Drang nach Osten – and a shift in the global balance of power 1

How goes Obama’s “pivot” –  or “tilt” – to the East?

The Washington Post reports that Defense Secretary Hagel is quietly busy seeing to it, with feeling:

Hagel, who has made five trips to the Far East in the past year, has sustained President Obama’s long-touted tilt toward Asia, even as he has been a nearly invisible player in the unending crises elsewhere that have eclipsed it.

By interest, history and temperament, Hagel appears to feel a sense of ownership in Asia.

A sense of ownership. What can that mean? Read on, and we may find out.

Despite the stalling of the Pacific trade agreement that is another cornerstone of Obama’s Asia “rebalance”

What is being referenced here is Obama’s failure to reach a trade agreement with Japan. Notice that the Obamaspeak for “failing” is “stalling”. Implied is a temporary hitch soon to be overcome.

 Hagel can claim steady progress in the military’s role of building regional alliances and partnerships. But those gains risk being overtaken by China’s rapidly worsening relations with its neighbors and escalating belligerency from North Korea.

Yup, a little advance here a huge set-back there.

In a speech Saturday morning to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional defense conference he first attended as a senator more than a decade ago, Hagel criticized China’s “destabilizing, unilateral actions” in asserting its maritime claims against other countries in the region. [Some of his] aides said he purposely used language sharper than in previous public statements on the subject.

Purposely? Is sharp speaking usually done  by him inadvertently? Obamarians feel uncomfortable speaking sharply to a foreign audience – other than Israel, of course.

So how sharply?

We take no position on competing territorial claims,” Hagel said, repeating U.S. insistence that its interests are rooted in a desire to balance alliances with Asia’s smaller partners and a smooth relationship with China.

That sharply? Hang on – here it comes:

“But we firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion or the threat of force to assert these claims.”

How firmly? As firmly as Obama opposed intimidation, coercion and the actual use of force by Assad and Putin?

The report mentions that intimidation, coercion and the threat of force is ongoing:

New air skirmishes have erupted in recent weeks in the East China Sea with Japan and in contested South China Sea waters with Vietnam.

So how firm on the Obama scale is Mr Hagel? There must be a shadow or a ghost of firmness somewhere about. It was detected by a Chinese lady general in a “restatement” of a “defense commitment” to Japan. Wow!

In questions following Hagel’s remarks, a Chinese general testily asked the defense secretary to explain what she called his own “subtle threat of force” in restating the U.S. defense commitment to Japan even as he called for a negotiated settlement of contesting claims to East China Sea islands.

Watch out now for the assertion that the Obama position is clear. Whenever an Obama position is very faint, particularly uncertain, he or one of his servants will say that it is “clear”:

America’s position is clear,” Hagel said. “These territorial disputes should be resolved through international law.”

International law. That clear? That firm? “International law” is a will-o-the-wisp, a fancy, a trick of the light, smoke and mirrors.

But at the same time, he said, the United States has treaty commitments to several countries in the region, including Japan, the Philippines and South Korea.

We like that “but”. There’s the sharpness, you see. “But” the US has treaty commitments. They may involve mention of military support! The big contrast to international law. Strong stuff, like the treaty commitment the US had to defending Ukraine’s independence. When Ukraine’s independence was threatened, when a chunk of its territory was seized by Russia, the US commitment held like cardboard in the rain.

But enough of ghostly saber rattling.

Those Eastern countries towards which Obama is tilting must be reminded of what Obama expects of them. What he expects of them is his policy towards them.

Returning to familiar themes, Hagel nudged South Korea and Japan toward greater defense cooperation that will allow a unified missile defense system against North Korea, which is suspected of preparing a fourth nuclear test. He called on China to play “a more active role” in using its influence on Pyongyang, urged Thailand’s military to restore democracy and praised Burma for ending military dictatorship.

And if they would only take those decisive steps, US partnership would prove a real boon.

If anything, Hagel indicated, “the Asia-Pacific’s shifting security landscape makes America’s partnerships and alliances indispensable as anchors for regional stability.” …

While budgets may be cut elsewhere, Hagel said, “both President Obama and I remain committed to ensuring that any reductions in U.S. defense spending do not come at the expense of America’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific,” where they have said 60 percent of U.S. air and naval assets will be based by 2020.

Although the administration has promised that resources saved by ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be used both for the Asia rebalance and for the new Middle East and African counterterrorism strategy that Obama outlined this past week in an address at the U.S. Military Academy, a senior defense official said little competition was involved.

What could he mean by “competition”. Could he mean (shudder!) a possibility of military opposition? None of that sort of thing? So what matters are the alliances in themselves, not any purpose beyond  them. Do not even think it.

Asia, Hagel said in his speech, is an example of the stronger “global partnerships and alliances” Obama described this week as a cornerstone of his foreign and security policy. …

Now at last we are told why Hagel has “a sense of ownership in Asia”. Get ready to be impressed.

Hagel’s Vietnam experience is only part of his attachment to Asia, the senior defense official said. His father was a bomber tail-gunner in the Pacific in World War II. As president of the USO and a business executive who founded a lucrative cellphone network, Hagel traveled frequently to the region even before his election to the Senate in 1996.

And that adds up to –

“I’ve got this long history, this confluence with my background, my history,” said [an]  official, describing what he said was Hagel’s thought process. “It’s what I’m good at, what I’m interested in.”

We won’t even dignify all that with a comment – the silliness speaks for itself.

What we have to understand is that Hagel is determined to succeed. You may find this hard to believe, but he is as determined to succeed in the Far East as Secretary of State John Kerry was determined to succeed in the Middle East. That determined.

[His] aides portray Hagel’s dedication to the Asia-Pacific and his determination to succeed here as equal to that of Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s highly publicized (but stalled) efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace, only with less media attention and more potential for long-term success.

More potential, eh? Efforts that will not “stall”?  There’s optimism for you!

*

Meanwhile what is going on with the Far East in the real world?

Events so huge that they mark “a major alteration in the global balance of power”.

Charles Krauthammer writes (May 22, 2014) at the Washington Post:

It finally happened — the pivot to Asia. No, not the United States. It was Russia that turned East.

In Shanghai, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a spectacular energy deal — $400 billion of Siberian natural gas to be exported to China over 30 years.

This is huge. By indelibly linking producer and consumer — the pipeline alone is a $70 billion infrastructure project — it deflates the post-Ukraine Western threat (mostly empty, but still very loud) to cut European imports of Russian gas. Putin has just defiantly demonstrated that he has other places to go.

The Russia-China deal also makes a mockery of U.S. boasts to have isolated Russia because of Ukraine. Not even Germany wants to risk a serious rupture with Russia (hence the absence of significant sanctions). And now Putin has just ostentatiously unveiled a signal 30-year energy partnership with the world’s second-largest economy. Some isolation.

The contrast with President Obama’s own vaunted pivot to Asia is embarrassing (to say nothing of the Keystone pipeline with Canada). He went to Japan last month also seeking a major trade agreement that would symbolize and cement a pivotal strategic alliance. He came home empty-handed.

Does the Obama foreign policy team even understand what is happening? For them, the Russia-China alliance is simply more retrograde, 19th-century, balance-of-power maneuvering by men of the past oblivious to the reality of a 21st century governed by law and norms. A place where, for example, one simply doesn’t annex a neighbor’s territory. Indeed, Obama scolds Russia and China for not living up to their obligations as major stakeholders in this new interdependent world.

The Chinese and Russians can only roll their eyes. These norms and rules mean nothing to them. Sure, they’ll join the World Trade Organization for the commercial advantages – then cheat like hell with cyberespionage and intellectual piracy. They see these alleged norms as forms of velvet-glove imperialism, clever extensions of a Western hegemony meant to keep Russia in its reduced post-Soviet condition and China contained by a dominant US military.

Obama cites modern rules; Russia and China, animated by resurgent nationalism, are governed by ancient maps. Putin refers to eastern and southern Ukraine by the old czarist term of “New Russia”. And China’s foreign minister justifies vast territorial claims that violate maritime law by citing traditional (“nine-dash”) maps that grant China dominion over the East and South China seas.

Which makes this alignment of the world’s two leading anti-Western powers all the more significant.

It marks a major alteration in the global balance of power. 

China and Russia together represent the core of a new coalition of anti-democratic autocracies challenging the Western-imposed, post-Cold War status quo.

Their enhanced partnership marks the first emergence of a global coalition against American hegemony since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Indeed, at this week’s Asian cooperation conference, Xi proposed a brand-new continental security system to include Russia and Iran (lest anyone mistake its anti-imperialist essence) and exclude America.

This is an open challenge to the post-Cold War, US-dominated world that Obama inherited and then weakened beyond imagining.

If carried through, it would mark the end of a quarter-century of unipolarity. And herald a return to a form of bipolarity — two global coalitions: one free, one not… [A] struggle  … for dominion and domination.

To which Obama, who once proclaimed that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation,” is passive, perhaps even oblivious. His pivot to Asia remains a dead letter. Yet his withdrawal from the Middle East — where from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, from Libya to Syria, US influence is at its lowest ebb in 40 years — is a fait accompli.

The retreat is compounded by Obama’s proposed massive cuts in defense spending … even as Russia is rearming and China is creating a sophisticated military soon capable of denying America access to the waters of the Pacific Rim.

Decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. In this case, Obama’s choice. And it’s the one area where he can be said to be succeeding splendidly.

Slipping out 2

So Jay Carney, the lithe Houdini of the White House briefing room, who slithered so smoothly out of  answering embarrassing questions, has now slipped out of his post.

Here’s a video recording of one of his slickest performances.

 

Posted under Commentary, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 30, 2014

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President Cruz? 4

He walked Independence Square in Kiev, the site of months of turmoil, and spoke with leaders of the protest movement, many of them college-aged. He visited a hospital in Tzfat, Israel, where he saw Israeli doctors provide free medical care to Syrians gravely wounded in the civil war there.

Despite his god-botheriness (an infection of irrationality from which no American politician known to us is free), and at risk of attracting the disapproval of some of our highly valued readers, we confess that we like Ted Cruz. We think he might make a good president.

Here’s an account of his current travels abroad issued by the Heritage Foundation, with the views he has expressed on issues of foreign affairs:

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, visited Israel, Ukraine, Poland and Estonia this week and detailed his travels in a conference call today …

Cruz gave a personal account of how those countries perceive American leadership during a turbulent time in the region. …

[He] reaffirmed his contention that Israel is America’s strongest ally and one that requires support to buffer peace talks with the Palestinians.

“The U.S. needs to stand with Israel,” Cruz said on the conference call. “No one wants to see peace more than Israel. But consistently, the Obama administration has criticized and attacked the leadership of Israel. Over the last five years, America is receding from leadership in the world, and Russia, Iran, and China have stepped into that vacuum and made the world a more dangerous place.”

Cruz emphasized the U.S. has no business dictating terms of a peace agreement, but he criticized the Palestinians for recent failures in the talks, and established basic requirements he said any agreement must have.

“The Palestinians need to renounce terrorism and to declare that Israel has the right to exist,” said Cruz, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If not, negotiations will fail.”

Similarly, after meeting with Ukraine protest leaders in Maidan Square and later on with Ukrainian Jewish and Catholic leaders, Cruz described a country eager for help, in any form it can get.

Help also means deterring the force of Russia, by imposing tougher sanctions than the Obama administration has applied, he said.

“One thing I took away from the Ukrainian leaders is that the military lacks basic equipment, such as armor, communication tools and night-vision goggles,” Cruz said. “The leadership in Ukraine is looking for help wherever it can find it. And it’s in our interest to help. We ought to be using all the tools of soft power to impose significant sanctions on Russia.” …

Cruz declared the nuclear threat of Iran the biggest hindrance to peace and the largest test of American credibility.

He criticized the Geneva interim agreement, a pact between Iran and the P5+1 countries officially titled the Joint Plan of Action, which decreased economic sanctions on Iran as the countries work at a long-term agreement.

Cruz said sanctions should be lifted only when Iran disassembles its centrifuges and hands over its enriched uranium.

The current deal is a very, very bad deal and a historic mistake,” Cruz said. “In the best-case scenario, we leave Iran to the threshold of a nuclear breakout. There’s concern in Israel that the U.S. deal with Iran exacerbates the problem. Every leader I met viewed the prospect of Iran getting a nuclear weapon as the strongest threat facing Israel and the U.S.”

We agree with these views of his. (Only we don’t think there should be any “peace process” involving Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians should be integrated into some of the 21 Arab states, and Israel should set its borders.)

As always, we invite comment.

Posted under Commentary, Eastern Europe, Iran, Israel, middle east, Muslims, Palestinians, Russia, United States by Jillian Becker on Thursday, May 29, 2014

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Rachel Carson’s lethal claptrap 3

Google is celebrating the work of the environmmentalist Rachel Carson, who was born 107 years ago this month.

Yesterday Google disdained offering a special banner for Memorial Day.  Today they compound this insult with a banner marking the birthday of Rachel Carson, author of the deeply wrong Silent SpringFew books since Das Kapital have done more damage to humans than Silent Spring, and yet she —and her dreadful book — continue to be honored by the Left.

Henry I. Miller* and Gregory Conko* severely criticize Rachel Carson at Forbes:

We recently passed the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s best-selling book, Silent Spring. Widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement, it was an emotionally charged but deeply flawed denunciation of the widespread spraying of chemical pesticides for the control of insects. Today, the book is still revered by many, but its legacy is anything but positive.

As detailed by Roger Meiners and Andy Morriss in their scholarly yet very readable analysis, Silent Spring at 50: Reflections on an Environmental Classic, Carson … “encourages some of the most destructive strains within environmentalism: alarmism, technophobia, failure to consider the costs and benefits of alternatives, and the discounting of human well-being around the world”. 

Carson’s proselytizing and advocacy raised substantial anxiety about DDT and led to bans in most of the world and to restrictions on other chemical pesticides.  But the fears she raised were based on gross misrepresentations and scholarship so atrocious that, if Carson were an academic, she would be guilty of egregious academic misconduct.  Her observations about DDT have been condemned by many scientists.  In the words of Professor Robert H. White-Stevens, an agriculturist and biology professor at Rutgers University, “If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth.”

Even fellow environmentalists called her a liar, uninterested in the truth:

In 1992, San Jose State University entomologist J. Gordon Edwards, a long-time member of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, offered a persuasive and comprehensive rebuttal of Silent Spring. As he explained in The Lies of Rachel Carson, a stunning, point by point refutation, “it simply dawned on me that that Rachel Carson was not interested in the truth about [pesticides] and that I was being duped along with millions of other Americans”.  He demolished Carson’s arguments and assertions, calling attention to critical omissions, faulty assumptions, and outright fabrications.  … [He wrote]:

This implication that DDT is horribly deadly is completely false.  Human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams of it a day for nearly two years and suffered no adverse effects.  Millions of people have lived with DDT intimately during the mosquito spray programs and nobody even got sick as a result.  The National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1965 that ‘in a little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million [human] deaths that would otherwise have been inevitable’.  The World Health Organization stated that DDT had ‘killed more insects and saved more people than any other substance’.

In addition, DDT was used with dramatic effect to shorten and prevent typhus epidemics during and after WWII when people were dusted with large amounts of it but suffered no ill effects, which is perhaps the most persuasive evidence that the chemical is harmless to humans.  The product was such a boon to public health that in 1948 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Dr. Paul Müller for his discovery of the “contact insecticidal action” of DDT.

It is extraordinary that anyone in the mainstream scientific community could continue to embrace the sentimental claptrap of Silent Spring, so we were surprised to see the commentary, In Retrospect: Silent Spring, in the scientific journal Nature in May by evolutionary biologist Rob Dunn.  Science is, after all, evidence-based, but Dunn’s puff piece is a flawed and repugnant whitewash of Carson’s failure to present actual evidence to support her assertions, and of the carnage that she caused.  It also demonstrates that Dunn knows little about the history or toxicology of DDT. …

Carson’s disingenuous proselytizing spurred public pressure to ban DDT in many countries, with disastrous consequences: a lack of effective control of mosquitoes that carry malaria and other diseases.  Malaria imposes huge costs on individuals, families and governments.  It inflicts a crushing economic burden on malaria-endemic countries and impedes their economic growth.  A study by the Harvard University Center for International Development estimated that a high incidence of malaria reduces economic growth by 1.3 percentage points each year.  Compounded over the four decades since the first bans of DDT, that lost growth has made some of the world’s poorest countries an astonishing 40 percent poorer than had there been more effective mosquito control. …

The legacy of Rachel Carson is that tens of millions of human lives – mostly children in poor, tropical countries – have been traded for the possibility of slightly improved fertility in raptors. 

This remains one of the monumental human tragedies of the last century.

* Henry I. Miller, a physician, is the Robert Wesson Fellow of Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover institution; he was the founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology. Gregory Conko is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

Death and the maiden 3

Immig_Wood600420

Noemi Álvarez Quillay?

Untold numbers of children are being smuggled across the southern border into the United States with the active encouragement of the Obama-led Democratic government. 

One of them was only three years old.

The Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell reports and comments:

There has been a lot of talk from the Obama administration about having more “humane” immigration policies.

But the sad fact is that on President Obama’s watch, one of the most inhumane realities of illegal immigration has skyrocketed.

Children are crossing the border – and they’re doing it without their parents.

The number of minor children crossing or attempting to cross the U.S. southern border unaccompanied by a parent or other adult relative has exploded from 6,560 in 2011 to an estimated 60,000 for fiscal year 2014. Border patrol agents in South Texas reported over 1,000 such children were apprehended by officials earlier this month, including a 3-year-old boy from Honduras.

What explains the dramatic increase?

As a government official from Ecuador told The New York Times, one of the main reasons is a belief held by many in Central America and Mexico that some sort of immigration reform will be passed that allows anyone who can get into the United States illegally to be able to stay.

In other words, the prospect of amnesty is encouraging more illegal immigration – and in this case, the human trafficking of children. Often raised by their grandparents or other relatives because their parents have already come to the U.S. illegally, these children are traveling alone or with human smugglers, called coyotes, who are paid to get them across the border.

And what happens once they’re here? According to the Department of Health and Human Services, by law, the U.S. government must assume custody of “unaccompanied alien children” apprehended by law enforcement who file claims to remain in the United States. The government then contracts with state-licensed facilities to care for the children until it can place them with sponsors.

According to a judge in Texas who has reviewed numerous such cases, the U.S. government is guilty of encouraging this illegal behavior.

He described one case where after taking a child into custody, Homeland Security agents learned that the mother, who herself was in the U.S. illegally, had “instigated this illegal conduct”.  DHS delivered the child to the mother anyway, didn’t prosecute her, and didn’t even initiate deportation proceedings for her.

As the judge said, “instead of enforcing the law of the United States, the Government took direct steps to help the individuals who violated it”, conduct for which any “private citizen would, and should, be prosecuted”. 

The judge said:

By fostering an atmosphere whereby illegal aliens are encouraged to pay human smugglers for further services, the Government is not only allowing them to fund the illegal and evil activities of these cartels, but is also inspiring them to do so.

To get an idea of the danger these children face, one need only read the very sad story of Noemi Álvarez Quillay, a 12-year-old girl from Ecuador. She died in a holding facility in Mexico — authorities there say she committed suicide — after being caught with a smuggler trying to get her across the border near El Paso. Noemi was poor, but had been well taken care of by her grandparents in Ecuador after her parents moved illegally to the U.S.

More information comes from the New York Times:

Noemi was taken to Casa de la Esperanza, a shelter for Mexican minors whose name means “House of Hope”. Over that weekend, she was questioned by a prosecutor. After that, a doctor described Noemi as being “terrified”, according to a report in El Diario of Juarez.

On March 11, when called to eat, Noemi instead went into the bathroom. Another girl could not get in. The doctor, Alicia Soria Espino, and others broke open the door and found Noemi hanging by the cloth shower curtain.

How likely is that? Why would a child suddenly hang herself? And – a twelve-year-old girl hanging herself with a shower curtain – how? – visualize it – try it – we did, and couldn’t, and don’t believe it.*

Notice the insertion of the unnecessary detail, “Another girl could not get in”, as if to imply that there’s a witness that the door was locked from the inside.

The story reeks of cover-up. Was the child murdered? If so, why?

The next day, her parents in the Bronx received a phone call from a woman who told them that Noemi had safely crossed the border. Later that day, they received a second call saying that she had died, according to Ecuadorean consular officials.

Was it even Noemi? Does the child pictured above look like a twelve-year-old?  Doesn’t she look more like an 8 year old? Perhaps it is a picture of Noemi at the age of eight. (Photos were taken of her by her poor grandparents in Ecuador? Unlikely.) Or maybe it is a different child.

The authorities determined that the girl initially thought to be an 8-year-old Mexican was probably the 12-year-old Ecuadorean. In part because her parents, who do not have legal immigration status, decided not to go to Mexico, DNA tests were required to confirm her identity, said Jorge W. Lopez, the Ecuadorean consul general in New York.

The report does not say whether DNA tests were in fact carried out or whether an identity was confirmed.

Autopsies found no sign of a sexual assault, a common crime against migrants.

The man said to have been the smuggler, Mr. Fermas, was arrested but was later freed by a judge, who did not find enough evidence to hold him for prosecution, said Ángel Torres of the federal prosecutor’s office in Ciudad Juárez. …

The police said he had been found in charge of a pickup truck with Noemi inside it. According to Fermas the Smuggler they were lying.

In published interviews, Mr. Fermas has said that the story about the pickup truck was untrue and that the police had entered his house and taken the girl under the guise of rescuing her.

The NYT does not pause to consider why the police lied, why Fermas used these words, why the police might really have taken her away if not to rescue her.

What really happened to Noemi? Who was the dead child? How did she really die? Is it true that “no sign of sexual assault was found”?

Why is the NYT so incurious about the story it is reporting?

It goes on without pause to cold – and chilling – statistics :

In the week after Noemi’s death, 370 foreign child migrants were detained across Mexico, according to the national immigration agency. Nearly half were traveling alone.

The Morning Bell report also looks no further into the disappearance of Noemi and the suspicious death of a little girl. It is more concerned with the political implications of child-smuggling from Latin America:

The Obama administration has implemented multiple policies that encourage illegal immigration.

Its lax and increasingly nonexistent enforcement of our immigration laws has resulted in a 40 percent drop in deportations of illegal immigrants in the U.S. since 2009. Instead, illegal immigrants who have been convicted of further crimes inside the U.S. have been released. Last year, one in three — more than 68,000 criminals – was released.

Interestingly, one of the reasons given for children attempting to cross the border into the U.S. is that they are trying to escape crime and gang violence in their home countries. Yet the Obama administration’s immigration policies are actually releasing criminals back into the very communities where these children are likely to find themselves in America.

This is Obama’s version of “humane” immigration policies.

But what happened to Noemi?

Who was the dead child?

How did she die?

Why?

 

*  Our shower-rod wouldn’t hold the weight even of a child. A shower-curtain does not lend itself easily to being tied round a neck. Also, it would have to be hung very high for the average twelve-year-old to suspend herself.  She would have to stand on the edge of the tub (if there is one under the shower) and then take her feet off it.  The shower curtain and its rod would have to be so strong that her weight would not then drop her to the bottom of the tub or onto the floor of the bathroom.

We think an eight year old girl was murdered. And so probably was Noemi, in some clumsy cover-up plot with a substitution of identities. The plot has probably succeeded. The unlikely story that Noemi committed suicide will probably never be further investigated. The truth will probably never be known.

A reckoning on Memorial Day 1

Robert Spencer writes at Jihad Watch:

It has already been a busy Memorial Day weekend. Stories reported at Jihad Watch over the last two days:

Saturday

Tunisia: Muslim screaming “The nation of Muhammad returns for vengeance” stabs Jew, is released

Sharia Egypt: Christian gets four years prison, $1400 fine for insulting Islam by drawing cartoon of Muhammad on Facebook

Somalia: Islamic jihadists murder at least 10 in jihad attack on parliament

Yemen: Islamic jihadists murder at least 27 people in raid on city

Pakistan: Islamic jihadists murder seven in three separate blasts

Thailand: Islamic jihadists murder three, injure 55 with series of blasts

Nigeria: Islamic jihadist murders two in bungled jihad/martyrdom suicide bombing

Iraq: Islamic jihadists murder seven people with car bomb at alcohol shop

Uganda: Churches step up security after threats from Islamic jihad group

Sunday

Australia: Jihad fundraiser and brother of convicted terrorist preaching in mosques

Iran’s Supreme Leader: Jihad will continue until America is no more

Syria: Sharia enforcers disrupt wedding party, detain women for un-Islamic dress

Authorities suspect Islamic jihadists behind murder of four at Brussels Jewish Museum

Djibouti: Islamic jihadists murder three with bomb in restaurant filled with Western soldiers

Today

Nigeria: Islamic jihadists of Boko Haram murder 24 people in attack on crowded market

In the face of all this, the Pope calls a man who has just partnered with a jihad terror group vowed to the destruction of the Jewish State a “man of peace” … The President of the United States has said, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”, even to the point of removing all mention of Islam and jihad from counter-terror training material, acceding to the demand of Muslim groups with links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood — and thereby forbidding law enforcement agents from studying and understanding the motives and goals of those who have vowed to destroy us.

And so on Memorial Day, we remember when we had leaders to defend us. We still have strong individuals who have vowed the defense of our nation, and for that we can be grateful, but they are being led by a political class so willfully ignorant of prevailing realities, and so deeply compromised, that they make misstep after misstep, endangering us all — while a likewise compromised media does everything it can to cover for them and defame those who sound the alarm about this problem. …

We remember that in our nation’s darkest days, there arose strong, rough men — the ones to whom Churchill referred when he noted that “we sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us”. For that we pause today to offer our gratitude [to them], and our hope that there still remains enough of them to see us through this present darkness.

Our resolve to remain free is iron; now all we need are some leaders with similar resolve.

We like that idea immensely. But we know there are many among us whose resolve to subjugate us to the will of over-mighty government, and even to the domination of savage Islam, is also iron.

Their idea of a desirable leader is Hillary Clinton. Judging by appearances and her record, the Benghazi disaster in particular, we would not describe her as a strong rough man ready to visit violence on those who would harm us. We dare to hope for someone stronger, rougher, masculine, and militant.

Talking sense about energy 1

Steven Hayward of PowerLine interviews Robert Bryce on Energy. The quantity consumed in America every day is staggering – don’t miss Bryce’s description of it – and can only be met by the use of fossil fuels. He also talks about the lies that the Sierra Club and Greenpeace tell, and pours justified scorn on wind power. He uses solar panels on his own roof, but states firmly that solar power can only provide an “infinitesimal” proportion of the energy America needs. He declares himself an optimist, excited by the fact that technologically “we are doing more with less”.

Posted under Commentary, Energy, Saudi Arabia, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Monday, May 26, 2014

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Fit in, be absurd 16

Some cultures are superior to others. To be specific, Western culture is superior to others.

But, as everyone knows, it is not politically correct to say this.

The reliably funny Fred Reed writes (in part):

I am done for, and damned. Yes, a poor sinner who has strayed from the path of righteousness, and now sits brooding over a bottle of Padre Kino, Mexican rust-remover marauding as red wine, for I have done the unpardonable: I have said – I cringe with shame – that some cultures are superior to others.

It gnaws my soul.

Please don’t misjudge me. I am in most respects a good American. I have nothing against brainless, passive-aggressive, narcissistic sanctimony, nor preening academic mediocrity, nor intellectual vacuity. No. I tell you, I love all of these things. I am devoted to our traditions. I believe to the roots of my teeth that bovine complacency is the bedrock of democracy. Indeed, the only criticism I can make of our national intellectual life is that it would embarrass a microcephalic box-turtle.

Oh god. Wait. I didn’t mean to imply that microcephalic box-turtles are in any way inferior. They are just otherly abled. I apologize, and acknowledge my Vertebrate Privilege.

Let me recount my fall from grace as a warning to those that will hear. Long ago, a callow youth, I was reading the Huffington Post (this column has no respect for chronology), which informed me that no culture is superior to any other: They are just different. To think otherwise, it huffed, was to concede oneself to be among the Fallen, and perhaps a Republican.

I read this and the scales fell from my eyes (though I had no interest in going to Damascus, where they were using nerve gas). I thought, Yes! It’s true! Hosanna! All cultures are equal! Jewish culture is not superior to Nazi, just different. Why hadn’t I seen it before? The culture of Switzerland is not better than that of North Korea, and the South of Bull Conner was in no way inferior to the most dappled, liquid-eyed liberalism of Massachusetts!

For years I believed this, enraptured, and prattled like a jaybird. I was among the Saved. Then … Woe! Woe! … Padre Kino got the best of me. Oh, Demon Rum! Drink has ever been my downfall …

I was in my cups and, prompted by the Devil, thought: All cultures equal? Exactly how is a pack of nekkid savages in the rain forests of Papua-New Guinea, who eat weird pasty white grubs and each other, who speak a language consisting of seven words none of which means anything … how could they possibly be the equals of Europeans who brush their teeth and wrote Hamlet’s soliloquy? Equal how? In the eyes of God, maybe. If so, I figured the Old Boy must need glasses.

So low had I sunk.

Floating in the vile effluvium of the corrupting grape, I engendered worse thoughts. Regarding Islam, for example. How equal was this medieval horror? Here is a faith that will not let its girl children learn to read, and indeed holds them down screaming and mutilates their genitals with a razor blade and no anesthetic. Equal? To what?

You see. Wine. Booze. The Great Purple Father was making me lose all devotion to equality. Shun strong liquor, I implore you, lest you start to favor the death penalty for such victims of intolerance as Ted Bundy, who was misunderstood by society.

But back to Islam. Before, alight with the equality of all cultures, I had thought clitoridectomy to be a minor surgery, not much different from sending girls to Wellesley. Actually, Wellesley had seemed worse, as on campus girls underwent forced exposure to oppressive dead white men like Plato, while Moslem girls faced nothing worse than gangrene.  But suddenly I wasn’t sure. My Huffington-flavored faith wavered.

I even reflected at one point that European culture had invented everything that kept many of the rest from living in the animal shelter. Where they would probably eat the animals. …

Why was it, I wondered, that all cultures were equal, but that all cultures were superior to white European culture? This seemed illogical. In my earlier state of virtue, I had understood such considerations to be the result of Male Linear Thinking, which had earlier been called “thinking” until it was noticed who was best at it.

Having decided that some cultures were superior to others, I fell deeper into error, and wondered whether maybe being smart was better than being stupid. Before, I had understood from the Washington Post that being illiterate and borderline retarded was a sign of Authenticity. Well, I certainly wanted to be Authentic, though I thought I would pass on eating the pasty white grubs. (Authentic what was never mentioned, but it didn’t seem to matter. If Salon was for it, it must be good.)

I began dressing like the contents of a dumpster, with butt-hanger pants and a baseball cap on sideways so as to look like an idiot. I petitioned the Educational Testing Service to have my SATs lowered, and began Vocabulary Limitation Therapy. I considered lobotomy. Such was my desire for Authenticity.

It did not work. No. No amount of abasement, no embrace of degradation can overcome Vertebrate Privilege. But, like a sociologist, I could revel in being an earnest aspirant to degeneracy. Small compensation, but better than nothing.

But alas! Alack! I am ruined. Having lost one’s faith in the transparently absurd, one may never go back. I will never again believe the Iroquois the equals of the Finns. I am lost.

 

(Hat-tip Frank)

Posted under Commentary, Humor by Jillian Becker on Sunday, May 25, 2014

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Picking the wrong data 4

Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century (see our review of it, The Savior of Socialism Proves the Worth of Capitalism, under Pages) has been found to contain serious errors by the Financial Times.

Their findings confirm the unfavorable verdict pronounced on the book by both our reviewer Don L and, in comment, by our in-house economist Burro.

We quote from the FT article by Chris Giles:

The data underpinning Professor Piketty’s 577-page tome, which has dominated best-seller lists in recent weeks, contain a series of errors that skew his findings. The FT found mistakes and unexplained entries in his spreadsheets …

The central theme of Prof Piketty’s work is that wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war. The investigation undercuts this claim, indicating there is little evidence in Prof Piketty’s original sources to bear out the thesis that an increasing share of total wealth is held by the richest few.

Prof Piketty … provides detailed sourcing for his estimates of wealth inequality in Europe and the US over the past 200 years. In his spreadsheets, however, there are transcription errors from the original sources and incorrect formulas. It also appears that some of the data are cherry-picked or constructed without an original source.

Now we see nothing wrong, in any case, with income or wealth inequality. (Piketty confuses the two.) We have observed that, in open societies, wherever the rich are richest, the poor are least poor.

It is the Left that wants economic equality, and wherever it has tried to establish that impossible condition it has not just failed, it has created hell on earth.

The Left swooped on Piketty’s obese compendium of wishes and errors, as a vindication of socialist theory.  (See for example the encomium by the leftist professor Paul Krugman here. He thinks Piketty has made a “masterly diagnosis” in his “superb book”.)

So we hail the FT’s revelations with more than a touch of unapologetic Schadenfreude.

In a comment today under our post The savior of socialism proves the worth of capitalism (May 20, 2014), Burro writes:

A great leap forward has just occurred!

No less than the Financial Times of London has right on it’s front page today, Saturday, an exposé of Pick-your-number’s book and the loony numbers it contains. It then proceeds to demolish most of the Socialist conclusions on page 3. …

[Piketty] has been shown to have attended the “Al Gore” school of statistics, and not only made errors of transcription, ie putting numbers in the wrong place which surprise, surprise was beneficial to HIS thesis but not the opposite, but “the [FT] investigation found numerous mistakes in [his] work: simple fat-finger errors; sub-optimal averaging techniques; multiple unexplained adjustments to the numbers; data entries with no sourcing; unexplained use of different time periods; and inconsistent uses of source data”. …

Picketty says he is “…happy to change my (ie his) conclusion” should such numbers be incorrect. …

Burro does not believe Piketty will change his conclusion or his mind. He wrote the book because he believes with fixed certainty that socialism is good.

It isn’t.

Posted under Capitalism, Commentary, communism, Economics, Marxism, Socialism by Jillian Becker on Saturday, May 24, 2014

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Sweden: an insane asylum 2

As usual, Pat Condell speaks the truth – this time about Sweden.

And this is from the New American, by Selwyn Duke:

You’re free in Sweden to be critical of immigration, those in power, or people identifying as “LBGT” [not lettuce, bacon, gunge and tomato as in a British commercial sandwich, but lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender – ed] – at least within the confines of your mind. But dare express those views, even on the Internet, and you can now be more easily prosecuted under a new law …

The crime of ‘insult’ will be prosecuted … for giving offense to immigrants, LGBTQ persons or authorities … immigration in particular enjoying sanctified status in Sweden.

As CBN reported earlier this month in a piece entitled “Soviet Sweden? Model Nation Sliding to Third World”:

Sweden’s leftist establishment and media believe a cornerstone of their perfect society is multiculturalism — large-scale immigration from some of the poorest, most backward nations on Earth — and Swedes who disagree with that plan risk being labeled racist, fascist, even Nazi. …

This is despite the fact, say critics, that wide-scale Third World immigration is threatening Sweden’s future.

As CBN also reported:

Sweden’s immigration model is failing miserably … test scores in Swedish schools are plummeting … [and] crime in some areas has skyrocketed. Immigrants burned the Stockholm suburb of Husby for over a week last year.

Many Jews now live in fear of attacks by Muslim immigrants and are leaving. Amun Abdullahi, a journalist for Swedish radio, left last year and returned to her native Somalia after she was attacked in the Swedish media over her news report about radical Muslim immigrants in Sweden. She told Swedish television that Mogadishu was safer than immigrant areas in Stockholm.

Frontpage Mag’s Daniel Greenfield … provides even more perspective:

Sweden’s population grew from 9 million to 9.5 million in the years 2004-2012, mainly due to immigration from ‘countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.’ 16 percent of all newborns have mothers born in non-Western countries. Employment rate among immigrants: 54 percent. Sweden now has the second highest number of rapes in the world, after South Africa, which at 53.2 per 100,000 is six times higher than the United States.

Note that 77 percent of these rapes are perpetrated by “foreigners”, most of whom are Muslim, while their victims primarily are native Swedes. And these figures may very well be artificially low estimates, as the government would prefer to make the headlines go away.

And Western governments have long aimed to make politically incorrect criticism go away with tyrannical hate-speech laws.

For example, LifeSiteNews.com reports:

Chapter 15, Section 8 of Sweden’s criminal code prohibits the expression of ‘disrespect’ towards favoured minority groups. The law carries a penalty of up to four years of imprisonment. It requires no evidence of incitement to violence and lacks any objective standard for identifying ‘disrespect’.”

 …  Sweden’s new law [is]   designed to target näthatare, which, I understand, translates into “net haters.” Yet … “Sweden’s Free-Speech Charade,” hate is whatever the Swedish thought police say it is — at the particular moment in question. Here’s one example he provides:

In January 2002 … a district court sentenced neo-Nazi Fredrik Sandberg to six months in prison for publishing a Third-Reich-era pamphlet (“The Jewish Question”). But four years later, the official who initiated that case (Swedish Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz) discontinued an investigation into the Stockholm Central Mosque regarding its distribution of tapes that encouraged Muslims to kill Jews, described therein as “the brothers of apes and pigs.” His legal justification? “[Such statements] should be judged differently — and therefore be regarded as permissible — because they were used by one side in an ongoing and far-reaching conflict where calls to arms and insults are part of the everyday climate in the rhetoric that surrounds this conflict.”

So what is an aspiring hater to conclude? If you’re going to hate, make sure it’s habitual? Or is it something else? It appears, critics might say, that some haters are more equal than others.

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