Obama speaks on immigration via Univision in 2012.
President Barack Obama will finally make public tomorrow night his plan to overhaul immigration. However, while his primetime speech will postpone part of Univision’s 15th annual Latin Grammys, it will not be covered by the Big 4.
…Although Obama’s speech will be seen on cable news siblings Fox News and MSNBC, Fox and NBC are not carrying it live on their broadcast networks; CNN will show it live. A CBS News division spokesperson says the network will also not be showing Obama’s approximately 15-minute address on Thursday night. (UPDATE, 2:34 PM: An ABC spokesman “ABC is not carrying the president’s address on the television network — it will be carried on all our ABC News digital platforms, including Apple TV, and radio.” Which means it is still Shondaland on ABC on Thursday.)
In the biz that’s called “target marketing.” In politics, it’s called playing to your demographic. In America, it’s called race-baiting.
Keep it classy, B.O.
President Barack Obama’s recent Asia trip was – like much of his presidency – very often disastrous.
Some things are more disastrous than others.
China, whose emissions are rising as it builds new coal plants to fuel its economic growth, set a target for its emissions to peak in 2030 or earlier….
The U.S. set a goal to make its 2025 emissions between 26 and 28 percent lower than they were in 2005.
Get that? China gets to grow unfettered for another fifteen years. (And that’s if we can trust them at the end of it all to do what they say they will – a dubious bet at best.)
We would have to in ten years undo all of the growth of the last ten – and then lop off an additional quarter.
Not exactly an equitable arrangement – cut to address fictitious “problems.”
Ask the world’s flora – that inhales carbon dioxide – if they think it’s poison. Rather than hug a tree, extrude some CO2 – the arboreal appreciation will be far greater.
President Obama did secure a deal that is actually good for Americans – and the planet.
The U.S. and China reached an agreement to drop tariffs on a wide range of technology products, in a deal that its backers say could cover $1 trillion in trade and that marks a significant accomplishment amid strained ties between Beijing and Washington.
The two countries late Monday reached a deal to expand the Information Technology Agreement, a global technology trade pact, to cover semiconductors, medical devices, Global Positioning System devices and other newer products, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Tuesday in Beijing.
The deal–reached late Monday after marathon negotiations and more than a year of stalled talks–could be ratified in December by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Less taxes on trade? Excellent. Less tension between two tense-together nations? Excellent.
You want the benefits of free trade?…
Food is cheaper, clothes are cheaper, steel is cheaper, cars are cheaper, phone service is cheaper…. It lowers prices, it raises income….
Free trade stops wars. And that’s it. Free trade stops wars. And we figure out a way to fix the rest.
Figuring out the fix for the rest isn’t that difficult. Much of it involves the aforementioned WTO – a global entity with an actual useful purpose (as opposed to, say, the United Nations).
The WTO should approve this agreement – and take notes. Because we need a whole lot more of these deals – with as many nations and in as many economic sectors as possible.
The WTO should be not just ratifying them – but fostering their development. For instance:
The world’s sugar-producing nations need to sit down together, each with a copy of everyone else’s lists of protectionist policies. And start horse trading.
“Brazil – how about if you get rid of this subsidy, we’ll each get rid of one.”
“Mexico – if you get rid of this tariff, we’ll each get rid of one.”
Let the subsequent discussions ensue. Lather, rinse, repeat.
And then we do it for clothes. And steel. And cars. And….
We get the idea. Here’s hoping the WTO and the world’s nations do.
Dave Chappelle’s black white supremacist Clayton Bigsby was a blind man, but according to the Daily Mail, the Rocky Mountain Knights have taken their blinders off. The Montana chapter of the infamous white supremacist group has decided to “rebrand” and “stand for a strong America instead of irrational hatred.” Founder John Abarr hopes Jews, blacks, Hispanics and gays will be pounding down the doors for membership.
What inspired the attitude change? He met with the NAACP, of course. According to the report, “…some black people have apparently already expressed an interest in joining”.
“‘White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan. The KKK is for a strong America,’ said Mr Abarr.”
Not according to Imperial Wizard Bradley Jenkins. “That man’s going against everything the bylaws of the constitution of the KKK say. He’s trying to hide behind the KKK to further his political career.” According to Think Progress, “This is the same Abarr who in 2011 ran for Congress ’to draw attention to the fact that white people are becoming a minority and losing our political power and way of life.’”
The one thing that won’t change is the wardrobe. Members, regardless of race or sexual orientation, “…will still have to wear the white robes, masks and conical hats and take part in rituals.” The organization’s main goal: to fight against the “new world order”.
While it is unclear whether or not women are welcome into the Rocky Mountain Knights, Abarr is already taking a cue from the anti-feminist playbook: “Last week, he tweeted, ‘#notallklansmen,’ a hashtag based on the meme ‘#NotAllMen,’ which became popular on Twitter earlier this year to symbolize ‘mansplaining’ rebukes to feminist arguments.”
According to the New York Daily News, Abarr’s 15 minutes of fame may boil down to all talk and no action.
According to Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League, Abarr likely is the only member of the Rocky Mountain Knights.
The Ku Klux Klan has not officially existed since 1944, but anyone can create their own Klan group just by saying they created one, Pitcavage says. That’s exactly what Abarr did.
“He’s one guy, pretending to start a Klan group,” Pitcavage told the Daily News.
While the Klan is strongest in the South and Midwest, there are few people in the Western part of the U.S. with KKK views, Pitcavage says. Abarr’s only goal seems to be to draw attention to himself.
The only question is, which cable network will be pitching a reality show his way: TLC, looking to fill the vacancy created by Honey Boo Boo’s Mama June, or E!? I hear Kris Kardashian is dating again, and this guy is apparently very racially cool.
From A Call to Rights website:
Exposing Islam’s New War On Christians
Forget what the history textbooks told you about martyrdom being a thing of the past. Christians are being persecuted and slaughtered today.
Raymond Ibrahim unveils the shocking truth about Christians in the Muslim world. Believers in Jesus Christ suffer oppression and are massacred at the hands of radicals for worshipping and spreading the gospel of the Lord.
Discover the true-life stories that the media won’t report in Ibrahim’s Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.
I don’t really care who you are or what you’ve done. Richard Overton is someone you don’t want to mess with.
From The Houston Chronicle in November 2013: ”He drives and walks without a cane. During a television interview in March, he told a reporter that he doesn’t take medicine, smokes cigars every day and takes whiskey in his morning coffee. The key to living to his age, he said, is simply ‘staying out of trouble.’
“I may drink a little in the evening too with some soda water, but that’s it,” Overton told Fox News. “Whiskey’s a good medicine. It keeps your muscles tender.”
You have to keep supple when you’re sporting a Tommy gun.
Mr. Richard Overton, the oldest living veteran. Kids, do not play on his lawn. pic.twitter.com/VQ0twXRdi1
— Patrick Chovanec (@prchovanec) November 10, 2014
Overton served in the Army in World War II and now lives in Austin.
Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. While nothing can diminish the gravity of that moment, both in terms of its symbolism and its herald of the Soviet Union’s eventual collapse, we miss a vital lesson if we end our consideration at that time and place.
It’s easy to compartmentalize history, to think of events in other times and places as wholly detached from our day-to-day existence. However, to put a different spin on the old phrase, those who forget history don’t flinch as its repeated. In many ways which matter, figuratively and to lesser degrees, the Berlin Wall still stands.
Consider that the physical wall was not the real barrier to freedom for those trapped behind it. The real barrier was a set of ideas. Among those ideas was the notion that an equalitarian utopia can be crafted through the application of force. Put another way, the intellectual leaders of the Soviet Union believed in better living through less freedom. When the people placed under their boot objected and sought refuge through exodus, the Soviet answer was to lock them in.
Skip ahead in history to December 2011. Boeing, in an effort to benefit from a less restrictive business environment, had chosen to construct a new production facility in right-to-work South Carolina instead of Washington State. Their employee union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, appealed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – an appendage of the federal government – to file a case against Boeing alleging violations of federal labor law. The case was dropped only after Boeing relented to wage increases and expansions in Washington State.
More recently, companies like Minnesota-based Medtronic pursued a tactic dryly called “tax inversion,” which essentially relocates a company on paper to a foreign country to avoid federal taxes. Robes were rent in ideological indignation as the likes of Senator Al Franken called for “closing the inversion tax loophole.” The Treasury Department moved quickly to change rules and discourage further escape attempts.
Indeed, the American people largely approve of such figurative wall-building. A Star Tribune Minnesota poll found two-thirds of respondents who believed “the government should outlaw corporate inversions.” Put another way, many of your neighbors would vote to wall you in and take your property.
Fundamentally, what is the difference between these modern American examples and the purpose of the Berlin Wall? The answer is nothing.
If we’re going to celebrate the collapse of the Berlin Wall as a herald of freedom in a century plagued by totalitarian regimes, then we better get our heads screwed on straight regarding the principles involved. It’s not enough to tip our hat to a moment in history if we fail to recognize its relevance to our time. If it was wrong for the Soviet Union to wall its citizens within its borders to subjugate under onerous laws, then it’s always wrong, no matter who is doing it or to what degree.
Men should be free to act upon their own judgment, in pursuit of their own happiness, voting with their feet and their dollars as much their ballot. Any effort to constrain that ability, to keep people from moving to or doing business in more competitive jurisdictions proves no less tyrannical than building a wall to physically imprison them.
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here.)
As Putin quietly rolls his tanks, weapons and soldiers into Ukraine, Russia Today opines on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. For Russian state media, the fall was the most pointless and indeed, detrimental moment of the 20th century, of course. If you can manage to get through the editorial’s monolithic rambling you learn that the fall of the Berlin Wall only allowed in the evils of NATO, McDonalds, blue jeans, the failing Euro, and pretty much every other thing that has made news in eastern Europe for the past 25 years.
This is your typical bloviated Russo-speak, the kind that makes most readers turn away from Ayn Rand in 30 pages or less thinking, “Get to the point, already!” But, there is no point. Like the Russian winter, their disinformation monologues are tedious, cold, dark and never ending. They simply continue their avalanche down from central command, collecting anything and everything in their wake until us proles at the bottom get knocked over by the sheer weight of it all and dragged along for the deathly ride.
Nevertheless, it is important for us in the West to keep an eye on what Putin’s media-bots are saying as well as doing, especially when their reflections on 25 years of freedom end with:
It seems to me the curtain is being drawn closed again, only this time by the NATO nations and not Khrushchev. It’s as if our roles are reversed somehow. Vladimir Putin acting like JFK, and western leaders bent on some convoluted socialism.
It should be no secret that Putin has forever been hellbent on controlling the narrative. Russia Today‘s editorial line only proves that glasnost and framing are Soviet art forms that Americans, with the possible exceptions of Olivia Pope and Cyrus Beene, still can’t seem to comprehend let alone believe. Disinformation is nothing more than controlling the narrative and twisting it to your advantage. Hence, Putin is JFK, NATO is the new evil dictator, and America is the land of the oppressive socialist regime. “Two legs good, four legs better,” indeed.
George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Talk of comprehensive immigration reform alarms close observers today because it was deemed “reform” once before, but wasn’t. That 1986 immigration law gave amnesty to millions of immigrants but included no border security.
Not much has changed since then. Last year’s Senate bill, S. 744, specifies a path to citizenship, but does not in fact require the border be secured. Many are demanding border security as a prerequisite today because last time they politely argued for it, and lost. It was called ‘triggered amnesty’ in 1986, and although included in the Republican-controlled Senate bill, was denied a vote in the Democratic-controlled House. It would have delayed amnesty until a Presidential Commission certified the border was secure; but it was not part of the legislation ultimately sent to President Reagan for signature.
Here America stands twenty-eight years later with an open border and eleven million additional undocumented immigrants due to a government policy that fails to stop illegal entrants but spends millions on a bureaucratic maze to legally deport them. Our border policy entices people to enter surreptitiously, and then labels them illegal once they’re here. Today, due to a political standoff, it seems we face the Hobson’s choice of once again supporting legislation that does not require border security, or abiding executive orders to grant de facto amnesty to millions.
If the border were secured — by a combination of high-tech fencing, aerial surveillance, and manpower as required — there’d be no more labeling of people in America as illegals. They’d either be here legally or working their way toward legal status. If the world knew our border was secure, there would be little incentive to try to cross it; the human- and drug-smuggling cartels would suffer for it; and fewer would die in vain seeking illegal entry. This summer Americans saw a snapshot of what has been happening on the border for decades – and they’re not forgetting it. Border security, despite best efforts, is not considered a racist term; and common sense members from both parties must step up and do what is right by citizens on both sides.
Comprehensive reform could happen if our politicians would allow it, but mistakes of the past cannot be repeated. If the border is required to be secured before a pathway to legal status is allowed, then everyone involved would be incentivized to get it done. This time around the border must be secured so that, for people everywhere, the crumbling line along the Rio Grande might actually remain a demarcation between the chaos below it and the safe haven above it.
Over at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg woke up from what must have been a self-imposed stupor and declared, “The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations is Here.” How did he come to this shock and awe (not) conclusion? A “senior Obama Administration official” called Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu a “chickensh*t” when speaking with Goldberg.
And apparently that’s the first time in history Goldberg’s heard a political official use a dirty word to describe another political official. Wait, actually, it’s not. Goldberg explains:
Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.) But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickensh*t.”
Goldberg makes it clear that he agrees with the Obama administration on the infamous two-state solution, the issue that “sits at the core of the disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem,” making him an impartial source, indeed. His observations about Netanyahu’s “near-pathological desire for career preservation” aren’t anything new. Ask any Israeli you meet and they’ll tell you Netanyahu will forge a coalition with any party, including the Ultra-Orthodox, to avoid early elections. Perhaps Americans like Goldberg are just shocked at the idea of a politician actually having to work, not play golf, to maintain his position of power.
What Goldberg’s thesis really boils down to is this:
Much of the anger felt by Obama administration officials is rooted in the Netanyahu government’s periodic explosions of anti-American condescension.
In other words, Netanyahu’s boys don’t spare their own Jeffrey Goldbergs from hearing what’s on their minds. If they were a private enterprise, the Obama administration’s company logo would be “You’re mean.” And Abe Foxman over at the ADL would be wearing the t-shirt:
“The Israelis do not show sufficient appreciation for America’s role in backing Israel, economically, militarily and politically,” Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me.
Editor’s note: The following is Part Three of a three-part series examining the many parallels between Islam and the mafia following Bill Maher’s recent exclamation that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.” Click for Part One and for Part Two.
Coercion and Death Threats
Although the novel turned movie, The Godfather, is fictitious, it also captures much of the mafia’s modus operandi. Consider, for example, that most famous of lines — “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” — spoken by the Godfather to one of his “godsons,” an aspiring actor and singer, who, after being turned down by a studio director for a role that he desperately wanted, turns to his Godfather for aid.
As the movie progresses, we discover that the offer that the director can’t refuse is nothing less than violence and the threat of death: after the Godfather’s messenger to the director asking that the actor be given the role is again rejected, the studio head awakes to find the bloodied and decapitated head of his favorite stallion in bed with him. The godson subsequently gets the movie role.
Throughout the context of the entire Godfather trilogy — and indeed, in the context of the mafia — making someone “an offer they can’t refuse” — comes to mean “do as I say or suffer the consequences,” possibly death.
Compare this to Islam’s threefold choice. On Muhammad’s orders, whenever Islamic jihadis conquer a territory, they are to give the non-Muslim inhabitants three choices: 1) convert to Islam, 2) maintain your own religion (an option technically only available to Christians and Jews) but pay tribute and live as a subdued third-class citizen, a “dhimmi,” or 3) die.
Not only do the primary historical texts written by authoritative Muslims record this aspect of Islam, but to this very day, Islam’s threefold choice is making headlines, most recently at the hands of the Islamic State.
The ‘Protection Racket’
Once the mafia gains a “territory,” one of the primary ways it profits is by collecting “protection money” from the inhabitants. While the protection racket has several faces, one in particular is akin to an Islamic institution: the idea of coercing people in the mafia’s territory to pay money for “protection,” ostensibly from outside forces, when in fact the protection bought is from the mafia itself — that is, extortion money, or pizzo. Potential “clients” who refuse the mafia’s “protection” often have their property vandalized and are routinely threatened and harassed.
Compare pizzo with the Islamic concept of jizya: The word jizya appears in Koran 9:29: “Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and his Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (emphasis added).”… Keep reading
More than 150 years after his death, President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to a Union soldier who took a stand on Cemetery Ridge during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.
First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing died at age 22 during the battle. He’d been in the Army for two years at that point, and is buried at West Point.
On Nov. 6, cousins of the fallen soldier, Frederic Stevens Sater and Frederic Cushing Stevens III, will come to the White House for the medal ceremony.
Cushing was serving as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac during combat operations on July 3, 1863.
“During Longstreet’s Assault, also known as Pickett’s Charge, First Lieutenant Cushing’s battery took a severe pounding by Confederate artillery. As the Confederate Forces advanced, he manned the only remaining, and serviceable, field piece in his battery,” the White House said. “During the advance, he was wounded in the abdomen as well as in the right shoulder.”
“Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece continuing to fire. With the Confederate Forces within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed during this heroic stand. His actions made it possible for the Union Army to successfully repulse the assault.”
Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) authored legislation to finally honor Wisconsin-born Cushing. At the end of August, Obama said he would act on it.
“Even after more than 150 years, it’s never too late to do the right thing for our war heroes,” Kind said then. “Lt. Cushing richly deserves his Medal of Honor.”
Sensenbrenner said the award “culminates more than two decades of bipartisan work and is long overdue.”
“Lt. Cushing was a courageous leader who at just 22 years of age, gave his life to protect our sovereign nation at the Battle of Gettysburg,” Sensenbrenner said. “His exceptional bravery and determination on the battlefield should serve as an inspiration to us all.”
A new survey reveals that companies like Facebook are on the cutting edge of the abortion argument when it comes to offering employees the freeze-your-eggs perk. For a new generation of career women, abortion rights (a.k.a. “reproductive justice”) are becoming increasingly tied to “economic justice”. Reporting on the survey, Maya Dusenbery, Executive Director of Feministing writes:
Far from seeing abortion access as something that shouldn’t be included in the broader agendas–let alone a poison pill that would sink their support for the legislation–voters agreed that reproductive rights are pretty key part of ensuring gender equality. As the chart above shows, strong majorities in both states agreed that a woman’s ability to control whether or when she has children is important to her financial stability and equality.
When the question is about the impact of access to abortion specifically, the figure drops slightly to about half. But that simply suggests that we need to more clearly show that abortion is a very common way that people control their reproductive lives–by fighting the stigma that paints folks who have abortions as “the other” when in fact we’re not–and continuing to highlight just how precarious access to the procedure has become, particularly for those with the least financial stability.
Results of the survey illustrate that the highest supporters of government funded abortion are African Americans, Latinos, and those with household incomes less than $50,000/year. The racial statistics shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the majority of abortions are performed among the Black and Latino communities:
According to 2010 census data, African Americans make up 12.6% of the U.S. population but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that black women accounted for 35.4% of all abortions in 2009. The Guttmacher Institute (AGI) puts the percentage of black abortions at 30% of the U.S. total.Their most recent numbers are from 2008. Similarly, AGI tells us that Hispanic women accounted for 25% of all U.S. abortions in 2008, though Hispanics make up just 16.3% of the U.S. population.The CDC lists the percentage of Hispanic abortions at 20.6%. Compare those numbers to non-Hispanic whites, who make up 63.7% of America’s population, but account for only 36% of all U.S. abortions (37.7%according to the CDC).
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?