Saying it with Bart 0

“South Park – we’d stand beside you if we weren’t so scared.”

Posted under Commentary, Humor, liberty, satire, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, April 30, 2010

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Freedom, ha, what freedom 2

The West has allowed terrorism to succeed.

It seems we are reluctant to fight back.

We citizens of the free world, heirs to the victorious struggles of courageous and principled forerunners, have for too long taken the freedom they won us for granted.

Freedom is never won forever. It has to be fought for over and over again.

Are we, the living generations, too  feeble, too cowardly, too comfortable, too distracted by trivia, to fight the battle when it becomes necessary to choose between freedom and submission to tyranny?

Are enough of us even aware that once again freedom is under severe and immediate threat?

The present threat, Islam, is at least as atrocious as those of the last century, Nazism and Communism. It is the same in being collectivist and tyrannical. It is different and more frightening to the imagination in that it comes out of the double darkness of a past age and a primitive mentality.

America has elected a leader who is highly sympathetic to it, and is doing everything he can to strengthen it.

Daniel Greenfield expresses an opinion which we heartily share in this article from which we take a large extract:

What is a free country? Is it a country that is free of being ruled by any other country, or is it a country of free people who are not afraid. The truth is that no country can be free, unless its people are free. Not freedom as embodied in legal documents or stirring anthems, which nearly every country has, but free in their minds. Unafraid to believe, to speak and to live.

Tyranny isn’t a man holding a gun to your head and telling you what to do. Tyranny is when you do what you’re told because you’re holding the gun to your own head. And then you have become a collaborator in your own oppression. It is possible to be enslaved without ever becoming a slave… for people to act like slaves without any chains being anywhere in sight.

No regime, no ideology and no power can maintain absolute physical control of all the people all of the time. To rule, they need to control not their bodies, but their minds and their souls. Tyranny wants loyalty but it will settle for fear. And fear, once internalized, destroys moral courage and replaces it with moral cowardice, eroding the strength of beliefs and ideas with the poisonous liquid of dread. The individual becomes an agent for the forces of tyranny, warning himself against any action that could get him into trouble. And then he is finally a slave.

In Stockholm Syndrome, hostages try to take control of their powerlessness by identifying with their captors. Under tyranny, entire populations can suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, paying devoted obeisance to the tyrants …

Recently, we rediscovered the simple fact that even on cable television, on a network where anything goes, one thing does not go: Depicting Mohammed, even in a bear suit. That same iron law has been unofficially passed in country after country, where operas, newspapers, books, television programs have been censored in order to avoid offending the people who might kill them, if they were not censored. …

And that is exactly the point. They don’t have to silence us, if we silence ourselves first. They don’t have to oppress us if we oppress ourselves first. They don’t have to demand our surrender and submission, if we surrender and submit first. Islam, we love it. Sharia law, we’ll gladly adopt it. Free speech, it has to have its limits. Women’s rights, we’ll have to walk a fine line. Freedom. Ha, what freedom. We’ve already traded that away for a nice set of multicultural bongos, a few curry shops, a glass of arrack and a leatherbound copy of the Koran.

A free country … is a country whose people uncompromisingly refuse to surrender their freedoms, in the face of tyranny, torture and death, in the face of armies, tanks, secret police and all the forces of the world arrayed against them. A country that compromises on its freedom is no longer free. It will know fear. It will know terror. It will be oppressed, and there will be no relief from that oppression, until they choose freedom over tyranny once again.

Fear is a reflex. Tyranny thrives on it, imbues it and feeds it. It kills randomly in order to spread that terror further to create populations who never know when their day will come; when the suicide bomber, the black van, the sword and the secret police will come for them. Men will fight and die for freedom on the battlefield, but the struggle to remain defiant in a society where everyone is afraid all the time is a much harder fight. Yet overcoming that reflex to find safety by surrendering and collaborating, by learning to love Big Brother and embracing his ideals, is what it takes to be a free citizen of a free nation.

Freedom comes from standing up to evil, from confronting it and defying it – not from submitting to it and collaborating with it …

And what is the source of Islam’s power? Comedy Central [by censoring South Park – see our post Not bearing the unbearable, March 25, 2010] reminds us of that again. … No military victory. No superior technology. Not even sheer numbers, as there is still no First World country in which Muslims have officially become a majority. Their power comes from fear. From being prepared to murder anyone who disagrees with them until the mere threat alone, from a worthless source, is enough to badly panic a multibillion dollar corporation – the same corporation that would never take protests from Jews or Christians seriously caves when a single Muslim on a previously obscure website threatens a beheading. What is the difference? The difference is murder. Muslims murder people who offend them. And having gained a reputation for that, they are quickly parlaying it into practical political power.

A nation’s police, legal and military divisions are entirely useless if they cannot protect the exercise of such basic freedoms. Without it, they become nothing more than glorified social service centers that enforce the law only when it isn’t too dangerous for them, when it won’t offend the wrong people – the wrong people being those who kill on casual provocation. And such a country, though it may have documents to its name attesting its freedoms, and endless ranks of judiciary appointees and professors debating those freedoms– they mean nothing if the people cannot actually exercise those freedoms. …

Only by defying Islam, can we begin the process of taking back our freedoms. Only by speaking out, do our voices matter. Because they don’t have to silence us, if we silence ourselves first.

Al Gore and the sale of indulgences 3

In the dark ages, when Papacy held control of men’s consciences and few dared to think, one method which she practiced to supply herself with money was the sale of indulgences. The indulgence was a permission to sin and yet be free from its consequences. … Succeeding Popes and councils … argued that if they had a right to remit sins for service to the church, they had also the right to remit them for money for the church … and concluded that if they had a right to remit past sins for money, they had the same right to remit, or excuse, or grant indulgence for sins of the future. … It was the sale of these future indulgences for money which … gave rise to the Reformation movement, called Protestant, because of their protests and objections to this and other evils recognized in Papacy.

*

We do not believe that CO2 is a pollutant; that the earth is warming to any degree that should trouble us; that the planet is warmed by human activity; that a despotic world authority is needed to regulate human activity on the pretext of saving the planet from warming; that the wealth of the First World should be redistributed to the Third World; or that anybody’s wealth should be redistributed to Al Gore.

In the name of Climate Change, the new mysticism, Al Gore and his conspirators are selling indulgences. You pay them so you can carry on with living, manufacturing, traveling and so on, all the normal activities which they say is threatening Planet Earth. Ostensibly you are buying a certain amount of some Third Worlder’s CO2 ration, as determined by Al Gore and his conspirators, because you are exceeding your own ration, as determined by them. Some of what you pay will go to a Third Worlder, they say. Most of what you pay will go to Al Gore and his conspirators.

From Investor’s Business Daily:

While senators froth over Goldman Sachs and derivatives, a climate trading scheme being run out of the Chicago Climate Exchange would make Bernie Madoff blush. Its trail leads to the White House.

Lost in the recent headlines was Al Gore‘s appearance Monday in Denver at the annual meeting of the Council of Foundations, an association of the nation’s philanthropic leaders.

“Time’s running out (on climate change),” Gore told them. “We have to get our act together. You have a unique role in getting our act together.”

Gore was right that foundations will play a key role in keeping the climate scam alive as evidence of outright climate fraud grows, just as they were critical in the beginning when the Joyce Foundation in 2000 and 2001 provided the seed money to start the Chicago Climate Exchange. It started trading in 2003, and what it trades is, essentially, air. More specifically perhaps, hot air.

The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) advertises itself as “North America’s only cap-and-trade system for all six greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide.” Barack Obama served on the board of the Joyce Foundation from 1994 to 2002 when the CCX startup grants were issued. As president, pushing cap-and-trade is one of his highest priorities. Now isn’t that special? …

The CCX provides the mechanism in trading the very pollution permits and carbon offsets the administration’s cap-and-trade proposals would impose by government mandate.

Thanks to Fox News’ Glenn Beck, we have learned a lot about CCX, not the least of which is that its founder, Richard Sandor, says he knew Obama well back in the day when the Joyce Foundation awarded money to the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, where Sandor was a research professor.

Sandor estimates that climate trading could be “a $10 trillion dollar market.” It could very well be, if cap-and-trade measures like Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer are signed into law, making energy prices skyrocket, and as companies buy and sell permits to emit those six “greenhouse” gases.

So lucrative does this market appear, it attracted the attention of London-based Generation Investment Management, which purchased a stake in CCX and is now the fifth-largest shareholder.

As we noted last year, Gore is co-founder of Generation Investment Management, which sells carbon offsets of dubious value that let rich polluters continue to pollute with a clear conscience.

Other founders include former Goldman Sachs partner David Blood, as well as Mark Ferguson and Peter Harris, also of Goldman Sachs. In 2006, CCX received a big boost when another investor bought a 10% stake on the prospect of making a great deal of money for itself. That investor was Goldman Sachs, now under the gun for selling financial instruments it knew were doomed to fail.

The actual mechanism for trading on the exchange was purchased and patented by none other than Franklin Raines, who was CEO of Fannie Mae at the time.

Raines profited handsomely to the tune of some $90 million by buying and bundling bad mortgages that led to the collapse of the American economy. …

The climate trading scheme being stitched together here will do more damage than Goldman Sachs, AIG and Fannie Mae combined. But it will bring power and money to its architects.

Another victory for Islamic terrorists 0

Hamas says jump, and al-Reuters says how high, inshallah. …

Hamas was upset at an on-line ad that was seen at the Reuters Arabic service site, offering a $10 million reward for information on the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit [the Israeli soldier Hamas is holding captive].

Reuters’ response to the terrorist group is instructive.

Palestine Today reports that Reuters responded to the criticism, saying that it was an automated ad placed there by Google Ads, and not – Allah forbid! – placed by any Reuters staffers. After all, an ad that seeks to free a prisoner illegally held in an unknown location without any access to the Red Cross would be thoroughly offensive to any Reuters employee, right?

Reuters then cravenly added that they immediately acted to remove the ad, and “we are now taking steps to ensure non-recurrence of such things in the future.”

Reuters additionally wrote back to the offended terrorist organization that Reuters has a long history of covering the Middle East in a neutral and accurate manner, stressing that they are committed to continuing this approach, they wrote “We are clear and faithful to our principles of integrity, independence and distance from bias.”

Clear and faithful to Islamic principles, which explains Reuters principles of integrity, dependence, and bias. Keep this in mind when reading any of their “news.”

This comes from Creeping Sharia, one of the websites that keeps us informed of news the mainstream media often prefer not to spread.

Posted under Arab States, Commentary, Islam, Israel, media, Muslims, News, Terrorism by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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The view from the left 0

Hard as it is to believe, this Washington Post column by Fred Hiatt is not satire. He seems seriously to mean what he says.

Gays, immigrants, union leaders, budget hawks, campaign finance reformers, environmentalists, free-traders, human rights activists and civil libertarians all have had cause to wonder whether they were right to trust Obama. The list is familiar, but the explanation remains disputed.

My theory: The culprit is less ideology than Obama’s fidelity to a strategy he can’t, for tactical reasons, publicly acknowledge. Given the hand he was dealt, the evidence suggests he resolved that he had to choose only one domestic and one foreign objective for his first two years in office.

An ambitious set of goals motivated Obama’s candidacy, and early in his presidency the rap was that he was taking on too many. But the legacy of wars abroad and the Great Recession at home threatened his ability to accomplish any of them. Simply managing that bleak inheritance, he realized, might consume his entire term.

To avoid that trap, Obama had to govern with discipline. First, he would have to turn potential negatives into successes. At home, that meant not only engineering a stimulus program to end the recession but also designing financial reform to prevent a recurrence. In Iraq and Afghanistan, it meant charting a path to not just to withdrawal but stable outcomes.

Since both fronts would take enormous energy and political capital, Obama could not afford to squander whatever remained across an array of worthy electives. So over time he subordinated everything to just two: health-insurance reform and blocking Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Anything else, no matter how popular or deserving, had to give way if it interfered with those.

Obama has put enormous energy into repairing relations with Russia, for example, and relatively less into ties with allies such as India, Mexico or Britain because stopping Iran would require Russia’s support of sanctions. Without a new START arms-control treaty, Russia would not play ball on Iran, so Obama worked assiduously to negotiate a new START. The nuclear summit he hosted in Washington this month; playing down trade tensions with China; the relative reticence on North Korea’s nukes; prodding Israel toward peace talks — all of these were crafted with an eye toward Iran.

At home, the mono-focus is more obvious. Obama would like to close the Guantanamo prison, curb traffic of assault weapons crossing the Mexican border, reform immigration laws and reduce carbon emissions. But each would have carried a political cost, to Obama or Democratic allies he needed on health care, so they all had to wait.

I don’t mean to suggest that Obama would go to any lengths to achieve the main objective. He bargained hard on START, for example, insisting that the treaty meet U.S. military needs as well as serve the larger goal.

And it’s not that he has abandoned everything else: Where he could advance other objectives at minimal cost, he has done so, usually by executive action. He wouldn’t fight for labor law reform, but he promulgated regulations that favor unions. He hasn’t replaced No Child Left Behind, but he allowed his education secretary to spur reform by judicious granting and withholding of stimulus funds. There’s no climate change legislation, but the Environmental Protection Agency hiked mileage standards for cars and trucks. And so on.

Obama can’t acknowledge all this. You don’t tell allies, whether gay rights groups or India, that they’ve slipped down your priority list. (That’s especially true now, before an election, as immigration, education and energy advocates jockey to go next.) And the best negotiating strategy to get things you want isn’t always to show how much you want them.

So we may have to wait until Obama writes his memoirs to discover why he elevated these two goals. Was he set on health reform from the start, for instance, or did congressional politics nudge that ahead of, say, coping with climate change?

Abroad, the strategy, with its hope of turning autocracies such as China and Russia into long-term partners, remains at best unproven. At home, it seems to be paying off, with major health reform approved and financial reform in sight. For those at the back of the line — such as the District last week — the opportunity costs are sharply felt. But even at such times, it’s hard not to admire Obama’s focus.

Every statement cries out for exegesis. Some of them – Obama’s “ending of the recession”, his financial reform, his “charting a path to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan” – need at least a paragraph each. But there’s one that clamors for objection above the rest.

“Blocking Iran’s development of nuclear weapons” has been Obama’s foreign policy priority? Everything else except health care has been subordinated to that goal? He’s focussed on it?

Strange – we haven’t noticed that he’s done a damn thing about it. It seems to us that he’s perfectly willing to let Iran become a nuclear-armed power. A series of  “deadlines” have been allowed to pass without there being any penalty for Iran’s ignoring them. Talk of sanctions has been nothing but talk, and those talked of have been steadily weakened. No military option is “on the table”. Obama has begged Ahmadinejad for his friendship, and the poisonous little dictator has gleefully said no over and over again. How come Mr Hiatt hasn’t noticed all that?

How has the START treaty affected Iran? Russia is still not willing to vote for sanctions. And what US military needs have been served by it?  It is plainly to the detriment of the US and the advantage of Russia. Relations with Russia are in no way “repaired”. If changed at all, they’re probably worse. Nor will China vote for sanctions. And Obama’s “reticence” on North Korea’s nukes has resulted in – what?  As for the nuclear summit, Iran wasn’t even mentioned. And “prodding” Israel – that has made the world safe from Iranian bombs? What it has really done is tell Israel that it has “slipped down the priority list”, along with India and Britain and a number of other allies.

Well, we’ve recovered from being flabbergasted by Mr Hiatt’s quaint perspective and now we find it amusing. And it’s gratifying to know that numerous bunches of lefties (but surely “free-traders” and “budget hawks” do not belong among them) feel disappointed by the president of their dreams. From our perspective he has gone fearfully far to satisfy them, with the “executive action” and “regulations” and so on that Mr Hiatt tells us were thrown to them as mere sops or stop-gaps. So apparently he might have gone further and done even worse.

The implication of Mr Hiatt’s apologia for his hero is that when he has succeeded with his two chosen “electives”, he will go further. Now the health care legislation has been forced through, but there still remains the other goal Mr Hiatt believes Obama is focussed on: stopping Iran going nuclear.

If Mr Hiatt is right and the achievement of that goal really stands between Obama and the rest of the far left agenda he’s expected to foist on us, then we can rest easy. Or could, if dread of those bombs wasn’t keeping us awake nights.

But what if Mr Hiatt is wrong? We’ll get the bombs and the radical left agenda.

On slavery 3

Talk about slavery! It is not the peculiar institution of the South. It exists wherever men are bought and sold, wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or a tool, and surrenders his inalienable rights of reason and conscience.

- Henry David Thoreau, journal, Dec. 4, 1860

*

Africans and Muslims were capturing, trading, and using slaves long before the Europeans started the trans-Atlantic shipping of Africans to work as slaves in the Americas. Europeans too had been slavers in ancient times and for centuries in our Common Era, but stopped. They started again with the trans-Atlantic slave-trade. Then they put an end to it, and freed the slaves. Africans and Muslims are still capturing, trading and using slaves.

American haters of America teach a false history of slavery in order to indict Europeans and white Americans.

So well has the “politically correct” account of slavery succeeded, that it would probably come as a surprise to most Americans to learn that more Europeans were enslaved by Africans than were Africans by Europeans, and treated worse.

Regardless of numbers and degrees, slavery is a profound evil. Children should be taught the truth about it. Their teachers should not select aspects of its history for the purpose of indoctrination, as they are doing at present –  and as are leftist movie-makers, historians, preachers like Jeremiah Wright, and others of that kidney.

To indoctrinate is to enslave the mind.

Thomas Sowell sets the record straight. He writes:

The history of slavery across the centuries and in many countries around the world is a painful history to read– not only in terms of how slaves have been treated, but because of what that says about the whole human species– because slaves and enslavers alike have been of every race, religion and nationality.

If the history of slavery ought to teach us anything, it is that human beings cannot be trusted with unbridled power over other human beings– no matter what color or creed any of them are. The history of ancient despotism and modern totalitarianism practically shouts that same message from the blood-stained pages of history.

But that is not the message that is being taught in our schools and colleges, or dramatized on television and in the movies. The message that is pounded home again and again is that white people enslaved black people.

It is true, just as it is true that I don’t go sky-diving with blacks [I refused to go sky-diving with anybody, whether black, white, Asian or whatever]. But it is also false in its implications for the same reason. Just as Europeans enslaved Africans, North Africans enslaved Europeans– more Europeans than there were Africans enslaved in the United States and in the 13 colonies from which it was formed. 

The treatment of white galley slaves was even worse than the treatment of black slaves picking cotton. But there are no movies or television dramas about it comparable to “Roots,” and our schools and colleges don’t pound it into the heads of students.

The inhumanity of human beings toward other human beings is not a new story, much less a local story. There is no need to hide it, because there are lessons we can learn from it. But there is also no need to distort it, so that sins of the whole human species around the world are presented as special defects of “our society” or the sins of a particular race.

If American society and Western civilization are different from other societies and civilization, it is that they eventually turned against slavery, and stamped it out, at a time when non-Western societies around the world were still maintaining slavery and resisting Western pressures to end slavery, including in some cases armed resistance.

Only the fact that the West had more firepower than others put an end to slavery in many non-Western societies during the age of Western imperialism. Yet today there are Americans who have gone to Africa to apologize for slavery– on a continent where slavery has still not been completely ended, to this very moment.

It is not just the history of slavery that gets distorted beyond recognition by the selective filtering of facts. Those who go back to mine history, in order to find everything they can to undermine American society or Western civilization, have very little interest in the Bataan death march, the atrocities of the Ottoman Empire or similar atrocities in other times and places.

Those who mine history for sins are not searching for truth but for opportunities to denigrate their own society …

A tale of Parrot and falcons 0

…. and Osama bin Laden.

It seems that bin Laden is not in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan, but in Iran. And it is possible he is being held captive there.

Ken Timmerman tells the story:

A new documentary film premiering at the prestigious Tribeca film festival in New York this week presents stunning new evidence that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is living in Iran, where the Iranian regime is sheltering him. 

The film, “Feathered Cocaine,” began as a simple documentary of the illicit trade in hunting falcons to Middle East desert sheikhs. But as filmmakers Thorkell (Keli) Hardarson and Örn Marino Arnarson delved deeper into their subject, they discovered a dark underworld in which terrorism and falcon smuggling met with astonishing regularity.

In March 2008, the filmmakers ventured into Afghanistan and the former Soviet republics along with Alan Parrot, the head of the Union for the Conservation of Raptors, a conservationist group that seeks to protect wild falcons, to interview a falcon smuggler they code-named “T-2.”

For three days, the team waited in a mountain village while the smuggler kept them under surveillance from afar. Satisfied that they hadn’t been followed, he granted them a 55-minute interview — only if they agreed to disguise his voice and his appearance. …

“T-2” told the filmmakers that he met bin Laden by chance in late November 2004 at a falcon-hunting camp in northeastern Iran.

“I met him five times after 2004,” he said. “The last time we met was in October 2007. Every time, it was in Iran.”  …

“Feathered Cocaine” includes excerpts from the footage with “T-2,” as well as interviews with lawyer John Loftus, former CIA clandestine officer Bob Baer, and others, including this reporter and former Washington Post reporter and terrorism expert Steve Coll.

Loftus revealed that “T-2” provided the filmmakers with the specific frequencies of small transmitters bin Laden had strapped to the backs of his hunting falcons so he could find them if they failed to return to base. Loftus said the CIA could use that information to track bin Laden and capture him, and that he offered it to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency and to the heads of other U.S. intelligence agencies at the request of the filmmakers, with no response. 

Last year, they approached “Rewards for Justice,” the State Department office that is offering a $50 million reward for information leading to bin Laden’s capture, but never received any acknowledgement of their information.

Speaking to a packed house after the Tribeca premier on Friday, Parrot was asked to speculate about why “T-2” agreed to talk to the filmmakers, because the details surely would allow bin Laden to guess his identity.

“I believe that bin Laden wanted ‘T-2’ to send a message through us,” Parrot said. “He wanted the world to know that he was in Iran, but that he couldn’t leave.”

In the movie, Parrot said the Iranian regime is giving bin Laden “a long leash” but is holding his family hostage in Tehran in the event bin Laden revealed his relationship to them. “This was confirmed by one of bin Laden’s sons last year,” Parrot said.

Omar bin Laden, who married a British woman and broke with his father before the 9/11 attacks, revealed in December 2009 that seven of his siblings were living in Tehran and seeking to leave the country.

The story of American-born falconer Alan Howell Parrot lies at the center of this extraordinary tale and lends it credibility. Parrot began breeding falcons and selling them to the king of Saudi Arabia and then to the president of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) in the late 1970s, and was a frequent guest at their royal palaces and elaborate hunting camps in the wilds of southern Afghanistan.

In the late 1990s, so was renegade Saudi financier Osama bin Laden. Parrot described the royal hunting camps “al-Qaida’s board room,” because they gave bin Laden the opportunity to spend weeks of quality time with wealthy backers from the U.A.E. and other gulf states.

Parrot alleges that bin Laden’s royal backers transferred “hundreds of millions of dollars” in cash to him during these hunting expeditions, as well as military equipment and off-road vehicles. The movie includes footage of a U.A.E. military C-130 transport plane landing at a makeshift airstrip in western Pakistan to deliver equipment to the hunting camps.

“I see bin Laden as a falcon smuggler,” Parrot states in the film, “and in that capacity I went after him. All the locals in Kandahar hated bin Laden because he stole all the falcons.”

If only that had been his worst crime!

Osama bin Laden could have been eliminated at one of those camps. The CIA was for doing it, but President Clinton decided against it.

After al-Qaida blew up two U.S. embassies in Africa in July 1998, the CIA also began hunting for bin Laden in earnest. Local agents in Afghanistan spotted him at a royal hunting camp near Kandahar in February 1999, according to an account that appeared in the final report of the 9/11 Commission.

CIA Director George Tenet asked the White House for permission to launch a cruise missile strike on the camp on Feb. 8, 1999, but soon ran into interference from an unusual source: Richard Clarke, the top counter-terrorism adviser to President Clinton.

As the 9/11 Commission report concluded, “policymakers were concerned about the danger that a strike would kill an Emirati prince or other senior officials who might be with bin Laden or close by,” so they called off the strike.

On March 7, 1999, Richard Clarke called Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the U.A.E. defense minister, to “express his concerns about possible associations between Emirati officials and bin Laden,” the 9/11 Commission report states.

It is not clear whether Clarke told Mohammed that U.S. intelligence had evidence that U.A.E. officials were with bin Laden in Afghanistan, but after the call, bin Laden and his patrons quickly dispersed and the camps were dismantled.

Clarke claims the CIA approved the tip-off call. However, former CIA official John Mayer III told the commission it was “almost impossible” for the CIA to have approved Clarke’s move.

“When the former bin Laden unit chief found out about Clarke’s call, he questioned CIA officials, who denied having given such a clearance,” the report states. “Imagery confirmed that, less than a week after Clarke’s phone call, the camp was hurriedly dismantled and the site was deserted.”

Disgraceful government and the duty to disobey 0

David Solway, whose insights often impress us, has today done us the honor of linking to one of our posts in a new article of his.

The article is at Front Page, titled Is the U.S. Too Big to Fail? Here’s a part of it (but read it all). The link to our post, Speaking of Secession, [April 7, 2010] comes with the words “parting of ways” in the third paragraph:

The Bridge Mix of social, political and economic programs—redistribution of wealth, a bloated bureaucracy, reduction of military power, amnesty for illegals, toleration of inimical communities, government takeover of the marketplace, ideology supplanting pragmatics—adopted by the American liberal-left and rapidly being put in place by the current administration are hurtling the nation toward its moment of truth when it will have to decide whether it survives as the United States of America or devolves into something that, until just a few years ago, would have been almost unimaginable.

Often what seems to be inconceivable is only the prelude to what may well become unavoidable. And in the case of America such a scenario is all too possible. For America has only three options looming before it in a rapidly foreclosing future. The best case scenario is that, assuming a concerned citizenry, the growing Tea Party movement, a return to strict budgetary rectitude and a revival of the wisdom of the Constitution and the Founders, the United States may weather the storm of social and political dismemberment it is presently undergoing and recover its essence as a constitutional republic. To accomplish this aim, however, the policies of the Obama administration must be resisted at every turn. What Henry David Thoreau wrote in On the Duty of Civil Disobedience in 1848 has a proleptic ring to it and is truer today than it ever was: “How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.”

On the other hand the calamity of disintegration, as happened to the Soviet Union not so long ago, is a deeply troubling likelihood. The drive toward secession or what is called “disunion” along red state/blue state lines appears to be acquiring strength by the day. It is in the air. The threat of dissolution cannot be wished away or conveniently ignored. Whether such a parting of ways can be achieved peaceably and rationally or would entail violence and bloodshed remains an open question. But what resembles a bitter marriage between cultural incompatibles, the statist Left and the conservative Right, who have nothing to say to one another and disagree on just about everything, makes an eventual divorce by no means unthinkable. The clash between a pervasive scavenger mentality of collective entitlement and the ancestral belief in the values of personal initiative and individual responsibility cannot, it increasingly appears, be resolved amicably.

The third possibility is that America under the stewardship of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party will become an impoverished, socialist, Muslim-friendly country, much like the United Kingdom today or Sweden tomorrow, with devastating consequences for the majority of its citizens. As David Horowitz remarks of the U.S., “its constitutional order is threatened by a political left whose values remain socialist and whose agendas are subversive.” Such is the fundamental transformation promised by the Democratic candidate five days before his election: the intent to legislate outcome at the expense of input, to ensure a syndicalist homogeneity of status among the population while installing a privileged managerial class in the seats of power, and ultimately to transform America’s most industrious entrepreneurial sector into over-taxed and over-regulated obsolescence. Where have we seen this before?

These, then, are the three alternatives between which America will have to choose: recovery, dissolution, socialism. Regarding the latter two, to cite Aeschylus …,  it’s “either way, ruin.” Clearly, the moment of decision is not far down the road. Even a one-term administration for Barack Obama and his cohorts may be sufficient to wreak irreparable damage; a two-term presidency would probably spell the end of the noble and unique American experiment in republican democracy. For there can be little question that Barack Obama and the Democratic ascendancy together form the single greatest disaster to befall the United States in the modern era. If the country does not right itself sooner rather than later, it will find itself broken down the middle or wake up one day to discover that it is now nothing more than another socialist or quasi-Marxist Republic, which is a republic in name only.

Thoreau is on the mark again. Deploring the effects of a “wordy” and ever-compliant Congress which had “not yet learned the comparative value of free-trade and freedom” and which was devoid of “talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures,” he argues that without the “seasonable experience…of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations.” And we remember, too, that the United States was a much smaller political entity in 1848 than it is in 2010.

Now is not the time to take refuge in the smug conviction of indestructibility. America is not too big to fail and it may well be too big not to fail. But one thing is undeniable. As it approaches the eleventh hour, its survival depends on a determined and informed citizen “army” of genuine patriots capable of restoring the practical ideal of limited government  …

Calvin: a chapter in the terrible history of Christianity 7

Beyond a certain point it is hardly possible to discern degrees of evil or degrees of cruelty. And yet I think it may be said of Jehan Calvin, dictator of Geneva in the sixteenth century, that he was more appallingly cruel and more intensely, intrinsically, through-and-through evil than other great persecutors, dictators and mass murderers of history. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Torquemada are the very names of evil, so what was it about Calvin that can distinguish him as specially terrible in his own nature than even any of these?

He oppressed the subjects of his dictatorship unremittingly and mercilessly; but so, you say, did the others. Not content with killing his enemies, he prescribed extreme tortures for them while they survived to suffer them; and yes, so did the others. But – and here we come to the nub of the case – Calvin was different in that he (often, if not always) personally specified the torments for the particular victim. He gave thought to the minutiae of their sufferings. All the others, even Catholic Inquisitors like Torquemada, issued general orders for terrorizing, torturing, killing. Calvin gave a personal service, tailoring his cruelty to his individual prey.

And that’s not all that distinguishes him among human monsters. Consider this: he was squeamish. He could not stand the sight of blood. He was afraid of pain. He felt horror at the thought of physical suffering – so he made thinking about it into a spiritual exercise, to strengthen by self-inflicted agony, as a monk does with a hairshirt, his resolve to do what was hardest for him in the service of his God. He ordered the infliction of agony, then meditated on the process, imagining it as fully as he could. He nourished his spirit on visions of torture.

This he did in private. The spiritual discipline he forced himself to undergo did not impel him to the prison and the public square to witness the torments and killings that he prescribed. He never attended a racking, a flogging, a breaking on the wheel, a burning to death. That far in the service of his God he would not push himself.

This grooming of his soul by inflicting suffering on others, did not replace general orders of oppression. He gave those too. He instituted a totalitarian reign of terror. He was as convinced a collectivist as Hitler, Stalin, Mao and the rest. He would allow “no liberty, no freedom of the will, for [a] man could only misuse such privileges. … [He, Calvin] must frighten him … until he unresistingly accepts his position in the pious and obedient herd, until he has merged in that herd all that is individual within him, so that the individual, the extraordinary, vanishes without leaving a trace.”

So wrote Stefan Zweig in his devastating dissection of Calvin and Calvinism, The Right to Heresy. He goes on:

“To achieve this draconian suppression of personality, to achieve this vandal expropriation of the individual in favour of the community, Calvin had a method all his own, the famous Church ‘discipline’. A harsher curb upon human impulses and desires has hardly been devised by and imposed upon man down to our own days [pre-Second World War]. From the first hour of his dictatorship, this brilliant organizer herded his flock … within a barbed-wire entanglement of … prohibitions, the so-called ‘Ordinances’; simultaneously creating a special department to supervise the working of terrorist morality … called the Consistory [which was] expressly instructed to keep watch upon the private life of every one in Geneva. … Private life could hardly be said to exist any longer … From moment to moment, by day and by night, there might come a knocking at the entry, and a number of ‘spiritual police’ announce a ‘visitation’ without the citizen concerned being able to offer resistance. Once a month, rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, had to submit to the questioning of these professional ‘police des moeurs’. “

The moral police poked into every corner, examined every part of every house, and even the bodies of those who lived in it. Their clothes and shoes, the hair on their heads, was inspected. Clothes must be dark and plain; hair must not be artificially curled.

“From the bedroom they passed on to the kitchen table, to ascertain whether the prescribed diet was not being exceeded by a soup or a course of meat, or whether sweets and jams were hidden away somewhere.”

They pried into bookshelves – only books approved by the Consistory were permitted.

“The servants were asked about the behaviour of their masters, and the children were cross-questioned as to the doings of their parents.”

Visitors to the city had their baggage examined. Every letter, in and out, was opened. Citizens could not write letters to anyone outside the city, and any Genevan permitted to travel abroad was watched in foreign lands by Calvin’s spies.

Spying became universal. Almost everyone, in fear of being thought heretical in the least degree, and to prove himself clean and upright, spied on everyone else.

Whenever a State inaugurates a reign of terror, the poisonous plant of voluntary denunciation flourishes like a loathsome weed … otherwise decent folk are driven by fear to play the part of informer. … After some years, the Consistory was able to abolish official supervision, since all the citizens had become voluntary controllers.”

As far as he could, Calvin put an end to pleasure. Music – except for what Calvin deemed to be sacred – was forbidden. So was dancing, skating and sport. Theaters and all other public amusements including popular festivals, were prohibited. Wheeled carriages were not allowed. People had to walk to wherever they needed to go. Guests at family celebrations, even weddings and baptisms, were limited in number to twenty. (The names parents could give their children had to be from an approved list.) The red wine of the district could be drunk in small quantities, but no other alcohol. Innkeepers were not allowed to serve their guests until they had seen them saying their prayers, and had to spy on them throughout their stay and report on them to the authorities.

Punishments included imprisonment in irons, hanging, decapitation, burning to death.

“Everything was forbidden which might have relieved the grey monotony of existence; and forbidden, of course, was any trace of mental freedom in the matter of the printed or spoken word.”

The first thought,” Stefan Zweig declares, “of any one of dictatorial temperament, is to suppress or gag opinions different from his own.”

One man who dared to argue with Calvin was a Spaniard named Miguel Servetus. A child of the Reformation, he innocently thought he could express his own boldly Protestant opinions. He thought Calvin was the very man to hear him expound his personal interpretations of Holy Writ. He could not have been more mistaken. For having the effrontery to send them to him, Calvin had the man thrown into prison. “For weeks … he was kept like a condemned murderer in a cold and damp cell, with irons on his hands and feet. His clothes hung in rags upon his freezing body; he was not provided with a change of linen. The most primitive demands of hygiene were disregarded. No one might tender him the slightest assistance.”

Finally, for daring to disagree with Calvin, Servetus was condemned to death by the dictator’s order. The death Calvin chose for him was “roasting with a slow fire”.

‘The prisoner was brought out of prison in his befouled rags. … His beard tangled, his visage dirty and wasted, his chains rattling, he tottered as he walked. … In front of the steps of the Town Hall, the officers of the law … thrust him to his knees. The doomed man’s teeth chattered with cold … In his extremity, he crawled on his knees nearer to the municipal authorities assembled on the steps, and implored that by their grace he might be decapitated before he was burned, ‘lest the agony should drive me to repudiate the convictions of a lifetime’. This boon was denied him. Relentlessly, ‘the procession moved on towards the place of execution. … The wood was piled round the stake to which the clanking chains had been nailed. The executioner bound the victim’s hands. … The chains attached to the stake were wound four or five times around it and around the poor wretch’s wasted body. Between this and the chains, the executioner’s assistants then inserted the book and the manuscript which Servetus had sent to Calvin under seal to ask Calvin’s fraternal opinion upon it. Finally, in scorn, there was pressed upon the martyr’s brow a crown of leaves impregnated with sulphur. … The executioner kindled the faggots and the murder began.

“When the flames rose around him, Servetus uttered so dreadful a cry that many of the onlookers turned their eyes away from the pitiful sight. Soon the smoke interposed a veil in front of the writhing body, but the yells of agony grew louder and louder, until at length came an imploring scream: ‘Jesus, Son of the everlasting God, have pity on me!’”

Needless to say, neither Jesus nor an everlasting God did anything to relieve the roasting man.

‘The struggle with death lasted half an hour. Then the flames abated, the smoke dispersed, and attached to the blackened stake there remained, above the glowing embers, a black, sickening, charred mass, a loathsome jelly, which had lost human semblance. …

“But where was Calvin in this fearful hour? … He was in his study, windows closed. … He who had really willed and commanded this ‘pious murder’, kept discreetly aloof. Next Sunday, however, clad in his black cassock, he entered the pulpit to boast of the deed before a silent congregation, declaring it to have been a great deed and a just one, although he had not dared to watch the pitiful spectacle.”

To this day, Jehan Calvin is regarded as a great Christian whose teaching continues to shape the lives of millions of citizens in the Western world through the Presbyterian and various “Reformed” churches. People are no longer burnt to death for disagreeing with the master. But dictatorship, in the name of similarly dogmatic collectivist faiths, is not absent from the modern world, not even from America now, in 2010. A much vaster community has fallen under an organizer of dictatorial temperament. His consistory has made it plain that they wish to control what you eat, how you live in your homes, and what you say. Children are being urged to impress the leader’s messages on their parents. The names of those who disagree with him are blackened, and the silencing of broadcast dissent is openly advocated.

What should be done about it? There are conservative voices maintaining that the way to resist incipient totalitarianism is to “return to Christian values”.

Our hope is that this reminder of how Christian values affected life in the past may serve not only as a cautionary tale against collectivism and dictatorship, but also as a rebuttal of the idea that Christianity can be a counterforce against them.

Jillian Becker   April 25, 2010

Not bearing the unbearable 0

The vulgar, funny, satirical cartoon South Park brought the “prophet” Muhammad  into its 200th episode by having it said that he was hidden in a U-haul truck and then in a bear costume (out of which, however, emerged Santa Claus, according to Jon Stewart below – we didn’t see the episode).

Muslims took offense. At what exactly isn’t clear. A Muslim named Abu Talhah al Amrikee warned Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, by means of a video on the net that they could be punished with death like the film-maker Theo van Gogh.

So Comedy Central, the channel that shows South Park, censored the episode. They bleeped out all mention of Muhammad, and a final statement deploring intimidation.

That’s what Islam’s all about. That’s what Muslims do: take offense, intimidate, and kill people for making films and drawing cartoons of Muhammad, while also bombing, blowing up planes, flying planes into buildings, shooting unarmed soldiers, plotting mass murder in the New York subway, running over their daughters, beheading their wives, sending money to terrorist organizations to pay for suicide-bombing equipment, parking cars full of explosive outside nightclubs, etc.  And Western authorities feel dreadfully ashamed over offending Muslims, and try not to, and apologize, and pretend it’s not Muslims doing the bombing and shooting and all that.

Almost everyone’s scared of Muslims, as Muslims do their best to make us so. Though they pretend that it’s cruel of non-Muslims to fear them, to be what they call “Islamophobic”.

On Islam’s victory over South Park – an everyday story of the contemporary Western world – find excellent comment by Mark Steyn here, and Diana West here.

May 20 will be “Everybody Draw Muhammad” day. We will join in enthusiastically, and urge our readers to do the same.

Here’s Jon Stewart. We’ll overlook his silly remark about atheists.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
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