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11751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: November 20, 2008, 09:24:50 AM
Charter schools are a start in the right direction.
11752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 20, 2008, 09:05:53 AM
Sounds good to me.
11753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 19, 2008, 04:19:47 PM

German outreach to Muslims backfires
posted at 3:17 pm on November 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey   

An attempt by German Academia to provide outreach to moderate Muslims may have significantly backfired, with its leading light becoming an apostate.  Muhammed Sven Kalish has written a paper asserting that the prophet Mohammed never existed at all, and that Islam started as a Christian heresy.  Needless to say, the same people who threatened death on editorial cartoonists merely for depicting Mohammed are not pleased:

Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a Muslim convert and Germany’s first professor of Islamic theology, fasts during the Muslim holy month, doesn’t like to shake hands with Muslim women and has spent years studying Islamic scripture. Islam, he says, guides his life.

So it came as something of a surprise when Prof. Kalisch announced the fruit of his theological research. His conclusion: The Prophet Muhammad probably never existed.

Muslims, not surprisingly, are outraged. Even Danish cartoonists who triggered global protests a couple of years ago didn’t portray the Prophet as fictional. German police, worried about a violent backlash, told the professor to move his religious-studies center to more-secure premises.

“We had no idea he would have ideas like this,” says Thomas Bauer, a fellow academic at Münster University who sat on a committee that appointed Prof. Kalisch. “I’m a more orthodox Muslim than he is, and I’m not a Muslim.”

Of course, Christians and Jews have dealt with critical research for many years on the historical accuracy of their scriptures.  Claims that Jesus, Moses, and David didn’t exist have been made, debunked, and made yet again so often that they no longer make news any more.  Christians and Jews express annoyance at times with these claims, but they don’t react to them with violence and rage.

Neither should Muslims, Kalisch says, and the reluctance to even offer such a hypothetical amounts to bigotry:

Most Western scientists turn down such an hypotheses out of respect for Islam or because they are afraid of the reactions of their Muslim friends or because they think it is speculative nonsense.

The word “respect” sounds wonderful but it is completely inappropriate here because one really refers to the opposite. Whoever thinks that Muslims can’t deal with facts puts Muslims on the same level as small children who can’t think and decide for themselves and whose illusions of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny one doesn’t want to destroy.

Whoever really bases his thoughts on the equality of all human beings must expect the same intellectual performance. Really treating Muslims with respect would imply that they are strong enough to deal with their religion on the basis of our modern level of knowledge. “Islamophobes” think we Muslims are barbarians, the “kind-hearted” take us for “noble savages”… The result is the same: Muslims are seen as different from the rest of the world — they either belong in a “petting zoo” or in cages for wild animals, but by all means they belong in a zoo.

I agree with Kalisch’s response, but I think he misplaces the blame.  Western intellectuals have this reaction because of the massive rage that comes not just from a few nutcases but millions of Muslims when the Koran or the Hadiths receive any sort of critical scrutiny at all.  The Prophet Cartoon outrage was particularly instructive, as the resultant demonstrations had millions of participants worldwide calling for death to the editorial cartoonists — and they just drew pictures of Mohammed.  It’s that predictable rage that makes Western academics place Muslims in general in the category of ill-tempered children.

However, I’d take his hypothesis with a large, Lot’s wife-sized grain of salt.  Modern academics show little respect to the value of oral traditions in these revisionist theories.  It’s certainly possible that Mohammed never existed, but it strikes me as extremely unlikely.  Just because his story didn’t get written in a traditional paper medium during his life doesn’t make him a fable.  It could certainly impact the veracity of his quotes and the stories told in the Koran, but his existence?  Especially given the disputes over his succession that broke out after his death — all of which have fairly clear records and resulted in the Sunni-Shi’ite split within a generation or two — I’d call Kalisch’s theory a long shot.

Nevertheless, it’s precisely this kind of critical thinking that Islam requires to bring it into modernity and toleration.  Unfortunately, it’s also this kind of critical thinking that provokes the most reactionary behavior, which them shuts down critical thinking.  This will be a long process indeed, one I’m certain Germany’s academics had no intention of starting with such a controversial launch.
11754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 19, 2008, 04:15:35 PM
Funny enough  huh = Arabic script

11755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 19, 2008, 01:40:04 PM

Deeming Shariah (islamic law) as incompetent       
As we know that He is our Creator and the reason behind our existence is submission to Him and to His Laws whether we understand the wisdom behind each and every single one of them or not. Our role is not to question Allah as He says in Quran;
"He can not be questioned as to what He does, but they will be questioned" [1]
 Rather we say
"we hear and obey" [2]
We do not question the legitimacy of His Laws as they are built upon His vast Wisdom and our comprehension is limited to His Will as He says in Quran;
"And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills" [3]
Rather His Laws are perfect and are there for us as a test to see who will obey the message and who will turn back on their heels as Allah says in Quran;
"And we made the Qiblah which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels" [4]
This is clearly illustrated in the story of satan and Adam. The reason why satan refused to prostate was because he used logic/analogy over submission. This is what has prevailed in this era. People have forgotten the submission and are heading towards logic and analogies as to claim that they know better than their Creator.
Those who deem Law of Allah as incompetent should read the conversation between Allah and His Angels when He disclosed to them the creation of Adam.
"And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels "Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on earth". They said: "Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, - while we glorify You with praises and thanks and sanctify You."
Look at the questions raised by the most noblest of creations. Those who are pure by essence and never disobey His commands. Even they were not able to comprehend the Wisdom of Allah behind creating humans whom are bound to shed blood, cause corruption, while they are there already praising Allah, sanctifying Him, glorifying Him. How would we, those who are drench in sins, away from Islam and its teaching - how could we ever comprehend His Wisdom? But look at the response of Allah!
"He (Allah) said: "I know that which you do not know" [5]
Questions & Answers

Q1)  what is the Islamic ruling on statements stating the shariah law as barbaric and what is the ruling on saying Hudood are incompatible wit contemporary life?
As a Muslim we should know that our religion is perfect without any imperfection as Allah says;
"this day, I have perfected your religion for you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion" [6]
Therefore, belittling them or calling them as out-of-date constitutes disbelief as Allah says;
"Then do you believe in part of the scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do."[7]
It is mentioned in the book by Al-Haafiz Abil Hassan Ali bin Al-Qittan Al-Faasi  he says:
? Huh? Huh HuhHuh? Huh? ? Huh?? ?? ?? Huh? ? Huh Huh? HuhHuh Huh?? HuhHuh? Huh ?? HuhHuh Huh? Huh?? Huh? Huh Huh?? ?? Huh? Huh Huh HuhHuh
"and the people of Islam have agreed upon from the Jinn and humans in every time and in every place with sound confirmed agreement that the Quran which has been sent down by Allah upon His prophet is the truth and a necessity for every person to follow it"[8]
Leaving any part of Quran or changing it is going against the consensus of entire Muslim nation. The author mentions another consensus in his book;
? HuhHuh ?? ?? Huh Huh?? Huh?? ? HuhHuh ? Huh ?? Huh ?? Huh Huh Huh Huh Huh? ? ?? Huh ?? HuhHuh? ?? ?? HuhHuh ?? ?? Huh? ?? Huh Huh Huh ?? ?? ?? Huh?? Huh Huh ?? Huh Huh Huh Huh Huh? Huh ?? Huh Huh? Huh Huh?? ?? ?? ?? ?? Huh ? Huh Huh Huh Huh? Huh? Huh? Huh? ?? Huh Huh? Huh??
"and they all have agreed (unanimously) that whosoever believes in Allah and His prophet and in all that which has been reported from him authentically and did not have doubt in Tawheed of Allah (Lordship, Worship & Names and Attributes) or in prophethood or in Muahmmed (himself) or in any single letter which he has come with or in the shariah which he has come with narrated from him authentically, so whosoever negates in any of the things which we have mentioned or have doubt in anything from them and he dies upon that state then he dies as a disbeliever mushrik, inhabitant of Hellfire forever" [9]   
If you were to ask: "is every single shariah law unchangeable"? We say that shariah law is constituted in two segments:
1) Laws which are fixed for certain crimes such as adultery, murder, theft etc
2) Laws which are not fixed and are executed based up liaising between individual and society such as drinking wine etc. These laws or punishments are initiated by religious scholars or supreme leader who can choose to implement various methods for such actions such as either to lash them, or expel them from country or imprison them etc
Now the question is asked whether these laws are barbaric or not?
Barbaric is truly a conformist word where they emulate certain punishments of the old and replicate them in modern day society to symbolize how cruel they were for mankind. However, if one was to look at modern day warfare, it is evident in their usage of artillery being more barbaric and leaving no mercy at all for the enemy. Countries are accumulating atomic warheads, chemical arsenal etc for their so called "peace" missions whereas they are causing more havoc, destruction, and cruelty to people than others.   
So who determines what is barbaric and what is not? Rather Allah says in Quran
"And there is (a saving of) life for you in Al-Qisas (the law of equality in punishment), O men of understanding that you may become the pious" [10]
So the underlining factor behind laws are to deter criminals from committing crimes and we know that not all will adhere to them so which system is applicable? Look at the current systems in placed and see their results and compare them to those countries using Islamic criminal law. The results are overwhelmingly supporting for the implementation of shariah law. 
There are statements of companions and their students (Tabieen) collected regarding those who denied the law of stoning by Huh? Huh Huh Huh? ?? HuhHuh HuhHuh:
Huh- HuhHuh? ?? Huh?? Huh?? HuhHuh HuhHuh Huh Huh Huh HuhHuh?? HuhHuh? Huh
?? Huh ?? Huh ?? Huh? ?? Huh?? Huh: Huh?? Huh Huh? HuhHuh?? Huh?: Huh Huh? Huh ?? HuhHuh Huh? HuhHuh?? Huh?: "Huh? Huh?? Huh Huh?? ?? Huh Huh?? Huh?? HuhHuh HuhHuh ? HuhHuh HuhHuh? ? HuhHuh HuhHuh ? HuhHuh HuhHuh?? ? HuhHuh HuhHuh? Huh?? ? HuhHuh Huh? HuhHuh ?? Huh?? Huh?? HuhHuh?"

"Chapter: Warning from school of thoughts of those people who deny the shariah which is a compulsory upon Muslims to have certainty in:
Ali bin Zayd reported from yusuf bin mahraam who said; ibn Abbas gave us a sermon in Basra so he said, Omar bin Khattab the leader of Muslims stood within us so he said:
                "O people! Verily there will be people from this nation who will deny Rajm (stoning) and deny Dajjal and deny the pond of prophet and will deny the intercession of prophet and will deny the punishment in the grave and will deny that some people will be taken out from the hellfire after they have been punished" [11]
In another place.........
?? Huh ?? Huh ?? Huh? ?? Huh?? ?? Huh Huh? ? Huh: Huh Huh ?? HuhHuh :"Huh Huh? Huh? ? Huh Huh Huh ? Huh? Huh' ? Huh? Huh HuhHuh HuhHuh ? HuhHuh HuhHuh? ? HuhHuh HuhHuh ? HuhHuh HuhHuh?? ? HuhHuh HuhHuh? Huh?? ? HuhHuh Huh? HuhHuh ?? Huh??
"ali bin zayd narrated from yusuf bin mihraan who narrated from ibn Abbas who said that Omar bin Khattab said;
                "O people! Indeed rajm (stoning) is truth, so do not deviate from it and the proof is that the prophet stoned and abu bakr stoned and I also stoned. Hence there will be people from this nation who will deny stoning, who will deny dajjal......"[12]
In another place he mentions
?? Huh Huh?? HuhHuh? Huh? ? ?? Huh ? Huh Huh HuhHuh  ? ?? Huh Huh ? ?? Huh Huh Huh Huh? Huh?? ? Huh? ?? Huh ? ?? Huh HuhHuh Huh HuhHuh ? Huh?? Huh Huh?? ? Huh (( HuhHuh Huh?? Huh? ?? ? ?? ? HuhHuh Huh? Huh? Huh?))
"verily the prophet stoned two Jews who fornicated and verily abu bakr stoned and omar bin khattab stoned and Ali bin abi taalib stoned a woman called Shuraaha who committed fornication while she was a divorcee/widow so he lashed her on Friday and stoned her on Saturday and said;
                "I stoned her in accordance to the Book of Allah and upon the sunnah of prophet Muahmmad"[13]
Now by looking at all these statements of the companions, there remains no doubt that they never saw such laws as barbaric because they knew that it has come from the Most Wise the Most Merciful and He would never do injustice upon His slaves.
Q3)  what is the ruling who denies the Sovereignty of Allah as lawgiver and ruling on the concept that Islamic state is alien to Islam?
Denying Allah the right of Lawgiver means he has taken someone else as partners besides Allah who has the right to determine how this individual should conduct his life. The one who does not recognises Allah as his Master to govern him then surely he has found another god to administrate him. He is a clear disbeliever outside the fold of Islam.
"the Hukm is for Allah alone. He declares the truth and He is the best of judges" [14]
"and whomsoever does not judges according to what Allah has revealed then surely they are the disbelievers"  [15]
"say O people of the scripture,! You have nothing (as regards guidance) till you act accordance to the Torah, the Gospel and what has been sent down to you from your Lord (the Quran)". Verily that which has been sent down to you (Muhammed) from your Lord increases in most of them (their) obstinate rebellion and disbelief. So be not sorrowful over the people who disbelieve"[16]
"[say (O Muhammad):] "shall I seek a judge other than Allah while it is He Who has sent down unto you the Book (the Quran), explained in detail."[17]
As for the second question that is Islamic state alien to Islam? Lets look at scholars and see how they defined Islamic state
Imam abu yusuf said;
"a place is recognised as Islamic state by manifesting Islamic law, even if majority of the people are non-Muslims. Similarly a non Islamic state is in her manifestation of non Islamic law even if most of the people living there are Muslims. [18]
Another hanafi scholar called al-kisaani said;
"there is no disagreement between our companions (within their school of thought) that a dar ul kufr becomes dar ul islam with the manifestation of Islamic rules"[19]
So in the light of these two definitions given by the scholars and generally most of the scholars agree that Islamic state has to manifest Islamic shariah if not then it will not be considered as Islamic state. Hence, those who say that Islamic is alien to Islamic state need to be educated.     
Q5)  Ruling on those who search for rare opinions to provide modernist interpretation of Islam?
Sheikh ul islam ibn taymiyyah said;
Huh Huh?? HuhHuh? ?? Huh? Huh? ? Huh?? Huh? HuhHuh? Huh Huh Huh? "Huh?? Huh? ?? HuhHuh?" ? Huh Huh?? "Huh HuhHuh Huh? Huh?? Huh ?? HuhHuh?" ? HuhHuh ?? Huh? Huh? Huh HuhHuh Huh?? HuhHuh ?? HuhHuh ? HuhHuh ? Huh Huh HuhHuh? ? Huh ?? HuhHuh Huh? Huh Huh?? Huh Huh? ? Huh? HuhHuh HuhHuh Huh??  Huh? Huh Huh?? Huh? ?? Huh??  HuhHuh Huh?   Huh? Huh Huh?? Huh? ?? Huh?? HuhHuh Huh? Huh Huh? Huh? Huh Huh?? HuhHuh HuhHuh? ? HuhHuh? ? Huh?? HuhHuh? ? HuhHuh?

"Ahlul sunnah strive hard in serving Allah and His prophet in accordance to their ability as Allah said
"Fear Allah as much as you can"[20]
And the prophet said,
"When I have commanded you with something then do that as much as you can"[21]
And they know that Allah has sent Muhammad with the welfare in people's livelihood and customs and that he ordered with conciliation and forbade us from corruption. So if there was an action containing welfare and corruption, we would give preference to the predominant. So if its welfare outweighs corruption, we would give it precedence. And if its corruption outweighs the welfare, then we would leave that action. For indeed Allah sent His prophet to acquire welfare and to shun corruption and make it lesser any way possible" [22]     
This principal clearly outlines that any action agreed by majority will be for people's welfare and interest and any rare opinion will serve less interest for people and for their welfare. Thus, any opinion or interpretation which is rare can not be made as a mainstream view and compelled to be accepted. Example is one scholar going against the majority. If for instance the practice in a country is based upon majority opinion then suddenly to be changed for the rare opinion and made that as mainstream practice then it is incorrect. This illustrates that majority was in error and the rare view was rightly guided? This in itself by logic is absurd.

[1] Chapter 21 verse 23
[2] Chapter 2 verse 285
[3] Chapter 2 verse 255
[4] Chapter 2 verse 143
[5] chap 2 ver 29   
[6] chap 5 ver 3
[7] Chap 2 ver 85
[8] HuhHuh? ?? Huh?? HuhHuh?   volume 1 page 127
[9] HuhHuh? ?? Huh?? HuhHuh?   volume 1 page 126
[10] Chapter 2 verse 179
[11] Huh? HuhHuh? volume 3 page 1192
[12] Huh? HuhHuh? volume 3 page 1195
[13] Huh? HuhHuh? volume 3 page 1197
[14] Chapter 6 verse 57
[15] Chapter 5 verse 44
[16] Chapter 5 verse 68
[17] Chapter 6 verse 114
[18] Almabsoot lil sarkhasee volume 10 page 144
[19] Bada'eul sanaai'e volume 7 page 130
[20] Chapter 63 verse 16
[21] Narrated by Abu Hurayrah. Reported by Bukhari & Muslim
[22] Minhaaj us sunnah volume 4 page 527
11756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 19, 2008, 01:20:40 PM

On the testimony of women:       

I would like to know why two women are the equivalent on one man in an Islamic court. I thought we were different, but equal. Please reply with an in-depth explanation as to why this is.

Please bear in mind the following facts regarding this issue:
1. There are issues where only women's testimony is enough like those related to birth of a child, the period of suckling and weaning. In such cases, which are normally handled by the women, testimony of a single lady is accepted. For example, when a woman said, looking at a newly-wed couple: "I suckled you both", the Prophet (SAS) nullified their marriage and asked them to separate from each other.
2. Cases of serious nature, like that of fornication, adultery and rape attract a very hard punishment in Islam. Flogging a hundred times for unmarried couples and stoning to the married ones. To prove such an allegation, even two male witnesses are not enough, but four of them are required. Suppose those who witnessed were women alone. If the number of witnesses is doubled, less would be the chance for the implementation of this punishment. Many people do not object a lot to these ways of punishment but they do not realize how difficult it has been made in Islam, to prove such allegations.
3. The text (Surah Al-Baqara 2:282) which requires two female witnesses in place of one male witness, gives a clear reason for it i.e. "if one of them forgets, the other reminds her." Is this derogatory to the status of the women or is it a revealed secret about the nature of the women? Though much has been said about the difference between a man's brain and that of a women but I would rather like to quote the latest research made about this issue. According to a survey, as published in Los Angeles Times (U.S.A) , made involving fifty men and women for quite a considerable time, the out come was as follows:
Man's mind is uni-focal while the women's mind is multi-focal. In other words, a man would be fully occupied with the task he is involved with; he may not be distracted by anything else while being engaged in his activity. On the other hand, a woman may be busy in kitchen work and she will be easily alert to a phone buzzer or her infants cry from the cradle. In a way she is found to be more sensitive and active in her dealings. Thus she has got a very praise worthy character but that is not so good for a case of testimony which requires more attention and concentration. What is wrong then, if a second woman is needed, only to remind her is she fails to deliver her testimony completely. So it is a case of verification of the testimony, not that of degradation to the status of the women at all.
4. In many other matters, the nature of women are considered. For example, the right of divorce is vested in the hand of the man while she is allowed to ask for divorce either directly or through a Qadi (Judge). Why? Because the women are kind-hearted human beings who are governed by their emotions, a character strongly needed for bringing up the children. On the other hand, man is governed by his mind more than his emotions. He would think twice but more than that before uttering the word "Talaq" (divorce). Even if he misuses this word (as noticed again and again) a long procedure following a divorce i.e. the Iddat period of a woman, allows him to retract the step he has taken. He can revoke that Talaq within this cooling period of approximately three months time.
To deny the difference between the two genders is a denial of truth. Allah who created us, gave us rulings according to our nature. And all is well as long as we go by the nature.
11757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 19, 2008, 01:05:12 PM
**Sharia is to equal protection under the law, what islam is to free speech.**

LONDON — The woman in black wanted an Islamic divorce. She told the religious judge that her husband hit her, cursed her and wanted her dead.

Suhaib Hasan spoke with a woman who was trying to divorce her husband in London. But her husband was opposed, and the Islamic scholar adjudicating the case seemed determined to keep the couple together. So, sensing defeat, she brought our her secret weapon: her father.

In walked a bearded man in long robes who described his son-in-law as a hot-tempered man who had duped his daughter, evaded the police and humiliated his family.

The judge promptly reversed himself and recommended divorce.

**What if this woman had no male relative to offer witness on her behalf? Remember that under sharia, a muslim woman's testimony is only half that of a muslim male's.**
11758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 19, 2008, 12:55:56 PM
We're on the "Leaving Las Vegas" path to resolution to our "debtoholicism". Obama and congress can double up on the shots to "fix" the economy.
11759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 19, 2008, 11:00:43 AM
The nation, as a "debtoholic" probably has to hit rock bottom before facing reality. God help us.
11760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 19, 2008, 09:01:14 AM
I listened to that miserable c-sucker, Barney Frank on National People's Radio this morning, flacking for the UAW bailout. Not satisfied with burdening taxpayers with the Fannie/Freddie mess he helped create, now he's getting ready to saddle us with this mess. F-ing wonderful.  rolleyes
11761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 18, 2008, 04:40:28 PM

Media malfeasance.
11762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: November 18, 2008, 04:24:59 PM
Ideally, there should be no federal funding for schools, as it is state/local level issue. How do we make the leap to higher education 2.0? That's a good question I don't have an implementation plan for.
11763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, et al, cf Yemen) on: November 18, 2008, 04:19:07 PM
Test run, or part of an AQ operation rather than ordinary piracy?
11764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 18, 2008, 12:18:23 AM
Don't need examples of "indoctrination mills". Actually, I find the use of the term not only an over-generalization, but insulting to the intelligence of the individuals that teach/work/attend them. I mean, do you really think that the great majority of this nation's youth is lock stepping to some type of liberal educational agenda? If so, you are veering into paranoid conspiracy territory.

**The is a ton of documentation that would support those criticisms of academia. I can cite my own experiences as well.**

And yes, a "rejection of leftist indoctrination mills that masquerade as institutes of higher education" is a direct attack on education. Especially when you present no alternatives. I'm asking for alternatives to college and university. So give me some.

**See my comments above. The current model is wasteful, inefficient and does not serve the taxpayers, the students or the society at large.**

DMcG, your solution of fair and balanced education looks suspiciously like a 'fairness doctrine' type of equation. Let each subject that is taught be examined equally from both sides, right? So who decides the equal balance? A government entity? The school board? The parents? I find a ton of problems with the state of education across the board, and d*mn if I can think of a solution.

**If a school takes any state or federal money, then they had better be ready to meet some standards that demonstrate that the school isn't just teaching only how evil America, western civilization and any random heteosexual white male is.**

I'll cut it here 'cuz I'm veering way off the thread subject. But please, give me some realistic alternatives or suggestions to what some view as "indoctrination".

Back to my question:

How do you evolve a political movement which for the past few years has placed negative connotations on college education/book smarts? How does one turn the smart folks bad, regular folks good equation around (or at least balance the equation)?

**If you are a student of history, you can recognize that our president-elect is getting ready to take our economy over the cliff. As most people have bought into "hopandchange", not realizing it translates to socialism, they'll have to learn the hard way. Post-disaster, a good candidate can then stand up to help fix the mess. Funny enough, lots of NPR fans that fancy themselves intelligent and educated know nothing about anything, like basic economics. This allows them to vote "hopeandchange".**

11765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 17, 2008, 11:26:42 PM
"A rejection of the leftist indoctrination mills that masquerade as schools of higher education does not equate to a rejection of education"

Funny, I hear that a lot and yet no one ever presents alternatives or solutions. I know you can give me some GM, so please do.

Solutions: The social sciences need to return to the scientific model and reject political correctness and the "Ward Churchillization" of academia. It should be a search for truth and a venue for exchanging ideas rather than imparting post-modern, queer theory talking points while engaging in a stalinesque suppression of dissenting ideas.

The traditional campus and undergrad/postgrad paradigm need to be scrapped. Smaller segments of education that stand alone, or that can be coupled with other segments to reach a more advanced degree, while the student works is much more useful and practical.

The virtual campus/distance learning should be the rule and not the exception. This could be used for greater transparency of who is actually teaching and what is being taught. Much like teaching martial arts, let those that excel be recognized and rewarded rather than labor under a brand name like Stanford or UCLA.
11766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 17, 2008, 05:22:44 PM
A rejection of the leftist indoctrination mills that masquerade as schools of higher education does not equate to a rejection of education.
11767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 17, 2008, 11:47:44 AM
"I think some/many in Israel simply want peace and true democracy for everyone; Jews and non Jews alike.
Maybe Obama can finally help make a difference."

Unless Obama can magically fix the islamic death culture, the "peace talks" are meaningless.

11768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Still getting the AIPAC thumbs up? on: November 16, 2008, 09:41:02 AM

Obama will back Saudi peace plan
posted at 10:24 am on November 16, 2008 by Ed Morrissey   

Barack Obama has decided to base his diplomatic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the Saudi peace plan, the Times of London reports today.  A “senior Obama adviser” tells the Times that Obama will back the plan that divides Jerusalem into two capitals and pulls Israel back to pre-1967 borders:

Barack Obama is to pursue an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East involving the recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, according to sources close to America’s president-elect.

Obama intends to throw his support behind a 2002 Saudi peace initiative endorsed by the Arab League and backed by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and leader of the ruling Kadima party.

The proposal gives Israel an effective veto on the return of Arab refugees expelled in 1948 while requiring it to restore the Golan Heights to Syria and allow the Palestinians to establish a state capital in east Jerusalem.

On a visit to the Middle East last July, the president-elect said privately it would be “crazy” for Israel to refuse a deal that could “give them peace with the Muslim world”, according to a senior Obama adviser.

Apparently, Obama has changed his position from his speech at AIPAC.  In early June, he told the Israeli-supporting political action group that Jerusalem “must remain undivided,” drawing thunderous applause and roars of criticism later from Palestinian groups.  Within hours, Obama retreated to the Bush administration position — that Jerusalem should be left to the two sides to negotiate in the final settlement.

Welcome to Obama 3.0 on Jerusalem.  Now he has switched sides to the exact opposite of what he argued at AIPAC.  One has to wonder what all of those Jewish voters who supported Obama will think of this new position on Israel’s borders and security, but somehow I doubt it would get thunderous applause at AIPAC.

In Israel, the reception could be more mixed.  Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister and leading candidate for Prime Minister from Ariel Sharon’s Kadima party, backs the Saudi peace plan in concept, including the division of Jerusalem.  The Israeli Left supports it as well, with Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert both endorsing the plan.  Likud candidate Benjamin Netanyahu opposes it entirely.

Obama reportedly told Mahmoud Abbas that “Israel would be crazy” not to accept the plan.  He concluded that the Saudi plan would give Israel peace with the entire Muslim world.  Really?  It might make it palatable for some states like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to start diplomatic relations with Israel, and perhaps even Syria if they get back the Golan Heights.  But who believes that Iran, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and the proxy armies of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad will suddenly discover brotherly love with such a settlement?  They want Israel wiped off the map, literally in Iran’s case, and the Israelis driven into the Mediterranean.

Israel can decide on its own to take a risk and adopt the smaller borders in exchange for the promise of peace.  Obama should have stuck with his AIPAC speech, or the initial retreat from it.
11769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 16, 2008, 09:24:19 AM
- Pajamas Media - -

Obama’s Very Bad Start
Posted By Stephen Green On November 14, 2008 @ 12:00 am In . Most Popular 05, . Positioning, Elections 2008, Gun Control, Opinion, Politics, US News | 220 Comments

Monday, our own Jennifer Rubin wrote a column called “[1] The GOP Gets Off to a Bad Start.” Let’s take a look at the other side of the issue. It seems like our president-elect is keeping himself busy picking unnecessary fights. Is this the way Obama will conduct business with Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, or is it just a case of a new president finding his footing?

Obama vs. Pelosi/Green Machine vs. Jobs

On the Detroit bailout, Obama has hinted that he wants to make sure the money goes to retooling for [2] clean, fuel efficient cars. Just like the original $25 billion Department of Energy bill was supposed to do. Nancy Pelosi is most worried about the UAW and jobs and would probably pump fresh blood into an entire city of the dead to save a single union job. So it looks like Obama and Pelosi are going to clash — and soon. Some reports indicate that GM will be down to its minimum operating cash before the end of the year — and that would make Chapter 11 all but a foregone conclusion. Detroit needs cash, but for what? The Obama Plan or the Pelosi Plan?

Obama vs. Southern Democrats on Guns

Obama is also gearing up for a fight with southern Democrats. After being mostly silent on guns during the campaign, Obama’s Web site has recently added or restored language indicating the return of the “[3] assault weapons ban” on scary-looking rifles. Southern Democrats paid with their jobs for Clinton’s ban back in 1994. You might expect the new Blue Dog Dems to join hands and sing Kumbaya with House and Senate Republicans to block a new Scary Looking Rifles Law.

Obama vs. Republicans

OK, so maybe this item is no real shocker, but it still seems a little early in the game for Mr. Post Partisan to be dissing Republicans. And yet, Obama has already soiled relations with the GOP, thanks to [4] leaks from his meeting with President Bush on Monday. Obama might just give us the most ethical administration ever — I mean, anything can happen. But it’s already shaping up to be the most indiscrete. If Obama wants to reach across the aisle, that’s great. He just shouldn’t do so with a joy buzzer in his hand.

Obama vs. Europe

Speaking of indiscretion, Obama doesn’t seem to have a clue on how to treat American allies. During the primary race, he threatened to crack down on major threats like Canada — a position he probably/maybe/sort of backed off from in backdoor talks with the Canadian government. In Europe, Obama is already to the left of most every major EU leader. Then last week, Obama [5] told Poland one thing about missile defense in private and told Russia quite another thing in public. In other words, he’s doing his best to spoil relations with Poland, which will have repercussions throughout Eastern Europe, too. Our allies have got to wonder where Obama stands. I think we all do.

Obama vs. Everybody (Eventually) on Taxes

Obama promised to raise taxes only on the lower-upper class on up. Then we got hints that taxes would go up for the upper middle class, too. And now we’re learning that Team Obama has plans to raise taxes on people who do evil things like [6] own cars. Or just drive them. Which by my count is … pretty much everybody.

More ominously, unless we get middle class entitlement reform out of the Democrats, then eventually everybody’s taxes are going up. Way up. And “eventually” comes closer every year, as the Baby Boomers have begun to retire and place new financial strains on our retirement and health care transfer-payment systems. Alternately, Washington can give us a big round of inflation — a hidden tax which will do for your 401(k)… what Washington has already done to your 401(k).

So it’s true — Obama really is bringing people together. He’s bringing them together … against Barack Obama. While it’s true that Republicans got off on the wrong foot this week and last, so did Obama. And if he keeps it up, then the Republicans might not be the minority party for too very much longer.

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[6] own cars:
11770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 16, 2008, 09:07:33 AM

November 7, 2008

The Reagan Counterrevolution

In 1980, when the U.S. economy was last in serious trouble, Ronald Reagan offered the correct diagnoses that government was the problem and not the solution. His message resonated with voters, propelling him into the White House to implement an agenda of lowering marginal tax rates, reducing government spending and business regulations, restoring sound money, abolishing entire government departments, and basically allowing free market vibrancy to unshackle an economy burdened by big government. Though in practice much of the Reagan revolution never materialized, at least in theory his basic premise was sound.

In contrast, the country has now hitched its wagon to the views of Barack Obama. We don’t know much about what he truly believes about economics, but the little that we do know is not encouraging. Obama has repeatedly heaped the blame for the current crisis on the excesses of unregulated capitalism and the greed of the wealthy. For him, the free market is the problem and government is the solution.

The President-elect has promised to cage the destructive forces of capitalism, impose more regulation, raise marginal tax rates, increase government spending, and restore prosperity by redistributing wealth from those who earned it to those considered to be more deserving. Like most of his generation, Obama believes that economic growth results from consumer spending, primarily from the middle class. Any policy that keeps the consumers headed to the mall will be promoted.

Unfortunately, while Reagan had a hard time getting his full agenda through Congress, Obama will likely be much more successful. The effort to concentrate more power in Washington will be far more appealing to Congress then Reagan’s idea of restoring it to the people.

This sharp contrast in philosophy should not be taken lightly. Reagan looked to unleash the pent-up free market forces that had been smothered by a generation of Great Society reforms and uninterrupted Democratic control of Congress. Today, the public is looking for the Obama Administration to create the growth that the free market has apparently destroyed. The hope that our economy will grow as a result of government spending and micro-management is the most seminal shift in political philosophy since the New Deal.

Despite the absence of Reagan’s promised spending cuts, the economy generally did well during his presidency (The growth would have been more genuine if the cuts had been delivered). However, Obama’s policies will immediately make the current situation worse and the nation will suffer severely as a result. Rather than a sharp recession at the beginning of his term followed by a significant expansion (as occurred under Reagan), the recession that Obama inherits will be far worse when his first term ends.

What nearly all politicians on both sides of the aisle fail to understand is that the current contraction and credit crunch is necessary to restore order to an economy that is horribly out of balance. Years of misguided fiscal and monetary policy and market-distorting regulations have resulted in reckless borrowing and spending on Main Street, pervasive gambling on Wall Street, and rampant fraud and corruption at every intersection. America’s borrow and spend economy, and the bloated service sector that evolved around it, must be allowed to topple, so that a more sustainable economy grounded in savings and production can rise in its place. Any government efforts to delay the adjustment and spare us the pain will backfire, turning this recession into an inflationary depression.

Of broader concern however is the sharp turn in ideology, and what it means for the future of our nation. If this is a permanent shift, then America will lose any resemblance to the economic titan it was in the 20th Century. Our standard of living will decline sharply, our economy will be ravaged by inflation, tens of millions will be unemployed, more individual liberties will be surrendered, and rugged individualism will be supplanted by the nanny state. In short, Latin America may extend north to the Canadian border.

However, if this shift proves temporary and Obama’s reign either ends in one term, or he summons the intelligence and courage to reverse course once the situation deteriorates, then perhaps one day there will be light at the end of a very long tunnel.

While all of us can certainly hope for the best, prudence suggests that we had better prepare for the worst. Not only does that mean divesting our portfolios of U.S. dollar denominated investments but preparing for the possibility of emigration. With economic conditions at home becoming increasingly intolerable, the call of freer economies and greater prosperity abroad may be too tempting to resist.
11771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What's Your View on Prop 8? on: November 15, 2008, 09:53:05 AM

More leftist "tolerance".
11772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What's Your View on Prop 8? on: November 15, 2008, 09:43:03 AM

Teen told to 'burn' for McCain T-shirt
Peers call 8th grader 'stupid,' say she should be 'killed' for supporting Republican
Posted: November 13, 2008
10:30 pm Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily

When a 14-year-old girl wore a "McCain girl" T-shirt to school, students told her she should be "crucified" or "burned" for supporting the Republican – but when she wore an Obama T-shirt, everyone complimented her.

Illinois 8th grader Catherine Vogt's mother supported Obama, while her father supported McCain. The teen conducted an experiment to test tolerance among her peers and teachers, the Chicago Tribune reported. But she was surprised by their strong reactions.

Vogt began the experiment by wearing a white T-shirt with "McCain girl" painted in red across the front to Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School in Oak Park. She wrote her observations in a journal.

"I was just really curious how they'd react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters," Catherine told the Chicago Tribune. "I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be."

The students were openly hostile, criticizing her support for McCain.

"People were upset," Vogt said. "But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn't be wearing it."

The harsh words didn't stop there.

"One person told me to go die," she said. "It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed."

Even Vogt's teachers chimed in.

"In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain," the teen said. "Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said."

One boy said Vogt should be killed for wearing the T-shirt.

"He said, 'You should be crucifixed,'" she told the Tribune. "It was kind of funny because, I was like, don't you mean 'crucified?'"

Classmates told Vogt she deserved to be "burned with her shirt on" for "being a filthy-rich Republican," while others accused her of backing homicidal skinheads who sought to kill Obama by supporting McCain.

Vogt never said a word about her experiment. She let the comments continue and carefully recorded each one.

"I couldn't show people really what it was for," she told the Tribune. "I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing."

Few students complimented her on the McCain T-shirt, and when one did, the girl discretely pulled her aside and whispered, "I really like your shirt."

The next day, Vogt decided to complete her experiment by wearing an identical white T-shirt to school – but this time it had the blue words "Obama girl" painted on the front.

"People liked my shirt. They said things like my brain had come back, and I had put the right shirt on today," she told the Tribune.

A few students were confused about Vogt's loyalties.

"A lot of people liked it," she said. "But some people told me I was a flip-flopper. They said, 'You can't make up your mind. You can't wear a McCain shirt one day and an Obama shirt the next day.' "

When Vogt used her findings to write a report, her history teacher, Norma Cassin-Pountney, gave her extra credit.

When a Chicago Tribune reporter asked Cassin-Pountney why Obama supporters would hassle Vogt in a community filled with people who pride themselves on their "tolerance," the teacher said she held a discussion about it after the experiment was completed.

"I said, here you are, promoting this person [Obama] that believes we are all equal and included, and look what you've done?" the teacher said. "The students were kind of like, 'Oh, yeah.' I think they got it."

Vogt said the criticism was difficult to handle when she showed support for McCain.

"Just being on the outside, how it felt, it was not fun at all."
11773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What's Your View on Prop 8? on: November 15, 2008, 09:37:09 AM
The left is very tolerant, just so long as you march in ideological lockstep with them.
11774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What's Your View on Prop 8? on: November 15, 2008, 09:05:34 AM
Marriage means 1 man and 1 woman. Consenting adults that live outside that definition don't bother me. What bothers me is judicial tyranny that tries to alter this key element in our social structure despite the wishes of the majority in our society, even in deep blue California.
11775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How bad will this get? on: November 15, 2008, 08:51:12 AM

Recession, Depression, TEOTWAWKI?

Where will we be a year from now?
11776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 14, 2008, 07:47:52 PM
Since I started my study of islam, on 9/12/01, I've read of many instances of "acid to the face" throught the muslim world. During that time, I've seen lots of apologetics for islamic terror and abuse from the left under the guise of multiculturalism and very little, if any condemnation from feminists for the "rape culture" inherent in islam.
11777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: November 14, 2008, 03:18:00 PM
Acid to the face of improperly garbed or less than submissive women, is popular around the islamic world.
11778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 14, 2008, 01:31:12 PM
**The MSM has been propagandizing for dictators and hurting American interests long before the pentagon papers.**

May 7, 2003 8:45 a.m.
Prize Specimen
The campaign to revoke Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer.

We will never know how many Ukrainians died in Stalin's famines of the early 1930s. As Nikita Khrushchev later recalled, "No one was keeping count." Writing back in the mid- 1980s, historian Robert Conquest came up with a death toll of around six million, a calculation not so inconsistent with later research (the writers of The Black Book of Communism (1999) estimated a total of four million for 1933 alone).

Four million, six million, seven million, when the numbers are this grotesque does the exact figure matter? Just remember this instead:

The first family to die was the Rafalyks — father, mother and a child. Later on the Fediy family of five also perished of starvation. Then followed the families of Prokhar Lytvyn (four persons), Fedir Hontowy (three persons), Samson Fediy (three persons). The second child of the latter family was beaten to death on somebody's onion patch. Mykola and Larion Fediy died, followed by Andrew Fediy and his wife; Stefan Fediy; Anton Fediy, his wife and four children (his two other little girls survived); Boris Fediy, his wife and three children: Olanviy Fediy and his wife; Taras Fediy and his wife; Theodore Fesenko; Constantine Fesenko; Melania Fediy; Lawrenty Fediy; Peter Fediy; Eulysis Fediy and his brother Fred; Isidore Fediy, his wife and two children; Ivan Hontowy, his wife and two children; Vasyl Perch, his wife and child; Makar Fediy; Prokip Fesenko: Abraham Fediy; Ivan Skaska, his wife and eight children.

Some of these people were buried in a cemetery plot; others were left lying wherever they died. For instance, Elizabeth Lukashenko died on the meadow; her remains were eaten by ravens. Others were simply dumped into any handy excavation. The remains of Lawrenty Fediy lay on the hearth of his dwelling until devoured by rats.*

And that's just one village — Fediivka, in the Poltava Province.

We will never know whether Walter Duranty, the principal New York Times correspondent in the U.S.S.R., ever visited Fediivka. Almost certainly not. What we do know is that, in March 1933, while telling his readers that there had indeed been "serious food shortages" in the Ukraine, he was quick to reassure them that "there [was] no actual starvation." There had been no "deaths from starvation," he soothed, merely "widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition." So that was all right then.

But, unlike Khrushchev, Duranty, a Pulitzer Prize winner, no less, was keeping count — in the autumn of 1933 he is recorded as having told the British Embassy that ten million had died. ** "The Ukraine," he said, "had been bled white," remarkable words from the journalist who had, only days earlier, described talk of a famine as "a sheer absurdity," remarkable words from the journalist who, in a 1935 memoir had dismayingly little to say about one of history's greatest crimes. Writing about his two visits to the Ukraine in 1933, Duranty was content to describe how "the people looked healthier and more cheerful than [he] had expected, although they told grim tales of their sufferings in the past two years." As Duranty had explained (writing about his trip to the Ukraine in April that year), he "had no doubt that the solution to the agrarian problem had been found".

Well, at least he didn't refer to it as a "final" solution.

As the years passed, and the extent of the famine and the other, innumerable, brutalities of Stalin's long tyranny became increasingly difficult to deny, Duranty's reputation collapsed (I wrote about this on NRO a couple of years ago), but his Pulitzer Prize has endured.

Ah, that Pulitzer Prize. In his will old Joseph Pulitzer described what the prize was designed to achieve: " The encouragement of public service, public morals, American literature, and the advancement of education."

In 1932 the Pulitzer Board awarded Walter Duranty its prize. It's an achievement that the New York Times still celebrates. The gray lady is pleased to publish its storied Pulitzer roster in a full-page advertisement each year, and, clearly, it finds the name of Duranty as one that is still fit to print. His name is near the top of the list, an accident of chronology, but there it is, Duranty, Times man, denier of the Ukrainian genocide — proudly paraded for all to see. Interestingly, the list of prizewinners posted on the New York Times Company's website is more forthcoming: Against Duranty's name, it is noted that "other writers in the Times and elsewhere have discredited this coverage."

Understandably enough, Duranty's Pulitzer is an insult that has lost none of its power to appall. In a new initiative, Ukrainian groups have launched a fresh campaign designed to persuade the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke the award to Duranty. The Pulitzer's nabobs do not appear to be impressed. A message dated April 29, 2003 from the board's administrator to one of the organizers of the Ukrainian campaign includes the following words:

The current Board is aware that complaints about the Duranty award have surfaced again. [The campaign's] submission…will be placed on file with others we have received. However, to date, the Board has not seen fit to reverse a previous Board's decision, made seventy years ago in a different era and under different circumstances.

A "different era," "different circumstances" — would that have been said, I wonder, about someone who had covered up Nazi savagery? But then, more relevantly, the Pulitzer's representative notes that Duranty's prize was awarded "for a specific set of stories in 1931," in other words, before the famine struck with its full, horrific, force. And there he has a point. The prize is designed to reward a specific piece of journalism — not a body of work. To strip Duranty of the prize on the grounds of his subsequent conduct, however disgusting it may have been, would be a retrospective change of the rules, behavior more typical of the old U.S.S.R. than today's U.S.A.

But what was that "specific set of stories?" Duranty won his prize " for [his] dispatches on Russia especially the working out of the Five Year Plan." They were, said the Pulitzer Board "marked by scholarship, profundity, impartiality, sound judgment and exceptional clarity…."

Really? As summarized by S. J. Taylor in her excellent — and appropriately titled — biography of Duranty, Stalin's Apologist, the statement with which Duranty accepted his prize gives some hint of the "sound judgment" contained in his dispatches.

""Despite present imperfections," he continued, he had come to realize there was something very good about the Soviets' "planned system of economy." And there was something more: Duranty had learned, he said, "to respect the Soviet leaders, especially Stalin, who [had grown] into a really great statesman.""

In truth, of course, this was simply nonsense, a distortion that, in some ways bore even less resemblance to reality than "Jimmy's World," the tale of an eight-year-old junkie that, briefly, won a Pulitzer for Janet Cooke of the Washington Post. Tragic "Jimmy" turned out not to exist. He was a concoction, a fiction, nothing more. The Post did the right thing — Cooke's prize was rapidly returned.

After 70 years the New York Times has yet to do the right thing. There is, naturally, always room for disagreement over how events are interpreted, particularly in an era of revolutionary change, but Duranty's writings clearly tipped over into propaganda, and, often, outright deception, a cynical sugarcoating of the squalor of a system in which he almost certainly didn't believe. His motivation seems to have been purely opportunistic, access to the Moscow "story" for the Times and the well-paid lifestyle and the fame ("the Great Duranty" was, some said, the best-known journalist in the world) that this brought. Too much criticism of Stalin's rule and this privileged existence would end. Duranty's "Stalin" was a lie, not much more genuine than Janet Cooke's "Jimmy" and, as he well knew at the time, so too were the descriptions of the Soviet experiment that brought him that Pulitzer.

And if that is not enough to make the Pulitzer Board to reconsider withdrawing an award that disgraces both the name of Joseph Pulitzer and his prize, it is up to the New York Times to insist that it does so.

*From an account quoted in Robert Conquest's The Harvest of Sorrow.
** On another occasion (a dinner party, ironically) that autumn Duranty talked about seven million deaths.

— Mr. Stuttaford is a writer living in New York.




11779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 01:14:48 PM

November 14, 2008
C.I.A. Chief Says Qaeda Is Extending Its Reach

WASHINGTON — Even as Al Qaeda strengthens its hub in the Pakistani mountains, its leaders are building closer ties to regional militant groups in order to launch attacks in Africa and Europe and on the Arabian Peninsula, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency said Thursday.

The director, Michael V. Hayden, identified North Africa and Somalia as places where Qaeda leaders were using partnerships to establish new bases. Elsewhere, Mr. Hayden said, Al Qaeda was “strengthening” in Yemen, and he added that veterans of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan had moved there, possibly to stage attacks against the government of Saudi Arabia.

He said the “bleed out” from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also extended to North Africa, raising concern that the countries there could be used to stage attacks into Europe. Mr. Hayden delivered his report in a speech to the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, and it offered a mixed assessment of Al Qaeda’s ability to wage a global jihad.

He drew a contrast between what he described as growing Islamic radicalism in places like Somalia and what he said had been the “strategic defeat” of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia — the network’s affiliate group in Iraq.

Still, Mr. Hayden said that Pakistan’s tribal areas remained Al Qaeda’s most significant operations base because the group’s close ties to Pashtun tribes in the region gave Qaeda militants a sanctuary to plan attacks on Western targets.

“Today, virtually every major terrorist threat my agency is aware of has threads back to the tribal areas,” he said.

His remarks were the first public appraisal of Al Qaeda’s Pakistan sanctuary since the C.I.A. escalated what had been a secret campaign of airstrikes in the tribal areas over the summer.

President Bush signed orders in July allowing the C.I.A. to broaden the campaign.

The C.I.A. used to focus remotely piloted Predator aircraft attacks on a relatively small number of Arab fighters in the tribal areas, but it has begun striking Pakistani militant leaders as well as convoys bound for Afghanistan to resupply militant fighters there.

Mr. Hayden pointedly refused to give details about the strikes by remotely piloted aircraft, or even to acknowledge that they occurred. He did say that the recent killing of senior Qaeda operatives had disrupted the group’s planning and isolated its leadership.

In mid-October, a missile fired from an American drone killed Khalid Habib, the latest senior Qaeda planner to be killed this year in Pakistan.

“To the extent that the United States and its allies deepen that isolation, disturb the safe haven, and target terrorist leaders gathered there, we keep Al Qaeda off balance,” Mr. Hayden said.

The radicalization of Pashtun tribes, and their strengthening ties to Qaeda operatives, date in part to the decision by the Pakistani president at the time, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to raid the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad in July 2007, the C.I.A. director said. That raid, at the end of an eight-day siege of the mosque by government troops, killed scores of Pakistani militants.

At the end of his remarks, Mr. Hayden deflected questions about whether he would consider remaining at the C.I.A. during the Obama administration and declined to say whether President-elect Barack Obama had asked him to extend his tenure.

“This is the business of the transition team,” Mr. Hayden said. “This is the business of the president-elect.”
11780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 14, 2008, 12:46:15 PM
Answer: They don't consider it. The only stories they'll bury is anything that might harm Barack Obama. They are fine with getting SpecOps soldiers killed. They'll then run an op-ed bemoaning the loss of the soldiers, blaming President Bush all the while.
11781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:38:36 PM
Now, with the new and weak US of Obamica, watch the sunni AQ align with Hezbollah/Iran to smite the unbelievers. AQ hates the Saudi royal family, Iran hates the Saudi royal family. Oil prices surge and the pursuit of OBL into Pakistan may have to be shelved for lack of funds.

Just a scenario. If I could see the future, I'd be in Vegas right now.
11782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:33:03 PM

Saudi Arabia is also worried about the possibility of unrest instigated by Iran in its oil-rich Eastern province, the home to the kingdom’s minority Shia — and its oil wealth. Riyadh seems to have begun taking measures to ensure that such unrest does not disrupt the booming Saudi oil-based economy. The latest announcement by the Saudi authorities Dec. 18 that a government delegation will listen to the grievances of the kingdom’s Shiite minority is a move to pre-empt any such uprising. According to an Agence France-Presse report, the head of the commission, a Saudi minister, acknowledged that Shia “often suffer from discrimination in the judicial field” — the first senior Saudi official to make such an admission. In April, King Abdullah warned Saudis against sectarian frictions, which he said threatened the unity and security of the kingdom.

Until recently, the Gulf Arab states could count on the United States working with them to contain the rise of Iran. Emerging signs of an understanding between Tehran and Washington over Iraq, however, mean the United States could reduce its military presence in the region in the not-so-distant future. The Arab states know that if and when that day comes, they will have to live with an emergent Iran and and empowered Shia in Iraq.

Despite recent efforts on the part of the Gulf Cooperation Council member countries to engage Iran in a positive manner, countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain remain only too aware of Iran’s increasing ability to inflame internal sectarian tensions in their countries as its influence continues to rise in the region vis-a-vis Iraq.
11783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:21:34 PM

Saudi Hezbollah

In June 1996, terrorists exploded a huge truck bomb at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, a housing complex for U.S. airmen. Nineteen Americans were killed and more than three-hundred seventy were wounded. The American airmen were stationed in Saudi Arabia to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. Thanks to their courageous efforts, the former Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein was unable to use his air force to attack Shia Muslims and others in southern Iraq.

In June 2001, a U.S. federal grand jury indicted fourteen people in connection with the Khobar Towers bombing. Some are in custody and others are still at large. According to the U.S. Justice Department, thirteen of those indicted are connected to the pro-Iran Saudi Hezbollah terrorist group. The fourteenth is linked to Lebanese Hezbollah, also supported by Iran. The indictment makes clear, said Attorney General John Ashcroft, "that elements of the Iranian government inspired, supported, and supervised members of Saudi Hezbollah" as they planned the bombing.

Hezbollah is not the only terrorist group supported by Iran's extremist Muslim clerical regime. Iran also provides Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command with funding, safe haven, training, and weapons.
11784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:14:35 PM

Is there a link between Mugniyah and al-Qaeda?

Mugniyah met with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the mid-1990s, according to the court testimony of Ali Abdelsoud Mohammed, a naturalized U.S. citizen and former U.S. army sergeant who later became a senior aide to bin Laden. After his arrest in 1998 in connection with the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Mohammed testified that he arranged several meetings between bin Laden and Mugniyah in Sudan. Bin Laden reportedly admired Mugniyah's tactics, particularly his use of truck bombs, which precipitated the United States' withdrawal from Lebanon. According to Mohammed, bin Laden and Mugniyah agreed Hezbollah would provide training, military expertise, and explosives in exchange for money and man power. It is not known, however, whether this agreement was carried out. The relationship between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda is not entirely friendly, as explained in this Backgrounder.
11785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:06:58 PM
Much of AQ's VBIED knowledge base probably came from Imad Mugniyah.
11786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 14, 2008, 09:27:27 AM
The only time the nations of the world howl louder than when they scream their hatred for us, is when they need us to rescue them.
11787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 09:24:42 AM
You can always harden the security of anything, however you can never harden to the point where it is truly invulnerable. In addition, it's very difficult to protect against attacks from trusted insiders gone jihadi.

A key element in contemplating AQ, they think long term and plan around redundancies and failsafe their attacks by launching multiple ones at once to ensure at least one succeeds. An additional aspect is that once the find a viable target, they will return to it until they succeed. See the first WTC attack in 1993, failed until 2001. The failed attack on the USS Sullivans was successful on the USS Cole.

In addition, Iran has a pre-existing alliance with AQ and may well have Saudi Hezbollah assets to lend to any effort.
11788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 08:52:30 PM

Volume 4, Issue 4 (February 23, 2006)

Saudi Oil Facilities: Al-Qaeda's Next Target?

By John C. K. Daly

At a time of record-high oil prices, analysts are beginning to consider the implications of possible terrorist attacks on Middle Eastern oil facilities. The crown jewel of these facilities is Saudi Arabia's oil production infrastructure. It is worth noting that Saudi Arabia possesses 261.9 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

On January 19, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden broke a 14-month-long silence to warn that his organization is preparing further attacks against Western targets. Bin Laden said, "The war against America and its allies will not be confined to Iraq…As for similar operations taking place in America, it's only a matter of time. They are in the planning stages, and you will see them in the heart of your land as soon as the planning is complete" (al-Jazeera, January 19).

Saudi Arabia and its oil have long been in bin Laden's thoughts; in 1996, he said, "The ordinary Saudi knows that his country is the largest oil producer in the world, yet at the same time he is suffering from taxes and bad services…Our country has become a colony of America…Saudis know their real enemy is America" (UPI Intelligence Watch, March 21, 2005).

Neighboring Iraq demonstrates the crippling effects of an insurgency on oil installations. Since June 2003, there have been 298 recorded attacks against Iraqi oil facilities (Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, As of December 2005, Iraqi production was averaging around 1.9 million barrels per day as compared with its January 2003 2.58 million barrels per day production rate (U.S. Energy Information Administration, December 2005). Moreover, the costs of infrastructure attacks are becoming staggering, with the Iraqi oil ministry announcing on February 19 that insurgent attacks had cost the oil industry $6.25 billion in lost revenue during 2005.

Aside from Saudi crude oil production capacity being the world's largest, at 10.5-11 million barrels per day, Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, controls the world's only significant excess production capacity, an extra 2.5-3 million barrels per day. This makes the kingdom the world's only guarantor of liquidity in the oil market. The Saudi economy is heavily dependent on energy, with oil export revenues bringing in around 90-95 percent of total Saudi export earnings, and generating around 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

The country's hydrocarbon infrastructure, with its massive production fields, ports and 10,000 miles of pipelines, presents a number of opportunities for potential attackers, whose success would have implications far beyond the kingdom, driving the world into recession or depression as energy costs soar.

Over half of Saudi Arabia's oil reserves are contained in just eight massive fields, including the huge 130-mile long, 20-mile wide Ghawar field, covering 2,600 square miles. Ghawar alone accounts for nearly half of Saudi Arabia's total oil production capacity. Aramco's skein of pipelines depends on 30 pumping stations, powered by six generators, which would shut down the flow if destroyed. Port facilities are concentrated on a 20-mile stretch of Persian Gulf shoreline from Juaymah to al-Khobar.

Saudi Arabia's offshore Safaniya oilfield is the largest of its kind in the world, with estimated reserves of 35 billion barrels. Continuing the trend toward gigantism, the Abqaiq refinery 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Bahrain processes about two-thirds of Saudi Arabia's crude oil. On the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia's Ras Tanura facility is the world's largest offshore oil loading facility, accounting for a tenth of the world's daily oil supply. A second loading facility is at Ras al-Juaymah, while Yanbu terminal is located on the Red Sea, supplied from Abqaiq via the 750-mile East-West pipeline.

Terrorist attacks could be easily launched against onshore facilities and tankers. Over 60 percent of the world's oil is shipped on 3,500 tankers through a small number of "chokepoints" including the Strait of Hormuz, which alone transits 13 million barrels of oil per day.

Al-Qaeda has already carried out maritime attacks on both warships and tankers. On October 6, 2002, the 299,364 DWT-ton French Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) tanker Limburg, carrying a cargo of 397,000 barrels of crude from Iran to Malaysia, was rammed by an explosives-laden boat off the port of Ash Shihr at Mukalla, 353 miles east of Aden. A crewman was killed and the double-hulled tanker was breached. The impact on the Yemeni economy was immediate, as maritime insurers tripled their rates.

Al-Qaeda issued a statement following the attack warning that it "was not an incidental strike at a passing tanker but...on the international oil-carrying line in the full sense of the word," prompting the U.S. Navy's Maritime Liaison Office in Bahrain to issue a warning stating that "Shipmasters should exercise extreme caution when transiting...strategic chokepoints such as the Strait of Hormuz, or Bab el-Mandeb, or...traditional high-threat areas such as along the Horn of Africa."

Al-Qaeda's cadre of maritime specialists recently received a boost when on February 3, 23 prisoners escaped from a jail in Sanaa. Five days later, Interpol issued a global security alert, a Red Notice, to its 184 member states, as law enforcement officials believe that at least 13 of the fugitives have links to al-Qaeda. Among those who broke out of the prison was Jamal al-Badawi, who was serving a 10-year sentence for his part in the October 12, 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor during a refueling stop; 17 sailors died and 39 more were injured in the attack.

The most worrisome scenario revolves around al-Qaeda crashing a hijacked commercial passenger jet into an oil installation. To consider just one scenario, a jetliner crashing into the Ras Tanura facility could remove 10 percent of the world's energy imports in one shot.

Former CIA agent Robert Baer has considered the implications of terrorist attacks on Saudi oil facilities, writing, "At the least, a moderate-to-severe attack on Abqaiq would slow average production there from 6.8 million barrels a day to roughly a million barrels for the first two months post-attack, a loss equivalent to approximately one-third of America's current daily consumption of crude oil. Even as long as seven months after an attack, Abqaiq output would still be about 40 percent of pre-attack output, as much as four million barrels below normal—roughly equal to what all of the OPEC partners collectively took out of production during the devastating 1973 embargo" (see Robert Baer's Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold our Soul for Saudi Crude). An al-Qaeda assault on Abqaiq would have the added propaganda effect of killing Americans. Abqaiq is an oil-company town; in 2005, nearly half of its approximately 2,000 inhabitants were U.S. citizens.

In the last few years, the Saudis have moved to tighten security around their oil installations. Unlike in Iraq, where insurgent attacks are focused mainly on the country's hydrocarbon infrastructure, thus far al-Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia have focused on "soft targets," namely the 3,000 foreign oil workers employed in the kingdom.

On December 16, 2004, bin Laden released an audiotape making an explicit connection between U.S. forces in Iraq and the region's oil reserves; in the audiotape, he praised the terrorists who attacked the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah. Bin Laden said, "Targeting America in Iraq in terms of economy and losses in life is a golden and unique opportunity. Do not waste it only to regret it later. One of the most important reasons that led our enemies to control our land is the theft of our oil. Do everything you can to stop the biggest plundering operation in history—the plundering of the resources of the present and future generations in collusion with the agents and the aliens...Be active and prevent them from reaching the oil, and mount your operations accordingly, particularly in Iraq and the Gulf, for this is their fate" (BBC, December 16, 2004). Three days later, the "al-Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula" posted a message on its website urging its members "to strike all foreign targets and the hideouts of the tyrants to rid the peninsula of the infidels and their supporters. We call on all the mujahideen to target the sources of oil which do not serve the Islamic nation but serve the enemies of the nation" (Agence France Press, December 19, 2004).

Judging by al-Qaeda's pronouncements, an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities seems to be only a matter of time. In terms of the global impact of such a strike, Robert Baer provides an extreme but not altogether improbable scenario: "Such an attack would be more economically damaging than a dirty nuclear bomb set off in midtown Manhattan or across from the White House in Lafayette Square…[and] would be enough to bring the world's oil-addicted economies to their knees, America's along with them."
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11789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 07:32:18 PM
The global energy infrastructure has key points of vulnerability which can be readily struck by low cost, high impact, asymmetrical warfare attacks. This vulnerability of nation-states is understood both by the nation-states as well as the non-state actors, and al qaeda has discussed and made attempts at launching this attack on the Saudi oil production centers in the past.

The ripple effect of such an attack would negativly impact the global economy and potentially cause confrontations between nation-states. The plan for such an attack may be referred to below:

 According to the report, bin Laden is himself closely following preparations for an attack against the US and aims to "change the face of world politics and economics".
11790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 04:01:54 PM
The following occurred as a result of the disruptions.

Six million barrels per day of oil production has stopped.
Fifteen million barrels per day can no longer be shipped through the most direct routes.
Saudi Aramco insists on being the only contractor for repairs at the damaged facilities.
The U.S., U.K., Japan, India, China, and Australia deploy naval and special forces operations to the Strait of Malacca to hunt down sea-borne and land-based terrorist teams and to conduct de-mining operations. This takes three months.

Conduct of the Exercise

After the players read and discussed the initial scenario and its effects on their nation or organization, they separated into break-out groups. In the first break-out, each team of nation players further discussed and recorded its short-term actions. Limited communication was allowed between nation players to replicate diplomatic dialogue.

After the first break-out discussion, all teams of nation players reconvened to brief each other on their respective actions. Nation players were not required to reveal their diplomatic dialogue. Once the actions were discussed by Heritage staff, the teams returned to their break-out groups to determine long-term actions.

Player responses were organized into three subcategories:

Diplomatic. The actions of a nation player have a dominant diplomatic component if, for example, they encourage actions primarily by other nations or organizations. Encouraging imposition of economic sanctions, for instance, is listed as a diplomatic action in spite of its obvious economic effects and possible military implications necessary for enforcement.
Economic. These responses have a dominant economic component, such as modifying production quotas, price controls, or rationing.
Military. Actions include those that directly involve a nation's military assets, or intelligence assets normally under military control.
Table 1 summarizes the actions taken.

Click to view Table 1
Outcome Trends

In exploring how crisis decisions might be made in a multi-player environment, the following practices and trends emerged over the course of the game:

Nation players tended to seek cooperation with other nation players and took few unilateral actions to secure energy resources. Not one nation player stated he would take military action to seize or capture additional energy resources.
Several non-U.S. players advocated engagement with Iran in order to fill supply void.
Only India and Japan mentioned possible domestic social or political tensions created by energy scarcities and rapid price increases.
Most nation players sought actions to develop more diverse sources of energy supply, also greater efficiency measures and technology leaps. The exception was OPEC.
Nations with pre-existing pipelines to developed supplies will have a distinct competitive advantage over those who rely on seaborne tankers to import energy. The United States and the European Union have more secure energy supplies than do China, Japan, or Asia. This may produce tensions among competing consumers in the Asian region. It may also produce military alliances that have energy security as their basis.
Global Economic Effects

The interruption of the energy supply results in a dramatic increase in the world prices of petroleum. Absent any credible national and multi-national policies, there will be major declines in the economic output of the United States and other industrial countries, as well as rapid impoverishment of developing economies. Without enough energy to maintain current GDP levels, 592,000 workers lose their jobs at the outset and household income falls by $309 billion in the quarter with the lowest income. These effects were simulated using the Global Insight model. Heritage analysts worked with energy specialists at Global Insight, a prominent forecasting company, to determine what the reduced supply would mean for the world price of crude oil. The analysts then set up a simulation experiment to forecast the effects on some of the major U.S. macroeconomic variables.[6]

The U.S. and other countries' responses were then analyzed by the Heritage team in terms of their likely economic impact. Oil withdrawals from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves made up for part of the lost world supply and mitigated the increase in the world price of oil. The simulation experiment was then re-run with the effects of these economic responses incorporated. The effectiveness of the players' responses to the crisis are illustrated in Chart 1. The graphs show both the devastating economic impact of the attacks on the U.S. economy without any policy response, and the less severe economic decline with a policy response.

The combined effect of responses by the U.S. and other participating countries helps to counter some of the effects of the attack.

Job losses recover a year after the attack--compared to continued significant job losses two years after the attack if the U.S. and other countries do not respond.
Inflation-adjusted GDP recovers within a year-- compared to persistently lower output for two years after the attack.
Inflation-adjusted disposable income recovers within two years after the attack--compared to continued lowered inflation-adjusted income two years after the attack.
The immediate and effective economic responses of the various countries make it possible for them to accommodate much of the short-term energy demands, while investment is mobilized for swift recovery efforts in the meantime. The military deployments in conjunction with all the investments made to rebuild damaged infrastructure help contain job losses by mobilizing the labor force for these reconstruction projects. Without these economic, diplomatic, and military responses, an average of 406,000 jobs are lost in the first year compared to an average of 164,000 jobs lost with the response. These investments allow inflation-adjusted GDP to grow, and finally real-income growth as investments start to pay off in positive returns around two years after the attack.

Lessons Learned

The consequences of an energy disruption on a scale depicted in this exercise were devastating and would no doubt have a profound and lasting impact on the global economy. Without question, the United States and its allies would have to exercise decisive and effective leadership to deal with the crisis. The results of this exercise illustrate the magnitude of the challenge:

As governments and the private sector direct national resources to deal with the second- and third-order effects, they will have more success following the market than with a command economy. That is, the more that nations rely on market principles to direct resources, the faster the global economy will recover. But reliance on market principles is unlikely. Expecting market-based responses ignores most of recorded history, and is counterintuitive to human nature. All nations will have domestic constituencies that advocate greater centralized control of national assets for the sake of national security. Contrary to the game's players, it will be extraordinarily difficult for national leaders who advocate liberal economic policies to survive their own internal politics. After the crisis begins, it will be too late to educate the general population about market principles. They must have this understanding beforehand. Public information on handling energy crises needs to be developed in advance and promptly implemented as the crises erupt.
While nations contemplate short-term and long-term economic and diplomatic responses, military contingences, such as destroying the most dangerous terrorist organizations' cells, deploying naval assets to conduct mine-sweeping operations, and escorting tankers through maritime choke points, need to be implemented.
During a period of crisis, non-Mideast petroleum exporters, such as Russia, Norway, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Brazil, could well have greatly increased influence as consumer nations compete for scarce energy supplies.
Global economic disruptions would make many long-term actions improbable, such as Japan's proposed regional strategic reserve in northeast Asia, or India's proposed pipelines to connect to Central Asian energy reserves through Pakistan.
Nations will contend for breakthrough energy research and development (R&D), but will have fewer national resources to allocate to development given declining economies. Thus, looking to a crisis to spur the drive for alternative energy sources appears an impractical strategy. Alternative energy R&D needs to be undertaken during peacetime and relative economic prosperity.

The Heritage game demonstrated the vulnerabilities of the global system's capacity to produce and deliver oil supplies to a concerted transnational terrorist threat. This exercise also suggests that major producer and consumer nations and key geo-strategic allies acting in concert with one another while protecting their own national interests could ameliorate the severity of long-term disruptions. Reliance on market forces and coordinated security activities did much to help restore the confidence of markets and consumers.

William W. Beach is Director of the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation; James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Assistant Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and Senior Research Fellow for National Security and Homeland Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation; Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies; David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D., is Senior Policy Analyst for Energy Economics and Climate Change in the Center for Data Analysis; Karen A. Campbell, Ph.D., is Policy Analyst in Macroeconomics in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation; and Hopper Smith is a consultant to The Heritage Foundation.


Simulation Methodology

This energy simulation was built on the simulation of a previous game, during which the impact of the U.S. response was estimated. The technique used to introduce the effects of the oil price shock and the contribution to domestic oil supply from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) can be found in the report by James Carafano and William Beach. [7] The procedure for the initial simulation on which this current simulation is based was performed in three steps. Each step produced a new state of the economy (from the original baseline) in order to simulate the new economic reality the U.S. economy would face if such a crisis occurred. Given this new state, policy recommendations from the participants were implemented and the impact of these recommendations on the "crisis state" of the economy could thus be studied. Following is a description of this process from the original report [8] and then the method used in the present study for incorporating the policy recommendations from the rest of the world and assessing their impact.

Step 1. To simulate the effects of the oil price shock, the Heritage Foundation economics team introduced the change in oil prices and the contribution to domestic oil supply from the SPR into the Global Insight model. They then directly changed three separate oil prices in the model: the weighted average price of imported crude, the weighted average price of domestic crude, and the average price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude. All three were assumed to deviate from baseline levels by the same amount; namely, the change in WTI crude oil prices forecast by Global Insight.

The contributions to the domestic oil supply from the SPR were also calculated by Global Insight. They were converted to quadrillion BTU before they were input into the GI model.

In Step 1, the team assumed that the Federal Reserve would adjust the effective federal funds rate in response to changes in the civilian unemployment rate and the rate of Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation. They next imposed the model's monetary reaction function that mimics the actions of the Federal Reserve.XREF Heritage economists excluded the GI model's exchange rate variables, solved the model, and used this new forecast as the starting point for Step 2.

Step 2. The team adjusted the response of real non-residential investment in mines and wells on the advice of economists at Global Insight. Global Insight recommended this move because in the current version of the Global Insight model, this variable is very responsive to oil price shocks. As a result of these discussions, the team cut the mines and wells variable by half from the baseline forecast. They then ran the model again with these adjustments, and the new forecast was used as a starting point for Step 3.

Step 3. Next, the team neutralized the relative price effects of oil-related energy products and adjusted world GDP to be consistent with these prices. U.S. trading partners would likely face the same price changes as the U.S. and take similar hits to their GDP from an oil price shock. Neutralizing the relative price effects and adjusting world GDP helped to ensure that the final simulation results reflect these shared effects.

The team neutralized the relative price effects by adjusting the baseline. They made adjustments, first, by calculating the deviation from baseline in the Global Insight model's variable for the U.S. Producer Price Index excluding energy and, second, by applying that deviation to the model's two variables for foreign producer price indices.

They adjusted foreign GDP in the model by modifying key indices of the real trade-weighted GDP of U.S. trading partners. The team then solved the model and saved the forecast. This new forecast was used to generate the summary results spreadsheets.

The policy prescriptions of all teams were analyzed for quantifiable impacts on the U.S. economy. These impacts came from two main areas: 1) policies that affect petroleum price and 2) domestic policies that change U.S. government spending. The economic impact of the world's response in conjunction with the U.S. response on the U.S. economy was simulated using the Global Insight 30-year macroeconomic model as follows:[9]

a) Building on the previous simulation, the Heritage team estimated the impact of the world's increased supply response on the import price of oil by assuming a short-run vertical supply curve and an elasticity of demand equal to 0.08. The effect of 3 million barrels per day released into the world market lowered the import price of oil by 15 percent. The previous import price (estimated from the reduction in supply from the attack) is also reduced by 15 percent and made exogenous.

b) The United States military response has an economic impact since higher military involvement will increase government spending. This increased spending was estimated by the team to be $30 billion per quarter for 10 quarters (until the end of 2010). The national defense spending variable was increased by this amount and made exogenous.

c) The model was solved and results obtained with and without the national responses. The forecast was used to generate the summary results reported above.

[1] James Jay Carafano, William W. Beach et al., "If Iran Provokes an Energy Crisis: Modeling the Problem in a War Game," Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report No. 07-03, July 25, 2007, at
[2] International Energy Agency, "World Energy Outlook 2007: China and India Insights," 2007, p. 48.

[3] Figures for individual and regional petroleum production, transportation, and consumption taken from: International Petroleum Encyclopedia 2007, Joseph Hilyard, ed. (Tulsa, Okla.: PennWell Corporation, 2007). Table 7, World Oil Trade Movements, on page 418 was particularly useful.

[4]While these nations certainly have a significant interest in the flow of global petroleum, they were not in proximity to the Straits of Hormuz or Malacca. For the purpose of the exercise, their reactions were assumed to be rational, and that they would continue maximum petroleum production at elevated prices.

[5] The 2002 Bali bombing was conducted by Jemaah Islamiyah in support of al-Qaeda's strategic goals. It targeted Australian tourists vacationing in Indonesia, resulting in 202 civilian deaths. For more information, see numerous articles by Dana Robert Dillon including, "Bali Bombings: Self Inflicted Wounds?" Heritage Foundation Press Commentary, October 18, 2002, at Also see "Bali Nightclub Bombing,", at (October 16, 2008).

[6]See the Appendix for the experiment methodology.

[7] Carafano and Beach, "If Iran Provokes an Energy Crisis: Modeling the Problem in a War Game."

[8] Ibid.

[9] The methodologies, assumptions, conclusions, and opinions presented here have not been endorsed by and do not necessarily reflect the views of the owners of the Global Insight model or their employees. Fortune 500 companies and numerous government agencies use Global Insight's Short-Term Macroeconomic Model to forecast how changes in the economy and public policy will likely affect major economic indicators. Additional information on the simulation methodology is available upon request.
11791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 03:59:56 PM

Responding to a Terrorist Energy Crisis   

By William W. Beach, James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., David Kreutzer, Ph.D. and Karen Cam
Heritage Foundation | Thursday, November 13, 2008

In June 2008, The Heritage Foundation invited energy scholars and policy experts to participate in a computer simulation and gaming exercise assessing the economic effects of a global petroleum energy crisis. The exercise was similar to the previous energy study conducted from 2006 to 2007, but larger in geographic and economic scope.[1]

The Heritage team simulated the effects on world oil supplies, demand, and prices after a major terrorist attack on oil exports from Saudi Arabia and resulting disruption of oil shipping lanes between the Middle East and major Asian economies. Analysts at The Heritage Foundation's Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies developed the crisis scenario, while analysts in Heritage's Center for Data Analysis (CDA) measured the effects of these disruptions on the U.S. economy and found:

The price of petroleum in the U.S. spiked very quickly from the price of $127 per barrel on the day of the game to a high of $244 per barrel just days later.
This price increase caused a rapid slowing of the U.S. economy, seen in a drop in employment of approximately 1.5 million jobs in the first year and an average drop in inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) in the first year of $119 billion.
The scholars and policy experts recommended steps the U.S. and other countries could take to mitigate such adverse economic effects. CDA members analyzed these policy recommendations with the same economic model used to make the initial impact estimates. They found that:

Petroleum prices fell by 15 percent after implementation of the recommendations.
The U.S. economy recovered approximately 970,000 jobs in the first year and recovered $112 billion of output in the first year.
The results of this second game are described in detail in the following sections:

Situation and Strategic Environment
The Crisis Scenario
Conduct of the Game
Outcome Trends
Global Economic Effects
Lessons Learned and Conclusion
This project was a "proof-of-principle" investigation. It combined computer modeling and gaming to capture the economic impact of a sudden petroleum-supply disruption. By design, the magnitude of the disruption was to be catastrophic--well beyond what excess petroleum capacity and strategic petroleum reserves could easily absorb.

The purpose of the gaming exercise was to provide input data for an economic model to estimate net impacts of 1) the shock (the terrorist actions) and 2) the policy responses. As such, the study focused on the economic and diplomatic reactions of the player nations, and the subsequent implications. Military reactions by players were minimal. The exercise incorporated a plausible scenario that caused an immediate petroleum-supply interdiction of approximately 10 to 15 percent of global production, or 8 to 12 million barrels per day (mbd), with residual effects that would disrupt approximately 4 mbd for several months.

The project demonstrated the feasibility of modeling the economic consequences of crisis decision making and responses during an oil-price shock induced by a terrorist attack. At the same time, the game emphasizes that much more exploration is needed of how various combinations of political, military, diplomatic, and economic initiatives might affect the course of a global energy crisis. The Heritage Foundation plans to expand and refine its simulation and modeling tools to evaluate international responses, environmental consequences, and private- and public-sector responses to other foreign policy challenges.

Why This Exercise?

Demand for oil is no longer driven exclusively by developed economies like the United States. China, India, other developing countries, and energy producers themselves are transforming global energy markets through their sheer size and pace of growth. According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), between now and 2030, China and India will account for 70 percent of the new global oil demand; their combined oil imports will skyrocket from 5.4 mbd in 2006 to 20 mbd in 2030--overtaking the current combined imports of Japan and the United States.[2] Thus, an evaluation of any potential responses to an energy crisis must include exploration of the actions of major consumer nations, energy producers, and geo-strategic powers as well as of sub-state and transnational non-state actors that will shape the military and diplomatic agendas, as well as energy policies. The goal of this proof-of-principle exercise was to model a multi-player response to an energy crisis.

Situation and Strategic Environment. Catastrophic destruction of the Ras Tanura port and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia would achieve a loss of more than 4 mbd for at least several months, and as long as the terminal remains non-functioning. Two principal choke points--the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca between Indonesia and Malaysia--transport a combined 28 million barrels of petroleum per day. Interdicting either of these choke points would cause a short-term loss of global petroleum supply on the order of 8 to 12 mbd. Together, these events achieved the desired results for the purpose of the exercise and study.

Represented in the game were the United States, the European Union, China, Japan, India, Australia, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). They were chosen both because they represented major energy-producing and -consuming nations, and because they are key geo-strategic players in responding to regional events in the Middle East and South Asia. In particular, each player is a significant energy consumer or producer, with the exception of Australia, which was chosen due to its strategic proximity to the Strait of Malacca.[3] During the game, the players were represented by teams of policy and academic experts. Each national player was represented by a team of two to four subject-matter experts. In some cases, the teams represented more than one nation, such as OPEC or the European Union. To limit the complexity of the exercise, several nations, including Russia, Brazil, and Venezuela, were omitted.[4]

The United States was among the most important of the players. The United States receives most of its imported petroleum from Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela, and less than 20 percent of U.S. imports are from the Middle East. But as the world's largest consumer of petroleum, the United States would be affected by any loss of global supply that cannot be absorbed by the limited excess capacity. Oil prices around the world are set by the globalized markets. Any reduction in global supply will elevate prices for all consumers, including those in the Western Hemisphere.

European nations import slightly more than 3 mbd from the Middle East. Like the United States, they would be affected by any supply interruption, since a reduction in global supply affects all consumers as prices increase. This is especially true for the EU, since its other major supplier is Russia (6 mbd), which has shown no reluctance to raise prices for oil and natural gas exports when given the opportunity.

Japan and China are heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil, specifically on petroleum transported by tanker through the Strait of Malacca. China imports approximately 4 mbd, of which 2.2 mbd traverse the Strait; while 4.2 mbd of Japan's imported 5.4 mbd traverse the Strait. The energy vulnerability of Japan and China is also mirrored by other developed nations in the Asia-Pacific region, such as South Korea and Taiwan.

India imports nearly 2 mbd of the 2.5 mbd it consumes. Most of this petroleum comes from the Middle East through the Strait of Hormuz. India is also dependent on Mideast liquefied natural gas (LNG) for electric energy generation to fuel its rapidly growing economy. India has one of the largest economies in the world and would be doubly affected by production degradation in the Persian Gulf and by supply interdiction of the Strait of Hormuz.

Australia plays a unique role in the Asia-Pacific region. It is the largest Western nation near the Strait of Malacca, it maintains close diplomatic and economic ties to other developed nations in the region, especially China, and it has been the previous target of attacks by the Islamist terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.[5] Australia is very active in offshore exploration and production of oil and natural gas, and has recently started importing small amounts of crude oil due to a growing economy. Tankers that bypass the Straits of Malacca and Sunda must travel by the island of Bali, much closer to Australia.

OPEC remains an influential organization with a pivotal role in the global economy. Members of OPEC provide approximately 41 percent of global oil production with key members located in the Middle East, and much of its petroleum exports flowing through the Strait of Hormuz. The most prominent member of OPEC is Saudi Arabia--the largest exporter of crude oil and the historic provider of global excess capacity, the production "cushion," that has kept oil prices relatively stable for decades. Of the 86 mbd of global production, 17 mbd (nearly 20 percent) flow through the Strait of Hormuz from OPEC nations.

The Crisis. For this exercise, players were given a supply-disruption scenario that was caused by a plausibly successful coordinated terrorist attack conducted by the remnants of al-Qaeda and an affiliated political group operating in Pacific Asia, Jemaah Islamiyah. The intent of the attack is to cause an immediate shock to the global petroleum transportation system, with persistent effects that reduce petroleum throughput from producing nations to consuming nations. The desired result of this coordinated attack is to cause economic failure of oil-consuming nations, fracture Western alliances, and cause economic and political confrontation between Western nations and the Middle Eastern Islamic states. This result is consistent with al-Qaeda's previously established strategic goals.

The Road to Crisis

Al-Qaeda takes 300 pupils hostage at the Ras Tanura Middle School. The next morning the hostage-takers begin executing students.
While Saudi security forces are distracted, al-Qaeda launches simultaneous attacks on oil-processing and shipping facilities. These are thermobaric explosive attacks on the Ras Tanura and Abu Qaiq facilities, destroying parts of each. (Improvised thermobaric weapons are containers of fine explosive particles or liquids that burst open the container and disperse the contents in a cloud and then ignite, creating a downward destructive wave of over-pressure.)
An explosives-laden plane attacks the Saudi Aramco headquarters, destroying the Intenet facilities there and killing portions of the company's leadership.
Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah begins speedboat attacks on oil tankers crossing the Strait of Malacca.
Jemaah Islamiyah places EM-52 mines in the Strait of Malacca (near Singapore). The mines are coated with polymer to reduce the likelihood of detection.
All oil traffic through the Strait of Malacca is stopped because insurers will not give coverage to hydrocarbon cargo.
Al-Qaeda affiliates place mines in the Strait of Sunda to further disrupt traffic.
The results of the coordinated attack were: 1) the catastrophic destruction of the Ras Tanura terminal and subsequent reduction in traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, and 2) the closure of the Straits of Malacca and Sunda with traffic detouring more than 1,000 kilometers to reach the refineries and terminals of Southeast Asian consumers. Transportation delays and costs increase across the globe as producer and consumer nations implement increased security measures in order to cope with the new types, sophistication, and brutality of al-Qaeda- Jemaah Islamiyah attacks.

11792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 13, 2008, 03:38:47 PM

Waiting for all the moderate muslims to take to the streets to protest this mindset. Any second now....
11793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 03:25:52 PM
The smartest thing Obama could do is be very centrist and curb the worst impulses of the left. The Kossacks will gurantee he's a one term president if he continues to pander to them now.
11794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 09:09:31 AM

A nifty demonstration of Democratic fiscal management
posted at 9:55 am on November 13, 2008 by Ed Morrissey   

Those of us on Barack Obama mailing lists have wondered why the masters of fundraising haven’t stopped pushing for more donations.  After all, Obama won … last week.  Recounts won’t affect the substantial victory; this isn’t 2000.  Yet we keep getting e-mails, supposedly from people like Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and especially David Plouffe, telling us that Obama and the DNC desperately need more of our money — and Andrew Malcolm does the math.  He reprints the missive from Plouffe:

Here’s what he said:

“We’ll get to work transforming this country. But first, we need to take care of the DNC.”

Did we hear that right? Now that Obama’s the president-elect, the top priority is the Democratic National Committee?

To drive home the point elsewhere in the same e-mail Plouffe adds: “Before we do anything else, we need to pay for this winning strategy.”

Don’t worry, you still get the Victory T-shirt for this $30. But it sounds like pretty much everything else is on hold. This change stuff is looking to be an expensive process, even before it gets started.

The DNC raised $100 million dollars on top of the $600+ million raised by Obama.  The latter was a record-breaking number, and the DNC’s wasn’t too bad, either.  Instead of simply spending what they raised, though, Howard Dean took out massive loans that left the Democrats in the red by $15 million.

In government, we call that deficit spending, something Democrats decried during the 2006 elections.  And who gets to pay for all the overspending and fiscal mismanagement?  The contributors who already coughed up record amounts of money for Hope and Change, that’s who.  And the new administration will hold the Hope and Change hostage until it gets all of the loose change possible first, Plouffe tells us.

In a way, this is truth in advertising.  The Democrats have given us a clear example of how they will govern for at least the next two years.  In fact, we may all wind up wearing shirts that say, “The government took all of my wealth, and all they shared was this lousy T-shirt.”
11795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 08:55:44 AM
**Iran, Russia and others can't withstand a prolonged drop in the global price of oil, so they will be forced to act soon.**

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Gathering Storm

An Iranian Sajjil missile is launched from a test site west of Tehran (Associated Press photo via Fox News)

Barack Obama's first international "test" moved a bit closer to reality today, with Iran's test of a new, solid-fuel missile that can strike targets in Israel--and southeastern Europe--more accurately (and with less warning) than other missiles in Tehran's inventory.

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar identified the missile as the Sajjil, which was launched from a test complex western of Tehran. The two-stage system has a reported range of 1,200 miles, allowing it to reach targets as far away as Greece and Israel. Iranian officials claim that the Sajjil is Iran's first medium-range missile to use solid fuel technology, similar to that found in more advanced systems produced by Russia, China and the West.

While the test launch was a major step for Iran's missile program, it also represented another failure. U.S. defense officials report that th Sajjil suffered an engine failure in the early stages of its flight and traveled only 180 miles, less than 20% of its advertised range. Similar failures have also occurred in past launches of extended range versions of the Shahab-3, Tehran's first medium-range ballistic missile.

Unlike the Sajjil, the Shahab-3 uses liquid fuel to power its engines. While liquid-fuel engines represent proven technology, they also pose operational problems. The missile must be fueled before launch, raising the potential for accidents--or detection by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems. It can take up to an hour to fuel an older Iranian SCUD or Shahab-3 and in some cases, the missile must be elevated to firing position before the propellant and oxidizer can be loaded.

By comparison, solid fuel is stable and can be stored in the missile for extended periods of time. That decreases the "signature" associated with operations--you don't need oxidizer and propellant trucks following your launcher vehicle around the countryside. With a smaller signature, it becomes more difficult to spot (and interdict) missile operations.

That problem is further compounded by the rapid response time of solid fuel missile systems. With liquid fuel missiles, there is often a lag between the receipt of launch orders and the actual event, increasing the vulnerability of the weapon--and its crew--to enemy interdiction efforts. The problem is particularly acute in Iran's ballistic missile force; many of its Shahab-3 launchers cannot raise a fully-fueled missile, meaning that the airframe must be elevated prior to fueling operations.

Those difficulties are largely eliminated by the use of solid-fuel missiles. With the propellant (and warhead) already on-board, a solid-fuel system can respond much more rapidly to operational tasking. Using standard "shoot-and-scoot" tactics, a Sajjil crew could fire their missile and move to an alternate site for re-loading and new tasking. That makes the job of "Scud hunting" (or, in this case, MRBM hunting) that much more difficult.

Additionally, Iran has taken steps to help conceal its missile and rocket forces, improving their prospects for survivability. In the spring of 2005, for example, western intelligence analysts were surprised to find pre-surveyed launch sites for SCUDs and battlefield rockets near the Persian Gulf coastline. The sites had been used in a late-winter exercise involving Iranian missile units, but the deployment locations weren't discovered until well after the training ended. That discovery underscores the difficulty associated with finding ballistic missiles and rockets in the field.

Tehran has also developed a concealed launch site which could support a surprise attack against Israel, U.S. targets in the Gulf region, or locations in southeastern Europe. When Iran's missile base at Bakhtaran was built several years ago, analysts noted a rather unusual feature in one of the underground bunkers. Iranian engineers left a rather wide opening in the top of the bunker, which was burrowed beneath a hill.

More detailed analysis revealed the opening was actually a launch shaft for Shahab-3 missiles, which are based at the facility. The underground cavern was large enough to allow a missile to be elevated to launch position and fired through the shaft. Using the subterranean complex, Iranian crews could prepare and fire the missile with little chance of detection. It was an ideal facility for staging a "bolt from the blue" strike against one of Iran's enemies.

Development of the Sajjil will make that scenario even more likely. A solid-fuel system is a much safer option for an underground launch, since the missile uses a more stable propellant. Couple that with improved reaction times, and you have an ideal weapon for the Bakhtaran complex. Clearly, Iran's new missile has significant technical hurdles to overcome, but those challenges are not insurmountable.

And, of course, Tehran is continuing its quest to develop a nuclear warhead, capable of delivery by medium and long-range missiles. That represents the ultimate weapon for for a first-strike system, like the one tested today in the Iranian desert.


ADDENDUM: So, how does the missile launch figure into the "challenge" for Mr. Obama? Consider this possibility: Iran would benefit from a crisis that sends oil prices spiraling. Tehran typically stages major military exercise in the late winter/early spring that includes ballistic missile units. The next Sajjil test could well occur during that time frame, part of an Iranian effort to provoke the U.S. and test the mettle of the new commander-in-chief. This won't be the last time that Mr. Obama (and his advisers) have to deal with Tehran's new missile.

Today's event also underscores the importance of the recent deployment of a U.S. X-band radar to Israel. Capable of detecting missile launches at long range, the radar will give Israeli officials an additional 60-70 seconds of warning time, critical in any "surprise attack" scenario.
11796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 13, 2008, 08:49:36 AM

- Pajamas Media - -

Media Freedom to Suffer Under Dems
Posted By Bernard Chapin On November 3, 2008 @ 12:30 am In . Positioning, Blogosphere, Computers, Elections 2008, Free Speech, Internet, Media, Politics, Science & Technology, US News | 61 Comments

The main question in light of the coming election is “what will Barack Obama do?” Should he become president, great — and totally undesirable — change awaits America. Brian Anderson and co-author Adam Thierer in their newly released book, [1] A Manifesto for Media Freedom, answer this question. The authors elucidate the impact a Democrat-dominated government will have on our personal freedoms. The portrait they paint is reminiscent of Titian’s [2] Salome with the Head of John the Baptist — except the head of conservatism appears in John’s place. They warn that the damage to free speech arising from leftist domination of our government will be both severe and oppressive. Thankfully, Mr. Anderson found time to answer a few queries about our haunted future. Mr. Anderson is the editor of [3] City Journal, which is among the most insightful and generative of conservative publications. Previously, he wrote [4] Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents and [5] South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias.

BC: Congratulations on the release of your new book, Mr. Anderson. It’s your second release in a year’s time. First off, what is the Fairness Doctrine and how close are we to its becoming viable?

Brian Anderson: Thanks, Bernard. The Fairness Doctrine was an old regulation of the Federal Communications Commission dating back in various forms to 1929 and officially codified in the late 40s. It would rule broadcast media until Ronald Reagan’s FCC got rid of it in 1987, seeing it as suppressing free speech. It required radio and later broadcast television stations to cover issues of interest to the community in which it could be heard or watched and to provide airtime to opposing viewpoints. Lack of compliance meant potential fines and ultimately loss of license.

When the Fairness Doctrine was gone, talk radio exploded — going from only 100 or so talk shows of any kind in the early 80s to the thousands that exist today and that draw big audiences. It turns out that the doctrine did suppress speech on the airwaves. Stations didn’t want the hassle of government regulators looking over their shoulder and so they shied away from controversial opinion. Adam Thierer and I show in the book how, from the outset, the Fairness Doctrine was used by politicians to harass their critics on radio and TV. It is a too-tempting power to abuse.

Its reintroduction — an idea supported enthusiastically by Democratic Party leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and Al Gore — would destroy talk radio, the one medium that conservative and libertarian voices dominate. Obama claims not to want to restore it, but it is hard to imagine him vetoing a bill if Congress delivered him one. And the media reforms he does aggressively support, including imposing new local accountability measures on broadcasters, would amount to much the same thing. As sketched out by Democrats, stations would be subjected to renewing their license every two years, instead of eight, which is today the case, and would have to include in the re-licensing process the input of local community monitoring boards, which would swiftly be taken over by activists, since other people actually have to work.

BC: Is there a difference between the political left and the political right’s approach to free speech?

Brian Anderson: Conservatives have traditionally sought to suppress pornography and vulgarity, of course; the political left has done this too — one of the leading advocates of regulating the video game industry, for example, is Hillary Clinton — but it adds to that a scary desire to control political speech completely at odds with the ideals of the American Founders. Controlling political speech is to suppress criticism. A world in which conservative talk radio was a diminished presence would be a world in which liberals could enact their preferred legislation more easily, whether this was higher taxes, further restrictions on campaign finance — which John McCain has always promoted, but which the left has been the prime driver of — and on and on. A clampdown on talk radio would empower the unregulated print media, which leans left; there are many liberals today who long for the pristine time when all those nasty voices weren’t on the air and everyone got up and read their New York Times and had dinner with CBS News. There’s a play getting good reviews in New Jersey, Fair and Decent, which, believe it or not, is all about how the Fairness Doctrine was defeated, giving birth to what the playwright, Thomas Diggs, sees as a new dark era of Limbaughs and Hannitys.

BC: You’ve no doubt witnessed the tactics of the Obama campaign in relation to its foes. For example, they attempted to take Chicago talk show host Milt Rosenberg off the air when he dared to interview Obama critics David Freddoso and Stanley Kurtz — not to mention its ongoing and fervent war against Dr. Jerome Corsi. Has his strategy on the election trail foreshadowed what he’ll do should he get into office?

Brian Anderson: I think it very much does. When the NRA released some ads in Pennsylvania taking Obama to task for his gun voting record, his campaign’s lawyer fired off letters to the stations that carried the ad charging that they had violated public interest obligations. When a 527 group, the American Issues Project, released a commercial linking Obama to Bill Ayers, the campaign unsuccessfully complained to the Justice Department that AIP had broken campaign finance laws — and it spooked several stations away from carrying the spots. You’ll see lots, lots more of this radiating out of an Obama/Democrat-controlled Washington.

BC: Net neutrality sounds like a fair concept, but what are its actual effects? Is it an attempt to fix a problem that does not exist?

Brian Anderson: Mandated neutrality, which the Democrats embrace, is a very bad idea. What it would amount to is giving government overseers at the FCC the power to force Internet providers to treat equally all the traffic that moves through their conduits — the fiber optic cable, the phone lines, the wireless connections, and so on. Thus the provider couldn’t slow down or speed up any traffic — slow down the bandwidth hog downloading huge movie files, say, so as to let email users check their emails quickly. The provider certainly couldn’t offer new super-fast services for a fee, just as FedEx accelerates delivery of a package for a fee, or other services that might treat Internet users unequally. No digital discrimination! This makes zero economic sense — it is a kind of infrastructure socialism — in that we’re telling the firms actually building the bandwidth capacity of the future that they can’t run their own cables as they see fit. But why should they keep building it then? If they don’t build it, however, the Internet in the U.S. will slow as more and more information surges online, including massive visual files.

But our deeper worry is that once the Federal Communications Commission starts mucking about, talking about digital discrimination and equality, we’ll see the first steps toward establishing a Fairness Doctrine for web opinion sites. The FCC commissioner Robert McDowell recently warned of this possibility; an advisor to the Democrats on regulatory issues, Cass Sunstein, has in the past argued in favor of such a measure; the EU has looked at implementing it. This isn’t a science fiction scenario, though implementing it would generate a firestorm.

BC: What’s been the impact of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act?

Brian Anderson: What we show in the book is how campaign finance restrictions are beginning to encroach on the media. One example we discuss: when a conservative group tried to counter Michael Moore’s anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 back in 2004, the Federal Election Commission ruled that they couldn’t show or advertise it anywhere close to the election, lest penalties apply. Moore’s film — equally political, of course — got a pass because the commission viewed him as a legitimate filmmaker, not an activist. This is just crazy — we begin approaching a world of completely regulated politics. That’s wildly un-American.

BC: Where will the war on political speech end? How much can the First Amendment be distorted before it has no meaning whatsoever? Will the political left eventually attempt to control conservative publishing houses and all of our publications?

Brian Anderson: I worry deeply about how far this will go. Killing or reducing the influence of talk radio would actually harm conservative publishing, since talk radio is the number one way right-of-center authors can get the word out about something they have written. Our First Amendment jurisprudence would be hard for the Founders to recognize — finding protections for virtual kiddie porn but eroding the political speech rights that the Framers viewed as essential to a flourishing free society.

BC: Thanks so much for your time, Mr. Anderson.

Article printed from Pajamas Media:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:
[1] A Manifesto for Media Freedom:

[2] Salome with the Head of John the Baptist:
[3] City Journal:
[4] Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents:
[5] South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias:
11797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 12, 2008, 10:55:53 PM
Thanks Doug.
11798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 12, 2008, 10:53:26 PM
I would expect the net to be regulated as well.
11799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 10:50:20 PM
I get that too many US dollars translate to a loss in the value of the currency, but I'm not sure I grasp every element of the impact that makes on our economy, aside from the "wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread" from 1920's Germany scenario.
11800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 01:30:13 PM
Ok, why is this bad?
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