Saturday, August 04, 2012

Mark Steyn: 'Government Health Care: The Musical' an infectious hit

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
August 3, 2012

I scrammed out of London a few days before the Olympics began, but after getting an earful on what the locals make of it. On the whole, the residents of that great city would rather the honor of hosting the world's most disruptive sporting event had gone to some joint that needs the publicity more – Alma Ata, or Ouagadougou, or Oakland. In 21st century London, traffic moves at fewer miles per hour than it did before the internal combustion engine was invented without the added complication of fleets of Third World thug bureaucrats and the permanent floating crap game of transnationalist freeloaders being dumped on its medieval street plan. Nevertheless, having drawn the short straw of hosting the Games, Londoners felt it a point of honor that the city be able to demonstrate the ability to ferry minor globalist hangers-on from their favorite whorehouse in Mayfair to the Olympic Village in the unfashionable East End in time for the quarter-finals of the flatwater taekwondo.
The psychology of the traffic cop enters into the opening ceremony, too. One becomes inordinately fearful that the giant Middle Earth trash compactor will not arise on cue, or the dry ice machine will fail to blow smoke up Voldemort's skirt, or one of the massed ranks of top-hatted mutton-whiskered extras recreating the Industrial Revolution in hip-hop will miss a stomp. And you're so grateful to have dodged these calamities that it never occurs to you to wonder whether taking 40 minutes to do the Industrial Revolution in interpretive dance was a good idea in the first place. Britons seem unusually touchy on the subject, touchier than they've been since the week of the Princess of Wales' death, when the prudent pedestrian on the streets of Kensington avoided catching the eye of the natives, lest they club one to a pulp for being insufficiently maudlin and lachrymose. A Conservative Member of Parliament who made the mistake of tweeting his thoughts without running them by the party's focus groups was disowned by his colleagues and forced into groveling public recantation. It seems his now-disowned tweet that the whole thing was a load of codswallop was an unfortunate typing error and that what he'd actually meant to say was that the highlight of the evening, "Government Health Care: The Musical," was far too riveting to be confined to a mere two-and-a-half hours.
I would be intrigued to know what the Queen made of it, once safely back at the Palace with a stiff drink. The last time Her Majesty opened an Olympics, in Montreal in 1976, she did a quickbienvenue and left it at that. This time round she was inveigled into participating in a kind of upmarket variety-show sketch in which James Bond (Daniel Craig) called at Buckingham Palace to escort her to the stadium. Very droll – although one felt a little queasy watching it, as if this was one of those late-night ideas kicked around by producers and directors ("Wouldn't it be great if we could get the Queen to do a bit with Daniel?") that might have been better left on the fantasy wish-list.
Turning the Queen into her own Queen impersonator (as Commentary's John Podhoretz put it) underlined that vague unsettling feeling you get walking around Central London that these days it's the theme park of a great capital rather than an actual one. The iconic red telephone boxes, for example, are currently the home of eccentric "artwork" – in Covent Garden, a statue of a giraffe busts through the roof of one and nibbles the leaves overhead. Meanwhile, the red boxes without giraffes have nonworking phones, stink of urine and are plastered with prostitutes' business cards – though even these have a quaintly dated, semi-parodic quality about them: In the one round the corner from the Houses of Parliament, a Russian lady promises clients "the ultimate Soviet Union." Like the Queen's, it's a 007 gag, but from the Roger Moore era.
Yes, yes, London is doing a better job than most Olympic hosts of subverting the Games' totalitarian aesthetic – deflating the synthesized bombast of the "Chariots of Fire" theme through the presence of Mr. Bean suggested a rare sense of proportion about the whole circus. "Do you like the way we're not deliberately winning all the medals?" my old friend Boris Johnson, now and somewhat improbably the Mayor of London (and even more incredibly Britain's Prime Minister-in-waiting), said to a reporter from The Irish Times the other day. But where was that much-vaunted British sense of irony on opening night? The overhead camera settled on robotic formations of grateful apple-cheeked urchins in a giant children's ward spelling out the letters N-H-S like a Busby Berkeley chorus in "Gold Diggers Of 1935" – and, horrifyingly, they seemed to mean it. Had the pageant been truer to life, the patients would have left their hospital beds riddled with C difficile, MRSA, septicemia and the other parting gifts that attend a stay in an NHS hospital. But no; when the state religion of government medicine comes up, the dark irony of Danny Boyle, the epitome of Blair-era Cool Britannia, withers and dies like a geriatric waiting for her hip replacement. And all this in the week that the nation's doctors are going on strike.
The lack of basic awareness is remarkable. To that ever-dwindling band of Americans who believe in truly private health care, the NHS is a byword for disease and degradation. On the other hand, to Continentals who believe in clean, efficient universal health care, the NHS is a byword for disease and degradation. Yet the British delusion that the NHS is "the envy of the world" is indestructible. Years ago, in London's Daily Telegraph, I carelessly remarked that, while one might be able to find a Bhutanese yak farmer somewhere upcountry who envied Britons the NHS, nobody else on the planet did. A couple of days later, the paper printed a letter from Mr. Sonam Chhoki, a Bhutanese gentleman who, while not a yak farmer himself, came from generations of sturdy yak-farming stock. He reported that his British in-laws were still waiting for their operations after two years and that, based on his experience, Bhutan's health service was superior. Whether or not Danny Boyle's NHS musical will run longer than "Cats," the waiting list already does. Yet there they were, dozens of Mary Poppins figures descending into the Olympic Stadium on unfurled umbrellas, like British paratroopers behind German lines on D-Day. When everywhere's a nanny state, inventing the great iconic nanny is a source of national pride.
Britain may not be able to match the Continentals at music and art, but it gave us the language of global business, of global culture, of law and democracy, the language of liberty, of the modern world. And yet, aside from a perfunctory bit of the Bard, words were oddly avoided, save from the finale, when the audience joined Sir Paul McCartney in a mass singalong of the universal message:
"Na na na, na-na, na na, na-na na na ..."
Hmm. What can Americans learn from the Olympics spectacle? According to the IMF, China will succeed America as the dominant economic power in the course of the next presidential term, so Howard Fineman, editorial director of the Huffington Post and MSNBC mainstay, was anxious to pick up tips. "Brits long ago lost their empire," he tweeted, "but overall show us how to lose global power gracefully."
So there's that.
Na-na na na.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Romney's Trip

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
August 3, 2012

At the outset of his recent foreign trip, Mitt Romney committed a gaffe. In answer to a question about the Olympics, he expressed skepticism about London’s preparations. The response confounded and agitated Romney supporters because it was such an unforced error. The question invited a simple paean to Olympic spirit and British grit, not the critical analysis of a former Olympic organizer.
Soon that initial stumble was transmuted into a metaphor for everything that followed. The mainstream media decided with near unanimity that the rest of the trip amounted to a gaffe-prone disaster.
Really? The Warsaw leg was a triumph. Romney’s speech warmly embraced Poland’s post-Communist experiment as a stirring example of a nation committed to limited government at home and a close alliance with America abroad, even unto such godforsaken war zones as Afghanistan and Iraq, at great cost to itself and with little thanks.
Especially little from the Obama administration, which unilaterally canceled a Bush(43)-era missile-defense agreement with Poland to appease Russia. Without any overt criticism of the current president, Romney set out a foreign policy of radically greater appreciation of and fidelity to American allies.
Yet all we hear about Warsaw is the “gaffe”: two phrases uttered by an aide, both best described as microscopically rude. At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a pack of reporters hurled questions of such journalistic sophistication as, “What about your gaffes?” To which Rick Gorka suggested that the reporters kiss his posterior, a rather charming invitation that would have made a superb photo op.
The other offense against human decency was Gorka’s correlative directive to “shove it.”
The horror! On the eve of the 2004 Democratic Convention, Teresa Heinz Kerry offered precisely that anatomically risky suggestion to an insistent Pittsburgh journalist. Not only did she later express no regret, but Hillary Clinton reacted with: “Good for you, you go girl.”
So where’s the Romney gaffe? Is what’s good for the Heinz not good for the Gorka?
And at his previous stop in Jerusalem, Romney’s speech was a masterpiece of nuance and restraint. Without directly criticizing Obama, Romney drew pointed distinctions deftly expressed in the code words and curlicued diction of Middle East diplomacy.
He declared flatly that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. The official Obama position is that Israel’s capital is to be determined in negotiations with the Palestinians. On Iran, Romney asserted that Israel has the right to defend itself. Obama says this as boilerplate. Romney made clear he means it — that if Israel has to attack, the U.S. won’t flash the red light before nor punish Israel afterward.
What about the alleged gaffe that dominated reporting from Israel? Romney averred that Israeli and Palestinian economic development might be related to culture. A Palestinian Authority spokesman obligingly jumped forth to accuse Romney of racism, among other thought crimes.
The American media bought it whole, despite the fact that Romney’s assertion was a direct echo of the U.N. Arab Human Development Report, written by Arab intellectuals and commissioned by the U.N. It unambiguously asserted that “culture and values are the soul of development.” And went on to report how existing cultural norms — “including traditional Arab culture and values” — are among the major impediments to Arab economic progress.
The report deplores the rampant corruption, repressive governance, and lack of women’s (and human) rights as major contributors to backwardness in the Arab world. (In the Palestinian case, it faults Israeli “occupation,” but a U.N. document that doesn’t blame Israel for every Palestinian sorrow, if not the world’s, has yet to be written. Moreover, that excuse doesn’t work for today’s occupation-free, Palestinian-run Gaza.) Is there any question about Romney’s assertion? PLO/PA corruption is a legend. Palestinians are repelled by it. Why do you think the PA lost the 2006 (and last) free election?
Romney’s point about “culture” was to highlight the improbable emergence of Israel from resourceless semi-desert to First World “startup nation,” a tribute to its freedom and openness.
Look at how Romney was received. In Israel, its popular prime minister lavished on him a welcome so warm as to be a near-endorsement. In Poland, Romney received an actualendorsement from Lech Walesa, former dissident, former president, Cold War giant, Polish hero. Yet the headlines were “shove it” and “culture.”
Scorecard? Romney’s trip was a major substantive success: one gaffe (Britain), two triumphs (Israel and Poland), and a fine demonstration of foreign-policy fluency and command — wrapped, however, in a media narrative of surpassing triviality.

Street-sign Statism

By Mark Steyn
July 31, 2012

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Doubters and Haters

What drives Barack Obama’s “doubters and haters”?
So asks Obama biographer David Maraniss in a recent op-ed article for the Washington Post. By doubters and haters he means the people who think Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., that he’s a secret Muslim, or that he’s a closet socialist.
He has an answer: “Some of it can be attributed to the give-and-take of today’s harsh ideological divide. Some of it can be explained by the way misinformation spreads virally to millions of like-minded people, reinforcing preconceptions. And some of it, I believe, arises out of fears of demographic changes in this country, and out of racism.”
True enough! Some people are no doubt driven by such motivations and anxieties; “some” is a gloriously accommodating word.
But that hardly settles things. For an essay titled “What Drives the Obama Doubters and Haters,” Maraniss offers no explanation until the last paragraph (the quote above). And even then he offers no evidence, just assertions.
I think Maraniss is a great reporter, and I don’t believe for a moment he is in on a cover-up of Obama’s “real” place of birth or his secret Muslim faith. (Nor do I think either allegation is true.)
As to Obama’s closet socialism, I’ve never found it unreasonable (never mind racist or paranoid) to think Obama’s more comfortable with European-style social democracy (a.k.a. socialism).
Still, let me add two culprits to Maraniss’s list: The first is Barack Obama. The second is the journalistic establishment that worked so hard to get him elected.
As Maraniss demonstrates quite effectively in his book, Barack Obama: The Story, Obama’s identity has long been a cultivated political project. Much of the poetic license — to use a kind phrase — Obama deploys to tell his own story is plausible only to those eager to take him at his word.
Maraniss couldn’t authenticate Obama’s tales of racial hardship as a young man. His grandfather being tortured by the British, the bigotry of his high-school basketball coach? Untrue.
Moreover, Obama’s explanations about the aspects of his past that have managed to become controversies have always seemed insufficient to people not disposed to root for him. Bill Ayers — a former domestic terrorist — was “just a guy living in my neighborhood.” Obama’s word that he wasn’t a member of the radical New Party was enough for the press corps to stop digging for evidence that he was (as reported by my National Review Online colleague Stanley Kurtz). Jeremiah Wright? Only right-wing crazies care about him.
Even Obama’s more recent embellishments about, for instance, being outspent and outgunned in his previous political races strike many people as the sorts of fibs that would create journalistic frenzies if uttered by a Republican.
And then there’s the huge divergence between the president Obama said he would be and the president he’s actually been. In 2008, Obama insisted that he was a unifier, a pragmatist, and a non-ideologue. You don’t have to be a birther or a secret-Muslim conspiracy theorist to feel like that was all a big con job. That’s politics and not deceit (a subtle distinction!), but dismay at how Obama has governed doesn’t amount to racial panic either. And blame for the widespread feeling that we were sold a bill of goods by a cheering press does, in fact, belong to the press.
Yes, Obama also signaled to his base that he intended to be a “transformative” president, a progressive Ronald Reagan. But that message was intended only for his base. Whenever conservatives picked up on those notes — when he said he wanted to “spread the wealth around,” etc. — the immediate response from the Sunday-talk-show crowd was that conservatives were being paranoid for misreading Obama, the pragmatist.
It’s fine to beat up on conspiracy theorists, but journalistic muckety-mucks who are mystified by their ever-shrinking credibility — and profitability — might wonder what they’ve done to fuel a climate of distrust. There’s a reason why ABC’s Jake Tapper is one of the few nonconservative reporters respected on the right: He’s stayed as skeptical of Obama as he was of George W. Bush.
Meanwhile, it’s fascinating how much attention the conspiracy theorists get. It’s almost as if some journalists want to use them as bogeymen to discredit all criticism of Obama. That’s some journalists, not all.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large ofNational Review Online, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Tyranny of Clichés. You can write to him by e-mail, or via Twitter@JonahNRO© 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Truck Owner Wants DEA to Pay After Botched Sting

By Dane Schiller

The Houston Chronicle
July 29, 2012

The phone rang before sunrise. It woke Craig Patty, owner of a tiny North Texas trucking company, to vexing news about Truck 793 - a big red semi supposedly getting repairs in Houston.
"Your driver was shot in your truck," said the caller, a business colleague. "Your truck was loaded with marijuana. He was shot eight times while sitting in the cab. Do you know anything about your driver hauling marijuana?"
"What did you say?" Patty recalled asking. "Could you please repeat that?"
The truck, it turned out, had been everywhere but in the repair shop.
Commandeered by one of his drivers, who was secretly working with federal agents, the truck had been hauling marijuana from the border as part of an undercover operation. And without Patty's knowledge, the Drug Enforcement Administration was paying his driver, Lawrence Chapa, to use the truck to bust traffickers.
At least 17 hours before that early morning phone call, Chapa was shot dead in front of more than a dozen law enforcement officers - all of them taken by surprise by hijackers trying to steal the red Kenworth T600 truck and its load of pot.
In the confusion of the attack in northwest Harris County, compounded by officers in the operation not all knowing each other, a Houston policeman shot and wounded a Harris County sheriff's deputy.
Still Waiting
But eight months later, Patty still can't get recompense from the U.S. government's decision to use his truck and employee without his permission.
His company, which hauls sand as part of hydraulic fracturing operations for oil and gas companies, was pushed to the brink of failure after the attack because the truck was knocked out of commission, he said.
Patty had only one other truck in operation.
In documents shared with the Houston Chronicle, he is demanding that the DEA pay $133,532 in repairs and lost wages over the bullet-sprayed truck, and $1.3 million more for the damage to himself and his family, who fear retaliation by a drug cartel over the bungled narcotics sting.
"When you start a new business, there are obvious pitfalls you go through, a learning curve," said Patty, who before buying his two trucks worked in the pharmaceutical industry. "But who would ever be ready to deal with this?
"How am I — a small businessman, father of three, American Joe from Texas — supposed to make a claim against a federal agency that has conveniently shrouded itself behind a red, white and blue cloak of confidentiality and secrecy?"
Copies of letters and emails from Patty's insurance company state that it won't pay for repairs because the truck was part of a law-enforcement operation. Patty drew from his 401K retirement fund to repair the truck, which was out of operation for 100 days.
"I was not part of this," he said. "I had absolutely no knowledge of any of it until after it happened."
For its part, the DEA has not admitted that it was using Chapa as a spy because its official policy is not to comment on whether someone was an informant.
Lisa Johnson, a spokeswoman for the DEA Houston Division, confirmed that Patty's demand had been received and noted that it would be investigated by the agency. But the Chronicle established Chapa was an informant based on interviews with multiple law-enforcement officials who spoke on the condition they not be named, and later by courtroom comments of prosecutors.
Patty's request chronicles much of what he's been through, including the operating costs for his trucks and everything repaired or replaced due to the attack. Among other disturbing chores was the need to hire a Spring-based company to clean up the mess in the cab caused by the killing.
Houston lawyer Mark Bennett, who is advising Patty, said if Patty's initial claim is not resolved, the next step would be to sue.
1,000-mile detour
Patty hired Chapa five weeks before the shooting and now wonders how many of the trips in the $90,000 rig included DEA work. GPS information from the truck reveals an unauthorized trek to the Rio Grande Valley in the days before Chapa was killed. He took a 1,000-mile round trip detour from the route he was supposed to travel.
Perhaps most unnerving, Patty says, is that drug mobsters now likely know his name, and certainly know his truck.
Panic at the Patty home these days can be triggered by something as simple as a deer scampering through the wooded yard or a car pulling into the driveway. One morning as his wife made breakfast, one of his young sons suddenly bolted across the house yelling, "Get the guns!"
A Bronco sport utility vehicle had pulled into the driveway past a broken gate. The dogs were barking in the darkness. Patty grabbed a pistol and headed for the front yard.
The Bronco pulled away, leaving a shiny object by the front walkway. It turned out to be the morning newspaper wrapped in a plastic bag reflecting a neighbor's floodlight.
The whole ordeal has forced his children to grow up more quickly than he'd like, Patty said.
"I wanted to keep them young as long as I could," he said. "I've gone to great lengths to keep my son believing in Santa Claus, and now I'm talking to him about death, mayhem and drug cartels.
"That is a huge canyon between the two."
The truck has a new driver, but there's still one bullet hole inside the truck's cab. A chunk of seat cushion, sliced out as evidence, has been covered with a patch.
"I really do not worry about driving it," said driver Norman Anderson - as long is it doesn't involve a trip to South Texas.
"I feel like if I go there, I should put an 'X' on each side of my neck, draw a dotted line between them, and write, " 'cut here.' "

Monday, July 30, 2012

Brotherhood’s American defenders

Why is the Obama administration shunning potential allies and empowering enemies? Why has the administration gotten it wrong everywhere?

The Jerusalem Post
26 July 2012

On Wednesday, John Brennan, US President Barack Obama’s assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, made a quick trip to Israel to discuss Hezbollah’s massacre of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria last week.

Hopefully it was an instructive meeting for the senior US official, although his Israeli interlocutors were undoubtedly dumbstruck by how difficult it was to communicate with him. Unlike previous US counterterror officials, Brennan does not share Israel’s understanding of Middle Eastern terrorism.

Brennan’s outlook on this subject was revealed in a speech he gave two years ago in Washington. In that talk, Brennan spoke dreamily about Hezbollah. As he put it, “Hezbollah is a very interesting organization.”
He claimed it had evolved from a “purely terrorist organization” to a militia and then into an organization with members in Lebanon’s parliament and serving in Lebanon’s cabinet.

Brennan continued, “There are certainly elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern for us what they’re doing. And what we need to do is find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements.”
Perhaps in a bid to build up those “moderate elements,” in the same address, Brennan referred to Israel’s capital city Jerusalem as “al Quds,” the name preferred by Hezbollah and its Iranian overlords.

Brennan’s amazing characterization of Hezbollah’s hostile takeover of the Lebanese government as proof that the terrorist group was moderating was of a piece with the Obama administration’s view of Islamic jihadists generally.

If there are “moderate elements,” in Hezbollah, from the perspective of the Obama administration, Hezbollah’s Sunni jihadist counterpart – the Muslim Brotherhood – is downright friendly.

On February 10, 2011, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made this position clear in testimony before the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Clapper’s testimony was given the day before then Egyptian president and longtime US ally Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign from office. Mubarak’s coerced resignation was owed largely to the Obama administration’s decision to end US support for his regime and openly demand his immediate abdication of power. As Israel warned, Mubarak’s ouster paved the way for the Muslim Brotherhood’s ascendance to power in Egypt.

In his testimony Clapper said, “The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is an umbrella term for a variety of movements. In the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaida as a perversion of Islam. They have pursued social ends, betterment of the political order in Egypt, etc.”

Watching Clapper’s testimony in Israel, the sense across the political spectrum, shared by experts and casual observers alike was that the US had taken leave of its senses.

The slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood is “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Koran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the path of Allah is our highest hope.” How could such a high-level US official claim that such an organization is “largely secular”? Every day Muslim Brotherhood leaders call for the violent annihilation of Israel. And those calls are often combined with calls for jihad against the US. For instance, in a sermon from October 2010, Muslim Brotherhood head Mohammed Badie called for jihad against the US. As he put it “Resistance [i.e. terrorism] is the only solution against the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny, and all we need is for the Arab and Muslim peoples to stand behind it and support it.”

Badie then promised his congregants that the death of America was nigh. As he put it, “A nation that does not champion moral and human values cannot lead humanity, and its wealth will not avail it once Allah has had His say, as happened with [powerful] nations in the past. The US is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise.”
The obliviousness of Brennan and Clapper to the essential nature of Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood are symptoms of the overarching ignorance informing the Obama administration’s approach to Middle Eastern realities.
Take, for instance, the Obama administration’s policy confusion over Syria. This week The Washington Post reported that the Obama administration lacks any real knowledge of the nature of the opposition forces fighting to overthrow the Syrian regime. Whereas one senior official told the paper, “We’re identifying the key leaders, and there are a lot of them. We are in touch with them and we stay in touch,” another official said that is not the case.
As the latter official put it, “The folks that have been identified have been identified through Turkey and Jordan. It is not because of who we know. It’s all through liaison.”
The fact that the US government is flying blind as Syria spins out of control is rendered all the more egregious when you recognize that this was not inevitable. America’s ignorance is self-inflicted.
In the 16 months that have passed since the Syrian civil war broke out, the administration passed up several opportunities to develop its own ties to the opposition and even to shape its agenda. Two examples suffice to make this clear.
First, in October 2011, according to the Beirut-based Arabic news portal al Nashra, Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s adviser on Muslim affairs, blocked a delegation of Middle Eastern Christians led by Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai from meeting with Obama and members of his national security team at the White House. According to al Nashra, Mogahed canceled the meeting at the request of the Muslim Brotherhood in her native Egypt.
The White House canceled the meeting days after Rai visited with then French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. During that meeting Rai angered the French Foreign Ministry when he warned that it would be a disaster for Syria’s Christian minority, and for Christians throughout the region, if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is overthrown. Rai based this claim on his assessment that Assad would be replaced by a Muslim Brotherhood- dominated Islamist regime.
And nine months later it is obvious that he was right. With Syria’s civil war still raging throughout the country, the world media is rife with reports about Syria’s Christians fleeing their towns and villages en masse as Islamists from the Syrian opposition target them with death, extortion and kidnapping.
Then there are the US’s peculiar choices regarding the opposition figures it favors. Last August, in a bid to gain familiarity with the Syrian opposition, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with opposition representatives at the State Department. Herb London from the Hudson Institute reported at the time that the group Clinton met with was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Members of the non-Islamist, pro-Western Syrian Democracy Council compose of Syrian Kurds, Alawites, Christians, Druse, Assyrians and non-Islamist Sunnis were not invited to the meeting.
Clinton did reportedly agree to meet with representatives of the council separately. But unlike the press carnival at her meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood members, Clinton refused to publicize her meeting with the non-Islamist opposition leaders. In so acting, she denied these would-be US allies the ability to claim that they enjoyed the support of the US government.
The question is why? Why is the Obama administration shunning potential allies and empowering enemies? Why has the administration gotten it wrong everywhere? In an attempt to get to the bottom of this, and perhaps to cause the administration to rethink its policies, a group of US lawmakers, members of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees led by Rep. Michele Bachmann sent letters to the inspectors-general of the State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice departments as well as to the inspector-general of the office of the director of National Intelligence. In those letters, Bachmann and her colleagues asked the Inspectors General to investigate possible penetration of the US government by Muslim Brotherhood operatives.
In their letters, and in a subsequent explanatory letter to US Rep. Keith Ellison from Rep. Bachmann, the lawmakers made clear that when they spoke of governmental penetration, they were referring to the central role that Muslim groups, identified by the US government in Federal Court as Muslim Brotherhood front organizations, play in shaping the Obama administration’s perception of and policies towards the Muslim Brotherhood and its allied movements in the US and throughout the world.
That these front groups, including the unindicted terror funding co-conspirators, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), play a key role in shaping the Obama administration’s agenda is beyond dispute. Senior administration officials including Mogahed have close ties to these groups. There is an ample body of evidence that suggests that the administration’s decision to side with the hostile Muslim Brotherhood against its allies owes to a significant degree to the influence these Muslim Brotherhood front groups and their operatives wield in the Obama administration.
To take just one example, last October the Obama administration agreed to purge training materials used by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies and eliminate all materials that contained references to Islam that US Muslim groups associated with the Muslim Brotherhood had claimed were offensive. The administration has also fired counterterrorism trainers and lecturers employed by US security agencies and defense academies that taught their pupils about the doctrines of jihadist Islam. The administration also appointed representatives of Muslim Brotherhoodaligned US Muslim groups to oversee the approval of training materials about Islam for US federal agencies.
For their efforts to warn about – and perhaps cause the administration to abandon its reliance on – Muslim Brotherhood front groups, Bachmann and her colleagues have been denounced as racists and McCarthyites. These attacks have not been carried out only by administration supporters.
Republican Senator John McCain denounced Bachmann from the floor of the Senate. Republican Senator Marco Rubio later piled on attacking her for her attempt to convince the administration to reconsider its policies. Those policies again place the most radical members of the US Muslim community in charge of the US government’s policies toward the Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadist movements.
It is clear that the insidious notion that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate and friendly force has taken hold in US policy circles. And it is apparent that US policymaking in the Middle East is increasingly rooted in this false and dangerous assessment.
In spearheading an initiative to investigate and change this state of affairs, Bachmann and her colleagues should be congratulated, not condemned. And their courageous efforts to ask the relevant questions about the nature of Muslim Brotherhood influence over US policymakers should be joined, not spurned by their colleagues in Washington, by the media and by all concerned citizens in America and throughout the free world.