AHA! – what were Yale atheists thinking? 2

This is from Truth Revolt, September 11, 2014:

Muslim Students Association at Yale University has written a letter expressing concern that the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program on campus is hosting women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak about Islam.

The Somali-born Hirsi Ali is an outspoken critic of organized religion, specifically Islam, which was used as justification for genital mutilation and attempting forced marriage.

In an email obtained exclusively by TruthRevolt, Abrar Omeish, an MSA board member, asks for campus organizations to stand against Hirsi Ali’s proposed talk.

Hirsi Ali (they say) is:

… a speaker who is very well known for her hateful comments towards marginalized groups, especially the Muslim community. It is making many Muslims on campus feel unwelcome and uncomfortable … We would like to point out though that her main source of fame – or, rather, infamy – has been her inflammatory comments about Islam and its followers. Not only are these comments hateful, but they are also very hurtful to the Muslim community, particularly to Muslim students at Yale.

Through its efforts, the MSA managed to recruit 35 other campus groups and student organizations to stand against Hirsi Ali’s talk because she “is being invited to speak as an authority on Islam despite the fact that she does not hold the credentials to do so.”

Hirsi Ali is scheduled to to give a lecture titled “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West” on Monday September 15th.

Hirsi Ali, a best-selling author, drew national attention when Brandeis University infamously rescinded a previously-extended offer of an honorary degree this past April.

Omeish also privately noted that a “ number of prominent groups and publications on campus especially those of faith, have joined, and as brothers and sisters in faith we would particularly appreciate solidarity with you against hatred that we both believe God does not teach us to promote. The Muslim community and its allies are disappointed that our own fellow Yalies would invite such a speaker knowingly and that she would have such a platform in our home”.

Co-signers to the letter include: Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), J Street U, The Arab Students Association (ASA), Women’s Leadership Initative (WLI), The Women’s Center, Asian American Student Alliance (AASA), Black Church at Yale (BCAY), The Slifka Center, Council on Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), and the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics (AHA).

The last six words intensely provoke us! Why would the Yale Atheists turn against a fellow atheist? Join “brothers and sisters in faith” acting in a way they think “God” would not approve? Against an extraordinarily brave and brilliant woman – and great thinker and writer – who knows as much as anyone can possibly know about the suffering of women under Islam, being herself a survivor of its cruel tyranny?

William S. Buckley, after whom the Program is named that she was invited to honor with her presence, would have held her in the highest esteem.

We’re glad to say Ayaan Hirsi Ali did deliver her address at Yale University as scheduled.

We’ll post a video or transcript of it if and when we can.

Here, for now, is how she ended it:

 

A Muslim speaks for Israel 0

An interesting video, worth the hour it takes to watch it.

Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim of Pakistani descent, talks about how and why he changed from being fiercely anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, to being an admirer of Israel and a defender of Zionism.

Posted under Anti-Semitism, Commentary, Ethics, Islam, Israel, Muslims, Pakistan, Palestinians by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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A sort of coalition of the very unwilling 2

President Obama does not want to take action agains the Islamic State. But opinion polls have forced him to utter some platitudes about keeping America safe and the Islamic State being a bad thing (though “not Islamic”, he says), and to make a military gesture or two by sending a few American personnel to Iraq and having the US Air Force bomb a few IS sites. But you mustn’t call it aggressive war, what he’s doing. If it must be called “war” at all, then it must be something the whole world wants to do so the US has no choice but to go along with the wish of so overwhelming a community.

He has sent that great negotiator John Kerry. who has a record of success in his diplomatic ventures (being sarcastic here), to form a coalition.

And it looks as if Kerry will be as successful as ever he was. He has not managed to form a coalition. Not with Arab states. Not with Islamic states. Not with European states.

Iraq might say it will join, but it has only a diminished and intimidated army.

Egypt and Jordan have refused to join.

Turkey has not only refused, but has denied airbases on its territory for US or any other airstrikes against IS.

Britain and Germany will send arms to the Kurdish peshmerga forces to fight IS, but will not take part directly in the fighting.

France … Ah, France! President Francois Hollande is as eager to lead the chimerical coalition as President Obama is reluctant to do it. Last Friday he personally accompanied a vast amount of materiel to Baghdad. He plans to host the occasion in Paris on Monday when – if – a coalition will  be formed. And he has invited Iran to participate.

Our information comes largely from DebkaFile, from which we quote the following:

Friday, Obama appointed Gen. John R. Allen, former commander in Afghanistan and western Iraq, to lead the coalition forces in the war on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levan.

It is hard to see what combat forces he will lead, in view of the mixed international responses so far to Washington’s appeals for a global coalition to combat terror.

In the years 2006-2008, Gen. Allen commanded the US II Marine Expeditionary Force, which successfully fought Al Qaeda under Musab Zarqawi’s leadership in western Iraq’s Anbar province. He led what was then dubbed the “Awakening” project, which rallied the region’s Sunni tribes to the fight.

President Obama appears to be hinging his campaign against the new Islamist scourge on Gen. Allen repeating that success. …

The prospects of this happening in 2014 are fairly slim, because the circumstances are so different:

1. To support the Sunni Awakening venture, President George W. Bush authorized the famous “surge” which placed an additional 70,000 US troops on the Iraqi battlefield. However, Obama has vowed not to send US combat troops back to Iraq in significant numbers, and has approved no more than a few hundred American military personnel.

2.  In 2006, Iraqi Sunnis trusted American pledges. They agreed to turn around and fight fellow Sunni Al Qaeda after being assured by Washington that they would not lose their status and rights in Baghdad, and that the US would give them weapons and salaries. In 2009, they realized that the Obama administration would not stand by the Bush administration’s assurances. Their disillusion with America and the rise of a Shiite-dominated regime in Baghdad pushed them into the arms of ISIS.

3. Since then Iraq’s Sunni leaders have learned not to trust anyone. Today, they are hedging their bets, their tribal leaders split into two opposing camps between Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and the Islamic State, on the other. For the first time since the US invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein 11 years ago, Iraq’s Sunni leaders feel they are in the saddle and in a position to set a high price for their support.

All this leaves President Obama and Gen. Allen on the threshold of a war on Islamist terrorists, which everyone agrees needs to be fought without delay, but without enough political leverage for going forward or much chance of mustering the right troops to lead – even into the first battle.

The riches of ISIS 9

The Islamic State is a state, whether the world likes it or not (and its doesn’t). A state is populated territory governed by an authority which is able to enforce its will internally and hold off its enemies. IS/ISIS/ISIL is fully able to do that. It is doing it. (Though being at war, its borders are not yet firmly established.) It does not require recognition by other states, nor to be a member of the ludicrous United Nations.

What is more, it is a rich state.

From the Heritage Foundation:

The army of radical Islamists [IS/ISIS/ISIL] controls production of 30,000 barrels of oil a day in Iraq and 50,000 barrels in Syria. By selling the oil on the black market at a discounted price of $40 per barrel (compared to about $93 per barrel in the free market), ISIS takes in $3.2 million a day. …

The oil revenue, which amounts to nearly $100 million each month, allows ISIS to fund its military and terrorist attacks — and to attract more recruits from around the world, including America.

According to James Phillips, veteran expert in Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation:

ISIS sells oil to consumers in territory it controls, roughly the size of Maryland, inside Syria and Iraq. The terrorist group also sells oil to a network of smugglers that developed in the 1990s during Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s rule; that network smuggled oil out of Iraq into Turkey to avoid sanctions imposed by the United Nations.

ISIS also reportedly sells oil, through middlemen, to the Assad regime in Syria that is trying to quell rebellion there. When it comes to making a fast buck, the Middle East has no shortage of “strange bedfellows” willing to do business with each other.

[This is very likely to be true. It is the sort of thing that happens in the Arab Middle East. In Lebanon in the early 1980s, when war and civil war were raging there, I learnt that certain factions bought their weapons from other factions that they were fighting fiercely every day - JB]

Oil is only one of the sources of revenue for the Islamic State.

This is from Business Insider:

ISIS brings in nearly $12 million a month in revenues from extortion and other shady practices in the Iraqi city of Mosul alone in addition to $1 million to $3 million a day selling oil illegally. …

In a recent interview with Der Spiegel, Brookings Doha Center fellow Charles Lister explains how ISIS uses its control of food and water supplies to further its goals:

Money is key here. It is well-known that the IS is almost entirely self-financed. Its money comes from the control and illicit sale of oil and gas, agricultural products like wheat, the control of water and electricity and from imposing taxes within areas it controls. It is literally earning millions of dollars each week, and a great deal of this money is pumped into social services.

ISIS’s advance throughout northern Iraq has put vast quantities of prime farmland under the control of the militant organization. Large portions of five of Iraq’s most fertile provinces are currently under ISIS control.

These provinces are collectively responsible for producing 40% of the country’s wheat crop. The militants have also raided between 40,000 and 50,000 tons of grain from government silos in the north of the country.

Al Arabiya reported that ISIS has transported at least 700 tons of grain from western Iraq into Syria for milling and refining. ISIS then proceeded to sell the grain to the Iraqi government through third-parties in order to raise further funds.

ISIS has expanded this effort recently by making flour using the grain it stole from government mills throughout Mosul.

A source at Iraq’s Agricultural Ministry told Reuters that ISIS has placed close to 30% of Iraq’s entire farm production at risk.

This scarcity and food insecurity has driven up prices and increased the windfall that ISIS receives from its wheat trade.

Control of water resources and hydroelectric power stations provide further funding for ISIS. The control of massive pieces of infrastructure, such as the Tabqa Dam outside of ISIS’s de facto capital of Raqqah, Syria, along with the group’s short-lived seizure of the Mosul Dam in Iraq, further demonstrates ISIS’s capabilities and ambitions. … The dam generates electricity for Aleppo and the surrounding region. ISIS fighters made sure that the dam’s staff was left relatively unmolested, in order to ensure that the dam remained operational.

ISIS collects taxes on a variety of commercial items, such as trucks and cellphone towers Raqqa’s Credit Bank has transformed into a functioning tax authority, with shop owners paying $20 every two months to ISIS in exchange for utilities and security.

ISIS [also engages] in extortion, carjacking, and kidnapping. Kidnappings have become an especially lucrative source of funding for the organization as the group targets foreigners, and attempts to ransom them.

If kidnappings have “become an especially lucrative source of funding” for the Islamic State, it must be because some of their attempts to ransom the captured foreigners have been successful.

ISIS also seized cash and gold from the banks it captured.

Hundreds of airstrikes by the US Air Force will not destroy the Islamic State. Words of condemnation at international summits will not defeat it. The West has allowed the growth of this savage force, has encouraged Islam to believe that it can conquer the Middle East, Europe, and eventually the world. Islam is crowing its triumphalism. It will take iron resolve, a huge commitment of military forces, persistence, and first and foremost the precise defining of the enemy as Islam, if IS/ISIS/ISIL is to be destroyed.

President Obama has poked the nasty thing with a tentative finger, and reluctantly sanctioned some attacking of it from a dizzy height. He will not call the engagement a war. He has sent a few hundred military personnel to Iraq to … what? Advise someone about something?

He’s hoping other nations will do any real fighting that might be necessary. His fervent wish that America will not be perceived (by whom? his political base? the Nobel Peace Prize Committee?) as leading a coalition of states using military force is so desperate that he includes China, and even Iran in his hopes.

Meanwhile the Islamic State is growing, strengthening, flourishing, mass-murdering, and drawing tides of men from all over the world to join its wild jihad.

A non-war war against the non-Islamic Islamic State 5

The Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) is not Islamic. So President Obama said in the quaint little speech he made last night.

But is it humanitarian?

Nancy Pelosi believes that Hamas, the fanatical mass-murdering terrorist organization (and elected government of Gaza), is a humanitarian organization.

How does she know? Because the Qataris – who sponsor Hamas – told her so.

Well, the same could be said of the Islamic State.

If you can believe the Qataris and Nancy Pelosi, you can believe that this citizen and fierce warrior of the Islamic State, standing in front of the heads he has hacked off and impaled, and indicating self-righteously with a raised finger that he did it to please Allah, is also a humanitarian …


isis-heads-in-syria-1

 

… because – yes – the Islamic State is humanitarian. And socialist. A Democrat’s dream of a welfare state.

Here, from Gateway Pundit,  is the evidence; more than enough to convince Nancy Pelosi:

ISIS released their ten points of redistribution this week.

It is much like a list you’d see at any random Socialist meeting.

Ten Facts from the ‪#‎Islamic_State‬ that everyone should know.

1. We don’t pay rent here. Houses are given for free.
2. We pay neither electric nor water bills.
3. We are given monthly grocery supplies. Spagetti, pasta, can foods, rice, eggs and etc.
4. Monthly allowance are given not only to husband and wife (wives) but also for each child.
5. Medical check up and medication are free – The Islamic State pays on behalf of you.
6. You can still survive even if you don’t speak Arabic. You can find almost every race and nationality here.
7. For every newly married couples are given 700usd as a gift. (Only for Mujahid and I’m not sure if it’s still available now).
8. You don’t have to pay tax (If you’re a Muslim).
9. No one is conducting business during prayer time. You can see people left their shops opened and pray either in the masjid or near by their shops.
10. The number of mix-marriages and mixed-race children are so high. It’s beautiful to witness brotherhood with no racism.

From a muhajir sister, also spouse of a Mujahid brother at #Islamic_State
Diary Of A Muhajirah

Roger L. Simon at PJ Media comments aptly on Obama’s “strategy” for not defeating IS:

Our hapless chief executive must be suffering from a cognitive disorder the size of Alpha Centauri. The poor guy grew up on the anti-imperialist mouthings of lefty poet Frank Marshall Davis, schoolboy revolutionary Bill Ayers and later anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi, not to mention the well-known anti-American excrescences of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and now he has to go to war — as an imperialist — against the very Third World people he was told again and again we colonized and destroyed. His head must be about to explode.

No wonder he insisted in his Wednesday night speech that the Islamic State is not Islamic — what is it? Hindu?  Zoroastrian? A lost tribe of Hasidic Jews? — and that we are fighting an amorphous “terrorist group” (the Irish Republican Army?  Basque separatists perhaps?), not the jihadism whose violent ideology has so obviously metastasized across several continents under many guises during his administration with no end remotely in sight. He dare not name our enemy, although it’s almost impossible to imagine how we could win without doing so. He cannot say anything that’s true because he doesn’t know what is true or, perhaps more likely, is terrified to know and then have to admit it. If he did, everything would unravel, not just the jejune Marxism of Frank Marshall Davis. Everything.

But he does know what his poll numbers are and they aren’t good. So we are where we are. Half way in and half way out. … The USA is going to war with a nowhere man who no longer knows what he stands for — and who originally stood for very little more than widely discredited and tired left-wing drivel masquerading as hope and change. Now even that’s gone, a distant memory. …

Two days ago, according to reports, Obama was still reluctant to do anything about the beheaders of ISIS, but was finally driven to act because of those disastrous polls and broad hints from some of his party members that he was leading them to electoral disaster. Others in that same party were mortified he might actually go to war, so, being Barack Obama, in other words a nowhere man, he split the difference — no boots on the ground (except for a piddling 475 advisers — let’s hope there won’t be any “mission creep”).

Welcome to nowhere war waged by a nowhere man.

Remember, all ye Democrats, that what IS is, depends on what “is” is.

Posted under Arab States, Commentary, Iraq, Islam, jihad, middle east, Muslims, Socialism, Syria, United States by Jillian Becker on Thursday, September 11, 2014

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Egypt offers to cede territory for a Palestinian state 2

President Sisi of Egypt has offered to cede half of Sinai to be joined with Gaza to create an independent state of Palestine. The importance of this development cannot be overestimated.

Caroline Glick reports and comments:

Something extraordinary has happened.

On August 31, PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told an audience of Fatah members that Egypt had offered to give the PA some 1,600 kilometers of land in Sinai adjacent to Gaza, thus quintupling the size of the Gaza Strip. Egypt even offered to allow all the so-called “Palestinian refugees” to settle in the expanded Gaza Strip.

Then Abbas told his Fatah followers that he rejected the Egyptian offer.

On Monday Army Radio substantiated Abbas’s claim.

According to Army Radio, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi proposed that the Palestinians establish their state in the expanded Gaza Strip and accept limited autonomy over parts of Judea and Samaria.

In exchange for this state, the Palestinians would give up their demand that Israel shrink into the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, surrendering Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Sisi argued that the land Egypt is offering in Sinai would more than compensate for the territory that Abbas would concede.

In his speech to Fatah members, Abbas said, “They [the Egyptians] are prepared to receive all the refugees, [and are saying] ‘Let’s end the refugee story’.” “But,” he insisted, “It’s illogical for the problem to be solved at Egypt’s expense. We won’t have it.”

In other words, Sisi offered Abbas a way to end the Palestinians’ suffering and grant them political independence. And Abbas said, “No, forget statehood. Let them suffer.”

Generations of Israeli leaders and strategists have insisted that Israel does not have the ability to satisfy the Palestinian demands by itself without signing its own death warrant. To satisfy the Palestinian demand for statehood, Israel’s neighbors in Egypt and Jordan would have to get involved.

Until Sisi made his proposal, no Arab leader ever seriously considered actually doing what must be done. …

“What must be done” being an Arab solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

Very recently there have been huge shifts in the relations of Middle Eastern states with each other and with Israel. The amazing thing, that could not have been predicted or even imagined two years ago, is that some Arab states now see Israel as an essential ally.

So what is driving Sisi? How do we account for this dramatic shift? In offering the Palestinians a large swathe of the Sinai, Sisi is not acting out of altruism. He is acting out of necessity. From his perspective, and from the perspective of his non-jihadist Sunni allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian campaign against Israel is dangerous.

Facing the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the rise of jihadist forces from al-Qaida to the Islamic State to the Muslim Brotherhood, the non-jihadist Sunnis no longer believe that the prolongation of the Palestinian jihad against Israel is in their interest.

Egypt and Jordan have already experienced the spillover of the Palestinian jihad. Hamas has carried out attacks in Egypt. The Palestinian jihad nearly destroyed Lebanon and Jordan. Egypt and Saudi Arabia now view Israel as a vital ally in their war against the Sunni jihadists and their struggle against Iran and its hegemonic ambitions. They recognize that Israeli action against Sunni and Shi’ite jihadists in Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran serves the interests of non-jihadi Sunnis. And, especially after the recent conflict in Gaza, they realize that the incessant Palestinian campaign against Israel ultimately strengthens the jihadist enemies of Egypt and Saudi Arabia like Hamas.

Apparently, Sisi’s offer to Abbas is an attempt to help the Palestinian people and take the Palestinian issue out of the hands of Palestinian jihadists.

Unfortunately for Sisi and his fellow non-jihadist Sunnis, Abbas is having none of this.

In rejecting Sisi’s offer Abbas stood true to his own record, to the legacies of every Palestinian leader since Nazi agent [the "Grand Mufti"] Haj Amin el-Husseini, and to the declared strategic goal of his own Fatah party and his coalition partners in Hamas.

Since Husseini invented the Palestinians in the late 1920s, their leaders’ primary goals have never been the establishment of a Palestinian state or improving the lives of Palestinians. Their singular goal has always been the destruction of the Jewish state, (or state-in-themaking before 1948).

Sisi offered to end Palestinian suffering and provide the Palestinians with the land they require to establish a demilitarized state. Abbas rejected it because he is only interested hurting Israel. If Israel is not weakened by their good fortune, then the Palestinians should continue to suffer.

For Israel, Sisi’s proposal is a windfall.

First of all, it indicates that the Egyptian-Saudi- UAE decision to back Israel against Hamas in Operation Protective Edge was not a fluke. It was part of an epic shift in their strategic assessments.

And if their regimes survive, their assessments are unlikely to change so long as Iran and the Sunni jihadists continue to threaten them.

This means that for the first time since Israel allied with Britain and France against Egypt in 1956, Israel can make strategic plans as part of a coalition.

Second, Sisi’s plan is good for Israel on its merits.

The only way to stabilize the situation in Gaza and comprehensively defeat Hamas and the rest of the terrorist armies there is by expanding Gaza. …

Sisi’s plan is a boon for Israel as well because it calls Abbas’s bluff.

Abbas is genuflected to by the US and the EU who insist that he is a moderate. The Israeli Left insists that he is the only thing that stands between Israel and destruction.

Yet here we see him openly acknowledging that from a strategic perspective, he is no different from the last of the jihadists. He prefers to see his people … without a state to call their own, than to see Israel benefit in any way.

Abbas’s rejection of Sisi’s offer demonstrates yet again that he and his Fatah comrades are the problem, not the solution.Continued faith in the PLO as a partner in peace and moderation is foolish and dangerous. He would rather see Hamas and Iran flourish than share a peaceful future with Israel.

The only reason that Abbas is able to continuously reject all offers of statehood and an end to Palestinian suffering, while expanding his diplomatic war against Israel and supporting his coalition partner’s terror war, is because the US and Europe continue to blindly support him.

The final way that Sisi’s offer helps Israel is by showing the futility of the West’s strategy of supporting Abbas.

According to Army Radio’s report, both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration have been briefed on the Egyptian plan. The Americans reportedly support it. …

Obama supports Sisi’s plan? What has he said about it? We wait to see how the media reports Sisi’s offer, Abbas’s rejection of it, and Obama’s reaction to it. 

Sisi’s offer is a challenge to the US and Europe.

Sisi’s offer shows Washington and Brussels that to solve the Palestinian conflict with Israel, they need to stand with Israel, even if this means abandoning Abbas.

If they do so, they can take credit for achieving their beloved two-state solution. If they fail to do so, they will signal that their primary goal is not peace, but something far less constructive.

What really happened in Benghazi 4

A US security team in Benghazi was held back from immediately responding to the attack on the American diplomatic mission on orders of the top CIA officer there, three of those involved told Fox News Bret Baier.

The three men –  Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto,  Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen – were ready to go but told more than once not to go.  The Obama administration, endlessly trying to excuse its moral turpitude, insists that no order to “stand down” was ever given. Maybe, but “do not go” is an order to stand down.

They finally ignored orders and went – but got there too late to save Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith.

We quote from Scared Monkeys:

Their account gives a dramatic new turn to what the Obama administration and its allies would like to dismiss as an “old story” – the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Speaking out publicly for the first time, the three were security operators at the secret CIA annex in Benghazi – in effect, the first-responders to any attack on the diplomatic compound.

Based on the new book 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff with the Annex Security Team, the special sets aside the political spin that has freighted the Benghazi issue for the last two years, presenting a vivid, compelling narrative of events from the perspective of the men who wore the “boots on the ground”.

Now, looking back, the security team said they believed that if they had not been delayed for nearly half an hour, or if the air support had come, things might have turned out differently.

Ambassador Stevens and Sean [Smith], yeah, they would still be alive, my gut is yes,” Paronto said.

Tiegen concurred: “I strongly believe if we’d left immediately, they’d still be alive today.” 

See the video of the interview here.

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, must be held responsible for those deaths.

Baier-CIA-team-300x194

Fearing the truth about Benghazi 2

We’re delighted by every sign that the Obama henchmen – and henchwomen – are scared of what Fox News is discovering and broadcasting about Benghazi, where the regime allowed the US ambassador and three other Americans to be killed by Libyan terrorists. Fox News has found more and more evidence that the administration refused to send help, and that they’ve  been trying to cover up their guilt ever since. Now Greta van Susteren reveals yet another effort to stop the truth emerging.

Posted under Africa, Arab States, Commentary, corruption, Defense, Diplomacy, Ethics, Islam, jihad, Libya, Muslims, Terrorism, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Monday, September 8, 2014

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Irreconcilable visions and the decline of America 4

The proponents of centralized power require a homogeneous “people” to justify expanding government power. Such a “people” will have similar interests that only the central government can effectively identify and serve. Interests like “social justice”, “social duties”, and “social efficiency”, cannot be fulfilled by local or state governments, or by the parochial aims of civil society or the market, or by churches divided by sectarian beliefs. The federal technocrats of government agencies, more knowledgeable than the people about what they really want and need, must be given the power to trump those clashing local interests and manage polices that serve the larger “social” good – as defined not by the people in all their variety and complexity, but by federal bureaucrats and technocrats.

We quote from an excellent article by Bruce Thornton at Front Page.

In 1902 Theodore Roosevelt intervened in a strike by Pennsylvania coal miners, exceeding his Constitutional authority as president. When this was pointed out to him by Republican House whip James E. Watson, Roosevelt allegedly yelled, “To hell with the Constitution when the people want coal!”

This outburst reflected the novel Progressive view of the Chief Executive. Instead of the Constitution’s limited powers focused on specific needs, such as national defense, beyond the capacity of the individual states or local governments to address, the President needed more expansive authority in order to serve the “people”.  Over 100 years later, Barack Obama has governed on the same assumption, one that undermines the Constitution’s structure of balanced powers and limited government, and puts at risk our political freedom and autonomy.

In January of this year Obama famously asserted, much less honestly than did T.R., his willingness to shed Constitutional limits: “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got phone.” And he’s been true to his belief during his nearly six years in office. He has changed his own signature legislation, Obamacare, 42 times.

He has also used his “pen and phone” to change immigration laws, gun laws, labor laws, environmental policy, and many other statutes that should be the purview of the legislative branch, to which the Constitution gives the law-making power.

Other presidents, of course, have used signing statements and executive orders. But Obama has pushed this traditional prerogative far beyond the bounds that presidents in the past were usually careful to respect.

But the ideas behind this expansion of power are not peculiar to Obama, and transcend any one man. They come from the Progressive worldview that rejects the Constitution’s philosophical vision of humans as driven by conflicting “passions and interests”,  and eager to amass power in order to gratify both. The Progressives, on the contrary, believe that human nature can be improved, and that technocrats armed with new knowledge of human behavior and motivations can be entrusted with the concentrated power necessary for managing that improvement and solving the new problems created by industrialism, technology, and the other novelties of modernity.

In terms of the federal government, the key to this new vision is the executive branch, led by an activist president. Woodrow Wilson was quite explicit about these ideas. In 1890 he wrote of the need for a “leader of men” who has “such sympathetic and penetrative insight as shall enable him to discern quite unerringly the motives which move other men in the mass”.  He knows “what it is that lies waiting to be stirred in the minds and purposes of groups and masses of men”.  This sympathy is one “whose power is to command, to command by knowing its instrument”, and the leader possessing this “sympathy” cares only “for the external uses to which they [people] may be put”. 

More frightening still are Wilson’s comments further expanding on this “sympathy”.  “Whoever would effect a change in a modern constitutional government must first educate his fellow-citizens to want some change. That done, he must persuade them to want the particular change he wants. He must first make public opinion willing to listen and then see to it that it listens to the right things. He must stir it up to search for an opinion, and then manage to put the right opinion in its way.”

Gone are the notions that free people decide their own political fate and choose representatives to serve their interests and principles, their autonomy protected by the Constitutional structure of checks and balances. Now an empowered elite presumably wiser about human nature will, like Plato’s Guardians, manipulate the people’s opinions so that they make the “right” choice. These ideas are on a continuum that at the extreme end lie Mussolini’s fascism and Lenin’s communism.

Ideas that have been recycled by Cass Sunstein – former Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs  in the Obama White House – with his proposal that people must be “nudged” to do and think as he and his fellow Progressives are certain they should.

We see in Wilson’s writings another Progressive assumption still with us today: defining Americans as an abstract, collectivist “people”.  This unitary “people” rejects the Founders’ recognition of America’s great variety … that characterize the citizens of the United States. …  As John Adams wrote in 1787, the “selfish passions in the generality of men” are the “strongest”.

Knowing that this selfish inclination is rooted in a human nature … and so cannot be improved or eliminated, the Founders sought merely to balance faction against faction so that no one faction can amass enough power to threaten the freedom of all. 

Two visions irreconcilably opposed to each other: that of the Founders’ taking account of  human nature and its natural selfishness and finding the way to accommodate differences while protecting the freedom of each with rules for all; and that of the Progressive elite who would change human nature, homogenize interests, and impose their own vision on everyone, subordinating individual choice to a collective will controlled and guided by themselves.

Go back to Obama’s “pen and phone” statement and read what follows to see this same collectivist vision at work: “And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.” The president assumes that in a country of some 330 million people, “the help they need” and their views on improving job creation, education, or job training are all the same, and thus one man can formulate policies that advance them, cutting out the several hundred representative of Congress, and state and local governments.

The obvious danger is one evident from the 20th century’s history of totalitarianism from the Bolsheviks to the Khmer Rouge. Elites convinced of their superior knowledge and insight into human behavior and the proper aims people should pursue, demand the coercive power to achieve these goods. But true to the Founders’ vision of a flawed human nature, power is “of an encroaching nature,” as Madison and Washington both warned. It intoxicates and corrupts those who possess it. Moreover, it requires weakening the autonomy and freedom of the people, whose various interests will contradict the “vision of the anointed”, as Thomas Sowell dubs them, who claim to know what’s best for everybody, and use their power to neutralize or eliminate those who resist this superior wisdom.

We need to recognize that for over a century this Progressive vision has revolutionized the federal government, which now has a size, scope, cost, and coercive power that would have horrified the Founders.

US-Iran-Syria – the newest military alliance 2

Here is our Facebook condensation of a report by DebkaFile of events that are unlikely to be so much as mentioned by the US media.

They reveal an astonishing  degree of co-operation between the Iranian, Syrian and US governments. (But it’s possible Obama doesn’t know; he’ll only find out about it by “watching the news”.)

At least 18 foreign ISIS fighters including Americans and Europeans were killed Thursday, Sept. 4, in a Syrian air raid of the Al Qaeda-ISIS northern Syrian headquarters in the Gharbiya district of Raqqa. The raid caught a number of high Al Qaeda commanders and a large group of foreign adherents assembled at the facility.

A second group of high ISIS officers were killed or injured in another Syrian air raid over their base in Abu Kamal near the Iraqi border. Top men of the Islamist terrorist group were holding meetings at both places Thursday to coordinate IS strike plans in Syria and Iraq.

For Syria, these plans center on the Deir a-Zor and Al Qaim areas, while in Iraq, they focus on targets in the east and center of the country.

They must be credited to top-quality US aerial surveillance over Syria and Iraq, but were undoubtedly made possible by the Obama administration’s deepening military and intelligence ties with Iran.

Many of the allies present at the two-day NATO Summit outside the Welsh town of Newport will not welcome these tidings - Britain, Germany and Australia, in particular. They deeply resent being displaced as America’s senior strategic partners by the Revolutionary Republic of Iran, after their long partnership with the US in fighting terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. But they will find it hard to argue with success.

On Aug. 31 US and Iranian special forces fighting together, broke the 100-day IS siege of the eastern Iraqi town of Amerli, 100 km from the Iranian border, to score a major victory in their first joint military ground action. Then, Wednesday, Sept. 3, US jets struck an IS base in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, killing its commander, Abu Hajar Al-Sufi, and two lieutenants of the IS chief Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi.

While President Obama has denied having a strategy for fighting ISIS, a working mechanism appears to have been put in place to support a trilateral military offensive against al Qaeda’s Islamist State. The successful attacks in the last 24 hours were apparently made possible by this mechanism: Iranian intelligence collected US surveillance data from the Americans and passed it on to Syria for action.

The world order is changing continually like patterns in a rapidly-turned kaleidoscope. 

More chaos than order.

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