Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Hames explains that he knows now that predictions can go wrong. “Never make predictions,” he quotes from Casey Stengel, “especially about the future.” But not only, he writes, has his prediction about Iraq come true, as he says, against the odds,
but it is the most important story in the world this year. By any measure, the US-led surge has been little short of a triumph. The number of American military fatalities is reduced sharply, as is the carnage of Iraqi civilians, Baghdad as a city is functioning again, oil output is above where it stood in March 2003 but at a far stronger price per barrel and, the acid test, many of those who fled to Syria and Jordan are today returning home.
At this point, he takes a break to curb his enthusiasm: “The cheering has, of course, to come accompanied by caveats.” I don’t see why cheering has to be accompanied by caveats. Is that a British thing? Do they do that at the World Cup? Is that why fans of rival teams engage in hooligan riots, because they hate each others' caveats?
I digress. Maybe it's just because it's The Times. Maybe it's in his contract. Anyway, the substance of Hames's caveats regard the persistent violence in the areas of British responsibility, such as Basra, where a “softly-softly” style was used, ineffectively, rather than an American-style surge. In other words, it’s not George Bush’s fault. Caveats done with, Hames resumes some pretty good cheering:
Yet none of this should detract from what has been achieved in Iraq so unexpectedly this year. First, the country will now have the time to establish itself. A year ago it seemed as if American forces would have been withdrawn in ignominious fashion either well before the end of the Bush Administration or, at best, days after the next president came to office. This will not now happen. The self-evident success of the surge has obliged the Democrats to start talking about almost anything else and the calls to cut and run have abated. If the US Army remains in Iraq in strength, continuing on its present path, then deals on a constitution and the division of oil revenues between provinces will be realised.
Secondly, the aspiration that Iraq could be some sort of “beacon” in the region is no longer ridiculous. It will never be Sweden with beards, but there has been the development of a vibrant capitalist class and a media of a diversity that is unique in the region. Were Iraq to emerge with a federal political structure, regular local and national elections and an economic dynamism in which the many, not the few, could share, then it would be a model.
Finally, Iraq in 2007 has illustrated that the words “intelligent American policy” are not an oxymoron. The tragedy is that the approach of General David Petraeus could and should have been adopted four years ago in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's enforced departure.
There's one more caveat heard from. Hames already understands Casey Stengel’s point about the hazards of guessing future events, but he wants to blame US war planners in 2003 for being unable to able to predict the future in Iraq with 100% accuracy, a prediction that would have enabled them to adopt General Petraeus’s strategy four years earlier.
The influence of The Times, I guess. The old, no cheering without caveats rule.
Ah well, the caveats still don't spoil the Best Story of The Year. I'll take it, caveats and all. And here's another thing: why would anybody want a Sweden with beards?
For those of you who got it right, congratulations. Your optimism was vindicated. Have fun bringing it up at those Christmas get-togethers.
Monday, December 17, 2007
First the Saudis tell us we have to close our schools a day early.
Now I find out the Iranians are messing with Dearborn’s army.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, is firing Dearborn’s maximum leader, Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, from running Hezbollah’s military wing, and giving his spot to deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qasim. ("Khamenei appoints Qassem as Hezbollah military commander").
The Iranians say Nasrallah will still be in charge of Hezbollah intelligence, but who are they kidding?
As if there’s anything else to run in Hezbollah but the military wing. As if all those charitable contributions collected from Dearborn residents, and all that money being laundered and sent to Lebanon at risk of criminal prosecution, has any other purpose than supporting Hezbollah’s military wing. You may as well demote the Postmaster and say he’s not in charge of mail delivery any more, but he can still handle the Human Relations Department.
Dearborn residents are very proud of Hezbollah. We witnessed that last July, when, as the IDF was delivering a serious pounding to Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, “About half of Dearborn’s Arab community turned out" for rallies in enthusiastic support of Hezbollah--and Nasrallah ("Lebanese-Americans Are Angry and Anxious"):
College-age men asked, in call and response fashion, “Who is your army?” Protestors responded: “Hezbollah.” “Who is your leader?” they were asked. “Nasrallah,” the chanters responded. Many carried placards of the Hezbollah leader. A few days earlier at an even larger demonstration, more than 15,000 turned out, about half of Dearborn's Arab community.
Even Houssein Zorkot, the young man now in so much trouble for dressing up in black face and using Dearborn’s Hemlock Park to practice Hezbollah training with a loaded AK-47, was inspired by Nasrallah, whose picture adorns Zorkot's pro-Hezbollah website.
How exactly did this happen?
Details are still sketchy, but it appears that Iran (which we all know has a strict policy of respecting the internal affairs neighboring states), sent a senior intelligence officer, accompanied by master terrorist and Hezbollah leader, Imad Mugniyah, to Beirut a couple weeks ago, along with a wagonload of Revolutionary Guards. (“Iranian intelligence official visits Lebanon”).
Mugniyah's name may sound familiar. According to reports he:
has been implicated in the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut , and U.S. Marine and French peacekeeping barracks, which killed over 350, as well as the 1992 bombings of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires . He was also linked to numerous kidnappings of Westerners in Beirut through the 1980s, most notably that of Terry Anderson. Some of these individuals were later killed such as U.S. Army Col William Francis Buckley.” He is also currently Hezbollah Chief of Operations and “will continue to act as liaison between Hizbullah, the Palestinians, Iranian intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards.
(“Report: Nasrallah replaced as head of Hizbullah military wing”).
As reported by, Asharq al-Awsat, the pan-Arab daily, the Iranian decision to interfere in Lebanon's Hezbollah operations
was taken in light of a report presented by a team from the Intelligence apparatus of the Revolutionary Guards that had visited Lebanon to assess the status of Hezbollah’s military and its capabilities.
It quoted a revolutionary Guards officer in the Bekaa Valley as saying “intense differences” between Qassem and Nasrallah on “destiny issues related to the party’s military wing … led to the interference by Khamenei’s office to re-organize Hezbollah’s command structure.”
It's also notable from where details of the shakeup are leaking: from “sources within the liaison and recruitment office of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards based in Lebanon,” suggesting Hezbollah may be having a recruitment problem. Additional Iranian action includes this:
The unnamed source said Hezbollah’s annual budget of 400 million dollars was raised to over one billion dollars in the past 18 months to compensate for the losses sustained during the 34-day war with Israel in the summer of 2006.
Which indicates last year's Divine Victory by Hezbollah over Israel wiped out Hezbollah's budget, and then some. Imagine the cost if Hezbollah lost.
Fortunately, Dearborn’s Lebanese Arabs, in fact, all the world’s Lebanese Arabs, have gotten used to taking orders from non-Lebanese authorities--most notably in recent times the Syrians, and, obviously, the Iranians. And I suppose that, in spite of losing the charismatic Nasrallah, the important main thing is that Hezbollah is still there, defending Lebanon against Israel and providing social services to the poor. (“They're Muslims, And Yankees, Too”)
I believe in no time Dearborn’s Lebanese Shias will manage to transfer their loyalties to the new Hezbollah top man, so that next time there's any need to show how much Dearborn admires Hezbollah, we'll see some nice posters of Qasim. If he doesn't het himself fired, too.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
And the fact of the bias at the Free Press is why it’s so interesting that this Sunday’s Free Press letters page was so remarkably one-sided against Victor Ghalib Begg’s December 6 column calling for all Americans to be offended by “anti-Muslim bias.” (“Battle bigotry: Anti-Muslim bias should offend all Americans”).
Not a single letter takes Begg’s side.
Is it possible that the letters editor simply couldn’t find a letter from someone who actually took Begg’s article seriously? Or maybe even the letters editor was insulted by Begg's theme that America is in the grip of the "rapidly advancing disease" of Islamophobia.
Take a look through these letters, and you’ll see universal denunciations of Begg for his gall in calling for an end to Islamophobic intolerance while the Muslim community itself refuses to criticize the intolerant and bigoted actions of their own co-religionists all over the world every American sees reported every single day. Nor did it help Begg to have his column published within days of the Mohammed Teddy Bear prosecution in the Sudan, and while a Saudi court was reviewing the sentence of a gang-rape victim.
We Americans do have our problems with being too PC. Yet these letters encourage me that people just aren't buying the propoganda points of of Begg and CAIR that anyone taking a dim view of Islamist terror and barbarism must be an “Islamophobe” and a bigot.
And that’s a good thing.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
If Muslims do require all these accommodations for their religion, why do they not attend a private Islamic school so tax payers are not required to pay for a religious accommodation in violation of the Constitution? The answer, obviously, is why would they ever do this when they are so capable of intimidating and coercing the accommodation for free.
This letter sent from DPS to staff and parents, confirms what non-muslims in Dearborn have been reporting for years. Christmas and Easter are "those that should not be named". We must call Easter "Spring Break", and the word Christmas - maharrum. Use "Winter Break" so as not to offend or place importance of one religion over another. But it would also be maharrum to call by Eid by other name. This is why the letter states that "Winter Break" will begin a day early in order to accommodate "Eid Al-Adha (holiday of sacrifice)".
"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2007
Contact: David Mustonen, Communications Coordinator (313) 827-3006
Winter Break Will Start
On December 19
Originally scheduled to start on December 20, 2007 the Dearborn Public Schools will now start the Winter Break on December 19, 2007.
On Monday, December 10, 2007 district administration learned that the start of Eid Al-Adha (holiday of sacrifice) would be on December 19, 2007. Due to expected low attendance, the district will change the start of the Winter Break to December 19, 2007. State funding of schools is tied to attendance, therefore the decision to start the Winter Break one day early will avoid any potential loss in revenue, maintain the integrity of instructional time, and meet the needs of the community. All schools will close at the end of the day on December 18, 2007 and will reopen on Wednesday, January 2, 2008."
Here are a few of the 48 comments left by citizens of Dearborn. Check out www.russgibbatrandom.com to read more or to leave your own comment.
Reading the front page of the Dearborn paper has really settled it for me...
"We received a fax from the Islamic Center of America that all the imams got together and said the 20th is when Eid would be celebrated,"Mustonen said.
A fax? They sent a fax? The Dearborn Public School system doesn't even rate a phone call? I guess this is what disrupting 18,000 students in the Dearborn Public School system means to the Islamic Center of America. A fax (at the last minute). Could this possibly be an opportunity for cultural sensitivity training for the imams so they can better understand the culture and values of non-Muslims living among them?
Dearborn Public School's blind accommodation of Islamic religious rituals is absolutely ridiculous and unfair. We have to speak in code (winter break, holiday) when comes to CHRISTMAS, but every Islamic event gets to be referred to exactly what it is (Eid al-Ad ha, Ramadan). And, the front page of the Dearborn paper has to run a sidebar to explain to all us uneducated and intolerant life-long Dearbornites what exactly Eid al-Ad ha is all about.
Why is our culture and town being a servant to Islam?
-by ODD MAN OUT on 12/15/07 Lives: Dearborn
According to the Press & Guide, David Mustonen states: "It wasn't until Monday that Saudi Arabia announced it would be the 19th (EID). Then the imams from the Islamic Center sent the district a fax stating the 20th is the day, but other imams are going with Saudi Arabia and that puts the majority of kids out of school. Why would I send my daughters to a school district directly influenced by a place where they will be beaten if they drive a car or walk outside without a man? And I do see the inconsistency of driving around in my car with oil possibly from Saudi, but that is a macro problem that my choice can not impact. My only choice is to go to a private school that does not take it's marching orders from a value system that is as dangerous to my girls as having the ku klux Clan telling Detroit Schools when to shut down.
Going to a place where girls are not property.
--by J. Swankuhr on 12/15/07 Lives: Dearborn
Here is what happened, as reported in the Dearborn Press and Guide. (“Late Eid scheduling throws district a curve ball”).
School officials met with union leaders last week to change the start of winter break to accommodate the Islamic celebration of Eid al-Adha.
Superintendent John Artis told the Board of Education at its Monday meeting the district anticipated the holiday would be celebrated Thursday.
Then school officials were notified that the High Judiciary Council in Saudi Arabia set the date for Wednesday.
“It wasn't until Monday [December 10] that Saudi Arabia announced it would be the 19th,” said David Mustonen, the district's communications director. “We tried to anticipate it and set the day, putting some buffer time in there.”
Another difficulty setting the date is that Sunni and Shia Muslims celebrate the first day of the holiday on different days.
“We received a fax from the Islamic Center of America that all the imams got together and said the 20th is when Eid would be celebrated,” Mustonen said.
DPS Trustee James Schoolmaster said,
“Leaving the calendar as is would result in high absentee rates among students and staff, which would translate into loss of state aid for the day, [DPS Superintendent John] Artis told the board.”
Eid al-Adha celebrates Ibraham’s (Abraham’s) willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. Eid also marks the conclusion of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Because the date of Eid is determined on a lunar calendar, its date is always different on the Gregorian solar calendar used by our public schools. The date may also vary from country to country as the moon is visible from those places or not.
Reports do not indicate why it is that Saudis had so much trouble figuring out the predictable lunar cycles before the last minute.
Unhappy parents and critics of this level of accommodation are going to have it pointed out to them that the school schedule already includes “Christian holidays,” so Muslim holidays should be entitled to the same consideration.
In Dearborn, they already do receive the same consideration, and then some extra consideration, too, as this episode shows. Namely, the need for the Dearborn Public School system, all its teachers, 18,000 students and their parents, and all DPS staff, to adjust their calendar on barely a week’s notice to facilitate the religious needs of the district’s Sunni Muslim population, which in turn has to wait for date rulings concerning Eid from the High Judiciary Council in Saudi Arabia.
Dearborn's nonMuslims don't begrudge anyone time off to keep religious holidays. But it doesn't look so good when there's an appearance that taxpayer-funded schools have to stand up, sit down, and turn around at the say-so of, literally, foreign princes. Remember all the flak JFK from fundamentalists worried he was going to get his orders from the Pope? This is sort of like that, except Rome never interfered with JFK, and even if it had, the Pope was never going to call up the White House on December 21st to announce a change in the date of Christmas.
This is one of those situations where, if Dearborn's Sunni leaders are smart, they'll graciously acknowledge that it was their own Saudi clerics who caused all this inconvenience, and show some remorse for the trouble its caused their neighbors, and even show some gratitude that the school system so readily cooperated. But I'm afraid that, as usual, Dearborn's Muslims will just take the DPS's above-and-beyond accomodation as nothing more than what Muslims are due by divine right.
Which is exactly what drives their nonMuslim neighbors crazy.
The head recruiter, Tim Tarczynski, said that “Although Iraq is ‘a dangerous place,’ no civilians there under this program have been killed.”
So, there's a chance for great money and a break from Michigan’s devastating, Democratic-controlled economic depression. Is it worth the risk of a year in Iraq for a chance to earn that kind of money?
For Detroit resident Marceilos Davis, 27, the answer is simple: yes.
“That's a no-brainer,” said Davis, who makes $50,000 a year working two full-time jobs in hospital security. “From the neighborhood I live in, it's no different than Iraq. I'm not scared.”
Good for you, Mr. Davis, and we’re glad you’re not scared, and wish you the best.
But there is one important difference between your Detroit neighborhood and Iraq.
We're winning in Iraq.
After witnessing a throng of thousands in Des Moines screaming for Obama, his wife, Michelle, and celebrity supporter Oprah Winfrey , Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen declares: "There is no doubt that the zeitgeist whispers the name Obama and that it was impossible, if not historically irresponsible, to look at that platform -- three African-Americans -- and at the immense and mostly white crowd and not feel that something big was happening. Obama's banner captured that: 'Change we can believe in.'"
That, or maybe something big has long since happened that the Democratic Left still adamantly refuses to recognize, (since it would deprive them forever of the key tool for exploiting black constituents)--namely, that white America turned its back on racism long ago and has moved on.
But it's hard to say which message the zeitgeist was really whispering, what with all that yelling of the thousands of all those white people for Obama, Michelle, and Oprah. Maybe Cohen can ask the zeitgeist to re-send the message.
Then there's this zeitgest spotting in the New York Times:
Huckabee, meanwhile, stirs Frank Rich from his usually corrosive comportment to declare the GOP candidate is "catching the wave of an emerging zeitgeist."
The New York Times columnist writes: "The real reason for Huckabee's ascendance may be that his message is simply more uplifting -- and, in the ethical rather than theological sense, more Christian -- than that of rivals whose main calling cards of fear, torture and nativism have become more strident with every debate."
Still sounds plenty corrosive to me.
Frank Rich hates Christians, and has declaimed against the “God racket,” by, among other corrosive insults, painting Christians trying to save Terri Schiavo from being judicially murdered by her no-account husband, as, (according to Rich’s 2005 interpretation of the zeitgeist), “our culture…screaming its theocratic inclinations.”
You can bet that any time a guy like Rich starts boosting a candidate's religiosity as “more Christian” than his "less Christian" opponents, it’s because the zeitgeist has promised that the favored "more Christian" subject will ultimately result in “less Christianity.”
And anyway, how exactly does one "catch...the wave of an emerging zeitgeist"?
Here’s a picture worth a thousand words, so I'll try to hold myself back. Notice how calm the soldier is, even though the outraged Palestinian is practically spitting in his face. The soldier’s not the least bit intimidated, either, nor even upset at the way the Palestinian is invading his space. Actually, the soldier looks bored. Which face represents the side that's going to win?
Friday, December 14, 2007
I've noticed that in most any other churches or denominations, one finds examples of clergymen with a wide variety of personalities: studious, garrulous, hilarious, solemn, contemplative, extroverted, introverted, etc. But Baptist preachers tend to come in only one or two personalities. In fact, mostly only one. It’s a bit hard to capture this personality in words, so I’ll just say, if you watch and listen to Mike Huckabee, you're seeing it. I knew or listened to 50 preachers exactly like him. My own aspirations to become a Baptist minister (misguided as they otherwise may have been on other grounds), were squelched by well-meaning preachers and outgoing who recognized that no church would ever have me because I didn’t have that personality.
Okay, so maybe I’m knocking the personality, which is easy for me because I haven't got any. And I recognize how that Baptist personality helped the SBC grow to be the biggest Protestant group in America, and stay that way all these years. And, most of the non-Baptist commentators who say they see something in Huckabee are reacting to that very same personality. If you’ve never run across it before it can be very winsome.
The thing is, I have run across it before, and it scares hell out of me that this guy might someday become President.
The thing is, you can't expect any future profiles or magazine covers to uncover The Real Mike Huckabee, or to peel back the "layers" of Mike Huckabee, even if they promise to do so. There is no other, realer, Huckabee. There are no other layers to Mike Huckabee to peel. This is it. And all there ever will be.
But just because the universal Baptist preacher personality is rather shallow, doesn’t mean it's dishonest. Huckabee adds that element all on his own.
So far, he’s lied repeatedly in public debates and interviews that he has a “theology degree,” and has provided false biographical information that he has a masters from Southwestern. http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=59222
A profile in the Christian Science Monitor said “If elected, Huckabee would be only the second preacher president, after James Garfield. He senses that could be an obstacle. ‘Anytime you have been a person who was identified as a pastor and you've got a seminary education and theology degree, people tend to worry about you,’ Huckabee told the Values Voter Summit in Washington last month.”
Jim Geraghty at NRO called him out on his degree fib, and Huckabee’s research director e-mailed him back frankly admitting that “Governor Huckabee doesn’t have a theology degree. He only spent a year in seminary.”
It isn't pastors with seminary educations and "theology degrees [sic]" that tend to make me worry, Governor. I worry when they lie to me.
Then there’s Huckabee’s completely dishonest responses to questions about Romney’s qualifications as a Christian: is he one? This question was asked by CBS News:
CBSNews.com: “Do you believe that Mormonism is a legitimate form of Christianity?”
[Huckabee’s answer is no, he doesn’t think Mormons are Christians, but this is how he phrased it]:
Gov. Huckabee: “You know, Mormonism is a faith that people adhere to. And I think people ought to respect anybody’s faith. I am not all that familiar with the intricate details. I have enough trouble keeping up with my own faith. So, I do not spend lots of time trying to evaluate somebody else’s.”
CBSNews.com: “But do you think they’re real Christians?”
Gov. Huckabee: “Once again, I am not going to try to judge. That is for them to determine whether they accept Jesus Christ as the only revelation of God on Earth. And, if they do, then that is how a person is a Christian, not by the label they wear, but by the position they take on the role and the personhood of Christ.”
I am only speaking from my own experience when I say that no born-again Christian kid, who preached his first sermon as a teenager, (like me), went to a Baptist college to major in the Bible, spent a year in seminary, pastored two churches and ran the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, has finally reached the ripe old age of 52 without having a very firmly established opinion about the doctrinal illegitimacy (from a Baptist point of view) of one of the largest religious bodies in the country. Huckabee also has, I can assure you, very specific opinions (even if he doesn't have so much in the way of facts) about Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, liberal Methodists, and Congregationalists (each and every one of us “lost as a goose in a snowstorm”). Yet he says he doesn't have an opinion about the Mormons? You may as well find a radical professor who’s spent his life studying Marxism who says he’s never thought about what capitalism is or whether it's been good for humanity.
Now, I don’t object to Huckabee holding this opinion about the LDS church. I’m a Catholic, and we don’t consider the LDS orthodox, either (not that Huckabee gives a damn what a heretic idolater like me thinks about anything). And I don’t believe that comments and opinions that might be appropriate in the pulpit or at your own church ought to be shared when you’re a presidential candidate making statements in the national press. It doesn't bother me even one tiny bit if Huckabee, the preacher, tells his congregation, “Now, we Baptists don’t believe Mormons are real Christians because….”
It’s not the opinion that galls me. I repeat: It’s the lying.
So how could he handle answering reporters' loaded questions, without lying?
He could try being a gentleman, even a Christian gentleman: When asked, he can reply, “Each of my fellow candidates identifies himself publicly with the Savior, Jesus Christ, which is the Biblical qualification for calling oneself "Christian." So who am I to judge them? I take them at their word. And if you want more than that, you can ask them--or you can ask Jesus.”)
But Huckabee, even as a candidate, is still an evangelical Southern Baptist preacher, which means he’s nothing if not smugly self-assured that he owns God’s truth just as surely and as unreflectively as he owns his Social Security number. (Unfair? I can name four other smugly self-assured Southern Baptists for you: Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Bill Moyers). Besides, Huckabee loves these questions, because they allow him to send messages to his evangelical base: I am the Christian leader here.
Not that there's anything Christ-like about the way, when Huckabee "apologizes," he has to twist the knife some more while pretending (publicly) to be pulling it out.
Like after that Mormons believe Jesus is brother to the Devil crack, (which I believe was done on purpose), Huckabee told reporters
“After the debate today, I went to Mitt Romney and apologized to him because I said I would never try -- ever -- to try and somehow pick out some point of your faith and make it an issue,” Huckabee told reporters, describing Romney as "gracious" in responding to the apology.
Let me rephrase this Huckabeespeak apology in straight English . “Governor Romney, I wouldn’t dream of picking out and making an issue of any of your people’s stupid doctrines, like, for instance, this one I've heard about lately that My Beautiful Saviour and Old Scratch are brothers.”
Romney automatically qualified as “gracious” when he didn't flatten this punk for that "apology."
Then there were Huckabee’s phony comments on Cuba. Again, it’s not so much how his policies are foolish and poorly thought out. It’s the way he lies about them.
Although the candidates kept it polite on stage, Fred Thompson's campaign circulated press clippings from 2002 in which Huckabee called for an end to the trade embargo with Cuba. In a letter to President Bush, Huckabee wrote at the time: ``U.S. policy on Cuba has not accomplished its stated goal of toppling the Castro regime and instead has provided Castro with a convenient excuse for his own failed system of government.''
That stance is bound to rile many Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade, who believe that the embargo helps undermine Fidel Castro's repressive regime.
Huckabee is certain to face questions about the embargo at a Monday morning press conference in Miami, where he is expecting an endorsement from Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, one of the most prominent Cuban-American Republicans in the state.
Caught off guard, Huckabee's campaign said two hours after the debate that he had since changed his position on the embargo after consulting with Cuban-American leaders.
“'He's committed to vetoing any legislation that lifts sanctions on Cuba,” said Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart.
This doesn’t even qualify as a flip-flop, which requires at least one complete news cycle. Two hours later? So how does he explain this later?
“I really wasn’t that aware of a lot of the issues that exist between Cuba and the US. Being in Arkansas it’s not something that there’s a close proximity of.”
That’s right, Republicans. He denies that before last month he even knew we weren’t getting along with Cuba.
We’ve had a trade embargo against Cuba since 1960--the Eisenhower administration. Yes, Huck was only 5, but since then we’ve had the Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis, and four decades of expeditions by Leftist students and their professors to help the People’s Republic get their cane crop in. I was little in 1960, too, and Michigan is even farther from Cuba than Arkansas is, but I’ve heard of our troubles with Cuba.
Besides, there was that letter Huckabee wrote in 2002 telling the President that the embargo against Cuba wasn’t accomplishing “its stated goal of toppling the Castro regime.” Which kind of implies, you know, awareness.
And Cuba not in close proximity to Arkansas? Imagine President Huckabee, limited to imagining threats only from “something that there’s a close proximity of”--meaning it’s at least closer than Cuba. Inner-city Baltimore, maybe.
Then my favorite was this exchange on Fox News Sunday, which got by everybody, apparently, except yours truly, and my longsuffering wife who's had me repeating it to her all week.
Chris Wallace asked Huckabee to comment on the destroyed CIA interrogation videotapes, and, apparently drawing a blank similar to the one he had over last week’s NIE report, Huckabee decided he’d answer a different question about torture instead.
WALLACE: …What do you make of the CIA destroying the tapes of those two investigations — or those two interrogation interrogations? And as president, what would you do about it?
HUCKABEE: Well, it goes back to this whole issue whether or not we should have torture. You're about to have a guest on this program for whom I hold in high esteem, and that's Senator John McCain.
I think it's absurd, and I've said this many times, for anybody running for president to think they know more about torture than John McCain.
I don’t know if it would be absurd for anyone to say that, I just don’t see how it answers the question, nor how it has to do either with the issue of the videotapes, or any issues of torture. Suppose Wallace asked if we should increase funding for prostate cancer, would Huckabee start blustering: “I think it's absurd, and I've said this many times, for anybody running for president to think they know more about prostate cancer than Rudy Giuliani.”
But Huckabee wasn’t finished, deciding he'd take a stab at the videotape issue after all. But first he had more to say about torture.
One of the reasons that I came out this week — and I had said so earlier, but nobody was paying attention. Now people are paying attention to what I'm saying. But I don't believe that we ought to torture. I think it's a policy that is beneath us. It is obviously unproductive.
And every single military person with whom I've spoken, people who actually have been trained and who have been on either side of this issue, either being tortured or being asked to do it — I've got to tell you, I can't find anybody who says that ought to be the policy of the United States.
So when we start destroying documents, what are we destroying them for? Are we doing it for security purposes or to cover somebody's rear end?
If we're covering somebody's rear end, we need to expose their rear end and kick their rear end for doing something that's against the best interest of the United States and the responsibility and the respectability of this country.
Did you get that?
Huckabee says he's had many conversations with military persons asking them if torture should be the policy of the United States. Then I'll bet he asks them after that if they think we should have a policy of shooting unarmed prisoners. If he really asked them this and didn’t just make the whole thing up, (I do think he makes this stuff up), did he really think that military commanders were going to say, “Yes, governor, our policy should be torture.”
This is exactly what I mean when I say Huckabee has a one-layer personality. Don’t look beneath what he says, because he never does.
But even more outrageous (I was amazed that Matthews let it go by), was his statement that he has discussed torture with American military people “on either side of this issue…[those military persons] either being tortured or being asked to do it.”
Being asked to do it? Is he saying he’s talked to military people who are being asked to torture? By whom? By General Petraeus? By Bob Gates? This would qualify as a really, really big news story if anybody actually believed this guy. (And yet he is being taken so seriously! It's that personality, my friend. It makes you want to trust him).
Soldiers asked by superiors to torture. Can you imagine if Huckabee made a stupid comment like this as President, with a Democratic majority in Congress? Conyers and Levin would have to be cryogenically preserved just so they could be brought back later to wind up the last of their investigations in 2099. (Leahy’s already been cryogenically preserved twice and brought back, which is why he acts that way and always believes we're still in the middle of the Watergate hearings).
My point: not only is Huckabee a big liar, but a big, bad liar. Those who like Huckabee call him a “great candidate” and “very smart.”
Does this sound smart to you? Does voting for him sound smart to you?
The exciting and stylishly-coiffed Ms. Minnelli has been rushed back to the United States for treatment. Brilliant social commentator and genius auteur Michael Moore says that Ms. Minnelli returned for treatment in spite of repeated warnings by him that Sweden’s health-care system is “ginormously” superior to the overpriced quackery practiced in Amerika.
At first, experts were baffled at the exquisite Ms. Minnelli’s unexpected toppling over while performing in a nation that has made it all but impossible for tourists to get a drink. On hearing of it, anthropologists rushed to point out that it was their consensus view, (with no “deniers”), that Ms. Minnelli in fact is manifesting the very problem that all early female bipeds faced, namely, “tumbling over like a bowling pin” when pregnant. (“Why don't pregnant women tip? Evolution”).
Harvard University anthropologists pointed to their recent research describing how long ago “evolution had produced a stronger and more flexible lower spine for women,” making it possible for pregnant monkey-women to lean back to accommodate their swollen bellies, rather than walking around on all fours. This spontaneous and undesigned leap forward enabled early moms-to-be to “forage effectively or escape predators,” or even wear high heels. A companion report from Harvard University sociologists describes how, in spite of the evolutionary improvement to their spines, females in the Pleistocene period still struggled with inadequate pre-natal treatment and a lack of quality child care resources.
Experts in the field of science are shocked with the effervescent Ms. Minnelli’s circumstances for two reasons: first, that the spectacular Ms. Minnelli managed to be “in a family way” at her age; but also that the evolutionary adaptation of the flexible spine--now millions and millions of years old--somehow was not passed on to hit singer and three-time Tony Award winner, Ms. Minnelli, the way most of her mother's singing talent was.
Ms. Minnelli’s press agent has denied categorically that the star of the hit movie version of Cabaret is “expecting.” A spokesman for the anthropologists responded that the “scientific consensus” for their absolutely true conclusions about Ms. Minnelli’s evolutionary and maternal conditions contradict the Hollywood superstar’s denial--dismissing it as coming from a “few noisy skeptics -- most of whom are not even scientists.”
Zorkot’s preliminary examination has been delayed several weeks because the defendant was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation determining his competency to stand trial. This morning the court accepted the stipulation of both the prosecution and the defense, agreeing with the forensic report stating Zorkot is competent, and, in fact, “normal,” for purposes of standing trial.
Zorkot thereafter waived his right to his preliminary exam. Next he will be formally arraigned (December 28th) and bound over for trial in circuit court.
Over the prosecution's objections, the court agreed with the defendant that the $1M bond was too high, and recommended that it be lowered to a $100,000 cash bond, . Assuming Zorkot can meet the bond, he will be released with a tether, and confined to his home.
Family members and friends of Zorkot were present in the courtroom ready to vouch, if called upon, that if Zorkot were released from jail he would pose no further threat, nor try to flee. At the same time, the Wayne State University medical school, (where Zorkot had been studying medicine prior to his arrest), sent a representative to court expressly to reiterate that, even if Zorkot were released on bond, he would still not be allowed to return to the school.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
HADDONFIELD, New Jersey —
Federal authorities say one of the men accused of planning an attack on soldiers at the Fort Dix army base gave another inmate in a federal detention center an Al Qaeda recruitment video and another wrote a note referring to the fight “we weren't able to finish.”
The U.S. Attorney's Office made the allegations in a brief filed in U.S. District Court late Tuesday to oppose the suspects' request to be granted bail….
In the legal filing, the government said Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer gave another inmate a copy of an Al Qaeda-produced DVD last month. Guards found the disc in a book in the detention center's law library.
Government lawyers said in the filing that “the fact the defendant Shnewer and, perhaps, his co-conspirators may be spreading jihadist recruitment videos to other inmates clearly raises grave security concerns for the warden, and, again, supports the reasonableness of continued administrative detention for these defendants.”….
The government also said that suspect Eljvir Duka and another inmate were passing notes.
In one note, the government said, Duka wrote, "Now you see why we were going to sacrifice all for the sake of Allah in jihad" and referred to the fight “we weren't able to finish.”
The government said detention center staff confronted Duka about the notes. According to the filing, he acknowledged he was passing them but said they only dealt with “issues such as the quality of the food” behind bars.
That last part actually sounds plausible. Suppose the note actually described how the inmates were ready to “sacrifice all” on account of the “fries we weren’t able to finish,” limp and inedible from being reheated 3 nights in a row:
“Insha’Allah, we’ll get no leftovers from our 72 virgins! Allahu Akhbar!”
Monday, December 10, 2007
On Wednesday, prosecutors said Prouty illegally accessed the FBI's Hezbollah investigative files in 2002 and 2003, at a time when she was a Washington, D.C.-based FBI field agent who was not working Hezbollah cases. Prouty accessed them electronically, "without authorization and in excess of her authorized access," the prosecutors said in a court filing.
At the time, her sister's husband, Talal Khalil Chahine, 51, was under investigation by the FBI in Detroit for his suspected ties to Hezbollah. The Lebanon-based group was designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization in 1997….
One senior federal law enforcement official said an ongoing damage assessment focused on what information Prouty -- who started working for the FBI in 1999 and the CIA in 2003 -- passed onto Chahine and perhaps others with connections to Hezbollah here. Officials also are trying to determine whether the information undermined any of the FBI's long-running investigations into the organization.
So why isn’t this a bigger story?
I put in these search terms for the CIA videotape story: “CIA videotape investigation,” and got 318 hits.
I Googled “Prouty FBI spy Hezbollah” and got 41 hits.
(As a reality check, I Googled “Michael Vick sentencing”, 3,392 hits, but we’re just coming off a weekend.)
So Hezbollah has apparently managed to get a mole into not one, but two of our highest-echelon intelligence agencies, and used their mole to steal secrets of direct benefit to Hezbollah, and it’s a smaller story than the CIA destroying a videotape after going to the Congress and saying, “Hey, we’re going to get rid of this videotape, all right?”
I wonder how many Congressional investigations Carl Levin is going to demand about this one. After all, it happened in Michigan, the State he represents, I'm told.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 1963)
“He was an apostle of love.”--
Ossie Davis, speaking the day after Martin Luther King was assassinated, April 5, 1968, in Central Park, New York.
Man, have we fallen a long way since then.
You'll know what I mean if you check out Friday's rally outside the Isabella County Prosecutor's office. ("Activists protest sluggish pace of CMU noose probe").
Witness the looks on the faces of these men: clergymen, mind you, every one of whom is going to tell you he considers Martin Luther King, Jr. his mentor and model.
What a joke. What a heartbreak.
(All photos below except for that of Malik Shabazz are by Jeffrey LaMonde / Special to Detroit News)
Gaze into this face of love:
Meet Rev. William Revely.
Sure enough, he calls himself “a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. King.” He is pastor of Holy Hope Heritage Baptist Church in Detroit, But though a Baptist he somehow straddles Christianity and radical Islam as an active supporter of the public antics of of Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan.
(If you're a Christian and you think that’s not possible, Rev. Revely also supports Rev. Moon’s Unification Church, as revealed in his testimony at a Moon even last January, where “He commented that Jesus himself was not a Christian and that it is Rev. Moon’s movement that is truly bringing all peoples of faith together.”)
Apparently, all microphones lead to the one true religion. But what I want to know is, what Divine Principle is it that makes his face look this way?
And the text of this Sunday’s sermon by Rev. Revely?: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” James 1:19,20
Then there’s Pastor Maurice L. Rudds, Greater Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. He also belongs to Rev. Charles Williams II’s National Council for Community Empowerment. According to his bio on their website, Rev. Rudds has a “Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Thought from William Tyndale College,” (so at least we know he’s had some exposure to Christian thought. There's also this interesting personal detail: “God has given Pastor Rudds a big heart with the love of Jesus for everyone.”
Okay, almost everyone. This is Pastor Rudds showing off what "a big heart with the love of Jesus for everyone" looks like.
The stated purpose of this rally was to pressure a prosecutor into charging someone with a criminal offense, regardless of what the evidence shows or whether or not a crime has been committed. You know, the kind of thing Jesus was always doing.
“We live in America,” Pastor Rudds is reportedly shouting. We're in America. That explains all this. We live in America, where we prosecute first, answer questions later, or better yet, skip all that facts and evidence stuff all together. But wasn’t it the prosecute-first America, the rush to judgment America, that lynching America--wasn't that the America that all those Freedom Riders were striving to change during the civil rights struggle?
By the way, we've checked out Pastor Rudds’s scripture text for this Sunday's message: “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.” Psalm 94:20,21
Then we have Rev. R. Chester Gulley of New Covenant Baptist Church in Benton Harbor, who explains why evidence suggesting the student is guilty of only a harmless prank done without any ill intent, or even racial awareness, must never be allowed to play any role in the decision to rush forward with the maximum jeopardy of prosecution and criminal penalties.
“I don't hate the young man who hung the noose,” said Gulley,....But we cannot allow it to go unprosecuted.”
And if one were to press the point with Reverend Gulley and ask, “Why can’t the noose incident go unprosecuted, especially if you don’t hate him, and there’s no evidence that he hates you or yours? Moreover, there's the lack of a hateful motive that places this beyond prosecution, not to mention the even more insurmountable problem of the lack of any victim. (Or what Bruce Springsteen might complain about during concerts as “no habeas corpus delicti”)).
“Why not?” retorts Rev. Gulley. Because, “This type of behavior is not accepted and will not be tolerated as a joke.”
So now we show we don’t tolerate jokes by putting people in jail? If that’s our legal standard, the people writing The Simpsons for the last five years wouldn’t be eligible for parole until 2039.
All I can say is, if Christian love can be hog-tied by all these conditions, I’m asking for a refund on my Red Letter Bible.
And then again wasn't it so fitting when Martin Luther King once remarked about his enemies: “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.”
Oh, and Reverend Gulley’s Bible message this Sunday? Open to I Corinthians 13: 5,6: “Charity is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. ”
If you don’t like the “intolerable joke” explanation as an excuse for an unfounded felony prosecution, there’s always the “intolerable intolerance” explanation, if you care to wrap your head around that one.
The CMU organizer of the rally, senior Kierre Majors, a 21-year-old elementary education student, (and leader of campus group Students Against Discrimination), insists that, if the prosecutor doesn’t charge this student with the harshest crime, and expose him to the harshest criminal penalty available, “it sends a message to us that we're tolerating intolerance, that we’re supporting this young man. And I don't want that message sent to the student body.”
Fine. Let's send this message instead:
To all CMU students: anyone caught tolerating intolerance, or engaging in intolerance, will not be tolerated, and further, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law--AND PROBABLY BEYOND.
The online profile for Students Against Discrimination says, “Our ultimate goal is to be happy by promoting diversity, equality and justice.”
We know that wherever people's happiness is at stake, we know we're not allowed to question whatever it takes to get them there, (especially if it involves a partial-birth abortion or trying to get some kid thrown in jail for unauthorized congress with a sanctified symbol of the struggle.)
But it doesn’t sound like the happiness thing is exactly working in her case. On the other hand, Ms. Majors isn't exactly promoting justice in this case, is she?
And, si bien sur, where would any self-respecting Black church affiliated civil-rights protest be without a visit from Malik Shabazz, general counsel of the New Black Panther Movement, who showed up Friday to tell protesters: “The battle is everywhere. We must march on, and we must stand together.”
“No Justice--No Peace®” indeed.
For those of you unfamiliar with him, Malik Shabazz is as close to a complete self-invention as we’re ever going to see.
He stole his name from Malcolm X, (his real name is Paris Lewis); he belongs to an organization stolen from Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, he preaches a religion stolen from radical Islam and The Twilight Zone, and he sports a black uniform stolen from Himmler’s SS. The only thing genuine about him is the hate.
Foreseeing such creatures as Shabazz, Martin Luther King once said this:
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
A sentiment I'm sure all of us can recognize in Shabazz's April 2002 speech at a New Black Panthers Party demonstration outside the B'nai B'rith building in Washington, D.C.:
“Kill every goddamn Zionist in Israel! Goddamn little babies, goddamn old ladies! Blow up Zionist supermarkets!”
I ask you--what is there not to be inspired by in this Heaven-sent Apostle of Love? And I’m puzzled that the Southern Poverty Law Center would condemn the NBPP itself as “fundamentally racist."
Then there was the time Shabazz, (who, as general counsel for the NBPP is known in the ranks as “our attorney at war”), refused to apologize for his unjust support for the lynching of the Duke lacrosse students, even after they were vindicated by the North Carolina state attorney general as “innocent.” Instead, he blamed Nifong (whose name he kept pronouncing “Neefong” as a sign of disrespect), for his incompetence in framing up and jailing the innocent students.
When challenged by Michelle Malkin on the Bill O’Reilly show about his refusal to own up to being so wrong (sort of like right now) about the Duke case, he responded by calling Michelle “political prostitute.”
(Hint: This is how a man acts when he believes he is immune from public accountability for anything he says. Please spend some time thinking about that).
Ms. Majors--she of the intolerance of intolerance--was only slightly chagrined when she learned one of her key speakers holds an advanced degree in intolerance, saying “she was stunned when asked about Shabazz's status as a leader of a known hate group. ‘It makes me aware of something I wasn't aware of before,” Majors said. ‘[But at least] He did not get up there and speak about hate.’” (“Leader of hate group addresses rally opposing hate at Central Michigan University”).
Neither did the student you’re so determined to lynch, Ms. Majors. But symbolism always takes priority over susbtance. Or so you’ve all been lecturing us for the last 40 years. What message does Shabazz at your parade send?
Of course, we've already met the Rev. Charles Williams II, who’s doing his best to ride herd on all these sharp-elbowed Sharptonistas so he can take credit for the win. Here he is in a Detroit News photo as he “shouts up to Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick's office, while Robert S. Womack, of Grand Rapids, points his flag during the rally… accusing Burdick of dragging his feet in pressing charges in the CMU noose incident.”
Though Williams's main mentor is Rev. Al Sharpton, he also has a framed photo of Martin Luther King that hangs in an honored place on his wall just below his gigantic Sharpton “No Justice!--No Peace!®”) poster. As a tribute to MLK, Williams has been working on his own version of the “I Have A Dream” speech, in which he declaims, in part:
I have a dream that one day the state of Michigan will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands against little white boys who tie play nooses that aren’t intended for nothing--and throw they’re asses into jail. Oh, wait, yeah, and what was that other thing that, oh yeah--and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
Reverend King, please send help.
Friday, December 07, 2007
According to the UM-D campus newspaper, The Michigan Journal, the rally was organized by the Arab Student Union and the Students United for Peace and Justice.
United for Peace and Justice is a national, anti-Bush, anti-Israel, group whose list of best friends includes the Communist Party USA, CODEPINK, and the ADC.
UFPJ’s issues include opposition to the War in Iraq, opposition to Israel, opposition to sanctions against Iran, opposition to military recruitment and the US military in general, (see example of the UFPJ anti-military poster at right), nuclear disarmament (of the USA), and exploiting tragedies like Hurricane Katrina as accessories to sticky-fingered groups like the AFL-CIO and the NAACP in their get-richer-quick schemes to referee "the equitable distribution of money and resources from Federal, state and local government and other relief agencies."
In this same issue of the Journal guest commentator, Iraq War veteran and UM-D student J. David McHann, calls on SUPJ President, Rashid Baydoun, (and quite politely, I may add), to remove offensive posters hung on campus depicting American soldiers threatening Iraqi women and children with their weapons, and captioned: “Oppression.” ("Posters' portrayal of troops is unfounded"). At right is another example of an SUPJ poster, "A Soldier of None," in which a little Norman Rockwell kid (or is that a MAD magazine kid?), flips off Uncle Sam.
According to McHann, a previous request to Baydoun to remove the posters was ignored. As of this writing Baydoun hasn't responded to McHann's commentary in the online edition of the newspaper.
The other organizer of the rally, the Arab Student Union, was criticized last year by our colleagues at Stand With Us, for making Osama Siblani the featured speaker at their annual dinner. Siblani is AAPAC president, and publisher of the Arab American News; his newspaper is bitterly anti-Israel and anti-Bush. Siblani’s talk included warnings about the “pro-Israel lobby,” and hw was quoted to tell the audience that night at the Bint Jebail Cultural Center that, “They [the Jews] control everything but the universities and the future leaders that sit before you tonight.” (“Offensive remarks against Jews at Arab Student Union Dinner at U-M Dearborn”)
(Obviously Siblani was exaggerating about Jews controlling "everything," or else “they” would have been directing their minions in the kitchen to serve poisoned tabouli to all the “future leaders”.)
Congressman Paul didn’t attend the UM rally. The Michigan Journal reports the UM-D event was mainly intended to be informational.
“We want to spread awareness of Ron Paul and his campaign,” said freshman Michael Chami.
Chami said that he had been passionate about politics for his entire life.
He said that in today’s world, there are two paths; a path of community and sympathy or a path of war.
He said that Ron Paul voted against the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq and if elected, Ron Paul would get the soldiers out of Iraq immediately. Chami also explained the view of the hypocrisy of wasting money on war while millions live in poverty.
Arab Student Union Vice President Hussein Saghir
urged the students to research Ron Paul and his politics and think about what he would do if he were elected. He stressed the importance of comparing and contrasting the other candidates and hopefully making Ron Paul the genuine option.
“We can change the course of history in the next election,” Saghir said.
Also attending the rally was Tarek Baydoun, a UM-Dearborn alumnus and local realtor who writes for Siblani at the Arab American News, and also works very hard at becoming a prominent "future leader" for Islamic causes in Dearborn.
Towards this goal, in July Baydoun told the Detroit News that blame for 9/11 rested on American policies and power, while denying that any of the hijackers could be “affiliated with Islam.” Last June in the Detroit Free Press he condemned all criticism of the UM plan to install Muslim wudu stations as "vitriolic, Islamaphobic rhetoric over the footbaths." ("Protests at UMD show intolerance", DFP, June 12, 2007).
Regarding his support for Paul, Baydoun told the Michigan Journal “that he has been a Democrat his entire life and never thought that he would be voting for a Republican,” but now supports Ron Paul for “what he stands for and the plans he has set if he was (sic) elected.”
I wonder who all of this says less for? For Ron Paul that he attracts such supporters? Or less for the supporters that they like Paul only because he opposes the Patriot Act, has an irrational view of national security, and has a plan for abandoning Iraq just as victory there will be nearly total by January 2009?
A group of Israeli environmentalists has launched an Internet campaign encouraging Jews the world over to light at least one candle fewer.
The suggestion, made to cut down on damage to the atmosphere, has not been welcomed by some Jewish leaders, who say candles are an essential part of Hanukkah observance.
By the end of the eight-day Hanukkah holiday, which began at sundown Tuesday, each Jewish household will have lit at least 44 candles.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the founders of the Green Hanukkia campaign determined that each candle burning all the way down produces 15 grams of carbon dioxide. Multiply that output by 44 in a million households in Israel alone, they said, and it adds up.
One member of Israel's parliament, Avraham Ravitz, told the Post that the environmentalists are “crazy people” and that “they should encourage people to light one less cigarette instead.”
Green Hanukkia spokesmen also say the world's non-Hanukka observing greens, such as Gentiles, can participate even though they haven't got any Hanukka candles not to light.
For instance, organizers suggest one Earth-friendly alternative to not lighting a single candle is simply to curse the darkness.
I don't go back that far enough to have heard Heatter. But I recall one of my uncles doing a spirited version of Heatter's signature, and it sounded infectiously optimistic.
So what the hell has happened to the American press?
This news was in yesterday's The American Thinker:
December 05, 2007
Al Qaeda is finished in Iraq: From the Horse's Mouth
jveritas reports this:
In his speech released yesterday Abou Omar Al Baghdadi the supposed leader of the Islamic State in Iraq which is Al Qaeda in Iraq said that only two hundered Mohajeroon are left in Iraq. Mohajeroon which means immigrants in Arabic are the foreign terrorists who came to fight in Iraq. This is yet the most stunning admission by Al Qaeda in Iraq that they are totally destroyed and from the tens of thousands of foreign terrorists they had, almost all of them are killed and captured and only two hundreds are left.
This is the quote translation of what Al Baghdadi said in his latest speech:
"... with all that, the Mouhajeron in Mesopotamia left the world and went quickly to meet their lord after they sacrificed their money and their blood sometimes in the martyrdom operations and sometimes by throwing themselves in front of the enemy that only two hundreds Mouhajeron are left today in our beloved Iraq..."
His source is the largest terrorist website online. He says the full text in Arabic can be found here. the full text in Arabic please use this link that was posted on Ekhlass terrorist forum
Which is awfully good news, isn't it?
Free Republic's crosspost of this report includes the commentary:
We won this war.
God bless President Bush and all our brave troops.
I'm not quite ready to say that the war is fully won, but there's no doubt that we're clearly winning it. And I do think it's safe to say that the anti-Bush forces in government and media who were working against a US victory have themselves lost their war: they don't have enough time, tricks, or public support to achieve an American defeat in Iraq between now and January 2009. (Now they're fighting for us to lose against Iran). The Iraq War is no longer the boon to anti-Bush forces it was even just a few months ago.
But in spite of more and more great news from Iraq, in today's (anti-Bush) Detroit News print edition, you will not find a single reference to Iraq.
Today's online edition of the News's does feature some Iraq headlines in its Extended Coverage section:
War in Iraq
Interactive graphic: U.S. forces deaths, by day, by month
Searchable database of casualties
Profiles of Michigan casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan
Headlines, video on Iraq
Iraq photo gallery
Notice any theme in these headlines?
By the way, the Casualty count story leads off with this:
"As of Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007, at least 3,886 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count."
But then the real lead is buried at the very end:
The latest deaths reported by the military:
- No deaths reported"
No bias here.
• Man talking on cell phone hit by train, killed: A man apparently absorbed in a cell phone call was struck and killed by an Amtrak train on Wednesday after he walked around a lowered crossing gate and onto the tracks in San Leandro, Calif., authorities said.
Witnesses reporting they heard the engine's whistle blowing frantically for 30 seconds before the fatal collision also thought they heard, as the engine went past, an Amtrak employee screaming: “Can you hear me now?”
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
They’re getting up a lynching right here in Michigan.
It’s an ugly story, too, not exactly typical, but it's got a stubborn lawman in it, and a preacher man, too, who loves to talk about justice and peace.
Only this time, it’s the lawman who’s the hero, and it’s the preacher who's the one with blood in his eye, trampling truth and due process so he can get at his victim--and he doesn’t give a good goddamn about justice or peace.
Just What Is Lynch Law?
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
Lynch law \Lynch" law`\
The act or practice by private persons of inflicting
punishment for crimes or offenses, without due process of
Note: The term Lynch law is said to be derived from a
Virginian named Lynch, who took the law into his own
hands. But the origin of the term is very doubtful.
But the victim doesn’t have to die to be a lynch victim. Just ask Clarence Thomas. Or Gillian Gibbons.
The ‘Noose Incident’ of 2007
Just around Halloween a few weeks back, in Mt. Pleasant where Central Michigan University is, a bored student in a science classroom picked up some 12-inch lengths of flexible hose used for compressed gas and tied them into nooses. He did it partly as a Halloween comment, partly to express that "I would rather be hung than do more work on this project", and partly just for something to do with his wandering attention. He hung the nooses, barely big enough to hang a cat, on a wall cabinet, where they didn’t bother anybody, nor draw any excitement, for about a week. He wasn’t intending a racial or any other kind of political statement. He likely learned his American history in American schools, which means he didn’t know much American history. He didn’t know anything about segregation or Jim Crow or strange fruit.
But he did know how to tie a hangman’s noose, God help him.
Then after a week a “male student” saw the nooses, (not identified in any reports as being African American), and he decided to report it to the CMU administrators. As far as anybody’s been able to tell, no black CMU students ever even saw the nooses, nor has any ever reported being threatened with them, by them, or by any suggestion that they existed to warn of an imminent lynching. No matter. It doesn’t take that much to get a University administrator to pee his pants. CMU police were ordered to investigate.
And just as CMU police were getting into asking questions, the preacher man in this story, the Rev. Charles Williams II, (who happens to be a young seminarian in the Rev. Al Sharpton’s Peace & Justice institute), was just being tipped off about a “noose incident” upstate.
Williams was already ambitious for his first big civil rights score. He was Sharpton’s Michigan presidential campaign manager in 2004, and currently leads the state chapter of Sharpton’s National Action Network. Williams had even gotten up his own shell civil rights action group, the National Council for Community Empowerment, so he’d be ready when his main chance came--his Tawana Brawley, his Duke “rape” case, his Jena 6.
Mt. Pleasant Gets Peace and Justice Like a River
And just like that Williams fell like a very fat avenging angel on Mt. Pleasant’s CMU campus, sticking his nose in, getting up impromptu rallies, threatening CMU officials with demonstrations, announcing that he’d already tattled to Sharpton, demanding federal intervention, and of course, leading concerned demonstrators in a call-and-response version of “No Justice, No Peace!” Williams never claimed he had any more facts than anyone else about what actually happened, but that didn’t stop him making baseless accusations, and asking for everyone else's rights to get trampled:
"This could have been a student group," Williams said.
He is hoping that CMU police will investigate student organizations on campus.
It was the urgency of Williams’s mission that made him so impatient with the slow process of fact-gathering; besides, he was past all that, anyway. He already knew exactly how everything had to be played. This is a hate crime, he said, and somebody’s gonna pay for a hate crime.
Meanwhile, it appears that CMU just went about its business normally, in contradiction of one breathless report by a local journalist that the noose incident “sent shockwaves through the CMU campus.” (“Police Determining Whether Noose Incident Was Hate Crime”).
But Williams’s visitation was enough to scare the CMU police into boosting the reward they were offering from $500 to $5,000. A Michigan Senator from Detroit told the FBI they better get in on this, (so he could take credit in a press release). (“FBI Probes CMU nooses”). Then the feds promptly promised, before their investigation even started, that the bad guy was definitely going to face a federal rap. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights flew down to CMU to offer “crisis management.” Then Detroit’s NAACP made a press statement calling for tougher federal laws to “deal with displays of nooses.”). (“NAACP: Feds must toughen noose law”).
Enter the Hero
To hurry things up, Williams tried to intimidate the Isabella County Prosecutor, Larry Burdick, the man who would evaluate the evidence when the police were through investigating. Williams wrote Burdick, on his intimidating Council for Community Empowerment letterhead, trying to mau-mau him about the investigation going too slow, and demanding a meeting, or else, (I'm willing to bet), threatening him with a demonstration. Burdick ignored it. (When Williams later held a press conference denouncing Burdick for dragging his feet, the investigation was still only 14 days old). Why would Burdick need Williams? Burdick knew how to do his job, had confidence in the police investigators, and he knew Williams wasn’t interested in the truth anyway.
They speak of a legend in Isabella County that, right after the Duke lacrosse players case blew up in the corrupt Durham District Attorney’s face, Larry Burdick started going around with one of those little yellow wristbands inscribed with W.W.N.D.?, for What Would Nifong Do?--that way he'd always know to do just the opposite. In this case he knew that Williams was dying for him to go Nifong on this CMU thing--try the person in the press--skip the investigation--just throw the book at him. Burdick wasn’t going to let any of that happen.
'The Hanged Man'
Then, not even a week after the press ran just a few stories pushing around their few hard facts about the “noose incident” and misexplaining about “hate crimes,” a person claiming to be the one who tied the nooses wrote to a campus web site, and wanting to explain why he did it, (because it was Halloween, because he was goofing off, but there was no hatred involved). He also expressed no small amount of disgust at all the fuss.
He even said he was about ready to go to the police to calm everybody down, but he didn’t know if it would make things worse. In fact, he did go to the police next day, (for me, this lends credence to the anonymous web posting being authentic). The web post was presciently signed "--The Hanged Man." The next day he gave the CMU police a statement, and apparently left after without being detained. No report anywhere ever actually stated that he was either arrested, nor charged with any crime.
That is, unless you get your news from newspaper and TV, in which case he was a “suspect” who alternatively “surrendered” to police or was “arrested,” and gave them a “confession”, the error claiming there'd been arrest being especially inexcusable. Interestingly, aside from the fact that he was a “male CMU student,” the person’s identity has so far never been divulged to the public. Nor was his race, age, nor any ethnic identifiers at all. (This was the oddity that drew our attention to this strange case in the first place).
'He'll Be Given a Fair Trial, Then We'll Hang Him'
When he heard there was a student who admitted tying the nooses to police, Rev. Williams II searched his capacious and light-filled soul and could discern no reason at all why there should be any more delay in charging the student with a serious crime and throwing him in jail.
To get things moving, Williams held a stunt press conference in front of the courthouse where Burdick’s office was, and demanded again that Burdick speed up the investigation. Burdick did meet with Williams that day, but, as Williams himself said afterwards, “The meeting didn't go so good.”
His main complaint about that meeting was that Burdick wouldn’t agree with him that the investigation was taking too long: Burdick even told Williams he was going to wait until he had all the evidence before he made any decisions about prosecution! Burdick told Williams, and the press, that he had full confidence in the investigators.
“I have every expectation that it’s a thorough investigation,” Burdick said. Then he promised: “I’m not going to pre-judge a case before I even get the report.”
Williams’s blood pressure was going up and up. Imagine: If Larry Nifong had taken that sorry-assed attitude, where would civil rights be now?
So Williams issued another press release condemning Burdick’s slowness, and of course threatened more rallies.
“My main concern is that there has been no arraignment, no charge, and no movement on this issue,” Williams said.
“Nothing but an investigation has been done,” he said.
Of course! Who ever heard about investigating a crime before charging someone with a crime? Besides, there's been enough investigation:
“Williams said that the authorities have a confession and something needs to be done now.
“He must prosecute now,” Williams said. “Authorities have the confession.”
Man, this guy's in a hurry. He must really believe Al Gore.
Besides, authorities haven’t exactly said the student's explanation was a “confession.” They have a statement, voluntarily offered. We don’t know if it’s a confession yet, because we don’t know if there’s any crime. It’s hard to confess to police about something, no matter how goofy it is, if it isn’t a crime.
This is exactly Burdick’s sticking point.
Ah, but as far as Williams is concerned, it has to be a crime. It just has to be.
Why? Because who ever managed to create a national reputation as a civil-rights champion just holding mass rallies to condemn pranks? (We mean besides Reverend Al Sharpton, of course, and the Lord only made one of him).
So don’t even try talking to Williams about reports that the incident was only a Halloween joke. Rev. Charles Williams II isn’t “buying that.”
“That's not going to fly,” he said.
“This is not just a prank…This is serious and the Isabella County office needs to prosecute to the fullest extent, or we will be calling for a national protest,” Williams said.
This Is Serious?
In spite of what is being repeated in the newspapers, (the worst by far I’ve turned up being Paul Egan’s November 20 article in the Detroit News, ("NAACP: Feds must toughen noose law"), the mere act of “hanging a noose” is still not, per se, a crime under state or federal law. (Still not, that is, so far). While we're on the subject, the Stars and Stripes still fly over the Capitol. (So far).
Under Michigan law, an ethnic intimidation charge requires that a person maliciously, and with specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person's race, color, religion, gender, or national origin, causes physical contact with another person, damages, destroys, or defaces any real or personal property of another person, or threatens to do so.
You can see how that another person technicalities bungs everything up, and also the part about having to show malice and intent.
A federal charge also would require proof that a defendant willfully injured, intimidated, or interfered with any person, or attempted to so by force of threat of force, because of that person’s race.
So federal law gives you the same problems with intent, and there's that need to show force or threat against an actual person. (Here are the sources: THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT) Act 328 of 1931, and DOJ summary of applicable federal laws).
The trouble is, none of the evidence that’s surfaced so far in the CMU story shows there was any intent by the student to harass or intimidate anyone, nor did his noose-tying entail any physical contact with another person, nor any threat to another person. And while we all know some angry people are always going to be willing to speculate about other people's bad motives, (and thus at least infer a bad intent when there may be none), there is still no making up for the lack of a victim of the gas-hose nooses.
And yes, there will be persons, angered by the nooses, (persons who never encountered the terrible nooses themselves except to hear rumors of them), who will claim regardless that the mere symbolism of the noose makes them victims. This perverse logic wins every time in public rallies and women's studies classes where the only standard of evidence is who can shout loudest. But fortunately, American law has not fallen so low as to recognize vicarious victimhood as a standard to hold innocent persons criminally liable. Our criminal prosecutions still require actual victims. (So far).
Which means this case is getting less promising by the day, that is, if you had your heart set on seeing a prank treated as a hate crime, and a student treated like a convict.
Last Chance Before the Facts Take Over
Now time's running out for Williams to salvage any of this fading race-hustling opportunity at CMU.
This Tuesday, Williams’s Council for Community Empowerment (bolstered by some Benton Harbor pastors and activists clear from the other side of the state), announced a “national rally” for this Friday in Mt. Pleasant, to show their “concern” about “an unresponsive prosecutor.” ("Benton Harbor Activists Plan to Protest Over CMU Noose Hanging").
But there's one sentence in the Council's own press release that indicates, probably by accident, just how much these concerned pastors and civic leaders already realize what the truth of the matter really is:
the council said a November 26 meeting with two CMU students at the prosecutor's office left them with a concern that the case may be viewed as a prank and may not be pursued as a racial incident.
Since the two CMU students aren’t the ones who are going to make any charging decisions, what this statement tells me is that the accounts of the two students, probably witnesses with personal knowledge, lend support to a conclusion by the prosecutor's office that the noose incident really was just a prank, and not a “racial incident.” And that kind of news, if you're in the professional racial justice business, (which means you are "troubled by," "concerned by," and naturally deplore ALL racial incidents), is one helluva letdown.
And yet, if there’s one thing Al Sharpton teaches you about peace and justice, it's that there's no reason why even a harmless prank, with skill, effort, and public prayer, can't be turned into a racial incident!
On the very same day as the Council's press relase, Burdick announced that he’s reviewed a 66-page report from the police investigators. ("More investigation sought in noose case"). He said after reading it, he turned around and “asked police for additional investigation,” specifically seeking facts “to determine if the elements of ethnic intimidation can be met.” All of which strongly suggest his 66-page report still hasn't shown him those basic elements, yet. (Prediction: he will never find the elements to bring a charge).
Burdick then carefully laid out precisely, for the 1% of the audience who cared about it, the legal burden he must meet before making a determination whether or not to file charges of ethnic intimidation. He said:
“That determination will be based upon the law, as applied to the facts presented. We are now engaged in the process that will facilitate that goal. We will do so as quickly, fairly and as thoroughly as possible.”
Burdick couldn’t speak any plainer that his determination is not going to be based on popular notions about hate crimes, threats of adverse publicity, or grandstanding scare tactics by the likes of the Reverend Charles Williams II. And in all likelihood, (especially in view of the two CMU students who persuaded the justice and peace councillors that the noose was just a prank), his remarks are a forewarning that the expected determination, when it is made, is more than likely going to clear this CMU student of any criminal blame.
Burdick says now that he understands that the noose led to understandable fear and outrage, but “It has provided a lesson that some know too well and others not at all, as to what a hanging noose could mean.”
Though that sounds as if it’s meant to scold the CMU student for his lack of racial sensitivity, I think it’s a backhanded knock at Williams and his fellow hustlers; you see, they also have no idea “at all what a hanging noose could mean,” because they’re so invested in the idea that every noose everywhere must mean an imminent threat of lynching, murder, and racial violence. They've got so much invested they will never admit that sometimes a noose could mean not a damned thing at all, could be just a prank, or a goof-off, with no harmful intent behind it anywhere. (Then again, how can they afford to admit it? Just look at the statistics on noose incidents. They try to make it sound like an epidemic, but really there aren’t enough noose incidents to go around--not if all of tomorrows aspiring Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons are going to have enough action to make it in the civil-rights racket. They've got to make every noose incident count.)
Lots of people know how to tie that hangman’s knot. Sailors tie them. Fishermen tie them. Rock climbers tie them. Even heterosexual scout leaders tie them. And in an idle moment anyone who has learned to tie a certain knot may just find himself absently tying one for practice, or for something to do with his hands, or for the challenge of trying it on a new material--like toilet paper or flexible hose. Should they then hang them to be found and turned over to excitable authorities? I have to say no to that one. Still I have to think if a guy’s truly planning to hang someone he’s going to stick to good old rope. And he won’t leave his nooses behind in the science lab with nobody's neck in them, or where all his labmates can see them.
Which is just my way of saying, (though the mountains may tumble and the skies fall), that sometimes a noose is just a noose.
In which case, people need to shut up and quit screaming that just the report of a noose somewhere turns on some Wayback machine that throws the whole nation back to 1912 Mississippi. As I mentioned before, we had a real-live lynching going on in Khartoum, and none of these concerned preachers had a word to say against it.
Can’t Wait Till the Facts Come Out
Now, I don’t pretend to have all the facts on this CMU thing, either: I’m at the mercy of the media (mercy!), and I’m too lazy to send a FOIA.
It may turn out in the end that this CMU student really is a closet racist: maybe police searches of his dorm room have turned up unwashed bedsheets with eye-holes cut in them, a bullwhip braided from varsity pennants, and proof of a conspiracy of midnight riders pledged to burn, hang, and terrorize minority students at CMU until the school adopts segregated restrooms and a ban on interracial dating.
But I find this unlikely. And not only because none of the evidence that’s surfaced supports that, but because recent historical trends suggest that attempted lynchings of blacks are a statistical anomaly almost reduced to zero, especially in Michigan.
But what’s not unlikely, and what's also based on the evidence and recent historical trends, is that self-styled civil-rights demagogues are willing to force prosecutions of innocent people for crimes that never took place, on behalf of victims who were never harmed or who don’t even exist, all in order to boost their own lucrative careers as race hustlers.
How Is This a Lynching?
Reverend Charles Williams II is prepared to destroy this man’s life with a criminal conviction, and a possible jail term, regardless of whether the facts show him guilty of any “hate crimes.” His methods demonstrate his utter contempt for due process, for the rule of law, for the facts, and for justice. All he’s got is blood in his eye.
In fact, Williams is working overtime to make sure this student is charged, prosecuted, and especially punished, when he has probably known all along there was never any criminal intention here.
I'm not making fun of murder by hanging. The noose can be a powerful symbol of the terrifying crime of lynching. But the noose isn’t the only symbol of lynching. There’s also the symbol of the angry unthinking mob, whipped up by some usually self-appointed rabblerouser who yelps impatiently that while everybody's “wasting time with all this legal mumbo-jumbo" the criminal goes unpunished, which is why people need to "take action now!” Sound familiar at all? Maybe that's one difference between real justice and a lynching. Real justice is never in a hurry, while you can't get a lynching done fast enough.
And this business at CMU is a lynching.
And the whole thing screams “no justice.”
 Williams had other reasons to be in a hurry. There were other “noose incidents” being reported around the country that he was too far away to exploit. In October there was an incident at Columbia University where a noose was tied to the door of a black professor’s office, for which a rival professor was unjustly blamed in the rush to lynch a suspect.
Then just before the CMU “crisis” in November there was a curious one at North Carolina State University where someone in a maintenance shop where students never set foot had hung a ten-inch noose, made out of toilet paper, in a rest room stall--and the North Carolina NAACP was already in full threat mode. When the NCSU administration sent out an email in response to that incident, student activists declared it lacked sufficient “strong emotion”; so protesters started demanding action first, talking and investigation later--or not at all. Sample student reactions were not promising that the demonstrations were not going to become hysterical circuses. "It's the embodiment of intimidation," senior Jaron Hinton said of the noose. "It should have gotten as much media coverage as the lacrosse incident." ("Noose angers students').
Candace Lee, the campus NAACP organizer at NCSU who threw together a "discussion" event with the guess-how-this-turns-out title of “Let's Talk About It -- Jena 6 Part II, It's Time to Act,” said “the administration needs to prosecute whoever made the noose, no matter who it is or what their ethnicity,”; and Lee had absolutely no patience for any stupid details about the lack of a victim--or for that matter--the actual levity of the underlying offense:
The materials used to make the noose were less important than its possible message, Lee said.
"It doesn't matter if it's tissue or a rope, if it's a noose," she said. "African Americans should be angrier," Lee said.
Another student protester, probably not a physics major, proposed this realistic civil-rights goal for his fellow activists:
"We need to keep someone from hanging from the other end of that noose."
 One source says Michigan’s last lynching/homicide was in 1893, and the victim was white. A more famous case of an attempted lynching is that of Dr. Ossian Sweet, a black man and prosperous physician, who moved his family into an all-white Detroit neighborhood in 1925, only to have a mob attack his house with stones, and scaring Dr. Sweet that he and his family would perish in a firebombing. Both he and his brother Henry ended up being tried for murder after Henry shot a white man in the mob to death while defending Sweet’s house. Sweet and his brother were acquitted.