Saturday, June 01, 2013

Alien, Yet Familiar

‘Man of Steel,’ Directed by Zack Snyder

BURBANK, Calif. — In a dimly lighted editing suite here on the Warner Brothers lot, blinds drawn for maximum secrecy and walls decorated with signs and posters celebrating “Star Wars,” Indiana Jones and “Game of Thrones,” Zack Snyder was discussing his philosophy on the totemic character who arguably gave rise to every fantasy series of the last 75 years: Superman.
For too long, said Mr. Snyder, the director of “Man of Steel,” a new Superman movie that Warner Brothers will release on June 14, modern-day interpretations of this DC Comics superhero had been apologizing for the outdatedness of his origins; they sought to conceal him in contemporary trappings instead of embracing an essential mythology that, he said, was as bulletproof as the character himself.
“When they try to dress him up,” Mr. Snyder said here a few weeks ago, “put him in jeans and a T-shirt or a leather jacket with an S on it, I go: ‘What? Guys, it’s O.K. It’s Superman. He’s the king daddy. You should all be bowing down to him.' ”
What his film tries to do, he said, is “respect the S.”
At this point, Deborah Snyder, Mr. Snyder’s wife and producing partner, had to correct him on one fundamental detail they had updated for “Man of Steel.” “It’s not an S,” she said with a laugh. “It’s a symbol of hope.”
Hope is a quality that Mr. Snyder, a director of comic-book adaptations like “Watchmen” and “300,” and his colleagues have been clinging to as they finish work on “Man of Steel,” an entrant in the crowded summer-movie arms race more than two years and $175 million or more in the making.
Yes, “Man of Steel” is the latest effort to rejuvenate a decades-old pop-culture franchise and, in doing so, renew both the fortunes of Warner Brothers as it searches for new blockbusters and the career of Mr. Snyder after recent misfires. But it is being built on the back of a character who, for as often as writers and filmmakers have lately tried to reinvent him, has proved particularly unsusceptible to attempts to make him more relatable. Audiences seem to want him to be grounded, at the same time that they want to believe he can fly.
It is strange that Superman, the smiling, soaring Moses-Jesus hybrid who ushered in the era of superhero comics, should be struggling at the multiplexes in an age when every other studio movie seems to feature a man in a cape, a mask with pointy bat-ears or a high-tech suit of iron. The qualities that have made Superman timeless have not necessarily made him relevant to this particular time, with its roster of ironic and loudly violent protagonists, but it was this paradox that made Mr. Snyder eager to take him on in “Man of Steel.”
“He’s a really cool mythological contradiction,” said Mr. Snyder, who is still boyish and scruffy at 47. “He’s incredibly familiar Americana and alien, exotic, bizarroland, but beautifully woven together.”
He added: “All of us, in a weird way, are that same kind of contradiction — no one’s that simple.”
His film stars Henry Cavill of “The Tudors” as Kal-El, a survivor of the destroyed planet Krypton who on earth becomes the costumed champion Superman but disguises himself as the all-too-human Clark Kent.
“Man of Steel” retains traditional elements, like Superman’s tension between his natural Kryptonian father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), and his adopted earth dad, Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner), and his attraction to the perpetually imperiled Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams).
The film also emphasizes the world of Krypton before its annihilation — a bleak, utilitarian planet with sophisticated if downright creepy technology — and the treachery of the Kryptonian villain Zod (Michael Shannon), who finds Kal-El on earth. The result is an unapologetic science-fiction spin on Superman, and while that may shatter audiences’ expectations for pure, unalloyed realism in “Man of Steel,” Mr. Snyder said this approach was built into the DNA of the character.
“If you follow him back logically and try to understand him,” he said, “you end up at a sci-fi solution.”
This was the same conclusion reached by Christopher Nolan, the director whose hit “Dark Knight” films have modernized Batman for the paranoid post-Sept. 11 era, and the screenwriter David S. Goyer when they first conceived of “Man of Steel” while puzzling over the plot of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Though Mr. Goyer grew up admiring the Norman Rockwell-esque charm of the 1978 “Superman” movie, directed by Richard Donner and starring Christopher Reeve, he never felt much connection to its hero.
“I used to imagine that I was Batman,” Mr. Goyer said, “but not Superman.”
His thinking changed when he looked at Superman in his earliest incarnation, written and illustrated by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in the late 1930s. Here was a character whose fundamental mythology was still in flux — even his signature power of flight was not yet established, and he instead leapt great distances — and whose most transformative quality had seemingly never been seized upon.
“If he really were an alien,” Mr. Goyer said, “when the world finds out that he exists, that in itself would be the biggest event in human history. That would change the world forever.”
While writing the script for “Man of Steel,” Mr. Goyer became a stepfather, a father and lost his own father, experiences that he said informed the who-am-I angst that his Superman struggles with.
“There’s a scene in the movie,” Mr. Goyer said, “where a younger Clark basically says to Jonathan Kent, ‘Why do I have to listen you? You’re not my dad.’ Which is exactly what my stepson said to me.”
Mr. Nolan, a producer of “Man of Steel,” said he thought of Mr. Snyder to direct the film because of his stylized takes on “300” and “Watchmen,” and his “innate aptitude for dealing with superheroes as real characters.”
“That was what a new approach to Superman required,” Mr. Nolan said. “He understands the power of iconic images, but he also understand the people behind them.”
That Mr. Snyder had essentially dismantled the conventions of comic-book narratives in “Watchmen,” adapted from the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons about superheroes in a despairingly real world, did not dissuade Mr. Nolan from offering him the assignment.
“It’s ironic but it’s a very productive irony,” Mr. Nolan said with a chuckle. “You’re dealing with a filmmaker who has deconstructed this mythology and now has to reconstruct it. That’s a fascinating challenge for him.”
Yet, when Mr. Snyder was approached for “Man of Steel,” it was something he and Ms. Snyder had to think about. “We were both, like, ‘I don’t know,' ” he recalled. “Is Superman cool? Is that good? Do we want to do Superman?”
Like his “Man of Steel” collaborators, Mr. Snyder had difficulties sympathizing with the extraterrestrial and all-powerful character, a fact that was not helped by the many attempts at reinventing Superman in recent years.
In the last decade alone, he has been the focus of any number of comic book reboots, the television series “Smallville” and Bryan Singer’s 2006 film “Superman Returns,” a homage to Mr. Donner’s movies that never quite took off the way the “Dark Knight” movies did. Yet Superman remains a character no one wants to give up on, for reasons both nostalgic and economic, and because, as Mr. Snyder put it: “This iconography is tested. It’s in our psyches.”
What drew Mr. Snyder in as he first read the “Man of Steel” script (while Mr. Nolan and his wife and producing partner, Emma Thomas, waited in his driveway) was a vision of the character that felt both classical and contemporary. On the one hand, Mr. Snyder suggested that for Clark Kent to be fully fleshed out, not every moment in his maturation needed to be depicted.
“We assume that Clark is not a virgin — I do,” he said. " You don’t see that, but that’s the assumption.”
But as the ultimate version of a familiar story, that of a young man struggling to find his place in the world — “teenage angst on steroids,” Mr. Snyder called it — this Superman’s tale contained elements he and Ms. Snyder had never seen before.
Ms. Snyder said, “Finding a bearded Superman on a crab boat, it was like, wait a minute, that’s not the Superman that we’re used to.”
For Mr. Snyder, there was also the joy of casting prominent actors like Mr. Costner and Mr. Crowe, as well as Mr. Cavill, who had once been hired to play Superman in a canceled 2004 film whose fluctuating lineup of talent included McG as director and J. J. Abrams as screenwriter.
In a phone interview, Mr. Cavill was blasé about his previous dalliance with Superman. “That whole movie fell to pieces,” he said, “then another movie got made, not involving me.”
Having finally made “Man of Steel” almost a decade later, Mr. Cavill said he had learned to appreciate a hero who has spent his whole life hearing that he is special, while being told just as often that he must conceal the things that make him unique.
“Perfection without effort is, in itself, not perfection,” he said. “It’s just gifted. Just being right because you exist isn’t interesting. Doing the right thing, through hard work and the right decisions, is a better character.”
Mr. Snyder recognized that “Man of Steel” did not fit neatly into his oeuvre of stylized B-movies like his “Dawn of the Dead” remake and “300,” a retelling of the battle of Thermopylae, but he said he saw overarching connections.
“I feel like my movies have always been very subversive, even when people haven’t perceived how subversive they really are,” he said confidently. “For me, what’s subversive about Superman is that it’s not subversive.”
That résumé also includes Mr. Snyder’s 2011 action movie “Sucker Punch,” about an unlikely squad of heroines, which was pilloried by critics and sold $89 million in tickets worldwide on a budget of $82 million. Discussing that film, Mr. Snyder seemed to vacillate between acceptance that “Sucker Punch” had been a failure and disappointment that its larger ideas, about the depictions of women in fantasy narratives, had not been more widely received.
“Talking to people, they’re like, ‘No, that’s not the movie that I saw,’ and I’m like, ‘But it’s all there!' ” he said. “I thought I was being too obvious with everything.”
Perhaps the greater frustration for Mr. Snyder was the fact that “Sucker Punch” — filmed from an original script he wrote with Steve Shibuya, and not adapted from any comic book, video game or breakfast cereal — had been rejected at a time when moviegoers are clamoring for original ideas, while they continue to go in droves to see franchise films (including, potentially, “Man of Steel”).
“People complain but it’s supply and demand,” he said. “The movie business is the first business that changes course. If suddenly everyone’s like, ‘Oh, people want to see movies about rabbits,’ that’s all you’re going to get.”
Asked if he faced additional pressure to make “Man of Steel” work as the starting point for its own continuing series, Mr. Snyder said, “This movie needs to come out,” before any bigger questions could be addressed. “If you start thinking, like, I need to set up a giant franchise for the studio because they’re out of ‘Harry Potters,’ you can’t do that,” Mr. Snyder said, adding that it would lead to paralysis.
“You’d just stay in your house and curl up in a fetal position,” he said, “waiting for ‘em to take you to the insane asylum.”

Henry Cavill: 'Man of Steel,' Superman legacy, being 'Fat Cavill'

Henry Cavill is flying into theaters next month as Superman in Zach Snyder's "Man of Steel," the latest big-screen adaptation of the comic book superhero.
The actor, 30, who hails from the self-governing island of Jersey in the English Channel, hasn't forgotten his humble beginnings and is surprisingly self-conscious about his potential breakout role. Cavill has appeared in "The Tudors" and in "Immortals," but playing the latest version of the titular character is likely to make or break his career, possibly catapulting him to super-stardom.
"This character matters so much to so many people," Cavill says in the June/July issue of Detailsmagazine. "I want to get that right. I want to do it justice. I want people to believe in the character and have faith in the character and kids to grow up wanting to be Superman."
But the newly minted hear-throb has a pretty realistic perception of what it means to be an actor since he's had a hard time establishing himself in Hollywood.
"The hardest part of acting … is not being guaranteed work. Every job could be your last."
Cavill previously went out for huge roles, including James Bond (lost it to Daniel Craig) and a previous incarnation of Superman (lost it to Brandon Routh).
But this go at Clark Kent has him hyped.
"When I found out I got the part, I was home playing World of Warcraft," he said. "Zack called, and I thought he was calling to let me down easy. But then it dawned on me that he was giving me the part. I had to play it cool. Be appreciative, respectful, professional. But the second we hung up, I just sprinted up and down my stairs cheering and whooping like a madman. I kept looking in the mirror, going, 'I don't believe it. I'm Superman? I'm Superman!'"
"But I cannot wait for this movie to come out.  The studio just showed me the completed cut. I literally asked to watch it twice in a row. I’m so excited. I just want to show it to the world."
Cavill recently told Hero Complex that the latest iteration, which pulls solely from the comics as source material, won't have the same gritty shroud that the "The Dark Knight" trilogy had. (Christopher Nolan directed and co-wrote the three Batman films and serves as a producer and co-writer for "Man of Steel.")
"It very much is a story of hope," he said. "Hope is strength and victory against adversity, or at least the hope of victory against adversity, and that is what Superman represents."
The film has taken its time to get into theaters. It took only 62 days to shoot but has been in more than 16 months of post-production for producers to cajole the best possible version of the last son of Krypton.
"It's the most realistic movie I've made," Snyder told Hero Complex. "There's no tongue in anyone's cheek. I'm not apologizing for Superman in any way. I'm saying, 'Superman is a thing that must be taken seriously and embraced and understood.'"
It's a big weight for one man to carry, but his costar Amy Adams, who plays his lady love Lois Lane in the film, thinks Cavill is more than up for the task.
"Henry's commitment was legendary," she said. "He would get up to work out at 3 every morning so he’d look right in the suit all day. His discipline is extraordinary."
"It takes a second to adjust, because Henry's just so good-looking," Adams said. "He's dashing with just a hint of danger, and it's kinda great. It's super-hidden. But you know there's a steeliness within him that makes the gentlemanly qualities all the more interesting."
All this about a man who admits his childhood nickname was "Fat Cavill." He finally whipped himself into shape at the age of 17 when he got a role in a filmed adaptation of "The Count of Monte Cristo."
To play Superman, he tells the mag that he had to eat 5,000 calories a day to bulk up for the role.
"I will say I was a lot bigger as Superman… A lot bigger. I'm not saying how much. It's modesty about the weight — I’ve always been worried about my weight — but I also don't want to invite that debate: Henry weighs this, so he's the perfect Superman. Or, Henry doesn’t weigh this, and therefore he’s not believable in the role."
Cavill is currently dating MMA fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano, but he's pretty mum about their relationship just saying, "she's amazing." The pair prefers to hang out close to home in Manhattan Beach.
"I'm not much of a schmoozer … not much of an eventgoer. I’d rather stay close to here. This doesn’t feel like L.A. It doesn't feel like work."
"Man of Steel" hits theaters June 14. The full June/July issue of Details is out June 4.

Today's Tune: Brent and Johnson - Equality Street [Official Music Video]

Today's Laugh Track: The Return of David Brent

The Lois Lerner Defense

File it the next time the IRS calls you up. 

Time to Rediscover America's Truth-Tellers

Diana West | May 31, 2013

A book called "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character" (St. Martin's Press) shouldn't promise uplift and spiritual renewal. I know. I wrote it.

That said, the story of "betrayal" that my new book lays out -- betrayal enabled by a de facto Communist occupation of Washington by American traitors loyal to Stalin, which would solidify in the 1930s under FDR and be covered up by successive U.S. administrations and elites -- is not without inspiration. I am talking about the inspiration of the truth-tellers.

"American Betrayal" presents a rewrite of most of World War II and Cold War history, something I never imagined doing when I first began writing the book. This is simply the story that took shape from my research. And it takes shape in the book in a first-person narrative exactly as I stumbled across the revelations and put them together according to two basic mechanisms.

One relates to revelations from secret archives in Moscow and Washington that opened, briefly and partially, after the USSR dissolved in 1991. I discovered that the treason documented in these archives, treason committed by Americans in government, some in the very highest positions of power, had not been incorporated into our general historical understanding of such defining events as World War II and the Cold War. So I did my best to incorporate them. What emerges makes our history look completely different -- even our near-sacred history of World War II.

The other stream of new information that I was able to reweave into the American story came from those I think of as the truth-tellers. These are the forgotten and/or maligned witnesses and investigators who told and sought the truth about the massive penetration and infiltration by Americans serving a hostile foreign power. (Yes, among them is Sen. Joe McCarthy.)

Their truth-seeking example is inspiring, particularly in an age of routine, serial lying and obfuscation in Washington. If there is one thing I hope my book does, it is to reintroduce us to these great Americans. Because they contradicted the official narrative -- the "court histories" as author and historian M. Stanton Evans calls it -- these Americans were smeared, marginalized and lost to us, their rudderless descendants.

We need them back in our historical and moral consciousness. To that end, I am embarking on an occasional series devoted to truth-tellers highlighted in "American Betrayal."

I will begin with Maj. George Racey Jordan, who in 1949 and 1950 came forward to testify under oath before Congress that one big reason the Soviet Union had recently surprised the world by exploding an atomic bomb was that he, Jordan, the top "expediter" shipping thousands of tons of U.S. war supplies and aircraft through an airfield in Great Falls, Mont., to the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease during World War II, had personally overseen the shipment of uranium to Moscow.

Really? Sure enough, as a congressional investigator would testify, two specific shipments of uranium oxide and nitrate were "completely documented to include even the number of the plane that the flew the uranium ... out of Great Falls." This postwar revelation before Congress would shock and anger Gen. Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, because he had slapped an embargo on the wartime export of uranium from the U.S. Of course, the shipments in question came from Canadian stocks. How did that happen? Therein lies a tale -- a tale of betrayal.

Meanwhile, it wasn't just uranium that Jordan expedited, as he testified. Heavy water, too.

The congressional committee was able to document the shipment of heavy water, too.

In all, Jordan "expedited" 23 atomic materials through the big airbase in Montana to Moscow during the war, along with nearly 14 million pounds of aluminum tubes, also essential to atomic experimentation.

Findings in Soviet archives would later confirm that possession of the atomic bomb was what emboldened Stalin to trigger the Korean War in 1950. The implications of the theft of U.S. atomic secrets, then, becomes staggering.

After Jordan went public, all manner of witnesses stepped forward to corroborate different aspects of his story. There was the pilot who flew the uranium shipment (and said he handled brown grains of uranium that spilled from a box). There was the GI who recognized in Moscow-bound blueprints the chemical structure of uranium. Soviet defector Victor Kravchenko, celebrated author of "I Chose Freedom," would himself testify before Congress and corroborate specific allegations by Jordan attesting to Lend-Lease as a giant conduit of Soviet espionage.

What even this skeletal synopsis of a tale that unfolds in detail in "American Betrayal" should make clear is that it wasn't just the Rosenberg atomic spy ring that enabled the Soviet theft of U.S. atomic secrets. There was a massive looting effort underway inside the U.S. government overseen by senior Washington officials. Chief among these powers was Harry Hopkins, FDR's very top, very enigmatic, very sinister (I have concluded) adviser. Hopkins was the power behind Lend-Lease -- often the power behind Roosevelt, too -- and a central figure in my book.

I knew none of this "lost" history going into my research more than four years ago. Precious few Americans, I've since learned, do. Hopkins, once famously known as Roosevelt's "co-president," is as absent from our national history lessons as Jordan, a credible eyewitness to what might well have been treason. Why do we have such blanks? Why isn't Jordan's earth-shaking testimony, most of it corroborated by documentation and supporting eyewitness accounts, ever taught? How did Hopkins, once the most powerful man in Washington next to FDR (and maybe more so) slip out of our collective memory? Who stole our history -- and why?

These are the questions I set out to unravel in "American Betrayal." On this quest, I learned there was nothing like seeking out, dusting off and listening to history's truth-tellers.

(Diana West's new book is "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character" from St. Martin's Press. She blogs at, and she can be contacted via Follow her on Twitter @diana_west_.)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Shielding the Enemy

May 31, 2013
One year ago, in June 2012, the "National Security Five" -- five members of Congress led by Michele Bachmann (R-Minn. - pictured above) -- called attention to U.S. government infiltration by Muslim Brotherhood (MB) operatives. Based on disturbing information from court evidence and documents, correspondence, media reports, congressional briefings, and public statements, they found that individuals with questionable loyalty to theUnited States held high-level security clearances and worked in key national security positions. Tragically for the security of the United States and the safety of its citizens, these five earnest members of Congress, armed with ample evidence, were roundly criticized by both Republicans and Democrats, and their request for investigations was ignored.
Unfortunately for our country, this response is not atypical, but simply another in a series of thwarted or abandoned investigations over decades whose outcomes have critical national security implications for America.
A mere 20 years ago, responding to pressure from then-President Clinton to de-emphasize Arab international terrorism, FBI head Louis Freeh shifted the agency's focus from foreign terrorists to domestic terrorists or "rightwing extremists." As a direct consequence, 40 boxes of evidence from the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 that would have revealed valuable information about Al Qaeda operations were never reviewed and key evidence, including the presence of Arab nationals at U.S. flight schools, was ignored.
In the same way, serious evidence of Middle Eastern involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing that claimed 168 lives, injured more than 680 people and damaged 324 buildings within a 16 block radius was ignored. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) alluded to this in his 2006 Chairman's Report for the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on the attack. Rohrabacher cited suspicions of meetings and phone calls between bombing accomplice Terry Nichols and convicted 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) mastermind Ramzi Yousef. Similarly, the attack strategy and mechanics resembled the first WTC bombing. Finally, multiple witnesses reported seeing Hussain Hashem al-Hussaini, an Iraqi connected to Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, in the company of McVeigh prior to the bombing, leaving the truck used in the attack, and driving away prior to the blast. These significant similarities didn't even warrant an investigation by the Clinton administration.
The Clinton administration also ignored the findings of Able Danger, an 80-person military intelligence program (1999-2001) created to gather intelligence on Al Qaeda networks. The program's findings were presented to the Pentagon more than a year prior to 9/11. The intelligence unit identified 60 terrorists inside the United States, including a Brooklyn cell headed by Mohammed Atta and three other terrorists later involved in 9/11. This crucial information was ignored by the Clinton Department of Defense (DoD), which chose not to act on it and not to pass it on to the FBI. Two members of the Able Danger team, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer and Navy Commander Scott Philpott, attempted to arrange meetings on three occasions to transfer the open-source information about Al Qaeda to the FBI and to warn the government about upcoming attacks. But Clinton administration lawyers under the direction of Assistant Attorney General Jamie Gorelick thwarted their efforts and Able Danger was shut down before 9/11 occurred. Although Able Danger intelligence officer Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer provided intelligence from its investigation to the director of the 9/11 Commission, that information was not included in the final report and Lt. Col. Shaffer was not permitted to testify. Ultimately the DoD denied the accuracy of the information and retaliated against him. When Shaffer first published his book, Operation Dark Heart, the DoD bought and destroyed all 9,500 copies.
Remarkably, Able Danger had identified the threat to the USS Cole two weeks before the attack and the role played by the Al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn, a major funding, recruiting, and fundraising source for Al Qaeda in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Also ignored was data gathered after 9/11, when the U.S. Customs Services sponsored an interagency investigative team that collected data on close to 40 organizations and businesses as part of its research on terrorist financing sources. Operation Green Quest (2001-2003) raided the offices of the Muslim World League (MWL), the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), the SAAR Foundation and affiliated Muslim Brotherhood organizations in Herndon, Virginia in May of 2001. The MWL, established in 1962, a Saudi-sponsored group that spreads Wahhabism worldwide, has been instrumental in turning a majority of U.S. mosques into jihad recruitment centers. It has also funded Al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups through its financial arm, the Rabita Trust. The IIIT, established in 1980, controls an extensive network of front organizations, trusts, charities, and businesses that fund Wahhabism throughout the United States and has funded Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Al Qaeda. SAAR, an acronym for founder Suleiman Abdul Aziz-al Rajhi and now doing business as the SAFA Trust, is one of the main funding sources for the U.S. Wahhabi movement, providing $1.7 billion to Islamist causes in 1998 alone.
Extensive information was compiled as part of the Holy Land Foundation trial, which concluded in 2009 with five indictments and 300 identified, unindicted co-conspirators. After four years, 80 bank boxes of information supplied to the defense has still not been made available to Congress, journalists, or the public despite multiple requests, including a public appeal on the floor of the House to Attorney General Eric Holder by Congressman Louis Gohmert (R-Tx).
Finally, the report on right-wing extremism prepared by Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland Security in 2009 presents the same obfuscating agenda to shift law enforcement awareness away from Islam and toward citizens who are opposed to abortion or illegal immigration, gun owners, and returning veterans as was implemented by Bill Clinton following the first World Trade Center bombing. Curiously, the DHS report, "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," was not based on actions or incidents perpetrated by specific groups but on the potential for extremist action.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Explanatory Memorandum for the General Strategic Plan for North America published in 1987 and discovered by the FBI in a raid of a house in Virginia in 2004 specifies that Muslims should fight all counterterrorism efforts so that the infidels are unaware of the civilizational jihad to take over the West. Our government's own actions to thwart fruitful investigations and limit the availability of evidence go a long way toward helping them realize this goal. In the face of increasing discoveries of dangerous links to terrorist groups and substantial hard evidence of actions taken against the United States, government officials have not made arrests or tried to protect its citizens, but instead have covered up evidence, prevented its dissemination, and attacked those bringing vital data to light. In a nation so hesitant and blind, can we be safe from further attacks?

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The Dorothy Doctrine

By Published: May 30

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

“This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises . . .”
— Barack Obama, May 23

Nice thought. But much as Obama would like to close his eyes, click his heels three times and declare the war on terror over, war is a two-way street.

That’s what history advises: Two sides to fight it, two to end it. By surrender (World War II), by armistice (Korea and Vietnam) or when the enemy simply disappears from the field (the Cold War).

Obama says enough is enough. He doesn’t want us on “a perpetual wartime footing.” Well, the Cold War lasted 45 years. The war on terror, 12 so far. By Obama’s calculus, we should have declared the Cold War over in 1958 and left Western Europe, our Pacific allies, the entire free world to fend for itself — and consigned Eastern Europe to endless darkness.

John F. Kennedy summoned the nation to bear the burdens of the long twilight struggle. Obama, agonizing publicly about the awful burdens of command — his command, which he twice sought in election — wants out. For him and for us.

He doesn’t just want to revise and update the September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which many conservatives have called for. He wants to repeal it.

He admits that the AUMF establishes the basis both in domestic and international law to conduct crucial defensive operations, such as drone strikes. Why, then, abolish the authority to do what we sometimes need to do?

Because that will make the war go away? Persuade our enemies to retire to their caves? Stop the spread of jihadism?

This is John Lennon, bumper-sticker foreign policy — Imagine World Peace. Obama pretends that the tide of war is receding. But it’s demonstrably not. It’s metastasizing to Mali, to the Algerian desert, to the North African states falling under the Muslim Brotherhood, to Yemen, to the savage civil war in Syria, now spilling over into Lebanon and destabilizing Jordan. Even Sinai, tranquil for 35 years, is descending into chaos.

It’s not war that’s receding. It’s America. Under Obama. And it is precisely in the power vacuum left behind that war is rising. Obama declares Assad must go. The same wish-as-policy fecklessness from our bystander president. Two years — and 70,000 dead — later, Obama keeps repeating the wish even as the tide of battle is altered by the new arbiters of Syria’s future — Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. Where does every party to the Syrian conflict go on bended knee? To Moscow, as Washington recedes into irrelevance.

But the ultimate expression of Obama’s Dorothy Doctrine is Guantanamo. It must close. Must, mind you.

Okay. Let’s accept the dubious proposition that the Yemeni prisoners could be sent home without coming back to fight us. And that others could be convicted in court and put in U.S. prisons.

Now the rub. Obama openly admits that “even after we take these steps, one issue will remain — just how to deal with those Gitmo detainees who we know have participated in dangerous plots or attacks but who cannot be prosecuted.”

Well, yes. That’s always been the problem with Gitmo. It’s not a question of geography. The issue is indefinite detention — whether at Gitmo, a Colorado supermax or St. Helena.

Can’t try ’em, can’t release ’em. Having posed the central question, what is Obama’s answer? “I am confident that this legacy problem can be resolved.”

That’s it! I kid you not. He’s had four-plus years to think this one through — and he openly admits he’s got no answer.

Because there is none. Hence the need for Gitmo. Other wars end, at which point prisoners are repatriated. But in this war, the other side has no intention of surrender or armistice. They will fight until the caliphate is established or until jihadism is as utterly defeated as fascism and communism. That’s the reason — the only reason — for the detention conundrum. There is no solution to indefinite detention when the detainees are committed to indefinite war.

Obama’s fantasies are twinned. He can no more wish away the detention than he can the war.

We were defenseless on 9/11 because, despite Osama bin Laden’s open written declaration of war in 1996, we pretended for years that no war against us had even begun. Obama would return us to pre-9/11 defenselessness — casting Islamist terror as a law-enforcement issue and removing the legal basis for treating it as armed conflict — by pretending that the war is over.

It’s enough to make you weep.

Read more from Charles Krauthammer’s archivefollow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Read more on this topic: Kathleen Parker: The ‘war on terror’ isn’t over just because Obama says so Ruth Marcus: Obama, the Agonizer David Ignatius: The covert commander in chief The Post’s View: Counterterror contradiction The Post’s View: Obama renews his anti-terrorism strategy

An Antidote to Cynicism Poisoning

Restoring public faith will require a full investigation of the IRS's politicization.

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal
May 31, 2013

The Benghazi scandal was and is shocking, and the Justice Department assault on the free press, in which dogged reporters are tailed like enemy spies, is shocking. Benghazi is still under investigation and someday someone will write a great book about it. As for the press, Attorney General Eric Holder is on the run, and rightly so. They called it the First Amendment for a reason. But nothing can damage us more as a nation than what is happening at the Internal Revenue Service. Elite opinion in the press and in Washington doesn't fully understand this. Part of the reason is that it's not their ox being gored, it's those messy people out in America with their little patriotic groups.
Those who aren't deeply distressed about the IRS suffer from a reluctance or inability to make distinctions, and a lack of civic imagination.
An inability to make distinctions: "It's always been like this." "Presidents are always siccing the IRS on their enemies." There's truth in that. We've all heard the stories of the president who picked up the phone and said, "Look into this guy," Richard Nixon most showily. He got clobbered for it. It was one of the articles of impeachment.
Associated Press
Our government shouldn't treat them as the enemy.
But this scandal is different and distinctive. The abuse was systemic—from the sheer number of targets and the extent of each targeting we know many workers had to be involved, many higher-ups, multiple offices. It was ideological and partisan—only those presumed to be of one political view were targeted. It has a single unifying pattern: The most vivid abuses took place in the years leading up to the president's 2012 re-election effort. And in the end several were trying to cover it all up, including the head of the IRS, who lied to Congress about it, and the head of the tax-exempt unit, Lois Lerner, who managed to lie even in her public acknowledgment of impropriety.
It wasn't a one-off. It wasn't a president losing his temper with some steel executives. There was no enemies list, unless you consider half the country to be your enemies.
It is considered a bit of a faux pas to point this out, but what we are talking about in part is a Democratic president, a largely Democratic professional administrative class in Washington, and an IRS whose workers belong to a union whose political action committee gave roughly 95% of its political contributions last year to Democrats. Tim Carney had a remarkable piece in the Washington Examiner this week in which he looked for campaign contributions from the IRS Cincinnati office. "In the 2012 election, every donation traceable to this office went to President Obama or liberal Sen. Sherrod Brown." An IRS employee said in an email to Mr. Carney, "Do you think people willing to sacrifice lucrative private sector careers to work in tax administration . . . are genuinely going to support the party directed by Grover Norquist?" Mr. Carney noted that one of his IRS correspondents had an interesting detail on his social media profile. He belongs to a Facebook FB +5.01% group called "Target the Shutdown at the Tea Party States." It advised the president, during the 2011 debt-ceiling fight: "For instance, shut down air traffic control at airports in Norfolk, Tampa, Nashville."
Wow. I guess that was target practice.

Peggy Noonan's Blog

Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.
Here is the thing. The politicization of government employees wouldn't have worried a lot of us 40, 30 or even 20 years ago. But since then, as a country, we have become, as individuals, less respectful of political differences and even of each other, as everything—all parts of American life—has become more political, more partisan, more divided and more aggressive.
There has got to be some way to break through this, to create new rules for the road in a situation like this.
Because people think the IRS has always, in various past cases, been used as a political tool, they think we'll glide through this scandal too. We'll muddle through, we'll investigate, the IRS will right itself, no biggie.
But when a scandal is systemic, ideological and focused on political ends, it will not just magically end. Agencies such as the IRS are part of what Jonathan Turley this week called a "massive administrative state," one built with many protections and much autonomy.
If it is not forced to change, it will not.
Which gets us to the part about imagination. What does it mean when half the country—literally half the country—understands that the revenue-gathering arm of its federal government is politically corrupt, sees them as targets, and will shoot at them if they try to raise their heads? That is the kind of thing that can kill a country, letting half its citizens believe that they no longer have full political rights.
Those who think this is just business as usual are ahistorical, and those who think nothing can be done, or nothing serious should be done, are suffering from Cynicism Poisoning.
The House wants to proceed with hearings and an investigation itself, and understandably. One reason is pride. "We are the ones who got the IRS to do the audit," a congressman said the other night. Another is momentum: An independent counsel would take time and take some air out of the story. But Congress is operating within a lot of political swirls. The IRS certainly doesn't seem to fear them—haven't its leaders made that clear in their testimony so far? Congress itself is not highly regarded by the public. Didn't I say that politely?
Some members have been scared into thinking that tough hearings will constitute "overreach." But when you spend all your time fearing overreach, you can forget to reach at all. A defensive crouch isn't a good posture from which to launch a probe. And some members fear that if they pursue and give time to something that is not an economic issue, it will be used against them. But stopping the revenue-gathering arm of the federal government from operating as a hopelessly politicized and aggressive entity is an economic issue. It has to do with basic American faith in, and compliance with, half of the spending/taxing apparatus of the federal government. How could that not be an economic issue?
There will be more hearings next week, and fair enough. But down the road an independent counsel is going to be needed because the House does not have all the prosecutorial powers an independent counsel would—the powers to empanel a grand jury, to more easily grant immunity to potential witnesses, find evidence of criminal wrongdoing, indict.
Another reason to want an independent counsel: There are obviously many good, fair-minded workers in the IRS, people of sterling character. They deserve to be asked about what they were forced to put up with, what they felt they had to bite their tongues about. There may even be a few stories about people who stood up and said: "You know you're targeting Americans because they hold political views you don't like, right? You know that's wrong, right? And I'm not going to do it."
It would be worth an investigation that breaks open the IRS to find that person, and that moment. You have no idea how much better it would make us feel, how inspiring and comforting, too.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Today's Tune: Drive-By Truckers - The Righteous Path (Live)


By Ann Coulter
May 29, 2013

This April 15, 2013 photo provided by Bob Leonard shows third from left, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was dubbed Suspect No. 1 and second from left, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, who was dubbed Suspect No. 2 in the Boston Marathon bombings by law enforcement. This image was taken approximately 10-20 minutes before the blast. (Bob Leonard/AP Photo)

It's been a bad few weeks for cultural assimilation. Last month, two welfare-receiving immigrants in the United States, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, set off bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring hundreds. By the end of the week, they had murdered a cop and engaged in a wild shoot-out and bomb-throwing melee with the police.

Last week, a couple of ethnic Nigerians butchered a British soldier with meat cleavers in broad daylight on a bustling street in a London suburb, then boasted about the murder in video interviews with bystanders. (On the bright side, they did not claim to be princes and ask for your life savings.)

Also last week, immigrants, mostly Muslims, began rioting in peaceful Sweden -- burning schools to the ground, torching cars and throwing rocks at the police. (Who among us hasn't lost his temper trying to assemble an Ikea china cabinet?)

Supporters of the West's current immigration policies can't keep ducking reality. So they try to shut down debate by calling their opponents racists, xenophobes, know-nothings and fascists.

The English Defense League (EDL), for example, is portrayed in the media as a bunch of racist football hooligans. So I was surprised to learn that the EDL has not only a Jewish division, but a gay division. (Harvey Fierstein could be their president!) They expressly support Israel against Muslim terror and burn Nazi flags at their rallies.

Apparently it is considered "fascist" to oppose actual fascists immigrating to your country.

A few years ago, an opinion piece in The New York Times denounced the pro-gay positions of anti-immigration groups such as the EDL for "co-opting" gays. The co-opting is so thoroughgoing that the anti-immigration Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was himself gay. He was assassinated by a vegan animal rights activist upset at criticism of Muslims.

But surely members of the EDL oppose Britain's immigration policies out of ignorance?

It briefly seemed so. A month ago, the head of the EDL, Tommy Robinson, provoked a round of liberal sneering when he tweeted: "welcome to twitter homepage has a picture of a mosque. what a joke." Various media outlets leapt to point out that the photo was, actually, the Taj Mahal.

The liberal Guardian mocked: "It's worth pointing out that the 'mosque' that started this ... was in fact the Taj Mahal, the marble mausoleum in India. It's almost as if the very existence of the EDL is based on false information, suspicion and idiocy."

Except -- oops --– it wasn't the Taj Mahal. It was a mosque -- the Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman, to be precise -- as The Guardian quietly admitted in an altered photo caption after stealthily removing the comment about the EDL's "idiocy" for imagining it was a mosque. It's almost as if the very existence of The Guardian is based on false information, suspicion and idiocy.

Britain, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain have recently enacted, or are considering enacting, further restrictions on immigration, alarming immigration enthusiasts. The New York Times reported this week that the "right-wing Swiss People's Party" is requesting a referendum on immigration.

Wait a second! A referendum doesn't sound fascist at all. In fact and to the contrary, it's always the advocates of unrestricted immigration who try to avoid letting the people vote. Marco Rubio and the rest of the pro-amnesty "Gang of Eight" don't even want the country to know they're about to vote on a mass immigration scheme.

Liberals say, "Basic human rights are not subject to a vote!" -- and then define "basic human rights" as "the right of people who don't live in your country to move there."

Manifestly, opponents of open immigration are not fascists, anti-Semitic, anti-gay, intolerant or idiots. But as long as we're on the subject, may we inquire into the tolerance and other Western values of the potential immigrants themselves?

Last week, U.S. law enforcement officials reported that Muslim immigrant Ibragim Todashev admitted that he and Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev had murdered three Jewish men in a Boston suburb on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack. (Which also, I believe, was the work of immigrants.) The victims' throats were cut from ear to ear, nearly decapitating them. One was Tamerlan's best friend.

Searching The New York Times' webpage for "English Defense League," turns up this multicultural story out of Saudi Arabia: "Online Campaign Draws Attention to Case of Saudi Father Accused of Rape and Torture." The father, Fayhan al-Ghamdi, a prominent Islamic cleric, served only a few months in a Saudi Arabian prison for allegedly raping, burning and fatally beating his own 5-year-old daughter.

It's not just Muslims who aren't warming to Western values. Polls by the Anti-Defamation League going back decades have shown a steady decline of anti-Semitism in the U.S. But a 2002 poll showed a surprising upsurge.

While 17 percent of all Americans were said to hold "strongly anti-Semitic" views, 35 percent of Hispanics did -- as did 44 percent of foreign-born Hispanics.

(Note to Sheldon Adelson: It may be time to give your Hispanic employees a raise.)

Liberals get a kick out of accusing their opponents of what they themselves are guilty of. But this may be the most audacious reverse-guilt play yet. For objecting to the importation of primitive, violent, child-rape-forgiving bigots, the opponents of mass immigration are accused of bigotry.