in the world.
Even in America. At a crisis center called San Francisco Women Against Rape, volunteers are asked to fill out a three-page application. Most of it is what you’d expect, a request for basic personal information and an introduction that says the center is seeking compassionate women who want to support survivors of sexual assault.
But on the last page, the application states that the center believes “it is important to be informed and take action on other social justice struggles.” One of these struggles is “supporting the Palestinian liberation and taking a stance against Zionism. Can you commit to this?”
Since the implosion of peace talks about three years ago, France, England, Germany, Italy, Poland, Greece, and the rest of Europe have all seen a bone-chilling rise in expressions of anti-Semitism. European synagogues are bombed, Jewish schools are torched, and physical attacks on individuals readily identifiable as Jews have become shockingly routine.
In a recent European Union poll, 60 percent of the respondents chose Israel as the country that poses the greatest threat to world peace. In the Netherlands, of all places, where Jewish citizens were steadfastly protected during World War II, 74 percent of the Dutch fingered Israel.
Belgium wanted to try Ariel Sharon for war crimes committed at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. An Oxford professor would not allow an Israeli student in his class because the man had served in the Israeli Army. In Italy, La Stampa ran a front-page cartoon depicting an Israeli tank with its huge gun pointed right at the baby Jesus. The caption read, “Surely they don’t want to kill me again.”
“The Jewish communities of Europe are seen by the public,” says David Harris, head of the American Jewish Committee, “as extensions of and advocates for a regime in Israel that is rapidly losing its legitimacy in the eyes of the intelligentsia, the media, the left, and the anti-globalization crowd. So the question really becomes, how do you fight anti-Semitism in France or Belgium if the image of their Jewish citizens is inextricably linked to Israel? You either change the image or break the link. And there’s no easy answer for doing either.”
Two key factors in the virulent outbreak of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in Europe may be fatigue and fear. People are tired of the Middle East conflict. They’re burned out on the suffering, the killing, and the blood-soaked barrage of bad news. They are also worried about terrorism. Most Western European countries have growing, restive Muslim populations that are having trouble assimilating. Yet they are gaining political power. France has more than 6 million Muslims, and it is no accident that President Jacques Chirac began to crack down on anti-Semitism only after national elections last summer.
Feelings of fatigue and fear were candidly expressed by Daniel Bernard, the French ambassador to England, when he thought he was speaking off the record at a London dinner party in December 2001. He remarked that the world’s current troubles are all because of “that shitty little country Israel.” Undoubtedly expressing the view of many, he asked, “Why should we be in danger of World War III because of these people?”
The problem in Europe seems destined only to get worse over the next several years. “Europe has both an aging population and a low birthrate,” says Mort Zuckerman. “So they need immigration, and Muslims are the primary group coming in.”
In the Muslim world, where anti-Israel and anti-Jewish extremism are hardly news, the speech by outgoing Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad broke new ground. Not since Hitler has a head of state had the gall to take off the rhetorical gloves with such zeal. Addressing the 57 member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference—a group where the sole membership requirement is religion—he called on the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims to defeat the Jews.
“The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them,” he said. The Jews, he continued, “invented socialism, communism, human rights, and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others.”
It is one thing that the leaders of all 57 states gave Mahathir a standing ovation—including those from supposedly moderate states like Egypt and Jordan—but their reactions later, after they had had time to consider what he said, were stunning.
The Egyptian foreign minister said the speech was “a very, very wise assessment.” After making it clear he agreed with everything Mahathir said, Yemen’s foreign minister decided to pile on: “Israelis and Jews control most of the economy and the media in the world.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 15, 2008, 05:46:35 PM
Posted March 23, 2004 - http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0323/p25s01-coop.html
An anti-Semitic left hook
By Patrick Chisholm | csmonitor.com
WASHINGTON - Anti-Semitism traditionally has been associated with the extreme right. Now, it is becoming more common among the extreme left.
Leftist president Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe huffed that "Jews in South Africa, working in cahoots with their colleagues here, want our textile and clothing factories to close down." Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is no right-winger, lashed out against Jews who "rule the world by proxy." One finds pockets of anti-Semitism at anti-globalization rallies, and plenty of it at pro-Palestinian rallies. And in recent years anti-capitalist campaigners have been networking with radical Islamists and neo-Nazi groups via their websites, according to a draft report by the Technical University of Berlin's Center for Research on Anti-Semitism. (This was the same report commissioned by the European Union, which decided for who-knows-what-reason not to officially release it.)
Contrary to what one would think, left- and right-wing extremists are, in major respects, ideological soul mates. Don't be fooled by labels; applying the simplistic terms of "right" and "left" to complex political realities naturally begets confusion.
While ultra-rightists are generally thought of as racist and ultra-leftists as nonracist, the latter are by no means immune to such decrepitude.
And both camps share these core attitudes: a readiness to buy into conspiracy theories, hatred of the rich, contempt for speculators and financiers, a deep suspicion of large corporate enterprises, and a conviction that the privileged few oppress the masses.
These notions manifest themselves in the party platforms of radical groups. Here are excerpts from one such platform (courtesy of Australian writer John J. Ray):
• We demand that all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.
• We demand the nationalization of businesses which have been organized into cartels.
• We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle-class, the immediate communalization of department stores which will be rented cheaply to small businessmen....
• We demand a land reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to confiscate from the owners without compensation any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.
And here is a quote from one such leader:
"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions."
Karl Marx? No. Vladimir Lenin? No. Ho Chi Min? No.
Adolf Hitler. And the above platform positions were those of his National Socialist party. Note the formal name of that party: the National Socialist German Workers Party.
The far left scapegoats rich people for causing the world's ills. But what if you live in a society where most rich people happen to be members of a different religion or skin color? That makes them particularly easy to recognize and identify. In the popular psyche, the wealthy class becomes synonymous with members of that minority group. So if you're an envy-laden, paranoid conspiracy theorist, there's hardly a distinction between scapegoating the rich and scapegoating the minority group.
That's how the Nazis viewed the Jews. It's how Stalinist Russia viewed the Jews. It's how Islamic militants view the Jews. And it's how many among today's far left view the Jews.
Jews are by no means the only (relatively) affluent minority group that has suffered mass slaughter. The same has been true of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey), Tutsis in Rwanda, Tamils in Sri Lanka, ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, and many others.
Palestinian hatred of Israelis, I suspect, is based on more than just land disputes and the policies of the state of Israel. Much of it likely derives from envy. Jews as a whole are among the most able, hard-working, and intelligent people ever to inhabit the earth. Wherever they go they succeed. They turned Israel into an economic powerhouse for its size, and "made the desert bloom." Success breeds envy. Envy breeds hatred.
Terrorism is the end result. So is an envy-driven economic philosophy best described as hard-left or socialist: Islamic radicals generally advocate government ownership of most sectors of the economy. They detest "middlemen" and the rich. They loathe "foreign exploiters." They're disgusted with materialism and consumerism. And they desire complete economic equality among all citizens (which, in practice, translates into everyone being equally poor).
Obviously, a mutual dislike for Israel's policies is not the only thing that binds Islamic radicals and ultra-leftists together.
Leftism is generally tolerant of different races and religions. But not always. Extremists are not going to let Jews off the hook just because they happen to be a different religion. When it comes to envy versus tolerance, envy very often wins out.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: October 15, 2008, 05:39:08 PM
The new anti-Semitism: How the Left reversed history to bring Judaism under attack
Last updated at 23:07 06 July 2007
On the side of St George's Town Hall in the East End of London, there's a mural commemorating the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when tens of thousands of Jews and local trades unionists fought side by side to halt a march by Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists.
They poured out of the docks, factories and sweat shops to repel the Blackshirts, who were being given an official police escort. Their banners read: They Shall Not Pass.
By the end of the day, the police were forced to withdraw and Mosley's thugs had been routed. It was a crushing defeat, from which the Far Right never really recovered and was pivotal in preventing the cancer of Fascism and anti-Semitism then sweeping Continental Europe from establishing a meaningful foothold in this country.
In my previous incarnation as a young labour and industrial correspondent, I used to drink in the Britannia pub, in Cable Street, with an old friend, Brian Nicholson, former chairman of the transport workers' union, who lived a couple of doors down.
From the public bar, a few yards across the square from the old Town Hall, I watched with fascination as the mural was being painted. It took 17 years from conception to completion in 1993 and more than once suffered the indignity of being vandalised by moronic Mosley manques in the National Front and the BNP.
A couple of years ago when the BBC approached me to make what they called an 'authored documentary' on any subject about which I felt passionate, I proposed an investigation into modern anti-Semitism to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Cable Street last October.
My thesis was that while the Far Right hasn't gone away, the motive force behind the recent increase in anti-Jewish activity comes from the Fascist Left and the Islamonazis.
It was an idea which vanished into the bowels of the commissioning process, never to return. Eventually the Beeb told me that they weren't making any more 'authored documentaries'.
I couldn't help wondering what might have happened if I'd put forward a programme on 'Islamophobia'. It would probably have become a six-part, primetime series and I'd have been up for a BAFTA by now.
But I persevered and Channel 4 picked up the project. You can see the results on Monday night.
When some people heard I was making the programme, their first reaction was: 'I didn't know you were Jewish.'
I'm not, but what's that got to do with the price of gefilte fish? They simply couldn't comprehend why a non-Jew would be in the slightest bit interested in investigating anti-Semitism.
If I had been making a film about Islamophobia, no one would have asked me if I was Muslim.
The Labour MP John Mann told me that he experienced exactly the same reaction when he instigated a parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism.
'As soon as I set it up, the first MP who commented to me said: "Oh, I didn't know you were Jewish, John."' He isn't, either.
But the implication was plainly that the very idea of anti-Semitism is the invention of some vast Jewish conspiracy.
Mann's inquiry reported: 'It is clear that violence, desecration and intimidation directed towards Jews is on the rise. Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to attack than at any time for a generation or longer.'
That certainly bears out my own findings. After three months filming across Britain, I reached the conclusion: It's open season on the Jews.
Scroll down for more ...
Ever since 9/11 I've detected an increase in anxiety among Jewish friends and neighbours in my part of North London. As I've always argued: just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
When I went to address a ladies' charity lunch at a synagogue in Finchley, I was astonished at the level of security. You don't expect to see bouncers in black bomber jackets on the door at a place of worship.
I soon discovered this wasn't unusual. Nor is it confined to London. The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Mike Todd, took me out on patrol with his officers and members of the Community Security Trust, which provides protection for the Jewish community.
These patrols are mounted every Friday night following a series of unprovoked attacks on Jews on their way to synagogue. We passed a care home surrounded by barbed wire.
At the King David School, there are high fences, floodlights, CCTV cameras and fulltime guards. It was the kind of security you associate with a prison.
They're even installing bombproof windows in many prominent Jewish institutions and running evacuation drills.
This sounded to me like Cold War panic. Surely it's all a bit over the top? Far from it, said Todd.
'We know that people carry out hostile reconnaissance. You do know that there will be attacks potentially and so what we're trying to do is make it a hostile environment to those people who want to engage in anti-Semitic attacks.'
In the past two years, Manchester police reported a 20 per cent rise in anti-Semitic incidents. I visited a Jewish cemetery in the north of the city which has been repeatedly desecrated - headstones and graves smashed, swastikas daubed on memorials. It was heartbreaking.
That type of cowardly vandalism is almost certainly the handiwork of Far Right skinheads. But the more serious threat comes from Islamist extremists.
Police and the security services say they have uncovered a series of plots by groups linked to Al Qaeda to attack Jewish targets in Britain.
As Channel 4's own Undercover Mosque documentary exposed earlier this year, anti-Jewish sermons are routinely preached in Britain. Anti-Semitic hatred is beamed in on satellite TV channels and over the internet.
On London's Edgware Road, just around the corner from the Blairs' new Connaught Square retirement home, I was able to buy a copy of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, translated into Arabic. It was on open sale alongside the evening paper and the Kit-Kats.
You don't even have to be Jewish to find yourself on the end of anti-Semitic hatred. I met a Jack the Ripper tour guide in East London who was beaten up by a group of Muslim youths, who took one look at his period costume - long black coat and black hat - and assumed he was an Orthodox Jew and therefore deserving of a kicking. They didn't want 'dirty Jews' in 'their' neighbourhood.
During the 2005 General Election, anti-war activists targeted Labour MPs who supported the invasion of Iraq. Fair enough, that's a legitimate enough ambition in a democracy.
But in the case of Lorna Fitzsimons, the member for Rochdale, the campaign to unseat her took a sinister turn.
An outfit calling itself The Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) - basically two brothers above a kebab shop - published leaflets 'accusing' her of being Jewish, even though she's not.
'They said I was part of the world neo-Con Zionist conspiracy. I think it's deeply insidious and worrying that they felt there was so much anti-Semitism in the local community that it would galvanise the vote.' In the event, she lost her seat by a few hundred votes and is certain the MPAC smear campaign swung it.
Opposition to the war and loathing of Israel has led the selfstyled 'anti-racist' Left to make common cause with Islamonazis. And 'anti-Zionism' soon tips over into straight- forward anti-Semitism.
When The Observer columnist Nick Cohen - who has always considered himself of the Left and, despite the surname, isn't Jewish either - wrote a piece defending the toppling of Saddam he was deluged with hate mail.
'It was amazing anti-Semitism, you know - you're only saying this because you're a Jew.'
Cohen has also noticed the casual anti-Jewish sentiment around Left-wing dinner tables and in the salons of Islington.
He is appalled by the way in which his old comrades-in-arms have embraced terrorist groups like Hezbollah, one of the most anti-Semitic organisations on Earth.
Check out the way the National Union of Journalists singles out Israel for boycott, even though it has the only free press in the Middle East. Or the academic boycott of Israel by the university lecturers, which as the lawyer Anthony Julius and the law professor Alan Dershowitz argue, goes way beyond legitimate protest. The sheer ferocity and violence of the arguments is nothing more than naked anti-Semitism.
Under the guise of 'anti-Zionism', anti- Semitism is rife on British university campuses. But still the Government refuses to ban groups such as Hizb ut-Tahir, motto: 'Jews will be killed wherever they can be found.'
Then there is self-proclaimed 'anti-racist' Ken Livingstone, who said to a Jewish reporter, Oliver Finegold, who approached him outside County Hall: 'What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?'
When Finegold explained that he was Jewish and was deeply offended by the remark, Livingstone compared him to a 'concentration camp guard'.
Attempting to justify himself, Livingstone put on his best Kenneth Williams 'Stop Messing About' voice and protested that he wasn't being anti-Jewish since he was rude about everyone. That was his Get Out Of Jail Free gambit.
Funny how that excuse didn't work for Bernard Manning.
But under the Macpherson code to which Livingstone subscribes, a racist incident is one which anyone perceives as racist - intended victim or onlooker. It's curious how in multi-cultural, diverse, inclusive, anti-racist Britain, the rules don't seem to extend to the Jews. Livingstone would never have dreamed of being that offensive to a Muslim, or Jamaican, journalist.
Any Tory who made similar remarks would have been hounded from office - and Livingstone would have been leading the lynch mob.
Blaming Israel is the last refuge of the anti-Semite. Livingstone insists he's not anti-Jewish, he just opposes the policies of the Israeli government.
So perhaps he can explain what the hell the conflict in the Middle East has to do with calling a Jewish reporter a German war criminal and a concentration camp guard? Where exactly does the Palestinian cause fit into that equation?
'If you have people like the Mayor of London crossing the line, then making a half-apology, and stumbling through that, then it gives a message out to the rest of the community. That is why anti-Semitism is on the rise again - because it's become acceptable,' says John Mann, whose parliamentary inquiry team was shocked at the scale and nature of what it unearthed.
'Every single member of our committee was stunned at some of the things they found out. It wasn't a Britain that they recognised. It's almost as if it's a throwback. We thought these were things we'd seen in the past, and we hoped had gone.'
As A Labour MP he's appalled at the way many on the Left have become almost casually and routinely anti-Semitic. 'We wouldn't have seen this ten or 15 years ago. This idea that in some way there's a conspiracy of Jews running the world goes back to the Elders of the Protocols of Zion (a long since discredited book, though still popular in the Muslim world) in the last century. We've seen this before, and now it's resurgent.'
Seventy years after Cable Street, we've gone full circle. The Left who once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Jews against the Blackshirts are now in the vanguard of the new anti-Semitism.
The Britannia has long since closed and the Jewish community has moved on, but the mural remains. The synagogues have been replaced by mosques.
Where the East End was once a hotbed of Far Right extremism, these days it's the stomping ground of George Galloway's Respect Party, a grubby alliance of Islamic extremists and the old Socialist Workers Party - at the heart of the new 'We Are All Hezbollah Now' activism.
While we were shooting the final sequence of next Monday's film in front of the mural, a scruffy-looking bloke wandered out of what used to be the Britannia and now seems to have been turned into some kind of glorified squat.
He recognised me, identified himself as a member of Respect, objected to what I was saying to camera and tried to disrupt us.
Outnumbered, he shuffled away again, shouting. He did not pass.
The Second Battle of Cable Street, it wasn't.
? The War On Britain's Jews? is on Channel 4 on Monday at 8pm.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 14, 2008, 11:08:33 PM
And the sense of urgency about crime-fighting, which it is the Compstat mechanism’s supreme accomplishment to institutionalize, has not abated. Early one Wednesday morning in May, a fatal shooting took place in an East Orange apartment—an apparent drug assassination. Borgo had been working on the case since 4 am. The crime dashboard showed that except for the homicide, no crimes had been reported in the city through mid-morning. “It’s a good day in one sense,” Borgo says, “but you can’t have a good day when your one crime is the ugliest one of all. I’m not having a good day; I’m having a terrible day.” He tried to take heart from the overall statistics. The night shift was down 73 percent in crimes that week, compared with the same week last year; the day shift was down 81 percent. And over the last five months, the department was still down one murder from the previous year, even after that morning’s shooting. “We’re going to keep it going by being proactive, but this homicide is a major concern to me,” he agonizes.
Cordero is amazed that the most radical premise of Compstat policing—that the police can lower crime—is still not universally held among top managers. “When I hear from chiefs, ‘Crime results from the economy,’ my response is: ‘And you haven’t retired . . . why?’ ” As for Borgo, he keeps a large graph of the city’s historic crime drop on a wall in the police station to imbue his beat officers with the urgency of their mission. “People were being victimized at an unbelievable rate before,” he says. “If crime was still at 2003 levels, we’d have 14,000 more victims today.”
Other NYPD grads have also had a significant effect on their new cities through the application of Compstat principles, easily outstripping national crime averages. For example, Jane Perlov, a former NYPD deputy chief, brought violence in Raleigh, North Carolina, down 33 percent between 2001 and 2007 by breaking the city up into six police districts and making the district leaders responsible for crime on their watches. John Romero, an NYPD deputy inspector, lowered crime in Lawrence, Massachusetts, over 50 percent from 1999 to 2005 by demanding performance from his commanders and basing strategies on the most up-to-date, accurate information. Timoney, the first NYPD Compstat-era commander to take the reins of another department, reduced homicides in Philadelphia over 25 percent in two years—the first homicide decrease that violent city had seen in 15 years. And Bratton has slashed crime by 34 percent since becoming chief of the LAPD.
An NYPD hire can produce these effects because, as Cordero discovered, Compstat crime analysis and accountability are far from ubiquitous, despite their proven track record. “These were new principles to people here,” says Thomas Belfiore, who took over the Westchester County Department of Public Safety in 2003. “I asked for monthly reports; they were all verbiage. Very little was actually measured.”
Even if some version of Compstat has preceded an NYPD grad, it likely lacks the requisite oomph. “There was a Compstat here before,” observes Edmund Hartnett, the feisty chief of the Yonkers Police Department, “but—how to say this diplomatically?—it was city hall–driven; there was little interaction over strategies and tactics.” Hartnett has posted the funeral card of Compstat’s primary architect, the late Jack Maple, on his wall, so that “the Jackster” will always be watching over him. Maple would presumably be pleased that Hartnett brought crime to a ten-year low in Yonkers during his first year leading the department in 2007. “We weren’t getting crime updates before,” says Sergeant Mike Papaleo, head of Yonkers’s newly energized Street Crimes Unit, which targets guns and violent crime. It could take a couple of weeks for data to trickle down to the field. “Now, because of the information out of Compstat, I can assign my guys to immediately tackle patterns as they emerge.” Commanders like Papaleo also receive news of individual crimes on their BlackBerrys every three hours.
New York City is ringed to its north by Compstat graduates. Nearly all the major jurisdictions in Westchester County—Yonkers, White Plains, Mount Vernon, Rye, and the county itself—are now led by a crime-analysis disciple. In some quarters, this has produced—along with crime drops—an even greater level of the usual resentment against outsiders. One Westchester County chief asked another, who had been brought in from New York: “Why is the NYPD always getting these jobs? They should be our jobs.” Keeping NYPD memorabilia in one’s office to a minimum is advisable, the NYPD veteran suggests. Cordero studied management manuals to prepare himself for shaking up the East Orange force. He overcame the inevitable resistance to change “by quick victories and a vision of where we wanted to go,” he says. “It’s a huge challenge, telling a deputy chief with 30 years’ experience: ‘We’re doing things differently now.’ ”
NYPD recruits also have to be careful not to bring NYPD-scale demands to their new departments. After all, no other police department in the country has the resources available to New York commanders. “Your education in the NYPD is invaluable, but [it makes] you think that’s how the rest of the world is,” Westchester County chief Belfiore warns other new bosses. “You’re used to pressing a button and saying: ‘I need a communication unit that speaks Spanish to help me find a missing five-year-old.’ Get ready: you’ll have a girl on the emergency services team who lives in [remote] Dutchess County, and you’ll have to wait an hour for her to get dressed and show up. You really have to temper your impatience. You can beat them down and take the heart out of them.”
David Chong, the affable commissioner of the greatly overstretched Mount Vernon agency, outlines the triage decisions that commanders in less lavishly funded departments face: “In the NYPD, to move 20 to 30 officers in response to a problem is nothing; here, it’s an entire shift. If I want to do a weekend sweep to take back a corner, I have to pay half the force overtime to come in, and that means I’m taking from the budget of other city services. You have to learn that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Chong has compensated for thin staffing by pressing his detectives to get as much intelligence as they can from victims as well as their assailants, since in his jurisdiction, today’s robbery victim may well be tomorrow’s perpetrator. He lowered violent crime 18 percent in 2007, but he longs for more manpower: “I could drive crime completely down in the central city if I had the resources,” he says wistfully.
But perhaps the biggest challenge that an NYPD transplant faces is not local resentment or a drastically reduced force but rather the clout that police unions possess elsewhere. “In the NYPD, no one sees the union contract,” says Pat Harnett, a major player in the Compstat revolution who ran the Hartford Police Department from 2004 to 2006. “In smaller departments, it’s the first thing they’ll show you: ‘This is the contract; you can’t do anything outside it.’ ” Labor-management relations were Cordero’s biggest challenge in Newton. “It’s a different culture up there,” he reports. “If you say, ‘Officer, you need to get out of your car,’ you get back: ‘It’s not in my contract, we need additional pay for that.’ ” In strong civil service systems, officers, not their commanders, in essence decide in which posts they will serve, based on seniority. In small towns, too, the union chief may live next door to the mayor and talk to him every day about the unreasonable demands that the new chief is placing on the department.
Union recalcitrance has driven some New York stars away from new jobs. John Timoney left the Philadelphia department, where he had little ability to put his top picks into leadership positions, “fed up with banging my head against the wall” with the unions over officer discipline and personnel decisions, he says. Former NYPD intelligence commander Dan Oates left the Ann Arbor department, he reports, frustrated with the power of Michigan’s labor law to “crush positive change.”
And a Newark police union has mounted an audacious challenge to Garry McCarthy, Newark’s only hope for escaping its decades-long stranglehold of violence. McCarthy, a Maple protégé and battle-hardened street cop, served as the NYPD’s chief crime strategist from 1999 to 2006. Since taking over the civilian position of police director in Newark in late 2006, McCarthy has moved accountability for crime to his precinct commanders, required 150 officers to leave their desks to fight crime on the streets—including, most controversially, on nights and weekends—and beefed up the department’s analytic abilities. He has also uncovered gross mismanagement of the department’s overtime budget. For his labors, the union representing Newark’s sergeants, lieutenants, and captains is suing to strip him of his powers, alleging that he is encroaching on those of the uniformed police chief. McCarthy is undaunted: “These people are gnats to me,” he told the Newark Star-Ledger. “I’m here with a mission.” If he wins the suit, McCarthy is confident of his future success. Homicides were down 44 percent in the first half of 2008 compared with the previous year. “We’re only scratching the surface here in Newark,” he says. “Wait till we start getting complicated.”
The absence of a regressive union culture in Gotham may help explain why the caliber of NYPD top brass is so high. Its executives stand “head and shoulders above the competition,” one ex-NYPD leader observes, perhaps because they actually have the authority to lead and innovate. New York City should reward its police unions, Oates says, for their unacknowledged flexibility.
For all the adjustments that smaller departments require of their new chiefs, they do offer ambitious crime-fighters an unparalleled intimacy with the communities that they serve. This April, Mount Vernon commissioner Chong was popping across to City Hall to snag a reporter an impromptu meeting with the mayor when a large man in a dented SUV politely accosted him. The driver had recently opened a bakery on a commercial thoroughfare and had noticed people streaming into and out of a nearby store without buying anything. There had already been a drug bust at the store, but it looked as though the activity had started up again. “Now I’m scared for my wife, who sometimes works alone” at the bakery, the businessman told Chong. Chong promised to follow up on the matter; he has since visited the bakery twice on his ubiquitous bike. The drug investigation is ongoing, but the couple is satisfied with the department’s response. “Chong’s a great guy,” the baker, Michael, enthused. “He’s approachable and makes you feel like he’s paying attention.”
With limited resources, Mount Vernon police commissioner David Chong reduced violent crime by nearly 20 percent in 2007.
Michael is just the sort of asset that long-struggling Mount Vernon needs. Forward-looking and optimistic, he has decided to invest in the city in the hope that it will experience the same turnaround that he witnessed in the Bronx and White Plains on his bread routes. “I see more foot traffic and stores coming my way,” he says. Owners are trying to organize a business improvement district, despite the difficult economy. “Everyone’s taking pride in their buildings and fixing up storefronts. It’s just a matter of time before everything is built up.”
Chong and his NYPD peers are acutely aware of the value of entrepreneurs like Michael, and they know how crucial policing is to their success. “If I can remove the fear of crime from this area,” Chong asserts, “people will come, developers will come. If it can be done in Harlem and on 42nd Street, it can be done here.” The redevelopment of Yonkers’s leafy waterfront, a short water-taxi ride away from Wall Street, began before Ed Hartnett took over the police department, but its continuing viability rests on keeping crime down. And East Orange has added yet more proof to the assertion that Cordero made at his 2004 swearing-in: “It’s been proven, time and again, that safety is vital to the rebirth of great American cities.” Standing-room-only crowds engage in bidding wars at auctions of commercial and residential properties; the city’s stately old homes are getting long-overdue makeovers; and neighboring Orange, still mired in corruption and crime, looks on enviously at East Orange’s policing revolution.
Cordero, Hartnett, and other members of the NYPD diaspora have been hit with the usual racial-profiling charges as they try to rid their cities of criminals; Yonkers has even had a visit from Al Sharpton himself. The race-baiters are oblivious to the fact that the greatest beneficiaries of proactive policing are blacks, who make up the overwhelming share of urban crime victims. The sixties-era excuse for crime has it exactly backward: crime is not the result of a bad urban economy, but it will certainly contribute to one. When crime declines, not only are black lives saved, but urban economies can rebound and provide jobs to people with the drive to get ahead.
The anti-cop agitators may be indifferent to the toll of crime on the people they claim to care about, but the black mayors whom several members of the NYPD diaspora work for are not. “We make it no secret that public safety is paramount,” says Mount Vernon mayor Clinton Young. “As long as the kids are safe, and the elderly safe, we are doing our job.” And as long as Compstat policing, the motor of New York City’s unanticipated turnaround in the 1990s, continues to spread throughout the United States, more of America’s great cities can look forward to futures of safety—and of opportunity, wealth, and creativity.
Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Her latest book, coauthored with Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Malanga, is The Immigration Solution.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 14, 2008, 11:06:27 PM
Heather Mac Donald
The NYPD Diaspora
Former New York cops bring cutting-edge, effective policing to beleaguered communities.
Since the late 1990s, more than 18 police commanders have left the New York City police department to run their own agencies elsewhere. This unprecedented migration has spread the Compstat revolution—the data-driven transformation of policing begun under New York police commissioner William Bratton in 1994—across the nation. Some of the transplants are well-known: Bratton himself now heads the Los Angeles Police Department; and his former first deputy, John Timoney, has led both the Miami and the Philadelphia forces. But the diaspora also includes lesser-known young Turks who rose quickly through the NYPD’s ranks during the paradigm-shattering 1990s. Now, as chiefs in their own right, they’re proving the efficacy of analytic, accountable policing in agencies wholly dissimilar from New York’s—in one case, achieving success beyond anything seen in Gotham or elsewhere.
José Cordero once led precincts in the Bronx and in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, and eventually he served as New York’s first citywide gang strategist. Like other members of the diaspora, he describes the 1990s NYPD as a life-changing experience: “It was an incredibly resourceful, competitive environment. The wave of captains I was privileged to serve with fed off of each other’s experiments.” In 2002, he took the helm of the Newton, Massachusetts, police department, bringing crime in that already safe city down to its lowest point in over 30 years.
Then he moved to a very different city. East Orange, New Jersey, has 70,000 citizens by official counts, about 95 percent of them black, and deep pockets of poverty. Crime there—much of it violent—had started skyrocketing in 1999, reaching a per-capita rate in 2003 that was 14 times that of New York City and five times that of Detroit. East Orange’s mayor recruited Cordero to quell the violence; Cordero started work in 2004. The results were astonishing. By the end of 2007, major felonies had dropped 68 percent, and homicides 67 percent, from their 2003 high—possibly a national record. (By comparison, from 1993, the year before Bratton arrived in New York City, through 1997, major felonies in New York dropped 41 percent and homicides 60 percent.) East Orange’s remarkable experience should give pause to criminologists, who too often ascribe crime drops to anything but policing reforms.
If the true test of a leader is his ability to imbue an organization with his vision, Cordero has leadership skills in spades. Intelligence-driven policing, as he calls the Compstat principles, is now in the department’s bloodstream, as is the still-iconoclastic belief that the police can actually lower crime. Compstat refers both to the weekly crime-analysis meetings that Bratton pioneered in 1994 to grill precinct leaders about crime on their watch and, more broadly, to the crime-fighting principles that underlay those meetings: relentless gathering of information, constant evaluation of tactics, and a mechanism for holding commanders accountable for public safety. East Orange commanders now focus obsessively on their mission and revel in coming up with new ways to make the city inhospitable to criminals.
The transformation that Cordero effected in the East Orange department mirrored the one he had lived through as a young NYPD captain at the dawn of Compstat. “All we had done up to that point was put people in jail, and it hadn’t made a difference,” recalls the 52-year-old Bronx native. “The new concept was, know everything you possibly can about crime. What I took away from that period was that by challenging yourself continually to know what you don’t know, you can produce big results.”
So Cordero tasked his new team to find out everything it could about who was shooting whom. He combined East Orange’s gang and narcotics squads to maximize information-sharing between drug and gang detectives, since the narcotics trade and gang violence entwine so closely. Eventually, the department targeted the most violent drug dealers and drove them out of business. Word got out on the street that if you engaged in a shooting, not only were you going to do time—possibly in the federal slammer—but your whole criminal enterprise would be shut down.
Weekly Compstat meetings are at the core of the East Orange crime rout, but Cordero, like his expatriate peers, borrows freely from the entire gamut of crime-busting techniques developed in New York. He put East Orange’s two most dangerous streets under 24-hour lockdown for six months while the police bore down on the dealers, a strategy that his NYPD colleague (and now Newark top cop) Garry McCarthy had successfully pioneered in Washington Heights. Today, those two streets are clean and orderly.
Ronald Borgo exemplifies the East Orange Police Department’s transformation. He exudes enthusiasm as he sits at a computer terminal, putting the turbocharged crime-analysis computer program that Cordero designed through its paces. “I was ready to move on until I saw what Director Cordero brought on board,” says the barrel-chested 27-year veteran of the department, who is soon to be confirmed as chief (a position underneath director). “I’m embarrassed to say that in 2000, we didn’t know how to connect the dots. We were just reacting to crime. The director gave us the knowledge and the confidence to actually fight it.”
However much Cordero and Borgo stress that it is managerial and philosophical change, not fancy gadgets, that has driven crime down, it’s hard not to be wonderstruck by that computer program—“Compstat on steroids,” as Cordero calls it. Its “crime dashboard” graphically presents layer upon layer of real-time crime and policing information, updated every 30 seconds. Commanders can check whether any sector of the city is meeting its daily, weekly, and monthly crime-reduction targets, and how the sector’s record stacks up against last year’s numbers. They can instantly pull up a history of the crimes committed at any location, along with every police response to those crimes, in order to evaluate what strategies have or have not succeeded there in the past. Users can activate the city’s public cameras to display crime hot spots.
Illustration by Alberto Mena
. . . producing what may be the greatest crime turnaround in American history.
And most unusually, users can observe how every patrol car is deployed at that moment and what it is doing to prevent crime, in what the department calls “directed patrol.” Directed patrol is really nothing more than what good beat cops used to do as a matter of course, before the 911 radio car swallowed their jobs: rather than simply cruising around town waiting for trouble to happen, an officer is supposed to use his time to preempt crimes, ideally by getting out of his car. Cops might walk up a housing project’s stairwell to check for drug dealers, say, or pass out flyers about a robbery spree at a mini-mall. “You’d be surprised what people will tell you when you’re out of your car that they won’t call the department about,” says Borgo—such as that a neighboring apartment is likely dealing drugs. Institutionalizing the concept of directed patrol represents a “huge organizational change in how officers work on the street,” says Lieutenant Chris Anagnostis. “The new model is: when a cop is not answering a radio call, he should be back in his zone engaged in proactive policing.”
The real-time display of patrol activity allows managers to monitor deployment patterns as well as officer initiative. “If a citizen reports a problem, and an officer doesn’t see and act on it, then it becomes clear to me that he is not enthusiastic about his job,” says Cordero, who dismisses the suggestion that the oversight may feel Orwellian to a street cop. “We’re not looking to see if an officer is having a cup of coffee. We’re in the business of protecting people; any good cop will see the value of that. For those that don’t, I have a word for them: ‘Tough. Find another line of work.’ ”
The patrol-car locator system did produce a backlash. Some officers broke their cars’ antennae or yanked out the requisite communication wires. Cordero remained unfazed: “There’s 70,000 people I care about; I don’t fear disgruntled cops.” He seems to have won the battle—officers now treat the vehicle locators as a matter of course. And self-initiated activity has gone way up, reports Borgo. “In 2004, we did 6,389 directed patrols and we thought we were working. In 2007, we did almost half a million,” he says. “The technology is one thing, but these cops, my cops, are working. I’m so proud of these cops.”
After the department introduced the crime dashboard in 2005, crime plummeted 26 percent in one year. Currently, only supervisors at headquarters and in the field have access to the dashboard, but eventually, every officer on the beat will have a simplified version in his car, so that he can monitor crime in the city in real time and see how his colleagues are responding.
The crime dashboard was just the start of East Orange’s technology boom, which has cost about $1.5 million, paid for with federal and state grants and criminal forfeiture money. On the two streets that had been locked down, the department gave residents computer programs enabling them to report suspicious conditions by pointing their mouses at street photos. Community patrol officers have “virtual directed patrol” screens in their cars that let them watch two places simultaneously: they can park at a drug corner to deter dealing, for instance, while calling up camera shots of other high-crime locales throughout the city. Back at the station house, a detective rides the same public camera system, zooming in on a license plate, say, to see if a car is stolen or if its driver is wanted on an outstanding warrant. Borgo is even building a room in the reception area with 42 large screens that will display live shots from all over the city—a public display of the department’s surveillance capacities, which criminals already falsely believe are all-encompassing. “And I’m going to get civilians to monitor them: they see as well as people in uniform,” he adds slyly.
Gunshot-detection sensors at various locations alert headquarters immediately when a gun gets discharged outdoors. Cameras then take pictures around the source of the shot, with an emphasis on roads and nearby arteries leaving the city, since in 70 percent of East Orange shootings, someone zooms off afterward in a car. The department also plans to introduce license-recognition technology that will automatically tell the police when a stolen car has entered the city.
Bratton famously drew on business principles to transform the NYPD bureaucracy into a crime-fighting machine—a bottom-line orientation that Cordero has absorbed as well. “You have to treat this business as if it were your own,” he says. “A Fortune 500 company is in the business of making money; we’re in the business of saving lives. Can I survive a year without a return on my investment? Maybe. Five years? No.” Cordero regards the public as the consumers of policing services. “We don’t accept excuses when we’re shopping if any item is not available; we expect supply to be consistent with demand,” he points out. “The public should not accept excuses from the police.”
Moreover, Cordero argues, a police department must respond to what consumers actually want from it, not to what it thinks they should want. The two things are not necessarily identical, as Broken Windows theorists point out and police departments discover time and again. “In the South Bronx, we took out the gangs; violence plummeted,” he recalls. “I expected kudos, but instead people asked what we were doing about stolen cars, prostitution, and Saturday night boom boxes.” Consistent with his business-service model, Cordero started sending civilian inspectors to East Orange households where officers had answered 911 calls, to poll residents about the officers’ performances. These audits, like the directed patrols, were initially unpopular among some members of the rank and file but are also now regarded as routine.
Crime continues to fall in East Orange, half a year after Cordero left the department to become New Jersey’s first gang-violence czar and bring intelligence-driven policing to the entire state. As of mid-June 2008, crime in East Orange was down another 15 percent over the same period in 2007, even as violence remains high in perennially murder-torn cities like Camden.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: October 14, 2008, 10:55:50 PM
I doubt very much anywhere in the US, you'll find any law enforcement agency trying to figure out what to do with an abundance of funds and personnel. The priority is targeting crimes that affect "quality of life". This means keeping gangs out of your neighborhood and your car in front of your house in the A.M. It also means keeping the next smoking hole from appearing in the midst of American cities.
Budgets are shrinking, police forces are shrinking, we're trying to use technology as a "force multiplier" to keep the public safe as we do more with less.