The co-author of the 1998 Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act says she hasn’t gotten answers from the administration on whether suspected war criminals and SS guards have been receiving Social Security payouts.
The Associated Press reported the results of its two-year investigation that found at least 38 of 66 Nazi suspects removed from the United States since 1979 kept their Social Security benefits.
Four are still receiving checks from the U.S. government.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said Monday that she wrote to the inspectors general of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Justice to ask that they launch a probe into the allegations. Her 1998 bill created an interagency group to sift through wartime records about Nazi crimes and recommend files for declassification.
“We passed laws saying they should get no benefits and leave the country. But there’s a loophole. The law said they had to be deported. And some were denaturalized, some left of their own accord, so they have continued to receive benefits,” Maloney told CNN today.
“…Congress is not known for a lot of areas that we agree. But I — everyone I talk to is outraged across the country. The response is very strong.”
Maloney said neither the DOJ nor the Social Security Administration have responded yet to her requests, “but we’ll keep calling, and we’ll keep trying.”
“And they certainly should respond. The transparency is the hallmark of this administration and the sunshine is the best disinfectant. And they should come back with as much information or all the information that really respects our privacy laws, but there’s no reason that they can’t give numbers of how much has been spent and where,” she said. “These are known Nazi war criminals.”
Maloney said she’ll introduce a bill to close the loophole when Congress returns.
“Many of them weren’t even suspected. They had the proof that they were Nazi war criminals. And I have asked for that information of who received it, how much, how much of a period of time. And also the widows. In the event they died, their widows will continue to receive Social Security benefits,” she said. “So we need to get these numbers and see the span of it. A.P. reported four known criminals are receiving funds that they were able to locate. But I have asked the Justice Department and the Social Security Department to get back to me with the appropriate information, and I trust they will.”
Secretary of State John Kerry told a belated Eid al-Adha celebration at the State Department yesterday — postponed because of his travel — that if he went back to college today he would “at least minor, if not major, in comparative religion.”
“I have found in my journeys through the world over these 29-plus years as a senator and now in the year and a half, year and three-quarters I’ve been Secretary of State, there is no place in the world where in one way or the other it isn’t affecting an outlook,” Kerry said.
“And even in places where people are nonbelievers or people have a different philosophy rather than one of the major religions of the world, there are themes and currents that run through every life philosophy, every single approach, whether it’s Native Americanism or Confucianism or – you can find that there’s been this passage through history from the scriptures – from the Qu’ran, from the Torah, from the Bible – that all come together, and even from other places, where they’ve been incorporated and inculcated through the sermons and preachings and teachings of religious leaders,” he added. “And we know this today.”
Kerry called the global situation “a very complex time, and there are many currents that are loose out there that have brought us to this moment.”
“The extremism that we see, the radical exploitation of religion which is translated into violence, has no basis in any of the real religions. There’s nothing Islamic about what ISIL/Daesh stands for or is doing to people,” he said.
“And so we all have a larger mission here. And obviously, history is filled with that. I mean, you go back to the Thirty Years’ War in Europe and other periods of time, Protestants, Catholics, others who have fought. It’s not new to us. Tragically, it’s more prominent because media is more available today, the messaging is there, everybody is more aware on an instantaneous basis of what is happening. And of course it’s exploited by people who engage in this.”
Kerry lobbied for a two-state solution in the Middle East and reflected “deeply on how we will deal not just with the manifestation of the symptom, which is what the violence and the extremism is, but with the underlying causes which go to this question of governance and corruption and a whole issue of how you meet the needs of people.”
“And that’s where our partnership has to be not just for peace but for prosperity, shared prosperity, where everybody has an ability to be able to find a job, get the education, be able to reach the brass ring, and it is not just reserved for a privileged few,” he continued.
“And finally, we have to build a partnership for sustainability of the planet itself, and that brings us to something like climate change, which is profoundly having an impact in various parts of the world, where droughts are occurring not at a 100-year level but at a 500-year level in places that they haven’t occurred, floods of massive proportions, diminishment of water for crops and agriculture at a time where we need to be talking about sustainable food.”
Once again, Islamic State Muslims are pointing to Islam in order to justify what the civilized world counts as atrocities.
According to an October 13 report in the Telegraph,
Islamic State jihadists have given detailed theological reasons justifying why they have taken thousands of women from the Iraqi Yazidi minority and sold them into sex slavery.
A new article in the Islamic State English-language online magazine Dabiq not only admits the practice but justifies it according to the theological rulings of early Islam.
“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated,” the article says.
As for “theological reasons” for sex slavery “according to the Sharia,” these are legion—from male Muslim clerics, to female Muslim activists. Generally they need do no more than cite the clear words of Koran 4:3, which permit Muslims to copulate with female captives of war, or ma malakat aymanukum, “what”—not whom—“your right hands possess.”
The article continues:
But most of it [Islamic State “article” or fatwa] is devoted to theological justifications for Islamic State behaviour, citing early clerics and the practices of the Prophet Mohammed and his Companions during the early years of Islamic expansion.
Indeed, while many are now aware of the Koran’s and by extension Sharia’s justification for slaves, sexual or otherwise, fewer are willing to embrace the fact that the prophet of Islam himself kept and copulated with concubines conquered during the jihad.
One little-known story is especially eye-opening:
During Muhammad’s jihad on the Jews of Khaybar, he took for himself from among the spoils of war one young woman, a teenager, Safiya bint Huyay, after hearing of her beauty. (Earlier the prophet had bestowed her on another Muslim jihadi, but when rumor of her beauty reached him, the prophet reneged and took her for himself.)
Muhammad “married” Safiya hours after he had her husband, Kinana, tortured to death in order to reveal hidden treasure. And before this, the prophet’s jihadis slaughtered Safiya’s father and brothers.
While Islamic apologists have long tried to justify this account—often by saying that Muhammad gave her the honor of “marriage” as opposed to being a concubine and that she opted to convert to Islam—they habitually fail to cite what Islamic sources record, namely Baladhuri’s ninth century Kitab Futuh al-Buldan (“Book of Conquests”).
According to this narrative, after the death of Muhammad, Safiya confessed that “Of all men, I hated the prophet the most—for he killed my husband, my brother, and my father,” before “marrying” (or, less euphemistically, raping) her… Keep reading
Back in January, David Remick had an extensive interview with President Obama in the New Yorker Magazine. This is where Obama famously said the following about the Islamic terror group we now know as ISIS:
“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.
That is how the phrase “JV team” made its way into today’s foreign policy discussions. (In case you needed a reference.) Now, it has become painfully obvious that ISIS is the varsity and Obama’s team is the JV.
These unfortunate circumstances were revealed, once again, in the following headlines:
Turkey denies U.S. base deal in place to battle ISIS (Drudge)
The Obama Administration has a kiss and tell problem (Foreign Policy.com and below)
In its excitement to trumpet the coalition against the Islamic State, the U.S. is outing partners before they’re ready to go steady.
Drudge linked to the above Foreign Policy piece accompanied by the photo that is the subject of our contest.
Your mission is to write an appropriate overall caption.
Additionally, here are some questions that you are encouraged to answer:
What is President Obama saying?
What is John Kerry daydreaming about?
What is Susan Rice thinking?
Bonus Question: Since we can assume the flowers are bugged, what did the buggers learn from this meeting?
Now, moving ahead, here are the winners from our last photo caption contest entitled, Capitol Dome Restoration Project to ‘Stop Deterioration.’
The grand prize goes to Allan Crowson for this zinger:
Guy on scaffolding: “Pelosi says we’ve got to cover this thing to find out what’s in it.”
The runners-up were:
Kuce for: The perfect political metaphor. If something is broken, cover it up and claim you’re fixing it.
And Zip Code won twice for:
Man on ledge talking,—- That’s one small step from the scaffolding, One giant makeover for America.
They don’t mind working till dawn’s early light, knowing the flag will still be there.
Yes, the flag is still there and we will stand by our flag — comforted and secure in the knowledge that the team pictured in our new caption contest photo is in charge of America’s foreign policy. (Yikes, it’s time for my meds!)
Turkey chose a side in the ISIS-Kurd-Syria-Iraq war today.
It bombed its own people — Kurds who live inside Turkey’s borders but are independence-minded.
(Reuters) – War against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraqthreatened on Tuesday to unravel the delicate peace in neighbouring Turkey after the Turkish air force bombed Kurdish fighters furious over Ankara’s refusal to help protect their kin in Syria.
Turkey’s banned PKK Kurdish militant group accused Ankara of violating a two-year-old cease-fire with the air strikes, on the eve of a deadline set by the group’s jailed leader to salvage a peace process aimed at halting a three-decades-long insurgency.
The Kurds represent the only credible and legitimately non-Islamist anti-ISIS fighting force on the ground in Syria and Iraq. They have not folded in the face of fights, as the Iraqi military has repeatedly. They also have not aligned or made any peace with ISIS, as various flavors of the Syrian rebellion have.
Kurds also live in Turkey, where they are largely oppressed and their political groups are considered terrorists. Building up the Kurds to fight against ISIS right up to the Syria-Turkey border therefore creates another challenge to fighting ISIS coalition-style. Turkey wants no part of any moves that strengthen the Kurds anywhere. America wants a strong Kurdish force to fight ISIS. Turkey disagrees. That’s a fundamental problem for the United States.
Turkey is there in the region, while America so far just drops bomb while flying over it.
Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran may not agree on much, but they all agree that they don’t want Kurdistan to become a country.
Kurdistan as seen in the map above very roughly overlays the territory now occupied by the Islamic State.
As you can see in the second map, Kurdistan or ISIS could become a key energy power if either were to become a bonafide state. Both would have to accomplish that by dismembering Iraq and Syria, along with some of Turkey’s present territory, at least. Neither would have much of a problem with that. Iraqi Kurds at least pay lip service to Baghdad, but Syria’s and especially Turkey’s Kurds want their independence. Iraq’s Kurds would likely join them if either were able to carve out Kurdistan as a country.
While ISIS does not yet threaten the increasingly Islamist Turkey, dreams of Kurdistan as a nation-state for the Kurdish people definitely do, at least in Ankara’s point of view. And in Tehran’s.
So, with ISIS threatening to take control of Kobane on the Syria-Turkey border, but with Kurds fighting heroically to keep that city out of ISIS hands, Turkey elects to bomb the Kurds living within Turkey, not ISIS over on the Syrian side of the border.
At the same time, Turkey is destroying what’s left of the tattered credibility of one Susan Rice, national security adviser to the President of the United States.
Ankara might, at some point, allow US use of our bases within Turkey to battle ISIS. But that’s only likely once Turkey is assured that Kurdistan will not grow into a country by battling ISIS on its own. Who is in a position to give Turkey such assurances — President Nine Iron, the champion of hot air who heroically battles climate change between Hollywood fundraisers?
Bottom line: The Islamic State is here to stay.
Let’s face it. It’s a tad early for Halloween pranks. And clearly one hasn’t arrived to absurdity until former president turned Hamas-loving “human rights activist” Jimmy Carter blasts your anti-terror policies. Carter did just that by gouging Obama in his recent and somewhat surprising New York Times op-ed A Cruel and Unusual Record. Not surprising, however, was Carter’s mention of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the United States adopted in 1948.
Stumping for the UN Too?
Carter champions this UN declaration in an effort to blast Obama and the current administration (and perhaps former ones) for neglecting to pursue democracy in all corners of the world. Yet there’s a huge gap that Carter conveniently or unknowingly left out. Democracy is a unique condition that few countries are ready for. We saw this when Israel, Carter’s archenemy, gave the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. Known terrorist group, Hamas, forced their rule on the area, and rigged elections in their favor to achieve their version of “democracy.”
Hamas’s tainted version of democracy has resulting in dragging Palestinians to their death via being tied behind some old jalopy. It has resulted in homosexuals being sentenced to death. It has meant arming small children as suicide bombers. Suffice to say, “democracy” under terrorist rule resembles nothing of the sort.
It took the U.S.A. over 200 years to get democracy right. We can’t expect third-world countries to turn on a dime and gain freedom and democracy in decade or less. Egypt is perfect example of a country whose people flooded the streets to oppose their dictatorship under former President Hosni Mubarak, only to wind up under an even more suffocating Islamic dictator, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi. Once Morsi enacted an overarching set of laws that allowed him to have ultimate rule over the Egyptian congress, over 30,000 Egyptians (even more than Mubarak’s protesters) took to the streets to voice their opposition. Thus proving, democracy cannot be had overnight nor is it right for every country or ruler.
While Carter has every right to criticize any sitting (or past) POTUS in writing or on camera (and has), it’s time for our 39th President to stop stumping for terrorists and penning egregious rants and lies. Even winning a Nobel Peace Prize (2002) doesn’t change the facts. Not that I’m letting Obama off the hook for Benghazi and so many other disastrously absent plans to deal with national security threats like ISIS or Ebola (and god knows a laundry list of other beefs), but review your own sorry record.
Carter’s Sorry Record
Carter was one of the worse presidents our country has ever had. His record of presidential hemorrhages parallels with Obama’s oxygen-deprived record. Under Carter, US families were forced to endure double digit inflation, double digit unemployment, airline deregulation, a nonsensical boycott of the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow, a depleted military with low morale, an energy crisis resulting in time-consuming gas lines, the Iran hostage and a tragic military rescue operation to boot.
Millennial actress Raven Symone has dared to de-hyphenate her identity in the face of the goddess O:
“I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American,” Raven said.
“Oh, girl, don’t set up Twitter on fire,” Oprah said. “You’re going to get a lot of flak for saying you’re not African-American.”
“What I really mean by that is I’m an American. That’s what I really mean,” Raven replied. “I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with caucasian. I connect with Asian. I connect with black. I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture,” Raven said.
“You are a melting pot in one body,” Oprah said.
“Isn’t that what America is supposed to be?” Raven declared.
The former child star, best known for her role on The Cosby Show caused television’s Goddess-in-Chief to nearly jump out of her chair. Perhaps generational difference is playing a key role in the Symone’s patriotic identification. According to a recent NPR story titled Why You Should Start Taking Millennials Seriously:
“Forty-three percent of millennials are nonwhite,” says Eileen Patten, a research analyst at the Pew Research Center (and a millennial herself). “When we look at older generations — boomers and silents — less than 3 in 10 were nonwhite.”
Because millennials look different en masse than generations past, the future is going to look different too. They’ve already led the country to massive shifts in opinion on social issues over the past decade.
As Symone illustrated, not every social issue is about sex or pot. Her willingness to step outside the box confronts the political correctness of Oprah’s Baby Boomers exactly the way it should: With a peaceful, confident, fresh perspective.
Perhaps Millennials should be given a second look after all.
Our new partners in the battle against terrorism are the same old Islamic supremacist theocrats. The Guardian reports that Iran has executed Mohsen Amir-Aslani, 37, for holding heretical views.
His crime? He held that the story of Jonah is allegorical.
The story of Jonah, the Jewish missionary sent by God to sinful Nineveh, is told in the Bible and mentioned in the Koran. Nineveh is in present-day Iraq, and is now held by the Islamic State. ISIS destroyed Jonah’s tomb in July and are become entrenched in Nineveh’s governance and daily life.
Mr. Amir-Aslani was arrested for questioning the Jonah story nine years ago. Iran’s judiciary sentenced him to death for heresy, and he was hanged last week.
The Iranian judiciary is now claiming that Aslani was really killed for having illicit sex with some of the clients of his psychotherapy practice. But human rights groups say that the government has produced little evidence of any such relationships.
Totalitarian governments often smear their victims after murdering them.
During his appearance on 60 Minutes Sunday, President Barack Obama had the chance to admit that he got a whole lot about Iraq wrong.
He could have admitted that he got the surge wrong in 2007, when he denounced it and declared that there is no military solution to the problems in Iraq and never was. That was wrong. Obama opposed that surge, which worked and bequeathed a quiescent Iraq to him in 2009. He later implemented a surge of his own in Afghanistan — half-hearted though it was.
Obama could also have admitted that he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq too soon, a decision made for politics that ended up creating the conditions for ISIS to swallow up a large chunk of Iraq and Syria.
Obama could have also admitted that he got ISIS wrong, when he called them the “JV” of terrorism. They are in fact an offshoot of al Qaeda, just as the so-called Khorasan group is an offshoot of al Qaeda — the jihadist group that he claims to have “decimated” and sent scurrying “on the run.” He could have admitted that none of that was true, that al Qaeda is mestasizing from the border regions in Pakistan-Afghanistan to Iraq and Syria to Yemen to Somalia to Boko Haram in Nigeria. And possibly to Oklahoma and New Jersey and Portland.
Instead of admitting any of that, Obama blamed one of his subordinates.
Steve Kroft: I understand all the caveats about these regional groups. But this is what an army of 40,000 people, according to some of the military estimates I heard the other day, very well-trained, very motivated.
President Obama: Well, part of it was that…
Steve Kroft: What? How did they end up where they are in control of so much territory? Was that a complete surprise to you?
President Obama: Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.
“They” work for you, Mr. President.
This isn’t the first time that James Clapper has made a monumental, deadly screw-up, as you’ll see on the next page.
An evangelical Zionist friend of mine sent me a link to pro-life Catholic Lisa Graas’s response to Ted Cruz’s shock-speech at the IDC Summit held earlier this month. Her opinions are illustrative of exactly how theology continues to impact politics in America. Threatening Cruz with the loss of the Catholic vote, Graas writes:
In Catholicism, Israel doesn’t have to be a “Jewish state.” We can accept it as a Jewish state, but we are in no way bound to it being so because we see the Church as the New Israel, theologically.
Graas is a believer in supersessionism, a.k.a. replacement theology. Replacement theology is an old school church teaching that the Christian Church replaces Israel in God’s eyes, that after Jesus, God was done with the Jews and has summarily dubbed the Church his “New Israel” to be the recipients of all the blessings Biblically directed to Israel. It is a nasty idea that was used to defend Crusades, expulsions, and pogroms. Now, Graas is using replacement theology to defend what she defines as the “high church”/Muslim relationship at the sake of Catholic support for the Jewish State.
In saying “no greater ally than the Jewish state,” he [Cruz] stepped over into theology and insulted Catholics who see the Church as the New Israel theologically. We can, and desire to be, friends with Israel, even as a Jewish state, but we cannot pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state in the manner that people of Ted Cruz’s religion pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. We cannot say that if suddenly everyone in Israel converted to Catholicism and turned Israel into a Catholic state, that this would be a “bad” thing. Protestants, of course, would be horrified if that happened because they have some deeply-held theological views that Israel MUST BE a Jewish state. We can take it or leave it as a Jewish state, but they can’t take it or leave it. Catholics can be your friend, Israel, even as a Jewish state, but we cannot pledge unfailing loyalty to “a Jewish state” like Ted Cruz and evangelicals do. You ask too much there.
Graas rambles on about the evils of Protestant ideology, him-hawing over whether or not Israel should be considered a Jewish state with arguments that boil down to a valley girl’s, “Uh, yeah, well, I guess…whatever,” in her theological defense of Catholic replacement theology. Then, oddly enough, she comes out with this whopper:
Another thing is that many Christians in the Middle East see his statement “Jewish state” as being bad not because it’s “Jewish,”, per se, but because it is a “sectarian” statement. They distrust the advancement of ideas that promote theocratic rule over religious minorities who are in disagreement with that particular theology.
An old-school, Pope is “lower than man, but higher than God,” replacement theologian Catholic decides that Cruz isn’t to be trusted because he’s the sectarian one in the room. Apparently there hasn’t yet been an edict issued against irony.
During his United Nations address today, President Obama delved into Islamic theology. He was addressing the Islamic State’s habit of beheading its captives.
“As an international community, we must meet this challenge with a focus on four areas. First, the terrorist group known as ISIL must be degraded, and ultimately destroyed,” Obama said.
“This group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria. Mothers, sisters and daughters have been subjected to rape as a weapon of war. Innocent children have been gunned down. Bodies have been dumped in mass graves. Religious minorities have been starved to death. In the most horrific crimes imaginable, innocent human beings have been beheaded, with videos of the atrocity distributed to shock the conscience of the world.
“No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”
Barack Obama was educated on the Koran during his formative years in Indonesia, but he may not remember his childhood lessons.
The fact is, the Koran explicitly condones beheading.
Koran 8:12 — “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.”
Rather than have a Baptist (me) interpret what that verse means, let’s head over to Islam 101 for an interpretation.
This verse and the verses before and after were revealed about the Battle of Badr, which occurred in Arabia in the early seventh century. A battle in which the pagans of Makkah traveled more than 200 miles to Madinah with an army of about 1000 to destroy Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and fellow Muslims had suffered severe persecutions and torture for 13 years in the city of Makkah. And now that they had fled Makkah and found a sanctuary in the city of Madinah, they were once again threatened. Muslim Army was only about 300 strong. God Almighty gave the order to Muslims to fight to defend their lives and faith. The enemy came to them with the intent to kill Muslims. It was a war to defend themselves and their Faith. It was a war imposed upon Muslims.
And when you fight, you strive to kill the enemy during the fight.
Koran 8:12 spells out one way to do that — beheadings. To create terror.
And how does ISIS characterize its fight with the west and even the fellow Muslims in its midst? As one which it has not started, but will prosecute on “the path to jihad” — holy war.
If President Obama really thinks that he can defeat ISIS in a theological debate, he is misguided in more ways than one.
Paul Goble at Interpreter Magazine offers keen insight into the Western media’s dangerous love affair with Vladimir Putin:
…as has been true since the start of Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, Putin has exploited the increasing proclivity of Western journalists to equate balance with objectivity. He and his minions have flooded the media with statements that are simply not true, but many Western outlets report them as part of the story, without identifying them as false or even questioning their veracity.
That allows such journalists to claim objectivity, but it creates a situation in which there is little or no pressure on Western governments to do the right thing. Many journalists (and governments) will not describe what Moscow is doing as an invasion because Putin says there are no Russian troops in Ukraine, despite massive evidence to the contrary.
As a result, in all too many cases, Putin’s lies have defined the situation rather than facts on the ground, and the Western media’s focus on balance – on presenting all sides of the case even if one or more is untrue – gives thuggish leaders like him an opening that they should not have but will not exploit.
Besides re-defining “balance” in pursuit of a deadline, eye-catching story, or political point of view, Western media also backs the White House’s post-Vietnam love-affair with the mystical cease-fire.
…Second, Western governments approach every conflict as an occasion to get a ceasefire rather than to defeat aggression out of a belief that diplomacy alone can solve the problem and reach a solution. …by signaling that it will not oppose a particular case of aggression, the West has taught Putin and his regime a lesson, but very much the wrong one: aggression works and after “a decent interval” will be ignored, have no consequences for relations with the West, and then can be repeated.
Interestingly, Goble also notes the West’s unwillingness to push real economic and cultural sanctions against Russia. His theory is that the West is afraid if such sanctions truly pushed Moscow to the breaking point, it would only result in a Kremlin that “would call Western profits into question”. In other words, the West may lose economic benefit, or worse, be shamed in the international community as capitalist pigs. Apparently Goble has no faith in Western media to attack such a claim should it arise. While he does not say this directly, his inference is another black mark on Western media’s character.
Especially relevant to more than just Russia-US relations, Goble questions of Putin’s passive-aggressive tactics,
Will Putin have any incentive to move toward peace if he can get everything he wants by dragging out a Western-backed “peace process” forever?
It is a rhetorical query, and one that should not be reserved for Putin alone. An equally rhetorical follow up: Could it be that the same Moscow that backed the PLO learned a lesson from Arafat and his political descendants? The Western audience should rethink their media’s relationship with Russia, for sure. But that should be the starting, not the stopping point in their analysis.
Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed on Secure Freedom Radio with Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy. Split into four 10-minute segments, the 40-minute interview follows:
- How ISIS plays into the bigger picture of global jihad
- America’s willful blindness to the fact that to defeat an enemy, one must know the enemy
- The American far-left’s apologist-position towards radical Islam
- Defensive versus offensive jihad in Shariah doctrine
- Comparing ISIS and Al-Qaeda
- The consequences of ISIS declaring an Islamic Caliphate
- President Obama’s misleading remarks about the connection of jihadist terrorism to Islam
- The long history of Christian persecution in the Muslim world
- Recommendations for future U.S. policies to combat the global jihad
- Lessons learned from the American strategy that defeated the communist ideology of the Soviet Union
- Problems with the labels put on those who question the radical aspects of Shariah law
When Apple released U2′s first new album in years on September 9, the company of the late Steve Jobs surely expected earthwide gratitude. Songs of Innocence was free, after all, it was freaking U2, and iPhone and iPod users didn’t even need to lift a finger or pay anything to get it. It was being pushed to their devices automatically.
Turns out, that was the problem, and one that Apple and U2 should have anticipated. This is the world of the tech-spoiled libertarian socialist millenial and the aging hippy dippy baby boomer. The same people who are too cool to get worked up much over terrorists chopping American heads off in Syria — if they’re even aware of that — scream with bloody rage that a bunch of free songs showed up on their phone without their consent. Hey, life is tough in the First World.
Apple had to roll out a U2 removal tool to quell the volcanic reaction to their decision to give away free stuff.
Had Songs of Innocence merely showed up as a surprise release, but with opt-in instead of opt-out, or with no connection at all to Apple, it would have had a chance to get embraced or rejected on its own merits. That chance was totally lost, and ongoing lack of reaction to the actual music suggests that it will never get a fair shake.
It’s also fair to point out that U2 belongs to the demographic that owns Apple, but not necessarily the demo that’s most passionately in love with the Apple brand. I’d have been annoyed if someone forced music from my parents’ generation onto my phone, despite the fact that I like a lot of it. Give me some Buddy Holly any day — but don’t force it onto my phone without asking, m’kay?
At this point I’ll confess something about U2. The first time I ever heard them, they were still an up-and-coming band. Yeah, I’m that old. A friend handed me the cassette (remember those?) and said “Hey, check this band out. They’re pretty good” or something like that. It wasn’t a particularly memorable conversation and we had had many just like it. He was that guy who knew about the good bands before the rest of us. He introduced me to U2, R.E.M., The Call, Simple Minds and probably a few others that I’ve forgotten. I returned the favor a few times, but mostly with bands that 99.9% of readers will have never heard of — Daniel Amos, and a few others.
The first strains I heard from Bono and company were from Live At Red Rocks. This was in 1983, I think, not long after that album had come out. I was still a kid. I heard U2 early, then, and I absolutely hated them. By the time Bono rang out “How long, how long must we sing this song?” I wondered the same thing. That song seemed to last forever, and not in a good way. That’s right — I immediately hated what has turned out to be one of the great live albums in rock history.
They eventually grew on me, and by the time Joshua Tree came out I was a little wiser and was a confirmed fan. I still remember appreciating the nuances of that album in headphones on my CD player. “Bullet the Blue Sky” still has a visceral edge to it. I missed the tour when it came to Dallas, and have regretted it ever since. I skipped that concert because by then U2 were so huge that everyone was going, and I didn’t want to just follow the crowd. It was pretty stupid, to be honest. They wound up defining the 1980s and the 1990s.
But little did I know at first listen that U2 were bringing a whole lot more to their music than first met the ear. That line, “How long,” was a refrain from a song that the band built atop Psalm 40. What rock band not on an explicitly religious label does that?
Even though Bono titled the song “40,” the reference probably flew past most of his listeners. It flew past me for a while. U2 have had that quality over the years, slipping into deeper waters than most other rockers, while still cranking out hits and successful albums and selling out arenas and reinventing their sound and themselves and kind of gliding around stardom and all that. Rebels with a clue, these guys.
The association with Apple may have finally killed the grander side of U2. Which would be a shame. They’re not just in it to market phones or write hammer tracks for Batman movies.
Unlike most bands who stick around for 30-odd years, U2 really haven’t lost a step. They haven’t gone into nostalgia or self-parody mode. They haven’t replaced their entire lineup with a bunch of sound clones to satisfy suits at a concert-promotion corporation.
They’ve made missteps to be sure — a couple of those experimental 1990s albums and No Line on the Horizon come to mind. Remember when Bono did that Mephisto thing on tour? That was weird. They were into that biggest band in the world thing, no doubt.
But Babe Ruth was baseball’s strikeout king along with being the home run king. U2 have lobbed up some stinkers, but they also created Boy, War, The Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and now Songs of Innocence. They did “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “With Or Without You” and “Elevation” and “Mysterious Ways” and so many other toweringly great songs. That’s quite a body of success, across a whole lot of time.
I’m not defending them as a fan, and they certainly don’t need me to. It’s just a fact. U2′s body of work is in the conversation as to which is the greatest since rock music came to be. For that, some will love them and some will hate them. That’s life. And they have done it with the same four guys, the same three or four chords (and the truth!) for the most part, and the same or similar visions of life and what music should be.
The title of their last one, the one that generated so much ridiculous rage, probably flies over heads like “40″ once did to teenage me. Bono ripped it off from a guy named William Blake. They probably don’t teach any of his work in public schools anymore, which is a shame, because Blake was a beast of a poet and a monster of an artist. His best stuff was just fun to read. Some of his other stuff is still impenetrable. His art ranged from awe-inspiring to scary.
Prior to the independence vote in Scotland, there were predictions that, win or lose, the vote would encourage other regions of Europe and around the world to seek independence in order to fulfill the national aspirations of their people.
Several European enclaves have been agitating for independence for decades — even centuries. Many of them have their own history, culture, and language that predate their assimilation. The Basque may be the most notorious of these independence seekers since the armed wing of their revolutionary party — the ETA — used to routinely carry out terrorist attacks. The ETA laid down their arms in 2011, but the desire for independence has not lessened.
Italy’s South Tyrol and Sardinia, Belgium’s Flanders, France’s Corsica, the United Kingdom’s Wales and Northern Ireland — all of these and a dozen more have expressed an interest in gaining independence.
And that’s just Europe. There are dozens of separatist movements in Africa and Asia that also have been cheered by events in Scotland. While independence may have lost, the fact that a vote was held in the first place has leaders of separatist movements around the world hopeful that they can be more successful.
The next turn of the screw for Europe will apparently be in Catalonia, the richest and most productive area of Spain. Within hours of knowing the outcome of the Scottish vote on independence, the Catalonian parliament voted to hold their own referendum on independence in November, thus directly defying the national government in Madrid which has threatened to take legal action against the autonomous region.
A day after a majority of Scots voted against secession from the U.K., the parliament in the wealthy, industrial Spanish region of Catalonia approved a law to allow for its own, albeit nonbinding, referendum on independence.
The 106-28 vote Friday set Spain on a path toward a legal and political crisis. The central government in Madrid has vowed to block the referendum, which it says is unconstitutional.
After the law is published in the coming days, Catalonia’s regional president, Artur Mas, is expected to sign a decree formally convoking the referendum for Nov. 9. At the Spanish government’s request, the Constitutional Court is then expected to issue an injunction to halt the vote.
Mr. Mas has expressed misgivings about going ahead with the referendum in violation of Spanish law because the vote might lack international credibility. Another way for him to satisfy pro-independence groups clamoring to cast ballots would be by calling early regional elections as a proxy vote.
During the Catalan parliament’s 2½-hour debate, many speakers took note of the historic nature of the proceedings.
“Democracy without liberty is a sham and we want to vote—not a sham,” said pro-referendum congresswoman Dolors Camats.
Albert Rivera, leader of the Citizens’ Party and an opponent of the referendum, said that those advocating it were being irresponsible. “This isn’t a day of celebration, but of worry because these separatist movements have a sword over Europe’s head,” he said.
Catalan separatists complain that the government in Madrid drains the region of tax revenue without offering sufficient respect for its language and culture. Spanish government officials maintain that Catalonia receives economic benefits from being part of Spain and has plenty of autonomy under the constitution.
While there is certainly resentment against the perception that Madrid is stifling their national character, Catalans have an economic bone to pick with the Spanish government — especially after the last few years of “austerity” budgets that put most of the burden on the region:
The pro-independence forces claim that Catalonia’s fiscal imbalance with Spain’s national budget amounts to $20 billion (US dollars) per year, according to figures from the Catalan government’s finance minister. This office claims that Catalonia—origin of a quarter of Spain’s exports—suffers an insufficient investment and financial disadvantage since it generates nineteen percent of Spain’s GDP and receives back eleven percent in expenditure from the central government. Indeed, with a population of 7.5 million out of 46 million, Catalonia is, after Madrid, the second-wealthiest of Spain’s seventeen so-called autonomous communities, as stated in the last available Spanish government’s National Statistics Institute account, which excludes the Basque Country and Navarre because they benefit from a special fiscal regime due to their historic “foral” tradition. However, Catalonia is also the most indebted autonomous community among the communities.
Madrid responds to Catalan complaints by claiming that Catalonia receives special assistance from the Spanish government, outside of money from the national budget, in the form of ad hoc loans to make payments not previously planned for. (The central government is in fact its only lender, since Spanish law blocks access by the autonomous communities to shop for loans on international markets.) Spain also insists that solidarity must be at the core of relations among its regional governments. But this has proven a double-edged sword since the separatists claim that Catalonia is discriminated against within this community, noting that Spanish investment in Catalonia (i.e., annual government budgeting for the region) will drop twenty-five percent compared to an average decrease of 7.2 percent for the nation as a whole during the current belt-tightening effort to stop the country’s economic free fall. Catalan nationalists refer to this imbalance as “plunder.”
With Barcelona, one of the jewel cities of Europe and a vital hub of finance and commerce as Catalonia’s capital, it is not likely that the Spanish government will allow independence for the region even if a vote for independence is successful.
Besides, it appears likely that the Catalans themselves are wary of even holding a vote if it contravenes Spanish law:
Just 23 percent of those surveyed in a Metroscopia poll published in El Pais said Catalonia should press ahead with the referendum, even if it is declared illegal. This is the stance of Mas’s coalition partner, the separatist party ERC.
The poll showed 45 percent of those surveyed believed Catalonia should respect the decision of the court and 25 percent said the region should look for other legal ways to redraw its relationship with Spain.
A NC Report poll, published in La Razon newspaper, showed 55 percent of Catalans would not support the referendum if declared illegal. Both polls surveyed 1,000 people.
The wealthy region of 7 million people has its own language and cultural identity and has long sought greater self-rule. Central government spending cuts during a deep recession have helped fuel independence sentiment.
The Metroscopia poll found just 27 percent of those polled wanted full independence from Spain, with 42 percent wanting Catalonia to form a part of Spain but under new terms. Many Catalans want more power over taxes and welfare spending.
The Catalonian people share a common dream with other small European enclaves of distinct ethnic minorities: they want their culture and history back, as well as some sense that they have their hands on the levers of economic and political power to help direct their national destiny. If this can be accomplished within the framework of remaining attached to their current parent country, that would probably be satisfactory to the majority.
If not, we are going to see more votes like the one in Scotland.
So the United Kingdom is still united, and in the end it wasn’t that close. The people of Scotland rejected independence early this morning, with the No campaign prevailing by a relatively comfortable 55% to 45%. The margin of victory was around half the lead the No vote had enjoyed in the early stages of the campaign, but it was far more decisive than recent polls, one of which put the Yes camp narrowly ahead, had suggested.
Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said the independence debate had been “settled for a generation.” He added: “So there can be no disputes, no re-runs; we have heard the will of the Scottish people.”
President Obama, who angered Yes campaigners by expressing his hope that Scots would stay with the UK, tweeted that he “welcomed” the result.
"We welcome the result of yesterday’s referendum on Scottish independence." —President Obama pic.twitter.com/5qJyAPGP6Q
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 19, 2014
A vote for independence would have been cataclysmic for British politics; however, the reverberations from the No vote will still be far-reaching, and while supporters of both sides were celebrating or drowning their sorrows into the wee small hours, Cameron, along with politicians from all parties on both sides of the border, woke up this morning with a different kind of hangover — they must now turn their attention to dealing with the complex political and constitutional issues thrown up by the result.
With polls tightening in the run-up to the referendum, Cameron, along with other figures in the No campaign, including Scot and former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, made increasingly generous promises about the extra powers that would be devolved to the existing Scottish Parliament if Scots rejected independence. These include full control over the setting of income tax and other tax rates, and more powers over welfare spending.
Conservative MPs, with backing from their Liberal Democrat coalition partners and some in the Labour Party, are now demanding that if Scotland is effectively granted “home rule” then similar powers must also be devolved to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Cameron appeared to accede to those demands when he spoke this morning.
The result could be something like a federalized United Kingdom, and devolving powers to England would finally bring about a resolution of the so-called “West Lothian question“ – the anomaly whereby Scottish MPs sitting at Westminster can vote on taxation and other matters affecting England, but English MPs have no say on matters devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
There are no plans for a separate English Parliament, but it’s likely that proposals will be put forward to enable “English only” parliamentary sessions, with English MPs legislating on matters relating only to England, and Scots MPs excluded. That would in all probability mean Ed Miliband’s Labour Party would be outvoted by the Tories on English matters – even if Labour won an overall majority in next year’s general election – because of Labour’s reliance on large numbers of Scottish MPs.
The referendum campaign highlighted the growing disconnect between the UK’s London-based political establishment and the rest of the country. And if Cameron does make good on his promise of greater devolution for England it would be bad news for Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party, which has portrayed itself as the party of localism and regionalism, and which has criticized Cameron for promising so much to Scots at the apparent expense of the rest of the UK.
A former Auschwitz employee who has been charged in Germany with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder previously spoke out publicly against Holocaust denial, the Guardian newspaper reports.
Oskar Groening, 93, was charged in a Hanover court earlier this week. Once called “the accountant of Auschwitz,” he was responsible for counting the money taken from the luggage of murdered Jews from 1942 to 1944 and sending it back to SS headquarters in Berlin. He also stood guard as the transports entered the camp.
Groening has never denied being in Auschwitz. Appearing in the BBC documentary “Auschwitz: The Nazis and the ‘Final Solution” in 2005, he said that pervasive Holocaust denial had led to him to speak out.
“I see it as my task now, at my age, to face up to these things that I experienced, and to oppose the Holocaust deniers who claim that Auschwitz never happened,” he said. “I saw the crematoria, I saw the burning pits.”
That we have now reached a point in history where many equate what the descendants of the victims of the Holocaust are doing to defend themselves with what happened in that horrible time doesn’t speak terribly well of us as a species.
MarketWatch reports today that President Barack Obama will exert tight personal control over U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria.
The U.S. military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential sign-off for strikes in Syrian territory, officials said.
The requirements for strikes in Syria against the extremist group Islamic State will be far more stringent than those targeting it in Iraq, at least at first. U.S. officials say it’s an attempt to limit the threat the U.S. could be dragged more deeply into the Syrian civil war.
So far, Obama has handled the ISIS threat as primarily a political, not a national security, matter. He only spoke to the American people to reveal his strategy to deal with the group once the beheadings of two Americans enraged the public. Obama himself merely offered a brief statement after the beheading of James Foley, and then went straight out to play golf.
Thus far, Obama is publicly limiting the U.S. military role against ISIS to air power and “advisers” on the ground. Those “advisers” will assist the Kurdish peshmerga, the Iraqi military, and even Syrian rebels. Those American “advisers” are said to have no combat role. But the number of those advisers has already grown, from a few dozen early on to nearly 3,000.
Yet the war against the Islamic State shows no sign of progress. Overnight, ISIS captured 16 villages in Syria.
Ever since the 1970s, every time U.S. forces have engaged in any overseas conflict on the ground, Democrats and the media have warned that America could be entering “another Vietnam.” When President George H. W. Bush ordered U.S. troops into Panama to capture dictator Manuel Noriega, some Democrats warned of “another Vietnam.” At the beginning of the 1990-91 Gulf War and at the outset of the 2003 Iraq war, many Democrats warned that America was blundering into “another Vietnam.”
But none of those wars ended up resembling Vietnam. Panama and the first Gulf War featured overwhelming U.S. force that won those wars quickly, with very few U.S. casualties. The 2003 Iraq war versus Saddam Hussein’s military was actually over quickly too, but Islamist insurgencies (some of which were backed by Iran) dragged out the military action and the country’s recovery. By 2009, Iraq was relatively stable and quiescent. More than 3,000 American troops died in the second Iraq war, but that number is dwarfed by the 59,000 killed in Vietnam.
Obama inherited that stable Iraq, and withdrew U.S. forces too quickly. The Islamic State has arisen out of the Syrian civil war and the vacuum of power that Obama left in Iraq.
Now Obama is slow rolling America’s entry into the war versus the Islamic State. His strategy of limiting U.S. forces’ role to “advisers” mirrors how U.S. presidents from Harry Truman to Lyndon Baines Johnson slowly increased America’s military role in Vietnam, especially following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Within two years of that defeat, a small number of American military “advisers” were on the ground in Vietnam training the South Vietnam military. In 1962, there were 12,000 American troops in Vietnam, officially in non-combat roles. Two years later, there were 15,000 American troops in Vietnam.
In 1965 Johnson authorized Operation Rolling Thunder, a massive bombing campaign against the north. That same year, Johnson’s advisers determined that bombing alone would not be enough to win the war. Operation Rolling Thunder, though, was never intended to achieve victory. Its aim was to disrupt supply lines from the north into the south, by North Vietnam to the Vietcong guerillas. Operation Rolling Thunder slow rolled across two years, to including bombing more strategic targets in North Vietnam.
Operation Rolling Thunder was closely controlled by the White House and at times targets were personally selected by President Johnson. From 1965 to 1968, about 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on North Vietnam. A total of nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during Operation Rolling Thunder. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until President Johnson, under increasing domestic political pressure, halted it on October 31, 1968.
President Johnson escalated the U.S. role in Vietnam once it became clear that the advisory role plus U.S. air power would never defeat Ho Chi Minh’s communist forces. By the end of 1965, Johnson had sent 184,000 troops into Vietnam, and the “advisory” role was changed to combat.
The slow-rolled war dragged on until U.S. withdrawal in 1973, and the final defeat of South Vietnam in 1975. The victorious communists hunted down, imprisoned, tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands in South Vietnam, sparking a refugee exodus in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
During the Vietnam air war, President Johnson even personally selected bombing targets. President Obama, according to the MarketWatch report, is set to repeat that in selecting targets in Syria.
There are many obvious differences between Vietnam and the fight against the Islamic State, with Islam being the most obvious. The differences in the terrain — jungles in Asia, desert in the Middle East — is another.
But the similarities even at this stage of the ISIS fight are haunting, as we’ll explore on the next page.
According to her Linked-In profile, Kazantsev interned at Planned Parenthood in Hempstead, New York. Her job duties at the company that snuffs out of the lives of young baby girls? “Assisted delivery of programs in local public schools, teaching children about mutual respect & self-esteem” and “Conducted research on Planned Parenthood Education.”
Kazantsev worked for the abortion giant just outside New York City proper for three months, from February 2013-April 2013. One month later, one of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in New York City botched an abortion. The incident occurred at the Margaret Sanger Center Planned Parenthood in New York City, New York.
Ambulances are usually only called to abortion clinics in the event of life-threatening medical emergencies. There has been a trend to bypass the 911 exchanges and call ambulance companies directly in order to keep pro-life groups from obtaining potentially damaging information about the abortion complications though open records requests.
In 2012, Planned Parenthood in New York City was also found to be willing to go along with arranging abortions for victims of sex trafficking.
That’s from LifeNews, and there’s more at the link.
Margaret Sanger was a Nazi-sympathizer who believed in eugenics and also believed in exterminating “human weeds” — working class people, racial minorities. Sanger was a segregationist who also wanted government to have control over who could and could not have children. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was a monster. The business/lobby that Sanger founded is built on aborting babies in substandard clinics. Right now Planned Parenthood is opposing over-the-counter contraception. Why? It’s bad for their business.
Today is the 200th anniversary of the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” an event commemorated in Baltimore this weekend — the site of Fort McHenry whose defense against a pitiless British bombardment inspired Francis Scott Key to write the stirring words that eventually became our National Anthem.
Every school child in America knows the story — or, at least, they used to. Today, I’m not so sure. With such short shrift given to the uplifting parts of our national narrative, Key’s remarkable, emotional story may have become something less than a footnote in history books.
Key was on a mission approved by President Madison to negotiate an exchange of prisoners with British Admiral Alexander Cochrane, including a good friend of Keys who had been captured a few days earlier. The attack began on the morning of September 13, with the British launching huge mortar shells and Congreve rockets against the fort. The rockets were more of a psychological weapon at that time as they were very loud but not very destructive. Not so the mortars that arched over the walls of the fort causing few casualties but wreaking havoc on the fort’s infrastructure.
The British plan was to silence the fort’s big guns that would have made any attempt to sail past McHenry into the harbor a suicide mission. Once in the harbor, the ships would then support a ground force whose job was to take the city of Baltimore.
It was a good plan, but dependent on the ability of Cochrane’s ships to either so demoralize the Americans that they surrendered, or cause so much damage that the the fort could not effectively resist. Cochrane believed Key would be useful to negotiate the fort’s surrender so he allowed him to reboard the sloop that brought him to the admiral’s flagship and join the fleet that was bombarding McHenry.
Key had a birdseye view of the bombardment. By all accounts an emotional man, Key watched and fretted while the fort took a pounding for more than 24 hours, as nearly 2000 shells and 1000 rockets pummeled the works. Toward morning, the fort’s defenders replaced the storm flag that had flown throughout the battle with the huge 46′ by 32′ flag that now resides in the Smithsonian.
But Key couldn’t see in the dim light and because smoke obscured his view. Finally, as dawn broke, Key caught sight of the huge flag and was so filled with gratitude and patriotism, that he wrote the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” which was later put to music — “Anacreon in Heaven” – and the rest is history. The “Star Spangled Banner” become the official anthem of the US in 1931.
There have been numerous complaints through the years about the anthem; it’s too “martial”; it’s hard to sing; the song is inappropriate because it was originally a drinking song (not true, but it’s a good story); the lyrics are overwrought.
Steve Vogel, author of “Through the Perilous Fight: From the Burning of Washington to the Star-Spangled Banner: The Six Weeks That Saved the Nation”, debunks several myths about the anthem in a recent column for the Washington Post:
Rather than martial chest-thumping, Key’s first verse is a long question, wondering not just whether the flag still flew over the fort but whether the young nation would survive. In the dark hours before dawn, the guns fell quiet. For Key, the silence was dreadful, a sign that the fort may have fallen. The second verse captures Key’s relief at spotting the American flag “in full glory reflected” at first light.
The rarely sung third verse is angry and vengeful, rejoicing that the enemy’s “blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution.” Perhaps the lyrics reflect Key’s emotion after watching the British attempt to incinerate Baltimore. Key takes a more pious tone in the fourth and final verse, celebrating the return of peace and the end of “war’s desolation.”
The man who wrote this most patriotic of American songs in fact deeply opposed the war. Key had been dismayed by the U.S. declaration of war in 1812, considering it foolhardy for the young nation to take on one of the most powerful militaries on Earth.
Politico’s Ted Widmer wonders if it isn’t time to replace the “Star Spangled Banner” with a song that’s easier to sing, and with a less problematic history. Apparently, Key owned slaves and was a vigorous defender of the abomination. Should this disqualify him and his creation?
Two hundred years after that long night in Baltimore, is it time to rethink the Star-Spangled Banner? It has its merits—to drown out bad news with bluster, brass and percussion worked in 1814, and the song continues to radiate personality, even as most of us try and fail to sing along with its awkward leaps over one-and-half octaves. It feels right that the city that gave us Hairspray also surrendered this essential bit of national theater. The music has entered so deeply into our consciousness that even its parodies can seem beautiful—much as the Jimi Hendrix version, inflammatory at the time, has acquired a great dignity of its own.
But the story of Key’s nearness to slavery cannot easily be forgotten, especially in an era that demands more accountability, and offers to tools to find it. Critics over the years—I am hardly the first—have been brutal about the Star-Spangled Banner’s many shortcomings. The New York Herald Tribune dismissed it as “words that nobody can remember [set] to a tune that nobody can sing.” In 1918, a woman named Kitty Cheatham denounced the words as “German propaganda” (because they undermined the Anglo-American alliance), and saw the music as a product of “darkness,” “degeneracy,” and “the carnal mind.” Christian Science leader Augusta Stetson called it a “barroom ballad composed by a foreigner.” A 1965 writer thought it “as singable as Die Walkure, as American as ‘God Save the Queen’”; the columnist Michael Kinsley has ripped its “empty bravado” and “mindless nonsense about rockets and bombs.”
Perhaps—like Old Glory herself—the unsingable song is here to stay. But if not, we have a worthy contender waiting in the wings: “America the Beautiful,” a stirring piece of music, easily sung and irrefutably composed by U.S. citizens.
Like all of us, Key was a product of his times. The fact that he supported slavery is only one aspect of his character, and to condemn him unmercifully for a sin shared by tens of millions of Americans north and south seems harsh and arbitrary. Using that logic, no American born before 1865 deserves recognition for anything. It cost the US 600,000 lives to wrench the institution of slavery from our midst — a horrible price to pay and illustrative of just how difficult it was to escape the institution’s historical trap.
Certainly Key should be criticized for his views on slavery, especially when you consider the growing abolitionist movement in America during his lifetime. He could have changed but he didn’t. That’s a black mark on his character that history will not wash away.
But why besmirch his heartfelt patriotism and sheer relief that Baltimore was saved and possibly, the war with it? The emotional lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner” are a celebration of American values and a demonstration of the American character. It is as much a part of American history as any icon we possess.
Surely we can find room for Francis Scott Key in the pantheon of American heroes despite his flaws, and celebrate his creation no matter how hard it is to sing. For the sake of our children, we have to.
To understand why the Islamic State not only decapitates its “infidel” captives, but also mutilates and mocks their corpses—and all to sadistic laughter—one need only turn to the Koran and deeds of Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The Koran exhorts believers to “Fight them [those who oppose Islam], Allah will torment them with your hands, humiliate them, empower you over them, and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts” (Koran 9:14-15).
As usual, to understand the significance of any Koran verse, one must turn to the sira andhadith—the biography and anecdotes of Muhammad, respectively—for context.
Thus we come to the following account concerning the slaughter of ‘Amr bin Hisham, a pagan Arab chieftain originally known as “Abu Hakim” (Father of Wisdom) until Muhammad dubbed him “Abu Jahl” (Father of Stupidity) for his staunch opposition to Islam.
After ‘Amr was mortally wounded by a new convert to Islam during the Battle of Badr, Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, a close companion of Muhammad, saw the “infidel” chieftain collapsed on the ground. So he went to him and started abusing him. Among other things, Abdullah grabbed and pulled ‘Amr’s beard and stood in triumph on the dying man’s chest.
According to Al-Bidaya wa Al-Nihaya (“The Beginning and the End”), Ibn Kathir’s authoritiative history of Islam, “After that, he [Abdullah] cut his [‘Amr’s] head off and bore it till he placed it between the hands of the Prophet. Thus did Allah heal the hearts of the believers with it.”
This, then, is the true significance of Koran 9:14-15: “Fight them, Allah will torment them with your hands [mortally wounding and eventually decapitating ‘Amr], humiliate them [pulling his beard], empower you over them [standing atop him], and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts [at the sight of his decapitated head].”
The logic here is that, pious Muslims are so full of zeal for Allah’s cause that the only way their inflamed hearts can be at rest is to see those who oppose Allah and his prophet utterly crushed—humiliated, mutilated, decapitated. Then the hearts of the believers can be at ease and “healed.”
This is surely one of the reasons behind the Islamic State’s dissemination of gory videos and pictures of its victims: the new “caliphate” is trying to heal the hearts of every believer inflamed for the cause of Allah.
If this sounds too farfetched, consider the following picture of a decapitated “infidel” from the Islamic State’s websites. The Arabic caption to the left says “healing for hearts”—a clear reference to the aforementioned Koran verse… Click for images and to keep reading
President Barack Obama delivered his strategy to defeat ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State — choose the name you prefer — Wednesday night. The four-pronged strategy includes the use of American and allied air power; partnering with the Iraqis, the Kurds and the Free Syrian Army; counterterrorism operations; and humanitarian aid.
The Free Syrian Army alliance is problematic for two reasons. The FSA is weakened by years of war against both Syrian dictator Assad and against ISIS. It is also infiltrated with Islamists who are more sympathetic to radicals, and who may have sold American hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff to ISIS. Patrick Poole reports that the FSA is working with ISIS.
The president’s speech included this strange passage. The president touted two nations in which he believes counterterrorism has worked against al Qaeda, and similar strategies can be deployed against IS.
“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order,” the president said.
Successful? Al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab controls territory in Somalia and regularly launches attacks.
Counterterrorism in Somalia, essentially, is Whack-A-Mole. It works to some extent against terrorist leaders and cells, but IS is a very different prospect. It is a terrorist army numbering in the thousands, powered by stolen oil and robbed banks, mechanized by abandoned American tanks and HUMVEES, which is now building a capital city and gunning to bring about Armageddon. It has carved out a large territory and it is recruiting fighters from all over the world, including American and European citizens. Whack-A-Terrorist, as the Obama administration has done in Yemen, is unlikely to make much of an impact on IS.
The U.S. effort in Somalia is a particularly disturbing one for Obama to turn to. The United States has been involved in one way or another in Somalia since December of 1992.
President George H. W. Bush ordered U.S. forces into that chaotic failed east African territory as the main component of an international force dispatched to restore its government and provide food to the impoverished people there. The American military made shore along Somalia’s coast in a nighttime operation made bright by the glare of media TV lights. The cable news networks were tipped and were literally waiting onshore for the Americans to land and walk up the beach.
Not a shot was fired that night, and the Somalis initially greeted America as liberators. Operation RESTORE HOPE looked like it would be a peaceful humanitarian mission, and nothing more. The warlords who had replaced Somalia’s central dictatorship with feudal local power centers even cooperated with the international force and each other, at first. I was in the Air Force, stationed in Japan, when Somalia operations got into full swing. One of my co-workers volunteered and deployed there. Many of us, including myself, considered volunteering. I ended up staying put in Tokyo.
This is not ancient history. We all know what happened eventually. Mission creep. The hunt for Aidid. The Battle of Mogadishu. Black Hawk Down. American troops killed in a hyperviolent urban battle, and their bodies dragged through the streets of Mogadishu for all the world to see.
Americans quickly lost interest in the Somalia mission and President Bill Clinton was not inclined to continue it. Our swift exit encouraged Obama bin Laden to see us as a paper tiger. He attacked us on our soil 13 years ago today.
Haleh Esfandiari is an Iranian American who escaped the revolution in ’79. Currently directing the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Esfandiari was held captive by the Iranian regime for 105 days in 2007. One of the few voices willing to speak up for the women being oppressed under the ISIS regime, she recently turned a critical eye toward Arab and Muslim governments in the region in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
Arab and Muslim governments, vocal on the threat ISIS poses to regional stability, have been virtually silent on ISIS’s systemic degradation, abuse, and humiliation of women. To the men of ISIS, women are an inferior race, to be enjoyed for sex and be discarded, or to be sold off as slaves.
…Zakia Hakki, an Iraqi judge and a woman herself, says that the fighters leave behind pregnant women who, as “soiled goods,” are ostracized by their own societies, while their children are treated as illegitimate. These raped women become targets for honor killings in their own families and communities. The governments of Iraq and Syria have also failed to protect these women and give them any assistance; nor have Western NGOs been effective in looking after these abandoned women and children. ISIS’s men not only leave behind dead bodies in their wake but also women and children who are scarred for life.
In its propaganda, ISIS emphasizes women’s modesty and piety. It created the al-Khansaa female brigade to protect the morality of women and to ensure they appear totally veiled in public. The irony will not be lost on anyone.
Esfandiari’s damning evidence adds fuel to the fire most feminists are unwilling to take on. But, it is her cultural analysis that demands the West’s wholehearted attention (emphasis mine):
Volunteer fighters from around the world, including from Western countries, who have joined ISIS are complicit in these crimes against women. These young men who grew up in Western cultures seem to have absorbed nothing regarding the value of human life and respect for women. Why are there are no demonstrations in Western and Muslim societies against this barbaric onslaught on women and girls? How much longer will the Muslim and Arab world watch these horrors against women and children before speaking out and acting forcefully to protect them and rid the region of the ISIS calamity?
This week the Drudge Report had this link from the UK Telegraph with the headline and subhead:
How Isil doctored the image of Obama, making him appear haggard in videos
The terrorist group carefully manipulate their videos to make the US president look as tired and weary as possible, demonstrating its technical prowess
Welcome to war in the modern age where our enemies use media manipulation to taunt President Obama. (Remember when Putin and the Russians made light of Obama’s wimpy image using the kitty cats? Click here if you missed that unusual caption contest.)
Below, the Telegraph describes the techniques ISIL (or ISIS) used in the screen-grab image that is the subject of our contest.
In the same way, Mr. Obama’s blue jacket is made to appear a funereal black. His strands of grey hair are picked up and exaggerated. The editor has also caused an interlacing effect of black lines to run across the president’s white shirt. For good measure, he has carefully stretched the screen length ways in order to make Mr. Obama appear thin and gaunt.
Now, here is your “special ops” mission for these dangerous times. You must translate the message written in whatever language these barbarians used, into a language that PJ Media readers can better understand.
In addition to the “official translation,” you can also write a non-official translation from the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee or from any committee or organization you wish, even the NRA or the Navy Seals.
Finally, is it just me, or does the ISIS video manipulation make Obama resemble, even more than before, “this guy” from the History Channel’s Bible mini-series? (Official name of “this guy” withheld for many political, religious and IRS reasons.)
Good luck, and you don’t have to be nice with your translations because the “folks” who did this video manipulation really are the personification of “this guy” in the photo above.
A beaming President Obama said he was at one of the places he’d always wanted to visit while touring Stonehenge after the NATO summit.
Obama walked about the prehistoric monument for about 20 minutes, according to the White House pool report, exclaiming, “How cool is this!”
The visit was added to his schedule at the last minute before he departed the UK.
“It’s spectacular, it’s spectacular. It’s a special place,” he added.
Reporters asked if he had always wanted to visit Stonehenge, which could have been an ancient calendar or spot for sacred ritual. “Knocked it off the bucket list!” the president replied.
Obama is scheduled to arrive back at the White House tonight.
— Mic (@micnews) September 5, 2014
President Obama makes a surprise visit to Stonehenge, one of the wonders of the world. pic.twitter.com/4btSfwmRzb
— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) September 5, 2014
En route to Estonia, Pres Obama waves from AF1 (remote GoPro camera) pic.twitter.com/PS7Lhqqpgx
— petesouza (@petesouza) September 2, 2014
The Times of Israel carried the startling report of one radical Islamist mother-in-law who was willing to send not one, not two, but all of her daughters to slaughter for the Palestinian cause:
The bereaved mother-in-law of Hamas terror chief Muhammad Deif said she would be “honored” were he to marry her two other daughters, even if they were “martyred” as a consequence.Deif’s wife Widad and his son and daughter were killed last week in an Israeli airstrike aimed at Deif, the Hamas military commander said by Israel to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis in a career of terrorism dating back to the early 1990s.Apparently believing that Deif survived the Israeli strike, Widad’s mother Zeian Asfura, 61, told London’s Sunday Times in an interview published Sunday: “Should Deif request the hand of any of my other daughters, I will happily consent and even if she, too, is martyred I will consent to the third.
“It is an honor to have Deif a husband to any of my daughters and be a father to their children,” Asfura added.…Asfura said that when she consented to the marriage in 2011, she realized the possible consequence. “When I agreed the marriage, I in effect consented to a fate of martyrdom for my daughter,” she said.
Mainstream feminists news sources didn’t bother carrying this story, but give them time. Nearly a month after the rest of the world learned that Yazidi women were jumping off cliffs to avoid becoming Islamic State sex slaves, Jezebel finally granted a few words to the issue. Referring to the women as “brides” instead of “sex slaves”, the author demurely referred to to the situation as “just awful.” The Yazidi choice to commit suicide didn’t even make the story.
Friedan feminists lapped up the liberties their mothers and grandmothers had fought hard to earn and shrugged. As a result, their daughters live comfortably, insulated in their so-called feminism that remains ignorant of the real persecution of women the world over. The more politically inclined among them fell for the Marxist narrative of postcolonial struggle, rendering them powerless against a perceived racial minority’s religious ideology that subjects a woman to a life of objectification and abuse. Hence contemporary American feminism isn’t equipped to confront radical Islam’s threat against women.
The struggle of the Yazidi women and the perverted ideology of Zeian Asfura demand that feminism not be defined by upper class white women supplementing their career of bored housewife with fundraising galas for the latest cause celeb. It is time feminism got back to its roots of Bible believing, slave-freeing, vote-wielding powerful women who worked as forces of nature fighting against female persecution. Ignorance is evil, and the kind of ignorance embraced by modern feminism is the kind that empowers evil to thrive to the point that no ocean border can wash it away. The West needs feminism, true feminism, Biblical feminism, lest the story of the Yazidi become a global narrative and evil mother-in-law jokes take on a sick, sad new meaning in our neck of the woods.
More and more I’m convinced that America right now isn’t a country dealing with a mere dip in its mood and might. It’s a country surrendering to a new identity and era, in which optimism is quaint and the frontier anything but endless.
— Frank Bruni, NY Times, Lost in America, 8/27/2014
Drawing on a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Times columnist Frank Bruni paints a picture of a nation on the down slope, with no end in sight. He notes that 60 percent of those polled feel America is “in decline.”
But if you dig into the data you find that, while the depressing number has indeed climbed to 60 from 54 percent in January 2011, in five of the last eight times the pollsters asked this question (going back to October ’91) the readout was higher than 60, peaking at 69 percent in June 2008.
So, you might say, cheer up, Frank Bruni, it could be worse.
However, the next question in the survey brings a chilling context to that 60-percent figure. The question: “Do you feel confident that life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us?”
Only 21 percent said they do. Back in the dog days of decline in summer 2008, that number was 31. During a declension nearly as severe, in 1991-92, around 41 percent still felt confident their kids would have a better life.
We Are Dissatisfied
Americans have always been a dissatisfied lot — we wouldn’t have come here if we were not. But we’ve always coupled that dissatisfaction with a belief in a better tomorrow. We’ve backed that belief with a determination to make it so, and a bone-deep conviction that we lived in a land where anything is possible. We’re all about “the pursuit of happiness.”
This is what seems to have slipped…or rather, to have been tripped.
You see, it’s not that a Jimmy Carter-esque malaise has fallen across the fruited plain, but rather that malaise has been spread like mayonnaise across the amber waves of grain by people who seem determined to share the gloom of their own existential angst with the rest of us.
I, for one, will have none of it.
America still offers the greatest franchise opportunity on earth, available with no money down, to anyone willing to invest his sweat equity. In fact, that opportunity now exceeds the wildest dreams of our Fathers, as the internet has dried up the ocean and we can cross it barefoot in a moment. Global markets lay beneath our feet like Russell H. Conwell’s proverbial “Acres of Diamonds.”
That doesn’t mean careful plans can’t collapse in the face of unforeseen obstacles. They quite likely will, and perhaps should, since passionate dreamers tend to lose touch with marketplace reality and must run headlong into an obsidian wall from time to time, to jar us into exploring other options.
This opportunity also doesn’t excuse us from competition, both legitimate and nefarious. Some of your opponents will see your presence as healthy inspiration for their own innovations. Others will work tirelessly and deceitfully to ensure that you’re bankrupted and living under a bridge in a cardboard box. But the alternative to the exhilarating roller coaster of competition is the mundane merry-go-round of corporate wage-slavery, or government-subsidized bondage. The merry-go-round thrills only those who have never ventured beyond the painted pony.
The Daily Beast’s anti-Second Amendment crusader Cliff Schecter is full of praise for Microsoft founder, billionaire Bill Gates, because Gates wants to force every gun transaction in Washington State to go through a government check.
It was reported Monday that Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and incredibly wealthy guy, and with his wife, Melinda, have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in Washington state. The ballot initiative, if passed by voters on November 4 (and it currently enjoys overwhelming support), will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state.
Gates is only the latest Washington billionaire to give to the effort, with original Amazon investor Nick Hanauer providing crucial early funding, and more recently upping his overall donation to $1.4 million. Additionally, Gates’s Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has provided $500,000 for the cause.
But Gates’s fame brings more attention and further legitimizes the initiative in a way that almost nobody else could. Once the Gates Foundation made it a priority to combat malaria around the world in 2000, it brought down deaths due to the insect-borne disease by 20 percent in 11 years, saving the lives of 1 million African children in the process.
Gun ownership is a civil right, at least if you respect the Constitution.
Universal background checks won’t stop criminals. Universal checks, like the related “gun show loophole,” is a red herring to combat a problem that is decreasing.
Overall gun-related violence is down, and it is sharply down in Chicago — after concealed carry permits were forced on the state’s Democratic leadership. More guns, less crime, because criminals can no longer count on their victims being disarmed.
Bill Gates, like Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and George Soros, is a special interest kingpin. But he’s the right kind of one-percenter special interest donor, so the Beast praises him.
Bloomberg is worth $33 billion, but if that’s not enough, Gates is worth well over two times that amount. Who knows, with that kind of dough, maybe even measures that “only” enjoy 56 percent support like bans on assault weapons and/or high-capacity magazines could pass via direct voting by uncorrupted American citizens. Or perhaps state legislators and members of Congress who bend easily to the will of these Lords of War could be swapped out for those who live in a closer neighborhood to the best interests of the American populace.
That’s packed full of emotional nonsense. The “Lords of War” have nothing to do with the Second Amendment. The left’s “Lords of Cash,” on the other hand, keep attacking the Second Amendment rights of everyday Americans.
Likely the NRA will try to do to Gates what it has attempted to do to Bloomberg for a few years now, and seek to make this fight about him and not its right-wing radicalism in the service of avarice. He’s a billionaire trying to influence our political process, after all, unlike Manhattan resident David Koch, who along with his brother Charles has polluted our political process to no end, including funding the NRA.
See, Gates is just the right kind of special interest.
Bill Gates is welcome to waste his money on this. He might even succeed, in Washington State, and the failure of a universal check to have an impact on gun crime ought to serve as evidence that the entire effort is a ruse to disarm average non-billionaire Americans bit by bit.
At the same time, it should be pointed out that billionaires tend not to live by their own anti-gun rhetoric. Don’t expect the likes of Cliff Schecter to call them out on that.
Matti Friedman, a former AP Correspondent, has written a brilliant, must-read analysis of why the mainstream media’s reporting on Israel is skewed, biased, and downright reprehensible:
The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.
While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
The 3 page story explains a number of popular misnomers that are the result of mainstream media reporting techniques, including:
- In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.
- The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
- Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story. In addition, reporters are under deadline and often at risk, and many don’t speak the language and have only the most tenuous grip on what is going on. They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both. Reporters don’t need Hamas enforcers to shoo them away from facts that muddy the simple story they have been sent to tell.
Concluding with, “Many in the West clearly prefer the old comfort of parsing the moral failings of Jews, and the familiar feeling of superiority this brings them, to confronting an unhappy and confusing reality,” the story is a must read for anyone willing to confront the mess of mainstream media and the reality of life in Israel and the Middle East.
Commemorating the 200th anniversary of burning the White House. Only sparklers this time! pic.twitter.com/QIDBQTBmmL
— British Embassy (@UKinUSA) August 24, 2014
Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, before the “Arab Spring” and the plight of Christians became much of a topic, I wrote an article titled “The Silent Extermination of Iraq’s ‘Christian Dogs.’” Revisiting it is useful, as it highlights some important points. The article follows below in italics, with new observations interspersed in regular font:
Last week [April, 2011] an Iraqi Muslim scholar issued a fatwa that, among other barbarities, asserts that “it is permissible to spill the blood of Iraqi Christians.” Inciting as the fatwa is, it is also redundant. While last October’s Baghdad church attack which killed some sixty Christians is widely known—actually receiving some MSM coverage—the fact is, Christian life in Iraq has been a living hell ever since U.S. forces ousted the late Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The important point here is that the plight of Iraq’s Christians did not just begin under the Islamic State, as many seem to believe, but rather from the very first day the (secular) autocrat was removed.
Among other atrocities, beheading and crucifying Christians are not irregular occurrences; messages saying “you Christian dogs, leave or die,” are typical. Islamists see the church as an “obscene nest of pagans” and threaten to “exterminate Iraqi Christians.” John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, summarized the situation well in a recent letter to President Obama:
“The threat of extermination is not empty. Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, more than half the country’s Christian population has been forced by targeted violence to seek refuge abroad or to live away from their homes as internally displaced people. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, over 700 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 61 churches have been bombed. Seven years after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk reports: ‘He who is not a Muslim in Iraq is a second-class citizen. Often it is necessary to convert or emigrate, otherwise one risks being killed.’ This anti-Christian violence is sustained by a widespread culture of Muslim supremacism that extends far beyond those who pull the triggers and detonate the bombs.”
Again, more confirmation that the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq—including recent acts of genocide and expulsions—is not a product of the Islamic State, but rather something more homegrown, more—how shall we say?—integral to Muslims unloosed from the grips of secularized dictators?
The grand irony, of course, is that Christian persecution has increased exponentially under U.S. occupation. As one top Vatican official put it, Christians, “paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship” of Saddam Hussein.
What does one make of this—that under Saddam, who was notorious for human rights abuses, Christians were better off than they are under a democratic government sponsored by humanitarian, some would say “Christian,” America?
Although I first suggested over three years ago that Christian minorities are the first to suffer whenever the U.S. intervenes in Islamic nations—evincing the types of people the U.S. ends up empowering—this notion is now an ironclad fact, with other examples to add to Iraq, including Libya, Syria, and Egypt under Obama allies, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Like a Baghdad caliph, Saddam appears to have made use of the better educated Christians, who posed no risk to his rule, such as his close confidant Tariq Aziz. Moreover, by keeping a tight lid on the Islamists of his nation—who hated him as a secular apostate no less than the Christians—the latter benefited indirectly.
Conversely, by empowering “the people,” the U.S. has unwittingly undone Iraq’s Christian minority. Naively projecting Western values on Muslims, U.S. leadership continues to think that “people-power” will naturally culminate into a liberal, egalitarian society—despite all the evidence otherwise. The fact is, in the Arab/Muslim world, “majority rule” traditionally means domination by the largest tribe or sect; increasingly, it means Islamist domination.
Either which way, the minorities—notably the indigenous Christians—are the first to suffer once the genie of “people-power” is uncorked. Indeed, evidence indicates that the U.S. backed “democratic” government of Iraq enables and incites the persecution of its Christians. (All of this raises the pivotal question: Do heavy-handed tyrants—Saddam, Mubarak, Qaddafi, et al—create brutal societies, or do naturally brutal societies create the need for heavy-handed tyrants to keep order?)
Again, a reminder that it is not just the Islamic jihadis and other U.S. sponsored “rebels” that persecute Christians, but even the U.S. installed government of Iraq. Moreover, a few months after the above was written, the government of “liberated” Afghanistan destroyed the last Christian church—entirely under U.S. auspices.
Another indicator that empowering Muslim masses equates Christian suffering is the fact that, though Iraqi Christians amount to a mere 5% of the population, they make up nearly 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq. It is now the same in Egypt: “A growing number of Egypt’s 8-10 million Coptic Christians are looking for a way to get out as Islamists increasingly take advantage of the nationalist revolution that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in February.”
At least Egypt’s problems are homegrown, whereas the persecution of Iraq’s Christians is a direct byproduct of U.S. intervention. More ironic has been Obama’s approach: Justifying U.S. intervention in Libya largely in humanitarian terms, the president recently declared that, while “it is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs… that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.”
Indeed, and we have since seen what Obama’s “humanitarian” actions in Libya have led to—the empowerment of Islamists and jihadis, evinced from things like the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the dramatic rise of Christian persecution. Since Obama “liberated” Libya, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. And it’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was hardly the case under Gaddafi.
True, indeed. Yet, as Obama “acts on behalf of what’s right” by providing military protection to the al-Qaeda connected Libyan opposition, Iraq’s indigenous Christians continue to be exterminated—right under the U.S. military’s nose in Iraq. You see, in its ongoing bid to win the much coveted but forever elusive “Muslim-hearts-and-minds™”—which Obama has even tasked NASA with—U.S. leadership has opted to ignore the inhumane treatment of Islam’s “Christian dogs,” the mere mention of which tends to upset Muslims.
And now the job is largely done, as Christians and other religious minorities are being cleansed from large parts of Iraq, not to mention much of the Islamic world.
A Disturbing Pattern: Eight Times that Democrats Used Court Shenanigans Against Republicans They Couldn’t Beat at the Ballot Box
The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on August 15, 2014 has drawn criticism from pundits, politicians and papers all over the country. Some Democrats have disavowed the indictment, going as far as to claim that launching courtroom attacks against their opponents in the GOP is just not how Democrats operate.
But is that the case? Or have Democrats shown a disturbing pattern of using courtrooms to go after Republicans who pose a threat to them?
The following eight cases suggest that Democrats will wield ethics complaints and courtrooms as weapons against Republicans at strategic moments.
Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle brought several charges against newly elected Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) in 1993. Hutchison had previously won statewide election as state treasurer, and was a rising star in Texas politics. She won a special election by landslide to replace Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D), who had been nominated to serve in the Clinton administration.
Even in 1993 there was talk that Hutchison was a future governor. As a woman with considerable poise in front the press, Hutchison represented a clear and present danger to the Democrats who hoped to build on Gov. Ann Richards’ success statewide. Hutchison came along at a time when Texas was shifting from a reliable Democratic state to a swing state, to becoming the Republican bastion it is today. A conservative, attractive woman who could even charm the hostile Texas media, Hutchison posed a grave threat to the Democrats at a pivotal moment.
Earle’s indictment, built through the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, alleged that Hutchison engaged in felony misconduct and ordered state employees to destroy evidence while she was state treasurer. Hutchison was essentially indicted over Christmas cards.
Hutchison’s attorneys won a change of venue out of heavily Democratic Travis County, to Fort Worth. The case fell apart at trial.
Result: Full acquittal. The change of venue pulled the flimsy case out of Travis County to Fort Worth, where Earle had to give it up. Hutchison won re-election in 1994 and would go on to serve as senator until she retired and Sen. Ted Cruz (R) replaced her in 2012.
The Democrats were by no means finished with legal shenanigans to try to keep their grip on Texas. Republicans finally won the state House in 2002 for the first time since Reconstruction. That empowered them to draw up the state’s electoral map for the very first time, and in the 2003 legislative session, they did just that, with the help of Rep. Tom DeLay. Democrats knew that they would lose the vote that would adopt the Republicans’ new map — a map drawn within the constraints of the law, but which no longer guaranteed the Democrats a majority in the state’s US House delegation.
Eleven Democrats responded by running off to Oklahoma to deny the House the quorum it needed to pass the map as long as they could.
Democrats would get around to punishing DeLay directly a few years later. Read on.
The IJReview picked up a story from the UK Daily Mail that featured the eye witness testimony of an Israeli Iron Dome commander responsible for protecting Tel Aviv, Israel’s business center, from incoming rocket attacks:
A missile was fired from Gaza. Iron Dome precisely calculated [its trajectory]. We know where these missiles are going to land down to a radius of 200 meters. This particular missile was going to hit either the Azrieli Towers, the Kirya (Israel’s equivalent of the Pentagon) or [a central Tel Aviv railway station]. Hundreds could have died.
We fired the first [interceptor]. It missed. Second [interceptor]. It missed. This is very rare. I was in shock. At this point we had just four seconds until the missile lands. We had already notified emergency services to converge on the target location and had warned of a mass-casualty incident.
Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that … sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted, ‘There is a God!”
The story, originally circulated in Israeli media, was translated into English by the Jerusalem-based news agency Israel Today. The commander’s testimony continued:
“I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of God send that missile into the sea.”
Israel Today noted that earlier unconfirmed reports circulating around the Internet had Hamas fighters have attributed the success of Iron Dome to the ability of Israel’s God to move Hamas rockets in mid-air. This is not the first report of Divine intervention in the midst of Operation Protective Edge. Following the Biblical terms of a pre-Jubilee year harvest, Orthodox farmers took enough wheat from their fields to reveal terrorists hiding in their midst. Most recently, it was reported that an Israeli soldier’s well-timed recitation of the Shema saved a Hamas female suicide bomber in Gaza.
Israel Today ended their Iron Dome miracle report by detailing another report of miracles in the midst of combat:
Also last week, Col. Ofer Winter, commander of the Givati Infantry Brigade, described a mysterious fog that favorably covered he and his troops as they advanced on an enemy position in morning light, after their nighttime raid was postponed.
Col. Winter labeled the covering as “clouds of glory.”
Earlier in the Gaza war, Col. Winter sparked heated national debate when he encouraged his troops to lead the charge against an enemy that “curses, defames and abuses the God of Israel.” Col. Winter concluded his letter by praying that the “Lord your God go with you, to fight for you against your enemies and to save you.”
A Little Bit Vulnerable tells her story of everything — life in Hollywood with the megahit Northern Exposure, fighting addiction and heartbreak, being a Christian and a single mom, and more. The title comes from a conversation she had with her daughter, Juliette, after Janine finished writing the book.
Her daughter, by the way, is not yet 18 years old yet she has written two impressive books of her own, in addition to penning some columns for us here at PJ Media. Juliette Turner’s second book, Our Presidents Rock!, comes out September 30.
In A Little Bit Vulnerable, Janine Turner shares her poetry, her political writings, her thoughts on the crises in our culture and much more. “I share my knowledge [of sobriety] and that of my great, great grandfather about the cyclical aspects of the disease and how to cope with the stresses of the world in a sober way,” she tells me, and she closes the book with a chapter about her father, who graduated from West Point and became an Air Force pilot. Sadly, her father passed away while Janine was writing the book. The book includes blurbs from the late Andrew Breitbart, First Lady of Texas Anita Perry, Chris Wallace and many more.
A Little Bit Vulnerable, by Janine Turner, is available now on Amazon for pre-order. It comes out September 30. It’s on my Kindle devices now and I’m really looking forward to reading it. At first glance it looks fantastic.
Breitbart published an exclusive report on the details surrounding the deaths of three Israeli soldiers, including Lt. Hadar Goldin, originally thought to have been kidnapped after Hamas terrorists set off a suicide bomb near a tunnel entrance. The report highlights Hamas’s gross abuse of women in Gaza, including their willingness to turn young women into suicide bombers. The account also provides evidence of the life-saving power of faith at work on the front lines:
In the midst of this attack, a second force of IDF soldiers–which had gone into a mosque looking for weapons, explosives, and rockets– encountered a female suicide bomber who was about to detonate the belt she wore, which would have resulted in the deaths of the soldiers. One of the soldiers instinctively recited the opening words of the holiest Jewish prayer “Shema Yisrael”. The female suicide bomber hesitated and began trembling, giving the soldiers a chance to grab her and disable the device.
The soldiers then took her prisoner and turned her over to a counter-intelligence unit. Their investigation uncovered that the female suicide bomber’s mother was a Jew who had married a Palestinian in Israel and, after the wedding, was smuggled against her will into Gaza. There she lived a life filled with abuse and humiliation, and was basically a captive. In addition to the female suicide bomber, there were two smaller children as well. An armored force went in and rescued the two small children.
The Shema, “Hear O’Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is One,” taken from Deuteronomy 6:4, was the last prayer recited by countless Jewish victims of the Holocaust.