Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cathy Seipp: Bookstore Censors

Oriana Fallaci

The New York Post

March 11, 2006 -- A friend of mine took his daughter to visit the famous City Lights in San Francisco, explaining that this store is important because years ago it sold books no other store would - even, perhaps especially, books whose ideas many people found offensive. So, though my friend is no Ward Churchill fan, he didn't really mind the prominent display of books by the guy who famously called 9/11 victims "little Eichmanns."

But it did occur to him that perhaps the long-delayed English translation of Oriana Fallaci's new book, "The Force of Reason," might finally be available, and that, because Fallaci's militant stance against Islamic militants offends so many people a store committed to selling banned books would be the perfect place to buy it. So he asked a clerk if the new Fallaci book was in yet.

"No," snapped the clerk. "We don't carry books by fascists."

Just savor the absurd details of this for a minute. City Lights has a long and proud history of supporting banned authors - owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti was indicted (and acquitted) for obscenity in 1957 for selling Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," and a photo in the store's main room shows Ferlinghetti proudly posing next to a sign reading, "BANNED BOOKS." City Lights also has been featured in the ACLU's annual Banned Books Week events.

Yet the store won't carry Fallaci - who is being sued in Italy for insulting religion because of her latest book, and also continues to fight the good fight against those who think that the appropriate response to offensive books and cartoons is violent rioting.

It's particularly repugnant that someone who fought against actual fascism in World War II should be deemed a fascist by a snotty San Francisco clerk.

Strangest of all is the scenario of such a person's disliking an author for defending Western civilization against radical Islam - when one of the first things those poor persecuted Islamists would do, if they ever (Allah forbid) came to power in the United States, is crush suspected homosexuals like him beneath walls.

Yet those most oppressed by political Islam continue to defend it, even (perhaps especially) in the wake of the Danish cartoon furor. I've heard that in Europe this phenomenon is now called the Copenhagen Syndrome and that some of its arguments really are amazing.

For instance: "Freedom of speech is not absolute. It has to be in the service of something, like peace or social justice," a young British Muslim woman named Fareena Alam wrote in The (U.K.) Observer in mid-February.

While it's true that freedom of speech is not absolute - laws against libel and making violent threats are stronger in Britain than here - Alam has it exactly wrong. Free speech doesn't have to be in the service of anything but its own point of view. If it did, it wouldn't be free speech.

The attitude isn't only evident in women's defending the faith of their fathers. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke about media bias at USC a few days after the first cartoon riots had broken out. At the end, one woman in the audience stood - as so often happens at these events - to use the question-and-answer time to get up on a soapbox. She began by announcing that her father had been in five concentration camps, so she knows about the Holocaust. Then she segued into a long, rambling position statement about how little we understand the Muslim world.

The truth is by now we understand the Muslim world all too well. For those who manage to remain perplexed, there are many helpful news photos of placards ("Behead Those Who Disrespect Islam," "Get Ready for the Real Holocaust"), often carried by religiously shrouded women, that can clear up their puzzlement.

Back to City Lights, which indeed has no plan to sell any book by the "fascist" free-speech defender Oriana Fallaci. The store's Web site proudly declares that the place is "known for our commitment to freedom of expression," in which case you might assume such commitment includes supporting those whose free expression puts them in real danger. But although "The Force of Reason" is expected to reach the United States this spring, a City Lights clerk said when I called they had no plans to carry anything by Fallaci and that they have never sold any of her work.

"You're welcome to buy her book elsewhere, though," my friend was told helpfully when he visited. "Let's just say we don't have room for her here."

OK, let's just say that. But let's also say that one of the great paradoxes of our time is that two groups most endangered by political Islam, gays and women, somehow still find ways to defend it.

Catherine Seipp writes the "From the Left Coast" column for National Review Online.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Jabari Asim- Needed: A Replacement for 'Pimp'

The Washington Post
Thursday, March 9, 2006

The best thing about Three 6 Mafia winning an Oscar for Best Song is the likelihood of "pimp" losing its luster of hipness.

While the prospect of previously oblivious whites adopting the word is a nauseating probability, the mainstreaming of "pimp" should reduce its popularity in the black communities where it first shucked its cobwebs and regained its currency. Its anticipated lapse in popularity creates an opportunity to suggest new lingo to my fellow African-American city dwellers, who often originate the nation's catchiest slang.

My first suggestion: "scholar."

Imagine yourself amid all the men who used to gather aimlessly on street corners, lounge on the steps of other people's houses and hang out with the rest of the worshipful congregations outside package liquor stores -- all of you deeply absorbed in library books.

Except you can top them all by trundling down the street with -- you guessed it -- a wheelbarrow almost overflowing with the latest volumes by our nation's best authors.

You'll help to popularize an exciting new trend. Once it catches on in "urban" neighborhoods, it will inevitably "cross over" into white ones and, before you know it, openly building one's intellectual muscles will be known as "acting black."

You can win friends and influence people -- plus earn the undying admiration of the women in your neighborhood who are pining for an intelligent, well-read mate -- by handling your load with a mixture of staunch self-discipline and weary resignation.

"Say, brother," one of your fellow intellectuals might say, "looks like you have quite a bit of studying to do this fine evening."

"You're right," you might reply. "I could be off luring vulnerable women into an exploitative economic relationship based on the trading of sex for money -- behavior that would benefit neither myself, the hapless women or all those desperate, duplicitous and disease-spreading customers who should be home with their wives and children (see below). But what can I tell you? It's hard out here for a scholar."

A second suggestion: "husband."American society seems perfectly poised for the reintroduction of a once-revered but fading tradition -- and you, my trend-savvy friend, can be at the forefront! It's really not so hard to picture yourself in a committed relationship with one -- just one -- of those smart, attractive African-American women who have spent their single years dreaming of a faithful, loving and hard-working scholar (see above). I can see you now, hurrying home with your briefcase or lunch bucket in tow, rushing to keep pace with that growing assembly of black men striding with similar briskness home to their wives and children (see below).

"Say, brother," one of your equally dedicated peers might say, "looks like you're doing your utmost to keep those home fires burning. And might I also say that you are carrying one lovely bouquet?"

"Why, thanks," you might reply. "A dozen roses for my sweet, but that's not all." Here you lean forward with a conspiratorial wink. "I also have a paycheck in my breast pocket." After a mutually celebratory chuckle, you could add: "I guess I could have chosen a less disciplined life of slacking, stealing and engaging in exploitative relationships that involve the trading of sex for money (see above), but what I can say? It's hard out here for a husband."

Finally, a word that, like our previous suggestion, seems to have lost much of its prestige during an era in which 68 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock: "father."

It could go like this:

Minutes after rushing home with your briefcase and/or lunch bucket, library books and bountiful bouquet, you change into loose clothing and take your children to the park with your wife (see above) while there's an hour or two of daylight left.

One of the other dads pushing his sons on the swings or tossing a ball with his daughters might turn to you and say, "It's a perfect evening for family fun, is it not?"

"Right on, my brother," you might say in response. "I'll admit to feeling a tad fatigued after a long day of rigorous, engaging and lawful labor, but my night's rest will be well earned."

"I suppose I could have chosen a different lifestyle," you could add while keeping a loving eye on your beautiful family. "Perhaps I could have been a slacker, thief, deadbeat dad or participant in the trading of sex for money, but what can I say? It's hard out here for a father."

It may indeed be tough going for pimps these days. But what can I say: It's also hard out here for all of the above.

Mark Steyn: Clooney Tunes

In Heinrich Mann’s novel Der Untertan, written just before the Great War, the central character, Diederich, is asked by Buck, “You do not know whom history will designate as the representative type of this era?”

“The Emperor,” says Diederich.

“No,” replies Buck. “The actor.”

And how. George Clooney’s triple Oscar nominations are said to be a significant moment in the life of the nation, and not just by George Clooney, though his effusions on his own “bravery” certainly set a high mark. “We jumped in on our own,” he said, discussing Good Night And Good Luck with Entertainment Weekly. “And there was no reason to think it was going to get any easier. But people in Hollywood do seem to be getting more comfortable with making these sorts of movies now. People are becoming braver.”

Wow. He was brave enough to make a movie about Islam’s treatment of women? Oh, no, wait. That was the Dutch director Theo van Gogh: he had his throat cut and half-a-dozen bullets pumped into him by an enraged Muslim who left an explanatory note pinned to the dagger he stuck in his chest. At last year’s Oscars, the Hollywood crowd were too busy championing the “right to dissent” in the Bushitler tyranny to find room even to namecheck Mr van Gogh in the montage of the deceased. Bad karma. Good night and good luck.

No, Mr Clooney was the fellow “brave” enough to make a movie about - cue drumroll as I open the envelope for Most Predictable Direction – the McCarthy era!

How about that? I don’t know about you but I was getting so sick of the sycophantic Joe McCarthy biopics churned out year in year out – Nathan Lane in McCarthy! The Musical was the final straw – that thank God someone finally had the “bravery” to exercise his “right to dissent”. I only hope George Clooney isn’t found dead in the street at the hands of some crazed nonagenarian HUAC member.

He’s got some tough competition, of course. This year’s five Best Picture nominees are all “films that broach the tough issues”, as USA Today puts it: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension; Night for its call for more watchdog journalism; and Munich for its take”. Whoops, my mistake. That should be “Munich for its take on terrorism”. In their combined take at the box-office, these Best Picture nominees have the lowest grosses since 1986. That means very few people have seen them. Which in turn means these Oscars are likely to have the lowest audience ever. Okay, maybe not ever. In 1929, they handed them out to an audience of 270 in the Blossom Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and no doubt by the time you add in overseas viewership from the many chapters of the Jon Stewart Fan Club this year’s audience will be up around 309.

The fact that hardly anybody has seen these films does not in and of itself mean that they’re not artistic masterpieces. That’s why the Oscars are important: they can shine a light on undeservedly neglected art-house jewels that might otherwise get overlooked. But you couldn’t exactly call Brokeback Mountain overlooked. It’s the Jungfrau, it’s the peak of cinematic achievement. It’s an Everest papered from base camp to the summit in rave reviews. And in the week the Oscar nominations were announced the world’s most ballyhooed art-house obscurity added another 435 theaters to its outlets – and business declined 13%.

Maybe it’s because Americans are homophobes. Or maybe it’s because these films are not as “controversial” as Hollywood thinks. The more artful leftie websites have taken to complaining that the religious right deliberately killed Brokeback at the box-office by declining to get mad about it. Look at Tinky-Winky in the Teletubbies: those fundamentalist whack-jobs denounce him as an obvious fruit and the guy never looks back – he’s at his beach house in Malibu sipping margaritas and eyeing up the poolboy. But make a film that’s hailed as a gay masterpiece and Pat Robertson can’t even arrange a lousy multiplex in Dubuque that gets struck by lightning just for showing it.

Well, who knows? Perhaps next time they should make it two gay sheep herders in, say, Medina, or a gay Pushtun goatherd and a gay Uzbek warlord: The Mohammedans Go To The Mountain – that should light up the box-office. Or perhaps they could make Broke Back Toutin’, a film about an American media utterly exhausted by its frantic efforts to flog these movies to a general audience. As it is, Hollywood’s new reputation for “serious” “challenging” “works” seems merely the dinner-theatre production of the usual self-reinforcing Democrat-media bubble. A film-maker makes a film about a courageous pressman and the pressmen hail him as a courageous film-maker for doing so. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall have nothing on the romance between George Clooney and the world’s press. The “serious” press, that is, even though they sound like a cover story in Forty-Seventeen. Here’s The Observer in London:

How A Heart-Throb Became The Voice Of Liberal America: George Clooney was once famous for his party lifestyle and the beautiful women that he dated. Now it’s politics that increasingly sets his pulse racing.

And evidently the reporter’s too. That ran not in the entertainment section but on the news pages. “I’m an old-time liberal and I don’t apologize for it,” Clooney told Newsweek.

Good for him. And certainly, regardless of how liberal he is, he’s “old-time”. I don’t mean in the sense that he has the gloss of an old-time movie star, the nearest our age comes to the sheen of Cary Grant in a Stanley Donen picture, but that his politics is blessedly undisturbed by any developments on the global scene since circa 1974. Clooney’s other Oscar movie, Syriana, in which he stars and exec produces, reveals that behind a murky Middle East conspiracy lies …the CIA and Big Oil! In Good Night And Good Luck, he’s produced a film set in the McCarthy era that could have been made in the Jimmy Carter era. That’s to say, it takes into account absolutely nothing that has come to light in the last quarter-century – not least the relevant KGB files on Soviet penetration of America. To take one example that could stand for Clooney’s entire approach to the subject, Good Night includes shocking scenes of Senator McCarthy accusing Annie Moss, who worked in a highly sensitive decoding job in the Pentagon, of being a Communist, and the heroic Edward R Murrow then denouncing McCarthy’s behavior.

But we now know, from the party’s own files, that Miss Moss was, indeed, a Communist.
What should we conclude from the absence of this detail in the picture?
That Clooney, who goes around boasting that every moment in the screenplay has been “double-sourced” for accuracy, simply doesn’t know she’s a Commie?

Or that he does know but that he thinks it’s harmless? That she, like he and Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, is merely exercising her all-American “right to dissent”, in her case in the Pentagon Signals Corps’ code room. If so, that’s a subtly different argument than Murrow was making: it’s one thing to argue that it’s all a paranoid fantasy on the part of obsessed Red-baiters, quite another to shrug, hey, sure they were Commies, but what’s the big deal?

Or is it that Clooney doesn’t care either way? That what matters is the “meta-narrative” – the journalist as hero, “speaking truth to power”, no matter if the journalist is wrong and wields more power than most politicians. Even if one discounts the awkward fact that these days CBS News is better known for speaking twaddle to power – over the fake National Guard memos to which Dan Rather remains so attached – the reality is that the idea of the big media crusader simply doesn’t resonate with any section of the American public other than the big media themselves. Indeed, if you wanted to create a film designed to elicit rave reviews from the critics, you could hardly do better than a McCarthy era story built around a Watergate-style heroic reporter, unless you made the reporter gay. The media seem to have fallen for it, with the splendid exception of Armand White in The New York Press who said Clooney was far more hagiographic of his subject than Mel Gibson was in The Passion Of The Christ.

This is the Platonic reductio of political art. Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Thirties but they were serious about their leftism. Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Seventies but they were serious about their outrage at what was done to the lefties in the McCarthy era – though they might have been better directing their anger at the movie-industry muscle that enforced the blacklist. By comparison, Clooney’s is no more than a pose – he’s acting at activism, new Hollywood mimicking old Hollywood’s robust defense of even older Hollywood. He’s more taken by the idea of “speaking truth to power” than the footling question of whether the truth he’s speaking to power is actually true.

That’s why Hollywood prefers to make “controversial” films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won. Go back to USA Today’s approving list of Hollywood’s willingness to “broach tough issues”: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension…” That might have been “bold” “courageous” movie-making half-a-century ago. Ever seen the Dirk Bogarde film Victim? He plays a respectable married barrister whose latest case threatens to expose his own homosexuality. That was 1961, when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom and Bogarde was the British movie industry’s matinee idol and every schoolgirl’s pin-up: That’s brave. Doing it at a time when your typical conservative politician gets denounced as “homophobic” because he’s only in favor of civil unions is just an exercise in moral self-congratulation. And, unlike the media, most of the American people are savvy enough to conclude that by definition that doesn’t require their participation.

These films are “transgressive” mostly in the sense that Transamerica is transsexual. I like Felicity Huffman and all, and I’m not up to speed with the latest strictures on identity-group casting but isn’t it a bit condescending to get a lifelong woman (or whatever the expression is) to play a transsexual? If Hollywood announced Al Jolson would be playing Martin Luther King, I’m sure Denzel Washington and co would have something to say about it. Were no transsexual actresses available for this role? I know at least one of my acquaintance, and there was a transsexual Bond girl in the late Roger Moore era who looked incredibly hot, albeit with a voice several octaves below Paul Robeson. What about that cutie with the very fetching Adam’s apple from The Crying Game? And, just as Transamerica’s allegedly unconventional woman is a perfectly conventional woman underneath, so the entire slate of Oscar nominees is, in a broader sense, a phalanx of Felicity Huffmans. They’re dressing up daringly and flouncing around as controversy, but underneath they’re simply the conventional wisdom. Indeed, “Transamerica” would make a good name for Hollywood’s view of its domestic market – a bizarro United States run by racists and homophobes and a poodle media in thrall to the Administration.

You can certainly find new wrinkles on “racial tensions” – Abie’s Wahhabi Rose? – but Hollywood “controversy” seems more an evasion of controversy. If you want it in a single word, it’s the difference between the title of George Jonas’ original book – Vengeance – and the title of the film Steven Spielberg made of it – Munich. Vengeance is a point of view, Munich is a round of self-applause for the point of view that having no point of view is the most sophisticated point of view of all – a position whose empty smugness is most deftly summarized by the final shot of the movie, the Twin Towers on the New York skyline. For a serious film, it would be hard to end on a more fundamentally unserious note.

But then it’s hard to be serious when you’ve made a virtue of dodging the tough choices of the age. The BritLit blockbusters currently keeping Hollywood afloat – Harry Potter, Narnia, Lord Of The Rings – may be ghastly Multiplex crowd-pleasers unworthy of great artists like George Clooney but they’re not a retreat to the periphery in the way that Hollywood “seriousness” is.
Spielberg’s lingering shot of the World Trade Center wasn’t even the most equisitely framed banality of the year. That honor goes to The Constant Gardener, which may yet win Rachel Weisz an Oscar for her role as a passionate anti-globalization activist who dies in mysterious circumstances. At one point Ralph Fiennes is doing his signature stare, peering elliptically into the distance, when the camera pulls back to show him as a little stick-figure dwarfed by the mega-multinational pharmaceutical company’s corporate headquarters he’s standing outside.
Oh, come off it. The Constant Gardener is distributed by Universal Pictures. Don’t they have a big office? If Kong Kong’s standing outside waiting to get past security to find out why his residuals check has bounced, then Universal might look like some little mom’n’pop operation. But stick any of the rest of us on the sidewalk and we’d be like Ralph Fiennes outside Big Pharma. That’s Hollywood: no-one lavishes more care and expense on saying nothing.

Three months after 9/11, George Clooney was asked what he wanted for Christmas. “I want,” he said, “one day when nobody is getting shot at. Call a truce for a day.” Our own Jay Nordlinger remarked at the time that this was “a child’s response”, correctly noting “the implied moral randomness… People are just shooting at each other, you know, and shooting at each other is bad.” If you want stories about journalists, nobody was shooting on the day The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl had his head sawed off. If you want stories about “racial tensions”, nobody was shooting on the day British expat Ken Bigley was similarly decapitated. Hollywood’s “bravery” is an almost pathological retreat: it’s against segregated drinking fountains in Alabama and blacklisting writers on 1950s variety shows. It’s in danger of becoming an oldies station with only three records.

I noticed the other day that Nigeria now has the third biggest film industry in the world, after Hollywood and Bollywood. In the showbiz capital of West Africa, you can make a feature for 40,000 bucks. What talk radio did to network news and the Internet is doing to monopoly newspapers, someone will eventually do to the big studios, and one day we may wind up with a Hollywood in which, as Clooney might say, nothing is getting shot. In the meantime, Danish cartoonists are in hiding for their lives but George Clooney will be televised around the world picking up an award for his bravery.

National Review, February 27th 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Srdja Trfkovic- India: A Rare "A" for Mr. Bush

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It does not happen very often in world affairs that an event described as “historic” at the time of its occurrence proves to have a truly lasting significance. Many “historic” summits between Soviet and American leaders in the 1970’s and 80’s are as little remembered today as the documents they signed and the words they exchanged at that time.

Last week’s visit by President George W. Bush to India is an exception, however: already hailed as historic by many pundits and Mr. Bush himself, it may prove to be as significant as Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972. The agreement on nuclear energy cooperation announced by Mr. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh herald a new strategic partnership between the United States and the country that is America’s natural partner vis-à-vis China and the Islamic world.

Reversing more than 30 years of U.S. policy, President Bush legitimized India’s entry into the nuclear club. He has agreed to share nuclear reactors, fuel and expertise in exchange for Delhi’s acceptance of international safeguards. India’s hitherto closely guarded, dual-use nuclear facilities will be divided into 14 reactors that will be earmarked for commercial use and 8 designated as military. The U.S. will transfer atomic know-how for the former, and the civilian side will operate under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The deal undoubtedly violates the spirit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but Washington has routinely turned a blind eye to its other friends’ and allies’ nuclear ambitions—notably Israel, Pakistan, and South Africa, which have never ratified the NPT. By relaxing the formal rules governing the acquisition of nuclear weapons, the United States is finally discarding a stance that was as hypocritical as it was harmful to American interests.

Those interests demanded an agreement with India for four main reasons:

• A nuclear China, which will soon become the world’s second largest economy, will be more easily counter-balanced by India if its military nuclear capability is legitimized, and its strategic partnership with the United States firmly cemented.

• India has over a billion people and its booming economy—growing at 8 per cent a year—already exerts major pressure on the world’s oil and gas prices, but the development of a legitimate and U.S.-supported civilian energy sector will ease that pressure.

• India has unlimited potential as America’s trading partner.

• India has been a major victim of jihad over the centuries, and this historical legacy, coupled with its stable democratic institutions inherited from the British Raj, make India an infinitely more reliable partner than Pakistan in the “global war on terrorism.”

This last point is particularly important. Pakistan is only the most prominent of several supposed “allies” against jihad terrorism that are inherently unreliable because of an endemic jihadist sentiment in society and official collusion. Their reliability is only as good as the supply of American largesse and the longevity of individual strongmen. India’s position on this matter by contrast is neither opportunistic nor subject to change.

It is idle to pretend that America can be equally close to both India and Pakistan, since the two are natural enemies ideologically and territorially. We have argued for years that General Pervez Musharraf’s has been able to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds for far too long. Mr. Bush’s clear signal to Islamabad, which he visited briefly after India, that America has new priorities in the Subcontinent is good news. He has quite properly indicated that Pakistan cannot hope for an equivalent nuclear deal, in view of its awful record on nuclear proliferation. On the disputed province of Kashmir, the cause of two wars between India and Pakistan, Musharraf did not get Mr. Bush to get involved in resolving the problem as he would have liked him to do. Pakistani commentators were right to conclude that the President had only visited Islamabad to give a semblance of balance, but “has not even given a lollipop to Pakistan.”

An India watcher in Washington says privately that Mr. Bush’s visit is not the product of a mere eight months’ negotiation of the nuclear deal but came as the result of a slow but steady political rapprochement between the United States and India that has progressed since the late 1990s despite changes in party control in both countries: “As amazing as it sounds, this may be an instance where the ‘permanent government’ actually got something right. While the [nuclear] agreement is significant in itself—rescuing the Indo-U.S. relationship from the dictates of the more dogmatic elements of the established non-proliferation punditry—it is widely anticipated that Congressional approval of the agreement will be the starting gun for a wide range of U.S. products and services to enter the Indian market.”

Last but by no means least, India’s role as America’s economic partner cannot be overestimated. China’s commercial development has depended on commands from above and, on the American side, from the desire of U.S. firms for a cheap manufacturing platform for exports back to the United States. India’s growth, by contrast, is not confined to heavy industry geared for the export market. Because India’s economic growth is being driven from the bottom up, satisfying the wants of a rising technical and professional class is an indication of a balanced commercial symbiosis with United States. Indeed, there has even been a counter-flow of Indians who had come to live and work in the United States returning to India, where their earnings go farther.

The administration of George W. Bush has made many mistakes and blunders over the past five years. In seeking to forge a strategic partnership with India, and in distancing itself from Pakistan, it has finally made a move that is geopolitically sound and in accordance with this country’s best interests.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mike Lupica: Hey Bud, it's time to inject some truth

The New York Daily News
March 8th, 2006

Now it all comes out on Barry Bonds, in a book that tells us everything about him, in painstaking detail, that our eyes have told us for a long time. You could call Bonds a junkie off this new book "Game of Shadows," except that would be insulting to people who keep sticking needles in themselves because they are sick.

You continue to give him the benefit of the doubt if you want. You let Bonds defend himself by saying he has never failed a drug test, and that even if he was using steroids to break home run records, there was no real drug policy at the time. Go ahead. If this book is true, and it reads as true as confession, then Bonds' home run records lie and so does he. If these guys are wrong, let's see Bonds sue them, for all they have.

Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, two reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle who have been out front on BALCO and Bonds and steroids from the start, now have their new book excerpted in their own newspaper and Sports Illustrated. And whatever Bonds says about this, however he tries to dismiss it, these two reporters and their reporting seem to take this guy right to the wall.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has no choice now but to appoint an independent prosecutor, maybe even John Dowd himself, the one who got the goods on Pete Rose, to investigate every single charge made against Bonds, and about his insane drug use, in this book. If a bimbo like Jose Canseco can get Congress to convene hearings about steroids in baseball, if Canseco's book can take down Mark McGwire, another whose home run records came out of a bottle, then the reporting of Fainaru-Wada and Williams ought to at least give us another Dowd.

No reasonable person believes that these two men made this story up, made up the amazing list of drugs they say Bonds ingested or injected for years and years, as Bonds suddenly turned into Babe Ruth, and started to look like him, too.

Maybe this is the real disgrace of Barry Bonds: He is someone blessed with a gift for baseball that maybe a handful of men ever had, and it wasn't enough. Now Fainaru-Wada and Williams say he became a drug cheat to catch up with the other drug cheats.

They say in this book that he shot a steroid called Winstrol into his buttocks. They say he rubbed steroids known as the cream and the clear on his body, then tried to tell a grand jury he thought it was flaxseed oil. According to "Game of Shadows," here is what else Barry Bonds took to make himself bigger than ever, trying to be the biggest home run hitter of all time:


Human growth hormone.

Testosterone decanoate.

A steroid known as Deca-Durabolin.

A narcolepsy stimulant called Modafinil.

Trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of cattle.


Do you know what clomid is? A women's infertility drug that is believed to help steroid users recover natural testosterone production.

Bonds still wants us to believe that everything he put on was pure muscle, even though he finally looked like nothing more than a fat, bloated, distant relative of the skinny kid he had been with the Pirates. Barry Bonds still wants us to believe that his personal trainer and friend Greg Anderson, somebody who once had the run of the Giants clubhouse, was pushing steroids on everybody except Bonds himself. His meal ticket.

Anderson was up to his eyeballs in the BALCO case, has been accused of obtaining steroids and growth hormones from AIDS patients. But Bonds, who thinks the world is stupid, or blind, kept saying that if he took anything Anderson gave him, he didn't know what it was.

You hear all the time that steroid sluggers weren't breaking the baseball law back in the late 1990s, and what would you do if somebody gave you a pill that might make you rich? This is what their public defenders say. We also hear that a lot of other guys were doing it. Yeah, a lot of other guys were doing drugs. There were a lot of drug cheats, some of whom we may never catch, and they finally made steroids in baseball the biggest scandal since the Black Sox. So they were a modern generation of bums in baseball.

And if you think it is automatic that cheats like this get a Hall of Fame vote, go back and read that laundry list of drugs and think again. These guys are owed nothing, by me or anybody else.

Now here we are: Their word, Bonds' word. If Bonds thinks these writers are the liars, you better believe he should sue. Because, boy, he can't have people saying he was a steroid junkie when he wasn't, right? He can't have people saying he only got to 73 home runs because he was using everything except Viagra to jack himself up and jack balls out of the ballpark.

Take a good look at this guy now. Then remember that Henry Aaron was 6 feet tall and 180 pounds when he was hitting 755 home runs for the Braves and the Brewers. If Bonds doesn't have the good grace to walk away from baseball after this season, if he somehow does stick around long enough to get to 756, someday Aaron will have to stand on a field next to him and congratulate him. It will be as much a shame as any of this.

"I won't even look at (the book)," Bonds said in Arizona yesterday. "Why would I?"

This is no longer a rush to judgment on Bonds. Just the judgment he deserves, for what he did to himself and what he has done to his sport. He would walk away now if he had any dignity. He does not. You can't get that out of a bottle.

Tony Kornheiser: Medically Creamed and Cleared

The Washington Post
Wednesday, March 8, 2006; Page E02

According to a new book by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, at various times Barry Bonds was taking two notorious designer steroids known as the Cream and the Clear, as well as insulin, human growth hormone, testosterone decanoate (a fast-acting steroid known as "Mexican beans") and trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of cattle. He also took Winstrol, better known as stanozolol (Ben Johnson's "go-to" drug), Deca-Durabolin, Clomid (a women's infertility drug thought to help a steroid user recover his natural testosterone production) and Modafinil (a narcolepsy drug used as a stimulant).

Whoa! Bonds was taking all of Aisle 7 in the Rite-Aid!

But no flaxseed oil?

A few months back didn't Barry say the only thing he took was flaxseed oil?

And that one of the creams was for his arthritis?

I'd like to get some of that cream, and then start hitting my driver 450 yards. And while we're at it, give me a side order of Mexican beans!

The book also alleges Bonds injected himself with drugs, or was injected by his trainer, or swallowed pills, or placed drops of liquid under his tongue, or rubbed the Cream and the Clear on himself. Bonds could have just walked through the Giants' dugout attached to an IV pole.

When did he have time to play baseball?

A few months back, didn't Barry say if he took steroids, he took them "unknowingly"?

Really? What did he think he was injecting into his body, a ham sandwich?

Sports Illustrated, which is running an excerpt, says the book portrays Bonds as "a menacing boor, a tax cheat and [a man] given to hair loss and wild mood swings that included periods of rage." (I never thought hair loss would sound so good in comparison.)

And last week, we learned ESPN, one of my many employers, is filming what amounts to a reality show with Barry Bonds. Exactly what reality will we be talking about?

Tony Blankley: Media won't report radical Islamic events

March 8, 2006
The Washington Times

Denial is an often useful innate human trait. Few of us would be able to function in the present if we did not put out of mind many unpleasant realities -- such as our inevitable death. The Woody Allen character in the movie "Annie Hall" stated the comic extreme version of not using the denial mechanism when, as a child he refused to do his homework because in 5 billion years the sun would explode, "so, what's the use?"

But when a person, or a society, denies emerging or imminent dangers, the peace of mind it gains will be extremely short term, while the harm may be sustained or fatal.

Most of the world today not only is in denial concerning the truly appalling likely consequences of the rise of radical Islam, it often refuses to even accept unambiguous evidence of its existence.

The latest minor example of the latter is occurring at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As has been generally reported, an Iranian Muslim student drove a jeep into a crowd of students, causing only minor injuries. He turned himself in and informed the police and the media that he was trying to kill the students to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world."

Neither the university nor most of the media has been willing to characterize this event as a terrorist attempt by a radical Muslim. Mr. Colmes, on "Hannity and Colmes" seemed to express genuine puzzlement as to why it mattered whether we called it that or merely an act of violence. Similarly, the attack at the Los Angeles International Airport a few years ago was for nine months just called a violent attack, before it was finally characterized by police as a radical Muslim act of terrorism.

I have been in contact with British politicians who tell me that there is increasing radical Muslim street violence in Britain that is explicitly motivated by radical Islam but is not reported or characterized as such. Even in its cleansed versions, I am told, these incidents are being extremely underreported.

In Antwerp last month, according to the reporter Paul Belien, rioting Moroccan "youths" went on a rampage destroying cars and beating up reporters, but the police were instructed not even to stop them or arrest them. According to an anonymous policeman, "An ambulance was told to switch off its siren because that might provoke the Moroccans." This event, too, was under reported, or not reported at all in American media.

And of course, last October in Paris and other French cities, hundreds of buildings were torched and tens of thousands of cars burned by Muslim "youths" through weeks of rioting, while both the French government and most of the "responsible" experts denied there was any radical Muslim component to the greatest urban violence to hit France since World War. It was all to do with poverty and teenage angst and alienation.

Of course poverty and alienation can't explain the Iranian student in North Carolina. He has just received one of the finest educations available to a privileged American. He reportedly has received advanced degrees in philosophy and psychology from one of our top universities.

The media has pointed out that there is no evidence he was connected to Al Qaeda or another terrorist cell. But that is exactly the point. As I discussed in my book last year, the threat to the West is vastly more than bin Laden and Al Qaeda (although that would be bad enough.)

The greater danger is the ferment in Islam that is generating radical ideas in an unknown, but growing percentage of grass-roots Muslims around the world -- very much including in Europe and, to a currently lesser extent, in the United States.

A nation cannot design (and maintain public support for) a rational response to the danger if the nature and extent of the danger is not identified, widely reported and comprehended.

What are we dealing with? A few maladjusted "youth"? Or a larger and growing number of perfectly well-adjusted men and women -- who just happen to be adjusted to a different set of cultural, religious (or distorted religious) and political values. And does it matter that those values are inimical to western concepts of tolerance, democracy, equality and religious freedom?
The public has the right and vital need to have the events of our time fully and fairly described and reported. But a witch's brew of psychological denial and political correctness is suppressing the institutional voices of government, police, schools, universities and the media when it comes to radical Islam.

As the danger grows but is not publicly described, the public will first be ignorant and fail to demand sufficient remedial action.

But as incidents and rumors are encountered over time, the public mind will inevitably suspect the worst and demand the strongest action. Demagogues will emerge to gratify that vox populi. (The Dubai port deal is a small example of such a process -- although in that incident the threat is real and there are many sincere and rational voices amidst the many demagogues.)

Institutional voices are not being responsible by suppressing honest description of radical Islamic events. Denying the existence of evil (or refusing to be judgmental about it) has never proved a reliable method for defeating it. Hell is presumably filled with souls who didn't understand that point.

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate

If I had a hammer, I'd take it to Springsteen's new record

By Paul Mulshine
The Newark Star-Ledger
Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Let's do a little thought experiment here. We'll try to think up the most boring CD imaginable.

Barry Manilow does the Bee Gees' greatest hits?

John Tesh covers the Carpenters?

Wait, I've got it: Bruce Springsteen performs a collection of Pete Seeger songs.

Unfortunately, that last one is real. It was announced last week that Springsteen will be releasing an album of Seeger covers next month.

Crank up the coffee pot. Get out the No-Doz. The new Springsteen disc, "We Shall Overcome/ The Seeger Sessions," has the potential to be the single most boring event in rock'n'roll since, let me think for a minute, oh yeah, since Springsteen's last album. That was the one in which he did a bad imitation of the early Bob Dylan. The tour was so unexciting that toward the end the man whose band fills football stadiums was having a hard time filling movie theaters.

The reason for the empty seats was obvious. Springsteen may be a hell of a rocker but he is an awful folk singer. If you doubt this, I invite you to hunt down the Springsteen version of "We Shall Overcome" that is available on the Internet as a preview of the album to come. The first thing you will notice about it is that Springsteen is singing in a sort of generic middle- American drawl. The second thing you will notice is that he is singing out of tune. The effect is to create a false air of authenticity.

Seeger was just as bad in this regard. While posing as a humble hick, Seeger was in fact a Harvard dropout who adopted a folksy air as a means of inflicting his Marxist views on audiences. Dubbed "Stalin's songbird," Seeger sang these lyrics on a 1941 album by the Almanac Singers:

"Franklin D., listen to me,"You ain't a-gonna send me'cross the sea."

The album also included a ditty in which President Roosevelt was decried as an agent of banker J.P. Morgan because of his insistence on aiding the British in their struggle against Uncle Joe Stalin's noble ally. A week after the album's release, however, Hitler invaded Russia. The albums were pulled from the racks and a new one issued calling for the U.S. to get into the war.

I'd pay good money to hear Springsteen cover those Seeger songs. A complete retrospective of Seeger's work would remind Americans of just how thoroughly misguided the so-called Old Left was in the 20th century. Just what did these folkies find so attractive about Marxism? Whatever it was, it didn't carry over into the rock era. Seeger famously resisted Bob Dylan's move to electric guitars at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, saying, "If I had an ax, I'd cut the cable."

The cable remained intact, however, and Dylan escaped the world of fake folk music and entered the electric'60s. This was a wonderful era, an era when even Seeger tunes could be made listenable. The Beach Boys' transcendent version of "Sloop John B" apparently stemmed from Brian Wilson's having heard Seeger mangle the song. And then there was the Byrds' wonderful version of the Seeger song "Turn, Turn, Turn," the lyrics for which Seeger, who lacks any visible talent for either singing or songwriting, lifted directly from the Bible.

If Springsteen were planning that sort of a remake of the Seeger songs, this CD might be worth the effort. All evidence, however, is that Springsteen plans to drone on in that fake hick accent of his. His fans aren't happy. Every Springsteen fan I know dreads the thought of this disc. One wag on a Web site in Minneapolis created a spoof story headlined "Springsteen to release album of TV Song Covers." The article by Steve Perry quotes a bogus Boss telling the listener that the theme from "Green Acres," a 1960s sitcom about a Manhattan couple who moves to the country, "captures a strain of agrarian utopianism that has very deep roots in America."

The funny thing is, it does. The music of sitcoms is every bit as authentic as the "folk" music that emanated from Seeger's crowd. In both cases, you had a bunch of city slickers trying to figure out what goes on in the real America. Seeger at least had the common sense to imitate the true practitioners of authentic folk music -- Appalachian fiddle players, Mississippi Delta blues singers and the like. Springsteen imitates the imitator.

His fans would prefer if he would just imitate himself. The concert video he released with the 30th anniversary CD of "Born to Run" shows the band dressed like a bunch of pimps on a Saturday night. The look was perfect and so was the music.

Back then, Springsteen was supposed to be the future of rock'n'roll. It turned out he was just the present. And now he's the past.

Paul Mulshine is a Star-Ledger columnist. He may be reached at

Book details Bonds' steroid regimen

Updated: March 8, 2006, 1:16 AM ET news services

Barry Bonds used a vast array of performance-enhancing drugs, including steroids and human growth hormone, for at least five seasons beginning in 1998, according to a book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters.

Beginning in 1998 with injections in his buttocks of Winstrol, the same steroid used in the 1988 Olympics by Ben Johnson and last year by Rafael Palmeiro, Bonds' massive doping regimen grew more sophisticated as the years went on, according to "Game of Shadows," a book to be released later this month written by reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.

Fainaru-Wada and Williams write that "more than a dozen people either had been told directly that he was using banned drugs, had seen him using the drugs with their own eyes, or had been provided with information that made the conclusion he was doping inescapable," according to a book excerpt in this week's Sports Illustrated.

The book, written in narrative style, is said to be based on more than a thousand pages of documents and interviews with more than 200 people.

Bonds, who testified before a San Francisco federal grand jury looking into steroid use by top athletes, has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds said Tuesday at Giants camp in Arizona that he was not aware of the book. When asked if he would read it, he said, "I won't even look at it. There's no reason to."

"I've read what was reported," Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, told The Associated Press. "Barry is looking forward to playing this year and the improved health of his knee and being as productive as he's ever been."

Phone messages left by the AP seeking comment from Bonds' attorney and publicist were not immediately returned Tuesday.

"No, no, no, I don't want to talk about Bonds. I'll see you later," San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said after the Giants' 12-3 win over San Diego in Peoria before bolting onto the bus.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean declined to address the book during Tuesday's game, saying, "Just baseball, guys."

"The Giants have a long-standing policy not to comment on this legal matter," said Staci Slaughter, the team's vice president of communications.

Baseball did not ban performance-enhancing drugs until after the 2002 season, though there has long been suspicion that some star players such as Bonds were taking steroids to gain an edge. This book is yet another distraction for Bonds, who has become as accustomed to steroids questions in recent years as he has inquiries related to his powerful left-handed swing.

"I read it, man. I was lost. I didn't even know there were that many kind of steroids," said Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Bonds' former skipper in San Francisco. "I've never even seen steroids. I didn't even know what kind of steroids are steroids other than the kinds you use to fight allergies. ... I was quite surprised with the detail that was in there."

Among the items detailed in the excerpt:

• Bonds was motivated to take performance-enhancing drugs by the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa chase of the single-season home run record in 1998 and he had never taken any before 1998.

• Through research, Bonds developed a deep knowledge of performance enhancers. He even talked, through third parties, to medical authorities who advised him not to use steroids.

• He began with Winstrol after the 1998 season. He also worked out extensively, sometimes spending 12 hours a day at the gym where he met the Weight Guru, who turned out to be Greg Anderson.

• He also took Deca-Durabolin. By 2001, the authors allege, he was using two designer steroids referred to as the Cream and the Clear, as well as insulin, human growth hormone, testosterone decanoate (a fast-acting steroid known as Mexican beans) and trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of cattle. That's the same year Bonds broke McGwire's single-season home run record (70) by belting 73.

• He got the substances from Anderson, his personal trainer who became a Giants employee. Anderson got them from BALCO labs, headed by Victor Conte. Anderson's employment by the Giants irked the team's training staff, according to the excerpt. The Giants also did a background check, discovering that "World Gym was known as a place to score steroids and that Anderson himself was rumored to be a dealer. But the club decided it didn't want to alienate Bonds on this issue, either. The trainers stayed."

• Despite seeing a big change in Bonds' physical appearance, Giants officials did not challenge their star for fear of upsetting him. "The Giants, from owner Peter Magowan to manager Dusty Baker, had no interest in learning whether Bonds was using steroids, either," the excerpt contends. "Although it was illegal to use the drugs without a prescription, baseball had never banned steroids. Besides, by pursuing the issue, the Giants ran the risk of poisoning their relationship with their touchy superstar -- or, worse, of precipitating a drug scandal the year before the opening of their new ballpark, where Bonds was supposed to be the main gate attraction."

• Anderson kept meticulous records on Bonds' program, many of them on a computer. At times, Bonds gulped as many as 20 pills at a time. He also learned to inject himself.

• Bonds had a relationship with Kimberly Bell, a woman he met in the Candlestick Park parking lot in 1994 while he was married. Bonds even put a down payment on a house for Bell in Arizona from monies he made from card-show appearances (and didn't report as income). She claims he later threatened to kill her.

• According to the excerpt, Anderson told an acquaintance who was wearing a wire in 2003 that: "The whole thing is, everything I've been doing, it's all undetectable. The stuff I have, we created it. You can't buy it anywhere else; you can't get it anywhere else. You can take [it] the day of [a drug test], pee, and it comes up clear.

"See, like Marion Jones and them -- it's the same stuff they went to the Olympics with and they test them every f------ week. So that's why I know it works, so that's why I know we're not in trouble. So that's cool."

• Bonds had immunity in grand jury testimony from everything but perjury. He claimed in testimony that he didn't know what Anderson was giving him. "At the end of [the] 2002, 2003 season, when I was going through [a bad period], my dad died of cancer ... I was fatigued, just needed recovery you know, and this guy says, 'Try this cream, try this cream,'" he said. "And Greg came to the ballpark and said, you know, 'This will help you recover.' And he rubbed some cream on my arm ... gave me some flaxseed oil, man. It's like, 'Whatever, dude.'"

Later, Bonds said: "You know me, I'm 39 years old. I'm dealing with pain. All I want is the pain relief, you know? ... I never asked Greg," according to the excerpt. "When he said it was flaxseed oil, I just said, 'Whatever.' It was in the ballpark ... in front of everybody. I mean, all the reporters, my teammates. I mean, they all saw it. I didn't hide it ... . You know, trainers come up to me and say, 'Hey, Barry, try this.'"

The book is scheduled to be published on March 27.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report

Latest revelations seal the deal for Bonds' legacy

By Gene Wojciechowski

PHOENIX -- In the end, there is only one question that needs to be asked:
Do you believe Barry Bonds, or the book?

If you believe Bonds, then you believe the third-leading home run hitter in the history of Major League Baseball is the victim of an unrelenting federal and media conspiracy designed to frame him for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

If you believe the excerpts of "Game of Shadows," then you believe that Bonds and his mind-boggling, bloated numbers of 1998-2004 (he missed most of last season with an injury) are a fraud.

I believe the book. I think Bonds is -- or was -- a human Walgreens, a grotesque and insulting example of better baseball through chemistry. And I think he should slither away, joining Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro in forced baseball exile.

Bonds is finished. He might play again, but there is only a chalk outline left around his integrity and home run totals. And the only way he gets into Cooperstown is if he spends the $14.50 for a Hall of Fame admission ticket.

Winstrol. Deca-Durabolin. Insulin. Testosterone decanoate. Human growth hormones. Norbolethone. Trenbolone. Clomid. These are the substances and steroids Bonds is alleged to have injected or ingested. They are the medicine cabinet of a cheater.

This sign was up in September of last season. Expect more of the same.

Clomid is prescribed to women for infertility. Trenbolone enhances the muscle tone of cattle.
Deca-Durabolin is a medication used in the treatment of kidney failure-related amnesia. And yet, write "Game of Shadows" co-authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, Bonds did so with regularity and without remorse.

Bonds always has been a drama king. He was insufferable in high school, insufferable at Arizona State, and insufferable now. But his statistics didn't come with a personality rating. Love him or loathe him, you simply couldn't argue with his talent. He arrived at the big leagues as a prodigy, a lithe, five-tool player. He will leave as a cautionary tale, an asterisk wearing a San Francisco Giants uniform.

How can you not read the work of the two San Francisco Chronicle writers and not at least wonder if Bonds knew about the working end of a syringe. Either you're naïve or a member of the Bonds family.

When asked Tuesday at the Giants' Scottsdale facility if he was aware of the contents of "Game of Shadows," Bonds told reporters, "Nope. I won't even look at it. For what? I won't even look at it. There's no need to."

Here's guessing the Feds will. So will the IRS. So will his ex-wife's divorce attorney. So will MLB commissioner Bud Selig, though he was conveniently in Milwaukee on Tuesday, despite Team USA making its World Baseball Classic debut here at Chase Field. An MLB spokesperson said Selig hadn't seen the book and had no comment regarding the book's allegations.

Then again, what can Selig do other than secretly root that Fainaru-Wada and Williams got it right? In so many ways MLB, the owners and the Players Association share part of the blame for creating this situation. For years they were helpless -- or clueless -- when it came to addressing the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.

Faced with a choice of remaining true to the game, or becoming what he once despised, Bonds allegedly chose home runs over ethics. But even as his numbers increased almost exponentially, as kayak-gridlock became commonplace at McCovey's Cove, as the countdown to baseball immortality became more pronounced, there was always an uneasiness about Bonds' accomplishments. They didn't seem, for the lack of a better word, natural.

Bonds has his defenders -- lot's of them, including Derrek Lee, the Chicago Cubs All-Star first baseman who is everything Bonds isn't: a player who handles himself with grace and dignity. Lee hadn't heard of the book excerpt until he was asked about it after Team USA's 2-0 victory against Mexico.

"What's the story?" he said. "I don't know the story."

It was explained: detailed allegations of performance-enhancing drug use by Bonds.
Lee dismissed the latest revelations. It wasn't a story, he said. Bonds has never been caught using steroids. Leave him alone.

"People have been alleging him forever," Lee said.

Lee believes Bonds. I don't, and never will. I don't believe in coincidences, or physical transformations so stark that you do a double-take. I don't believe the numbers of 2001.

The tragedy of it all is that Bonds didn't need the alleged chemical boost. His legacy was secure. His Hall of Fame plaque was a done deal. It didn't matter if we thought he was a jerk because his statistics were so overpowering. No longer.

In recent years, perception was reality when it came to Bonds and the subject of steroid use. But this latest excerpt, complete with his smarmy grand jury testimony, convinces me reality is reality when applied to Bonds.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, about an hour or so before Team USA's game, Alex Rodriguez was asked about the death of Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, who died a day earlier from complications stemming from a major stroke.

"One of the saddest days in baseball for me," said A-Rod.

I felt the same way Tuesday. This time it was the death of a reputation.

Barry Bonds, rest in peace.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for You can contact him at

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Joe Kaufman: Tar Heel Terror

Joe Kaufman
March 7, 2006

On Friday, Iranian-born Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a 22 year-old UNC graduate, tore through a lunchtime crowd at one of the university’s popular gathering spots with a Jeep Grand Cherokee, hitting nine people of which six were hospitalized with injuries.

Taheri-azar was arrested and charged with nine counts, each of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon. According to Derech Poarch, the chief of the university police department, the attacker told investigators that he wanted to “avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world.” Upon entering his apartment, a paperback copy of the Quran was found in Taheri-azar’s room, along with a book calling for the United States to “confront state sponsors of terrorism.” He was shown, on news video footage, handcuffed and being led into a car sporting a giant grin.

At the court hearing on Monday, that same smile was ingrained on his face. Like Zacarias Moussaoui, whose trial coincided with Taheri-azar’s hearing, Taheri-azar stated that he wanted to represent himself. And like Moussaoui, who proudly proclaimed, “I’m Al-Qaeda,” Taheri-azar used the courtroom forum to voice his Islamist ideology. Clad in orange jumpsuit and leg shackles, he stated, “I am thankful you are going to hear this trial to learn more about the will of Allah, the creator.” And in response to a reporter’s question, he confirmed that, “Yes,” it was his intention to murder those he hit with the SUV he had just rented. In the 911 call he had made after the attack, he told the operator that he did this “to punish the government of the United States.”

The question of whether or not he was acting alone has been raised. To this effect, eyes have been focused on the university’s Muslim Students Association (MSA), which was recently involved in a protest of the UNC campus newspaper’s publishing of a Mohammed cartoon. After the incident, the MSA quickly issued a press release distancing itself from Taheri-azar and condemning what it called a “hit and run incident.” Later, MSA’s President, Uzma Khan, declined to comment.

In the release, the MSA admitted that Taheri-azar had made a “few appearances” with its group but said that he was not a member. As such, the MSA likened him to “one disturbed individual from the beliefs of the Muslim community as a whole.”

According to the MSA press release, the appearances Taheri-azar made with the group were done in an on-campus “prayer room,” reserved by the MSA. Yet, this bit of information is contradicted on the group’s website. Under the heading “Quick Facts [FAQ],” the UNC-MSA homepage answers the question, “Where is the prayer room located?” The link doesn’t lead one to information about an on-campus entity, but instead, it takes one to the homepage of the Islamic Center of Raleigh, also known as the Islamic Association of Raleigh (IAR).

IAR was established in 1985 by members of the MSA and the Islamic Association of North Carolina (IANC), with seed money from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. That same year, upon invitation by the MSA of N.C. State (where Sami al-Arian was at the time), Mohammed Bajanonie, a Syrian-born teacher, became IAR’s “full time” imam, as he still is today.

Numerous speeches made by Bajanonie are found on IAR’s website. Included in these speeches are his views about Jews, Christians, and jihad. He states the following:

* “Imam Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: ‘The first person, whose case will be adjudicated on the Day of Judgment, will be a martyr…He will say: I carried on Jihad (fighting) in the cause till I was martyred….’” (from ‘How the Judgment is Established in the Day of Judgment’)

* “From the transgression, the oppression, and the corruption of the Jews was hindering many from Allah’s Way and dealing with riba [usury/interest] while it is forbidden.” (from ‘Dealing with Riba is one of the Major Sins’)

* “This meaning is emphasized by the saying of the prophet (S.A.W.) when he said, ‘By whom my soul is in His hand, if one, Jew or Christian, heard of me, then died and he/she did not believe in that which I was sent with, then they are from the dwellers of Hell fire.’” (from ‘Definition of the Word Deen & the Word Islam’)

* “And also as Allah (S.W.T.) says…‘You who believe, take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya’ [friends], they are but Auliya’ to each other. And he amongst you takes them as Auliya’ then surely he is one of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust.’” (from ‘Iman is the Tie in the Muslim Society’)

* “And it is not allowed at all for any Muslim to say to them [Jews and Christians] that you have the truthful Deen [authority], and you are like us; both of us belong to Ibrahim [Abrahamic religions], because in doing this, he will be rejecting the words of Allah to them (‘You have nothing’), and he will be rejecting Allah.” (from ‘The Truth Has to Be Conveyed Completely’)
While the North Carolina MSA’s association with IAR is troubling, the problem with the group goes much further.

On October 12, 2005, the MSA brought Radwan Masmoudi, the founder and President of the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID), to the UNC campus. The event was titled, “The Future of Democracy in the Muslim World.” The CSID was created by leaders from the American Muslim Council (AMC). AMC leaders have been known to praise Hamas and Hezbollah. Masmoudi’s leadership made Kamran Bokhari, the U.S. representative for the defunct British extremist organization Al-Muhajiroun, a fellow at CSID. (The BBC announced Al-Muhajiroun“wants this country to become an Islamic state.”)

On February 23-24, the MSA invited two of the most radical Islamic speakers in the United States to address its “Special Friday Youth Session” and “Saturday Marriage Session.”

Mohamed Rida Beshir was featured in the first event. Beshir is an advisor for Islam Online, a website that showcases live interviews with leaders of Hamas. He is a member of the editorial board and a contributing writer for MAS’s magazine, The American Muslim, which has written that Palestinian “[m]artyr operations are not suicide and should not be deemed as unjustifiable.” He has held various positions with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) (including writing for ISNA’s bi-monthly publication, Islamic Horizons) and the Muslim American Society (MAS), two groups connected to the virulent Muslim Brotherhood. Beshir, as well, has authored articles for The Message International, a publication put out by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a group that scholars state has ties to Pakistan’s version of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Featured in the second event was Amir Abdul Malik Ali. The following are quotes attributed to him (as compiled by Discover the Network):

* “Stay conscious and ask Allah to raise the Muslims and give us victory over the disbeliever.”

* “When it's all over, the only one standing is gonna be us.”

* “We must implement Islam as a totality,” in which “Allah controls every place – the home, the classroom, the science lab, the halls of Congress.”

* “The enemies of Islam know that when we come back to power we're gonna check 'em.”

* “Sooner or later, today's Muslim students will be the parents of Muslim children. And they should be militants.”

* “[T]he Israelis were ‘in-control’ of 9-11,” which “was staged to give an excuse to wage war against Muslims around the world.”

* “You [Jews] are walking into all the traps we want you to walk into. You hijacked American foreign policy.”

* “Neo-cons are all Zionist Jews.”

* Zionism is a mixture of “chosen people-ness and white supremacy.”

* Israelis ought to return “to Germany, to Poland, to Russia. The Germans should hook y'all up. You [Israelis] should go back to Germany.”

On February 16th, the MSA, in coordination with UNC faculty and Campus Y, a left wing group that features anti-Israel speakers, hosted a vigil and educational dialogue event on university grounds. According to the MSA, the affair was held to shed light on the controversy surrounding the Danish cartoons. The vigil and dialogue event put on by the MSA was entitled “Extinguishing Ignorance with Knowledge.” Could this have been the event that put Taheri-azar over the edge?

Either way, it becomes clear that the MSA in general, and the UNC chapter in particular, appear to have deep and troubling ties to extremist Islam. UNC college students may have suffered the consequences last Friday.

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Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the host of The Politics of Terrorism radio show.

Thomas Sowell: Cathedrals and Faith

March 7, 2006
Thomas Sowell

In the grand scheme of things, the recent resignation of Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers, was a small episode. But its implications are large and reach beyond Harvard -- and well beyond the academic world.

David Riesman said that we are living in the cathedrals of learning, without the faith that built those cathedrals. We are also living in a free society without the faith that built that society -- and without the conviction and dedication needed to sustain it.

The faith came first. Centuries ago, farmers and others scattered throughout New England made whatever small contributions they could, whether in money or in produce, to help build a little college in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Today Harvard University is renowned but it has lost the sense of dedication that built it back in 1636. The faculty run the university, as Lawrence Summers has painfully discovered, and they run it in their own narrow self-interest.

A full professor at Harvard gets no personal pay-off for teaching undergraduates. That can be left to the junior faculty and graduate students. Research is where the money and the prestige are.

Summers wanted professors not only to teach undergraduates but to teach introductory courses in a structured curriculum and to stop giving out so many A's that 90 percent of the students graduate with honors.

Giving out A's wholesale saves the faculty's time that would otherwise be taken up by students wanting to know why they received B's, C's, or D's. That time is now available for research, writing and other things with a bigger personal pay-off for the faculty.

Teaching introductory courses in a structured curriculum can provide undergraduates with a far better education than the current cafeteria style of student choices among a hodgepodge of whatever courses happen to be available. But teaching introductory courses in a structured curriculum is also very time-consuming, which is why so few colleges really have a curriculum any more.

It is far easier to teach whatever narrow subject in which a professor is already doing research. Thus in some colleges there may be a course on the history of motion pictures but no course on the history of Britain or Germany.

Students can graduate from some of the most prestigious colleges in the land without a clue as to what the Second World War or the Cold War was about. At Harvard, chances are nine out of ten that such uninformed students can graduate with honors.

No college and no society can survive solely on the narrow self-interest of each individual. Somebody has to sacrifice some of his own interests for the greater good of the institution or society serving others.

In crisis, some have to put their lives on the line, as fireman, policemen and people in the military still do. But, for that, you have to believe that the institution and the society are worthy of your sacrifices.

We have now been through at least two generations of constant denigration of American society, two generations in which cheap glory could be gained by flouting rules and mocking values.
Is it surprising that we seem to have dwindling numbers of people willing to take responsibility and make sacrifices to preserve the social framework that makes our survival and advancement possible? Harvard is just one small example.

There was a time when being at war meant accepting a great weight of responsibility, even among politicians. After Wendell Willkie waged a tough presidential election campaign against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, winning more votes than any Republican ever had before, nevertheless after it was all over, he became FDR's personal envoy to Winston Churchill.

In the midst of war today, we see former presidents and defeated presidential candidates telling the world how wrong we are -- sometimes collecting big bucks in foreign countries for doing so -- and members of Congress playing demagogic party politics with national security.

We still have the cathedral of freedom but how long will it last without the faith?

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate

Dennis Byrne: When Illegal Means Illegal

March 7, 2006
Dennis Byrne
The Chicago Tribune

As the Senate is entering the great debate over illegal immigration, it's imperative to examine the frequent claim of "immigrants' rights."
Bluntly said, people who are illegally in this country possess only those civil rights that we grant to them.

Yes, they have human rights, such as the familiar life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But civil rights, by most definitions, are protections and privileges of freedom given by nation's laws to its citizens.

This, of course, flies in the face of the contemporary confusion about "immigrants' rights," which proclaims that anyone who lands on U.S. soil, by whatever means, has the same civil right to obtain a driver's license, get a subsidized mortgage or any of the other benefits that are typically granted by law to citizens.

An illegal immigrant can claim the protections of human rights, which cannot be voided by any governmental action. But--and this will startle and anger some--an "undocumented" immigrant has no claim to equal treatment.

This may sound like a lot of philosophical gibberish, but it has some very real implications. For example, the teen who was in America illegally and who was denied admission to an Elmwood Park school has a human right to an education. But whether she has a civil right to attend that school, using our public money, at this time, should be a matter for the citizens of the United States and Elmwood Park to decide. Same goes for issuing driver's licenses or providing mortgage assistance.

I might sound like a squirrelly policy wonk for saying it, but if the citizens of the United States don't get to decide who qualifies for citizenship and who benefits from government programs, then citizenship is made meaningless by denying them control over their laws and their spending. So, Americans are properly offended by the bald-faced attempt by Mexico President Vicente Fox and 10 other Latin American leaders to prescribe their solution to the vast problems caused by the illegal presence of 11 million people in our country and a non-functional border.

While we're trying to set some ground rules in this difficult debate, it would help to clarify some language. A foreigner (yes, that's the proper name for someone here from another country) who can't produce his documents to demonstrate his legal status in the United States is different from a foreigner who has no documents because he is here illegally. Thus, "undocumented immigrant" is an imprecise substitute for "illegal immigrant."

It is yet another loss for proper usage in the never-ending skirmish over political correctness. And while the use of "illegal immigrant" may cause offense, it hardly rises to the offensive heights caused by labeling one side of a legitimate debate "nativists" or "xenophobes."

Also, as we enter this debate, it's wise to bring up what we've learned from the past, since we've been around this corner before. In 1986, we conducted this same debate and the "solution" then was to grant amnesty to about 2.7 million illegal immigrants. Then, amnesty advocates said we need grant it "just this once," and that better enforcement--mostly going after employers who hire illegal immigrants--would solve the problem. That amnesty didn't stop the illegal flow across our border, and enforcement--especially by the Bush administration--has been a joke.
Last year, 86 members of Congress felt compelled to urge President Bush to enforce three dozen immigration laws that they said the administration had ignored.

Amnesty wasn't part of a border-security bill the House passed last year. But the Senate won't escape a debate over amnesty, especially with President Bush pushing for a "guest worker" program. At least four bills are up for Senate consideration, but as far as I can tell, none of them would immediately round up 11 million people and ship them "back." Nonetheless, some believe any solution is so intractable that we might as well live with an open border.

To the contrary, we can solve this problem, humanely and effectively. Strengthen our border. Enforce the laws on the books. Restore respect for the rule of law. Agree that the fight isn't over immigration, but illegal immigration. And, most important, agree that Americans have a right to define and defend what it means to be an American.

Dennis Byrne is a Chicago-area writer and consultant. E-mail:

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lent and the New Life

Fr. Apostolos Hill
Posted: 01-Mar-06

One Christmas when I was a boy I remember getting the toy of my dreams. All I really wanted that year was a "Big Jim" action figure! Big Jim was a major leap forward at the time in the technology of action figures since his joints could articulate in a variety of ways and he came with a host of cool accessories. I even got Big Jim's "Rescue Rig" which was like a combination ambulance and fire truck with all sorts of cool gear for him. Yes, I had really scored that year and I couldn't have been more pleased with my 'haul' as I took Jim into my bedroom to begin our first adventure.

But I hadn't had Jim out of the box for more than an hour when disaster struck and I broke off one of his hands at the wrists! So what before had been a brand new, really cool action figure was already a not-so-new broken toy. Thus I learned that new things don't stay new very long; a tough lesson for a little boy but one that seems not to have been learned at all in our society today.

"New and improved" is a time-worn cliché used by marketers in the west to denote the next best thing. They have tapped into the intrinsic restlessness of our consumer-driven economy to make certain we're never satisfied with yesterday's goods. A new car bought today and driven off the show room floor depreciates precipitously the moment it leaves the lot. Today's new luxury high-rise become tomorrow's sagging eye-sore soon enough. Neck-tie and lapel widths wax and wane while skirt and hem lengths rise and fall like the tides and we just keep buying. We are like the Athenians described in Acts 17 who spent all their time in pursuit of "some new thing."

"Newness" is a recurring theme in Holy Scripture and one that we should take a moment to consider as we gear up for the beginning of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church which begins this Sunday evening with Forgiveness Vespers. This may come as a surprise to some since we have allowed ourselves to become conditioned to think of Lent in very negative terms. Thoughts like; "I know I'm a bad person so God is going to punish me with Great Lent" are all too common. As I write this column on "Fat Tuesday" before Ash Wednesday of the Roman Catholic calendar the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans are again filled with revelers squeezing in that last bit of drunken debauchery during Mardi Gras before the rigor and "drudgery" of Lent begins.

Even we in the Orthodox Church tend to spend far too much time obsessing about menu selections than we do about the whole point of this annual exercise. And if we're not careful we can miss out on the wonderful opportunity that Great Lent presents to us every year to walk a little more deeply in the "newness of life" Christ promised to His disciples.

In reply to the Pharisees who were accusing the Disciples of not fasting as rigorously as they should the Lord told them; "No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved (Matt. 9;16-17). And when the Lord celebrated the Mystical Supper with His Disciples on the night He was betrayed, He offered them the bread and the wine saying; "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20), a reality we celebrate at every Divine Liturgy.

Christ has called us out of the darkness of our old ways into the new life of His Kingdom! He did not come to earth merely to teach us how to behave but rather how to truly live. The Lord told His Disciples; "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). To be a Christian in the world is to wake up every morning in this tired old world and to embrace the day as a new manifestation of His love for us, singing; "This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24). It is to be constantly reminded of the thrilling words of St. Paul to the Corinthians (those famous sinners of the first century) "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17).

But for many of us, the joy of this new life in Christ Jesus is hard to come by. The daily pressures of scratching out a living and providing for our families' material needs can be all-consuming. Many of us plod through the events of our days only too aware that forces much larger than us have us dancing, seemingly, on the end of a string and we're not really sure who's pulling on them. We only know that we're getting further and further behind with every year as our strength starts to ebb and our dreams become forgotten and our debts pile up. This is the grim reality of the manic world we have made for ourselves today. But it is not the world Christ intends for us to inhabit.

Many times we drag ourselves, exhausted, into Divine Liturgy because we know we should be there and we know that we derive some benefit from coming to Church. But we leave feeling confused as to what precisely was accomplished or affirmed by our attendance and we wonder if perhaps it would have been better for us to stay at home and get caught up some much-needed rest. We want to know God and we want Him to know us but we feel like we're getting further and further behind in our spiritual lives too as the days fly by with our prayers unsaid and our Bibles unread and our hearts unmoved. Our souls become weary and downtrodden so we come to the beginning of Great Lent dreading the exertion required to do a little extra, to go a little bit farther. But God intends something much better for us.

The message of Great Lent isn't one of punishment but of replenishment! It isn't about regret but about reconciliation! It stems not from God's wrath but from His abiding love for us which we will witness at the end when we see the Son of Man lifted up on the Cross on Holy Friday to bear our sins and burdens for us so we can walk in the abundant, new life He came to inaugurate. The Holy Church in her wisdom knows the unflinching desire of humanity to know God and that the work-a-day reality of our lives makes it very difficult for us to consistently pursue what is best for us. So she sets aside certain times and seasons in the year for us to concentrate more intently on our souls and our relationship with Christ.

When a middle-distance runner begins a race he or she doesn't start out sprinting as fast as possible. Long races requires a bit of strategy so the runner varies the speed through the course of the race; now running more slowly to conserve energy, now running more quickly to keep up the pace, and finally sprinting when the finish line comes into view. Similarly, try as we might it isn't possible for us to intently pursue our spiritual lives with ardent devotion at all times. Even St. Paul wrote in Romans 7 about the "two laws" that war within us, keeping us from living for Christ as we should. And so the Church gives us these opportunities for us to check ourselves and to be refreshed in our souls.

Great Lent offers us the prolific schedule of services to help us put away the "old man" with his constant worries and shortcomings and put on the "new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:24). It offers us the healing mystery of Holy Confession where we go to seek the touch of the Great Physician and to submit ourselves not to His judgment but to His care. Great Lent offers us the discipline of the great fast to refresh and purify our bodies (and lighten up our waistlines!) as we align our physicality with our spirituality and incarnate what we say we believe. I always look forward to the fast as a way to reinvigorate my body and reorient it towards its real purpose, that of worshipping God. And finally, Great Lent clears away the cobwebs of our disordered minds as we turn off the TV and radio somewhat as we "put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:10).

The newness of life that Christ offers us every day is a potent antidote to the "been there-done that" mentality of modern life. The "new wine" of life in Christ Jesus of which we partake at every celebration of Holy Eucharist must not be poured into the "old wineskins" of this world, e.g. we must look beyond the "rules" of Lent to the purpose of it if we are to realize the benefit of undertaking its rigor. Eventually, all of our toys break, our buildings crumble, our physical strength fades and we're left with the only thing that truly matters; when Christ appears will we be found in Him? Near the end of the Bible, St. John writes; "And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). May we walk joyfully in this newness of life that God in His endless mercy showers on us every morning. And may this Lenten journey be one of refreshment and rejuvenation as look expectantly for His coming Kingdom.

Fr. Apostolos Hill is the assistant priest at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Denver, Colorado.

Joel Mowbray: Blind Eye to Terror

Joel Mowbray
March 6, 2006

Unbeknownst to most Americans, federal prosecutors opened their case recently in the terrorism trial of a young American who studied under two Taliban-tied imams in California and whose grandfather was Pakistan’s minister of religion in the 1980’s.

The trial of Hamid Hayat, 23, is not taking place in the dark of night nor in a military tribunal from which the media is barred. It is in an open California courtroom, the very kind that has been overrun for trials of the likes of Scott Peterson and O.J. Simpson. Yet in the month of February, the New York Times had exactly one story on the alleged terror cell in Lodi, California. The Washington Post had none. And on the cable news channels, the trial has received scant attention.

Not that the trial suffers from lack of excitement. Hayat confessed that he had attended terror training in Pakistan, the video of which jurors saw last week. An FBI informant who had befriended the defendant—while wearing a wire—testified that Hayat would offer praise for “martyrs” and the Taliban, while professing disgust for America.

Adding further intrigue to the case is the high-profile status of the defendant’s grandfather, Qari Saeed ur Rehman. The former minister of religion in Pakistan, Rehman is the founder and still the head of the Jamia Islamia madrassa, an Islamic school believed to be deeply radical.

Hayat’s mosque in Lodi, California was headed by two imams who appear to have long, deep ties to the Taliban. The two had intended to establish an Islamic school in Lodi modeled after one they had run in Pakistan, which counts among its graduates and teachers many high-ranking members of the Taliban. Both men were deported last year.

The most tantalizing tidbit, though, is one not yet addressed at the trial. Hamid Hayat and his father, Umer, were stopped at Dulles International Airport as they were preparing to fly to Pakistan in April 2003. Agents discovered that between them, the father, an ice cream vendor, and son, a farm hand, had $28,093 in cash. (Any amount in excess of $10,000 must be declared.) Most of the money was confiscated, though neither was arrested. Yet the mystery remains: how did two menial laborers stumble into that much cash?

Almost none of these details, however, have made their way into the national media. Local papers have dutifully covered the terrorism trial, but major outlets in Washington and New York have mostly ignored it.

While miniscule coverage could be explained away by the fact that only Hayat is standing trial for attending terrorism training camps (his father’s trial on lying about his son’s travels starts this week), the Sacramento Bee last summer reported that authorities now believe that seven men from the Lodi mosque also traveled to Pakistan for training.

Such a scenario would not be shocking given what is known about the two now-deported imams, Mohammad Adil Khan and Shabbir Ahmed, both of whom were imported from Pakistan. Evidence presented at Ahmed’s deportation hearings (Adil Khan did not challenge his deportation) indicated that several high-ranking Taliban members were students and later teachers at the Karachi-based Jamia Farooqia.

The madrassa also apparently also had a fan in bin Laden himself. Citing classified documents, the Sacramento Bee reported, “Bin Laden, in a 1998 news conference, counted the scholars of the Farooqia school among his supporters.”

Ahmed, for his part, admitted to delivering fiery anti-American sermons in Pakistan in the wake of 9/11, in which he encouraged his followers to take up arms against the United States. That November, the Boston Globe quoted Ahmed calling for armed revolution against Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf: “Whoever is against Islam, we will destroy him. If this is rebellion, we are not afraid of rebellion. Blood is going to be spilled in Pakistan.”

Just months later, Shabbir Ahmed was granted a visa to come the United States.

Ahmed was recruited to Lodi by his mentor, Adil Khan, because the latter wanted to be replaced as imam in order to focus his energies on building an Islamic school modeled after Jamia Farooqia. He came disturbingly close to realizing his goal. Before the small town of 60,000 was rocked by the arrests of the imams and three others last June, Lodi officials had approved development of the new school. (The approval has since been rescinded, though technically only because of zoning concerns.)

At least local media outlets in Northern California are covering the Hayat trial. Imam Ali al-Timimi was convicted last year of instructing his followers to wage jihad against the United States. Nine of his followers have been convicted. All this happened in Northern Virginia, yet the Washington Post ran just a handful of stories before al-Timimi’s conviction.

Once the guilty verdict was handed down, though, the Post made it a prominent story—by editorializing on his behalf, arguing that the life sentence was “too harsh.” The paper’s reasoning? His followers didn’t wage successful jihad, thus it wasn’t as serious.

Is this the new media barometer, that terrorism is only worth reporting if it’s successful?

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Joel Mowbray is author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America’s Security.