Saturday, May 23, 2009

Statism the only thing being stimulated

We're spending trillions we don't have to create government programs to spend even more trillions we don't have.

Mark Steyn
Syndicated columnist
Orange County Register
http://www.ocregister.com/opinion
Friday, May 22, 2009

I was in Vermont the other day and made the mistake of picking up the local paper. Impressively, it contained a quarter-page ad, a rare sight these days. The rest of the page was made up by in-house promotions for the advertising department's special offer on yard-sale announcements, etc. But the one real advertisement was from something called SEVCA. SEVCA is a "nonprofit agency," just like The New York Times, General Motors and the state of California. And it stands for "South-Eastern Vermont Community Action."

Why, they're "community organizers," just like the president! The designated "anti-poverty agency" is taking out quarter-page ads in every local paper because they're "seeking applicants for several positions funded in full or part by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA)" – that's the "stimulus" to you and me. Isn't it great to see those bazillions of stimulus dollars already out there stimulating the economy? Creating lots of new jobs at SEVCA, in order to fulfill the president's promise to "create or keep" 2.5 million jobs. At SEVCA, he's not just keeping all the existing ones, but creating new ones, too. Of the eight new positions advertised, the first is:

"ARRA Projects Coordinator."

Gotcha. So the first new job created by the stimulus is a job "coordinating" other programs funded by the stimulus. What's next?

"Grantwriter."

That's how they spell it. Like in "Star Wars" – Luke Grantwriter waving his hope saber as instructed by his mentor Obi-Bam Baracki ("May the Funds be with you!"). The Grantwriter will be responsible for writing grant applications "to augment ARRA funds." So the second new job created by stimulus funding funds someone to petition for additional funding for projects funded by the stimulus.

The third job is a "Marketing Specialist" to increase "public awareness of ARRA-funded services." Rural Vermont's economy is set for a serious big-time boom: The critical stimulus-promotion industry, stimulus-coordination industry and stimulus-supplementary-funding industry are growing at an unprecedented rate. The way things are going we'll soon need a Stimulus-Coordination Industry Task Force and Impact Study Group. By the way, these jobs aren't for everyone. "Knowledge of ARRA" is required. So if, say, you're the average United States senator who voted for ARRA without bothering to read it you're not qualified for a job as an ARRA Grantwriter.

I don't want to give the impression that every job funded by the stimulus is a job coordinating the public awareness of programs for grant applications to coordinate the funding of public awareness coordination programs funded by the stimulus. SEVCA is also advertising for a "Job Readiness Program Coordinator." This is a job coordinating the program that gets people ready to get a job. For example, it occurred to me, after reading the ad, that I might like to be a "Job Readiness Program Coordinator." But am I ready for it? Increasing numbers of us are hopelessly unready for jobs. Ever since last November, many Americans have been ready for free health care, free day care, free college, free mortgages – and, once you get a taste for that, it's hardly surprising you're not ready for gainful employment. I only hope there are enough qualified "Job Readiness Program Coordinators" out there, and that they don't have to initiate a Job Readiness Program Coordinator Readiness Program. As the old novelty song once wondered, "Who Takes Care Of The Caretaker's Daughter While The Caretaker's Busy Taking Care?" Who coordinates programs for the Job Readiness Program Coordinator while the Job Readiness Program Coordinator's busy readying for his job? If you hum it, I'll put in for the stimulus funding.

Oh, and let's not forget the new job of "VITA Program Coordinator." VITA? That's "Volunteer Income Tax Assistance." It's an IRS program designed "to help low- and moderate-income taxpayers complete their tax returns at no cost." The words "no cost," by the way, are used in the new Webster's-defined sense of "massive public expenditure." Whoops, I mean massive public "investment." You might think, were you a space alien recently landed from Planet Zongo, that, if tax returns are so complicated that "low- and moderate-income taxpayers" have difficulty filling them in, the obvious solution would be to make the tax code less complex. But that's just the unfamiliar atmosphere on Planet Earth making you lighthearted and prone to cockamamie out-of-this-world fancies. Put in for a Job Readiness Program, and you'll soon get with the program.

Of course, it's not just "low- and moderate-income taxpayers" who have difficulty completing their tax returns. So do high-income taxpayers like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Tragically, they're ineligible for the "Volunteer Income Tax Assistance" program. Indeed, the treasury secretary seemed under the misapprehension that it was a "Volunteer Income Tax" program, which would be a much better idea. But, being ineligible for VITA, Secretary Geithner was forced to splash out $49.95 for TurboTax and, simply by accidentally checking the "No" box instead of "Yes" at selected moments, was able to save himself thousands of dollars in confiscatory taxation! Oops, my mistake, I meant that, tragically, by being unable to complete his tax return due to a lack of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, Timothy Geithner was the only one of 300 million Americans to pass the Treasury Secretary Job Readiness Program.

SEVCA serves two rural counties with a combined total of a little over 40,000 households. If you wanted to stimulate the economy, you'd take every dime allocated to Windsor and Windham counties under ARRA and divide it between those households. But, if you want to stimulate bureaucracy, dependency and the metastasization of approved quasi-governmental interest-group monopolies as the defining features of American life, then ARRA is the way to go. Oh, you scoff: ARRA, go on, you're only joking. I wish I were. We're spending trillions we don't have to create government programs to coordinate the application for funds to create more programs to spend even more trillions we don't have.

The stimulus will do nothing for the economy, but it will dramatically advance the cause of statism (as Mark Levin rightly calls it). Last week's vote in California is a snapshot of where this leads: The gangster regime in Sacramento is an alliance between a corrupt and/or craven political class wholly owned by a public sector union-bureaucracy extortion racket. So what if the formerly Golden State goes belly-up? They'll pass the buck to Washington, and those of us in nonprofligate jurisdictions will get stuck with the tab. At some point, the dwindling band of citizens still foolish enough to earn a living by making things, selling things or providing services other than government-funded program coordination will have to vote against not just taxes but specific agencies and programs – hundreds and thousands of them.

The bad news is that our children will not enjoy the American Dream. The good news is they'll be able to apply for an American Dream Readiness Assistance Coordination Grantwriter Program. May the Funds be with you!

©MARK STEYN

Today's Tune: Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time


Friday, May 22, 2009

The Jihadi Virus in Our Jails

By Michelle Malkin
http://www.vdare.com/
May 21, 2009

President Obama's speech on homeland security was 6,072 words long. Curiously, he chose not to spare an "a," "and" or "uh" on the New York City terror bust that dominated headlines the morning of his Thursday address. Did the teleprompter run out of room?

Onta Williams, one of four suspects, is walked out of the FBI offices after being taken into custody in New York May 21, 2009. Four men were arrested on Wednesday in a suspected plot to bomb a synagogue and Jewish community center in New York City and to shoot at military planes with stinger missiles, law enforcement officials said.
REUTERS/Chip East


After a yearlong investigation launched by the Bush administration, the feds cracked down on a ring of murder-minded black Muslim jailhouse converts preparing to bomb two Bronx synagogues and "eager to bring death to Jews." They also planned to attack a New York National Guard air base in Newburgh, N.Y., where the suspects lived and worshiped at a local mosque.

Not one word from the president on the jihadists' intended victims, motives or means.

No comfort for the reported targets in the Big Apple, still raw from the Scare Force One rattling that so vainly and recklessly simulated 9/11.

No condemnation for the accused plotters.

Why? Because doing so would force Obama to abandon his cottony "extremist ideology" euphemisms and confront the concrete truth. To borrow one of our obtuse president's favorite cliches, "let me be perfectly clear" about the reality Obama won't touch: America faces an ongoing Islamic jihad at home and abroad. Not merely "man-caused." But Koran-inspired. Yet, Obama refuses to spell out the centuries-old roots of the war that he claims he'll win faster, better and cleaner than any of his predecessors.

Moreover, his push to transfer violent Muslim warmongers into our civilian prisons—where they have proselytized and plotted with impunity—will only make the problem worse. A brief refresher course for the left's amnesiacs about the festering jihadi virus in our jails and overseas:

In 2005, Bush administration officials busted a terrorist plot to attack infidels at military and Jewish sites in Los Angeles on the fourth anniversary of 9/11 or the Jewish holy days. It was devised by militant Muslim converts of Jam'iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (Arabic for "Assembly of Authentic Islam") who had sworn allegiance to violent jihad at California's New Folsom State Prison.

Convicted terror conspirator Jose Padilla converted to Islam during a stint at a Broward County, Fla., jail and reportedly fell in with terrorist recruiters after his release. Convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid converted to Islam with the help of an extremist imam in a British prison.

Aqil Collins, a self-confessed jihadist turned FBI informant, converted to Islam while doing time in a California juvenile detention center. At a terrorist camp in Afghanistan, he went on to train with one of the men accused of kidnapping and beheading Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

In East Texas, inmates were recruited with a half-hour videotape featuring the anti-Semitic rants of California-based Imam Muhammad Abdullah, who claims that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were actually carried out by the Israeli and U.S. governments.

Federal corrections officials told congressional investigators during the Bush years "that convicted terrorists from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing were put into their prisons' general population, where they radicalized inmates and told them that terrorism was part of Islam."

James Cromitie, right, is led by police officers from a federal building in New York, early Thursday, May 21, 2009, after being arrested on charges related to a bombing plot in the Bronx. The FBI arrested four men Wednesday in what authorities called a plot to detonate a bomb outside a Jewish temple and to shoot military planes with guided missiles.
(AP Photo/Robert Mecea)


Despite the insistence of Obama and the Jihadi Welcome Wagon that our civilian prisons are perfectly secure, convicted terrorist aid Lynne Stewart helped jailed 1993 World Trade Center bombing/NY landmark bombing plot mastermind Omar Abdel-Rahman smuggle coded messages of Islamic violence to outside followers in violation of an explicit pledge to abide by her client's court-ordered isolation.

As I've reported previously, U.S. Bureau of Prison reports have warned for years that our civilian detention facilities are major breeding grounds for Islamic terrorists. There are still not enough legitimately trained and screened Muslim religious leaders to counsel an estimated 9,000 U.S. prison inmates who demand Islamic services. Under the Bush administration, the federal prison bureaucracy had no policy in place to screen out extremist, violence-advocating Islamic chaplains; failed to properly screen the many contractors and volunteers who help provide religious services to Islamic inmates; and shied away from religious profiling.

What's Obama's plan to prevent the jihadi virus from spreading? Washing hands and covering mouths won't work for this disease.

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 is also author of Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild and the forthcoming Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies.

Memorial Day Remembrance

by Ted Nugent

http://www.humanevents.com/
05/22/2009

Memorial Day is the most important American holiday in the Nugent household.

We know that without Memorial Day there would be no Independence Day, no freedoms, and no America. In fact, but for the sacrifices we remember on in our Memorial Day celebration, the entire world would be a much darker place of tyranny, slavery and oppression.

Memorial Day is our day to give thanks and to remember those courageous U.S. military heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that freedom's flame continues to burn bright instead of fading into a faint flicker in the hearts of civilized men. These warriors are the very tip of freedom's lance and all good people owe them dearly.

From Bunker Hill to the walls of the Alamo, from the farm fields at Gettysburg to the beaches at Normandy and Iwo Jima, from the Afghanistan mountains to every other piece of hallowed ground where Americans have fought and died in freedom's name, Old Glory still proudly dances in the wind of freedom.

In paying the ultimate sacrifice, American warriors ensured that not only would America continue to be free but that America would continue to be a beacon of freedom so intense that it no threat of oppression can extinguish it. So long as Old Glory flutters in the wind, there is hope. So long as American warriors are willing to carry Old Glory into battle, freedom's flame will never be extinguished.

Our enemies can knock sometimes down our buildings, but mortar, brick and steel does not America make. It is the irrepressible spirit and undying love of freedom that is uniquely America and it is the American warrior who is willing to fight and die to protect the God-given freedoms and rights of all people.

On this Memorial Day, I encourage each of you to spend a few moments and quietly offer a prayer of thanks to those who paid for your freedom with their lives. If you have the chance, take your children and walk quietly and reverently through a military cemetery. Stop at each white cross. Read the names carefully on the tombstones. These are the names of freedom. Look up at Old Glory as she dances in the breeze. Surely you will agree there is no more solemn and beautiful sight than to see our sacred stars and stripes fluttering quietly in the breeze above a military cemetery.

It is our duty as parents and citizens to ensure that our children and grandchildren know that freedom is not free, that it is paid for with the blood and lives of warriors. Do not shirk this responsibility. It is one of the most important lessons you can ever impart to your children.To quote President Reagan: "We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so that we may always be free."

Memorial Day is the most important American holiday. May God eternally bless the American warrior -- the protector of freedom and liberty.

Rock legend Ted Nugent is noted for his conservative political views and his vocal pro-hunting and Second Amendment activism. His smash bestseller Ted, White & Blue: The Nugent Manifesto, is now available at www.amazon.com. Nugent also maintains the Official Ted Nugent Site at www.TedNugent.com.

The Riverdale Plot and Our Dreyfus Moment

By Bruce Walker
http://www.americanthinker.com/
May 22, 2009

The foiled attack on the synagogue in the Riverdale district of New York City should bring home with devastating force an argument that I have been making for a long time: evil in this world is not divided according to some imaginary ideological spectrum, but rather upon a division of camps. In one camp are Jews, Christians, America, and Israel. These are peoples who want, most of all, simply to be left alone.

Defendants James Cromitie (2nd R), Onta Williams (2nd L) and David Williams (3rd L), stand with an attorney in this courtroom sketch of their arraignment, in White Planes, New York, May 21, 2009. REUTERS/Christine Cornell

In the other camp are those people who nurse and cherish an unquenchable hatred for Jews, hatred for Christians, hatred for America, and hatred for Israel. This includes clusters of people normally considered to have nothing in common: Nazis, Bolsheviks, radical Islam, modern "progressives" (of, if you will, Leftists), slave overlords like Kim Jong il or the Castro brothers, and the cynical appeasement snobs of European elitism.

In fact, the only thing which divides these groups is how to parcel up the spoils of conquest and plunder. Nazis and Bolsheviks were bosom buddies for a good part of the Second World War, and even before the Second World War began, it was the Left in Britain which most passionately demanded that Britain not rearm (which the 1945 book, The Left Was Never Right, describes in precise detail.)

When the Holocaust happened, Bolsheviks and radical Moslems did not care: Christians and Americans, however, were horrified. When the Nazis began their war on Christianity, many Jewish authors in America called attention to that crime. When radical Islam ponders the problems of the world, it looks to Judeo-Christian America (aka "The Great Satan") and Jewish homeland Israel (aka "The Little Satan") as the centers of the enemy. When their comrades in bitterness, "progressives" in America look for enemies, they invariably look first at the "Christian Right" as the foe, soldiered by such scary people as Sarah Palin and Carrie Prejean.

I call all these enemies of Judeo-Christian moral tradition simply "Sinisterists," and I wholly reject the notion that these have any real differences except for a sort of tribal loyalty and a greed for more shares of booty (think of Stalin and Hitler carving up Eastern Europe in 1939.) These are our eternal enemies not because we -- Jews, Americans, Christians, Israelis -- want to be their enemies but rather because we are, by our lives, an affront to them.

My wife's parents, who both spent their youth in the Hell of the Holocaust, lived in Riverdale. They went to a synagogue there regularly. The four monsters lusting for the blood of Jews wanted to complete what Hitler began. Does it matter that my wife's mother would have always given them money if they had asked her on the street? No. Does it matter that my wife's father devoted the last decades of his life in volunteer work to provide a happy and safe park for these assassins' young relatives? No.

Does it matter to these apprentices to assassination that the Air National Guard pilots who these convicts (and then converts to Islam!) wanted to murder risked their lives to liberate Afghans and Iraqis? Does it matter than in both Iraq and Afghanistan there are now, thanks to brave American soldiers, democracies in which Moslem majorities choose their governments? No. It does not matter at all.

Alfred Dreyfus was hated by the French Army because he was a Jew. It did not matter that he was a loyal Frenchman or a brave solider. His wrongful sentencing to Devil's Island persuaded Theodor Herzl that only a Jewish homeland could truly liberate the Jewish people. We in the West have, I hope, come to a "Dreyfus Moment" -- recognizing what we do not wish to know but grasp that we must.

The Riverdale Jewish Center is seen the morning after police foiled a planned attack on the building, in New York, May 21, 2009. New York's mayor and police chief sought to calm Jewish worshipers on Thursday, the morning after authorities said they foiled a plot to blow up two synagogues and simultaneously shoot down military planes. Four men arrested in the suspected plot were due to appear in court later in the day in White Plains, New York. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said all four had criminal records and did not appear to be part of al Qaeda.
REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES RELIGION CONFLICT CRIME LAW IMAGES OF THE DAY)


We who take Christianity and Judaism seriously, we who view America and Israel as blessed refuges of those hated for the sake of hate, will never persuade our foes to stop being our foes. The most innocent answer of Carrie Prejean will always provoke savage vitriol, the least offensive proposal of Israel will always be smeared as genocidal Zionism, and -- Mr. President -- the most groveling apology for imaginary past offenses will never sate a rage which lives for rage itself.

Our charity convinces our enemies that we have exploited them. Our listening to a nauseating cacophony of hissing lies persuades our enemies that somehow their vile arguments matter. Our trust in a blessed Creator defames those who find a loving God intolerable in their grim universe of Marx, Allah, and Gaia. When we are happy, peaceful, and prosperous, they feel offended. If America were on Mars, hermetically sealed from contact with Earth, their misery would still be our fault. If Israel had, like much of Holland, been reclaimed from the sea by Jewish engineers, the reclaimed land still would have "belonged" to the Palestinians."

Whether we know it or not, we have reached and we have gone past our "Dreyfus Moment." During the Second World War, we knew that peace with Hitler was not an option. The only option, as Churchill understood, was: "Victory -- victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival." During the Cold War, President Reagan proposed the same strategy -- and American Thinker contributor, Herb Meyer, who worked for Reagan then, told us then that it would work: "How about this? We win. They lose."

Confronting evil is never easy. That is why often only truly great men like Churchill and Reagan can do it. But confronting and defeating evil is the only way to survive. We will win or we will lose the war that we are in right now. Every Jew, every Christian, every American, and every citizen of Israel had better hope we win.

- Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Ditchkens Delusion

The Ditchkens Delusion
By Thomas Hibbs
http://www.firstthings.com/
Monday, May 18, 2009, 12:00 AM

Terry Eagleton’s Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate is an engaging, witty, and largely successful critique of the new atheists, especially Christopher Hitchens (author of God is Not Great) and Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion), whose delusional grandiosity earns them the hybrid nickname Ditchkens. The text of his Terry Lectures at Yale, Eagleton’s book has received smart, generally warm reviews in recent days from Andrew O’Hehir at Salon and from Stanley Fish on his NY Times blog, Think Again. The book certainly merits our attention both for its hilarious send-up of the pompous Ditchkens and for its less successful attempt to infuse revolutionary politics with the spirit of the gospel.

Eagleton’s devastating critique focuses on Hitchens and Dawkins’ theological illiteracy, ignorance of how science works, and naive faith in rational progress. The crisis of Enlightenment reason, which was apparent to secular philosophers long before it became part of the popular Christian response to modernity, is little noted in Ditchkens. Having exalted himself above nature and placed himself at the high point of history, Enlightenment man falls prey to the chief “bourgeois fantasy,” that of the “self-authorship.” He can “extract from the world only the values he has placed in it.” The deracination of traditional sources of meaning in our increasingly rational civilization sends citizens scurrying to the realm of culture. The privatization of sex, art, and religion has freed these up as sources of cultural meaning independent of politics and as weapons of political critique, but at a great cost. Their “isolation from the public world causes them to become increasingly pathologized.”

Civilization, Eagleton insists, never fully leaves barbarism behind; purely instrumental, technical reason, having no roots in anything other than itself, can easily generate barbarism. Even science has roots; following a host of contemporary philosophers of science, Eagleton argues that science is built on assumptions, on a certain kind of faith. Even as it bestows enormous benefits—political, scientific, medicinal—modernity occludes from view certain incorrigible features of the human condition. Ditchkens is forced to treat the non-religious political horrors of the twentieth century as mere blips in the unfolding of evolutionary progress.

The only rational response to modernity, in Eagleton’s eminently reasonable view, is an emphatic yes and no. Narrow polemics force Ditchkens into dogmatic cheerleading, a dogmatism that generates the other of fundamentalism, whose irrationality only serves to confirm the original dogmatism.

To view the complete article click on the link below:

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=1435

Thomas Hibbs is the distinguished professor of ethics and culture and dean of the Honors College at Baylor University.

Obama, Israel’s Great Friend?

by Robert Spencer
http://www.humanevents.com/
05/21/2009

During their press conference Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Barack Obama a “great friend of Israel” and a “true friend of Israel” and thanked him for “your friendship to Israel and your friendship to me.” He also praised Obama as a “great leader: a great leader of the United States, a great leader of the world.” Netanyahu sounded like a man who was trying to convince himself of something -- and after Obama’s performance at the press conference, that was understandable.

Obama, for his part, was far less effusive, praising Netanyahu’s “political skills” and saying that he was confident the prime minister would “rise to the occasion” as he would be “confronted with as many important decisions about the long-term strategic interests of Israel as any prime minister that we’ve seen in a very long time.” He declared, as if his solicitude for the Palestinians was quite understandable but that his concern for the Israelis was unusual, that it was “in the interests not only of the Palestinians but also the Israelis and the United States and the international community to achieve a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians are living side by side in peace and security.”

Obama then noted, correctly, that “we have seen progress stalled on this front.” But just as he has consistently acted since he has been President as if the conflict between the U.S. is entirely the fault of the U.S. and within America’s power to end, so he seemed to assume that it was entirely up to Netanyahu and Israel to get progress moving toward this vaunted two-state solution: “And I suggested to the prime minister that he has a historic opportunity to get a serious movement on this issue during his tenure.”


To be sure, Obama did say that “there is no reason why we should not seize this opportunity and this moment for all the parties concerned to take seriously those obligations and to move forward in a way that assures Israel’s security, that stops the terrorist attacks that have been such a source of pain and hardship, and that we can stop rocket attacks on Israel, but that also allows Palestinians to govern themselves as an independent state that allows economic development to take place, that allows them to make serious progress in meeting the aspirations of their people.”

However, while calling upon Netanyahu to rise to the occasion, Obama issued no similar call to Palestinian Arab leaders. Yet the weekend before Obama met with Netanyahu, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is a significant presence in the West, repeated that it would never recognize Israel’s right to exist -- in other words, it is still dedicated to Israel’s total destruction. Hamas chief Khaled Meshal said Saturday also that Hamas would never accept a two-state solution, either.

And what if it did, anyway? The PLO’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Abbas Zaki, said last month that “with the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made -- just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward.”

Is this the kind of attitude that Obama wants to encourage? Certainly if he doesn’t, he has done nothing to discourage it.

And his take on Iran is no better. Obama declared Monday that “it is in U.S. national security interests to assure that Israel’s security as an independent Jewish state is maintained.” But in speaking of Iran’s nuclear threat, he said that he wanted Iran to be “in a position to provide opportunities and prosperity for their people, but that the way to achieve those goals is not through the pursuit of a nuclear weapon” -- as if Iran is pursuing nukes to alleviate some economic distress than can be relieved in some other way. Fanatical Shi’ite messianism and genocidal hatred for Israel? Nothing that a few good talks can’t cure!

Responding to a reporter’s question, Obama also said: “Well, it’s not clear to me why my outstretched hand would be interpreted as weakness.” But it isn’t just reporters who see it as weakness, it is the Iranian mullahs, who have stepped up their demands and ratcheted up the bellicosity of their rhetoric considerably since Obama has been in office. If Obama is really Israel’s “great friend,” and the standard-bearer of the free world against the global jihad, he will take note and adjust his course now, before it is too late.

Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)", "The Truth About Muhammad," and "Stealth Jihad" (all from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NOTRE DAME HOLDS FIRST ALAN KEYES FUNDRAISER

By Ann Coulter
http://www.anncoulter.com/
May 20, 2009

How about for next year's graduation ceremony Notre Dame have an abortionist perform an abortion live on stage? They could have a partial-birth abortion for the advanced degrees.

According to liberals, the right to kill babies was enshrined by the Founding Fathers in our Constitution -- and other constitutional rights are celebrated in public.

The right to bear arms is honored in 21-gun salutes, turkey shoots, Civil War re-enactments, firearms demonstrations and, occasionally, at Phil Spector's house.

The right to petition the government for redress of grievances is celebrated at political rallies, tea parties, marches, protests and whenever Keith Olbermann has a fight with his cat.

The free exercise clause is observed in church services, missionary work, peyote-smoking Indian rituals, and for a few days after every time Bill Clinton gets caught having an extramarital affair.

So instead of inviting a constitutional lawyer to yammer on about this purported constitutional right, why not show it being practiced?

How about a 21-vacuum hose (D&C) salute? Maybe have the Notre Dame marching band form a giant skull-piercing fork? How about having the president throw out the ceremonial first fetus, like on opening day in baseball? I'm just brainstorming here, folks -- none of this is written in stone.

Being such a prestigious institution, Notre Dame could probably get famed partial-birth abortion practitioner George Tiller to do the demonstration at next year's graduation. Obama could help -- inasmuch as Tiller the abortionist is a close friend of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

This is a "constitutional right" like no other.

Even its supporters are embarrassed by the exercise of this right. They won't practice the right in public -- they won't even call abortion by its name, preferring to use a string of constantly changing euphemisms, such as "reproductive health" and "choice."

It would be as if gun owners refused to use the word "gun" and the NRA's motto were, "Let's all work together to keep hunting safe, legal and rare."

Liberals were awestruck by Obama's statesmanlike speech at Notre Dame, but whatever he says about abortion is frothy nonsense because we're not allowed to vote on abortion policy in America. If it's a "constitutional right," we can no more vote on abortion than we could vote on free speech.

With Roe v. Wade, abortion supporters ripped the issue out of the democratic process -- limb from limb, you might say -- and declared their desired outcome a "constitutional right." They have hysterically defended that lawless decision for the last quarter-century.

All of Obama's soothing words about joining hands and not demonizing one another are just blather as long as that legal monstrosity remains the law of the land.

Showing his open-mindedness, Obama asked, "How does each of us remain firm in our principles ... without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?" (What do I have to do to get you murderers and you non-murderers to shake hands and be friends?)

A good start would be letting us vote.

Liberals can be all sweet reason as long as their preference for abortion on demand is lyingly called a "constitutional right," immutable to the tiniest alteration by the voters.

In the minuscule areas where abortion policy can be affected, Obama has shown his passion for compromise by always taking the most extreme pro-abortion position.

On his third day in office, Obama overturned the "Mexico City Policy," which prohibited U.S. taxpayer money from being spent on overseas organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.

Obama has filled his administration with Planned Parenthood veterans and friends of partial-birth abortionists.

As an Illinois state senator in 2002-2003, Obama repeatedly blocked and voted against the "Born Alive Act," which would have allowed doctors to give medical care to babies who somehow survived abortions and remained alive, wholly apart from their mothers.

Even the extremist National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League declined to take a position on the bill. The same bill in the U.S. Senate passed unanimously -- and that means that abortion-happy nutcake Barbara Boxer voted for it.

But Obama apparently thought it was important to affirm a woman's critical right to fourth-trimester abortions.

Here's my idea for how we can "live together as one human family," as Obama proposed at Notre Dame: Go ahead, demonize pro-lifers, Obama -- call us "right-wing ideologues." But just once, support one little policy that will save a single unborn child.

Ivy Leaguer 'Infiltrates' Falwell's University

By Eric Tucker
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last updated Friday, April 24, 2009 2:34 PM CDT in Religion

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Kevin Roose managed to blend in during his single semester at Liberty University, attending lectures on the myth of evolution and the sin of homosexuality, and joining fellow students on a mission trip to evangelize partyers on spring break.

Roose had transferred to the Virginia campus from Brown University in Providence, a famously liberal member of the Ivy League. His Liberty classmates knew about the switch, but he kept something more important hidden: He planned to write a book about his experience at the school founded by fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell.

Each conversation about salvation or hand-wringing debate about premarital sex was unwitting fodder for Roose's recently published book: "The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University."

"As a responsible American citizen, I couldn't just ignore the fact that there are a lot of Christian college students out there," said Roose, 21, now a Brown senior. "If I wanted my education to be well-rounded, I had to branch out and include these people that I just really had no exposure to."

Formed in 1971, Liberty now enrolls more than 11,000 residential students, along with thousands more who study through Liberty's distance-learning programs. The university teaches creationism and that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, while pledging "a strong commitment to political conservatism" on campus and a "total rejection of socialism."

Roose's parents, liberal Quakers who once worked for Ralph Nader, were nervous about their son being exposed to Falwell's views. Still, Roose transferred to Liberty for the spring 2007 semester.

He was determined to not mock the school, thinking it would be too easy — and unfair. He aimed to immerse himself in the culture, examine what conservative Christians believe and see if he could find some common ground. He had less weighty questions too: How did they spend Friday nights? Did they use Facebook? Did they go on dates? Did they watch "Gossip Girl?"

It wasn't an easy transition. Premarital sex is an obvious no-no at Liberty. So are smoking and drinking. Cursing is also banned, so he prepared by reading the Christian self-help book, "30 Days to Taming Your Tongue."

He lined up a publisher — Grand Central Publishing — and arrived at the Lynchburg campus prepared for "hostile ideologues who spent all their time plotting abortion clinic protests and sewing Hillary Clinton voodoo dolls."

Instead, he found that "not only are they not that, but they're rigorously normal."

He met students who use Bible class to score dates, apply to top law schools and fret about their futures, and who enjoy gossip, hip-hop and R-rated movies — albeit in a locked dorm room.

A roommate he depicts as aggressively anti-gay — all names are changed in the book — is an outcast on the hall, not a role model.

Yet, some students also grilled him about his relationship with Jesus and condemned non-believers to hell.

After a gunman at Virginia Tech killed 32 people in April 2007, a Liberty student said the deaths paled next to the millions of abortions worldwide — a comment Roose says infuriated him.

Roose researched the school by joining as many activites as possible. He accompanied classmates on a spring break missionary trip to Daytona Beach. He visited a campus support group for chronic masturbators, where students were taught to curb impure thoughts. And he joined the choir at Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Roose scored an interview with the preacher for the school newspaper, right before Falwell died in May of that year. Roose decided against confronting him over his views on liberals, gays and other hot-button topics, and instead learned about the man himself, discovering among other things that the pastor loved diet peach Snapple and the TV show "24."

Roose would duck away to the bathroom to scribble down anecdotes or record them during lectures. He never blew his cover, even ending a blossoming romantic relationship rather than come clean. He revealed the truth on a return trip to campus. He grappled with guilt during the entire project, but said he ultimately found forgiveness from students for his deception.

"If he told me he was writing an expose or maybe if the book turned out to be what I considered unfair, then I might have been more troubled," said Brian Colas, a former Liberty student body president who befriended Roose.

The university administration has been less receptive. Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement that Roose had a "distorted view" of Liberty before he arrived and gave an incomplete portrait of the school.

"We appreciate Kevin's generally positive tone toward LU but he admittedly comes from a culture that has very little tolerance for conservative Christianity and even less understanding of it," Falwell said.

Roose said his Liberty experience transformed him in surprising ways.

When he first returned to Brown, he'd be shocked by the sight of a gay couple holding hands — then be shocked at his own reaction. He remains stridently opposed to Falwell's worldview, but he also came to understand Falwell's appeal.

Once ambivalent about faith, Roose now prays to God regularly — for his own well-being and on behalf of others. He said he owns several translations of the Bible and has recently been rereading meditations from the Gospel of John on using love and compassion to solve cultural conflicts.

He's even considering joining a church.


Surprises from Liberty University: What I Learned as an Undercover Evangelical

By Kevin Roose
The Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Posted May 5, 2009 03:18 PM (EST)

When I stepped on to the campus of Liberty University for my first day as a new transfer student, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

I knew that Liberty was a Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded in 1971 by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell to train "Champions for Christ." I knew it had required courses in Creationist Biology and Evangelism 101, a student body whose political views ranged from conservative to arch-conservative, and a 46-page code of conduct - called "The Liberty Way" - that outlawed drinking, smoking, cursing, dancing, R-rated movies, and hugs that last for longer than three seconds.

I knew all those things, which is why I decided to transfer to Liberty from Brown University, one of the nation's most liberal colleges, and write a book (The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University) about my experience. Before Liberty, I'd never been exposed to conservative Christian culture - my parents are secular Quakers who once worked for Ralph Nader - but during my sophomore year at Brown, I decided to break out of my left-wing enclave and learn about my Christian peers by experiencing their world firsthand. For an entire semester, I took Bible classes, lived in Liberty's single-sex dorms, and sang in Rev. Falwell's church choir, trying to expand my horizons while studying "abroad" in a subculture more foreign to me than Barcelona or Tokyo. A slew of adjectives could describe my Liberty semester - "enlightening," "difficult," and "weird," to name a few - but perhaps the most apt one is "surprising."

Some of the surprises I saw at Liberty were off-putting and worrisome. I remember opening my first Creationist Biology exam to find the question: "True or False: Noah's Ark was large enough to accommodate various species of dinosaurs." (According to my professor, the answer was "True" - since dinosaurs and humans cohabited the earth after the Flood, they would have had to find a way to squeeze onto the Ark. He suggested that they could have been teenage dinosaurs, so as to take up less space.) Also troubling was Liberty's extreme social and political conservatism, which made for classroom lessons like "The Consequences of Immoral Sex" and textbook chapters like "Myths Behind the Homosexual Agenda."

A few surprises were strange but harmless. I'm thinking of my spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, where a group of Liberty students and I tried (and mostly failed) to convert drunken coeds to Christianity. Or when I paid a visit to "Every Man's Battle," Liberty's on-campus support group for chronic masturbators. (Insert your own "hands-on research" joke here.)

But many - maybe even most - of the surprises I encountered at Liberty were much more pleasant. For starters, I learned that my stereotypes about evangelical college students - that they were all knuckle-dragging ideologues who spent their free time writing angry letters to the ACLU - were almost entirely wrong. Far from crazy, the friends I made at Liberty were some of the warmest, funniest, most intellectually curious college students I've ever met. After a few weeks of frantic acclimation to life in the dorms (aided by a Christian self-help book, 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, that helped me kick my cursing habit), I began to fit in on my hall, and I found that Liberty students had a lot of the same day-to-day anxieties as my friends back at Brown. They gossiped about girls, complained about their homework, and worried about their post-graduation plans. Many even doubted their faith.

I was also surprised to learn that Liberty's strict religious discipline can actually be a good thing. I've always assumed that college students and freewheeling social climates went hand-in-hand, but most of the students I met were thankful for Liberty's rules. (Although I did find a few subversive Facebook groups, like one called "I Hug For Three Seconds, Sometimes Four.")

A sociologist named Margarita Mooney has shown that college students who attend regular religious services report being happier, more diligent, and more satisfied with their college experience than students who practice no religion. I still don't consider myself an evangelical Christian, but I can understand now what millions of Christian college students see in faith-based education, and why Liberty's enrollment has grown at a rate that few colleges, secular or religious, have ever matched.

Since the book came out, I've taken some heat from people who have argued that, by going to Liberty with an open mind, I was turning a blind eye to intolerance - or worse, that I'd been brainwashed by my time under Rev. Falwell's tutelage. But no community is all bad, and to dismiss Liberty as a place of wall-to-wall insanity is to reduce it, and the evangelical movement that birthed it, to a lazy caricature.

I still disagree with a lot of the values Liberty stands for, but seeing the human faces on the other side of the American culture wars made me question my own assumptions and realize that, in some ways, I had just as much to learn about tolerance as the most hard-line fundamentalist.

We can all be surprised by our ideological opponents. We just have to give them a chance.

Link
http://www.kevinroose.com/press


Surprised by Love

An outsider's view of Liberty University and the faith it embodies.

Reviewed by Karen Swallow Prior
Books and Culture
http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/
posted 3/23/2009

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University isn't the book its author, Kevin Roose, thought it would be. It's certainly not the book he pitched to his publisher as a left hook in the ongoing fisticuffs between secularists and believers. And it's not the book I anticipated when I first heard rumors among students at Liberty University, where I teach, that a young man from Brown University had come here and spent a semester undercover in order to write an exposé on command central for one side in America's culture wars.

It's not the book it was supposed to be because, as it turns out, Liberty University wasn't what it was supposed to be.

This isn't to say that some of the worst stereotypes of evangelicalism, fundamentalism, the Bible Belt, and Christian higher education aren't reinforced by Roose's experience. They are.

Nevertheless, Roose largely gets beyond the stereotypes and humanizes even those whose views he finds "reprehensible." And in the process, Roose gets a good dose of humanizing himself.

In both conception and execution, Roose's narrative parallels that of his mentor, A. J. Jacobs, in The Year of Living Biblically. Inspired by his experience as Jacobs' slave (aka unpaid intern) during the writing of that book, Roose—once he gains the reluctant approval of Brown University administrators and his parents—sets out on a domestic version of the semester abroad.

The concerns and, at times, outright opposition of Roose's family and friends about his project add significant tension to his narrative. This conflict—between his old life and his new one, as well as the internal conflicts that grow throughout his stay—is one of several elements that make the book a compelling read.

The most important element, however, is simply that Roose is a talented writer (astonishingly so when one considers that he was only 19 when writing the book). My favorite sentence offers a good example of Roose's synthesizing wit, keen insight, and sharp style: "Even in its weather patterns, Lynchburg, Virginia, is a fundamentalist city." He continues, "Unlike the fickle New England winters I came from, where snow, sun, fog, and rain operate on a twenty-minute loop, Lynchburg in February has good days and bad days, and nothing in between."

This passage rings true to my own introduction to Lynchburg. Having—like Roose—arrived from the North, I experienced some of the same culture shock Roose relates. But having also come—unlike Roose—from an evangelical background, I understood that many of the differences we both encountered are more rooted in the North-South divide than in the secular-Christian one. In fact, a good number of Roose's experiences at Liberty that he attributes to the school's brand of conservative theology, I would argue, stem less from doctrine than from Bible Belt culture.
Roose's failure to distinguish between Christian mores and cultural ones reflects a conflation that is ours in the first place. Nevertheless, it's a conflation that proves a stumbling block to his willingness "to believe in Jesus as Lord."

A sometimes startling view of contemporary evangelicalism through an outsider's eyes is reason enough to read this book. But there's also Roose's humor, often at his own expense, to keep readers turning the pages. Knowing that the success of his project depends upon being able to blend in as a regular Liberty student, Roose nevertheless has some Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court moments. In a misguided attempt to find palatable substitutes for his customary curse words, he utters phrases like "Glory!" and "Good Heavens!"; the clothes he's brought conform to Liberty's dress code—from 10 years ago, that is; and when he leaves a baseball game early for choir practice at Thomas Road Baptist Church, he can't quite blame his dorm mates, in light of such missteps, for suspecting he might be gay.

Despite the false starts, Roose finds the students at Liberty to be "the friendliest students I've ever met." "In fact," he writes, "that's the thing that strikes me hardest: this is not a group of angry zealots." He is surprised to realize that the "students have no ulterior motive. They simply can't contain their love for God." Clearly, Roose adheres to his resolution to conduct his experiment "with as little prejudgment as possible and "with an open mind."

Any lingering doubts about Roose's commitment to objectivity are exploded by his portrayal of a few exultant responses by some family and friends from back home to Rev. Jerry Falwell's sudden death near the end of the book. These reactions aren't pretty—but, then again, neither are all the things Roose witnesses among the Christians at Liberty University.

While the disturbing homophobia Roose encounters is, arguably, more reflective of the state of hormone-laden, sexually frustrated young men living in a male dorm than of principled Christianity, other aspects of Roose's experiences at Liberty read like cautionary tales straight from Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Roose is an English major, and like any English major worth his salt, he reads everything like a text. He pays attention to both form and content and to any disunity between the two. Much of what he has trouble reconciling about his experience is related to what he sees as discrepancies between the content of religious belief and the forms it takes at Liberty University. First, there is the masturbation ministry. Then there's the Spring Break missions trip to Daytona Beach for a week of "cold turkey evangelism." Finally, he is understandably confused by what he sees as a compartmentalized approach to education, one which, on one hand, presents itself as grounded in eternal truth claims but, on the other, seems (at least in some of the classes he takes) to eschew the higher levels of inquiry and critical thinking that should flow naturally from such a firm foundation.

Of course, Roose's academic experience at Liberty is distorted. In seeking a kind of extreme version of Christian education, he enrolls only in required freshman-level Religion and General Education classes, not in classes in other academic disciplines, or even his own major. If it's a slice of Liberty life Roose hopes to offer, it ends up more like a spoonful of batter.

Consequently, despite finding plenty of "smart people" at Liberty, Roose describes it as "a place where academic rigor is sacrificed on the altar of uninterrupted piety." He says he's learned from others that "education and piety are not mutually exclusive, and the sooner the school's higher ups take this to heart, the sooner Liberty students can go about the business of loving God with their minds." Despite his breezy style, clearly Roose has done his research, and one suspects he's been reading folks like George Marsden and Gene Edward Veith, along with Mark Noll. Even so, at five weeks into the semester, Roose finds he's had to "work twice as hard at Liberty as [he] did at Brown."

He learns also to "appreciate the rigid behavioral structure" of the school. He studies hard, exercises more, abstains from alcohol, loses weight, and in dating, feels liberated from the secular hook-up culture.

Not surprisingly, Roose interprets much of the good he finds in his experience through the lens of pragmatism. He quotes William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience throughout the book as he tries to reconcile his increasing admiration for certain aspects of evangelicalism with his opposing political and social views. But even pragmatism can't explain the most profound part of his experience.

I didn't meet Roose until two years after his semester here, when he sat in my office for a friendly, hour-long chat on one of those "good days" of February in Lynchburg, just a few weeks before his book's release. He still comes back to visit the friends he made here—and, on this trip, to talk about the book. Of all the unexpected events at Liberty, the one that most moves him, one included in the book but conveyed even more poignantly face-to-face, is the love his Liberty friends showed him when he finally revealed the truth about who he is and why he enrolled here. One of his roommates, he says, expressed their reaction best: "How could I not forgive you when I've been forgiven so much?" Roose shakes his head in disbelief, sitting in the chair next to mine. "I never expected the people here to apply the principles of their belief to their lives in such a real way."

It is this sense of love, ultimately, that Roose can't shake, even two years later. He found at Liberty a kind of community, he acknowledges, that has no parallel in the secular world. "I never thought," Roose writes to the school in the book's acknowledgements, "that the world's largest evangelical university would feel like home … . But by experiencing your warmth, your vigorous generosity of spirit, and your deep complexity, I was ultimately convinced—not that you were right, necessarily, but that I was wrong."

Roose's life was changed for the better through his semester at Liberty. And hopefully, Liberty University will be changed for the better, too, through having seen itself through the eyes of a stranger—an angel of sorts, perhaps (as Roose intimates in the book's epigraph), that we entertained unaware.

Karen Swallow Prior is Chair, Department of English and Modern Languages, and associate professor of English at Liberty University.

Bruce rocks Mellon Arena crowd, covers Dylan's 'Rolling Stone'

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/


Matt Freed/ Post-Gazette

Bruce Springsteen performs during the "Working on a Dream" tour at Mellon Arena tonight.


If you've been following the Bruce Springsteen tour, you know he's been collecting signs from the crowd in a little game of Stump the E Street Band.

Among the songs he's played along the way are "I Wanna Be Sedated," "London Calling" and ... "Hava Nagila"? Yes, believe it or not.

God bless the people of Pittsburgh. After flipping through the dozens of signs tonight at the Mellon Arena, he shouted, "We've never played this song before!" When he turned it around, it was "Like a Rolling Stone" and off went the E Street Band into an epic version with a crowd sing-along of "How does it feeeel?"

Springsteen has rarely touched a song by Dylan, a towering lyrical influence on him, and certainly never played one before in Pittsburgh, so consider yourself charmed to be there.

It went along with the whole anything-goes nature of this tour, which may have started as a vehicle to promote "Working on a Dream," but changed gears when no one seemed all that into it. Being the resilient type and one of the world's great entertainers, Springsteen recognized that and made a new plan.

"We're going to take the fear out there and build a house of love!" he declared last night. So, at the core of his set was a sprinkling of songs that deal with "Hard Times," including a gospel version of that Stephen Foster classic during the encores. Earlier he did the grinding "Seeds," a song about a family that goes South only to find the oil boom gone bust, and a rollicking "Johnny 99," about an unemployed auto worker who goes a little crazy with a gun. In Pittsburgh, he subbed out "Ghost of Tom Joad" for an emotional version of "Youngstown," providing a rare showcase for guitarist Nils Lofgren to shred.

The only nods to the new record were "Kingdom of Days" and the oddly epic Western tale "Outlaw Pete," which he gave the hard-sell. It was more like the "Darkness on the Edge of Town" tour with a double-shot of "Badlands" and "Candy's Room" opening the set and later the title track (by sign request) and "The Promised Land," which in my book is one of our country's most empowering anthems.

That house of love he set out to build manifested itself in the party treat of "Good Lovin'," a natural for the E Street Band, and in the thrust of "She's the One," but also in the transcendent set climax of "Lonesome Day" and "The Rising," a pair of songs that chronicle the trauma the country suffered in the past decade with a ray of hope.

That hopeful vibe carried into the encores, which included "Land of Hope and Dreams," the always-welcome "Thunder Road" and a visit from Houserocker Joe Grushecky and son Johnny on a ragtag "Glory Days."

As usual, Springsteen was relentless and superhuman. Take "Born to Run." It's a song he's played in every show since the mid-'70s and by this point, you'd think he'd be burned on it. But looking up at the screen, you could still see that fire in his eyes -- that it all still matters, and there's no such thing as going through the motions.


Scott Mervis can be reached at smervis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2576. For updates, notes, your comments and more ... visit Scott's Pop Noise blog.
First published on May 20, 2009 at 12:00 am


SETLIST

Badlands
Candy's Room
Outlaw Pete
Jackson Cage
She's The One
Working On A Dream
Seeds
Johnny 99
Youngstown
Good Lovin'
Like A Rolling Stone
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Waitin' On A Sunny Day
The Promised Land
I'm On Fire
Kingdom Of Days
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born To Run

ENCORES

Hard Times
Thunder Road
Land Of Hope And Dreams
American Land
Glory Days (with Pittsburgh's Joe Grushecky)
Mony Mony

Al Gore Rakes in the Green

By: Joseph D'Hippolito
http://www.frontpagemag.com/
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Obama administration’s decision this week to introduce stringent new fuel efficiency standards for the U.S. car industry is a testament to the power of climate change hysteria. The lobby goes unchallenged in the corridors of power and will likely incur a disastrous economic and human toll. (For an overview of the probable cost in human lives, see Steven Milloy’s “The Sad CAFE” in this edition of FrontPage Magazine.) It is also a means to gaining political power and, for the former vice president, personal riches.

The potential to cash in on Green hysteria is nicely summarized by a cartoon in the daily Non Sequitur series drawn by Wiley. In the middle of a desert stands a shack, the office of “Global Warming Realty.” The two proprietors flank a sign planted along the road advertising “Ocean Front Lots Available.” “It doesn’t matter what we believe,” one realtor said to the other. “It only matters what they believe.”

The world’s most popular environmental alarmist appears to have taken that advice to heart.

Al Gore – the former vice president, Nobel Prize recipient and Academy Award winner for “An Inconvenient Truth” – has made tremendous money off the global warming hoax. Since leaving office in 2001, Gore’s personal net worth exploded from $2 million to $100 million in 2007, as reported by Investor’s Business Daily.

Moreover, Gore hopes to make further big profits by creating financial vehicles that ostensibly promote investment in renewable energy sources – not that he would want anyone to know that.

On April 24, Gore testified before the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee about pending cap-and-trade legislation. Cap-and-trade policies, which Gore supports, enable businesses to purchase credits for exceeding government-mandated limits on carbon-dioxide emissions, thereby avoiding fines.

During the hearings, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn asked Gore about his involvement with Kleiner Perkins, an environmental venture-capital group that Gore joined as a partner in 2007. Kleiner Perkins, Blackburn said, “invested about a billion dollars in 40 companies that are going to benefit from cap-and-trade legislation that we are discussing here today.

“Is that something that you are personally going to benefit from?” Blackburn asked.

Gore replied: “The transition to a green economy is good for our economy and good for all of us, and I have invested in it but every penny that I have made I have put right into a nonprofit, the Alliance for Climate Protection, to spread awareness of why we have to take on this challenge.”

However, Investor’s Business Daily reported that in March 2008, during a convention in Monterey, Calif., Gore revealed to his audience that he had “a stake” in various environmental enterprises and encouraged investment in them instead of what he called “subprime carbon assets,” tar sands and oil shale.

Two months later, Kleiner Perkins announced that it would invest $500 million in the Green Growth Fund, which specializes in environmental technology – potentially increasing Gore’s stake.

Another congressman, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, told Gore during the hearing, “and I know you’ve got interests with Goldman Sachs.” Steven Milloy, science correspondent for Fox News and author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan To Ruin Your Life and What You Can Do To Stop Them, described what followed:

“Gore made facial gestures that implied he had never even heard of Goldman Sachs. Gore then replied, ‘No.’

“Rep. Scalise continued, ‘… well, that’s been reported. If — is that not accurate?’

“Gore replied, ‘No. I wish I did, but I don’t.’

Yet the former vice president has extensive, complex and personal connections with Goldman Sachs.

In 2004, Gore helped found and became the chairman of Generation Investment Management, which participates in cap-and-trade by purchasing carbon credits. Among the founders are three Goldman Sachs officials. Mark Ferguson served as the joint head of European research for Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Peter Harris directed international research for Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

But the biggest name is Henry Paulson – the former Goldman Sachs chairman and Pres. George W. Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury who designed last fall’s massive government bailout of various financial firms.Serving as GIM’s managing director is David Blood, who once worked as the CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

GIM – and, by extension, Goldman Sachs – are major players in cap-and-trade. Deborah Corey Barnes wrote in Human Events that GIM exercises “considerable influence” over the Chicago Carbon Exchange (CCX) and its British equivalent, the Carbon Neutral Company. Both exchanges transform the carbon credits their members purchase into investments or donations to agencies that produce or promote non-petroleum energy sources.

CCX’s members include Ford, DuPont, Dow Corning and the states of Illinois and New Mexico. CCX also owns 50 percent of the European Climate Exchange, which features such members as Shell, British Petroleum, Barclays – and Goldman Sachs.

In 2006, Goldman Sachs paid $23 million for 10 percent of CCX’s shares. Also that year, Goldman Sachs supplied $2.3 billion in grants to study ways to regulate or reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, and $1 billion to projects designed to generate energy without petroleum.

Gore’s relationship with Goldman Sachs extends even to investing in oil exploration! Kleiner Perkins, where Gore works as a partner, combined with Goldman Sachs last year to invest $65 million in Terralliance, which develops software to make drilling more efficient.

“As a Kleiner Perkins partner, Al Gore must have known, if not approved of the Terralliance deal, and that it involved Goldman Sachs,” Milloy wrote. “At the very least, under partnership law, such knowledge is legally imputed to him as a partner.”

What about the Alliance for Climate Protection, Gore’s non-profit organization? Basically, it’s nothing but a front. As Barnes wrote:

“The group favors more stringent environmental policy regulations on the private sector and especially wants cap-and-trade legislation so that companies will be forced to lower their greenhouse gas emissions and buy carbon credits.”

Naturally, companies would have to join CCX (if they had not already done so) and purchase credits from the organization that Gore and Goldman Sachs helped establish. Those credits, in turn, would help finance projects that could make even more money for Gore and Goldman Sachs.

“Whatever its impact on the environment, the cap-and-trade carbon scheme is sure to boost the economic and political prospects of people and groups that are behind it,” Barnes wrote. “Before the company collapsed under the weight of financial scandal, Enron under CEO Ken Lay was a key proponent of the cap-and-trade idea. So was BP’s Lord John Browne, before he resigned last May under a cloud of personal scandal.”

The global warming hoax not only offers its promoters the opportunity for massive profits. It also provide another rationale for self-benighted elitists to promote their utopian visions of the future – and, like all utopian visions, they are fundamentally totalitarian.

John Holdren – Pres. Obama’s new science advisor and a disciple of zero-population advocate Paul Ehrlich – wrote more than 30 years ago that technological progress, especially in developed countries, must be sacrificed for global ecological harmony.

“Only one rational path is open to us—simultaneous de-development of the (overdeveloped countries) and semi-development of the underdeveloped countries, in order to approach a decent and ecologically sustainable standard of living for all in between,” Holdren and Ehrlich wrote in the introduction to their 1971 book, Global Ecology. “By de-development we mean lower per-capita energy consumption, fewer gadgets, and the abolition of planned obsolescence.”

Two years later, the pair combined with Paul Ehrlich’s wife, Anne, to write the following in Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions:

“A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States. . . . Resources and energy must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries. This effort must be largely political.”

Such “largely political” means can range from putting the CEO’s of large energy companies on trial for crimes against humanity (as Front Page Magazine’s Ben Johnson reported in his article, “Obama’s Biggest Radical”) to preventing opponents from expressing contrary opinions.

Lord Christopher Monckton, former science advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was scheduled to testify alongside Gore at the April 24 Congressional hearing. But the Democrats – led by the committee chairman, California Rep. Henry Waxman, who is co-sponsoring the cap-and-trade bill being considered – refused to let him appear.

Lord Monckton told Marc Morano from ClimateDepot.com that he found out when his plane landed in Washington the day before he was scheduled to testify.“The Democrats have a lot to learn about the right of free speech under the U.S. Constitution,” Lord Monckton said. “Congressman Henry Waxman's refusal to expose Al Gore's sci-fi comedy-horror testimony to proper, independent scrutiny by the House minority reeks of naked fear.

“Waxman knows there has been no ‘global warming’ for at least a decade. Waxman knows there has been seven and a half years' global cooling. Waxman knows that, in the words of the UK High Court judge who condemned Gore's mawkish movie as materially, seriously, serially inaccurate, ‘the Armageddon scenario that he depicts is not based on any scientific view,’

“The House Democrats don't want Gore humiliated, so they slammed the door of the Capitol in my face. They are cowards.”

Lord Monckton is not alone. More than 700 scientists from around the world have signed the Senate’s minority report disputing the claims about man-made global warming. By contrast, only 59 scientists signed the “Summary for Policymakers” published by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But if Gore and his allies ultimately succeed, they will add an immense and unnecessary weight to the heavy financial burden many American families already carry. The Congressional Budget Office reported that reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 15 percent would cost each American family $1,600.

Philip Stott, professor emeritus of biogeography at the University of London, believes that inducing such financial stress plays a fundamental role in the global warming hoax:

“‘Global warming’ has become the grand political narrative of the age, replacing Marxism as a dominant force for controlling liberty and human choices.” But at least some of its exponents believe in raking in the profits of capitalism, however disingenuous their “truths” may be.

Joseph D’Hippolito is a columnist for Frontpagemag.com, whose main focuses are religion and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today's Tune: Marty Stuart- Hey Baby



(Click on title to play video)

Film Review: 'Is Anybody There?'

An elderly magician and a lonely 10-year-old boy bond in another memorable Michael Caine film.

By BETSY SHARKEY, Film Critic
Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/
April 17, 2009

It is a trembly and vulnerable Michael Caine that we see in "Is Anybody There?," a finely drawn and gentle British drama propelled by another of the star's unforgettable screen portraits.

Caine plays Clarence, an aging magician struggling to keep hold of his dignity and his mind in the face of the pitiless approach of old age. He's been packed off to Lark Hall, an old-age home in a small seaside town, a sort of boarding house for those not far from whatever eternity awaits them. What Clarence discovers is an unexpected friendship with Edward (Bill Milner), an inquisitive but pensive 10-year-old whose family runs and lives in the house with a clientele that is forever departing.

How we live, and particularly how we die, has long been grist for philosophical and religious musings, to say nothing of filmmakers. With an aging population that is ever expanding and not at all comfortable with going gently into that good night, the questions and issues loom larger than ever. "Is Anybody There?" sets about to work its way through many of them: how we cling to youth, how we cope or not with aging, what it is like after you die -- do spirits of the dead linger on this earth?

All of which might make "Is Anybody There?" sound dark and depressing. It is anything but, in no small part due to Caine, whose wonderfully nuanced performance is the film's centerpiece -- whether he's staging an escape with a nonchalant slip out the door, or letting the props of the magic trade draw out his memories.

It is a neat trick the way Caine lets us glimpse Clarence as he must have been when he was younger: playing to sold-out audiences, dazzling them with his sleight of hand, wooing the women who flocked backstage, partying through the nights, eventually destroying his marriage. All of it accomplished with a bit of pain peeking out from under those heavy, always-at-half-mast lids, and a disappearing card with the flick of a wrist there.

It is also hard not to see remnants of a younger Michael Caine -- beautifully seductive and enigmatic all those years ago in "Alfie." He has said his wife cried when she saw the performance; you understand why.

Director John Crowley and Peter Harness' semiautobiographical screenplay have turned this into a character-driven study that is neither too sentimental nor too clinical as lives unfold and then exit from the small stage they've created. There are no long monologues about the meaning of life and the implications of death. Instead we see it in understated touches everywhere -- the ambulances that pull up in front of the house are in no hurry, knowing the curtain has already fallen

Young Edward, as it happens, is still adjusting to the realities of living among the elderly. A lonely child, he becomes intent on unlocking the mysteries of death and hopefully capturing evidence of an afterlife on the tape recorder he strategically places in the residents' room to record those last moments. Clarence, on the other hand, though he's been tossed about by life and hit hard by the loss of his much-loved wife, intends to wrestle with the indignities and inevitability of aging until the end.

There is discontent and frustration in the air when this odd couple first encounter each other -- Clarence sure that he shouldn't be in a retirement home at all and Edward angry that there is yet another tenant moving in to what used to be his bedroom. They are both displaced and they are both outsiders, Clarence at the old-age house, Edward at school. Two blokes a bit too clever for the room.

Almost without realizing it, they begin to set aside self-interest to help each other out, with Clarence teaching Edward card tricks so that he can survive the dreaded birthday party his mum (Anne-Marie Duff) has planned for him, which of course teaches him a great deal about growing up, and Edward devising a way to take Clarence on a trip to the grave of his wife.

There is such an easy grace that develops between Clarence and Edward, with Caine giving young Milner (a standout in "Son of Rambow") plenty of space to hold the screen with him, and for the most part he does. The two become almost inseparable as they meander through the house and the English countryside toward an uncertain and still undefined future, all the while having the kind of conversations that make you wish they'd let you eavesdrop for a long time.

betsy.sharkey@latimes.com

Muslim Row

By: Ryan Mauro
http://www.frontpagemag.com/
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Bible-belt state of Tennessee is not known to have been targeted by Al-Qaeda or any other radical Islamic terrorist group, but the Volunteer State may be becoming a hotbed for the growth of extremism. Reports from Nashville, Shelbyville, and Dover indicate that Tennessee has gradually become a stronghold for radical Islamic forces that are transforming parts of the state.

On May 13, I reported on the discovery of extremism at the Al-Farooq Mosque in Nashville by award-winning counter-terrorism expert Dave Gaubatz, an individual that once held top-secret security clearance as an agent for the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. The library carried extremist texts and audio tapes by known radicals such as Syed Maududi and Ali Al-Tamimi, who was convicted for his role in terrorism. One calls for the killing of homosexuals, and another describes how Muslims not engaged in taking up an armed jihad must “strengthen the capability of those fighting on the front line.” Other texts were found by his female researcher when a member of the mosque brought her to a Somali store in Nashville that was well hidden because of what the mosque attendee described as “government problems.”

Most shockingly, one of his researchers recorded a seven-year old girl describing the teachers at the mosque as hitting the children. Although Gaubatz himself did not see such abuse, he described an incident where he heard a teacher scream and an 8-10 year old girl yell. After Gaubatz turned and looked to see what happened, he saw the teacher carrying a stick between 12 and 14 inches long. Although he did not see her get hit, Gaubatz said “from the reactions of the other children, I believe this happened.”

Gaubatz forwarded the information to the Nashville Police Department and Child Protective Services, each of which declined to launch an investigation saying not enough information was provided. CPS also told Gaubatz that the Nashville P.D. did not inform them of the tip.

Gaubatz also says that you can hear the girl mentioning her “husband” on the audio, although Detective Brooks Harris from the department rejected that allegation, saying he and his staff repeatedly listened to the audio and that she was saying the word “aunt” in her native tongue. Gaubatz says that members of the mosque did confirm they practiced polygamy.

Al-Farooq Mosque is attended by many Somali immigrants, and Islamic websites say that services are offered in Somali. Nashville alone is home to about 5,000 such immigrants, and their lack of assimilation is becoming a common complaint in Tennessee. The town of Shelbyville is the most dramatic example of this problem.

Brian Moseley of the Shelbyville Times-Gazzette has written an award-winning series about the impact of these refugees on the town of 17,000.
Moseley says that the local authorities described being frequently disrespected by the Somali immigrants, which number between 400 and 1,000, and are noticing that many become involved with gangs.

“Firefighters have told me that the Somalis refused to evacuate their apartment complex during a blaze and when they responded to alarm calls, the firemen are told to leave and that they are not welcome there…I have been told off the record that many officers are hesitant to even patrol after dark the apartment complex where the Somalis live,” he told Jerry Gordon of the New English Review.

He also reports that the school system is having some difficulty in working with them, as they “have difficulties” with females with positions of authorities, and are very demanding that the schools conform to their wishes. They often try to haggle with storeowners, and sometimes refuse to speak to female supervisors at stores, schools and hospitals.

The presence of a radical Islamic compound in Dover makes the potential for radicalization among these Somalis much more dangerous. According to unconfirmed reports received by the Christian Action Network, where I serve as a national security researcher, some of these Somalis have moved to this compound, run by a group called Muslims of America, a front for Jamaat ul-Fuqra. The residents here are followers of a radical Muslim cleric named Sheikh Mubarak Gilani, who currently lives in Lahore, Pakistan.

Residents near other compounds have reported the sounds of gunfire, and a secret videotape shows Sheikh Gilani engaging in terrorist training and instructing Muslims who wish to receive his training in “advanced Islamic military warfare” to contact his Muslims of America compounds. If these unverified reports are accurate, then Dover may be one of the locations of the Somalis who have gone missing.

These issues, of course, do not mean that all Somali immigrants are problems, but it is clear that the government needs to find better ways to assimilate those who travel to the U.S. in large numbers as refugees. As these communities grow, the U.S. may find itself with unassimilated masses asserting themselves as a state-within-a-state and over the long term, dealing with the "No-Go Zones" and their subsequent instability as seen in France. Should this happen, Americans will look to Tennessee as one of the places where it first started.

Ryan Mauro is the founder of WorldThreats.com and the Assistant-Director of Intelligence at C2I. He’s also the National Security Researcher for the Christian Action Network and a published author. He can be contacted at TDCAnalyst@aol.com.

Bruces Springsteen and E Street Band break tradition by improvising set list

Sunday, May 17, 2009
By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/music/


Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band became notorious for working at a glacial pace. What longtime fan will forget the interminable three-year wait between "Born to Run" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town" or, for a more absurd example, the 18 years between "Tunnel of Love" and "The Rising"?

So it was a shock when after the politically intense and acclaimed "Magic" in 2007 and a tour that ran through late summer of 2008, it was announced that Springsteen had a new album ready for the week of the Super Bowl appearance earlier this year, and a spring tour pending.


Bruce Springsteen, center, Nils Lofgren, left, and Steve Van Zandt, rear.

The strange thing about the sold-out show at the Mellon Arena Tuesday night is that the "Working on a Dream" tour no longer seems to be about "Working on a Dream." Although the record debuted at No. 1 on the charts, it doesn't seem to be a favorite among Boss fans, and Springsteen, always the savvy showman, has chosen not to shove it down anyone's throat.

"I think Bruce has kind of set a precedent traditionally as an artist where he'll come out and do six to nine things from a new album," says E Street guitarist Nils Lofgren. "And we started out doing five or six things, and then as the shows have gone on, we've cut down sometimes to three or four. To me, I think people are overthinking it. It's funny, on the 'Magic' tour, on the blogs, you got people whining that we're doing nine songs from the new album and they wanted to hear more old stuff. Now you got people whining we're doing three to five from the new album and they want to hear more new stuff."

The Asbury Park rehearsal show and a few after that included new songs like "This Life," "Good Eye" and "My Lucky Day" -- they didn't even mess with the much-derided "Queen of the Supermarket" -- but they were dropped after a few shows in favor of back catalog and a series of recession-related songs in "Seeds," "Johnny 99" and "The Ghost of Tom Joad."

The other new wrinkle is a game with the audience that dates back to the end of the last tour where crowd members would arrive with handwritten signs of what songs they wanted to hear.

"Bruce started going to the audience and collecting signs and he would come up on stage with a pile of about 30, and then he'd start rifling through them," Lofgren says. "It's forever imprinted on me the vision of the college kids looking for the one clean shirt in a dirty laundry pile. He'd find a sign he liked and he'd show it to us. A lot of times it was one of his songs. Sometimes it was a cover. But that was an improv thing, a little beyond the normal.

"Normally, Bruce will change the show a bit, sometimes you'll hear two to eight audibles. And sometimes they're what you talk about at the sound check, sometimes they're not. It's always a surprise, including to him. But with the sign thing, it started a new improv nature that got to the point where the last two months of the last tour, I got annoyed to get a set list 'cause it was useless. He started changing the opening number on the way to the stage."

In the past few weeks, it's turned into the old Stump the Band, like Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" band used to do (if you Google "Stump the Band" right now, Springsteen comes up seventh). In Atlanta a few weeks ago, they got a "96 Tears" sign, to which Springsteen said, "They think they're gonna stump the band -- but this is the greatest bar band in the land, and if they don't think we know 96 [expletive] Tears ..." There's also been a run of punk covers including The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" and The Clash's "London Calling," plus ZZ Top's "I'm Bad I'm Nationwide."

"Bruce likes the fact that it's hard to stump the E Street Band and he's brave enough to learn a song we don't know on stage and try to play it," Lofgren says. "I don't recall any bands ever doing that that I saw, and I've been going to shows for 45 years. Because we were so sharp, after playing 50 shows on the last tour, by the last 20 to 30, he realized we could improv the whole night and the band could handle it and it kind of challenged him not just to improv three hours but have it build and that's very difficult work, mentally, while you're trying to stay zoned out in the music. It was just a challenge that he accidentally found to engage himself and us ...
"Stuff like 'You Really Got Me,' we played in bar bands as kids. 'Hang on Sloopy' I used to play every night on my '83 Wonderland tour. A lot of these things are familiar, but we just haven't played them together."

The other development on the Working tour is the appearance of Son of Max -- Jay Weinberg -- who has been sitting behind the drums for a portion of the shows. The 18-year-old, who only has been playing drums for four years, will be needed for some of the European shows when his dad is committed to his other gig, "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."

"He's doing a great job for any drummer, let alone 18," Lofgren says. "He has a great mentor there in his father."

Lofgren knows what it's like to fill in, having joined Springsteen's band originally to replace Steve Van Zandt (who later returned) and Neil Young's Crazy Horse after the death of Danny Whitten.

"When I first joined the E Street Band, I didn't worry about Nils. I worried about what Steve and Bruce were doing. Then after 20 shows, I remember thinking I got what's needed and I'm internally connected enough that if I get an idea I know it's going to be true to the emotional content of what Bruce needs from me. That's something you can't rush or force. But hey, it's rock 'n' roll. It's a powerful, powerful band and the drums is the engine of any band. They're big shoes to fill and Jay is doing a great job."

During the brief downtime between the end of the "Magic" tour and the Super Bowl (sorry about your Cardinals, Nils), the 57-year-old Lofgren underwent hip replacement surgery and kept busy promoting "The Loner: Nils Sings Neil," his album of Neil Young covers. He also worked on guitar instruction videos that are available on his Web site. When Bruce calls, though, he's always ready to take his spot in the E Street Band.

"There's no bigger fan of rock 'n' roll music than me and I'm 40 years on the road. I've played in bands with Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Bruce, Neil Young, so I've done extensive touring. To me, these are the greatest rock 'n' roll shows by the greatest rock band in history with the greatest singer-writer-performer leading it. I think we're kicking [butt]."

Scott Mervis can be reached at smervis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2576. For more from the Nils Lofgren interview, see the Pop Noise blog at post-gazette.com.

First published on May 17, 2009 at 12:00 am