Sunday, September 19, 2010
The Right Honorable Chancellor
VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2010 (VIS) - At 5.15 p.m. today the Holy Father met with representatives from British civil society, and from the worlds of culture, academe and business, as well as the diplomatic corps and religious leaders. The meeting took place in Westminster Hall which, built in 1099, is the oldest part of Westminster Palace and is used for events of national and international significance.
The Pope began his address by recalling "the countless men and women down the centuries who have played their part in the momentous events that have taken place within these walls [Saint Thomas More and other English Martyrs to the Faith were tried and condemned to death in Westminster Hall] and have shaped the lives of many generations of Britons, and others besides.
"In particular", he added, "I recall the figure of St. Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose 'good servant' he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process".
"The fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More's trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy".
The Holy Father continued his remarks: "The inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems has been illustrated all too clearly by the recent global financial crisis. There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as 'every economic decision has a moral consequence', so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore".
"The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is ... to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles".
Without the "corrective" role of religion, the Pope explained, "reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith - the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief - need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilisation.
"Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue - paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination - that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life".
After then highlighting how the British government co-operates with the Holy See in such areas as peace, human rights and development, the Holy Father noted how "the Holy See also looks forward to exploring with the United Kingdom new ways to promote environmental responsibility, to the benefit of all".
"In recent years it has been encouraging to witness the positive signs of a worldwide growth in solidarity towards the poor. But to turn this solidarity into effective action calls for fresh thinking that will improve life conditions in many important areas, such as food production, clean water, job creation, education, support to families, especially migrants, and basic healthcare. Where human lives are concerned, time is always short, yet the world has witnessed the vast resources that governments can draw upon to rescue financial institutions deemed 'too big to fail'. Surely the integral human development of the world's peoples is no less important: here is an enterprise, worthy of the world's attention, that is truly 'too big to fail'".
The Holy Father expressed his joy at progress in co-operation between the United Kingdom and the Holy See "in the years that have passed since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, in promoting throughout the world the many core values that we share". In this context he also voiced the hope "that this relationship will continue to bear fruit, and that it will be mirrored in a growing acceptance of the need for dialogue and respect at every level of society between the world of reason and the world of faith. I am convinced that, within this country too, there are many areas in which the Church and the public authorities can work together for the good of citizens".
"For such co-operation to be possible", he concluded, "religious bodies - including institutions linked to the Catholic Church - need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions based upon the faith and the official teaching of the Church. In this way, such basic rights as religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of association are guaranteed".
GET EXCITED ABOUT RECYCLING? NOT ME!
by Jeff Jacoby The Boston Globe September 19, 2010
First of two columns
"GET EXCITED about Single Stream!" trills the flyer that comes in the mail from Town Hall. A letter from the commissioner of public works hails the "exciting change" beginning next month, when town residents will no longer be required to sort their recyclable trash into separate blue bins -- one for paper, the other for cans, bottles, and plastic containers. Instead recyclables will all go into 64-gallon "toters," which will be emptied at curbside on trash day into "single compartment trucks" using "automated equipment."
But for some reason the excitement of this eludes me, so I turn to the enclosed information sheet. A list of "frequently asked questions" and a letter from the town's Solid Waste Advisory Committee -- and what would town life be without one of those? -- assures me that single stream does away with "guesswork," making trash-disposal easier than ever. "By eliminating sorting," it reports, the new system may boost recycling rates by 30 percent or more. In large boldface print, it urges: "Get Excited!"
I gaze at the brightly-colored "Single-Stream Recycling Guide," with its illustrated array of trash items that can all go in the "toter" without sorting. There are pictures of bottle caps and egg cartons, books and tin cans, plastic jugs and newspapers. "All Together Now!" the leaflet proclaims. Hmm, I think, maybe this will be an improvement.
Then I start reading the fine print. It turns out that when the town says it is "eliminating sorting," what it means is that glass bottles and jars can be recycled, but not drinking glasses or window glass. It means plastic tubs are OK to toss in the toter, but plastic bags aren't. It means that while cardboard boxes must be flattened, milk and juice cartons must not be flattened. Reams of office paper are fine, but not the wrappers they came in. Tinfoil should be crushed into balls of 2" or larger; tin cans shouldn't be crushed at all.
"Please follow these guidelines carefully," the recycling guide directs. I don't think the Green Police will haul me off in handcuffs if I try to recycle an ice cream carton or a pizza box, but the town has warned that "there will be fines" for residents whose "recycling protocols" don't measure up to "basic community standards."
To be fair, things could be worse. Clevelanders will soon have to use recycling carts equipped with radio-frequency ID chips and bar codes, the Plain Dealer reported last month. These will enable the city to remotely monitor residents' compliance with recycling regulations. "If a chip shows a recyclable cart hasn't been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables. Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine." In Britain, where a similar system is already in place, fines can reach as high as $1,500.
San Franciscans, meanwhile, must sort their garbage into three color-coded bins -- blue for recycling, green for compost, and black for trash -- and scofflaws who pitch teabags or coffee grounds into the wrong bin can be fined. In other cities, residents must bag their trash in clear plastic, lest they be tempted to toss recyclables out with the garbage.
Does any of this make sense? It certainly isn't economically rational. Unlike commercial and industrial recycling -- a thriving voluntary market that annually salvages tens of millions of tons of metal, paper, glass, and plastic -- mandatory household recycling is a money loser. Cost studies show that curbside recycling can cost, on average, 60 percent more per ton than conventional garbage disposal. In 2004, an analysis by New York's Independent Budget Office concluded, according to The New York Times, that "it cost anywhere from $34 to $48 a ton more to recycle material, than to send it off to landfills or incinerators"
"There is not a community curbside recycling program in the United States that covers its cost," says Jay Lehr, science director at the Heartland Institute and author of a handbook on environmental science and technology. They exist primarily to make people "feel warm and fuzzy about what they are doing for the environment."
But if recycling household trash makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy, why does it have to be compulsory? Why the fines and computer chips? Mandatory recycling programs "force people to squander valuable resources in a quixotic quest to save what they would sensibly discard," writes Clemson University economist Daniel K. Benjamin. "On balance, recycling programs lower our wealth." Now whose idea of exciting is that?
Next: Is recycling really good for the planet?
Friday, September 17, 2010
Jan 29: A stimulus project roadsign is posted on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, Calif.
$111M in Stimulus Saved Just 55 Jobs
By William Lajeunesse
Published September 17, 2010
More than a year after Congress approved $800 billion in stimulus funds, the Los Angeles city controller has released a 40-page report on how the city spent its share, and the results are not living up to expectations.
"I'm disappointed that we've only created or retained 55 jobs after receiving $111 million," said Wendy Greuel, the city's controller. "With our local unemployment rate over 12 percent we need to do a better job cutting red tape and putting Angelenos back to work."
According to the audit, the Los Angeles Department of Public Works spent $70 million in stimulus funds -- in return, it created seven private sector jobs and saved seven workers from layoffs. Taxpayer cost per job: $1.5 million.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation created even fewer jobs per dollar, spending $40 million but netting just nine jobs. Taxpayer cost per job: $4.4 million.
Greuel blamed the dismal numbers on several factors:
1. Bureaucratic red tape: Four highway projects did not even go out to bid until seven months after they were authorized.
2. Projects that were supposed to be competitively bid in the private sector went instead went to city workers.
3. Stimulus money was not properly tracked within departments
4. Both departments could not report the jobs created and retained in a timely fashion..
"I would say maybe in a grade, a B- in creating the jobs," Greuel told Fox News. "They have started to spend those dollars but it took seven months to get some of those contracts out. We think in the city that we should move quickly and not in the same usual bureaucratic ways."
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Enshrinement of Essential Liberty
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. ... Done...the seventeenth day of September, in the year of our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven." --George Washington and the delegates
On 17 September of every year, we observe Constitution Day in recognition of the anniversary of that venerable document's signing by our nation's Founders.
In our household, we observe it further because it is the date of birth of my eldest son.
I suppose there really is no such thing as coincidence, because this young man, like his younger sister and brother, proudly represents the promise of Liberty for the next generation. He is an outspoken advocate for both Liberty and constitutional Rule of Law (could be in his genes). He is a student leader, young scholar and great sportsman. A week ago, he completed his Eagle Scout project. He is interested in serving our nation and initiating that service as a cadet in one of our military academies.
I am, of course, proud of each of my children, but that pride is about much more than the delight of a father.
Our nation is under siege, and the Socialist regime of Barack Hussein Obama has proven to be a more subversive threat to freedom than that of any sitting president in our nation's history.
Much of the burden of the damage already done by this odious regime will be shouldered by the next generation, including my children, and it will take clear-headed young conservatives in their generation to hold the line against tyranny.
Like millions of other American Patriots, especially parents, I am of the same opinion as Thomas Paine on the matter of passing our burden to them: "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
Just one short election cycle past, a majority of Americans were duped into voting for a childish and flimsy promise of "hope and change." What the nation received instead was a perilous attempt by a small cadre of elite Leftists to "fundamentally transform the United States of America."
To arm yourself with the right intellectual ammo to reverse that transformation, I invite you to read any or all of these collected essays outlining the Liberty proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence, and enshrined in our nation's Constitution. After all, if we are to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity," we must first know precisely what it is we're defending.
Start with Essential Liberty, a brief but comprehensive essay on the origins of Liberty: On December 16th, 1773, "radicals" from Boston, members of a secret organization of American Patriots called the Sons of Liberty, boarded three East India Company ships and threw 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor.
A 'Living Constitution' for a Dying Republic: For its first 150 years (with the notable exception Marbury v. Madison in 1803), our Constitution stood as our Founders, and more importantly, "the people," intended -- as is -- in accordance with its original intent. In other words, it was interpreted exegetically rather than eisegetically, textually as constructed, not as could be re-interpreted by later generations of jurists.
Our Sacred Honor ... to Support and Defend: The Constitution specifies in Article VI, clause 3: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution..." The Constitution also prescribes the following oath to be taken by the president-elect: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
The First Statement of Conservative Principles: It took the election of a "community organizer" and ideological Socialist, Barack Hussein Obama, to launch a popular resurgence of interest in constitutional Rule of Law and the First Principles upon which our nation was founded, and not a moment too soon.
On American Patriotism: American Patriots will not stand idly by while the last vestiges of Liberty succumb to tyranny. In Jefferson's words, "Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them."
The Brushfires of Freedom: "It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." --Samuel Adams
The 'Tea Party' Movement: "The people of the U.S. owe their Independence & their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprised in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching against every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings." --James Madison
When Debating a Liberal, Start With First Principles: Rule Number One: You must define the debate in terms of First Principles, which is to say, you must be able to articulate those principles. "On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." --Thomas Jefferson
The Patriot Declaration: We are American Patriots, defenders of First Principles and Essential Liberty... The Patriot Declaration is not a petition. It is a "Declaration of Cause and Necessity" and stands on its own as a resolution of intent for all who sign it. Just as important, it serves as due notice for those who would abandon their oath to "Support and Defend the Constitution" and abuse their office to the detriment of individual liberty and states' rights.
Finally, I invite you to observe Constitution Day by visiting The Patriot's outstanding Historic Documents repository for the complete texts of our nation's most significant formative documents, and to see our excellent selection of constitutional items at The Patriot Shop.
This week, as our family celebrates the birthday of my firstborn son, we are reminded of the challenges he, his siblings and their peers will face in future generations. We pray that the upcoming midterm election will reflect a great public awakening to the perilous threats to liberty we now face, and foretell a trend to restore the integrity of our Constitution. Let us resolve this Constitution Day to arm and rearm ourselves with the First Principles necessary to defend Essential Liberty.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis! Mark Alexander Publisher, The Patriot Post.com
16 September 2010
IF I HAD A HAMMER
If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land
I’d hammer out danger
I’d hammer out a warning
ISLAMIC AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Why America is rejecting the liberal left’s response to 9/11.
By JAMES TARANTO
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE/
THE BEST OF THE WEB TODAY
September 16, 2010
Richard L. Connor, editor of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, penned a groveling apology Sunday for a front-page story that had appeared the previous day.
Here’s an excerpt:
We made a news decision on Friday that offended many readers and we sincerely apologize for it.
Many saw Saturday’s front-page story and photo regarding the local observance of the end of Ramadan as offensive, particularly on the day, Sept. 11, when our nation and the world were paying tribute to those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks nine years ago. We have acknowledged that we erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page.
Connor reports that readers complained “en masse” about the Ramadan story, and that “most” were “courteous and polite.” In case one apology isn’t enough, he adds: “Again, if you were offended, I apologize.” He is a very sorry man!
We gave the Sept. 11 Ramadan story a read, trying to find something to criticize. It wasn’t easy. The piece was inoffensive human-interest fluff. The only thing that bothered us at all was this passage, which quotes Abdullahi Ahmed, president of the Islamic Society of Portland:
Ahmed, a science teacher at Deering High School who lives in Westbrook, came dressed in a business suit and a paisley tie. He is working on his doctorate at the University of Maine. He and his wife, a nurse, have four children.
He said that as an American Muslim, he has a sense of belonging that eclipses the hostility of the Rev. Terry Jones, the pastor in Florida who threatened to burn copies of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The support of national leaders and assurance from the community have been important, Ahmed said, but there is still work to be done to reach a mutual understanding and acceptance.
We have no objection to the passage itself, but we do note a double standard: Can anyone imagine a mainstream newspaper covering, say, an Easter service and taking such a solicitous attitude toward a priest or minister’s feelings about “Piss Christ,” that elephant-dung painting or various other public desecrations of Christian symbols? (Would a mainstream newspaper even put an Easter service on the front page?) [Emphasis added]
The Maine meshugas reminded us of a Connecticut kerfuffle, reported by Hartford’s WVIT-TV:
Hartford’s City Council revoked its offer for an imam to say a prayer at Monday’s meeting, but outside City Hall on Monday night, Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim prayed for the city, in Arabic and English.
“We beseech you to help our leaders to decide with wisdom,” said Imam Kashif.
The Hartford City Council had invited imams to start its two September meetings with prayer, including the meeting on Monday. It was meant to show solidarity with Muslims at a time of controversy over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero and the possible Koran burning. Instead, it brought on a slew of hateful emails and phone calls. Amid the public outcry, the council revoked that decision after public outcry.
Some who protested said the timing was simply too close to the September 11th anniversary.
The station adds that Councilman Luis Cotto, a member of the hard-left Working Families Party, was “choking back tears” over the council’s decision to nix the Muslim prayer and replace it with a moment of silence. The Press Herald, meanwhile, has a series of letters today from upset readers–some objecting to the Ramadan story, some to the apology. When did flinty New Englanders become so damn excitable?
It will not surprise you to learn that elite liberal journalists see in these events a confirmation of their own prejudice, namely that Americans–even in states like Maine and Connecticut, which gave Barack Obama 58% and 61% of their vote, respectively–are anti-Muslim bigots.
James Poniewozik of Time–the magazine that has pushed the “Islamophobia” narrative harder than just about anyone else–published a lament on the Time.com website sarcastically titled “Paper to Readers: Sorry for Portraying Muslims as Human.” Poniewozik faults the Portland publisher for has “craven attitude,” and it’s hard to disagree. But he also faults our country:
Here’s where we are in America, 2010: There is now one group of Americans whose peaceful religious observance cannot be noted by decent people, unless it is “balanced” by the mention of a vile crime committed in 2001 by people, with a perverted idea of the same religion, from the other side of the world.
This is a depressing statement about the state of dialogue in America. Nine years after 9/11, there is now a widespread belief that, for one religious group of law-abiding Americans, the boundaries of acceptable behavior are narrower than for everyone else.
Here’s the problem with this: If Americans–and Mainers–are so “Islamophobic,” how is it that no evidence of this appeared in the original Sept. 11 story? How is it that, as the Press Herald reported in that story, the head of the Islamic Society of Portland “has a sense of belonging that eclipses the hostility” of the media’s favorite crazy pastor? The readers who complained “en masse” really seem to have been angry at the Press Herald, not at Muslims.
It seems clear that in both Maine and Connecticut, as in the case of the Ground Zero mosque, what offended people was the combination of solicitude for Muslims and proximity to 9/11. In the case of the Ramadan story, the temporal proximity was but a coincidence; this year the Muslim month happened to end just before Sept. 11. The proposed mosque’s geographic proximity to the site of the atrocity, by contrast, was deliberately chosen to make a point, and the Hartford prayer plan was an outgrowth of the mosque mess.
The real problem here is that the liberal elite has responded to 9/11 in a totally inappropriate way. When the only tool you have is a hammer, the cliché goes, every problem looks like a nail. To American liberals, every problem looks like the civil rights struggle, the original one of which was their last real moral, cultural and governmental success.
That is why the liberal elite sees 9/11 less as a national security challenge than as an imperative for a kind of affirmative action aimed at ensuring that “inclusiveness” extends to Muslims. That’s what the Maine readers saw, perhaps mistakenly, in the Press Herald’s Ramadan story. It’s what the Hartford constituents correctly saw in the plan to open council sessions with a Muslim prayer. And of course it is what Americans everywhere see in the obnoxious plan to build a fancy 15-story mosque adjacent to the site of an Islamic supremacist atrocity.
But whereas white Americans collectively had a great deal to atone for in their historical treatment of blacks, it is perverse and offensive to suggest that 9/11 leaves Americans with an obligation to atone to Muslims. The anger in New York, Portland and Hartford is a healthy response to this false imputation of guilt, even if, especially in the Portland case, it is somewhat misplaced.
The groveling by the Portland publisher–in the manner of a university president facing a militant minority sit-in–isn’t pleasant to watch, but it does suggest that the liberal left is losing its confidence in its own moral authority. When the New York Times and Time magazine feel obliged to take account of ordinary Americans’ sensibilities, the process will be complete.
OBAMA IS A CONFLICTION OF THE ANTICOLONIAL DREAMS OF HIS FATHER AND THE NEOCOLONIAL DREAMS OF HIS MOTHER
By George Neumayr on 9.16.10 @ 6:09AM
Newt Gingrich said to National Review Online recently, "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anticolonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?" Gingrich's comment sparked off Dinesh D'Souza's Forbes article, which argues that America is "governed by the ghost" of Obama's "Luo tribesman" father.
But let's not forget the white-liberal neocolonialism of his mother, which influenced him too. In Dreams from My Father, Obama reveals just as many or more dreams from his mother, the Ford Foundation anthropologist who introduced enlightened liberal ideology to the native tribes of Indonesia. There in that "land" of "fatalism," Obama writes, "she was a lonely witness for secular humanism, a soldier for New Deal, Peace Corps, position-paper liberalism."
The patronizing tone that Obama adopts in the book when discussing his father's failures makes him sound more like a neocolonialist cut from his mother's cloth than an anticolonialist. While he approves of the anticolonials' anti-western anger, he still thinks they could use some direction from western liberals. He expresses disappointment with his father for not swallowing the liberal faith whole. His father lacked "faith in people" and held too tightly to certain Luo ways -- "too much of its rigidness, its suspicions, its male cruelties." If only, he implies, the African anticolonials were less stubborn and let neocolonialists at the Ford Foundation guide them to Planned Parenthood clinics and schools bankrolled by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, all would have been well.
It is an open question how much of the book is real or made up. Obama casually drops into the introduction that quotes in the book are "an approximation of what was actually said or relayed to me," and that for "the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I've known, and some events appear out of precise chronology." One wonders if he too is a composite in his postmodern memoir. The book is long on affected literary flourish and short on candor. He does a lot of "listening to the wind and its whispers of mortality."
But here and there amidst the pretentious throat-clearing he makes some accidental revelations. I didn't know that his Kenyan grandfather converted from Christianity to Islam, which comes out in a story told to Obama by his grandmother, a story that doesn't exactly lend credence to Obama's Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace line: "What your grandfather respected was strength…This is also why he rejected the Christian religion, I think. For a brief time, he converted, and even changed his name to Johnson. But he could not understand such ideas as mercy towards your enemies, or that this man Jesus could wash away a man's sins. To your grandfather, this was foolish sentiment, something to comfort women. And so he converted to Islam -- he thought its practices conformed more closely to his beliefs."
Obama writes about his trip to Kenya with the anthropological detachment of his mother, not so much learning from his relatives during the "emotional odyssey" as looking down on them. But he is happy when his sozzled half-brother Roy turns up at his Jeremiah Wright-presided-over wedding as a convert to Islam. "The person who made me proudest of all," he writes of the reception, "was Roy." He had decided to "reassert his African heritage," "converted to Islam," and "sworn off pork and tobacco and alcohol." His "conversion has given him solid ground to stand on, a pride in his place in the world."
But Obama can't resist a final moment of looking down on him. "Not that the changes in him are without tension… The words he speaks are not fully his own, and in his transition he can sometimes sound stilted and dogmatic," he writes.
The implication left from all the self-important ruminations about "his divided inheritance" is that the anticolonial dreams of his father can only be completed through the neocolonial dreams of his mother.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Lessons of the Koran's non-burning
by Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
September 15, 2010
TERRY JONES'S 15 minutes of fame have run out, the foreign media have left Gainesville, and we aren't likely to hear much more about the fringe Florida preacher and his abandoned plan to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11.
But as Jones and his non-bonfire recede in the rear-view mirror, there are some lessons worth taking away from the whole episode. Here are three:
1. While it's fashionable in some precincts to smear Americans as a nation of Islamophobes whose bigotry plays into the hands of extremists, the reverse is closer to the truth. A nation of Islamophobes would have rallied around Jones and his benighted band, but Americans of every stripe condemned them. Jones's proposed "stunt," President Obama said in a TV interview, is "completely contrary to our values." Attorney General Eric Holder called it "idiotic and dangerous." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed it as "outrageous and . . . disgraceful."
The administration's denunciations were echoed across the political and social spectrum -- by Sarah Palin and Franklin Graham, by Angelina Jolie and Glenn Beck, by the National Council of Churches, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and the National Association of Evangelicals. The mayor of Gainesville called Jones's group "an embarrassment to the community." There was criticism from Florida's Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates and from dozens of members of Congress. The conservative Manchester Union Leader labeled the Koran-burning idea "deadly stupid." The liberal Los Angeles Times implored: "Don't fan the flames."
Americans hear frequently that they are a people hopelessly and endlessly divided, arguing with each other across gaping political and cultural chasms. But they weren't divided on this. If Jones accomplished nothing else, he has reminded us that there are still some issues on which nearly all Americans agree.
2. You don't have to admire Islam or revere the Koran to have regarded Jones's talk of book-burning as barbaric. "Where they burn books," the German poet and playwright Heinrich Heine wrote in 1821, "they will ultimately burn people also." Heine's works were among the tens of thousands of books torched in public bonfires by the Nazis after their accession to power in 1933 -- and Hitler and his followers did indeed "ultimately burn people also."
This is not to say that everyone who burns a book eventually sheds blood. But the depravity of book-burning inescapably suggests more deadly evils. The brutal lust to suppress, the hatred of free thought and expression, the manic determination to physically annihilate disfavored ideas rather than challenge them intellectually -- from these to the destruction of human beings is no very great leap. Only the imbecilic preach, like Jones, that "Islam is of the devil" (he says the same, incidentally, about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism). Setting books on fire, however, really is diabolical.
He must be resisted, not appeased.
But since when do US officials tell Americans or anyone else not to do something because unhinged radicals won't like it? Jihadist violence was erupting long before Jones appeared on the scene. There is no end to the pretexts used by Islamist extremists "to inflame public opinion and incite violence." Danish cartoons, Iraqi elections, a papal lecture, a beauty pageant, even a teddy bear named "Muhammad" -- Muslim militants have raged, sometimes lethally, against them all. Osama bin Laden did not declare war on the United States because of a publicity-seeker's antics in Florida.
Jones's threat to burn the Koran was ugly and offensive. It deserved to be reviled as an affront to civility, to American values, and to the millions of good Muslims who stand with us in the war against the radicals. But it is never right for the president or his aides to pressure US citizens into silencing themselves or stifling their liberties in order to conciliate violent zealots. If the years since 9/11 have taught us anything, it is that jihadists must be resisted, not appeased.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe).
-- ## --
HOW OBAMA THINKS
by Dinesh D'Souza
Forbes Magazine dated September 27, 2010
The President isn't exactly a socialist. So what's driving his hostility to private enterprise? Look to his roots.
Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back. Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He has expanded the federal government's control over home mortgages, investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard summarizes Obama's approach as omnipotence at home, impotence abroad.
The President's actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike. Consider this headline from the Aug. 18, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal: "Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling." Did you read that correctly? You did. The Administration supports offshore drilling--but drilling off the shores of Brazil. With Obama's backing, the U.S. Export-Import Bank offered $2 billion in loans and guarantees to Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro--not so the oil ends up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil.
More strange behavior: Obama's June 15, 2010 speech in response to the Gulf oil spill focused not on cleanup strategies but rather on the fact that Americans "consume more than 20% of the world's oil but have less than 2% of the world's resources." Obama railed on about "America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels." What does any of this have to do with the oil spill? Would the calamity have been less of a problem if America consumed a mere 10% of the world's resources?
The oddities go on and on. Obama's Administration has declared that even banks that want to repay their bailout money may be refused permission to do so. Only after the Obama team cleared a bank through the Fed's "stress test" was it eligible to give taxpayers their money back. Even then, declared Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the Administration might force banks to keep the money.
The President continues to push for stimulus even though hundreds of billions of dollars in such funds seem to have done little. The unemployment rate when Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.7%; now it is 9.5%. Yet he wants to spend even more and is determined to foist the entire bill on Americans making $250,000 a year or more. The rich, Obama insists, aren't paying their "fair share." This by itself seems odd given that the top 1% of Americans pay 40% of all federal income taxes; the next 9% of income earners pay another 30%. So the top 10% pays 70% of the taxes; the bottom 40% pays close to nothing. This does indeed seem unfair--to the rich.
Obama's foreign policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama's rationale, that "our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable," seems utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero.
Recently the London Times reported that the Obama Administration supported the conditional release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber convicted in connection with the deaths of 270 people, mostly Americans. This was an eye-opener because when Scotland released Megrahi from prison and sent him home to Libya in August 2009, the Obama Administration publicly and appropriately complained. The Times, however, obtained a letter the Obama Administration sent to Scotland a week before the event in which it said that releasing Megrahi on "compassionate grounds" was acceptable as long as he was kept in Scotland and would be "far preferable" to sending him back to Libya. Scottish officials interpreted this to mean that U.S. objections to Megrahi's release were "half-hearted." They released him to his home country, where he lives today as a free man.
One more anomaly: A few months ago nasa Chief Charles Bolden announced that from now on the primary mission of America's space agency would be to improve relations with the Muslim world. Come again? Bolden said he got the word directly from the President. "He wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering." Bolden added that the International Space Station was a model for nasa's future, since it was not just a U.S. operation but included the Russians and the Chinese. Obama's redirection of the agency caused consternation among former astronauts like Neil Armstrong and John Glenn, and even among the President's supporters: Most people think of nasa's job as one of landing on the moon and Mars and exploring other faraway destinations. Sure, we are for Islamic self-esteem, but what on earth was Obama up to here?
Theories abound to explain the President's goals and actions. Critics in the business community--including some Obama voters who now have buyer's remorse--tend to focus on two main themes. The first is that Obama is clueless about business. The second is that Obama is a socialist--not an out-and-out Marxist, but something of a European-style socialist, with a penchant for leveling and government redistribution.
Anticolonialists hold that even when countries secure political independence they remain economically dependent on their former captors. This dependence is called neocolonialism, a term defined by the African statesman Kwame Nkrumah (1909--72) in his book Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, writes that poor countries may be nominally free, but they continue to be manipulated from abroad by powerful corporate and plutocratic elites. These forces of neocolonialism oppress not only Third World people but also citizens in their own countries. Obviously the solution is to resist and overthrow the oppressors. This was the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. and many in his generation, including many of my own relatives in India.
Obama Sr. was an economist, and in 1965 he published an important article in the East Africa Journal called "Problems Facing Our Socialism." Obama Sr. wasn't a doctrinaire socialist; rather, he saw state appropriation of wealth as a necessary means to achieve the anticolonial objective of taking resources away from the foreign looters and restoring them to the people of Africa. For Obama Sr. this was an issue of national autonomy. "Is it the African who owns this country? If he does, then why should he not control the economic means of growth in this country?"
As he put it, "We need to eliminate power structures that have been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case now." The senior Obama proposed that the state confiscate private land and raise taxes with no upper limit. In fact, he insisted that "theoretically there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed."
Remarkably, President Obama, who knows his father's history very well, has never mentioned his father's article. Even more remarkably, there has been virtually no reporting on a document that seems directly relevant to what the junior Obama is doing in the White House.
While the senior Obama called for Africa to free itself from the neocolonial influence of Europe and specifically Britain, he knew when he came to America in 1959 that the global balance of power was shifting. Even then, he recognized what has become a new tenet of anticolonialist ideology: Today's neocolonial leader is not Europe but America. As the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said--who was one of Obama's teachers at Columbia University--wrote in Culture and Imperialism, "The United States has replaced the earlier great empires and is the dominant outside force."
From the anticolonial perspective, American imperialism is on a rampage. For a while, U.S. power was checked by the Soviet Union, but since the end of the Cold War, America has been the sole superpower. Moreover, 9/11 provided the occasion for America to invade and occupy two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, and also to seek political and economic domination in the same way the French and the British empires once did. So in the anticolonial view, America is now the rogue elephant that subjugates and tramples the people of the world.
It may seem incredible to suggest that the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying. From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America's military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.
For Obama, the solutions are simple. He must work to wring the neocolonialism out of America and the West. And here is where our anticolonial understanding of Obama really takes off, because it provides a vital key to explaining not only his major policy actions but also the little details that no other theory can adequately account for.
Why support oil drilling off the coast of Brazil but not in America? Obama believes that the West uses a disproportionate share of the world's energy resources, so he wants neocolonial America to have less and the former colonized countries to have more. More broadly, his proposal for carbon taxes has little to do with whether the planet is getting warmer or colder; it is simply a way to penalize, and therefore reduce, America's carbon consumption. Both as a U.S. Senator and in his speech, as President, to the United Nations, Obama has proposed that the West massively subsidize energy production in the developing world.
Illustration: Shariah sword
Second opinion needed on Shariah
Our political establishment wears blinders and ignores the threat
By R. James Woolsey, Andrew C. McCarthy and Harry E. Soyster
The Washington Times
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
It is time for a "Team B" approach to Islamist ideology. The strategy has worked before, against a similarly determined threat to freedom. In 1976, George H.W. Bush, then director of central intelligence, invited a group of known skeptics about the strategy of detente to review the classified intelligence regarding Soviet intentions and capabilities. The point was to provide an informed second opinion on U.S. policy toward the Kremlin.
The conclusions of this experimental Team B study differed sharply from the government's regnant theory. The skeptics found that, pursuant to its communist ideology, the Soviet Union was determined to secure the defeat of the United States and the West and to tyrannize the globe. Thus, not only was detente unlikely to succeed, but national-security policies undertaken in its pursuit exposed the nation to grave danger. The study was particularly persuasive to former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, who would use it not only to challenge the detentist policies of the Ford and Carter administrations but to build the strategy that ultimately brought down the "Evil Empire."
Today, the United States faces a similarly insidious ideological threat: Shariah, the authoritarian doctrine that animates the Islamists and their jihadism. Translated as "the path," Shariah is a comprehensive framework designed to govern all aspects of life. Though it certainly has spiritual elements, it would be a mistake to think of it as a "religious" code in the Western sense because it seeks to regulate all manner of behavior in the secular sphere - economic, social, military, legal and political. That regulation is oppressive, discriminatory, utterly inimical to our core constitutional liberties and destructive of equal protection under the law, especially for women.
We consequently have joined a group of security-policy practitioners and analysts in subjecting this ideology and its adherents to a new Team B study. Our assessment challenges bedrock assumptions of current American policy on combating (and minimizing) what the government calls "extremism" and on engaging (and appeasing) Shariah proponents who claim to reject terrorism. These proponents are described, wrongly, as "moderates" because they appear content to achieve their patently immoderate designs through political-influence operations, "lawfare" and subversion. Participants in the study constitute a rich reservoir of national security experience drawn from military, intelligence, homeland security, law enforcement and academic backgrounds.
Our study does not perfectly replicate the Team B work of a generation ago. We have not been encouraged by our government, which, under administrations of both parties, has been immovably content to wear its blinders. Nor have we been invited to review classified information. These, however, have hardly been insuperable obstacles. What Americans need to know is ready to hand in the public record. The problem isn't access to information, it is coming to grips with what available information portends for our security.
Shariah is the crucial fault line of Islam's internecine struggle. On one side of the divide are Muslim reformers and authentic moderates - figures like Abdurrahman Wahid, the late president of Indonesia and leader of the world's largest liberal Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama - who embrace the Enlightenment's veneration of reason and, in particular, its separation of the spiritual and secular realms. On that side of the divide, Shariah is defined as but a reference point for a Muslim's personal conduct, not a corpus to be imposed on the life of a pluralistic society.
The other side of the divide is dominated by "Islamists," who are Muslim supremacists. Like erstwhile proponents of communism and Nazism, these supremacists - some terrorists, others employing stealthier means - seek to impose a global theocratic and authoritarian regime, called a caliphate. On this side of the divide, Shariah is a compulsory system that Muslims are obliged to wage jihad to install and to which the rest of the world is required to submit.
For these ideologues, Shariah is not a private matter. They see the West as an infidel enemy to be conquered, not a culture and civilization to be embraced or at least tolerated. It is impossible, they maintain, for alternative legal systems and forms of government like ours to coexist peacefully with the end-state they seek.
It is not the burden of our study to broker competing claims about which side of the Shariah divide represents the "true Islam." There are approximately 1.4 billion Muslims in the world, and their understandings about their belief system, as well as their practices with respect to it, vary widely. There may not be a single "true Islam." If there is one, we do not presume to pronounce what it holds.
What cannot be denied credibly, however, is that Shariah is firmly rooted in Islam's doctrinal texts, and it is favored by influential Islamic commentators, institutions, traditions and academic centers. For more than a half-century, moreover, Shariah Islam has been financed lavishly and propagated by Islamic governmental entities (particularly Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Organization of the Islamic Conference) through the offices of disciplined international organizations, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. We know from an internal 1991 memorandum authored by one of the Brotherhood's U.S. leaders that its mission is a "grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house."
Consequently, we need to come to grips with Shariah. Whether pursued through violent jihad or the stealthier techniques the Brotherhood calls "civilization jihad" or dawa (the call to Islam), Shariah rejects fundamental premises of constitutional governance and American society: the bedrock proposition that the governed have a right to make law for themselves irrespective of any theocratic code; the republican democracy guaranteed by the Constitution; freedom of conscience; individual liberty (including in matters of personal privacy and sexual preference); freedom of expression (including the liberty to analyze and criticize theocratic codes and practices); economic liberty (including private property); equality (including equality of men and women and of Muslims and non-Muslims); freedom from cruel and unusual punishments; an unequivocal condemnation of terrorism (one that does not rationalize barbarity as legitimate "resistance"); and an abiding commitment to deflate and resolve political controversies by the ordinary mechanisms of federalism and democracy, not wanton violence.
Trial evidence has shown, most recently in the terrorism-financing prosecution against an ostensible Islamic "charity" known as the Holy Land Foundation, that Shariah adherents - including a network of Muslim Brotherhood-connected organizations operating in the United States - are seriously pursuing civilization jihad in this country. Their agenda is about power, not faith, and therefore must not be confused with a constitutionally protected form of religious practice. Shariah's ambitions transcend what American law recognizes as the sacrosanct realm of private conscience and belief. It seeks to supplant our Constitution with its own authoritarian framework.
Sometimes the Brotherhood and its friends are supportive of Islamist terrorism, particularly against Israel and against American operations in Islamic countries. Sometimes they strategically condemn terrorist methods (although they are careful to refrain from condemning specific terrorist groups and to blame America for their behavior). In either event, however, the endgame of Islamist ideology is the same whether pursued by terrorists or nonviolent activists: to extort American society into Shariah compliance.
It is vital to the national security of the United States that we do what we can to empower Islam's authentic moderates and reformers. That cannot be done by following the failed strategy of fictionalizing the state of Islam in the vain hope that reality will, at some point, catch up to the benign fable of a thriving moderate Islam beset by a mere handful of aberrant "extremists." Empowering the real moderates requires a candid recognition of the faux moderates and the strength of their Shariah agenda, just as defeat of 20th-century totalitarian ideologies required a gimlet-eyed appreciation of their malevolent capabilities.
The definition of "moderation" needs to be reset, to bore in on the Shariah fault line. Only by identifying those Muslims who wish to impose Shariah can we succeed in marginalizing them. As our study manifests, the Shariah system is utterly anti-American. Those obliged to defend the proposition that it should be adopted here will find few takers and, quite properly, be seen for what they are in the West: marginal and extremist figures. That, and only that, will strengthen true proponents of a moderate or reformist Islam that embraces freedom and equality.
Most important, we must protect our way of life regardless of the ultimate resolution of Islam's internal strife. We can do a far better job of empowering non-Shariah-adherent Muslims who are our natural allies, but we cannot win for them - they have to do that for themselves. Irrespective of whether they succeed in the herculean task of delegitimizing Shariah globally, we must face it down in the United States, throughout the West and wherever on Earth it launches violent or ideological offensives against us.
If we are to face down Shariah, however, we must understand what we are up against, not simply hope that dialogue and "engagement" will make the challenge go away. The brute fact is that Shariah adherents perforce support objectives that are incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, the civil rights it guarantees and the representative government it authorizes. Our security depends on confronting them, not sitting silent as they gradually efface our liberties.
R. James Woolsey was director of central intelligence under President Clinton. Andrew C. McCarthy was the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the perpetrators of the first attack on the World Trade Center. Lt. Gen. Harry E. "Ed" Soyster was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1988 to 1991. Their full report will be available online at ShariahtheThreat.com at noon today.
Monday, September 13, 2010
BUSH THE COWBOY HAD MORAL AUTHORITY WITH AMERICANS / OBAMA THE CONCILIATOR HAS MORAL AUTHORITY WITH MUSLIMS
Only Nixon Could Go to China
How Obama can help ease "Islamophobia."
By JAMES TARANTO
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
THE BEST OF THE WEB TODAY
September 13, 2010
"One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was after 9/11, him being crystal-clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam," President Obama said in his Friday press conference. It doesn't speak well of Obama's leadership, or his manners, that one's first thought on hearing this is the old gag about the shortest book ever written. Step aside, "Dr. Kevorkian's Motivational Speeches," and make way for "The Things I Most Admire About George W. Bush" by Barack Obama.
It speaks still more poorly of Obama's leadership when even Obama's most devoted supporter, Barack Obama, implicitly acknowledges that Bush did a better job in this regard than Obama is doing. The excitable Peter Beinart exaggerates when he complains that under this president's leadership, America is "in the worst spasm of paranoia and bigotry since the Cold War." But there's no doubt that American mistrust of Muslims has been surfacing lately with some intensity, or that Obama has exacerbated matters by managing the situation insensitively.
The prevailing media narrative has it that America is suffering from an acute case of "Islamophobia," an irrational fear of Muslims. This seems to us quite wrong. American mistrust of Muslims is no more irrational than black mistrust of whites or Jewish mistrust of Germans. That is not to say that it is completely justifiable, only that it is completely understandable, for Americans have been, and continue to be, the targets of Islamic supremacist violence.
Because mistrust of Muslims is not completely justifiable, Obama and his backers in the media feel no obligation to understand it. "I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then fears can surface, suspicions, divisions can surface in a society," Obama said Friday, echoing Robert Reich's Marxism Lite analysis, which we noted last month.
This is a complete non sequitur. No one, not even the unhinged anti-Muslim types on the right, is blaming Muslims for America's current economic difficulties. American mistrust of Muslims is a reaction to Islamic supremacist terrorism, especially 9/11. That mistrust has surfaced recently because another group of Muslims is seeking to exploit that atrocity by building a fancy mosque adjacent to its site.
The reason President Bush did a better job at managing Americans' mistrust of Muslims is not, as Obama seems to suggest, that the Bush economy was so much better than the Obama one. It is, rather, that Americans, on this matter, trusted Bush. There's an old Vulcan proverb: Only Nixon could go to China. Bush commanded trust when he spoke up for peaceful Muslims, because Americans understood he was on our side against the terrorists.
Obama's antiterror policies have been largely continuous with Bush's, to the consternation of the anti-antiterror left and the great relief of the rest of us. But his rhetoric has often been ambiguous, as exemplified by this comment from his news conference:
Al Qaeda operatives still cite Guantanamo as a justification for attacks against the United States. Still to this day. And there's no reason for us to give them that kind of talking point when, in fact, we can use the various mechanisms of our justice system to prosecute these folks and to make sure that they never attack us again.
The president is siding against what are now his own administration's antiterror policies, and he bolsters his argument by citing what he calls al Qaeda "talking points." It's the sort of argument you expect to find in a column by Nicholas Kristof or some other mildly clever pundit who disdains America. Coming from the president of the United States, such mixed messages are confusing and dangerous.
At the Friday news conference, Obama was asked again about the Ground Zero mosque. "Now, I recognize the extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11," the president lip-serviced. But on the substance of the question he took refuge in bloodless legalisms: "If you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site."
Obama's election was supposed to be a corrective to Bush's bellicosity. In a sense, Bush played against type by exhorting Americans to rise above their suspicions of Muslims. But the Nixon-to-China principle goes both ways. As Bush the cowboy had moral authority with Americans,
Obama the conciliator has moral authority with Muslims.
So far, he hasn't done much but pander to them--most notably at last month's iftar dinner, where he endorsed the right to build the Ground Zero mosque--further alienating Americans.
What if he made it his mission to understand Americans' feelings on the matter and challenged Muslims to respect those feelings by building the mosque elsewhere? That would be an act of reconciliation worthy of George W. Bush at his most admirable.
They Explained Florida pastor Terry Jones's 15 minutes of fame are up, but not before he occasioned one of the weirdest moments in the history of cable news, captured for posterity by the good folks at NewsBusters.org. Jones was a guest Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Here's the full transcript of his appearance with co-hostess Mika Brzezinski, and Jon Meacham, recently deposed editor of Newsweek:
Brezezinski: We've really been debating whether or not to do this. Joe [Scarborough, the other co-host] says "no," he doesn't think it's a good idea at all. He might be right. The Florida pastor, threatening to burn copies of the Koran tomorrow, is now saying his plans are "on hold," after a local imam told him that the proposed New York Islamic center near Ground Zero would be moved. And joining us now from Gainesville, Florida, is pastor Terry Jones. And the reason we're doing this is my worry is that the pastor's going to have blood on his hands if he goes forward with this plan. So Jon Meacham just has a quick message for you, sir. Jon?
Meacham: Pastor, I just wanted to--this is Jon Meacham. I just wanted to suggest that Jesus said the night before he was handed over to suffering and death that he ordered his disciples to love one another as he had loved them. That was his central commandment, and as he died, he said that "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." The central message of the New Testament is forgiveness, and to put oneself in the place of another. And so I would simply appeal to you, as a fellow Christian, that the course you suggested is going to be incredibly dangerous, and would ask you to desist in the name of New Testament theology.
Brezezinski: All right, well said, Jon Meacham, and Pastor Terry Jones, we appeal to you to listen to that. And we don't really need to hear anything else, so thanks.
That's it! Jones appeared on screen but never got to say a word. The crazy pastor ended up looking more dignified than either than either the smarmy Meacham or the shrill Brzezinski. True, he didn't end up burning any Korans, but it's doubtful that Meacham's smug sermon was what persuaded him.
The whole bizarre exercise reminded us of the time when The New Republic, having published an excerpt of "The Bell Curve," devoted its entire next issue to a series of ritual denunciations of the book. Most of the contributions were repetitious and insubstantial, leading a reader to conclude that the purpose was not to further debate but to end the debate and atone for having participated in it in the first place.
It also calls to mind the late George Pearch, who under the stage name "Wally George" hosted a local 1980s TV show in Orange County, Calif., called "Hot Seat." As the Internet Movie Database describes the format, "George expounds on his extreme right-wing political views and insults guests and audience members who don't agree with him." As we remember it, Peach's would bring a guest on, let him start saying something, then denounce him as a "lunatic liberal" and have him escorted off by security.
At least Pearch's guests got to say something, and at least when they agreed to go on his show, they knew they were signing up to be abused. There's a word for supposedly serious journalists, like Mika Brzezinski and Jon Meacham, who act like Wally George: unprofessional.
Gangster Government Stifles Criticism of Obamacare
A Commentary by Michael Barone
Monday, September 13, 2010
"There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases." That sounds like a stern headmistress dressing down some sophomores who have been misbehaving. But it's actually from a letter sent Thursday from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans -- the chief lobbyist for private health insurance companies.
Sebelius objects to claims by health insurers that they are raising premiums because of increased costs imposed by the Obamacare law passed by Congress last March.
She acknowledges that many of the law's "key protections" take effect later this month and does not deny that these impose additional costs on insurers. But she says that "according to our analysis and those of some industry and academic experts, any potential premium impact ... will be minimal."
Well, that's reassuring. Er, except that if that's the conclusion of "some" industry and academic experts, it's presumably not the conclusion of all industry and academic experts, or the secretary would have said so.
Sebelius also argues that "any premium increases will be moderated by out-of-pocket savings resulting from the law." But she's pretty vague about the numbers -- "up to $1 billion in 2013." Anyone who watches TV ads knows that "up to" can mean zero.
As Time magazine's Karen Pickert points out, Sebelius ignores the fact that individual insurance plans cover different types of populations. So that government and "some" industry and academic experts think the new law will justify increases averaging 1 percent or 2 percent, they could justify much larger increases for certain plans.
Or as Ignagni, the recipient of the letter, says, "It's a basic law of economics that additional benefits incur additional costs."
But Sebelius has "zero tolerance" for that kind of thing. She promises to issue regulations to require "state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases" (which would presumably mean all rate increases).
And there's a threat. "We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014."
That's a significant date, the first year in which state insurance exchanges are slated to get a monopoly on the issuance of individual health insurance policies. Sebelius is threatening to put health insurers out of business in a substantial portion of the market if they state that Obamacare is boosting their costs.
"Congress shall make no law," reads the First Amendment, "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."
Sebelius' approach is different: "zero tolerance" for dissent.
The threat to use government regulation to destroy or harm someone's business because they disagree with government officials is thuggery. Like the Obama administration's transfer of money from Chrysler bondholders to its political allies in the United Auto Workers, it is a form of gangster government.
"The rule of law, or the rule of men (women)?" economist Tyler Cowen asks on his marginalrevolution.com blog. As he notes, "Nowhere is it stated that these rate hikes are against the law (even if you think they should be), nor can this 'misinformation' be against the law."
According to Politico, not a single Democratic candidate for Congress has run an ad since last April that makes any positive reference to Obamacare. The First Amendment gives candidates the right to talk -- or not talk -- about any issue they want.
But that is not enough for Sebelius and the Obama administration. They want to stamp out negative speech about Obamacare. "Zero tolerance" means they are ready to use the powers of government to threaten economic harm on those who dissent.
The closing paragraph of Sebelius's letter to AHIP's Karen Ignagni gives the game away. "We worked hard to change the system to help consumers." This is a reminder that the administration alternatively collaborated with and criticized Ignagni's organization. We roughed you up a little, but we eventually made a deal.
The secretary goes on: "It is my hope we can work together to stop misinformation and misleading marketing from the start." In other words, shut your members up and play team ball -- or my guys with the baseball bats and Tommy guns are going to get busy. As Cowen puts it, "worse than I had been expecting."
Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner.
COPYRIGHT 2010 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
At Last: A Use For the New York Times in Print
Under the hopeful headline: “Read First, Then Use to Kill Weeds,” Raver made the case for using the Times, with compost, to kill garden weeds, as demonstrated in a photo by Rob Cardillo.
“I knew I was saving those newspapers for a reason,” I said to Rock, as he rolled a cartful from the barn. (We have enough newspapers stacked in there to blanket the turf at the Augusta National Golf Club.)Clay Waters is director of Times Watch. You can follow him on Twitter.
I started laying down the newspaper, four sheets thick, as Rock went off to dig some compost -- rotted leaves from one pile, aged manure from another -- and mixed it together in a wheelbarrow.I used the garden hose to wet the newspapers, to keep them from blowing away. But also because wet newspapers will decay faster, and roots from young plants will be able to grow right through to the soil below.
The Eternal Flame of Muslim Outrage
Shhhhhhh, we're told. Don't protest the Ground Zero mosque. Don't burn a Koran. It'll imperil the troops. It'll inflame tensions. The "Muslim world" will "explode" if it does not get its way, warns sharia-peddling imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Pardon my national security-threatening impudence, but when is the "Muslim world" not ready to "explode"?
At the risk of provoking the ever-volatile Religion of Perpetual Outrage, let us count the little-noticed and forgotten ways.
Just a few months ago in Kashmir, faithful Muslims rioted over what they thought was a mosque depicted on underwear sold by street vendors. The mob shut down businesses and clashed with police over the blasphemous skivvies. But it turned out there was no need for Allah's avengers to get their holy knickers in a bunch. The alleged mosque was actually a building resembling London's St. Paul's Cathedral. A Kashmiri law enforcement official later concluded the protests were "premeditated and organized to vitiate the atmosphere."
Indeed, art and graphics have an uncanny way of vitiating the Muslim world's atmosphere. In 1994, Muslims threatened German supermodel Claudia Schiffer with death after she wore a Karl Lagerfeld-designed dress printed with a saying from the Koran. In 1997, outraged Muslims forced Nike to recall 800,000 shoes because they claimed the company's "Air" logo looked like the Arabic script for "Allah." In 1998, another conflagration spread over Unilever's ice cream logo -- which Muslims claimed looked like "Allah" if read upside-down and backward (can't recall what they said it resembled if you viewed it with 3D glasses).
Even more explosively, in 2002, an al-Qaida-linked jihadist cell plotted to blow up Bologna, Italy's Church of San Petronio because it displayed a 15th century fresco depicting Mohammed being tormented in the ninth circle of Hell. For years, Muslims had demanded that the art come down. Counterterrorism officials in Europe caught the would-be bombers on tape scouting out the church and exclaiming, "May Allah bring it all down. It will all come down."
That same year, Nigerian Muslims stabbed, bludgeoned or burned to death 200 people in protest of the Miss World beauty pageant -- which they considered an affront to Allah. Contest organizers fled out of fear of inflaming further destruction. When Nigerian journalist Isioma Daniel joked that Mohammed would have approved of the pageant and that "in all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from among them," her newspaper rushed to print three retractions and apologies in a row. It didn't stop Muslim vigilantes from torching the newspaper's offices. A fatwa was issued on Daniel's life by a Nigerian official in the sharia-ruled state of Zamfara, who declared that "the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed. It is abiding on all Muslims wherever they are to consider the killing of the writer as a religious duty." Daniel fled to Norway.
In 2005, British Muslims got all hot and bothered over a Burger King ice cream cone container whose swirly-texted label resembled, you guessed it, the Arabic script for "Allah." The restaurant chain yanked the product in a panic and prostrated itself before the Muslim world. But the fast-food dessert had already become a handy radical Islamic recruiting tool. Rashad Akhtar, a young British Muslim, told Harper's Magazine how the ice cream caper had inspired him: "Even though it means nothing to some people and may mean nothing to some Muslims in this country, this is my jihad. I'm not going to rest until I find the person who is responsible. I'm going to bring this country down."
In 2007, Muslims combusted again in Sudan after an infidel elementary school teacher innocently named a classroom teddy bear "Mohammed." Protesters chanted, "Kill her, kill her by firing squad!" and "No tolerance -- execution!" She was arrested, jailed and faced 40 lashes for blasphemy before being freed after eight days. Not wanting to cause further inflammation, the teacher rushed to apologize: "I have great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone, and I am sorry if I caused any distress."
And who could forget the global Danish cartoon riots of 2006 (instigated by imams who toured Egypt stoking hysteria with faked anti-Islam comic strips)? From Afghanistan to Egypt to Lebanon to Libya, Pakistan, Turkey and in between, hundreds died under the pretext of protecting Mohammed from Western slight, and brave journalists who stood up to the madness were threatened with beheading. It wasn't really about the cartoons at all, of course. Little-remembered is the fact that Muslim bullies were attempting to pressure Denmark over the International Atomic Energy Agency's decision to report Iran to the UN Security Council for continuing with its nuclear research program. The chairmanship of the council was passing to Denmark at the time. Yes, it was just another in a long line of manufactured Muslim explosions that were, to borrow a useful phrase, "premeditated and organized to vitiate the atmosphere."
When everything from sneakers to stuffed animals to comics to frescos to beauty queens to fast-food packaging to undies serves as dry tinder for Allah's avengers, it's a grand farce to feign concern about the recruitment effect of a few burnt Korans in the hands of a two-bit attention-seeker in Florida. The eternal flame of Muslim outrage was lit a long, long time ago.
Mrs. Malkin is author of Unhinged (Regnery) and "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2009).
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The Church – Cathedral of Cordoba Spain, popularly know as the Mosque of Cordoba or the “Mezquita”, stands over a Christian church built in the Visigothic period (5th C).
The HISTORY OF ISLAM may hold answers to WHY it is so important for
Moslems to build that GROUND ZERO MOSQUE..
In 630, Muhammad led 10,000 Muslim soldiers into Mecca and turned the
pagans' most prominent spot, the Ka'aba, into the Masjid al-Haram Mosque.
In 634, Rightly Guided Caliph Umar conquered Syria and turned the
Christians' most prominent spot, the Church of Job, famous for being
visited by Saint Silva in the fourth century, into the Mosque of Job.
In 637, Caliph Umar conquered Hebron and turned the second-most
prominent spot in Judaism, the Cave of the Patriarchs, into the Ibrahimi
Mosque. (This was repeated by Saladin in 1188.)
In 638, Muslim generals Amr ibn al-As and Khalid ibn al-Walid conquered
Gaza and turned the prominent fifth-century Byzantine church into the
Great Mosque of Gaza.
In 638, Caliph Umar conquered Jerusalem.
In 691, Caliph Al-Malik ordered the _Dome of the Rock_ built on the most
prominent spot in Judaism, the Temple Mount, followed by Caliph Al-Walid
building the Al-Aqsa Mosque there in 705.
In 651, Muslims conquered Persia and turned Zoroastrian temples in
Bukhara and Istakhr into mosques.
In 706, after Muslims took Damascus from the Byzantine Empire, Caliph
Al-Walid turned the prominent Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist
into the Umayyad Mosque.
In 710, Gen. Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Pakistan, defiled the
prominent Sun Temple in Multan, which house the great idol "sanam," and
erected a mosque.
In 784, after the conquest of Spain, Emir Abd ar-Rahman turned the
prominent Visigothic Christian Church of Saint Vincent into the Great
Aljama Mosque of Cordoba. After the conquest of Egypt, Caliphs al-Mamun
(813-833) and al-Hakim (996-1021) turned prominent Coptic Christian
churches and Jewish synagogues in Cairo into mosques.
In 831, Muslims conquered Palermo, Sicily, and Asad ibn al-Furat turned
the prominent Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption into the Great
Mosque of Bal'harm. In 1193, Muslims conquered Delhi, India, and
Qutbuddin Aibak turned the Red Citadel in Dhillika, the most prominent
spot of the last Hindu rulers, into the Qutb Minar Mosque.
From 1250-1517, Mamluk Muslims controlled the Golan Heights and used
the ancient Synagogue of Katzrin as a mosque.
In 1387, Turkish Muslims conquered Thessaloniki and turned the
Katholikon Monastery and the Church of Aghia Sophia, which housed the
relics of Saint Gregorios Palamas, into mosques, as Symeon of
Thessaloniki recorded: "The greatest number of the buildings of the
churches fell to them, of which _the first_ was the Holy Church of the
Savior. â€¦ These were trampled underfoot and the infidels rejoiced in
them. â€¦ Most of thhe religious buildings in the city were despoiled,
while altars were demolished and sacred things profaned."
On May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople and turned
the great Byzantine church, Hagia Sophia, into the Ayasofya Mosque. The
_largest_ church in Christendom for a thousand years, the church's four
acres of gold mosaics were covered with whitewash and Quran verses.
In 1458, Sultan Mehmet II conquered Athens and turned the Greeks' most
prominent spot, the Parthenon on Acropolis hill, into a mosque. When
Venetian Gen. Francesco Morosini drove the Muslims out in 1687, a
cannonball hit the gunpowder stored in the mosque, blowing it up. In the
15th century, Ottoman invaders turned Saint Clement's Macedonian
Orthodox Monastery in Plaosnik, Balkans, into the Imater Mosque.
From 1519-1858, Muslim Mughal rulers gained control of India and turned
over 2,000 Hindu temples into mosques, including demolishing the Temple
of Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Rama, and replacing it
with the Babri Mosque. India's Mughal Muslim ruler, Jahangir
(1605-1627), wrote in Tujuk-i-Jahangiri: "At the city of Banaras [was] a
temple. â€¦ I made it my plea for thhrowing down the temple â€¦ and on the
spot, with the very same materials,, I erected the great mosque."
In 1543, Hayreddin Barbarossa's 30,000 Muslim troops wintered in Toulon,
France, and turned the prominent Toulon Cathedral into a mosque.
In 1570, under Sultan Selim II Khan, Muslims conquered Paphos, Cyprus,
and Gov. Mehmet Bey Ebubkir turned the prominent Christian church into
the Great Mosque of Paphos.
In 1571, Muslims invaded Famagusta, Cyprus, and turned Saint Nicolas
Cathedral, a rare Gothic church, into the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, and
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Nicosia, constructed in 1228, into the
In 1588, Sultan Murat III turned the Eastern Orthodox Church of Saint
John the Forerunner in Constantinople into the Hirami Ahmet Pasha Mosque.
In 1781, after having conquered the Old City of Acre, Ottoman Muslims
turned the Roman Catholic church built by Crusaders into the Jezzar
Ahmet Pasha Mosque, where a hair from Muhammad's beard is preserved.
In 1923, Muslims expelled Greeks from Turkey and turned Orthodox
churches into mosques. In World War II, Nazis allied with Bosnians and
turned the prominent Artists' Gallery Museum in Zagreb, Croatia, into a
In the 1950s, Muslims expelled Jews from Arab lands and turned
synagogues into mosques. Algerian Muslims warred against French colonial
rule till France pulled out in 1962, after which the Cathedral of St.
Philippe was turned into the Ketchaoua Mosque. Violence against Jews
caused 30,000 to flee and the Great Synagogue of Oran was turned into
the Mosque Abdellah Ben Salem.
In 1974, Turkish Muslims invaded northern Cyprus, and prominent Greek
Orthodox churches were turned into mosques. In 1981, Muslim immigrants
to the Netherlands converted Amsterdam's historic Catholic
Sint-Ignatiuskerk into the Fatih Mosque, and a synagogue in The Hague
into the Aksa Mosque.
William J. Federer is the author of: "What Every American Needs to Know
About the Quran: A History of Islam and the United States."