Friday, October 10, 2008

Our tax system explained in terms of beer

Using actual percentages, the impact of a tax cut, and the public reaction that everyone should be able to understand.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers,' he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. 'Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so -

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 ( 22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20,'declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!'

'Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!'

'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'

'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia

The Obama Witch Project—Finding Racism Everywhere

By Michelle Malkin
http://www.vdare.com/
http://michellemalkin.com/
October 09, 2008

Republicans don't need to dress up for Halloween this year. They're scaring the pants off Barack Obama's followers by their mere presence. Anything they say, wear or do provokes instant cries of "RAAAAACISM!" Wink, blink or think critical thoughts about Obama? You're a bigot!

How many racial bogeymen have Obama operatives and sympathetic journalists discovered lurking in "coded language" and attire? Let us count the ways:

* During Tuesday's presidential debate, John McCain referred to Obama as "that one." Official Obama press agitator Bill Burton sent off an e-mail blast to reporters: "Did John McCain just refer to Obama as 'that one'?" Horrors.

Taking their cue from Burton, spooked Obama supporters hyperventilated like teenagers on the film set of The Blair Witch Project. "The racial undertones were subtle but unmistakable," declared Maya Wiley of the leftist Center for Social Inclusion. "McCain was tapping into a current of superiority among white voters. It was an attempt to 'otherize' Obama." [McCain's Usage of 'That One' Sparks Questions of Intent, FoxNews.com, October 8, 2008]

"Otherize"? Sounds like something you do to your car tires to prepare for winter.

UC Berkeley linguistics professor George Lakoff [Email him] was also haunted by "That One": "The phrase was meant to say, 'You and I are in the same area, but he's the outsider.'"

Memo to McCain: Next time, call him "The One."

* Obama supporters on the heavily trafficked Democratic Underground website (where such mainstream Democrats as Elizabeth Edwards hang out) saw the ghost of the Ku Klux Klan in Sarah Palin's white suit jacket. Yes, white clothes equal racism.

"Palin is wearing white again, inciting the racist crowds. She should just drop all pretense and put on her white hood and light up a cross. She is a despicable human being," fumed a DU poster. "Grand Princess of the KKK," proclaimed another. They're "trying to send subtle signals to their rabid base," declared yet another member of Obama's rabid base.

My racial decoder ring must be on the fritz. I'm not getting the signal. If she wears white stockings, drinks a vanilla milkshake and refers to budgetary black holes, are those incitements, too? And what about her gorgeous white teeth? Perhaps she should drink more coffee—hold the white cream!—to avoid emitting further racial radiation.

* Such paranoia is not limited to the fever swamps of the Internet. Earlier this week, the Associated Press disseminated an "analysis" accusing Palin of injecting a "racial tinge" into the campaign because she criticized Obama for his longtime relationship with Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. Palin's comments were completely unobjectionable: "This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America."

I saw a vice presidential candidate drawing stark philosophical differences between two tickets. The AP saw Freddy Krueger with lipstick and a noose.

"Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as 'not like us' is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American," the AP piece frothed. [Analysis: Palin's words carry racial tinge, By Douglass K. Daniel, October 5, 2008]

Obama is half-black. Ayers is white. One of the Weather Underground's victims was black police officer Waverly Brown of Nyack, N.Y. Where do I buy a pair of the super X-ray glasses that can detect the racism in Palin's remarks about the Obama-Ayers alliance?

* I'll have to borrow those hysterical-colored spectacles from Time's Karen Tumulty, who spotted racist goblins in the recent McCain ad criticizing Obama for seeking advice from Fannie Mae corruptocrat Franklin Raines. "Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman," Tumulty balked in a blog post titled "McCain plays the race card."

Um, "sinister"? The ad's photos of Obama and Raines were standard shots—some with dour expressions, others smiling. The fact that Tumulty perceived them as "sinister" suggests that she should perform a self-racism exam before diagnosing anyone else.

* A parade of congressional witch hunters for Obama also detects the specter of George Wallace behind every policy bush. Democratic New York Gov. David Paterson says conservative criticism of Obama's community organizing days is code for "black." Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks complained to the New York Observer: "They are trying to throw out these codes." In the same piece, Democratic Rep. Yvette Clark divined segregationist intent in Palin's references to Joe Six-Pack and hockey moms. "It leaves a lot of people out."

And Democratic Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed Time's Tumulty on the McCain camp's Obama/Raines broadsides: "The only connection that people could bring up about Raines and Barack Obama is that they both are African-American, other than that there is nothing."

The Washington Post reported that Obama's office phoned Raines for housing advice and has stood by its reporting. Is the newspaper part of the McCain/Palin hooded racists' coven, too?

Obama's witch hunters better beware. When there's racism in every hiccup, nobody's air supply is safe.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Michelle Malkin [email her] is author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s review. Click here for Michelle Malkin's website. Michelle Malkin's latest book is Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.

Obama Still Hasn’t Closed The Sale—But Can McCain Stop Him?

By Patrick J. Buchanan
http://www.vdare.com/
October 9, 2008

Two weeks after the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., John McCain and Sarah Palin were striding forward toward victory.

They had erased the eight-point lead Barack Obama had opened up in Denver and watched as one blue state after another moved into the toss-up category.

That is ancient history now.

Since mid-September, the stock market has cratered, losing half of the $8 trillion that has vanished since October 2007. All five of America's great investment banks—Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill-Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley—have either ceased to be independent or ceased to be.

The nation's largest savings and loan, Washington Mutual, and largest insurance company, AIG, have gone belly up, with the federal bailout of the latter costing $100 billion and counting. Perhaps $3 trillion of the $8 trillion in stock value that is gone disappeared after passage of the $700 billion federal bailout of Wall Street.

No bottom is in sight to the worst market crash since 1929. Recession is now certain. George W. Bush has fallen to 26 percent approval, a level unseen since Richard Nixon was driven from office in the Watergate summer of '74. Four in five think the nation is on the wrong course.

Yet, Obama has only a six-point lead in an averaging of national polls. While he has moved ahead in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, one senses America is not so much rallying to him as running away from a Republican brand that is now on the same shelf with Chinese baby formula.

Obama still has not closed the sale. He has overtaken McCain not because of any brilliant campaign he has conducted but because of the dreadful news pouring out of Wall Street. McCain and Palin are being dragged down by Dow Jones, not Barack Obama.

As of today, the country is not so much voting for Barack and the Democrats as it is preparing to vote against the Republicans.

Consider: The Congress, whose Democratic ranks the nation is getting ready to enlarge—the Congress led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid—has an approval rating half that of Bush.

Indeed, looking back on the Year of Barack, 2008, it is clear he has never closed the sale, either with the people or his own party.

After he came off the blocks with a startling triumph in Iowa and ran up a dozen straight primary and caucus victories in February, arrived the spring when Hillary, though Obama's media auxiliary was ordering her to get out, defeated him in Texas, crushed him in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and humiliated him in West Virginia and Kentucky.

Each time the voters take a long second look at Barack, their positive first impressions seem to dissipate. Barack is a weak closer.

Herein lies McCain's hope. The country wants change, but it has not concluded it wants Obama. But if John McCain cannot raise grave doubts about his agenda, his associates, his record, his character, his fitness to be president, Obama is going to win by default.

Obama has succeeded in the debates by playing defense. By his cool demeanor and persona, he has diminished apprehensions about an Obama presidency. There is no evidence of surging enthusiasm.

The Obama media are well aware of Obama's Achilles' heel, his great vulnerability, the doubts about him that still exist in the public mind. That is why they are near hysterical about Palin's ripping of Obama for "palling around" with "domestic terrorists" like William Ayers, the 1960s and 1970s Weatherman radical who conspired to bomb the Capitol and Pentagon and was quoted the morning of 9-11 as saying he wished he had set off more bombs.

The MainStream Media call this irrelevant, as it was so long ago.

Yet can one imagine how the media would have reacted had they learned that a GOP presidential nominee was introduced to politics and worked in harness with a KKK bomber of black churches in the 1960s, who was quoted the morning of Oklahoma City as saying he wished he had planted more bombs?

As McCain is an Establishment man on illegal aliens, NAFTA and Wall Street bailouts, uneasy with social issues like affirmative action and abortion, he lacks the full panoply of weapons that successful Republicans like Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bush II used to win two terms. He seems to confine himself to the limited arsenal Gerald Ford, Bush 1 and Bob Dole employed when they went down to defeat.

This election is not over. Yet even if McCain gets a bit of luck, a dead cat bounce on Wall Street, he must persuade the nation Obama is an unacceptable occupant of the White House if he is to win.

Palin appears ready to take the heat to make that case. But McCain seems ambivalent to the point of being bipolar on whether he wants to take responsibility for peeling the hide off Barack Obama.

Perhaps it comes down to what McCain really thinks about an Obama presidency—and how he wants to be remembered by history.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Patrick J. Buchanan needs no introduction to VDARE.COM readers; his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book is Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, reviewed here by Paul Craig Roberts.

A Question of Barack Obama's Character

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/
October 10, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Convicted felon Tony Rezko. Unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. And the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It is hard to think of any presidential candidate before Barack Obama sporting associations with three more execrable characters. Yet let the McCain campaign raise the issue, and the mainstream media begin fulminating about dirty campaigning tinged with racism and McCarthyite guilt by association.

But associations are important. They provide a significant insight into character. They are particularly relevant in relation to a potential president as new, unknown, opaque and self-contained as Obama. With the economy overshadowing everything, it may be too late politically to be raising this issue. But that does not make it, as conventional wisdom holds, in any way illegitimate.

McCain has only himself to blame for the bad timing. He should months ago have begun challenging Obama's associations, before the economic meltdown allowed the Obama campaign (and the mainstream media, which is to say the same thing) to dismiss the charges as an act of desperation by the trailing candidate.

McCain had his chance back in April when the North Carolina Republican Party ran a gubernatorial campaign ad that included the linking of Obama with Jeremiah Wright. The ad was duly denounced by The New York Times and other deep thinkers as racist.

This was patently absurd. Racism is treating people differently and invidiously on the basis of race. Had any white presidential candidate had a close 20-year association with a white preacher overtly spreading race hatred from the pulpit, that candidate would have been not just universally denounced and deemed unfit for office but written out of polite society entirely.

Nonetheless, John McCain in his infinite wisdom, and with his overflowing sense of personal rectitude, joined the braying mob in denouncing that perfectly legitimate ad, saying it had no place in any campaign. In doing so, McCain unilaterally disarmed himself, rendering off-limits Obama's associations, an issue that even Hillary Clinton addressed more than once.

Obama's political career was launched with Ayers giving him a fundraiser in his living room. If a Republican candidate had launched his political career at the home of an abortion-clinic bomber -- even a repentant one -- he would not have been able to run for dogcatcher in Podunk. And Ayers shows no remorse. His only regret is that he "didn't do enough."

Why are these associations important? Do I think Obama is as corrupt as Rezko? Or shares Wright's angry racism or Ayers' unreconstructed 1960s radicalism?

No. But that does not make these associations irrelevant. They tell us two important things about Obama.

First, his cynicism and ruthlessness. He found these men useful, and use them he did. Would you attend a church whose pastor was spreading racial animosity from the pulpit? Would you even shake hands with -- let alone serve on two boards with -- an unrepentant terrorist, whether he bombed U.S. military installations or abortion clinics?

Most Americans would not, on the grounds of sheer indecency. Yet Obama did, if not out of conviction then out of expediency. He was a young man on the make, an unknown outsider working his way into Chicago politics. He played the game with everyone, without qualms and with obvious success.

Obama is not the first politician to rise through a corrupt political machine. But he is one of the rare few to then have the audacity to present himself as a transcendent healer, hovering above and bringing redemption to the "old politics" -- of the kind he had enthusiastically embraced in Chicago in the service of his own ambition.

Second, and even more disturbing than the cynicism, is the window these associations give on Obama's core beliefs. He doesn't share Rev. Wright's poisonous views of race nor Ayers' views, past and present, about the evil that is American society. But Obama clearly did not consider these views beyond the pale. For many years he swam easily and without protest in that fetid pond.

Until now. Today, on the threshold of the presidency, Obama concedes the odiousness of these associations, which is why he has severed them. But for the years in which he sat in Wright's pews and shared common purpose on boards with Ayers, Obama considered them a legitimate, indeed unremarkable, part of social discourse.

Do you? Obama is a man of first-class intellect and first-class temperament. But his character remains highly suspect. There is a difference between temperament and character. Equanimity is a virtue. Tolerance of the obscene is not.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com
Copyright 2008, Washington Post Writers Group

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bob Dylan- Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8

By Mikal Gilmore
Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/
October 16, 2008

Bob Dylan is well-known for his abandoned treasures — all those unreleased recordings from the past 40-plus years that have made his ongoing Bootleg Series such a mind-blowing trove. Dylan likely had little trouble leaving those moments behind, treasures or not; he's always been wary of letting his past prejudice his here and now. This newest collection of rare recordings, though, is something apart: The alternate studio takes, undisclosed songs, movie tracks and live performances that make up the three discs of Tell Tale Signs (also available as a two-disc package) depict Dylan's development from 1989 to 2006 — which is to say they're closer to Dylan's here and now than any earlier volumes. Also, Tell Tale Signs is less an anthology than an album in its own right. It seems designed to tell a story that sharpens and expands the vista of mortal and cultural disintegration that has been the chief theme of Dylan's 1997's Time Out of Mind, 2001's Love and Theft and 2006's Modern Times — perhaps the most daring music he's ever made. Tell Tale Signs makes plain that Dylan knows the caprices of the world he lives in, now more than ever.

Just as important, this collection bears witness to Dylan's reclamation of voice and perspective. He had been a singular visionary who upended rock & roll by recasting it as a force that could question society's values and politics, but he relinquished that calling as the society grew more dangerous. By the end of the Eighties, he had undergone so many transformations, made so many half-here and half-there albums, that he seemed to be casting about for a purpose. What did he want to say about the times around him? Did he have a vision anymore or just a career? The singer drew a new bead on these concerns with 1989's Oh Mercy, produced by Daniel Lanois. Dylan has said he was never fully satisfied with the album, but given that Tell Tale Signs features 10 tracks from Oh Mercy's sessions, it's clear its tunes mattered to him.

It's also clear that Dylan sometimes had better production instincts than Lanois. The latter's interpretation of "Most of the Time" — the broken meditation of a lovesick man — played like immaculate architecture; everything about it, including vocals and emotions, was put in a measured place, meant to sustain atmosphere more than expression. By contrast, Dylan's acoustic-guitar and harmonica rendering of the song has the drive and dynamics of the heart; it's a living soliloquy that cuts to the quick. Similarly, his reading of "Ring Them Bells" features just his voice and piano, and its longing is palpable. On Oh Mercy, the song felt like a blessing, full of compassion and beauty; here, it works as a tortured prayer, already turning from hope, and it makes one wonder why Dylan ever allowed Lanois' mannered ambience to subsume the song. Yet as promising as Oh Mercy's songs seemed at the time, they were also still trying to reason with the world, to offer the possibility of deliverance. They couldn't begin to hint at the gravity of what was to come.

By the time of 1997's Lanois-helmed Time Out of Mind, Dylan's view was well past optimistic. In the seven years since he last recorded an original album, he concentrated mainly on rekindling his musical spirit, playing live with a protean band that approached every performance as a chance for intense affinity. Something in Dylan had also turned hard-boiled: His worldview had sharpened, and he wasn't reticent to talk about truths in unambiguous terms. This time, Lanois' spooky milieu suited the artist's world-weariness, working to evoke the sound of a midnight band playing a spectral juke joint, located somewhere near the end times. Tell Tale Signs testifies to Time Out of Mind's stature with 12 tracks — many of them versions of previously unreleased songs. Among the highlights are two takes of "Red River Shore," a rhapsodic song, awash in a Tejano mellifluence, about an idealized love that never happened and how the singer inhabits its loss like a ghost.

The real find, though, is "Mississippi," a song so central to Dylan's later work that three takes of it exist here. Though the song would later figure on Love and Theft, Lanois told Dylan that he thought it was too "pedestrian" for Time Out of Mind. It's probably just as well: "Mississippi" is too remarkable for any artful treatment. What seeps through its bones is foreclosed history, both American and personal: "Every step of the way, we walk the line/Your days are numbered, so are mine/Time is pilin' up, we struggle and we scrape/We're all boxed in, nowhere to escape." Moreover, all three takes serve as examples of the matchless singer Dylan remains, using inflection and phrasing to reveal different possibilities each time. He intones one version of "Mississippi" here as a remorseful lament, so soft-spoken that he's leaning into your ear; the second as a late-night conspiracy, bone-tired and raspy; the third as the brave and heart-worn last stand, a witness to the costs and advantages of experience — all three of them encompass American loss.

But then, nearly all of Tell Tale Signs points to that state, and to something darker, deeper and irrefutable: There is no center that can hold in our time anymore, there is no certain shelter from the coming storms. Dylan works his way unflinchingly along the merciless highways and barren landscapes of "Marchin' to the City" and "Tell Ol' Bill," past the floods of "High Water (For Charley Patton)," into the mean honesty of "Ain't Talkin' " and "Lonesome Day Blues." He is possessed of the love that damned him in "Red River Shore," as well as the one he came to hate in "Someday Baby." There are grace notes here, most of them drawn from the past, such as the portrayal of the brave Civil War soldiers dying together in "'Cross the Green Mountain" and the maiden who follows her love into war in "Mary and the Soldier." Others come simply from the immediacy of live performances like a 2003 delivery of "High Water" that Dylan's band plays like a night raid, and a dreamlike adaptation of "Tryin' to Get to Heaven" from 2000.

Above all, there is an abiding love for America's rich musical sources, invoked here in Robert Johnson's deathly "32-20 Blues," in Jimmie Rodgers' elegant requiem "Miss the Mississippi" and in a high-lonesome duet with bluegrass vet Ralph Stanley on "The Lonesome River." But love and truth, even vengeance, aren't necessarily salvation — they're simply, as Dylan says in "Huck's Tune," weapons "in this version of death called life."

If Dylan's songs were once protests looking for rectification — if his language was once phantasmagoric and tricky to decipher — well, that was wonderful, but things have changed. Tell Tale Signs sets a new milestone for this American artist. Dylan has always written about morally centerless times, but this collection comes from a different perspective — not something born of the existential moment but of the existential long view and the courage of dread. Jack Fate, Dylan's character in Masked and Anonymous, intones what might work as the précis for this album: "Seen from a fair garden, everything looks cheerful. Climb to a higher plateau, and you'll see plunder and murder. Truth and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. I tried to stop figuring everything out a long time ago." For a long time, we've asked Dylan to deliver us truths. Now that he has, we need to ask ourselves if we can live with them.

Bob Dylan - "Tell Tale Signs - The Bootleg Series Vol. 8" - track listing:

Disc One

Mississippi (Unreleased, Time Out Of Mind)
Most of the Time (Alternate version, Oh Mercy)
Dignity (Piano demo, Oh Mercy)
Someday Baby (Alternate version, Modern Times)
Red River Shore (Unreleased, Time Out Of Mind)
Tell Ol' Bill (Alternate version, North Country Soundtrack)
Born in Time (Unreleased, Oh Mercy)
Can't Wait (Alternate version, Time Out Of Mind)
Everything is Broken (Alternate version, Oh Mercy)
Dreamin' of You (Unreleased, Time Out Of Mind)
Huck's Tune (From Lucky You soundtrack)
Marchin' to the City (Unreleased, Time Out Of Mind)
High Water (For Charley Patton) (Live, Niagara, 2003)

Disc Two

Mississippi (Unreleased version #2, Time Out Of Mind)
32-20 Blues (Unreleased, World Gone Wrong)
Series of Dreams (Unreleased, Oh Mercy)
God Knows (Unreleased, Oh Mercy)
Can't Escape From You (Unreleased, December 2005)
Dignity (Unreleased, Oh Mercy)
Ring Them Bells (Live at the Supper Club, 1993)
Cocaine Blues (Live, Vienna, Virginia, 1997)
Ain't Talkin' (Alternate version, Modern Times)
The Girl On The Greenbriar Shore (Live, 1992)
Lonesome Day Blues (Live, Sunrise, Florida, 2002)
Miss the Mississippi (Unreleased, 1992)
The Lonesome River (With Ralph Stanley, from Clinch Mountain Country)
'Cross The Green Mountain (From Gods And Generals Soundtrack)

Disc Three

Duncan And Brady (Unreleased, 1992)
Cold Irons Bound (Live, Bonnaroo, June 2004)
Mississippi (Unreleased version #3, Time Out Of Mind)
Most Of The Time (Alternate version #2, Oh Mercy)
Ring Them Bells (Alternate version, Oh Mercy)
Things Have Changed (Live, Portland, Oregon, 2000)
Red River Shore (Unreleased version #2, Time Out Of Mind)
Born In Time (Unreleased version #2, Oh Mercy)
Tryin' To Get To Heaven (Live, London, England, 2000)
Marchin' To The City (Unreleased version #2, Time Out Of Mind)
Can't Wait (Alternate version #2, Time Out Of Mind)
Mary And The Soldier (Unreleased, World Gone Wrong)

Today's Tune: Bob Dylan - Series of Dreams



(Click on title to play video)

The Other Debate

By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/
Thursday, October 09, 2008

Shortly before John McCain and Barack Obama, as the Car Guys would say, wasted a perfectly good hour-and-a-half of America’s time in a largely uninformative town hall meeting, a really interesting debate about the most important issue of our time took place near Baltimore. Sponsored by a local educational organization called The Harbor League, I had at last an opportunity to confront publicly and directly one of the most senior and controversial Muslim officials in the Bush Administration: the Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Suhail Khan.

Readers of these pages will recall my previous writings about Khan and his patron, conservative activist Grover Norquist (notably, here and here).

In these articles, I carefully documented Khan’s personal ties to Wahhabi mosques in California and a variety of organizations identified by the Department of Justice as Muslim Brotherhood front organizations and, in some cases, as un-indicted co-conspirators in a terrorism financing conspiracy. I also reported on the role Norquist has played before and during the George W. Bush administration in facilitating Islamist influence operations involving – at key points, with Suhail Khan’s help at the White House Office of Public Liaison – the likes of now-convicted terrorist-supporters like Abdurahman Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian. Khan serves on the board of the Islamic Free Market Institute, the organization Alamoudi helped Norquist establish a decade ago in his Americans for Tax Reform offices, apparently for the purpose of credentialing Islamists as conservatives, promoting their agenda in Washington and placing their friends in government jobs.

While Khan and Norquist have used various vehicles to denounce these treatments – notably, accusing me of racism and bigotry – they have yet to disprove any of my findings. Last night’s debate addressing the question of whether Islamic law (Shariah) is consistent with a “religion of peace” and the U.S. Constitution was an opportunity for Khan to do so. At the very least, it was a chance for Khan to allay concerns about the attitude of such a highly placed individual towards the Islamists’ stealthy efforts to advance the repressive theo-political-legal code they call Shariah and its stated objective of global Islamic rule under a theocratic leader.

Unfortunately, as the audio of the “Other Debate” shows, Suhail Khan chose to do neither. Instead, from his opening remarks to his impassioned conclusion, he extolled America, its people, its culture, even its national pastime. He inveighed against those “hate-mongers” and “racists” whom he accused of knowing nothing of and defaming Islam (Jihad Watch’s extraordinary director, Robert Spencer, came in for repeated defamation, as did my esteemed colleague, David Yerushalmi). Perhaps in deference to the moderator, Sinclair Broadcasting’s Mark Hyman, who enjoined us from ad hominem attacks, Khan expressed those aimed at me only through oblique references.

For my part, I used the occasion to frame the issue as clearly as I could. (A copy of my prepared remarks – which were pretty much deployed in their entirety, together with several Powerpoint slides can be found here [attached]. The problem, I observed, is Shariah, the theo-political-legal program born of the texts, traditions and practices of authoritative Islam. At its core, Shariah’s agenda is seditious since it is designed to destroy the constitutional government of the United States and replace it with Islamic rule.

This end-state will be achieved here as elsewhere through violent (or “hard”) jihad, if possible. Where that is not immediately practicable, the Muslim Brotherhood has established scores of organizations to promote what might be called “soft” or “stealth” jihad.

The objective, however, is absolutely the same: In the words of an internal planning document written in 1991, “[The Brotherhood’s] work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”

I concluded with the following points:

Every U.S. government official swears a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Those officials who are Muslim have a special responsibility to reject Shariah and the Muslim Brotherhood organizations stealthily trying to impose it on all of us.

To do otherwise is to fail to act in the face of seditious behavior – a felony offense under the U.S. code known as “misprision of treason.”

We need the help of all patriotic, law-abiding, tolerant Americans who are Muslims in fighting our mutual enemy: Shariah-adherent Islamists in this country and elsewhere. A key test of which camp they are in is whether they acknowledge the nature of authoritative Islam’s Shariah and the threat it represents to our country and Constitution, and work against – not with – the groups advancing this seditious agenda.

Suhail Khan reacted to this dose of salts in a manner reminiscent of Linda Blair’s character in “The Exorcist,” minus the vomit and physical gyrations. He vehemently insisted that my portrayal of Shariah – from its embrace of the law of “abrogation” (whereby the intolerant, violent passages of the Koran that come chronologically after the more moderate, earlier ones) to its absolutely delineated interpretations and the myriad obligations arising therefrom (including to engage in jihad) – was the stuff of a few extremists like Osama bin Laden and “wack-job web sites.”

In response to my repeated observation that the characterization of Shariah is not mine but that of all of the recognized authorities of Islam, Khan asserted again and again that it was not true. When pressed by a member of the audience to name a single Muslim scholar deemed authoritative by the institutions of his faith (like Al Azhar University in Cairo or the senior clerics of Saudi Arabia) who agreed with his view, he could only come up with three Americans who went to school in the Mideast and who have written as-yet unpublished books Khan claims will affirm his position. I noted that even if these books existed and actually did deviate from the traditions and tenets of Shariah, none of his authors had any standing as Islamic scholars. In any event, according to Shariah, there has been no opportunity for new interpretations of settled Islamic law for nearly 1200 years.

Speaking of the audience, the packed room included a couple of car-loads worth of staff and associates of Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Several of them asked pointed questions taken straight out of the Islamist play-book: asserting a moral equivalence between the extremists of Islam and those of Christianity and Judaism; insisting that there was no problem with authoritative Shariah, only with a small number of terrorists who falsely claim religious grounds for their criminal conduct; and suggesting that if Jews and various Christian sects can have and observe their own laws, why can’t Muslims? The fervor with which these non-Muslim conservative activists parroted the Brotherhood line suggested that more than simple solidarity with their friend, Suhail Khan, is at work in Norquist’s Islamist influence operation.

I closed the program with an appeal to those present – and to the larger audience that may see the Other Debate if, as promised Al Jazeera plays it in its entirety: Do your homework. It is your civic duty to find out whether my characterization of Shariah, its inherently seditious nature and its utter incompatability with our Constitution and freedoms is correct. Or are Suhail Khan’s blithe assurances that Shariah is consistent with a “religion of peace” and no danger to America, nothing more than a program that Muslims can interpret however they wish, to be believed?
As one knowledgeable questioner pointed out, these are questions of fact. Even the most superficial examination of the texts, traditions and institutions of Shariah – helpfully and authoritatively translated into English by the Saudis – will establish that I am correct. And the fact that Suhail Khan says otherwise leaves only two possible explanations: Either he is woefully ignorant of the fundamentals of his own faith or he is willfully dissembling about them in the way Muslim Brotherhood operatives and their friends consistently do.

Whichever may be the case, Suhail Khan clearly is not a reliable source for insights into the central challenge of our time – a challenge that went completely unaddressed in the McCain-Obama debate last night, namely the danger of Shariah and the stealth jihad systematically seeking to insinuate it into our country and society. Khan’s performance in the evening’s Other Debate calls into the question not only his true purposes, but the judgment and wisdom of those who do rely upon him.

Frank Gaffney's Prepared Remarks for his debate with Suhail Khan (who is the Special Assistant for Policy to the Secretary of Transportation):

“Shariah is Anti-Constitutional and Seditious”

The Harbor League
Baltimore, Maryland
7 October 2008

I come to this debate with an expertise in national security matters rather than in the texts, traditions and practices of authoritative Islam. There is, however, a nexus between the two in the theo-political-legal program born of these texts, traditions and practices – a program that the recognized Islamic authorities call “Shariah.”

I am here to discuss Shariah’s profound implications for our national security and for the Constitution of the United States – which is, according to its Article VI, the “supreme law of the land.” [Slide 2]

Shariah 101

The roots of Shariah are to be found in the Koran which Muslims regard as the word of God – or Allah, although most of it is the product of scholars and caliphs who lived hundreds of years after Mohammed’s death. Of particular importance to this debate is the Koranic principle of “abrogation.”

According to the recognized Islamic authorities, Allah made plain in a verse of the Koran known as Sura 2:106 that earlier passages of his revelations to Mohammed would be replaced by “something better.”

Hence, the chronology of the verses of the Koran is all important. (Slide 4)Passages from the Meccan period, which tend to be peaceable and tolerant were followed by those of the Medinan period, which are in many cases neither.

Two examples are sufficient for the present purpose: what are generally accepted to be the last two Sura of the Koran – Sura 9 which deals with “jihad” and Sura 5 which addresses interfaith relations.

As the next two slides make clear, earlier passages that are often cited as evidence that Islam is a “religion of peace” and tolerant of other faiths, in particular those of “People of the Book” (i.e., Jews and Christians) have in both cases been abrogated in favor of what are believed to be divine directives to use violent means where necessary to assure the triumph of Islam over other faiths and the world. (Slides 5 and 6)

The Shariah Agenda

In fact, all four schools of Sunni Islam and the 1 or 2 schools of Shi’a Islam agree that:

• First, it is God’s will that Islam will rule the world.

• Second, jihad to achieve the global governance of a Caliph/Ayatollah pursuant to Shariah is the obligation of all Muslims.

• Third, those Muslims who don’t adhere to Shariah are apostates – a crime punishable by death.

• Where possible, jihad is to be pursued with terror-inducing violence. Where not, “soft” or “stealth” jihad is to be employed, backed by the threat of violence – if not its actual use elsewhere.

The Muslim Brotherhood

With a view to organizing a disciplined, international effort to wage stealth jihad until such time as violent means could be productively employed, Hassan al-Banna established the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928.

According to an internal memorandum explaining the Brotherhood’s “strategic goal for the group in North America,” written by a top Brotherhood operative here in 1991:

[The Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.

Importantly, the memorandum goes on to identify virtually every one of the most prominent Muslim-American organizations as Muslim Brotherhood fronts. It enthuses: “Imagine if they all march to one plan!” In fact, many of these entities have also been identified by the Department of Justice as un-indicted co-conspirators in a terrorism financing conspiracy – the Holy Land Foundation’s fundraising operations on behalf of Hamas.

The Brotherhood’s Program

Focuses of the “soft” jihad being perpetrated by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups to advance this strategic goal in America include:

1) Dominating the Muslim population. The strategy is a classic totalitarian model: segregate the targeted group, promote a sense of its victimhood, radicalize its members and recruit them to action – in this case, jihad. It is being advanced systematically, if incrementally, in mosques, prisons, military, schools and campuses, unions, government and most recently, on what is left of Wall Street in the form of Shariah-Compliant Finance.

2) Intimidating opponents. This involves the imposition in this country of what amounts to Shariah’s law of submission, which prohibits any blasphemy, slander, libel against Islam. The injunction, of course, is applied only one-way; Shariah is virulently intolerant of all other religions. Techniques employed to suppress opposition to the imposition of Shariah – or even discussion of its insinuation into our society include: branding critics as “Islamophobes”; using litigation, legislation and other forms of lawfare to hector or silence them; threats of extradition to places where Shariah courts can impose ghastly penalties for “offending” Islam; ostracism; and, of course, threats of violence.

In liberal societies like ours, this campaign generally exploits civil liberties and human rights and the institutions designed to safeguard them. In this, the Shariah adherents pursuing soft jihad often secure valuable assistance from what the Soviets used to call “useful idiots” – those who are, for whatever reason, alienated from their own nations and disposed to help Islamists who they see as kindred spirits in their alienation. Such help takes the form of assistance with lawsuits and legislation aimed at countering law enforcement, intelligence, interrogation of detainees, etc. It also can be found on campuses, in textbooks and the public square where leftists (among them homosexuals, feminists and Jews) help legitimate a program that will, if fully instituted here, be unpleasant for them, to say the least.

3) Creating parallel societies. The object of the preceding activities is to establish, initially, a separate society for Muslims within that of their host nations in which non-Muslims are the majority. This is accomplished by insinuating preferential arrangements for Muslims – religious accommodations, their own legal code and courts (i.e., Shariah), territorial “no-go” zones and assorted political benefits. Initially, these seem modest and unthreatening. Separate rules governing dress codes, accommodations in public spaces for the practice of a single religion, latitude to deny service or handling of certain products in deference to religious sensibilities, organized labor contracts that substitute of Muslim holy days for Labor Day, etc.

Inevitably, however, these concessions result in pressure from Shariah-adherent Muslims to extend such beachheads ever further. Inevitably, over time if not in relatively short order, a parallel society is in place that is utterly at odds with the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution, its precepts, freedoms and institutions.

The Bottom Line

Taken together, these Shariah-ordained initiatives represent a mortal threat to the security and constitutional government of the United States. The good news is that not all Muslims adhere to Shariah, particularly here in the United States.

The bad news is that those who do include all of the recognized authorities of Islam, they speak for the faith, control its institutions and have enormous resources and infrastructure – including inside the United States (both MB and Wahhabi).

By contrast, those who don’t adhere to Shariah – both here and abroad – are generally without resources, disorganized and often extremely isolated. Worse yet, they are considered apostates by the authorities and millions of their co-religionists – a powerful disincentive to adopting visible public profiles opposing Shariah.

As a result, we confront an unprecedented threat: a Fifth Column inside this country and in other Western societies advancing by stealth, as well as by terror (or the threat of it), a seditious program aimed at destroying the United States and bringing about its people’s submission to Islamic rule under Shariah.

With Us or Against Us?

Every US government official swears a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Those officials who are Muslim have a special responsibility to reject Shariah and the Muslim Brotherhood organizations stealthily trying to impose it on all of us.

To do otherwise is to fail to act in the face of seditious behavior – a felony offense under the U.S. code known as misprision of treason.

We need the help of all patriotic, law-abiding, tolerant Americans who are Muslims in fighting our mutual enemy: Shariah-adherent Islamists in this country and elsewhere.

A key test of which camp they are in is whether they acknowledge the nature of authoritative Islam’s Shariah and the threat it represents to our country and Constitution, and work against – not with – the groups advancing this seditious agenda.

- Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Today's Tune: John Fogerty - Rock and Roll Girls



(Click on title to play video)

Thug Thizzle to Election Day

ACORN/Obama voter registration.

By Michelle Malkin
http://www.vdare.com/
http://michellemalkin.com/
October 08, 2008, 0:00 a.m.

Systemic corruption of our election process continues. Barack Obama and his old friends at ACORN and Project Vote are leading the way. This radical revolution is taking place in your backyard. And as I've reported before, this voter-fraud racket is on your dime.

On Monday, the two liberal groups announced the wrap-up of a 21-state voter registration drive targeting low-income people and minorities in battleground states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Wisconsin..

What's wrong with that? For starters, these two groups are militant partisan outfits purporting to engage in nonpartisan civic activity. And their campaign comes amid an avalanche of fresh voter-fraud allegations involving ACORN in many of those same key states.

On Tuesday, Nevada state officials raided ACORN's Las Vegas office after election authorities accused the group of submitting multiple voter registrations with fake and duplicate names.

ACORN, which receives 40 percent of its revenues from American taxpayers to pursue an aggressive welfare-state agenda, has already helped register over 1.27 million people nationwide. The rest of their funding comes from left-wing heavyweights like billionaire George Soros and the Democracy Alliance.

Project Vote, a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded by left-wing lawyer Sandy Newman to register voters in welfare offices and unemployment lines with the explicit goal of turning back the Reagan revolution.

The two groups are inextricably linked—and at their nexus is Barack Obama.

In 1992, Newman hired Obama to lead Project Vote efforts in Illinois. The Illinois drive's motto: "It's a Power Thing."

As previously noted in this column ("The ACORN Obama Knows", June 25, 2008), Obama also trained ACORN members in Chicago. In turn, ACORN volunteers worked on his Illinois campaigns and ACORN's PAC endorsed his primary bid with full backing and muscle.

Despite his adamant denials of any association with the group (his Fight the Smears website now claims "Barack Obama never organized with ACORN";), Obama's political DNA is encoded with the ACORN agenda.

The Obama campaign's "Vote for Change" registration drive, running parallel to ACORN/Project Vote, is an all-out scramble to scrape up every last unregistered voter sympathetic to Obama's big-government vision. "Our volume," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe bragged of the voter-registration program, "will be enormous."

Quantity over quality. It's the ACORN way.

In addition to the Las Vegas raid, fraud allegations keep piling up:

* Lake County, Ind., election officials this month rejected a large portion of the 5,000 registration forms ACORN turned in after conducting registration drives in the area all summer. Some vote canvassers had pulled names and addresses from telephone books and forged signatures.

According to local reports, "large numbers of voter registration forms bore signatures all in the same apparent handwriting style" and "apparently the organization's canvassers broke rules to meet ACORN-set voter registration quotas to get paid." The fake registrants included dead people and underage kids.

On a conference call yesterday, GOP officials noted that up to 11,000 voter applications were no good—tying up election officials and jeopardizing the voting rights of untold victims whose identities may have been stolen.

* Last month, Milwaukee, Wis., officials discovered at least seven felons employed as voter registration workers for ACORN and another affiliated group. They also uncovered a raft of problematic voter registration cards. The state GOP accused ACORN of attempting to enroll dead, imprisoned or imaginary people to voter rolls. Fraud has plagued ACORN's Milwaukee chapter since the last election cycle.

* In Florida, in Orange County alone, ACORN workers turned in multiple copycat forms for six separate voters over the summer. According to the Miami Herald, "One individual had 21 duplicate applications."

Election officials had flagged ACORN's negligent practices several months ago, but it may be too late: In Orange, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, ACORN has signed up 135,000 new voters, nearly 60 percent of them registered as Democrats that constitute a fifth of all new voters in that region.

* In Ohio, large numbers of homeless people received free van and bus rides to register. Shelby Holliday, a reporter for Palestra.net, filmed ACORN shuttling prospects to the polls. [See video here.] She told me she spoke with one homeless woman who told her ACORN "told her who to vote for if she wanted a 'better life,' and told her not to worry about jury duty (one of the reasons this homeless woman didn't want to register) because the government probably wouldn't be able to track her down. She was registering with a temporary address."

Holliday interviewed another homeless man targeted by the registration drive who exulted that he was voting for Obama because "I want him to do his thang. You know, do his thug thizzle."

"Thug thizzle" is street slang for performing your trademark move. Obama and ACORN have practiced their thug thizzle together for years: organizing an ever-expanding community of ineligible and marginal voters to expand the Democratic power base. Rules be damned.

- Michelle Malkin [email her] is author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s review. Click here for Michelle Malkin's website. Michelle Malkin's latest book is Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.

The Obama-Ayers Connection

By Dick Morris
The Hill
http://www.hillnews.com/
October 08, 2008

In the best tradition of Bill Clinton’s famous declaration that the answer to the question of whether or not he was having an affair with Monica depended on “what the definition of ‘is’ is,” Barack Obama was clearly splitting hairs and concealing the truth when he said that William Ayers was “just a guy who lives in my neighborhood.”

The records of the administration of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), released last week by the University of Illinois, show that the Ayers-Obama connection was, in fact, an intimate collaboration and that it led to the only executive or administrative experience in Obama’s life.

After Walter Annenberg’s foundation offered several hundred million dollars to American public schools in the mid-’90s, William Ayers applied for $50 million for Chicago. The purpose of his application was to secure funds to “raise political consciousness” in Chicago’s public schools. After he won the grant, Ayers’s group chose Barack Obama to distribute the money. Between 1995 and 1999, Obama distributed the $50 million and raised another $60 million from other civic groups to augment it. In doing so, he was following Ayers’s admonition to grant the funds to “external” organizations, like American Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) to pair with schools and conduct programs to radicalize the students and politicize them.

Reading, math and science achievement tests counted for little in the CAC grants, but the school’s success in preaching a radical political agenda determined how much money they got.

Barack Obama should have run screaming at the sight of William Ayers and his wife, Bernadette Dohrn. Ayers has admitted bombing the U.S. Capitol building and the Pentagon, and his wife was sent to prison for failing to cooperate in solving the robbery of a Brink’s armored car in which two police officers were killed. Far from remorse, Ayers told The New York Times in September 2001 that he “wished he could have done more.”

Ayers only avoided conviction when the evidence against him turned out to be contained in illegally obtained wiretaps by the FBI. He was, in fact, guilty as sin.

That Obama should ally himself with Ayers is almost beyond understanding. The former terrorist had not repented of his views and the education grants he got were expressly designed to further them.

So let’s sum up Obama’s Chicago connections. His chief financial supporter was Tony Rezko, now on his way to federal prison. His spiritual adviser and mentor was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, of “God damn America” fame. And the guy who got him his only administrative job and put him in charge of doling out $50 million is William Ayers, a terrorist who was a domestic Osama bin Laden in his youth.

Even apart from the details of the Obama/Ayers connection, two key points emerge:

a) Obama lied and misled the American people in his description of his relationship with Ayers as casual and arm’s-length; and

b) Obama was consciously guided by Ayers’s radical philosophy, rooted in the teachings of leftist Saul Alinksy, in his distribution of CAC grant funds.

Since Obama is asking us to let him direct education spending by the federal government and wants us to trust his veracity, these are difficulties he will have to explain in order to get the votes to win.

Now that Obama is comfortably ahead in the polls, attention will understandably shift to him. We will want to know what kind of president he would make. The fact that, within the past 10 years, he participated in a radical program of political education conceptualized by an admitted radical terrorist offers no reassurance.

Why did Obama put up with Ayers? Because he got a big job and $50 million of patronage to distribute to his friends and supporters in Chicago. Why did he hang out with Jeremiah Wright? Because he was new in town, having grown up in Hawaii and Indonesia and having been educated at Columbia and Harvard, and needed all the local introductions he could get to jump-start his political career. Why was he so close to Rezko?

Because he funded Obama’s campaigns and helped him buy a house for $300,000 less than he otherwise would have had to pay.

Not a good recommendation for a president.

- Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill Clinton, is the author of “Outrage" and "Fleeced". To get all of Dick Morris’s and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to www.dickmorris.com.

Biden, the master gasbag

The vice presidential candidate isn't really an expert, he just plays one on TV.

By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.latimes.com/
October 7, 2008

(388 Comments)

Last Thursday's vice presidential debate was the most revealing, and depressing, event of the entire campaign because it showed how irredeemably fraudulent America's political class is and how superficial the voters who will decide this election are.

Recall, if you will, that going into the debate, the conventional wisdom was that Gov. Sarah Palin would be woefully outgunned by Sen. Joe Biden. A self-touted foreign policy expert and constitutional law professor, Biden joined the Senate some time after the Cretaceous period but well before bell bottoms went out of style.

As we know, the conventional wisdom was wrong. Palin wasn't stellar. But she crushed those low expectations, salvaged her political career and turned herself back into an asset for the McCain campaign.

But what about Biden? Overwhelmingly, the professional political class proclaimed that he blew her away on "specifics" and "knowledge" and "seriousness." The New York Times said Biden avoided making any gaffes, "while showing a clear grasp of the big picture and the details." The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib proclaimed on ABC's "This Week" that Biden avoided any "verbal excesses or rhetorical flourishes."The Associated Press called Biden the "master senator ... rattling off foreign policy details with ease."

And that's true in a sense. Biden was at ease; he easily rattled off a string of falsehoods and gasbaggeries.

According to the master senator, the U.S. and France "kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon." Afterward, according to Biden, "I said and Barack said, 'Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it.' " Perhaps Biden meant to say the U.S. and France kicked Syria out of Lebanon. But even this is woefully glib. Syria never fully abandoned Lebanon. And there was no "vacuum" for Hezbollah to fill. The terrorist group was already firmly in control of southern Lebanon and part of the government. No one remembers Biden and Obama fighting for the stupidly impossible NATO move either.

Biden insisted it's "just simply not true" that Obama has said he'd "sit down with [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad," even though in the primaries Biden criticized Obama for exactly that.

Biden bragged about how he and Obama have focused on Pakistan, insisting that "Pakistan's weapons can already hit Israel and the Mediterranean." Um, no. Their missiles don't get halfway there.

The constitutional law professor scornfully mocked Dick Cheney because the vice president "doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president. That's the executive branch." Wrong. Article I defines the Legislature, Article II the executive branch. Both define the role of the VP.

He flatly said that McCain voted with Obama on a tax hike. He didn't. He said McCain's healthcare plan amounted to a tax hike. It doesn't. Biden said we "must" drill for oil, but that ain't how he's voted. He said he's for clean coal, but just this month he passionately insisted to a voter that "we're not supporting clean coal" and vowed "no coal plants here in America." The scrapper from Scranton boasted about bonding with the common folks at a restaurant that's been closed for two decades.

Now, Palin had her own problems. She failed to answer direct questions directly. She offered up some obviously canned one-liners.

But here's the difference. Palin is supposed to be everything Biden isn't, according to liberal pundits and mainstream reporters alike. For weeks they've been saying she's ill-prepared, uninformed and lacks the requisite experience. But that criticism is also an excuse of sorts.

Biden has no excuse. He's been in the majors for nearly 40 years, and yet he sounds like a bizarro-world Chauncey Gardner. The famous simpleton from Jerzy Kosinski's "Being There" (played by Peter Sellers in the film) offered terse aphorisms that were utterly devoid of specific content but nonetheless seemed to describe reality accurately. Biden is the reverse: He offers a logorrheic farrago of "specifics" that have no connection to our corner of the space-time continuum.

In short, he just makes stuff up. But he does it with passionate, self-important intensity. He's like a politician in a movie with a perfect grasp of a world that doesn't exist. He's not an expert, he just plays one on TV.

No one seems to care. He convinced the focus groups he's an expert. The media, with a few exceptions, let it all slide. But imagine if Palin had made any of these gaffes. It would be incontrovertible proof that her critics are right.

Palin "lost" because she's bad at being a dishonest politician. Biden won because he is, after all, a "master senator."

jgoldberg@latimescolumnists.com

The Bomber as School Reformer

The press—and debate moderators—shouldn’t let Bill Ayers and Barack Obama off the hook.

By Sol Stern
http://www.city-journal.org/
6 October 2008

Back in the early eighties, in an interview with David Horowitz and Peter Collier, Bill Ayers remembered his reaction upon learning that he would not be prosecuted by the government for his bombing spree as a member of the Weather Underground. “Guilty as hell, free as a bird—America is a great country,” he exulted. Ayers is now a university professor, but he must have been exulting all over again after reading Saturday’s front-page story in the New York Times.


William Ayers

The article explored the putative relationship between Ayers and Barack Obama during the time they worked together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a five-year philanthropic venture that, starting in 1995, distributed over $160 million in school-improvement grants to the Windy City’s public schools. Ayers wrote the grant proposal that secured seed money for the schools and ran the implementation arm of the project; Obama became chairman of the board that distributed the grants. Not only did the Times exonerate the Democratic presidential candidate of having anything like a “close” relationship with Ayers—their paths merely “crossed” while working on the Challenge, the paper said—but it also bestowed the honorific of “school reformer” on the ex-bomber. “Mr. Ayers has been a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the author or editor of 15 books, and an advocate of school reform,” the article maintained. On Meet the Press Sunday morning, Tom Brokaw—who will be moderating tomorrow’s debate between the presidential candidates—picked up this now conventional wisdom and described Ayers as “a school reformer.”

Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer. (If you find the metaphor strained, consider that Walter Duranty, the infamous New York Times reporter covering the Soviet Union in the 1930s, did, in fact, depict Stalin as a great land reformer who created happy, productive collective farms.) For instance, at a November 2006 education forum in Caracas, Venezuela, with President Hugo Chávez at his side, Ayers proclaimed his support for “the profound educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chávez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.” Ayers concluded his speech by declaring that “Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education—a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation,” and then, as in days of old, raised his fist and chanted: “Viva Presidente Chávez! Viva la Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!”

As I have shown in previous articles in City Journal, Ayers’s school reform agenda focuses almost exclusively on the idea of teaching for “social justice” in the classroom. This has nothing to do with the social-justice ideals of the Sermon on the Mount or Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Rather, Ayers and his education school comrades are explicit about the need to indoctrinate public school children with the belief that America is a racist, militarist country and that the capitalist system is inherently unfair and oppressive. As a leader of this growing “reform” movement, Ayers was recently elected vice president for curriculum of the American Education Research Association, the nation’s largest organization of ed school professors and researchers.

Despite the Times story, American voters still don’t have an accurate picture of the relationship between Obama and Ayers during their work on the Annenberg Challenge. The paper’s account quoted several people who worked on the project as saying that they didn’t think Ayers had any role in selecting Obama for his position as chairman. But we haven’t heard a word about the subject from the two principals. For the first time in his life, Ayers seems to be observing Democratic Party discipline and won’t be talking until after November 4. Meanwhile, in one of the Democratic primary debates, Obama said that Ayers was just “a guy I know in the neighborhood”—which certainly qualifies as one of the biggest fibs told by any of the candidates so far.

Is it too much to hope that one of the moderators of the two remaining debates will press Obama for a fuller accounting of his work with Bill Ayers on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and also ask Obama what he thinks of Ayers’s views on school reform? If the mainstream media deem it important that voters know which newspapers one of the vice presidential candidates reads, they certainly ought to be demanding more information from a presidential candidate about whom he collaborated with in distributing $160 million to the public schools. How about it, Tom Brokaw?
- Sol Stern is a contributing editor of City Journal and the author of Breaking Free: Public School Lessons and the Imperative of School Choice.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Counting Islamists

By Daniel Pipes
http://www.frontpagemag.com/
Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The recent distribution of some 28 million copies in the United States of the 2005 documentary Obsession has stirred heated debate about its contents. One lightening rod for criticism concerns my on-screen statement that "10 to 15 percent of Muslims worldwide support militant Islam."

"Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" (2005)

The Muslim Public Affairs Council declared this estimate both "utterly unsubstantiated" and "completely without evidence."

Masoud Kheirabadi, a professor at Portland State University and author of children's books about Islam, informed the Oregonian newspaper that there's no basis for my estimate. Daniel Ruth, writing in the Tampa Tribune, asked dubiously how I arrived at this number. "Did he take a poll? That would be enlightening! What does ‘support' for radical Islam mean? Pipes provides no answers."

Actually, Pipes did provide answers. He collected and published many numbers at "How Many Islamists?" a weblog entry initiated in May 2005.

First, though, an explanation of what I meant by Muslims who "support militant Islam": these are Islamists, individuals who seek a totalistic, worldwide application of Islamic law, the Shari‘a. In particular, they seek to build an Islamic state in Turkey, replace Israel with an Islamic state and the U.S. constitution with the Koran.

As with any attitudinal estimate, however, several factors impede approximating the percentage of Islamists.

* How much fervor: Gallup polled over 50,000 Muslims across 10 countries and found that, if one defines radicals as those who deemed the 9/11 attacks "completely justified," their number constitutes about 7 percent of the total population. But if one includes Muslims who considered the attacks "largely justified," their ranks jump to 13.5 percent. Adding those who deemed the attacks "somewhat justified" boosts the number of radicals to 36.6 percent. Which figure should one adopt?

* Gauge voter intentions: Elections measure Islamist sentiment untidily, for Islamist parties erratically win support from non-Islamists. Thus, Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 47 percent in 2007 elections, 34 percent of the vote in 2002 elections, and its precursor, the Virtue Party, won just 15 percent in 1999. The Islamic Movement's northern faction won 75 percent of the vote in the Israeli Arab city of Umm el-Fahm 2003 elections while Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization, won 44 percent of the vote in the Palestinian Authority in 2006. Which number does one select?

* What to measure: Many polls measure attitudes other than application of Islamic law. Gallup looks at support for 9/11. The Pew Global Attitudes Project assesses support for suicide bombing. Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi security specialist, focuses on pro-Osama bin Laden views. Germany's domestic security agency, the Verfassungsschutz, counts membership in Islamist organizations. Margaret Nydell of Georgetown University calculates "Islamists who resort to violence."

* Inexplicably varying results: A University of Jordan survey revealed that large majorities of Jordanians, Palestinians, and Egyptians wish the Shari‘a to be the only source of Islamic law – but only one-third of Syrians. Indonesian survey and election results led R. William Liddle and Saiful Mujani in 2003 to conclude that the number of Islamists "is no more than 15 percent of the total Indonesian Muslim population." In contrast, a 2008 survey of 8,000 Indonesian Muslims by Roy Morgan Research found 40 percent of Indonesians favoring hadd criminal punishments (such as cutting the hands of thieves) and 52 per cent favoring some form of Islamic legal code.


The Islamic Supreme Council of America's Hisham Kabbani says 5-10 percent of American Muslims are extremists.

Given these complications, it is not surprising that estimates vary considerably. On the one hand, the Islamic Supreme Council of America's Hisham Kabbani says 5 to 10 percent of American Muslims are extremists and Daniel Yankelovich, a pollster, finds that "the hate-America Islamist fundamentalists … averages about 10 percent of all Muslims." On the other, reviewing ten surveys of British Muslim opinion, I concluded that "more than half of British Muslims want Islamic law and 5 percent endorse violence to achieve that end."

These ambiguous and contradictory percentages lead to no clear, specific count of Islamists. Out of a quantitative mish-mash, I suggested just three days after 9/11 that some 10-15 percent of Muslims are determined Islamists. Subsequent evidence generally confirmed that estimate and suggested, if anything, that the actual numbers might be higher.

Negatively, 10-15 percent suggests that Islamists number about 150 million out of a billion plus Muslims – more than all the fascists and communists who ever lived. Positively, it implies that most Muslims can be swayed against Islamist totalitarianism.

Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Keating Five Member is Obama Surrogate

By Amanda Carpenter
http://www.townhall.com/
October 6, 2008

If Barack Obama is so outraged at John McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five scandal, why is John Glenn, another Keating Five member, doing surrogate work for Obama?


A graphic from an Obama documentary ties Sen. John McCain to Charles Keating.

Obama’s presidential campaign released a scathing documentary on Monday detailing McCain’s ties to the Savings and Loan crisis on the 1980’s. Five U.S. senators were named in the scandal: Sen. Alan Cranston (D.-Calif.), Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D.-Ariz.), Sen. John Glenn (D.-Ohio), Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) and Sen. Donald Reigle (D-Minn.).

"The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today's credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules," reads a trailer for the video on a website created by the Obama campaign to attack McCain, www.keatingeconomics.com. "And in both cases, John McCain's judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history.

But Obama doesn’t seem to have any quarrel with Glenn. The former Democratic Ohio senator introduced Bruce Springsteen at a benefit concert for Obama in Ohio on Sunday, October 5. He's also done other surrogate work for Obama as well. According to Obama's presidential website Glenn held a conference calls with reporters for Obama in August.

A day after Glenn urged people to register to vote for Obama in Ohio, Obama’s campaign began a multimedia campaign to remind the public McCain was one of the “Keating Five” although he was eventually cleared of all charges.

Like McCain, Glenn was also found not guilty of violating any Senate rules.

Attorney John Dowd, who represented McCain during the Senate Ethics investigation, said Senate Democrats conducted a "classic political smear job" on McCain in the Keating Five scandal.

"When it was discovered Keating was pushing too hard, he [McCain] threw Keating out of his office and ended all relations with him," Dowd said.

Bob Dylan names Burns as inspiration

BY ALISON CHIESA
The Herald
http://www.theherald.co.uk/
October 06 2008


Music legend Bob Dylan has revealed his source of greatest inspiration - Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns.

Dylan was asked to name the lyric or verse that has had the greatest impact on his life.


Bob Dylan

He selected the 1794 love song A Red, Red Rose, penned by Burns, who was regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement and became a source of inspiration to the founders of liberalism and socialism.

Dylan - the poet of the protest generation - revealed his choice of the verse to HMV as part of the music retailer's "My Inspiration" campaign.

David Bowie kicked off the campaign two years ago when he selected lyrics by the late Pink Floyd star Syd Barrett.

Dylan is the 100th artist to participate. Sir Paul McCartney, Morrissey, Nick Cave, film-makers Guillermo Del Toro and Mike Leigh and actress Audrey Tautou have previously revealed their greatest inspirations.

A Red, Red Rose was, according to some experts, based on a song Burns heard a girl singing in the countryside.

The bard himself referred to A Red, Red Rose as a "simple old Scots song which I had picked up in the country".

Dr Gerard Carruthers, director of the centre for Burns study at the University of Glasgow, called A Red, Red Rose "one of the greatest love songs of all time".

He said: "It's a song that resonates down the ages. It's part of the Burns song canon. It's one of his most emotive and emotional, perhaps his biggest expression of love.

"It's very much about comparing love to the joyous things of nature and in the arts.

"It's Burns where he rejoices most in love. It's from the love gut.

"Some of the songs by Burns are dedicated to particular women. This is perhaps his greatest, so it's slightly strange that it's not dedicated to a particular woman.

"There was a married woman, Agnes McLehose, who Burns had a flirtation with. It's probable that she is somewhere behind the emotion, but in a very generalised way."

Mr Carruthers added: "Burns has been interpreted by classical composers and folk artists. He was a hugely committed artist who dealt with everyday emotions and big emotions so, in that sense, it's not a surprise he's influenced Dylan.

"I imagine Dylan will still be loved in 200 years as much as Burns is."

Also commending Dylan's choice was Lesley Duncan, poetry editor of The Herald. She said: "While I'm not a great fan of Bob Dylan's work, this news certainly makes a nice change from the puerile sniping of Jeremy Paxman."

Earlier this year, Paxman dismissed Burns as "no more than a king of sentimental doggerel".

Mrs Duncan added: "A Red, Red Rose is an astonishing work. It's obviously a great love song with universal resonance."

By coincidence, new research has found that Burns also influenced US president, Abraham Lincoln, in his battle to abolish slavery.

A leading US academic has revealed that the bard's verses and passion for social justice had a profound influence on Lincoln during the American civil war.

Often able to recite Burns's work by heart, Lincoln's liberal political views and inspiring public addresses are now said to have stemmed from the works of the Ayrshire poet.

Leading American academic Dr Ferenc Morton Szasz, who has published his findings in Abraham Lincoln and Robert Burns, Connected Lives and Legends, said the links between the men had long been overlooked.

He said: "On January 25, 2009, Scots will mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. Seveteen days later Americans will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of their favourite president."

Simple Song:

O, my luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry

Till a' the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun!

O I will luve thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!