Friday, January 31, 2014

Meanwhile, Back in America . . .

The growing distance between Washington and the public it dominates.

By Peggy Noonan
January 30, 2014

The State of the Union was a spectacle of delusion and self-congratulation in which a Congress nobody likes rose to cheer a president nobody really likes. It marked the continued degeneration of a great and useful tradition. Viewership was down, to the lowest level since 2000. This year's innovation was the Parade of Hacks. It used to be the networks only showed the president walking down the aisle after his presence was dramatically announced. Now every cabinet-level officeholder marches in, shaking hands and high-fiving with breathless congressmen. And why not? No matter how bland and banal they may look, they do have the power to destroy your life—to declare the house you just built as in violation of EPA wetland regulations, to pull your kid's school placement, to define your medical coverage out of existence. So by all means attention must be paid and faces seen.
I watched at home and thought: They hate it. They being the people, whom we're now supposed to refer to as the folks. But you look at the polls at how people view Washington—one, in October, had almost 9 in 10 disapproving—and you watch a kabuki-like event like this and you know the distance, the psychic, emotional and experiential distance, between Washington and America, between the people and their federal government, is not only real but, actually, carries dangers. History will make more of the distance than we do. Someday in the future we will see it most vividly when a truly bad thing happens and the people suddenly need to trust what Washington says, and will not, to everyone's loss.
In the country, the president's popularity is underwater. In the District of Columbia itself, as Gallup notes, it's at 81%. The Washington area is now the wealthiest in the nation. No matter how bad the hinterlands do, it's good for government and those who live off it. The country is well aware. It is no accident that in the national imagination Washington is the shallow and corrupt capital in "The Hunger Games," the celebrity-clogged White House Correspondents' Dinner, "Scandal" and the green room at MSNBC. It is the chattering capital of a nation it less represents than dominates.
Supposedly people feel great rage about this, and I imagine many do. But the other night I wondered if what they're feeling isn't something else.


As the president made his jaunty claims and the senators and congressmen responded semirapturously I kept thinking of four words: Meanwhile, back in America . . .
Meanwhile, back in America, the Little Sisters of the Poor were preparing their legal briefs. The Roman Catholic order of nuns first came to America in 1868 and were welcomed in every city they entered. They now run about 30 homes for the needy across the country. They have, quite cruelly, been told they must comply with the ObamaCare mandate that all insurance coverage include contraceptives, sterilization procedures, morning-after pills. If they don't—and of course they can't, being Catholic, and nuns—they will face ruinous fines. The Supreme Court kindly granted them a temporary stay, but their case soon goes to court. The Justice Department brief, which reads like it was written by someone who just saw "Philomena," suggests the nuns are being ignorant and balky, all they have to do is sign a little, meaningless form and the problem will go away. The sisters don't see the form as meaningless; they know it's not. And so they fight, in a suit along with almost 500 Catholic nonprofit groups.
Chad Crowe
Everyone who says that would never have happened in the past is correct. It never, ever would have under normal American political leadership, Republican or Democratic. No one would've defied religious liberty like this.
The president has taken to saying he isn't ideological but this mandate—his mandate—is purely ideological.
It also is a violation of traditional civic courtesy, sympathy and spaciousness. The state doesn't tell serious religious groups to do it their way or they'll be ruined. You don't make the Little Sisters bow down to you.
This is the great political failure of progressivism: They always go too far. They always try to rub your face in it.
Meanwhile, back in America, disadvantaged parents in Louisiana—people who could never afford to live in places like McLean, Va., or Chevy Chase, Md.—continue to wait to see what will happen with the state's successful school voucher program. It lets poor kids get out of failed public schools and go to private schools on state scholarships. What a great thing. But the Obama Justice Department filed suit in August: The voucher system might violate civil rights law by worsening racial imbalance in the public schools. Gov. Bobby Jindal, and the parents, said nonsense, the scholarship students are predominately black, they have civil rights too. Is it possible the Justice Department has taken its action because a major benefactor of the president's party is the teachers unions, which do not like vouchers because their existence suggests real failures in the public schools they run?
Meanwhile, back in America, conservatives targeted and harassed by the Internal Revenue Service still await answers on their years-long requests for tax exempt status. When news of the IRS targeting broke last spring, agency officials lied about it, and one took the Fifth. The president said he was outraged, had no idea, read about it in the papers, boy was he going to get to the bottom of it. An investigation was announced but somehow never quite materialized. Victims of the targeting waited to be contacted by the FBI to be asked about their experience. Now the Justice Department has made clear its investigation won't be spearheaded by the FBI but by a department lawyer who is a campaign contributor to the president and the Democratic Party. Sometimes you feel they are just laughing at you, and going too far.
In the past five years many Americans have come to understand that an agency that maintained a pretty impressive record for a very long time has been turned, at least in part, into a political operation. Now the IRS has proposed new and tougher rules for grassroots groups. Cleta Mitchell, longtime attorney for many who've been targeted, says the IRS is no longer used in line with its mission: "They're supposed to be collecting revenues, not snooping and trampling on the First Amendment rights of the citizens. We are not subjects of a king, we are permitted to engage in First Amendment activities without reporting those activities to the IRS."


All these things—the pushing around of nuns, the limiting of freedoms that were helping kids get a start in life, the targeting of conservative groups—all these things have the effect of breaking bonds of trust between government and the people. They make citizens see Washington as an alien and hostile power.
Washington sees the disaffection. They read the polls, they know.
They call it rage. But it feels more like grief. Like the loss of something you never thought you'd lose, your sense of your country and your place in it, your rights in it.

The Worst Tribute Articles to Pete Seeger

Posted By Ron Radosh On January 30, 2014 @ 12:59 pm In Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Pete Seeger
Getty Images

A few years ago, on these very pages, I wrote a column [1] titled: “My Final Words on Pete Seeger.” Alas, it was not to be. My final words will actually appear tomorrow, in the pages of the Weekly Standard. And since I wrote the PJM column in 2009, I think I ended up writing at least three, perhaps more, pieces about Seeger. Each time he opened his mouth to endorse yet another horrendous political cause, such as the BDS movement, I found I could not keep silent.

And now, The New Republic’s Paul Berman [2] has laid out a challenge I simply could not ignore. Let me simply give you his own words:
Did he ever fully come to grips with the grotesqueries of his Communist past? I look forward to reading my friend Ron Radosh, the ex-Communist, currently right-wing Republican, ex-banjo-player on this question — Radosh, with whom I agree 10 percent of the time, but who remained, I know, somehow in contact with Seeger, even into recent times. I expect Ron to denounce Pete. I am sorry to remind Pete’s fans that denunciations by Ron Radosh are Pete’s fate.
Sorry, Paul, I’m a conservative — but definitely not a “right-wing Republican,” whatever that pejorative is supposed to mean.

I cannot disappoint Paul Berman. But what more could I do, without repeating anything appearing in the Standard article? One thing occurred to me. Each day brings perhaps at least ten new articles about Pete Seeger, from publications throughout the world, from Israel to Australia to numerous European countries. Anyone doubting his influence and impact should try to compile them all. By now, they can easily make up a new book all by themselves. There are so many I could not even hope to give you the links.

So I have decided to address those that deal with Pete Seeger and communism, and the question of how much impact should one give to that issue in assessing whether or not he was a great artist and musician. Reading all the Seeger tributes, I thought I could come up with what are perhaps the two worst ones written in tribute to Pete Seeger.

The prize for the second-worst article goes to writer David A. Graham.

Graham tries to square the circle in The Atlantic [3]: he acknowledges all the moral obtuseness of Seeger’s Stalinism, and writes that Seeger took “distressing and dangerous positions,” and had some “horrifying ideas.” But, says Graham, despite all this … Seeger meant well!

That’s it — his Stalinism can be excused, because he had good intentions. As Graham sees things: “In Seeger’s eyes, the ideas the Communist Party stood for were quintessentially American.” Because Seeger supposedly thought that a Stalinist state in America would be good, that makes it excusable?

He cites Earl Browder’s war years slogan “Communism is 20th Century Americanism,” without realizing that the slogan was quickly abandoned because Stalin ordered it withdrawn as soon as he heard it.

I somehow don’t remember Pete Seeger coming to the defense of Hollywood writer Albert Maltz in 1945, when the comrades took him to task for saying maybe the slogan “art is a weapon” was misguided. Maltz was pilloried by the comrades and forced to grovel and beg forgiveness for his apostasy. Of course Seeger wouldn’t come to his defense — he often said he believed that was the very mission of his own art.

Indeed, Graham believes that the American Reds imbued a “patriotic leftism.” This shows, of course, how little Graham knows about the history of the American Communist Party. Maybe I should gift him the collected works of Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes; he might learn something from them.

Graham also seems to know little about the Spanish Civil War, since he tells us Pete had “friends who died fighting with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” If Graham knew anything, he would first realize that it was a battalion, and not a brigade — a name purposefully inflated by the comrades to make them appear a bigger force than they actually were. Moreover, he does not realize that this Comintern army fought the battle not for liberty, but for Stalin’s foreign policy aims, as I once wrote about my own uncle who died in that battalion. The article, which appeared in the Washington Post, was called “My Uncle Died in Vain Fighting ‘the good fight.’” I suggest Graham look it up in LexisNexis, or get hold of the book I co-authored, Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War [4].

Graham even attributes to Seeger the authorship of “We Shall Overcome,” which any folklorist knows was an old gospel hymn transformed into a labor organizing song that Seeger later learned at the leftist Highlander Folk School. He and Guy Carawan wrote some new words, and yes, made it familiar, and transformed it into the civil rights anthem it became. But that phrase is something that Seeger can take no credit whatsoever for writing.

Graham’s article, however, is nothing compared to the single worst article about Seeger. That prize goes to … Bhaskar Sunkara, founding editor of Jacobin and senior editor of socialist weekly In These Times. Sunkara’s column appears, perhaps appropriately, in the pages of Aljazeera America, a source I know everyone regularly reads. The title is — ready for this? — “In Defense of Pete Seeger: American Communist. [5]

Sunkara, whose publication has been featured in the New York Times as a great socialist vehicle, actually writes, if you can believe it, the following:
It’s not that Seeger did a lot of good despite his longtime ties to the Communist Party; he did a lot of good because he was a Communist.
At least Sunkara is honest. Unlike the apologists, who want to have their Seeger clean although they think much of what he fought for was morally reprehensible, Sunkara comes up with a new apology. He acknowledges communism in practice was awful, but out of power, and in America, it only did good.

Someone giving out The Daily Worker in the Bronx in 1938, he writes, “shouldn’t be conflated with the nomenklatura that oversaw labor camps an ocean away.” Doesn’t he know that the comrades in the CPUSA were at the same time justifying and rationalizing and lying about every crime committed by Stalin’s regime in the USSR? Doesn’t he know that the issue of the paper they were giving out had articles not only about labor struggles at home, but about how Stalin was creating paradise in the gulag and liberating prisoners through work?

In reality, these same American Reds were trying to teach the workers whose fights they supported that they should look to the USSR as an example of what could be built in the United States. It was more honest when William Z. Foster titled one of his early books Toward Soviet America. The party’s strategy changed, but not its goals.

Sunkara says the Communists and Seeger were “on the right side of history.” Really? Was Seeger on the right side of history when he and the Almanac Singers called FDR a warmonger and urged alongside America First “no intervention in a foreign war,” and when he attacked the U.S. as fascist, Britain as imperialist, and declared Nazi Germany a benign power that meant no harm to the world? As Pete sang and played: “Franklin D. Franklin D, You ain’t gonna send me across the sea.”

Then Sunkara gives us the usual line about how right the Eastern bloc was in leading the anti-colonial struggle in Asia and Africa. Think of the outcome had the USSR lasted and been able to turn South Africa into a replica of the Soviet Union, which well might have happened had the ANC — controlled by the South African Communist Party — succeeded in toppling the apartheid regime in the early ’60s.

What does Sunkara think about the totalitarian and Sovietized regime of Mengistu in Ethiopia, one of the most brutal communist “liberation” governments in that era?

Sunkara too seems to have little knowledge of American Communist history. He too should read Haynes and Klehr, in particular their volumes on American Communism. He cites Communist Party novelist Michael Gold, black author Richard Wright, and critic Granville Hicks as examples of Communism’s best. Anyone who thinks that Mike Gold had knowledge about anything of value, does not realize that Richard Wright became an anti-Communist, or knows nothing about how and why Granville Hicks changed, and attributes these people in particular with pushing FDR and the New Deal to the left, reveals only his own ignorance of history.

It is not surprising Sunkara likes Gold, since he is the man who called Seeger “the Karl Marx of the teenagers.”

So Sunkara praises American Communists for playing a “largely positive role in American politics and culture.” Largely positive, like when they said the fight for civil rights had to be abandoned during WWII because everything had to be put aside to support the Soviet Union and defeat Hitler? Or that strikes should be abandoned and a no-strike pledge instituted in the factories, and that anyone opposing their policies in the labor movement should be indicted? This is precisely what the U.S. government did when it indicted and tried the Trotskyists under the Smith Act. The Communist Party provided the government lawyers with material to be used by the prosecution.

Pete supported that. But of course, when the Communists were indicted under the same Smith Act in 1948, the party proclaimed that an example of the Truman administration’s “fascist” policies.
Indeed, “The Hammer Song,” known by most as “If I Had a Hammer,” was written by Lee Hays (not Seeger) as a song to be used in defense of the indicted Communists, and not as a clarion call for brotherhood. Sunkara’s belief that the American Communists were “creative and dynamic” is so far off the mark one can only laugh at his ignorance.

So that is why he likes Pete Seeger, whom he calls “one of the last surviving links to this great legacy.” Moreover, he actually writes that there was “an undeniable charm to the Communist Party.” Read that again — “an undeniable charm.” Is this man simply nuts? If Sunkara really believes this, he is more than ignorant. He simply does not know the truth, and responds to what Paul Berman accurately describes as Seeger’s appeal:
If you can persuade crowds of people that simple morality and a childlike vision of right and wrong can be summed up in a few phrases, there is nothing you cannot achieve, and some of what you might achieve could turn out to be disastrous in the extreme — e.g., Stalin’s idea of dividing up the world with Hitler.
I imagine that if Sunkara had been alive and heard Pete singing the songs on the “John Doe” album, he would have quickly run to the White House picketing against the idea of defense spending and war against Hitler.

Did Seeger eventually “regret the illusions he held about the Soviet Union,” as Sunkara says? Not really, despite his letters to me and his writing — half a century too late — his little ditty about Joe Stalin.

Indeed, speaking to the [6]New York Times [6], after that paper wrote an article about Seeger’s controversial exchanges with me, Seeger said, referring to me and my books and article about the crimes of communism: “I’m sure there are more constructive things he could do with his life.”

I know Pete would not have said that if I had been writing books about fascism.

More than likely, he would have praised my doing so. Pete, like so many others on the Left, simply failed to realize that communism is fascism’s twin.

Some also take umbrage, as does Graham, with calling Seeger anti-American. In his Mother Jones [7] article, David Hajdu, who spent time with Seeger before writing the article, called him “devoted to a few simple ideas, a nostalgist whose worldview often seems frozen in the era of his own coming-of-age.” He adds: “A strain of anti-Americanism has always run through Seeger’s work.”

If you don’t think that is the case, listen to the Smithsonian Folkways CD “Pete Seeger Sing-a-Long,” recorded at the Sanders Theater in Cambridge, Mass., in 1980. In an impromptu remark, Seeger makes a comment about how if the people had guns, you better watch out, because you don’t know whom the people would use the guns against. The comment receives huge cheers. That is to be expected of from an audience in the People’s Republic of Cambridge.

Sunkara is right about one thing. He quotes Bruce Springsteen, who wrote that Seeger showed how song could “nudge history along.” Seeger did indeed help make communism more fashionable, and that is a tragedy, not something for which Pete Seeger should ever have received praise.

Article printed from Ron Radosh:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] column:
[2] Paul Berman:
[3] The Atlantic:
[4] Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War:
[5] In Defense of Pete Seeger: American Communist.:
[6] the:
[7] Mother Jones:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Four words in the ACA could spell its doom
Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson
Someone you probably are not familiar with has filed a suit you probably have not heard about concerning a four-word phrase you should know about. The suit could blow to smithereens something everyone has heard altogether too much about, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (hereafter, ACA).
Scott Pruitt and some kindred spirits might accelerate the ACA’s collapse by blocking another of the Obama administration’s lawless uses of the Internal Revenue Service. Pruitt was elected Oklahoma’s attorney general by promising to defend states’ prerogatives against federal encroachment, and today he and some properly litigious people elsewhere are defending a state prerogative that the ACA explicitly created. If they succeed, the ACA’s disintegration will accelerate.
Because under the ACA, insurance companies cannot refuse coverage because of an individual’s preexisting condition. Because many people might therefore wait to purchase insurance after they become sick, the ACA requires a mandate to compel people to buy insurance. And because many people cannot afford the insurance that satisfies the ACA’s criteria, the ACA mandate makes it necessary to provide subsidies for those people.
The four words that threaten disaster for the ACA say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance inan exchange “established by the state.” But34 states have chosen not to establish exchanges.
So the IRS, which is charged with enforcing the ACA, has ridden to the rescue of Barack Obama’s pride and joy. Taking time off from writing regulations to restrict the political speech of Obama’s critics, the IRS has said, with its breezy indifference to legality, that subsidies shall also be dispensed to those who purchase insurance through federal exchanges the government has established in those 34 states. Pruitt is challenging the IRS in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, and there are similar challenges in Indiana, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The IRS says its “interpretation” — it actually is a revision — of the law is “consistent with,” and justified by, the “structure of” the ACA. The IRS means that without its rule, the ACA would be unworkable and that Congress could not have meant to allow this. The ACA’s legislative history, however, demonstrates that Congress clearly — and, one might say, with malice aforethought — wanted subsidies available only through state exchanges.
Some have suggested that the language limiting subsidies to state-run exchanges is a drafting error. Well.
Some of the ACA’s myriad defects do reflect its slapdash enactment, which presaged its chaotic implementation. But the four potentially lethal words were carefully considered and express Congress’s intent.
Congress made subsidies available only through state exchanges as a means of coercing states into setting up exchanges.
In Senate Finance Committee deliberations on the ACA, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), one of the bill’s primary authors, suggested conditioning tax credits on state compliance because only by doing so could the federal government induce state cooperation with the ACA. Then the law’s insurance requirements could be imposed on states without running afoul of constitutional law precedents that prevent the federal government from commandeering state governments. The pertinent language originated in the committee and was clarified in the Senate. (See “Taxation Without Representation: The Illegal IRS Rule To Expand Tax Credits Under The PPACA,” by Jonathan H. Adler and Michael F. Cannon in Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine.)
Also, passage of the ACA required the vote of every Democratic senator. One, Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, admirably opposed a federal exchange lest this become a steppingstone toward a single-payer system.
If courts, perhaps ultimately including the Supreme Court, disallow the IRS’s “interpretation” of the law, the ACA will not function as intended in 34 states with 65 percent of the nation’s population. If courts allow the IRS’s demarche, they will validate this:
By dispensing subsidies through federal exchanges, the IRS will spend tax revenues without congressional authorization. And by enforcing the employer mandate in states that have only federal exchanges, it will collect taxes — remember, Chief Justice John Roberts saved the ACA by declaring that the penalty enforcing the mandate is really just a tax on the act of not purchasing insurance — without congressional authorization.
If the IRS can do neither, it cannot impose penalties on employers who fail to offer ACA-approved insurance to employees.
If the IRS can do both, Congress can disband because it has become peripheral to American governance.
Read more from George F. Will’s archive or follow him on Facebook.

Gaslight Anthem Unearths Outtake on ‘She Loves You’ (Song Premiere)

By Eric R. Danton
January 28, 2014
Like many bands, theGaslight Anthem often ends up with more songs than they need for the album they’re working on at the time. Speakeasy today premieres one of them,“She Loves You,” from“The B-Sides,” a forthcoming collection of odds and ends the anthemic New Jersey rockers recorded between 2008-11.
“She Loves You” opens the 11-track compilation, which includes acoustic versions of several of the band’s songs, a live performance and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice.” Written during sessions for the band’s 2010 release “American Slang,” “She Loves You” is a gutbucket of a tune that anchors frontman Brian Fallon’s searing vocals with ringing guitar and a spare, measured rhythm.
“It was probably one of the last songs written for the record,” Fallon told Speakeasy. “I’m not sure why we didn’t include it, but we have a habit of doing that. Some songs just don’t fit on the record, so you keep them as b-sides.”
He added, “Sometimes they’re the ones that connect the most.”
Fallon hadn’t listened much to the band’s extra material before he began sifting through nearly 30 songs up for consideration for “The B-Sides”
“It was like memory lane,” he said. “I couldn’t believe some of the things that we had done. I couldn’t believe we had recorded some of these songs. It was the first time I really had any distance.”
It may be a while before he had any more distance: the band is rehearsing now to begin recording its next studio album in March, Fallon said.
“We’re going to take two months and maybe tune up the sound a little and maybe try something we haven’t done before,” he said.
“The B-Sides” is out today on Side One Dummy Records. What do you think of “She Loves You?” Leave your thoughts in the comments.
For more music news, follow @erdanton.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

NHL Could Reevaluate Sending Players To Sochi For Olympics, Some Players Elect To Leave Families Home

By Ashley Dunkak
January 28, 2014
Police officers with dogs walk along a street in Sochi, Russia, on Jan. 6. The presence of security personnel has ramped up recently ahead of the Winter Olympics.
Police officers with dogs walk along a street in Sochi, Russia, on Jan. 6. The presence of security personnel has ramped up recently ahead of the Winter Olympics. (Kyoto/Landov)

DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – As the Feb. 7 start date of the Winter Olympics draws closer, concerns about potential terrorist attacks targeting the event in Sochi, Russia, have not abated.
According to BBC, Whitehall officials (the British equivalent of White House officials) have called terrorist attacks before or during the Olympics “very likely.”
The circumstances leading up to the Olympics have provided plenty of fodder for concern. Threats from Islamic extremist groups, wanted posters in Sochi hotels of potential “black widow” suicide bombers, December suicide bombings in Volograd that killed dozens of people, Islamic insurgency and unrest in nearby regions – hardly the ingredients for a jovial Olympic atmosphere.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has guaranteed safety at Sochi, implementing a security force of more than 50,000 individuals. Putin’s so-called ”Ring of Steel” around Sochi was sealed Jan.7. In addition running visitors through various security checkpoints, Russia will also be able to monitor all phone and Internet conversations taking place in the city thanks to recently implemented surveillance technology.
While NHL players have expressed excitement about the experience of representing their country and competing against the world’s best, the league has not ruled out the possibility of keeping its players stateside.
“As of now, we do not doubt that all necessary steps are being taken by the Sochi Organizing Committee, the Russian government and the IOC to ensure the safety of the athletes and guests in Sochi,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press. “Obviously, if something significant were to transpire between now and February 9 that causes us to question that conclusion, we will re-evaluate. I don’t expect that that will become necessary.”
Indeed, U.S. athletes even received memos cautioning them to maintain a low profile outside competitions.
“If you are an American Olympic athlete, you don’t want to advertise that far outside the Olympic venues,” a senior State Department official told CNN.
While many believe that the Olympic Games themselves should be safe because of the intensive security measures, experts worry about other, less secured gathering places – train stations, hotels and security check-in lines.
While few Olympians seem concerned about their own safety, a significant number have expressed concerns about their family members, with many deciding to leave their loved ones at home.
“They’re not gonna go. It’s not worth it,” Phoenix Coyote goalie Mike Smith told FOX Sports Arizona. “For myself, it’s about thinking if [my wife is] OK when I’m not with her. It’s unfortunate, but it’s just the way it is.”
Vancouver Canucks Robert Luongo and Daniel Sedin will also not bring their families, Fox News reported. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild will not be bringing their supporters, listing security concerns as a factor, and speed skater Tucker Fredricks also asked his family to stay home so he would not have to worry about their safety.
According to Yahoo, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins made similar calls.
The father of St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie put it this way:
“It’s getting to the point where our lives are on the line if we go there,” Tim Oshie told the New York Times. “They’re talking about terrorizing families. I’d rather stay in the homeland.”
Many are wondering if the NHL may feel the same way if the situation surrounding Sochi worsens.

Today's Tune: Bruce Springsteen - Just Like Fire Would

In Afghanistan, a war that has lost its purpose
Above: (L to R) Navy SEALs Matthew G. Axelson, Daniel R. Healy, James Suh, Marcus Luttrell, Eric S. Patton, and Michael P. Murphy in Afghanistan. With the exception of Luttrell, all were killed June 28, 2005, by enemy forces while supporting Operation Red Wings. Below: (L to R) Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Matt "Axe" Axelson (Ben Foster) and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) in Lone Survivor.
While watching the utterly gripping movie “Lone Survivor” recently, I comforted myself by noting that the four Navy SEALs engaged in a desperate firefight with the Afghan Taliban were all volunteers. They asked for this, I told myself. They were not draftees yanked out of civilian life and compelled to fight a war they could neither understand nor win. They had asked for this, I insisted, but I knew all the time that this was a lie. They had volunteered, but certainly not to die and certainly for no purpose.
Okay, I know this is only a movie. But it is faithful to the book of the same name , which is faithful to the 2005 mission called Operation Red Wing that was intended to take out a Taliban commander. The title “Lone Survivor” pretty much says what happened, but you owe it to the SEALs and to their families to see the movie. The ending is not in doubt, but the reason for their sacrifice undoubtedly is. Afghanistan is a war searching for a reason.
All through the movie, I kept asking myself, Why? What are these men fighting for? Once, I knew the answer. After Sept. 11, 2001, I wanted to wipe out al-Qaeda and kill its Afghan hosts, the Taliban. Even before the terrorist attack, reports of the Taliban’s treatment of women — stonings, public executions in the soccer stadium, etc. — and beheadings of men convinced me that it simply had it coming: Send in the Marines.
But U.S. fighting units have been there since 2001. The initial mission — the destruction of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan — was completed long ago. The Taliban and its allies remain, but unlike al-Qaeda they are indigenous and, seemingly, undeterred. They apparently have an unlimited supply of suicide bombers (who are these people?), and they continue to inflict mayhem on Afghans and foreigners alike. This month, the Taliban struck a Kabul restaurant that draws a Western clientele and killed at least 21 people. The attack by gunmen was preceded by a suicide bombing.
Bob Gates, in his memoir “Duty,” depicted Barack Obama as a commander in chief whose policy in Afghanistan was to do as little as possible — simultaneously ordering a surge and announcing a pull-out date.Gates, then defense secretary , was appalled: “The president doesn’t . . . believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his.”
Well, the war is not Obama’s. It is George W. Bush’s — one he interrupted to mindlessly chase after Saddam Hussein. But Obama embraced the Afghanistan mission and then, apparently, never knew what to do with it. I don’t blame him. Afghanistan is an arid Vietnam, a quagmire presided over by the petulant and unpredictable Hamid Karzai. For Obama, Gates wrote, “it’s all about getting out.”
The quote is pithy, but the observation is banal. It was clear back in 2009, when Obama ordered his surge in Afghanistan, that he had no stomach for continuing the war. The war goes on and on and has now become fused with the futility of Iraq —2,307 Americans dead in Afghanistan, 4,489 dead in Iraq, an incomprehensible waste of lives.
The administration wants U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan (the Pentagon has suggested 10,000). It has its reasons. The country was once a terrorist base and could revert. The necessary pursuit of the remaining Sept. 11 terrorists is best based in the region — as are U.S. drones — and without an American spine, the Afghan army could collapse. That would permit the return to power of the Taliban and the abandonment of women and girls to frenzied misogynists. That, though, has nothing to do with realpolitik, just real life. Soon, the music will die and we will have to avert our eyes.
But as Gates insisted, Obama has failed to make these or other arguments. “He needed to say publicly why the troops’ sacrifices were necessary,” Gates said of the president. Gates made that point several times, and he is right. Maybe, though, Obama is cautioned by the experience of Lyndon Johnson. On July 28, 1965, LBJ began a news conference by addressing the question of “why we are in Vietnam.” He never supplied a satisfactory answer.
In the movie theater, I watched two films at once — “Lone Survivor” on the screen and Vietnam in my head. On the screen, as in reality, men fought and died — and, as with Vietnam, I no longer knew why. One man survived the battle. The rest were lost — as is the reason for the war itself.
Read more from Richard Cohen’s archive.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

First-Class Islam: Eric Holder Puts Muslims Above Terror Suspicion

Posted By Timothy Furnish On January 28, 2014 @ 12:00 am In Homeland Security,US News | 12 Comments

From 2008 to 2011, I was a guest lecturer at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (the primary DHS training facility, located in coastal Georgia) and at Joint Special Operations University (which brings foreign officers to learn of U.S. irregular warfare, located in Tampa). At both venues I was asked to lecture on the history of terrorism.

I did so in an even-handed and comprehensive manner, exploring the issue across place (Europe to East Asia), time (ancient Assyria to al-Qaeda), and ideology (religious: pagan, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Muslim; and political: right-wing, left-wing, anarchist, environmentalist, etc.). Only 14 of the 44 PowerPoint screens in my presentation dealt with Islamic terrorism, although several of those actually mitigated against the concept.

Nonetheless, in June 2009 I was told that I could no longer lecture at FLETC, because the edict had come down from the new Obama administration that “no trainer who uses the term ‘jihad’ shall henceforth be used.” (This was over two years before the Obama administration was openly hostile to realistic training about Islam [1].)

JSOU continued to utilize me until late 2011, when I was told by the course instructor that Muslim student officers had complained that “I talked too much about Islamic terrorism.”

I was actually surprised that I had not been yanked the year before, when references to Islam and jihad were stricken [2] from Obama’s kinder, gentler National Security Strategy document. That same year, noted Islamic studies expert Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee [3] that foiled Islamic suicide bombers in the U.S. were motivated by “Islam that is not consistent with” that religion’s “true teachings.”

Now, the Obama administration — led by Holder — has decided that Islam is a “race,” [4] and therefore to examine or even to adduce a Muslim’s Islamic beliefs about jihad [5]beheading [6]violence against kuffar [7](“infidels”), or re-establishing a caliphate [8] is tantamount to racism. This administration behavior is rationalized because “federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counter terrorism investigations and Latinos for immigration investigations.”

It is difficult to express just how willfully ignorant of reality these statements and accompanying policies are.

Per the immigration example: as over 80% of “undocumented aliens” are from Mexico or another Latin American country [9], it would be foolish, indeed delusionary, to ignore that fact. The same logic applies to directing extra scrutiny towards individuals who hold a set of beliefs that may predispose them to violence against others not of that belief system.

And that is the primary point: Islam is a belief system. Not a race.

Muslims can be of any skin, Bosnian or Turkish, Nigerian, Saudi, Chinese. If American, Muslims can perhaps be of several nationalities. This is equally if not more true of Christians, who can be white Finns, black Ethiopians, brown Lebanese, or Koreans, to name but a few examples. It is not possible to look at someone (sans distinctive clothing) and ascertain whether he or she is Muslim or Christian — or secularist, for that matter.

Advocacy groups and willing dupes in the media and Democrat Party — like Senator Dick Durbin — have foolishly yet successfully conflated race and ideology in the case of only one religion, Islam. They have made examining the latter tantamount to discrimination against the former.  No one ever argues that singling out Christians for repression because they hold politically incorrect views about gay marriage or abortion amounts to “racism.”

Beyond the obvious fact that beliefs do not constitute a race, Holder et al. are massively wrong to deny the clear link between certain Islamic beliefs and terrorism.

Currently there are 57 groups on the U.S. State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization list [10]; 38 of these are stridently Islamic in ideology and goals. Ten of these are secular/Leftist, six are nationalist, one is anarchist, and one each is Jewish and Christian. (The latter one — the Japanese, sarin gas-using Aum Shinrikyo — is at best only nominally Christian, and better described as generically apocalyptic.)

So: 67% of the world’s terrorist groups as recognized by the U.S. (more, actually, if State were honest and comprehensive; they should includee Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria, etc.) are Muslim.

Since 9/11, 82% of U.S. Department of Justice terrorism convictions have been of Muslims, despite the fact that Muslims comprise less than 1% of the American population. (I accessed this data some time ago; it has sincemysteriously disappeared from the DOJ website [11].)

The University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database [12] tracks terrorism incidents from 1970 to today: search for “Islam” and you find almost 5,000 entries. Search for “Christianity” and you will find a grand total of 14.

The NSA could probably save a lot of money — as well as abide by the Constitution — if it simply acknowledged the following:
A person with neither a first nor a last Muslim name stood only a 1 in 500,000 chance of being a suspected terrorist. The likelihood for a person with a first or a last Muslim name was 1 in 30,000. For a person with first and last Muslim names, however, the likelihood jumped to 1 in 2,000 (Levitt & Dubner, Super Freakonomics, 2009, p. 93).
Clearly, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, Islam is the world’s major ideological motivator of terrorism and violence. (I have neither the time, nor the patience, to yet again demonstrate the legitimate Islamic roots of violence. Ray Ibrahim’s brilliant article [13] should be all the proof needed for those able to handle the truth.) Yet Eric Holder and his boss would have the federal authorities most responsible for protecting the public — led by the FBI — pretend that up is down, freedom is slavery, and Islam is peaceful except when “twisted” by a “handful of extremists.”

Instead of ardent Islamic beliefs being treated as a clear marker for potential terrorism, they are now a talisman [14] protecting the holder not just from scrutiny, but suspicion.

Obama and Holder are transforming the U.S. into a dhimmi nation: one that cowers before Islamic law and demands that its non-Muslim citizens — especially its 240 million Christians — meekly accept their second-class status and never broach the glaringly obvious fact of Islamic violence, even if this means making all non-Muslims less safe. The question for those of us in the majority, then: just how long will we put up with such a dangerous policy?

Article printed from PJ Media:

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URLs in this post:
[1] Obama administration was openly hostile to realistic training about Islam:
[2] when references to Islam and jihad were stricken:
[3] Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee:
[4] has decided that Islam is a “race,”:
[5] jihad:
[6] beheading:
[7] violence against kuffar
[8] re-establishing a caliphate:
[9] 80% of “undocumented aliens” are from Mexico or another Latin American country:
[10] U.S. State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization list:
[11] mysteriously disappeared from the DOJ website:
[12] Global Terrorism Database:
[13] Ray Ibrahim’s brilliant article:
[14] talisman:

Olympics haunted by terrorism

January 27, 2014

A Russian police officer frisks a man as his vehicle also is screened at the entrance to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games park at Sochi. The Olympics begin on Feb. 7. (AP)

The notion that the Olympics promote world peace through sport is as quaint as the notion that the Miss Universe pageant promotes world peace through swimsuit modeling.
The upcoming Sochi Winter Games present a particularly ugly example of Olympics as political pawn. Terrorists have vowed to deliver their message in blood.
Accompanying the announcement of the 230-member U.S. team on Monday were more warnings of attacks and more arrivals of police and soldiers in Sochi. The Russian government expects to deploy 60,000 security personnel in the region, which means one gun-toting guard for every 100 people attending the Games. Add bomb-sniffing dogs, surveillance cameras, drones and pat-downs and it makes for a very festive atmosphere, dah? Unfortunately, for those who won’t be watching snowboarders and skaters from the safety of their sofas, nyet.
Sochi is a target illuminated by the Olympic spotlight. For a fanatic or jihadist, what better time and place to make a murderous statement?
When the International Olympic Committee chose Sochi in 2007 it was an unnecessary gamble, given the instability of the Caucasus region then and for past centuries. Now, it can only be called an act of hare-brained, irresponsible negligence.
Athletes have enough to worry about, including parasites in tap water, without carrying the burden of trepidation in their already overloaded brains. The IOC has put them in harm’s way. Some are telling relatives who sweated and sacrificed along with them to stay home. Nick Alvarez, older brother of Miami short track speedskater Eddy Alvarez and father of three young children, has decided not to go.
“It’s a tough call, but not worth the risk,” Nick said.
The dread of another Munich hangs over these Games. Terrorist threats have become part of the buildup to the Olympics. The porous borders of Greece caused concern in 2004. Plots by London’s underground cells put law enforcement on high alert in 2012. The 2002 Salt Lake City Games were held under suffocating security while the world still reeled from the grief and fear of the 9-11 airliner attacks. In 1996, a lone lunatic wreaked havoc in Atlanta.
The Olympics and events like them will always be a magnet for danger. But the IOC should not continue cozying up to repressive regimes in deluded attempts to reform them. Leave democracy building to the United Nations or Nobel Peace Prize visionaries, not to ex-fencers, skiers and yachtsmen.
The IOC couldn’t learn from Hitler’s glorification of Nazism in 1936?
Or the painful boycotts of Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984? Or from China’s abuses of dissidents and poor people in its extravagant staging of Beijing 2008?
The IOC colluded with Russian strongman president Vladimir Putin’s ego in awarding him the Sochi Games. He has spent an Olympic record $51 billion to transform his favorite Black Sea summer resort and winter ski escape into an Olympic playground. Only time will tell whether venues keep seeing action or turn into white elephants, as they have in Beijing.
The cost of Putin’s two weeks on the Olympic platform has come in the form of massive kickbacks, environmental damage, deaths of two dozen construction workers, displacement of residents and detention of activists. Welcoming the world to the Olympics did not deter Putin’s government from enacting an anti-gay “propaganda” law.
Hosting the Olympics has allowed Putin to crack down on a simmering revolt in the North Caucasus while emboldening Islamist militants. The Games are pitting Putin, who seeks to burnish his image and consolidate power, against those who want to destroy it and secede from his new Russia.
A group in Dagestan, the region which radicalized the elder Boston Marathon bomber, says it was behind a suicide bombing in Volgograd in October 2013 that killed 34. Doku Umarov, leader of the Imarat Kavkaz insurgency, has called on followers to disrupt the Games.
Security forces are hunting for a 22-year-old suspected “Black Widow” suicide bomber who may have infiltrated Sochi’s “ring of steel.” Three other “Black Widows” — so named because their husbands have been killed in fighting that is commonplace in Chechnya and Abkhazia — are being sought. British authorities say more attacks are “very likely to occur” in Sochi, according to a report examined by the BBC.
U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” that no one should be scared away from the Olympics.
“If we do not support our team and show up, I think the terrorists are winning,” he said. “Having said that, I would say that the security threat to … this particular Olympics is the greatest I’ve ever seen.”
IOC president Thomas Bach praised Russia’s precautions on Monday while glossing over its civil rights problems.
“Fear is a bad advisor,” Bach said. “I’m sorry to tell you I’m sleeping very well.”
Let us hope the athletes can say the same.

Read more here: