Saturday, July 16, 2011

No bargaining with Barack Obluffer

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
July 15, 2011

There is something surreal and unnerving about the so-called "debt ceiling" negotiations staggering on in Washington. In the real world, negotiations on an increase in one's debt limit are conducted between the borrower and the lender. Only in Washington is a debt increase negotiated between two groups of borrowers.

Actually, it's more accurate to call them two groups of spenders. On the one side are Obama and the Democrats, who in a negotiation supposedly intended to reduce American indebtedness are (surprise!) proposing massive increasing in spending (an extra $33 billion for Pell Grants, for example). The Democrat position is: You guys always complain that we spend spend spend like there's (what's the phrase again?) no tomorrow, so be grateful that we're now proposing to spend spend spend spend like there's no this evening

On the other side are the Republicans, who are the closest anybody gets to representing, albeit somewhat tentatively and less than fullthroatedly, the actual borrowers – that's to say, you and your children and grandchildren. But in essence the spenders are negotiating among themselves how much debt they're going to burden you with. It's like you and your missus announcing you've set your new credit limit at $1.3 million, and then telling the bank to send demands for repayment to Mr. and Mrs. Smith's kindergartner next door.

Nothing good is going to come from these ludicrously protracted negotiations over laughably meaningless accounting sleights-of-hand scheduled to kick in circa 2020. All the charade does is confirm to prudent analysts around the world that the depraved ruling class of the United States cannot self-correct, and, indeed, has no desire to.

When the 44th president took office, he made a decision that it was time for the already unsustainable levels of government spending finally to break the bounds of reality and frolic and gambol in the magical fairy kingdom of Spendaholica: This year, the federal government borrows 43 cents of every dollar it spends, a ratio that is unprecedented. Barack Obama would like this to be, as they say, "the new normal" – at least until that 43 cents creeps up a nickel or so, and the United States Government is spending twice as much it takes in, year in, year out, now and forever. If the Republicans refuse to go along with that, well, then the negotiations will collapse and, as he told Scott Pelley on CBS the other night, Gran'ma gets it. That monthly Social Security check? Fuhgeddabouddit. "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue," declared the president. "Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."

But hang on. I thought the Social Security checks came out of the famous "Social Security trust fund," whose "trustees" assure us there's currently $2.6 trillion in there. Which should be enough for the Aug. 3 check run, shouldn't it? Golly, to listen to the president, you'd almost get the impression that, by the time you saw the padlock off the old Social Security lockbox, there's nothing in there but a yellowing IOU and a couple of moths. Indeed, to listen to Obama, one might easily conclude that the whole rotten stinking edifice of federal government is an accounting trick. And that can't possibly be so, can it?

For the Most Gifted Orator in Human History, the president these days speaks largely in clichés, most of which he doesn't seem to be quite on top of. "Eric, don't call my bluff," he sternly reprimanded the GOP's Eric Cantor. Usually, if you're bluffing, the trick is not to announce it upfront. But, in fact, in his threat to have Granny eating dog food by Labor Day, Obama was calling his own bluff. The giant bluff against the future that is government spending.

How many of "the wealthy" do you require to cover a one-and-a-half trillion-dollar shortfall every single year? When you need this big a fix, there aren't enough people to stick it to. "We are not broke," insists Van Jones, Obama's former "green jobs" czar and bespoke communist. "We were robbed, we were robbed. And somebody has our money!"

The somebody who has our money is the government. They waste it on self-aggrandizing ideologue nitwits like Van Jones and his "green jobs" racket. How's the "green jobs" scene in your town? Going gangbusters, is it? Every day these guys burn through so much that they can never bridge the gap. By that, I don't mean that an American government that raises two trillion but spends four trillion has outspent America, but that it's outspent the planet. In my soon-to-be-imminently-forthcoming book, I discuss a study published last year by John Kitchen of the U.S. Treasury and Menzie Chinn of the University of Wisconsin. Its very title is testament to where we're headed:

"Financing U.S. Debt: Is There Enough Money In The World – And At What Cost?"

The authors' answer is yes, technically, there is enough money in the world – in the sense that, on current projections, by 2020 all it will take to finance the Government of the United States is for the rest of the planet to be willing to sink 19 percent of its GDP into U.S. Treasury debt. Which Kitchen and Chinn say is technically doable. Yeah. In the same sense that me dating Scarlett Johannson is technically doable.

Unfortunately, neither Scarlett nor the rest of the planet is willing to do it. It's not 2020, and we're not yet asking the rest of the planet for a fifth of its GDP. But already the world is imposing its own debt ceiling. Most of the debt issued by the Treasury so far this year has been borrowed from the Federal Reserve. That adds another absurd wrinkle to the D.C. charade: Washington is negotiating with itself over how much money to lend itself.

Meanwhile, the World's Greatest Orator bemoans the "intransigence" of Republicans. OK, what's your plan? Give us one actual program you're willing to cut, right now. Oh, don't worry, says Barack Obluffer. To demonstrate how serious he is, he's offered to put on the table for fiscal year 2012 spending cuts of (stand well back now) $2 billion. That would be a lot in, say, Iceland or even Australia. Once upon a time it would have been a lot even in Washington. But today $2 billion is what the Brokest Nation in History borrows every 10 hours. In other words, in less time than he spends sitting across the table negotiating his $2 billion cut, he's already borrowed it all back. A negotiation with Obama is literally not worth the time.

In order to fund Obamacare and the other opiates of Big Government dependency, the feds need to take 25 percent of GDP, now and forever: The "new normal." It can't be done. Look around you. The new normal's already here: flat-line jobs market, negative equity, the dead parrot economy. What comes next will be profoundly abnormal. His name was Obamandias, King of Kings. Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away.

Do they still teach Shelley in high school? Or just the "diversity manual" about "social justice" the Omaha Public Schools paid for with $130,000 of "stimulus" funding?


Friday, July 15, 2011

Memento Harry

Lessons from the final Potter film

Editor’s Note: This review contains spoilers.

By Thomas S. Hibbs
July 15, 2011

There has never been anything quite like J. K Rowling’s Harry Potter, the hero of a hugely popular series of seven books followed by a successful set of eight movies. The decision to split the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, into two films turns out to have been a wise one. While part one, which ended abruptly after covering two-thirds of the material from the book, was somewhat anticlimactic, part two is a lean and dramatically satisfying finale. Director David Yates, who has been at the helm for the last three books in the series, and screenwriter Steve Kloves, who has penned all but one of the film scripts, move effortlessly between the large and the small, between grand battle scenes and moments of intimate, human interaction. The special effects are dazzling and the human drama gripping. The film also strikes a nice balance between the serious and the humorous, between tragedy and comedy.

In an age of increasingly decentralized media, in which sub-cultures of interest in TV shows, films, and music abound, Harry Potter is the common, unifying cultural marker for individuals between the ages of ten and 30, and perhaps well beyond that age. If the fictional characters and story-lines are woven into popular culture, the actors are equally well known, particularly those who play the three main characters: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). All three give fine performances in the last film, as do Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort, Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, and Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom. The battle for, and at, Hogwarts, whose culmination is the ultimate faceoff between Harry and his nemesis, Voldemort, allows for the return of a host of well-known characters, all of whom are aware of what is at stake.

Given the malevolence of Voldemort, the books become darker as the story progresses. Particularly in Deathly Hallows and its immediate predecessor, Half-Blood Prince, deaths of major characters occur. Beyond her creation of memorable characters and plots, Rowling has crafted a mythical universe where remembering and preparing for death are central virtues. She revives the medieval theme of memento mori, the virtuous cultivation of the memory of death, as a counter to modernity’s vacillation between unhealthy obsession with and tragic forgetfulness of death.

This theme is powerfully coupled with repeated illustrations of (a) the unnaturalness of the project of overcoming death and (b) the way the practice of evil, murderous arts destroys the practitioner. In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore informs Harry that Voldemort’s pursuit of immortality has “mutilated” his “soul beyond the realm of what we might call usual evil.”

The contrast between Harry and Voldemort’s approach to death is palpable. The opening of Yates’s Deathly Hallows Part Two finds Harry and Voldemort occupied in two quite different activities. Harry, refusing to use magic, is physically digging the grave of his friend Dobby, the loyal house-elf who gave his life defending Harry. Meanwhile, in an act of desecration of the dead, Voldemort is stealing the Elder Wand from the grave of Albus Dumbledore. At various points in the story, the Elder Wand is cited as one of three components (along with the Cloak of Invisibility and the Resurrection Stone) of the Deathly Hallows, the possession of which is believed to make one a “master of death” — the object of Voldemort’s quest.

At the center of Voldemort’s search is his performance of the darkest of dark arts: the creation of horcruxes, which preserve splintered pieces of his immortal soul, and which can only be created by committing murder. As Harry and his pals seek to discover and destroy the horcruxes, the only way that Voldemort himself will die, Voldemort pursues invulnerability and permanent rule over the world of wizards. The scenes featuring the destruction of horcruxes are among the most spectacular in the entire series of films, even as they heighten the dramatic tension and the sense of inevitable, final confrontation.

With threats imminent, there is no longer room for self-pity or teen angst — elements that were tiresomely common in the middle, overly long books in the series. Friendships deepen and in some cases blossom into love; the film contains two brief (and very nicely scripted) moments of passion, one between Ron and Hermione and another between Harry and Ginny. But this film is about what the books and previous films have always been essentially about: the practice of the virtues of friendship, loyalty, courage, and leadership.

In the midst of battle, there are revelations, small and large. We learn about the courage of Mrs. Weasley and Neville Longbottom, though Yates prunes important elements from Rowling’s version of their stories. Matthew Lewis is just right as Longbottom, capturing Harry’s rather plain and self-effacing classmate, who in the final film best combines valor and wit.

But the big revelations involve Snape and Dumbledore. The greatest reversal in the estimation of a major character in the entire series concerns Snape, who has throughout appeared to be Harry’s enemy and the Dark Lord’s servant. Realizing that Snape is of more use to him dead than alive, Voldemort bluntly informs him that his services are no longer needed, stuns him with his wand, and sets his snake, Nagini, to feed on him. Harry, Hermione, and Ron arrive just as this brutal murder begins. With Voldemort and Nagani departed, Harry finds Snape within seconds of his death. A tear falls from Snape’s eye, and he tells Harry to store the tear and take it to the Pensieve, a device for uncovering memories. As Harry captures the tear, Snape’s last words are, “You have your mother’s eyes.” Using the Pensieve, Harry learns the truth about Snape’s deception, not of him or Dumbledore, but of Voldemort. Snape had in fact vowed to protect Harry, out of his love for Harry’s mother, Lilly, even as he elicited from Dumbledore the promise “never to reveal the best” of Snape to Harry. The revelation enables viewers to re-think the entire arc of the epic series, to see the plot from Snape’s vantage point.

A further revelation concerns the afterlife. Injured by Voldemort, Harry has a vision of Dumbledore, who reappears in his proper role — a teacher of the young. Harry and his deceased mentor are at King’s Cross, which looks like a cathedral bathed in light. Dumbledore instructs Harry on life and death. The fundamental lesson concerns the true way to conquer death: Do not cling to life but be willing to offer one’s life for the sake of others. This theme in Harry Potter calls to mind C. S. Lewis’s notion in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe of the deeper magic, a magic unknown to those who pursue vengeance and immortality by their own powers. As Wardrobe’s Aslan explains after he returns from the dead, “When a willing victim who had committed no treachery is killed . . . the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

Throughout the series, Rowling has stressed the way in which evil, instead of freeing, enslaves; instead of increasing, diminishes. Indeed, after his first attempt to kill Harry, Voldemort becomes a disembodied shell, kept alive only by his horcruxes, a parasite feeding off the blood of innocent unicorns, seeking a body in which to lodge his wandering spirit. In the end, the very devices he chooses to gain absolute control turn against him, in an illustration of another classical teaching, namely, that vice is its own punishment — that it harms and ultimately defeats the perpetrator.

In the course of their final duel, Harry manages to extract the Elder Wand from Voldemort’s clutches. With that, Voldemort is defeated. Harry’s final decision, to destroy the Elder Wand, reiterates a theme that goes back to the first book and the philosopher’s stone, which promises limitless life and wealth. Some of the things men desire most are precisely the things most likely to destroy them. Here Rowling calls to mind, not so much Lewis as Tolkien and the ring of power, whose destruction, rather than use, is the only sure means of fending off evil.

In her description of Harry’s retrieval of the Elder Wand, Rowling writes that he caught the wand “with the unerring skill of a Seeker.” Of course, Seeker is the position Harry plays on Gryffindor’s Quidditch squad. But Harry’s character is also that of the classic seeker, an individual on a quest with personal and social significance, a quest to defend the innocent and fend off evil, a quest for self-knowledge rooted in a profound awareness of mortality. Hooked by the plot of the first book, readers were likely unaware that such a quest could be anything other than morbid. In Rowling’s hands, coming to terms with death is not tragic; instead, it is a comic affirmation of life over death, love over hate, and community over isolation. It is a mark of the success of Yates’s film version that it will lead viewers to feel and affirm the final words of Rowling’s sprawling series: “All was well.”

— Thomas S. Hibbs, an NRO contributor, is the author of Shows about Nothing.

Call His Bluff

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
July 15, 2011

President Obama is demanding a big long-term budget deal. He won’t sign anything less, he warns, asking, “If not now, when?”

How about last December, when he ignored his own debt commission’s recommendations? How about February, when he presented a budget that increases debt by $10 trillion over the next decade? How about April, when he sought a debt-ceiling increase with zero debt reduction attached?

All of a sudden he’s a born-again budget balancer prepared to bravely take on his own party by making deep cuts in entitlements. Really? Name one. He’s been saying forever that he’s prepared to discuss, engage, converse about entitlement cuts. But never once has he publicly proposed a single structural change to any entitlement.

Hasn’t the White House leaked that he’s prepared to raise the Medicare age or change the cost-of-living calculation?

Anonymous talk is cheap. Leaks are designed to manipulate. Offers are floated and disappear.

Say it, Mr. President. Give us one single structural change in entitlements. In public.

As part of the pose as the forward-
looking grown-up rising above all the others who play politics, Obama insists upon a long-term deal. And what is Obama’s definition of long-term? Surprise: An agreement that gets him past Nov. 6, 2012.

Nothing could be more political. It’s like his Afghan surge wind-down date. September 2012 has no relation to any military reality on the ground. It is designed solely to position Obama favorably going into the last weeks of his reelection campaign.

Yet the Olympian above-the-fray no-politics-here pose is succeeding. A pliant press swallows the White House story line: the great compromiser (“clearly exasperated,” sympathized a Post news story) being stymied by Republican “intransigence” (the noun actually used in another front-page Post news story to describe the Republican position on taxes).

The meme having been established, Republicans have been neatly set up to take the fall if a deal is not reached by Aug. 2. Obama is already waving the red flag, warning ominously that Social Security, disabled veterans’ benefits, “critical” medical research, food inspection — without which agriculture shuts down — are in jeopardy.

The Republicans are being totally outmaneuvered. The House speaker appears disoriented. It’s time to act. Time to call Obama’s bluff.

A long-term deal or nothing? The Republican House should immediately pass a short-term debt-ceiling hike of $500 billion containing $500 billion in budget cuts. That would give us about five months to work on something larger.

The fat-cat tax breaks (those corporate jets) that Obama’s talking points endlessly recycle? Republicans should call for urgent negotiations on tax reform along the lines of the Simpson-Bowles commission that, in one option, strips out annually $1.1 trillion of deductions, credits and loopholes while lowering tax rates across the board to a top rate of 23 percent. The president says he wants tax reform, doesn’t he? Well, Mr. President, here are five months to do so.

Will the Democratic Senate or the Democratic president refuse this offer and allow the country to default — with all the cataclysmic consequences that the Democrats have been warning about for months — because Obama insists on a deal that is 10 months and seven days longer?

That’s indefensible and transparently self-serving. Dare the president to make that case. Dare him to veto — or the Democratic Senate to block — a short-term debt-limit increase.

This is certainly better than the McConnell plan, which would simply throw debt reduction back to the president. But if the House cannot do Plan A, McConnell is the fallback Plan B.

After all, by what crazy calculation should Republicans allow themselves to be blamed for a debt crisis that could destabilize the economy and even precipitate a double-dip recession? Right now, Obama owns the economy and its 9.2 percent unemployment, 1.9 percent GDP growth and exploding debt about which he’s done nothing. Why bail him out by sharing ownership?

You cannot govern this country from one house. Republicans should have learned that from the 1995-96 Gingrich-Clinton fight when the GOP controlled both houses and still lost.

If conservatives really want to get the nation’s spending under control, the only way is to win the presidency. Put the question to the country and let the people decide. To seriously jeopardize the election now in pursuit of a long-term, small-government, Ryan-like reform that is inherently unreachable without control of the White House may be good for the soul. But it could very well wreck the cause.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


By Ann Coulter
July 13, 2011

Democrats don't want to cut any government spending programs, not now, not ever. The country is on a high-speed bullet train to bankruptcy (the only kind of bullets liberals approve of), and the Democrats' motto is: Spend! Spend! Spend!

Democrats are at an advantage in the "should the U.S. go bankrupt or not?" debate because, based on their economic policies so far, they obviously favor bankruptcy.

This allows them to sit back and demand that Republicans propose all the spending cuts and then turn around and scream that Republicans have declared war on the poor and disadvantaged.

It's a nice trick, especially considering Republicans control only the House.

Meanwhile, the Democrats control all other branches of our government: the Senate, the White House, and The New York Times op/ed page. What's their plan?

Their plan is to keep spending, while blaming tax breaks for corporate jets for the entire $14.3 trillion deficit. The Democrats will never suggest any cuts to a budget that has put the country another $4 trillion in debt only since Obama became president.

So Republicans keep proposing cuts and Democrats keep riling up the increasingly large number of people who get checks from the government.

Nothing ever gets cut, but more people hate Republicans for having proposed any cuts at all. If you've never worked for the government, you have no idea of the vicious campaigns of vilification that will be brought by the recipients of government largesse against the smallest reduction in that largesse.

Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose governorship was finished when he put a series of initiatives on the ballot to make the tiniest reductions in government workers' benefits.

Ask Scott Walker and all elected Republicans in Wisconsin who brought on Greek-style riots by suggesting that government employees start paying 6 percent of their own pension contributions and 12 percent of their health care insurance.

Ask Rep. Paul Ryan, whose modest proposal to reduce Social Security payments -- starting 15 years from now -- has turned him into a national pariah.

Ask the next president of the United States, New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie. (And ask him nicely -- I hear the guy's got a temper!)

The problem isn't with elected Republicans; the problem is that the people want their treats. According to a Gallup poll in January, more than 60 percent of Americans want no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which currently consume more than one-third of the entire federal budget.

Obama and the rest of his party are determined to keep increasing the size of our massively bloated government, on and on, year after year, without end in sight, until everyone with a job works exclusively to pay taxes to the government. Plan B is for everyone to move to Greece.

Republicans can't cut anything as long as they control only one-half of one branch of government. If purist conservatives on the outside want serious spending cuts, they'd better give the GOP a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress first.

Meanwhile the nation sinks deeper into debt.

Republicans tried using the expiring debt ceiling to force the Democrats to agree to budget cuts. But the Democrats still refused to propose any.

Obama's big idea for taming a government with a $3.83 trillion budget and a $14.3 trillion debt is to collect -- in the best-case scenario -- another $300 million a year from corporate jet owners. That would cover .007 percent of the federal budget or .002 percent of the national debt. Is it happy hour yet?

Instead, Democrats demagogued the issue, with Obama flying around the country on Air Force One, claiming that if the debt ceiling is not raised, America will default on its debts and the entire economy will collapse.

If Republicans cut government spending, recipients of government checks come after them with pitchforks. If the Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling to force spending cuts, the economy collapses.

In general, the trend seems to be in the direction of higher spending and endless debt.

The government will just keep spending and spending until we're all on bread lines. But there won't be any bread because within 10 years, nearly the entire federal budget will go to pay Social Security and Medicare recipients. (On the plus side, a lot of us will be speaking Greek by then.)

But now, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has checkmated the Democrats. He has proposed a bill that will allow Obama to raise the debt ceiling three times, up to $2.4 trillion, over the next 18 months, but only provided Obama proposes equivalent cuts in spending each time.

Finally, the Democrats will be forced to pony up spending cuts -- or default on the debt and crash the economy.

Contrary to some hysterical Republicans, McConnell's bill does not forfeit any of Congress' authority: The House and Senate will still have to decide whether to accept Obama's proposed cuts when they write their appropriations bills.

But we will finally get some proposed cuts to federal programs from Obama, and not more nonsense about theoretical savings from "investing" in our children's future with additional spending on Pell grants and prenatal counseling.

McConnell's deal cleanly takes the debt ceiling issue off the Republicans' back and puts it on the president's back. Either the Democrats tell us what they'll cut or they'll have to admit: "We will never cut anything. Everything Ann Coulter says about us is true!"


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Somali-Americans from Minnesota Leave to Wage Jihad with Al-Shabaab Terror Group

One Homeland Security official describes government outreach to the Somali community as “a total failure."
July 13, 2011 - 12:30 pm - by Patrick Poole

A Minneapolis man, Omer Abdi Mohamed, is scheduled to go on trial next week in federal court on charges that he aided a group of young American Somali men in their travels to Somalia to fight with the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab terrorist organization. Two of the men that Mohamed helped leave the country conducted suicide bombings, the most recent last month which I reported on exclusively here at PJMedia. In fact, over the past few years more than two dozen Somali men from the U.S. are known to have left for the fields of jihad in Somalia.

But just as that trial is about to begin we can report exclusively here at PJMedia that a new batch of al-Shabaab recruits from Minnesota and Ohio have left the country to join the terrorist group.

Confirmation of this new crop of al-Shabaab recruits comes from award-winning Kenyan journalist Fatuma Noor, who met up with the ten new recruits ranging in age from 17 to 24 years old in Nairobi and then Northern Kenya as they were on their way to cross the border into Somalia. Noor just won the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist award for 2011 for her past work interviewing Western al-Shabaab recruits. In her current three-part series in the Nairobi Star, she also recounts her travel with the recruits to the Somali border, and how she was almost killed by al-Shabaab in Somalia for violating Islamic law by traveling without a chaperone with men who were not her relatives (only to be saved by the al-Shabaab recruits).

In her article, Noor identifies some of the American Somalis in the group:
  • Nuno Ahmed from Minneapolis, who says that he’s joining al-Shabaab because “young people like me are needed there to protect our country.”
  • Abikar Mohamed from Minneapolis, who states that “we are here to protect Islam and we are going to do that at all cost.”
  • Abdirahman Gullet from Minneapolis, who took inspiration from his friend Burhan Hassan and Shirwa Ahmed, both of whom died with al-Shabaab (Burhan while fighting with the group, Ahmed in a suicide bombing).
  • Adan Hussein from Minneapolis, who acknowledges that he “might die protecting my religion, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.” He also says that their trips were funded by some of their community elders.
  • Abdinassir Osman from Ohio, who graduated from high school and joined a gang and now hopes his service with al-Shabaab will make up for any past wrongs he may have made.
  • Ali Mohamud from Ohio, who decided to join up after listening to stories and exhortations from his mosque elders.
They were joined by at least three other Somalis from other countries:
  • Omar Hassan from Canada, who claims that al-Shabaab in not a terrorist group but committed Muslims who are dedicated to ensuring Islamic law is observed in all Somalia.
  • Khalif Abdi from Sweden, who states that his desire to join al-Shabaab is rooted in his belief that the West is in a conspiracy to get rid of Islam as a religion.
  • Mukhtar Abdi from Kenya, who believes it is his responsibility to ensure Islamic law is imposed in every Muslim-majority country.
This week I called several FBI field offices that regularly handle Somali-related terrorism issues. I was told by one official, “This is the first we’re hearing about it.”

Another official said that this news “represents a complete and utter breakdown in our outreach to the Somali community”:
To have even more of these kids leave the country right under our noses without a word from the people we are working with who are supposed to be our eyes and ears means that all of this outreach over the past few years is a total failure. It doesn’t help that those we are working with are the ones recruiting these kids to go fight. … Everyone in the Muslim community and mainstream media who vilified [Rep.] Peter King and the House Homeland Security Committee who tried to look into this problem owe them a major apology.
One of those who testified in March before the House Homeland Security Committee (which I covered here at PJMedia) was Abdirazik Bihi, whose 17-year-old nephew Burhan Hassan was killed fighting with al-Shabaab. Bihi was the subject of a lengthy Washington Post article last weekend. He tries to fight radicalization in Minneapolis despite operating a one-man center on a shoe-string budget while being ostracized by his own community leaders and as billions are spent on ineffective Homeland Security programs. Ominously, Bihi warned that more Somali youths would be recruited from the U.S., being tragically vindicated by this news we are exclusively reporting here today.

The issue of radicalization and terror recruitment among Somali-American youths is an issue I’ve covered here at PJMedia since 2007 (long before it became fashionable for the establishment media). In November 2007, I wrote about a terror fundraiser and deputy of designated terrorist Sheikh Aweys, Zakaria Haji Abdi (who is now part of the Somali TFG government), who was scheduled to speak at several events in Minnesota and Virginia. Our pleas to Homeland Security officials to deny entry to the fundraiser fell on deaf ears and the event took place as planned.

At the time I noted that during the Minneapolis event Abdi instructed the attendees how to send money through hawala networks without raising suspicions of authorities. Law enforcement authorities now concede that the November 2007 meeting I reported on was the tipping point for radicalization in the Minneapolis Somali community. The first group of Somali Americans to leave for jihad back in Somalia left shortly after the Minneapolis event. Included in that group was Shirwa Ahmed, who conducted a suicide bombing attack in northern Somalia — the first known case of an American suicide bomber.

And in the aftermath of the November 2008 presidential election a larger group of nearly two dozen young Somali men left to fight with al-Shabaab. Several members of the November 2008 group have been confirmed killed fighting with al-Shabaab. Then in September 2009, Seattle resident Omar Mohamud carried out another suicide attack targeting African Union troops. Two stolen UN vehicles were used in that attack, which killed twenty-one people.

Last September I reported here at PJMedia that a top al-Shabaab commander killed in fighting Somali TFG troops in Mogadishu was Columbus, Ohio, resident Dahir Gurey. And let’s also not forget that last November, Portland college student Mohamed Osman Mohamud was caught in a FBI sting attempting to blow up a VBIED at the Portland Christmas Tree lighting ceremony that could have potentially killed hundreds of American citizens. With the news that an entirely new crop of al-Shabaab recruits has left the country, it seems clear that the problem of radicalization in the Somali community is increasing rapidly.

Yet as I recently reported here, the U.S. government continues to conduct “outreach” to the very individuals responsible for radicalizing these youths and recruiting them for jihad. As the U.S. continues to attack al-Shabaab forces in Somalia and target al-Shabaab leaders, how long before one of these American Somali recruits is tasked to return home and kill Americans?

Patrick Poole is a regular contributor to Pajamas Media, and an anti-terrorism consultant to law enforcement and the military.

Hezbollah Sets Up Shop in Mexico

Posted By Ryan Mauro On July 13, 2011 @ 12:52 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage

A Tucson Police Department memo from September 2010 has been leaked onto the Internet by hackers, and it warns that Hezbollah has set up shop in Mexico. The terrorist group has linked up with the Mexican drug lords, and is even said to have a large arms stockpile in the country. Terrorist groups are looking at the raging drug war in Mexico as an opportunity to further their deadly ambitions.

The memo recalls that a member of Hezbollah was arrested in Tijuana in July 2010 who was tasked with setting up a network for the terrorist group. It also mentions the April 2010 arrest of Jamal Yousef in New York City, who told the authorities that he worked with his cousin to steal weapons from Iraq for Hezbollah. According to Yousef, a stockpile of 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and anti-tank weapons is presently in Mexico.

The police document says there is a “strong suspicion” that car bombs set off by the drug lords last summer were created with the help of Hezbollah. On June 23 of last year, Rep. Sue Myrick said that a senior Mexican military officer informed her that Hezbollah was giving explosives training to members of the drug cartels. “This might lead to Israel-like car bombings of Mexican/USA border personnel or National Guard units in the border regions,” her letter to the Department of Homeland Security cautioned. Myrick’s warning was prescient. In the first week of July 2010, a car bomb killed four people in Ciudad Juarez that had “Hezbollah-like sophistication.” Car bombs have become part of the drug war since then.

There have been warnings for years that Hezbollah had partnered with the drug cartels. Michael Braun, a former Drug Enforcement Agency chief of operations, said in 2009 that the group utilizes “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels.” During his July 7 testimony to Congress, Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, predicted that Iran and Hezbollah will carry out an attack on the U.S. using their networks in Latin America.

“If our government and responsible partners in Latin America fail to act, I believe there will be an attack on U.S. personnel, installations or interests in the Americas as soon as Hezbollah operatives believe that they are capable of such an operation without implicating their Iranian sponsors in the crime,” Noriega said.

Hezbollah isn’t the only terrorist organization salivating at the instability in Mexico. In February 2010, Anthony Joseph Tracy was arrested in Virginia for his links to al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia. He is thought to have smuggled at least 270 Somalis into the U.S. through Mexico, few of which have been located or even identified. It is very likely that a number of these Somalis are al-Shabaab operatives, given Tracy’s involvement with the terrorist group. Mexico has arrested and released members of al-Shabaab on their way to the U.S. before.

Another member of a Somali terrorist network was arrested in San Antonio. He admitted that he is a member of the al-Ittihad al-Islami terrorist group and also works with al-Barakat. From June 2006 to March 2008, he made at least $3,000 for each person he snuck into the U.S., earning up to $75,000 in a single day. He confirmed smuggling members of al-Ittihad al-Islami, and was recorded saying that “he believed they would fight against the U.S. if the jihad moved from overseas locations to the U.S. mainland.”

The South American terrorist group called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (often referred to as the FARC) has also gotten in on the action. The FARC’s former leader, Raul Reyes, wrote a letter excitedly discussing his collaboration with the Mexican drug gangs, projecting a doubling of profits from it. It has been estimated that the FARC makes $1 billion every year through its partnership with the Mexican traffickers. The FARC is also doing business with al-Qaeda to ship cocaine in West Africa.

It can be argued that the Mexican drug cartels have themselves become terrorists. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, has introduced legislation to designate six of the cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. His office’s press release says the cartels “operate in the same manner as al Qaeda, the Taliban or Hezbollah, each sharing a desire and using similar tactics to gain political and economic influence.”

Over 35,000 people have died in Mexico’s drug war since 2006, yet it is rarely mentioned in the news. What will it take happen to force the U.S. to pay attention to the crisis on its border? Entertaining answers to this question terrifies the imagination.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The West Courts the Muslim Brotherhood--and Its Own Destruction

by Robert Spencer

The suicidal side of the Western elites’ pervasive tendency toward fantasy-based policy making was on full display last week when the U.S. and the European Union both announced that they were opening formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group dedicated, in its own words, to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within, and sabotaging its miserable house.”

“We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to nonviolence, that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency. And we welcome, therefore, dialogue with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us.”

“Peaceful and committed to nonviolence”—this is the basis in both America and Europe for the legitimization of the Muslim Brotherhood. For following quickly after the Obama administration’s announcement came a similar one from the European Union. Michael Mann, a spokesperson for European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, explained: “We are always open to dialogue with anyone who is interested in democracy.”

Clinton and Ashton thus join the long line of Western officials who have confused democracy with the practice of voting itself, and taken the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is not committing terrorist acts in Egypt as an indication that it shares Western values, ignoring the obvious fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated to ideals that all free societies should oppose.

The Muslim Brotherhood, contrary to “intelligence” chief James Clapper’s laughable claim that it is “largely secular,” is dedicated to establishing an Islamic state in Egypt and implementing the Islamic law that has no room for democratic principles, does indeed employ violence against dissenters and miscreants, and tramples upon minority rights and women’s rights.

Obama and the EU should take careful note of all that, but given their own hard-line anti-Israel stances, they’re less likely to be concerned about the movement’s inveterate anti-Semitism. Yet not only does the jihad terrorist group Hamas style itself as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, but recently the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie said: “Allah has warned us the tricks of the Jews, and their role in igniting the fire of wars … and they labor hard to spread corruption on Earth. And Allah does not love the spreaders of corruption.”

The Brotherhood’s spiritual father, the internationally renowned Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, recently returned to Cairo to be greeted by huge and rapturous crowds after the end of his 50-year exile from the country. In January 2009, during a Friday sermon broadcast on Al Jazeera, he prayed that Allah would kill all the Jews: “Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.” He also declared: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the people [Jews] who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by [Adolf] Hitler.”

And regarding America, a Muslim Brotherhood memorandum had this to say: The Muslim Brotherhood “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” So wrote Brotherhood operative Mohamed Akram, in “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.

And just weeks ago, Kamal Al-Helbawy, former Muslim Brotherhood spokesman in the West, declared: “Our thinking and our affiliation are to the exalted Allah. Our affiliation is to Islam. The global state of Islam is our ideal. … How will countries like Bahrain or Qatar defend themselves? Why shouldn’t we have a country called ‘The United States of Islam’?”

Given all that, it takes a stratospherically high degree of separation from reality to think that the Brotherhood has any interest in democracy except as a means to an end, and that end is radically opposed to the freedoms that the Western world enjoys.

The stance toward the Muslim Brotherhood that is now being adopted by both the United States and the European Union puts all free people in danger. The West is courting its own destruction.

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

The House Sees the Light

Repealing the de facto ban on incandescent light bulbs.

July 11, 2011 - 12:00 am - by Peter Roff

The light bulb, when it appears in the funny papers, is symbolic of a good idea. On Capitol Hill it has been just the opposite.

In 2007, Congress, following the lead of other industrialized nations, took steps to mandate an increase in the energy efficiency of light bulbs sold in the U.S. market. While not directly a ban on the production and sale of the incandescent bulb that goes back to Thomas Edison, the new rules would have made it hard for them to compete with new technologies like compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and light-emitting diodes (LED).

The light bulb ban, as it became known, was a perfect example of the law of unintended consequences in action.

Brian McGraw, a policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says the “incandescent light bulb ban is an outrageous government intrusion into the homes of every American, and public outrage over the ban is significant. Despite the promises of industry, no cost-effective replacements have appeared.”

He’s right. Incandescents are, among their other virtues, easy to install, provide good value for the money, and are time-tested and safe. That’s why they dominate the marketplace. CFLs, on the other hand, are more expensive and, as time has passed, have been shown to present just as many problems as they solve.

Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to reverse course. On Wednesday, Texas Republican Joe Barton introduced legislation in the House to repeal the ban.

Barton’s bill, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, protects America’s access to the light bulbs of their choice rather than forcing them to purchase CFLs and LEDs by engineering distortions in the marketplace.
“Light bulb efficiency standards,” Barton’s office said, “could carry negative unintended consequences. For example, some mandates could only be met with bulbs that contain dangerous mercury. Rather than having the government limit light bulb options or appear to favor one type of bulb over others, the market should allow consumers to decide on the cost, type, and efficiency of the lighting that works best for them.”

There is considerable sentiment in support of Barton’s view, which is shared by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and most if not all of the House Republican leadership.

Simply put, the mandate won’t work — and may create more problems and be more costly than leaving things well enough alone. As Orson Swindle, former commissioner of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, puts it,
The creativity of the private sector has brought us a long way from the days of darkness, kerosene lanterns and candles. Thank you, Thomas Edison. Now the government, despite failure after failure over the decades of government efforts to run the economy, decides to mandate to all consumers that the remarkable incandescent light bulb is no longer to be used. The “government light bulb,” like the government energy programs (anti-petroleum) and the government healthcare system, will be far more costly. In addition, reports are still coming in on the rather dangerous fire hazard qualities of the government bulb. Obviously, those responsible for this new government initiative are not the brightest bulbs in the box.
In imposing the standards, Congress took a stab in the dark at making things better — even when there were precedents that should have suggested its initiative was off target.

“The incandescent ban on light bulbs to improve the environment is about as effective as the low flush toilet,” says Sandy Liddy Bourne, executive director of the American Energy Freedom Center.
Bourne added:
The Clinton-era toilet actually required more water to be used because of the pressure in the infrastructure. The new bulbs are inevitably going to lead to mercury being released in the environment. This is another misguided effort by central planners that sends American jobs overseas and raises the cost of living for low and middle income families.
It’s already clear that CFLs, which need mercury to work, impose an environmental hazard that may offset the energy savings they produce. The transition to the new technology certainly hasn’t been seamless. Not everyone sells CFLs.They are expensive. And, contrary to incandescent bulbs, they work best when they are left on, which requires everyone to change their behavior. Turning them on and off, as one does with incandescent bulbs, actually reduces their useful lifespan since they cannot handle the constant power surge.

The BULB Act, says Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research, will draw support from “clever members of both parties” who will “vote to pass it before their constituents are forcibly herded toward mercury-containing compact fluorescent bulbs.”
Ridenour is not a fan of CFLs:
Many elderly people find CFLs hard to read by, and worse, CFLs can cause seizures in people who are prone to them. Seizures can be harmless, but they also can cause brain damage or death.
They are also a potentially hazardous waste, which is why they can’t just be tossed out in the trash when they burn out. They have to be disposed of “properly” — which means it’s just a matter of time before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency comes out with rules governing their disposal along with an accompanying schedule of fines and other penalties that will be imposed on companies and individuals that don’t’ follow along, as happened several years ago with halogen bulbs.

LEDs, which don’t yet seem to have the disposal challenges presented by CFLs, are just too expensive for the average homeowner to use in any kind of quantity. Nevertheless, there were those who thought that forcing consumers to move away from incandescent bulbs and into new technologies before they were fully developed was still a good idea.

Barton’s bill changes all that by eliminating the efficiency standards set to take effect in 2012 and by ensuring that no federal, state, or local lighting requirement can mandate the use of bulbs that contain mercury — as CFLs do.

Restoring consumer choice is a good idea. Barton, Upton, and the others who are supporting the bill should be commended for taking a position that is actually pro-consumer and, in the totality of things, pro-environment. This is not to say that CFLs and LEDs are not also good ideas. That’s not the point. But mandating their use instead of incandescents ignores the wisdom of the marketplace.

There’s room for more than one technology. What Congress needs to do is get the government out of the way, which is what Barton’s bill proposes to do.

Peter Roff is a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report. A former senior political writer for United Press International, he is currently a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty and at Let Freedom Ring, a non-partisan public policy organization.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yankees' Derek Jeter adds to legacy of magical moments in pinstripes with home run for 3,000th hit

By Mike Lupica
The Daily News
July 10, 2011

This was the Derek Jeter of the Mr. November home run swing in the Series Saturday. This was the Jeter of the flip to Jorge Posada that night against the A's in Oakland, the one who went headfirst into the stands to make that catch against the Red Sox one time. This was the Jeter who went over to Shea Stadium in the World Series and led off the game with a home run. You thought No. 3,000 would be a single for him, or a double, because he got here a single and double at a time. Only it wasn't a single or a double. It was a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall and into the hands of a kid named Christian Lopez.

The moment of Jeter's 3,000th was always going to be a great moment, especially if it came at the Stadium. And then Derek Jeter decided to knock the moment right out of the park, and then go 5-for-5 and knock in the winning run in the eighth inning on a day when the Yankees won, 5-4. And making a Saturday in July feel like October at Yankee Stadium. No. 3,000 went over the wall. No. 3,003 won the game.

Once more on this day Jeter, No. 2 of the Yankees, was the Yankee they all wanted to be. This was the flair for the dramatic that once seemed routine for him. This was part of the charmed baseball life he has led in pinstripes since he ran out to shortstop for good in 1996, the year when the Yankees became the Yankees again.

He is not Ruth or Gehrig or DiMaggio or the young Mickey Mantle, or Yogi or Mo Rivera. Just the Yankee of this time who will be remembered best. This was the kind of magic we always expected from him when he was young.

"What does 3,000 mean to me?" Reggie Jackson said Saturday near the Yankee dugout, a couple of hours before Jeter hit that pitch from David Price all the way to Christian Lopez. "It doesn't just mean you have talent. It means you have character, here or anywhere else."

Across the field, old Don Zimmer was talking about what it was like in the spring of 1996, when he and Joe Torre got their first good look at the kid from Kalamazoo, Mich.

"It was about two weeks into the spring and Joe looked out at Derek on the field one day and then looked at me and said, 'I think we found our shortstop,'" Zimmer said. "A couple of days later, though, Clyde King, who was the owner's right-hand man, said he didn't think the kid was ready. And Joe looked at Clyde and said, 'No, he goes to shortstop.'"

Saturday, Jeter went deeper into Yankee history because he went deep against Price to get to 3,000. He had just two home runs for the season. Hadn't hit a home run at the new Yankee Stadium, which sometimes seems as homer-friendly as the park where they play the Little League World Series in Williamsport, since last year. Was hitting .257 at the time. Unless you live under rocks, you know how hard people have been trying to get him out of the leadoff spot at Yankee Stadium, as if everybody has forgotten who and what he is.

But then with one swing of the bat, the Mr. November swing, the Subway Series swing from old Shea, he reminded the place Saturday of just who it was they were watching. It really wasn't supposed to be a home run. Really was supposed to be the kind of inside-out swing he used for his hit to right when he got to 4-for-4. Then Jeter showed you that he had one more swing in him like that, in this amazing Yankee life of his. He had one more moment.

"He's the professional," Johnny Damon of the Rays said outside the Tampa Bay clubhouse Saturday. Once Damon took championships away from Jeter, before joining with him to win one in 2009. "He has the respect of everybody who ever played with him, or against him. How many guys can you say that about?"

Jeter started the day at .257 and left it at .270. Five-for-five and two runs scored and two knocked in and a stolen base. Jeter was young Saturday. Nobody told him he was too old. They just came up the steps at Babe Ruth Plaza in the morning, all these No. 2 T-shirts and jerseys, white, blue and gray, to tell him what he had always meant to them and the Yankees. Maybe in a week, or two, or three, when he is struggling to get to 3,010, or 3,020, they will look to drop him in the order again.

Just not Saturday.

No, he hasn't been Ruth or Gehrig or DiMaggio. But in this time in New York, and with the Yankees, Jeter has been been something more: The Yankee brand. He has been class they sell with both hands, from the moment he did run out to shortstop for good in 1996, because Joe Torre knew in the spring he had found his shortstop, told Zimmy so. No athlete has ever had this kind of class run for this long in the big city.

And in the season when he has been doubted the most, when people talk about moving him out of the leadoff spot and away from shortstop someday, in the season when he turns 37, he turns back the clock this way at Yankee Stadium. He hits that home run and then runs around the bases and into a bear hug from Posada. Mo Rivera gets him next.

Then he won't stop hitting after that. A double. Another single. Finally the single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth that knocks in Eduardo Nuñez with the winning run. Sometimes you wonder who the biggest star is in baseball these days. Saturday it was Derek Jeter. One more day like this for No. 2 at the Stadium.