Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Obama Brings the Gitmolympics Home

By Michelle Malkin
16 December 2009

President Obama's hometown cronies lost their bid to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to the Windy City. But this week they got a consolation prize: the Gitmolympics. On Tuesday, the White House went public with its official plans to purchase the Thomson Correctional Facility from financially strapped Illinois to house Guantanamo Bay detainees. The War on Terror meets the Chicago Way.

Thomson Correctional Facility

Political boosters of the Illinois budget bailout masquerading as a national security program can't wait to roll out the jihadi welcome mat. Unions representing federal prison workers also cheered the move. Leading the lobbying delegation for the new Gitmo-in-the-heartland located a few hours west of Chicago: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, last seen on the international stage in 2005 likening American interrogators and military staff at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviet gulag operators and genocidal maniac Pol Pot.

And co-chairing the bid to bring suspected jihadis to American soil: beleaguered Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who is salivating at the prospect of an estimated $1 billion injection into the local economy over four years. (Never mind that the jobs predictions from the Council of Economic Advisers use the same fuzzy math methods that gave us bogus porkulus numbers.)

Sensibly, the people of Illinois who will have to live with this raw deal aren't waving their pompoms. A Rasmussen poll shows that 51 percent of voters in the state oppose the transfer of suspected terrorists from the Cuban detention facility to their backyard -- including 70 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents.

Left-wing advocates of closing Gitmo accuse these Americans of "NIMBYism" and groundless fear. But can you blame anyone who watched the Crashergate debacle at the White House or the Scare Force One debacle in New York City for choking on disbelief when Team Obama promises airtight safety, security and competence?

Moreover, Illinois is already suffering its own severe prison-overcrowding crisis -- which Quinn has alleviated by secretly releasing more than 850 inmates, including violent offenders, since September, according to the Associated Press.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft pointed out that "the state's 28 current prisons are 32 percent over capacity. Why not alleviate the overcrowding and bring the Thomson prison online" for existing criminals instead of importing them from abroad? Kirk Dillard, another Republican candidate, blasted Quinn's fiscal desperation: "I think al-Qaida needs to stay in Cuba. It shows how pathetic the state of Illinois' finances are, where we have to stand with our hat in hand and have the federal government give us money to open a penitentiary that the Democrats have let sit vacant for years."

Obama officials stress that the prison would house Gitmo detainees separately from federal inmates, and that the two would be "managed separately" with "no opportunity to interact" between them. Which entirely misses the point that Gitmo detainees' lawyers and translators have been the primary security concerns -- not just other inmates:

-- Last month, jihadist-enabling lawyer Lynne Stewart was finally ordered to jail after her conviction in 2005 for aiding and abetting imprisoned blind Egyptian sheik Omar Abdel Rahman by smuggling coded messages of violence to terrorist followers abroad -- in violation of an explicit pledge to abide by her client's court-ordered isolation.

-- Earlier this summer, the Justice Department launched an inquiry into photographs of undercover CIA officials and other intelligence personnel taken by ACLU-sponsored researchers assisting the defense team of Guantanamo Bay detainees. The pictures of covert American CIA officers -- "in some cases surreptitiously taken outside their homes," according to the Washington Post -- were shown to jihadi suspects tied to the 9/11 attacks in order to identify the interrogators.

-- As investigative journalist Paul Sperry reported recently, a number of Arabic and Pashtu interpreters who served at Gitmo are "under active investigation for omitting valuable intelligence from their translations of detainee interrogations, among other security breaches."

The corruptocratic Attorney General Eric Holder is, of course, in no position to raise any principle objections to the Gitmo-in-the-heartland plans. Remember: He served as senior partner with Covington and Burling -- the prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm that represents 17 Yemenis currently held at Gitmo. And top attorneys at his Justice Department have had to recuse themselves numerous times over their conflicts of interest in Gitmo-related cases. Holder has failed to provide a full recusal list of all the Gitmo detainee cases from which current Justice Department political appointees have had to recuse themselves.

Meanwhile, Team Obama is now championing the very same indefinite detention powers for detainees deemed untriable that it condemned the Bush administration for exercising -- and for which it targeted Gitmo for closure in the first place. Give the White House a gold medal for costly incoherence and reckless redundance.

Free Speech on Trial

by Robert Spencer
16 December 2009

Free speech goes on trial in the Netherlands on January 20, when Dutch politician Geert Wilders appears before the Amsterdam District Court on charges of having “intentionally offended a group of people, i.e. Muslims, based on their religion,” as well as having incited to hatred and discrimination.

Dutch MP Geert Wilders speaks to Columbia University students, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 at Columbia University in New York. Wilders told the students he wanted to discuss freedom of speech and the expanding threat of Islamisation of our Western societies. (AP)

What did Wilders do to warrant such charges? He told the truth about the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, and their roots in Islamic texts and teachings, in his film Fitna and elsewhere. But nowadays truth-telling is at such a premium that those who still dare to engage in it are threatened, harassed and prosecuted.

But Wilders is defiant: “On the 20th of January 2010, a political trial will start. I am being prosecuted for my political convictions. The freedom of speech is on the verge of collapsing. If a politician is not allowed to criticise an ideology anymore, this means that we are lost, and it will lead to the end of our freedom. However I remain combative: I am convinced that I will be acquitted.”

The very idea of trying someone for offending someone else is absurd – especially when the offended group is known to traffic in the PC multiculturalist coin of wounded feelings, so as to gain the political power that comes from victim status. That the Amsterdam District Court would aid and abet this absurdity and obvious manipulation unmasks the Wilders trial – even before it starts – as what it really is: an attempt by the nation’s political elites to silence one of their most formidable critics. The one who has the power to decide what is an actionable offensive statement or prosecutable incitement has the power to control the discourse – and that’s what the prosecution of Wilders is all about. If offending someone is a crime, can those who find hate speech laws offensive bring suit against their framers?

The action against Wilders is taking place, moreover, against the backdrop of the 57-government Organization of the Islamic Conference’s ongoing efforts at the United Nations to silence speech that they deem critical of Islam — including “defamation of Islam” that goes under the “pretext” of “freedom of expression, counter terrorism or national security.”

If they succeed in doing this, Europeans and Americans will be rendered mute, and thus defenseless, in the face of the advancing jihad and attempt to impose Sharia on the West — in fact, one of the key elements of the laws for dhimmis, non-Muslims subjugated under Islamic rule, is that they are never critical of Islam, Muhammad, or the Qur’an. Thus this prosecution in Amsterdam not only aids the advance of Sharia in the West, but is itself an element of that advance.

The stakes are so high in the Wilders case also because the OIC has a new, powerful ally as it moves against the freedom of speech. In October the Obama Administration actually co-sponsored an anti-free speech resolution at the United Nations. Approved by the U.N. Human Rights Council, the resolution, cosponsored by the U.S. and Egypt, calls on states to condemn and criminalize “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

Echoing Obama’s stated determination to combat “negative stereotyping of Islam” in the United States, the resolution also condemns “negative stereotyping of religions and racial groups.” This is, of course, an oblique reference to accurate reporting about the jihad doctrine and Islamic supremacism — for such reporting, and not actual negative stereotyping or hateful language at all, is always the focus of OIC complaints.

Last year the Secretary General of the OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, issued a warning: “We sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed” regarding free speech about Islam and terrorism. And he reported success: “The official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.”

For the first time, an American President has bowed to the OIC’s demands and taken cognizance of that “responsibility.”

But Geert Wilders, and all those who stand with him, have a responsibility, too. We have a responsibility to bear witness to the world that the freedom of speech is a cornerstone of any free society, and that once it is gone, there is no defense against tyranny, no safeguard against the encroaching power of a protected class against whom there is no appeal, and from whose rulings there is no dissent. If Geert Wilders is found guilty, tyranny and authoritarianism will have won a huge victory in Europe, and in the world in general.

The stakes are as high as they can possibly be. Geert Wilders must prevail. If he does not, Europe, and America, and the world, are in for a long, dark night.

Related Link

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fat City

by Patrick J. Buchanan

"It's time to stop worrying about the deficit -- and start panicking about the debt," the Washington Post editorial began. "The fiscal situation was serious before the recession. It is now dire."

The editorial continued:

"In the space of a single fiscal year, 2009, the debt soared from 41 percent of the gross domestic product to 53 percent. This sum, which does not include what the government has borrowed from its own trust funds, is on track to rise to a crushing 85 percent of the economy by 2018."

What are the risks of an exploding U.S. public debt?

The Chinese, Japanese and Arabs still buying that debt will begin to suspect they are holding onto paper on which the United States will default, or will cheapen by inflating its currency -- as the Germans did in 1923 to avoid paying war reparations.

When they do, they will stop buying U.S. debt and start dumping. The Fed will then have to raise interest rates to attract borrowers, throwing the economy into a tailspin.

Is Congress even aware of what is happening?

Harry Reid is talking about doubling Medicare rolls to include folks 55 to 64. Facing a second straight $1.4 trillion deficit, Congress is moving to raise the debt ceiling by another $1.8 trillion.

And the lead story in the Post Monday began:

"The Senate cleared for President Obama's signature on Sunday a $447 billion omnibus spending bill that contains thousands of earmarks and double-digit increases for several Cabinet agencies."

Total cost of the Senate bill passed Sunday was "$1.1 trillion, including average spending increases of 10 percent for dozens of federal agencies."

Ten percent hikes for federal agencies? What is going on?

Democrats say the money is needed to make up for the neglect of the George W. Bush years. But the Bush years were the fattest years for federal social spending since the Great Society.

Sen. Dick Durbin says the spending is necessary "to keep cops on the street ... so that families feel secure. ... Money spent to help our first responders, firefighters and policemen is a critical investment."

But aren't cops and firemen a state and local responsibility?

"It is business as usual, spending money like a drunken sailor, " said Sen. John McCain. "And the bar is still open."

But when sailors get drunk and spend crazily, they are on shore leave and spending their own money. When they get back aboard ship, they sober up and shape up, and do the vital work they enlisted to do.

These congressmen never stop bingeing. They are addicts. They are alcoholics. And they are spending our money. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, there are 5,200 earmarks in that one Senate bill, which averages out to 12 pork projects for every House member -- and 52 for every senator.

What is going on in Washington?

Democrats are following the Rahm Rule of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. "Don't allow a crisis to go to waste. ... There are opportunities to do big things."

And from the standpoint of self interest, this makes sense. Most government employees are Democratic voters, as are most beneficiaries of government programs.

Moreover, Democrats have to get the money out the door before the midterms, where the party is going to take a bath and lose power.

How else to explain this lead story last week in USA Today:

"The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession. ...

"Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14 percent to 19 percent of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months -- and that is before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

"Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time -- in pay and hiring -- during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector."

When the recession started, the Defense Department had 1,868 civilian employees earning $150,000. Defense now has 10,100. The Transportation Department had one person earning $170,000 when the recession began. Transportation now has 1,690 employees earning above $170,000. Recession in America means boom times in D.C.

The financial crisis that almost sank the capitalist system was the work of Washington and Wall Street. The Fed created the bubble. The White House and Congress goaded banks into making all those subprime mortgages. Fannie and Freddie bought up the lousy paper and turned it into securities. Wall Street banks bought them up and put them on their books as Triple A assets. Federal regulators looked the other way.

Yet happy days are here again on Wall Street. And Washington never saw better times, with federal workers now earning, on average, $31,000 a year more than workers in the gutted private sector.

Is this the government the Founding Fathers dreamed of -- or is this the kind of arrogant government they took up arms against?

- Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, "The Death of the West,", "The Great Betrayal," "A Republic, Not an Empire" and "Where the Right Went Wrong."

Today's Tune: U2 - Bad (Live)

(Click on title to play video)

If you twist and turn away.
It you tear yourself in two again.
If I could, yes I would
If I could, I would let it go.
Surrender, dislocate.

If I could throw this lifeless life-line to the wind.
Leave this heart of clay, see you walk, walk away
Into the night, and through the rain
Into the half light and through the flame.

If I could, through myself, set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away, see you break, break away
Into the light and to the day.

To let it go and so to find away.
To let it go and so find away.
I'm wide awake.
I'm wide awake, wide awake.
I'm not sleeping.

If you should ask, then maybe
They'd tell you what I would say
True colours fly in blue and black
Blue silken sky and burning flag.
Colours crash, collide in blood-shot eyes.

If I could, you know I would
If I could, I would let it go.

This desperation, dislocation
Separation, condemnation
Revelation, in temptation
Isolation, desolation
Let it go and so to find away
To let it go and so to find away
To let it go and so to find away

I'm wide awake, I'm wide awake, wide awake
I'm not sleeping
Oh no, no, no.

What a Piece of Work

By Ben Stein on 12.15.09 @ 6:08AM
The American Spectator

"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty!…In apprehension how like a god…" so said the Bard, and of course, he was right. Man's capacities, for good and evil, are stupefying. In science, in language, in war, in healing, how miraculous are man's achievements.

And yet, so much eludes us and how tiny we are compared with our challenges. Disease strikes us down in our prime. We age and grow weak and then pass away, often cruelly. We make war upon our own kind and kill largely for sport. We cannot control the tides or the sun or man's theft from man.

But we try to rise above our puniness compared with our problems and pretend that we have solutions and explanations that will take away much of the mystery of life and history and make everything clear. We create models that we think make us appear to be gods.

Karl Marx invented such a model that purported to explain all of history. It was a cruel sham and an excuse for the most breathtaking cruelty in the history of the human race. Now largely abandoned, except on the campuses of universities, it promised salvation and delivered death and suffering.

Adolf Hitler, borrowing largely from the vicious racist doctrines of the superiority of the Nordic races, promised a beautiful super race and a super future. He delivered mass murder and war.

Yet man still tries to come up with a theory to explain everything and then to use that theory to control his fellow man, always in the presumed wish to save the white race or the working class or someone or something.

The model we have now in this long and sordid catalogue is about climate. Based upon a great deal of data, many scientists have come up with a theory that human activity is wrecking the climate of the planet and that if the wise, good people are not allowed to compel the stupid, evil people to change their ways drastically, terrible things will happen. Unless some men can make the other men burn less oil, burn less coal, drive smaller cars, not heat or cool their abodes as much, stop growing so much beef and pork and chicken, stop exhaling so much carbon dioxide, the world will end badly.

I do not pretend to be a climatologist. I do claim to follow the subject and it has been clear for years that there is major controversy about whether global warming is really happening in a long-term way. Data suggest (not prove, suggest) that the earth was warmer hundreds and even thousands of years ago than it is now. There is some evidence that the earth reached a high point in temperature in 1998, and then fell, with a rebound just in the last year.

There has also been controversy about whether whatever climate change is occurring is anthropogenic (or of a scale to make much difference about most facets of life). There are terribly smart scientists in the field who say the effects are caused by solar activity or oceanic actions or something else they cannot explain.

In other words, the results of burning carbon are in doubt and the causes are in dispute. The recent publication of hacked e-mails among global warming advocates showing a clear effort to obscure the truth was a stunner to some, but not to those who knew there was a major controversy about this all along.

In this case, what on earth are we doing seeking to drastically change man's activities on the planet in this quixotic campaign? Why are we seeking to turn industry upside down in the cause of something that may not even be real?

Maybe because the real goal of the climate change elites is not to save anyone from anything but to have as much social control as possible. Just as the real goal of Marxism was to elevate the power of the Marxists, possibly the real goal of climate change champions is to elevate their status in the world.

Karl Marx was a demon sent from hell, but he said a mouthful when he said that "all history is the history of class struggle." Maybe what we are seeing now is class struggle between the academics and bureaucrats and the businesspeople and oil people and utility people. Maybe that's what this recent tomfool notion of declaring CO2, a life-giving gas, a dangerous pollutant is. If the government can have a right to control CO2 emissions, it can control every aspect of life everywhere. This is a recipe for blowing up the Constitution. In the name of a goal which may be unrelated to carbon dioxide emissions, which may not even be a real target, which may be a wholly specious goal, we are considering giving government control over our lives beyond what would have been considered conceivable just a few months ago.

Surely this breathtaking assault on freedom merits absolutely total certainty by everyone with a microscope that we will all die very soon from carbon dioxide emissions if we do NOT take away freedom. To allow the government this kind of control over our lives, climate change should be an imminent, life and death issue understood as such by everyone. It should not have to be protected from inquiry and truth seekers as it obviously has been judging from the hacked East Anglia e-mails. The Constitution is far more important, human freedom is far more important, than bowing down to the climate change gods with their smoke and mirrors.

We are living in frightening times, and the ones who are the most frightening among us are, as usual, the ones pretending to save us.

- Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What signal does Barbie’s burka send?

Women forbidden by law from feeling sunlight—hey, that’s a positive message for young girls.

by Mark Steyn on Thursday, December 10, 2009 8:00am

The other day, George Jonas passed on to his readers a characteristically shrewd observation gleaned from the late poet George Faludy: “No one likes to think of himself as a coward,” wrote Jonas. “People prefer to think they end up yielding to what the terrorists demand, not because it’s safer or more convenient, but because it’s the right thing . . . Successful terrorism persuades the terrorized that if they do terror’s bidding, it’s not because they’re terrified but because they’re socially concerned.”

This is true. Resisting terror is exhausting. It’s easier to appease it, but, for the sake of your self-esteem, you have to tell yourself you’re appeasing it in the cause of some or other variant of “social justice.” Obviously, it’s unfortunate if “Canadians” get arrested for plotting to murder the artists and publishers of the Danish Muhammad cartoons, but that’s all the more reason to be even more accommodating of the various “sensitivities” arising from the pervasive Islamophobia throughout Western society. Etc.

Yet this psychology also applies to broader challenges. By way of example, take a fluffy feature from a recent edition of Britain’s Daily Mail: “It’s Barbie in a Burka,” read the headline. Yes, as part of her 50th anniversary celebrations, “one of the world’s most famous children’s toys, Barbie, has been given a makeover.” And, in an attractive photo shoot, there was Barbie in “traditional Islamic dress,” wearing full head-to-toe lime-green and red burkas. At least, I’m assuming it was Barbie. It could have been G.I. Joe back there for all one can tell from the letterbox slot of eyeball meshing.

But Britain’s biggest Barbie fan, Angela Ellis, was thrilled. “Bring it on, Burka Barbie,” she said. “I think this is a great idea. I think this is really important for girls, wherever they are from, they should have the opportunity to play with a Barbie that they feel represents them.”

Well, Barbie is 50. And at an age when Katie Cougar—er, Couric—America’s all-time champion network news-ratings limbo-dancer, is being photographed ill-advisedly doing the lambada at the Christmas office party, there is perhaps something to be said for belatedly mothballing your 76-inch plastic bust. Or as the Canadian blogger Closet Conservative put it: “Great news: that bitch Barbie has finally reverted.” “And there’s no need for expensive accessories like books or cars or a life,” added Tim Blair of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, “because Barbie in a Bag isn’t allowed to leave her home unless accompanied by a male relative (Mullah Ken, sold separately).”

Mullah Ken? I’m not so sure about that. Given the long-time rumours, Ken’ll be lucky not to find himself crushed under one of those walls the Taliban put up for their sodomite-rehabilitation program. You’ll be glad to know the dolls are anatomically accurate: Burka Barbie has no clitoris, and, just like Mohamed Atta on the morning of Sept. 11, Ken’s genital area is fully depilated.

But we mean-spirited types are in the minority. The other day, I was watching, as one does, a German lingerie ad, for Liaison Dangereuse. It began with a naked woman—bit blurry and soft-focus, but you could see she had her hair in a towel and everything else in nothing at all, and there were definite glimpses of shapely bottom, the swell of her bosom and whatnot. All very Continental.

She applies her lipstick, sashays into her dressing room wiggling aforementioned posterior, hooks her brassiere, rolls up her seamed stockings, slips into her stilettos, and then—with one final toss of her glossy luxuriant hair—pulls on her burka and steps out the door. Tag line: “Sexiness for Everyone. Everywhere.”

Very clever. The agency is Glow of Berlin. Might win them an award. Yet the superficial cool and the O. Henry switcheroo at the tail seem less cutting-edge state-of-the-art than sad and desperate wishful thinking. For one thing, if the comely young lady were truly a believer as opposed to a jobbing infidel thespian, her underdressed gig would earn her death threats, if she were lucky, and, if she weren’t, actual death.

Still, Burka Barbie and Fatima’s Secret are minor and peripheral. What about the so-called most powerful man in the world? “The U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it,” President Obama told his audience in Cairo earlier this year. “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal.”

My oh my, he’s a profile in courage, isn’t he? It’s true that there have been occasional frictions over, say, the refusal of Muslim women to reveal their faces for their driver’s licences—Sultaana Freeman, for example, sued the state of Florida over that “right.” But the real issue in the Western world is “the right of women and girls” not “to wear the hijab.” A couple of weeks ago in Arizona, a young woman called Noor Almaleki was fatally run over by her father in his Jeep Cherokee for becoming “too Westernized.” If there were a Matthew Shepard-style gay crucifixion every few months, liberal columnists would be going bananas about the “climate of hate” in America. But you can run over your daughter, decapitate your wife, drown three teenage girls and a polygamous spouse (to cite merely the most lurid recent examples of North American “honour killings”), and nobody cares. Certainly, there’s no danger of Barack Obama ever standing up for the likes of poor Miss Almaleki to a roomful of A-list imams. When it comes to real hate crimes, as opposed to his entirely imaginary epidemic, the president of the United States has smaller cojones than Ken.

If you eschew the Grand Cherokee in favour of the Toronto subway, you may have noticed that the poster girl for the latest “social justice” campaign is a Muslim woman. “Drop Fees for a Poverty-Free Ontario” is the ringing cry, and next to it is a hijab-clad lady speaking up and speaking out. It’s something to do with the cost of post-secondary education, which, like everything else in Canada, is supposed to be “free.” The image is a curious choice as an emblem for educational access: after all, one of the most easily discernible features of societies that adopt Islamic dress is how ignorant they are. In Afghanistan under the Taliban, girls were forbidden by law to attend school—i.e., not just fritter-away-half-a-decade-on-Ontario-taxpayers “post-secondary” education, but kindergarten and Grade 1. In Pakistan, 60 per cent of women are illiterate.

According to the UN’s 2002 Arab Development Report, half of all women in the Arab world cannot read. And even in Canada, the ability of the woman on the subway poster to access that post-secondary education depends not on the “fees” but on her father or, if she’s already been married off to her 16-year-old cousin back in Mirpur, her husband. The Saskatchewan Internet maestro Kate McMillan summed up the poster thus: “Subjugation of women—it’s the new normal.”

“Traditional Islamic dress” is not so “traditional.” Talk to any educated Muslim woman who attended university in the fifties, sixties or seventies—back when they assumed history was moving their way and a covered woman was merely a local variant of the Russian babushka, something old and wizened you saw in upcountry villages. Now you see them in the heart of the metropolis—and I don’t mean Beirut or Abu Dhabi so much as Paris and Brussels. It’s very strange to be able to walk around, say, Zarqa, hometown of the late “insurgent” Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and look 90 per cent of the women in the eye, and even be rewarded with a friendly smile every so often, and then to fly on to London and be confronted by one masked face after another while strolling down Whitechapel Road in the East End. The burka, the niqab and the hijab are not fashion statements but explicitly political ones, and what they symbolize in a Western context is self-segregation.

That “Drop Fees” campaign would never dream of dressing up its poster gal as June Cleaver, Donna Reed or any other outmoded sitcom mom in twin-set and pearls. Golly, that would send all sorts of disturbing signals to today’s liberated females, wouldn’t it? What signal is Barbie’s burka sending? That, in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, women were forbidden by law from ever feeling sunlight on their faces? Hey, there’s a positive message for young girls.

Phillip Longman is a demographer who is widely regarded as the antithesis of the Muzzies-are-coming alarmists like me. Yet his most famous essay on the world currently taking shape is titled “The Return of Patriarchy.” Don’t worry, it’s not the bad kind of patriarchy of 1950s sitcom dads. It’s the groovy multiculti kind—which presumably is why white liberal progressives are so eager to mainstream it. Perhaps they figure it can just be contained to the likes of Noor Almaleki, but I doubt it. I’ve mentioned previously a Euro-pal of mine, non-Muslim, who’s taken to covering herself in certain quartiers of an evening in order to avoid harassment by “youths.” She does exactly what that German lingerie lass does—and with the merest correction to the sign-off: “Subordination for Every Woman. Everywhere.”

Afghanistan: The Senseless War

By Abraham H. Miller
December 14, 2009

With the impending escalation in Afghanistan, we have finally arrived, after decades, at a bipartisan foreign policy. Regrettably, it is the wrong consensus for the wrong policy.

Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. There is no way to win in Afghanistan without a massive commitment of troops, a willingness to stay there nearly indefinitely, and the ability to pursue insurgents across Afghanistan's porous borders.

We have neither the military capacity nor the political will to do any of that. Indeed, we probably do not have the financial capability to do it.
What we can do is prolong the war and increase the misery of the Afghan people. As in Vietnam, this is now a war where domestic politics strongly influence military decisions. The president waits for months to make a decision on troop reinforcements. He sends fewer troops than the number requested. The escalation offends his base, so the president attempts to placate them with an arbitrary withdrawal date.

Caught in the escalating crossfire, Afghan civilians are going to have one motivation: survival. In Vietnam, villages often divided in two, one side going to the Viet Cong, one to the government, both sides looking out for the interests of the village and each other.

A withdrawal date tells the civilian population that the Taliban will be there long after we are gone. All the Taliban has to do is to follow the grand strategy of all insurgencies, buy time. The Taliban disappears into the sea of the civilian population. The Taliban hides and waits. It yields land for time. It fights selectively. It evaporates when outnumbered. It reduces its operations. It lingers to fight another day, when the Americans will be gone, when the poorly trained, corrupt, and easily infiltrated Afghan army will be the primary enemy.

Afghanistan's army needs nearly a quarter of a million troops to fight the insurgency, and by most estimates, it will be lucky to produce 140,000. The fighting age population in third world countries is not sufficiently healthy to produce as high a proportion of troops as first world countries take for granted. And because insurgents generally choose the time and place of engagements, they need fewer troops and require a lower support to combat ratio. By traditional gauges, a traditional army must outnumber an insurgency by twelve to fifteen to one.

Certainly, we will have military victories. In Vietnam, we never lost a major military engagement. During the Tet Offensive, we wiped out the fighting capacity of the Viet Cong, inflicting one of the worst military defeats on an enemy in the history of combat. The Viet Cong was replaced by the regular army of North Vietnam, and the war shifted to a conventional war. But we were incapable of creating a legitimate, widely- supported government. So, even Tet was a pyrrhic victory, and then, of course, our media turned it into a defeat, a turning point in the war created by definition.

Our very presence as foreigners, in Vietnam, propping up a regime, raised questions of the regime's legitimacy, as it now does in Afghanistan. We make much of elections in Afghanistan, but the proportion voting in many provinces was negligible, as was the integrity of the election process itself.

The reality of Afghanistan is that it is not a necessary war. The Taliban did not orchestrate the events of 09/11. Osama bin Laden did, and he is most likely in Pakistan, moving back and forth across the border, safely hidden in the tribal areas. If we seriously want to defeat the Taliban, we must escalate the war, commit to staying there, and change the rules of engagement regarding civilian casualties. And then what? We will have so alienated the population that they will produce another insurgency, one sustained by Islamists across the world who cannot countenance the presence of infidels on Muslim soil.

If we are concerned about our own security, then we might want to look at the Islamist training bases on American soil, the probes by terrorists of our air safety, and the vulnerabilities this administration has created by redefining terrorism as a criminal justice issue.

American security doctrine has always used World War II as the paradigm to justify the projection of power. What we have forgotten is that in World War II we bombed our enemies into oblivion and then rebuilt their societies on our terms. We do not have the legitimacy or the moral justification to follow that model in Afghanistan. We certainly do not have the political will.

There is nothing patriotic about sending our young men and women to die in a war that will be fought in the absence of compelling military considerations, a war without resolution, a war where success eludes definition, and a war where the enemy and civilian population already know when we will be gone.

Bring the troops home. There is much to do here to promote our own security, beginning with not further debasing our economic strength by spending money on needless wars.

- Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.

Hollywood & Howard Zinn’s Marxist education project

By Michelle Malkin • December 11, 2009 09:46 AM

The two most important questions for society, according to the Greek philosopher Plato, are these: What will we teach our children? And who will teach them? Left-wing celebrities have teamed up with one of America’s most radical historians to take control of the classroom in the name of “social justice.” Parents, beware: This Hollywood-backed Marxist education project may be coming to a school near you.

On Sunday, December 13, the History Channel will air “The People Speak” – a documentary based on Marxist academic Howard Zinn’s capitalism-bashing, America-dissing, grievance-mongering history textbook, “A People’s History of the United States.” The film was co-produced/written/bankrolled by Zinn’s Boston neighbor and mentee Matt Damon. An all-star cast of Bush-bashing liberals including Danny Glover, Josh Brolin, Bruce Springsteen, Marisa Tomei, and Eddie Vedder, will appear. Zinn’s work is a self-proclaimed “biased account” of American history that rails against white oppressors, the free market, and the military.

Zinn’s objective is not to impart knowledge, but to instigate “change” and nurture a political “counterforce” (an echo of fellow radical academic and Hugo Chavez admirer Bill Ayers’ proclamation of education as the “motorforce of revolution.”) Teachers are not supposed to teach facts in the school of Zinn. “There is no such thing as pure fact,” Zinn asserts.
Educators are not supposed to emphasize individual academic achievement. They are supposed to “empower” student collectivism by emphasizing “the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements.” School officials are not facilitators of intellectual inquiry, but leaders of “social struggle.”

Zinn and company have launched a nationwide education project in conjunction with the documentary. “A people’s history requires a people’s pedagogy to match,” Zinn preaches. The project is a collaboration between two “social justice” activist groups, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. Rethinking Schools recently boasted of killing a social studies textbook series in the Milwaukee school system because it “failed to teach social responsibility.” A Rethinking Schools guide on the September 11 jihadi attacks instructs teachers to “nurture student empathy” for our enemies and dissuade students from identifying as Americans. “It’s our job to reach beyond this chauvinism.” And a Rethinking Schools guide to early childhood education written by Ann Pelo disparages “a too-heavy focus on academic skills” in favor of “social justice and ecological teaching” for preschoolers.

Teaching for Change’s objective, in Obama-esque fashion, is to train students not to achieve actual proficiency in core academic subjects, but to inspire them to “become active global citizens.” Today’s non-achieving aspirants are tomorrow’s Nobel Peace Prize winners, after all.
No part of the school curriculum is immune from the social justice makeover crew. Zinn’s partners at Rethinking Schools have even issued teaching guides to “Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers” – which rejects the traditional white male patriarchal methods of teaching computation and statistics in favor of p.c.-ified number-crunching:

“Rethinking Mathematics is divided into four parts. The first part is devoted to a broad view of mathematics that includes historical and cultural implications. Part Two includes nine classroom narratives in which teachers describe lessons they have used that infuse social justice issues into their mathematics curriculum. Included here…an AP calculus lesson on income distribution. The third part contains three detailed classroom experiences/lessons. These include a physical depiction of the inequitable distribution of the world’s wealth, the results of a student investigation into how many U.S. Presidents owned slaves, and a wonderful classroom game called ‘Transnational Capital Auction’ in which students take on the role of leaders of Third World countries bidding competitively for new factories from a multinational corporation.

Short lessons, provocative cartoons, and snippets of statistics are scattered throughout Rethinking Mathematics. A partial list of topics includes racial profiling, unemployment rate calculation, the war in Iraq, environmental racism, globalization, wealth distribution and poverty, wheelchair ramps, urban density, HIV/AIDS, deconstructing Barbie, junk food advertising to children, and lotteries.”

Our students will continue to come in dead last in international testing. But no worries. With Howard Zinn and Hollywood leftists in charge, empty-headed young global citizens will have heavier guilt, wider social consciences, and more hatred for America than any other students in the world.

Posted in: Education, Hollyweird, Kevin Jennings

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Ten Best Films of 2009

Posted by David Denby
The New Yorker
December 3, 2009

Before offering my list of the immortal ten, a few more words in reaction to the reaction to “Inglourious Basterds,” which I reviewed this summer. Young friends, Jewish and not, have spoken about it in the following spirit: “Why shouldn’t Jews have some fun? Where is it written that Jews shall not carve swastikas in the foreheads of their enemies and bash them with baseball bats and annihilate them by fire?”

It is true; it is nowhere written. And the Old Testament does not necessarily forbid revenge. The Lord speaks through Samuel to Saul as follows: “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (I Samuel, 15)

Okay, but posthumous revenge as a redemptive pop fantasy? I doubt that Ezekiel would see much point to it. Consider that many people who have written about the Nazis, whether as a survivor of the camps, like Primo Levi, or as a theorist of modernity, like Hannah Arendt, have said that totalitarianism, in its thoroughness, makes acts of individual heroism and personal honor virtually meaningless. The Nazis consciously wanted to eliminate martyrdom as a morally significant act. But Tarantino, as A. O. Scott noted in passing in the Times, has been schooled by Asian martial-arts films, where insult and revenge is invariably the spring of action. Honor and vengeance are everything for Tarantino; they settle the case.

I don’t mean to imply that Tarantino needs to consult my favorite weighty books in order to make a movie, but a little common sense might help: His movie-fed revenge reflex is idiotic in relation to the context he established in “Basterds.” The representation of Jews and Nazis was just trivial—bizarrely beside the point. And I would ask the movie’s fans to look again and notice how slovenly the filmmaking becomes after the opening scene in the French farmhouse.

But that’s enough of that. In no particular order, here’s what I admired most in 2009:

“The Hurt Locker”: Kathryn Bigelow understands that an action movie has to be coherent in space—you have to know where the American soldiers are in relation to the bombs that they’re trying to defuse. Hair-raising. With a great performance by Jeremy Renner.

“The White Ribbon”: The dread-master Michael Haneke’s portrait of a guilty Northern German town just before the First World War. The long takes and crisp black-and-white cinematography produce an aura of vague but sinister stillness. You come out of it feeling bruised and contented at the same time.

“The Messenger”: Oren Moverman’s affecting account of the lives of two very different soldiers—Woody Harrelson’s lifer and Ben Foster’s guilty war hero, easing back into civilian existence—who have to bring the bad news to the parents and spouses of soldiers killed in Iraq. It sounds grim, I know, but it’s so bracingly written and played that it’s completely absorbing.

“Funny People”: Judd Apatow’s intricately woven portrait of a lonely and miserable comic actor (Adam Sandler, playing a nasty version of himself) turns into an examination of the specialness of comics and a funny-mournful lament over their distance from ordinary life. The happy jeers aimed at the movie’s weak box-office performance were a perfect example of how bizarrely values have gone askew for the people who do nothing but count the change.

“Adventureland”: Greg Mottola’s lovely memory of a misspent summer at a tacky Pittsburgh amusement park in the early eighties. Kristen Stewart turns those eyes on Jesse Eisenberg, a toothless non-vampire, as he struggles toward manhood.

“Up”: Pixar’s latest triumph. Touching, exhilarating, hilarious. Who can forget “the cone of shame”?

“The Last Station”: Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy at eighty-two and Helen Mirren as Sofya, his wife of forty-eight years, fighting over the great man’s will. Elemental and grand, without a trace of stiffness. Michael Hoffman wrote and directed.

“Me and Orson Welles”: Christian McKay is mesmerizing as the twenty-two-year-old theatrical genius, a vaunting, bombastic son of a bitch who galvanizes the new-born Mercury Theatre company in 1937. Zac Efron is not bad as the cocky kid from New Jersey who bluffs his way into the company. Animated by Richard Linklater’s obvious love of the theatre. Who knew?

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”: The look of it is enchanting—intentionally creaky stop-motion with puppets posed against a crafts-fair mock-up of downtown Bath, England. A combined caper movie and art-history triumph.

“Up in the Air”: The movie’s many ambitions (to be utterly cool and all heart) don’t quite mesh together, and the last third is actually a little boring. But what’s good in Jason Reitman’s adaptation of Walter Kirn’s novel is very good—especially George Clooney and Vera Farmiga as two pros in business and in bed carrying on an affair in blank airport hotels and talking as dirty as Bacall and Bogart in “The Big Sleep.”

Honorable Mention: “Broken Embraces,” “Public Enemies,” “Invictus,” “Duplicity,” “An Education,” “Crazy Heart,” “(500) Days of Summer,” “Tyson, ” “Food Inc.,” “Coraline,” “Two Lovers”

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