Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hudson River Landing

Impressive animation of US 1549 landing in the Hudson River.

Hamas's Road Map Gets You Nowhere Fast

From the American Thinker blog:

Hamas and Jihadism

By Moshe Dann

Problems without solutions are frustrating, especially when the disputes are between warring groups and countries; so politicians, diplomats and envoys spend their time negotiating and trying to hammer out a deal, anything that will show progress.

Sometimes it works, at least temporarily, and sometimes it's just a prelude to confrontation. That's the quicksand of the Middle East.

Attempts to resolve conflicts based on false assumptions, inadequate information, and denial are doomed to failure. That's why American foreign policy in the Middle East, especially concerning the Arab-Israeli dispute, has been a disaster costing thousands of lives and wasting billions of dollars.

The "peace process" that began in Oslo, through Camp David and Annapolis, via agreements and "Road Maps" was based on the "two-state" solution. Reasonable in theory, it failed in practice. Now, with a self-declared jihadist regime in Gaza, even the theory has collapsed.

Efforts to resuscitate the "peace process" by Pres. Obama's envoy, Sen. George Mitchell, will fail again because there seems to be no awareness of what Hamas jihadism means. [Read Hamas' Charter: "all Israeli territory is irrevocably Muslim land; Israel must be destroyed; the struggle against the Jews is a religious obligation for every Muslim."]

Although focused locally, Hamas is linked with every other jihadist group and terror-supporting countries, especially Iran.

Jihadists are not attacking "infidels" like Israel and Americans because they want justice, equality, more freedom, higher standards of living - or even land. They are engaged in a religious struggle to annihilate the enemy, 'the other,' non-Moslems, their entire societies and cultures.

Jihadists don't represent another culture or civilization. They are a world-wide movement that includes Al Qaida and the Moslem Brotherhood. Their goal is the destruction of all cultures and civilizations that are different as a prelude to the Caliphate, the End of Days.

Jihadists, therefore, can't compromise, reconcile, or accommodate because that would deny their reason to exist. Apocalyptic, they yearn for the end of everything - which is why - for them -- life means nothing.

Jihadism is a form of nihilism, the negation of pluralism and progress, the end of notions of good and evil. Hurtling towards a void in which nothingness is everything, martyrdom and death is the ultimate fulfillment.

This is why negotiations with Hamas are futile; any deviation from their Covenant violates their identity. Concessions are a betrayal of Islam. 'Peace-makers' are traitors.

"But," many argue, "Hamas was democratically elected, and therefore has legitimacy."

Although Hamas rules with the consent of many Palestinians, that does not give it the right to commit terrorist attacks. Nor does it mean that Israel must refrain from self-defense. Hamas cannot claim the right to rule without being held accountable.

To suggest that Hamas may change with sanctions or appeasement, or that the people will rise up against the regime is absurd. Hamas controls all schools, media and mosques. This is a locked-down society.

Where then does that leave us? A stand-off can only be resolved within Gaza, not by any outside force, but with caution and patience. Although not an ideal position, it is realistic and offers clear policy guidelines.

Making a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a precondition for rapprochement with the Muslim/Arab world and developing a coalition to confront Iran forces Israel into an untenable position and prevents any realistic alternatives.

The Arab-Israel conflict is not a territorial dispute; every Palestinian leader has said this for the last 70 years and we must believe them.

Ending the addiction to "the two-state solution" -- a quick fix that only makes the problem worse - opens the door to new and more creative possibilities. Not everyone who wants a state deserves one; a privilege, it must be earned. Neither Hamas nor Fatah have shown that they are capable of governing responsibly, maturely or wisely. Why then should they be offered a state?

The author, a former assistant professor of History, is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.

First Draft of History, Revised Version

From the Associated Press today:

Obama's balancing act on Iraq withdrawal strategy

By JENNIFER LOVEN – 1 hour ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama leaned heavily toward field commanders' preferences in setting a time frame for an Iraq pullout, as he weighed the fervent desires of anti-war supporters who propelled him into office and the equally strong worries of war generals. . . .

At stake was the promise that most defined Obama's presidential bid: to bring all combat troops home — effectively, to end one of the nation's longest and most controversial wars — 16 months after taking office.

This isn’t the way I remember it. It wasn’t the anti-war activists who propelled President Obama into office. Propulsion was provided by the much more prosaic means of organized labor, the Democratic machines in urban America, a locked-down black vote, the mainstream media taking an active role in campaigning for him, and a poorly-run campaign by Senator John McCain that had nothing to attract swing voters drifting into the Obama current.

Nor was ending the Iraq war the promise that most defined Obam's campaign. The promise that most defined Obama’s presidential bid--if we exclude the slogan “hope & change” from the definition of “promise”--was that he would dramatically increase the government’s taxation and regulatory role in American lives.

For the most part Obama avoided talking about the war, especially as the news from Iraq got better and better as the campaign progressed. He also avoided the biggest mouths of the anti-war movement, and we know he dumped his friendship with people like antiwar icon Bill Ayres. Obama wanted to win bad and he knew those folks would turn him into Eugene McCarthy if they could.

I am relieved that Obama is listening to his commanders, and did not initiate the kind of hell-for-leather rout that some of us feared he might. I can’t quite give him credit for being smart about the Middle East, though: I still think he’s a foreign-policy disaster. But he’s too much a political animal to want to lose a major war during the first few weeks of his presidency.

But as I discussed in another post, the media giving him credit for ending the war is pure BS. As far back as a year ago January Bush’s successes in Iraq were pushing the war off the list of top campaign issues. “Instead,” reported the New York Times on January 3, 2008, “candidates are being asked about, and are increasingly talking about, the mortgage crisis, rising gas costs, health care, immigration, the environment and taxes.” (“Domestic Issues Now Outweigh Iraq”).

Weeks before the election, commentators were already discussing post-war Iraq and redeployment of Iraqi troops to Afghanistan, like this from October: "'On Iraq, no matter who wins, the arrows are clear,' said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. 'The U.S. presence is coming down.'” ("Iran & Iraq: No Longer Hot-Button Issues in Campaign 2008").

I know we were already discussing the war in Iraq as nearly over in October, too, here, and here.

In January 2008 Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh reported that the status of forces agreement Bush was starting to negotiate with the Iraqi government was going to be what determined the future of American forces there. The SOFA “would then replace the existing Security Council mandate authorizing the presence of the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq, [and] will become a sworn obligation for the next president.” The upshot of that agreement, Hirsh pointed out, was that “the next president, Democrat or Republican, is likely to be handed a fait accompli that could well render moot his or her own elaborate withdrawal plans, especially the ones being considered by the two leading Democratic contenders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.” (“Sorry, Barack, You’ve Lost Iraq./Bush's efforts to negotiate a long-term U.S-Iraq pact may remove troops as an '08 election issue for Obama, Clinton.”)

Just something to keep in mind as Obama supporters fan out across the airwaves to trumpet Obama's principled and heroic decision to end the war in Iraq that Bush and Petraeus had already won.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Affirmative Action for Abortions?

The Obama administration announced this on Friday night because it's least likely to draw unwanted attention:

Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2009 / 06:10 pm (CNA).- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is preparing to rescind regulations which made explicit the existing legal protections for medical workers who object to cooperating in abortions. The preparations have led one Republican congressman to charge President Obama’s administration with trying to implement the Freedom of Choice act “incrementally.”

On Friday the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB)announced that it was reviewing a proposal to lift the Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) regulation. The move is the first step toward reversing the policy.

Read about it here: ("Obama administration may toss pro-life conscience protections").

Pork for Palestinians

Well, folks, what do you think the likelihood is that anything like the hectoring, intrusive second-guessing of CEO spending is going to be tied to the $900 million we’re sending to Hamas in Gaza?

If Obama and Congressional Democrats can browbeat auto and bank executives into selling their corporate jets, passing up bonuses, and otherwise denying themselves the perks of position, can we expect a bit of “no spending this money on anti-Jew rocket launchers”? Somehow I don’t think we're going to see C-SPAN hearings with toughminded congressmen demanding Hamas killers explain where all the money went.

The funds are supposed to be distributed through the UN and NGOs. The UN’s honest broker reputation towards Israel is badly broken. Unifil border monitors turned a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling in Lebanon, broadcast IDF troop movements during the Israel-Lebanon War, and UN ambulances have been used to provide weapons transport cover to Palestinian terrorists during the intifadah. Then there is UN headquarters, the source of endless resolutions condemning Israel.

Everything in Gaza belongs to Hamas. That’s the meaning of the coup throwing Fatah out two years ago, and the establishment of Gaza as an Islamic state under Hamas control. Even if the NGOs have mechanisms for keeping US money from going directly for Hamas’s war aims against Israel, whatever social welfare or reconstruction costs Hamas saves thanks to our money they’ll simply redirect into their terrorist agenda.

And I love the way the NYT absolves President Obama for this stupid decision: “By seeking to aid Gazans but not Hamas, the administration is following the lead of the Bush administration, which sent money to Gaza through nongovernmental organizations.”

Did you hear anything in Obama’s State of the Change address the other night that sounded like any of his policies were meant to follow the lead of the Bush administration?

Obama Borrows Heavy on Iraq

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Six years after U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, President Barack Obama will announce on Friday the withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces by August 2010, administration officials said. (“Obama to end combat operation in Iraq by Aug 2010”).

I have abandoned all hope that anything can be said, shown, or explained to the average American (who voted for Obama) that will make up for his invincible ignorance when it comes to the War in Iraq: he never knew why we went in there, he never knew what we did there, and even now in February 2009 the word “Iraq” causes to spring into his mind a collage of GIs dying in Vietnam-style ambushes, a mounting pile of American casualties, and a hopeless battle against a shapeless enemy with “no end in sight.”

Nevertheless, it makes me feel better to point out how all the credit the media are allowing President Obama to steal for “ending this war” and withdrawing American forces from Iraq was already accomplished—signed, sealed, and delivered, by George W. Bush last November. It was in November 2008 that Bush concluded the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government. ("Status of Forces Agreement").

Moreover, Bush was already well along with the terms as early as January 2008, more than a year ago. That’s when he and General Petraeus were envisioning a possible outcome of “troop levels to well under 100,000, perhaps to as few as 60,000, by the time the next president takes office.” (“Sorry, Barack, You’ve Lost Iraq.”).

Bush didn’t quite meet that goal by January 2009. But the SOFA that was signed in November specified that all U.S. forces would be withdrawn from “all Iraqi cities, villages and localities. . . no later than June 30, 2009,” and all U.S. forces “shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.”

The June 30, 2009 withdrawal from all Iraqi towns accomplishes the “withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces” that Obama’s announcement calls for by August 2010—14 months earlier. That’s even more ambitious than what Obama has in mind—his plan still leaves 50,000 troops in Iraq “for an additional 16 months”—just coincidentally, until the December 2011 date required under the SOFA. (“Obama to Announce U.S. Troop Withdrawal in Iraq”).

But none of those dates means a thing without the one real accomplishment—winning the war— for which Bush deserves nearly all the credit, and Obama deserves not one speck.

Not that who won the war will matter to those invincibly ignorant Americans who don't know it's all but over, and who still think our guys are getting mowed down in losing battles against superior forces in some place called Fallujah.

And for President Obama and his supporters, wars aren't about victory, anyway. Liberals don’t rally to win wars, but to “end” them. (Except wars on drugs or poverty—and then they still manage to lose them!) And since the media refused to report that America won the War in Iraq, they're still free to give the new Commander in Chief credit for ending it, even though all he’s really doing is continuing the withdrawal plans already laid down by the guy who actually won the thing.

President Obama can hardly take credit for the favorable military conditions that make his announcement possible. Any withdrawal of combat troops would be unimaginable if not for the necessary predicate of having achieved lasting military victory.

As the SOFA was reaching its final stages the Left—sensing it could be a sign of success for Bush and too stingy to credit him with anything good in Iraq—tried to minimize it as being much less than Bush had wanted,. They reported that Bush was effectively horse-traded into all kinds of concessions by the crafty Iraqis—as if Bush wanted Americans in Iraq forever! ("Galbraith: SOFA is 'stunning and humiliating' for Bush"). Then they dropped all mention of the SOFA, in joyful anticipation of handing the closing chapter of the Iraq war to Obama as a gift. You'll find no mention of the SOFA in today's articles trumpeting President Obama's dramatic announcement.

Obama has categorically refused to give Bush credit for the favorable outcome in Iraq. Now he’s trying to steal credit for bringing our troops home and “ending the war.”

He may as well pull our forces out of Japan and Germany and take credit for winning World War II.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Made in America

What in hell is going on in Minneapolis?

I just had an intrusive thought based on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show. Picture the opening sequence where the newly-blossoming Mary Richards celebrates her realization that she's gonna make it after all by tossing her beret in the air somewhere on a crowded street in downtown Minneapolis.

Now imagine that same scene, only with this guy tossing his keffiyeh.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

FBI chief: Suicide bomber indoctrinated in Minnesota

February 24, 2009

FBI Director Robert Mueller said Monday in Washington, D.C., that a Somali-American man from Minnesota who was one of several suicide bombers in a terrorist attack in Somalia had apparently been indoctrinated into his extremist beliefs while living in Minneapolis.

Shirwa Ahmed, the first known suicide bomber with U.S. citizenship, immigrated with his family to the Minneapolis area in the mid-1990s, but returned to Somalia after he was recruited by a militant group, Mueller said.

The FBI director, who spoke at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, declined to be more specific, and did not mention the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center, a Minneapolis mosque that some of the young men, including Ahmed, attended, and which some local Somali families have suggested is linked to their disappearance.

Late Monday, an Abubakar spokesman said again that the mosque had nothing to do with the men's disappearances.

Ahmed was driving a vehicle laden with explosives that blew up in northern Somalia in an attack that killed as many 30 people in October, according to news reports. His body was returned to Minnesota with the help of the FBI.

"It appears that this individual was radicalized in his hometown in Minnesota," Mueller said.

Federal authorities have said that Ahmed was one of as many as two dozen young men of Somali descent who disappeared in the past two years from their homes in the Minneapolis area after being recruited by the Shabab, a militia suspected of having ties to Al-Qaida that has waged a war against the Somali government.

Some in Minneapolis' Somali community have said the young men disappeared after being radicalized at Abubakar. Representatives of the mosque have vigorously and repeatedly denied that the mosque has any connection to the men's disappearance or to any violent ideology.

Attorney Mahir Sherif, a consultant to the mosque, said in a telephone interview late Monday that Mueller "doesn't really know what's happened" and that he's "surprised that he would make such a comment."

The mosque is the largest in Minneapolis, Sherif said, drawing 10,000 to 15,000 people for the last fall's celebration marking the end of Ramadan.

"It's just frustrating to see people at high levels make such statements," he said. "It angers me they can just say this. This is affecting a lot of people. The mosque and Somalis have received a lot of hate messages because of this."

Two weeks ago, the mosque's director also rebuffed rumors.

"We have nothing to do with these kids who left," said Director Farhan Hurre. "I mean, we don't know the time they left, we don't why they left, we don't know who convinced them to go there."

This past weekend, the mosque held a seminar about how suicide is prohibited by Islam attended by hundreds of Somali youth, Sherif said.

"What more can this mosque do?" he said. "They've gone out publicly, and they've put it on paper, that there's nothing secret going on, there are not two separate messages going out. ... The Koran says you can't kill yourself. If you do, you're going straight to hell."

On Monday in Washington, Mueller suggested that Somali recruiting posed a serious issue for the FBI, which has sought the cooperation of the Somali community to try to understand whether the recruiting represents a threat.

'You Cannot Interpret the Signs of the Times'

Yesterday's New York Times article announcing the Vatican’s appointment of Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan to preside over the Archdiocese of New York contains an obligatory dig at him as “a genial enforcer of Rome’s ever more conservative writ.” (“A Genial Enforcer of Rome’s Doctrine”).

In other words, the Times doesn’t approve of the choice, as the archbishop is obedient to the See of Peter.

To underline the sinister effect, reporter Michael Powell sets it all up this way:
For a few deeply unpleasant days, the Rev. David Cooper found himself in the crosshairs of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

It was 2003, and the priest had opined to a reporter that women should be ordained. Faraway bishops rumbled about censure. Then he picked up the telephone and heard the baritone of Milwaukee’s archbishop, Timothy Michael Dolan. Father Cooper immediately offered to resign.

No, no, the archbishop replied, we just need to repair the damage. “He was very pastoral and caring,” Father Cooper recalled.

And how was it resolved? “Oh, I agreed to recant,” he said. “He effectively silenced me.”
(That is, if agreeing to recant insincerely only to keep your job is recanting. And if being quoted in the Times is being silenced.)

Given the comparison of Archbishop Dolan doing his pastoral duty with placing some poor bastard in Rome’s “crosshairs,” Times readers are invited to understand that for all his outward geniality and care for his flock, he’s still just an enforcer sent to kill the buzz of America’s most with-it Catholics (that is, the ones who defy Church teaching on abortion, who think all religions are equally valid, (except Catholicism, which they’re ashamed of), and who actually give a shit what the Times thinks of them).

But here’s the most silly bit of the piece. Powell writes:
On matters of doctrine, the archbishop 59, adheres to the line laid down by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, including firm opposition to abortion, birth control, divorce, gay marriage and any crack in the wall of priestly celibacy.
If anyone is interested in doing some of the fact-checking the Times dispensed with for this article, I invite you to search out any moment in the 2000-year history of the Catholic Church when she did not preach firm opposition to abortion, artificial contraception, divorce, or did not condemn homosexual practices (“gay marriage” is a recently invented euphemism), nor when, say, in the past 15 centuries, she ever entertained abandoning her rule on the practice of priestly celibacy.

My point is that these fundamentals of Catholic moral teaching and practice were not a line “laid down” by John Paul II and Pope Benedict: putting it that way strongly suggests that before JPII became Pope in 1979 the Church’s line was pointing somewhere else. The fact is, the line the Times sneers at leads right straight right back to the first century. (There are valid questions as to whether the celibacy rule was in effect universally in the first century, but there is no question that once it was adopted formally in the Latin Church, in ancient times, it has never been abandoned: it certainly was not part of a line first "laid down” by JPII).

Even John XXIII, whom Democrat Catholics fondly remember now as a fellow liberal because he was fat, jolly, and foisted Vatican II on the Church, laid down the identical “conservative” line, or he would have, surely, had he foreseen how many silly priests and theologians were going to try to erase it.

I suppose every Times story, looked at through the cracked political lens they use for everything, appears as a struggle between “conservative” reactionaries and “liberal” freedom-loving intellectuals. But applied to church matters, this distorted view is most insidiously misleading.

As the decay of American Catholicism since 1965 has proved beyond doubt, once decouple the Church’s moral teachings and doctrine from essential Catholic identity and you can convince Some of the People of God All of the Time that the Church only teaches what she does because of that one stubborn old priest in Rome who doesn’t know anything about sex.

Catholics were scolded by smug religious teachers for forty years that the Church has got to change, and then left them with no more substantial means of understanding the whys and hows of "change" than to assume it was identical with popular demand. That’s democracy, isn’t it? We Are the Church, aren’t We? Didn't we in America "vote for change" and elect Obama when we grew weary of the Bush tax cuts and all this gloomy talk about terrorism? And lickety-split we had higher taxes, more lobbyists in high office, and a foreign policy we can conduct from our hands and knees? Same deal goes for the Church, right? Get a new Pope, get new doctrines.

Hell, maybe we'll even be popular again.

As John Paul was growing visibly weaker there really were a lot of older “Vatican II” Catholics who consoled one another that once he was dead God would finally be able to rebuild His Church in accordance with the yellowing plans moldering in abandoned convents since the 1960s. When that new day arrived, they said, then we’d have our women priests, our ecclesiastically blessed condoms, and a harmless runny-in-the-middle gospel with all the pith and punch of Mike Brady lecturing Greg and Marcia about sharing the bathroom. But John Paul died and then B16 came along, and like a lightning flash it became clear to all at once that the Heavenly variances needed for the old sixties updates had been denied, and that project was being shut down for good.

And the New York Times saw that it was bad.

Fortunately for humanity the Holy Spirit, Whom the Lord promised would lead His Church into all the truth, uses other criteria for selecting her leaders. He is especially rigid on that promise about the gates of hell not prevailing.

That promise is why we have someone like Josef Ratzinger in Peter’s Chair instead of someone like (God help us), Rembert Weakland or Thomas Gumbleton.

The real miracle of the Catholic Church, if you care to look for one, is that, as Chesterton said somewhere, she’s right when everyone else is wrong–and at this moment everyone else is really, really wrong about a whole lot of things. We’re getting things wrong that we shouldn’t be missing by a mile, like whether lesbian hook-ups should be glorified with taffeta and white veils, or how many lives you count when you see a man and a pregnant woman together. That is why, when even gutsy stand-up guys like George Bush and Tony Blair still can’t quite exactly tell the truth on Islam, Benedict steps up and points out how that ancient heresy has always been a chaos of violence and unreason. He should know. His predecessors were holding the line six centuries before the whirlwind escaped from Arabia.

When it comes to the Catholic Church the New York Times has always clung to its editorial commitment to side with the gates of hell. In some ways, maybe that signifies nothing more than a historical leftover of eastern WASP bigotry. Maybe it's something deeper, something that is now causing Archbishop Dolan to find himself in the crosshairs of the enforcer of the Eastern Establishment. No matter. Even if it's something like that, we know their side will not prevail.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who Can You Count on When the Chimps Are Down?

The New York Post has apologised to those offended by an editorial cartoon that critics said was racist because it likened President Barack Obama to a chimpanzee.

The New York Post cartoon drew immediate criticism from Al Sharpton, the black activist and community leader. . . .

The country's first African-American president had the previous day signed the $787 billion economic recovery bill after a heated debate in Washington. Mr Sharpton immediately accused the newspaper, which takes a strong conservative editorial tone, of deploying a crude racist stereotype of blacks as monkeys.

Col Allan, the Post's editor-in-chief, had vigorously defended the cartoon as a parody of Washington politics, saying it "broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy". ("New York Post apologises over 'racist' Barack Obama cartoon")

* * *

Needless to say, I’m sad to see the New York Post fall on its sword this way. Free speech has died a little more.

The NYP cartoonist clearly meant to skewer Congressional Democrats. Indeed, Republicans have criticized Obama for letting Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have control of this bill instead of having more input himself.

You remember Nancy Pelosi, she’s America's Speaker of the House, and was last seen crouching on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, happily peeling a banana.

Then America’s new Attorney General, Eric Holder, just finished a speech insulting the whole country as a “nation of cowards” because we don’t talk about race more candidly.

Next to cleaning a handgun without unloading it first, I can’t think of a higher-risk activity in this country than talking about race without the express prior approval of the NAACP, Al Sharpton, and the Congressional Black Caucus.

The problem is that the folks who most want to talk about race, (the NAACP, Al Sharpton, and the Congressional Black Caucus), are the most reactionary when it comes to boycotting, calling for resignations and firings of people who make the stupid mistake of saying something about race. For example, this is how the NAACP is handling the chimp cartoon controversy, which isn't even about race:

Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called on the tabloid to remove editor-in-chief Col Allan, as well as longtime cartoonist Sean Delonas.

Then we’re called cowards because we refuse to step on things clearly marked “LAND MINE.”

The reason these candid conversations fail is because they always follow this pattern:

African-American spokesperson: This country needs to have a serious conversation about race.

Non-African-American respondent: Okay. I feel I treat everybody fairly, and I don’t see why I should get passed over for a promotion to make way for a less-qualified guy just because he’s a minority.

African-American spokesperson: Shut up. You have no right to discuss what our people have gone through.

Race hucksters not only control the subject matter of race, but also claim control of any subject matter that can possibly be connected to race, even if only as an arbitrary emblem or symbol of race.

Hurrican Katrina, for example, was a hurricane, not a Klan attack. As many white people were killed, injured, and suffered property damage as blacks, (more whites died, proportionally). But once the story of New Orleans was adopted by Jesse Jackson and the rest as an example of racial injustice, then white Americans were no longer allowed to discuss Katrina without facing 100-1 odds of offending blacks. (Unless, that is, they used it as shorthand for the racism of the Bush administration. But candid talk about Katrina is forbidden).

Just Friday some state governors said they intended to refuse the “stimulus” money because they don’t want their states saddled with escalating entitlement bills after the federal money runs out. They were rational, economic/political decisions. But U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said he was insulted by opposition to the bill because it was a "a slap in the face of African-Americans."

There simply isn't any having a candid conversation under these conditions.

It’s perfectly obvious this New York Post cartoon isn’t about Obama. I don’t even believe that Sharpton and Julian Bond believe it’s about Obama. They just see an opportunity and they’re going to take it. Good race-hustling jobs are hard to come by in post-racial America.

But where were these guys when Leftist racists were drawing cartoons explicitly mocking Condoleeza Rice as a race stereotype, or Palestinian racists drawing her pregnant with a chimpanzee?

And didn’t Lincoln’s enemies call him a baboon and caricature him as a monkey? Doesn't Obama imagine himself to be the New Lincoln?

If Obama doesn’t unsay his AG’s foolish talk, then he’s the coward.

'Someone Get Me Paula Zahn!'

Damn! It really is September 10, 2001!

Chandra Levy is back in the news.

For five months in 2001 leading right up through the evening of September 10, the cable news producers, the worst offenders of whom were at Fox News, were positively addicted to running empty stories about the unsolved murder of Chandra Levy.

The stations only had a handful of facts, few of them fresh after months of repeating them, and a total of maybe 28 seconds of video, (Chandra doing dishes, Rep. Gary Condit with his sports jacket slung over his shoulder); but they looped the footage incessantly, sometimes dozens of times every evening, until sensitive types like me were going out of our minds.

It took the 9/11 attacks to get Fox News to drop it.

Who knows? If they actually can go back and re-start history where it lay on 9/10 by finally charging Ms. Levy’s killer, maybe they can go back now and catch bin Laden.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Tough Stuff

Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil

When will our luminaries stop making excuses for terror?


This week marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of our son, former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. My wife Ruth and I wonder: Would Danny have believed that today's world emerged after his tragedy?

The answer does not come easily. Danny was an optimist, a true believer in the goodness of mankind. Yet he was also a realist, and would not let idealism bend the harshness of facts.

Neither he, nor the millions who were shocked by his murder, could have possibly predicted that seven years later his abductor, Omar Saeed Sheikh, according to several South Asian reports, would be planning terror acts from the safety of a Pakistani jail. Or that his murderer, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now in Guantanamo, would proudly boast of his murder in a military tribunal in March 2007 to the cheers of sympathetic jihadi supporters. Or that this ideology of barbarism would be celebrated in European and American universities, fueling rally after rally for Hamas, Hezbollah and other heroes of "the resistance." Or that another kidnapped young man, Israeli Gilad Shalit, would spend his 950th day of captivity with no Red Cross visitation while world leaders seriously debate whether his kidnappers deserve international recognition.

No. Those around the world who mourned for Danny in 2002 genuinely hoped that Danny's murder would be a turning point in the history of man's inhumanity to man, and that the targeting of innocents to transmit political messages would quickly become, like slavery and human sacrifice, an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.

But somehow, barbarism, often cloaked in the language of "resistance," has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society. The words "war on terror" cannot be uttered today without fear of offense. Civilized society, so it seems, is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.

I believe it all started with well-meaning analysts, who in their zeal to find creative solutions to terror decided that terror is not a real enemy, but a tactic. Thus the basic engine that propels acts of terrorism -- the ideological license to elevate one's grievances above the norms of civilized society -- was wished away in favor of seemingly more manageable "tactical" considerations.

This mentality of surrender then worked its way through politicians like the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. In July 2005 he told Sky News that suicide bombing is almost man's second nature. "In an unfair balance, that's what people use," explained Mr. Livingstone.

But the clearest endorsement of terror as a legitimate instrument of political bargaining came from former President Jimmy Carter. In his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," Mr. Carter appeals to the sponsors of suicide bombing. "It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Road-map for Peace are accepted by Israel." Acts of terror, according to Mr. Carter, are no longer taboo, but effective tools for terrorists to address perceived injustices.

Mr. Carter's logic has become the dominant paradigm in rationalizing terror. When asked what Israel should do to stop Hamas's rockets aimed at innocent civilians, the Syrian first lady, Asma Al-Assad, did not hesitate for a moment in her response: "They should end the occupation." In other words, terror must earn a dividend before it is stopped.

The media have played a major role in handing terrorism this victory of acceptability. Qatari-based Al Jazeera television, for example, is still providing Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi hours of free air time each week to spew his hateful interpretation of the Koran, authorize suicide bombing, and call for jihad against Jews and Americans.

Then came the August 2008 birthday of Samir Kuntar, the unrepentant killer who, in 1979, smashed the head of a four-year-old Israeli girl with his rifle after killing her father before her eyes. Al Jazeera elevated Kuntar to heroic heights with orchestras, fireworks and sword dances, presenting him to 50 million viewers as Arab society's role model. No mainstream Western media outlet dared to expose Al Jazeera efforts to warp its young viewers into the likes of Kuntar. Al Jazeera's management continues to receive royal treatment in all major press clubs.

Some American pundits and TV anchors didn't seem much different from Al Jazeera in their analysis of the recent war in Gaza. Bill Moyers was quick to lend Hamas legitimacy as a "resistance" movement, together with honorary membership in PBS's imaginary "cycle of violence." In his Jan. 9 TV show, Mr. Moyers explained to his viewers that "each [side] greases the cycle of violence, as one man's terrorism becomes another's resistance to oppression." He then stated -- without blushing -- that for readers of the Hebrew Bible "God-soaked violence became genetically coded." The "cycle of violence" platitude allows analysts to empower terror with the guise of reciprocity, and, amazingly, indict terror's victims for violence as immutable as DNA.

When we ask ourselves what it is about the American psyche that enables genocidal organizations like Hamas -- the charter of which would offend every neuron in our brains -- to become tolerated in public discourse, we should take a hard look at our universities and the way they are currently being manipulated by terrorist sympathizers.

At my own university, UCLA, a symposium last week on human rights turned into a Hamas recruitment rally by a clever academic gimmick. The director of the Center for Near East Studies carefully selected only Israel bashers for the panel, each of whom concluded that the Jewish state is the greatest criminal in human history.

The primary purpose of the event was evident the morning after, when unsuspecting, uninvolved students read an article in the campus newspaper titled, "Scholars say: Israel is in violation of human rights in Gaza," to which the good name of the University of California was attached. This is where Hamas scored its main triumph -- another inch of academic respectability, another inroad into Western minds.

Danny's picture is hanging just in front of me, his warm smile as reassuring as ever. But I find it hard to look him straight in the eyes and say: You did not die in vain.

Mr. Pearl, a professor of computer science at UCLA, is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, founded in memory of his son to promote cross-cultural understanding.

Monday, February 02, 2009

It’s Quiet. Too Quiet.

"Remember, there is no press now, at least as we have known it since Watergate. Sometime around mid-2007, during its coverage of the Democratic primary, it ceased to be investigatory and chose to become an adulatory megaphone. A news story on the front pages of the New York Times or Washington Post, or a piece aired on NPR, or a feature in Time or Newsweek, is simply a disguised op-ed on yet another underappreciated moral or intellectual gift of Barack Obama." Victor David Hanson

It All Adds Up

This Sunday's Detroit Free Press editorial:

Now's time to discuss global warming

Time's short for planet; we need the right national response, and quickly

This Monday's Detroit Free Press headline:

London shuts down amid its biggest snowfall in years

LONDON — The British capital ground to a halt today after the worst snowstorm in 18 years caused hundreds of flight cancellations and virtually shut down public transportation.

Shops, schools and courts shut down and long trails of commuters trudged through the streets, looking for scarce taxis or ways to work after more than four inches of snow fell overnight.

"We're not in Russia here," said Guy Pitt, a Transport for London spokesman. "We don't have an infrastructure built for constant snow."

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Year of the Double Standard

OK. Not that declarations by this blog count for much, but since it will make me feel better, DU is officially declaring 2009 the Year of the Double Standard. We’ve had them before, obviously; they’re the world we live in. But they're taking it up to a whole new league now.

The LA Times is reporting today that “President Barack Obama has left intact a program that gives the CIA authority to carry out so-called secret renditions — abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.” (“Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool”).

The justification given by the White House to the LA Times:
"Obviously you need to preserve some tools -- you still have to go after the bad guys," said an Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing the legal reasoning. "The legal advisors working on this looked at rendition. It is controversial in some circles and kicked up a big storm in Europe. But if done within certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice."

Makes sense to me. It made sense to me back when Dana Priest revealed classified information about it in her mission to bring down the Bush administration.

We all remember secret renditions as one of the critical Bush-Cheney war-crimes accusations that we’ve all had to listen to for five years. Here’s the award-winning double standard:
The decision to preserve the program did not draw major protests, even among human rights groups. Leaders of such organizations attribute that to a sense that nations need certain tools to combat terrorism. “Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.”

Limited circumstances, presumably, that didn’t exist from 9/11 until January 20, 2009?

This was how Human Rights Watch felt about secret renditions in 2007:

Human Rights Watch expressed grave concern about President Bush’s stated view that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 permits the government to restart the CIA’s secret prison program. Human Rights Watch called upon the Bush administration
to reject the use of secret detention and coercive interrogation as tactics in fighting terrorism, and announce that the CIA’s detention and interrogation program has been permanently discontinued.

“The CIA program – and the civilian leaders who created it – have inflicted tremendous harm on the reputation, moral standing, and integrity of the United States,” Mariner said. “It’s time for President Bush to repudiate this program,and to take steps to repair the damage it has done.” ("US Secret CIA Prisoners Still Missing").

This was Amnesty International eight months ago on secret renditions under the Bush administration:

European states have been implicated in the US-led rendition and secret detention programme, in which people have been unlawfully detained and transferred from one country to another outside of any judicial process. Some have been transferred from US custody to countries where torture and other ill-treatment is known to accompany interrogation; others have been transferred into US custody and subsequently held in detention centres in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

A number of individuals have been subjected to enforced disappearance, including in secret CIA detention, and the whereabouts of some three dozen people remain unknown. Every one of the victims of rendition interviewed by Amnesty International has said they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated in ustody.

Investigations by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament have recommended that Member States take measures to prevent such human rights violations occurring in the future and to ensure redress, including reparation, to the victims. (“End rendition and secret detention: Europe’s duty”).

So today there’s a “legitimate place” for what was a “human rights violation” only in June.