Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Defenders of Evil in the Dark

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil" Isaiah 5:20

Every conspiracy theory by Anti-War activists and 9/11 Truthers has one thing in common. It calls good, evil... and evil, good. Its overriding message is that America is the center of all the world's evil. We are the imperialists. We are the colonizers and the occupiers. When terrorists kill us, we're the ones responsible. Either because we angered them, or because secretly we were the ones who did it. When we die, it's because we're sheep who deserve what we get. When we fight back, it's because we're amoral monsters.

Their worldview is founded on that one single rock. The bedrock of their hate. The conspiracy theories they believe only feed that hate. They need to believe in them, for the same reason that murderers need to believe that their victims are plotting against them. Because it justifies the poisonous blackness that flows through their minds.

They cannot mourn the dead of the attacks of September 11, the way decent Americans can. Because that would force them to look upon those men and women as human beings. And to stop their demented attacks on their country for at least a single night. Instead they hijack commemorations, they mock the dead, they spread claims that the dead are really alive and that they were in on it all along. They bring their bumper stickers and their banners. They sneer gleefully at the pain they cause to others. "The Sheeple," as they call them.

What drives them is the same thing that drives the Westboro cult protesters. To justify their hate by completely dehumanizing their targets. And in the process, they themselves become less than human. Ghoulish creatures fed by hate, spreading their lies through every vector. Like most conspiracy theories, the lies themselves don't matter. The details are ornamentation to make the lie more believable. But the lie itself is superfluous. It's not really about the temperature at which steel melts. It is about the twisted minds of those who cannot accept a world in which America is the victim of a foreign attack-- rather than the enemy, the perpetrator, the Red, White and Blue devil that must be torn down and stamped into the dust.

Such conspiracy theories are not new. Every major attack on Americans in the 20th century, from the sinking of the Lusitania to Pearl Harbor to the Pueblo Incident all follow the same pattern. The enemy, whether it's the German military, Imperial Japan, North Korea or Al Qaeda are always in the right. And America is always in the wrong. We are always the bad guys. And the bad guys, are always the good guys.

America goes about its imperialistic ways, offending benevolent Nazis and Communists who never intended us any harm. And then when we push those noble mass murderers too far and they finally fight back against us, they're there to stand up for the poor downtrodden tyrants and expose all the lies that the government tells us. Someone had to stand up for Uncle Adolf and Uncle Joe, and Uncle Osama-- a late addition to the nuclear family. Someone who knows that the real enemy isn't Adolf, Joe or Osama-- but that unrepentant villain, Uncle Sam.

Anti-War activists helped set this pattern in WW1, boiling together a stewpot of conspiracy theories that attracted everyone from racists to anarchists and socialists. That stewpot converted Henry Ford into a raving lunatic obsessed with the Jews and international banks. The same thing was repeated again in WW2. In an outbreak of utter madness, British dockworkers during WW2 were told that American GI's weren't coming to fight the Nazis, but to suppress labor protests. For the next 50 years, the left went on repeating it to mobilize opposition to the US presence in Western Europe.

The Truthers are not a new phenomenon, but a very old one. Their ideological ancestors spread rumors that Washington's men had begun the Great Fire of New York. Today they claim that Bush's men blew up the World Trade Center. The basic narrative hasn't changed much across some two centuries. Only the location has moved across the river. There's more pretend science in the mix now, but all the cardboard models and temperature talk, it's not about the science. It's about the hate. Their hate for everything that America is. They may and do dress it up in talk of the Constitution or civil liberties. But the only people whose civil liberties they support, are those who tear down the country.

Like Hitler and Stalin shaking hands, follow a circle far enough at either end and you wind up with two reflections of the same thing. The Bush Administration was a time when the left and the far right realized that they had more in common than they thought. For all their disagreements, they had one vital point of consensus. They both agreed that America was evil. Abominable. A monstrous regime on the verge of turning into the next Hitler. And so they formed their own little Hitler-Stalin pact. Pat Buchanan joined the Anti-War movement. The same media which regularly opined that anyone to the right of Clinton was the devil, suddenly found a lot of good things to say about Ron Paul. The Anti-War movement had become bipartisan, in the sense that it consisted of two groups of people who wouldn't spit on an American soldier if he were on fire.

Most though never went all the way. It was one thing to claim that the terrorists had a point and that we had provoked them. To call for freeing the terrorists and sending them back home. Even to demonize the military was okay, so long as you did it carefully under the guise of concerns about civil liberties. All that could pass. But Truthers were a bridge too far. Because on that day, millions of Americans had watched 3,000 people being murdered in cold blood. And trifling with that was still dangerous. Like protesting at a soldier's funeral, it wasn't for everyone.

But for those like Alex Jones, it was a gold mine. Some did it for the money. And there was and is good money to be made in promoting this stuff. Books and DVD's to be sold. Conferences to be organized. For others, it was political. 9/11 Trutherism was the ultimate way to project their vision of America as an absolutely evil regime. If America could be blamed for 9/11. Then it could be blamed for anything. Anything at all. And that was the point.

9/11, like the Holocaust, represents an almost insurmountable historical obstacle to specific groups of people. Most choose to avoid confronting it head on. Or limit their criticism to sideline attacks, as Michael Moore did in Farenheit 9/11. But some choose to push straight through. Turning the attacks of September 11 from a crime against America-- into a crime by America, is the goal here. To erase Muslim terrorists from the picture, as a distraction from their overriding message. That America is evil. Irredeemably evil. So evil that it is the real enemy, not some people living in caves overseas.

The more mainstream left reacted by equating Bush and Republicans with the Taliban. One of the more famous such responses early on was a book cover which photoshopped Bush in Taliban garb. A more recent notorious example was Grayson's Taliban Dan ad. This line of attack has been fairly standard among left wing movements through the 20th century. Its underlying argument is that the same evils that exist abroad, also exist in America. And so there's no call to go fighting them overseas. There are American Taliban right there in the form of Christian conservatives, and we should be fighting them instead.

The left had followed this line with the Holocaust by turning the Jews into the "New Nazis". Americans accordingly were the new Taliban. Standard moral equivalence which shifts victims into perpetrators, and eventually turns perpetrators into victims.

But for the far left and the far right, it wasn't enough to merely equate the two. They had to show that there was no Muslim enemy. Just a phantom foe created by our real enemy. Bush and his various puppetmasters. Such a line of thinking makes Trutherism inevitable. It makes it positively mandatory. For their worldview to hold up, there can only be one great enemy. And that enemy is the United States of America.

9/11 Truthers followed the same line that Holocaust deniers had. They began with the "bridge". The bridge is the element of their argument that crosses the gap from a more mainstream radical critique to a denial position. On the Holocaust, the "bridge" has been the claim, popular among some on the left, that Jews were complicit in Nazism. Pushed a little further, this turns Nazis into agents of the Jews. Which then leads to the claim that the Holocaust never really happened and was the work of a Jewish conspiracy.

The 9/11 Truther bridge was the claim that America had backed the Taliban and armed Al Qaeda. This allowed them to position Muslim terrorists as agents of America. The next step over the bridge, was to move to arguing that America carried out the attacks of September 11. Not only were we the "New Taliban", but we were the Taliban all along. And Al Qaeda and Hamas and all of them rolled into one. Like a magic carpet, we become our own enemies. There are never any real enemies but the secret forces running the country. The secret forces who turn out to be much the same groups who showed up in WW1 conspiracy theories.

The denial mongerers have never had a single original idea since World War I. The various technological twists added on, conceal the rottenness of the superstructure which is still based around 19th century obsessions with secret elite organizations, Freemasonry, the Jews, the banks and the currency. Russia Today, which is funded by Putin's KGB regime, purveys virtually the same conspiracy theories as the Okhrana, the Czarist secret police, the originators of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, did and as the NKVD and KGB did before and after the Cold War. The difference is that they do it digitally.

Russia Today is a fairly clear example of enemy propaganda, which Americans participate in distributing. But it's only the more obvious of the examples, because it's so out in the open. Too obvious for the people who can fashion a global conspiracy out of a dropped microphone, but not look at who is actually funding the videos talking eagerly about the breakup of America or the imminent collapse of the dollar. But to them, our enemies are always in the right. And we are always in the wrong. And that is what it really comes down to. That belief.

It has never been about the facts, but about the fanatic zeal to conduct a campaign of hate against America. Whether it's the 9/11 Truthers, the Anti-War protests or the Westboro Baptist Church-- you can always see the hate. You can smell it. The curled lips. The bared teeth. The mocking grins. The defacing of American symbols. The predictions of doom. All those come out of a darkness in the soul. They have found their enemy. And we are it. That single destructive impulse characterizes their entire political worldview.

There is no reasoning with them. Because there is no reasoning with hate. Hate is by its very nature irrational. You can only banish it. Turn your back to it. And leave in the darkness of its own making. Because where others see light, they can only see their own darkness.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Won't You Please Hug a Terrorist ?

The working theory among the think-tanks, academic campuses, newsrooms and diplomatic offices is that terrorists are just like us. Except depressed and insecure about it. Filled with self-loathing and in desperate need of anger management classes. If only some kind soul could plop them down on an analyst's couch and stuff them chock full of Prozac or Paxil, hug them without letting go, while reading passages from Jonathan Livingston Seagull-- then they'd be just as right as rain. And twice as wet.

The news media has already activated its brilliant powers of long distance psychoanalysis on the Oregon Christmas Tree Bomber, and diagnosed him as suffering from his parent's divorce and vicious Oregonian college bullies. Sure Mohamed O. Mohamud might say he's a Muslim terrorist who wants to kill Americans-- but the good people at NBC know better. He's not a terrorist. He's just misunderstood. Deep down inside him, there's gushing oil wells of untapped good.

Mohamed O. Mohamud joins Fort Hood terrorist Major Nidal Hassan (who came down not with Muslim Murder Madness, but a virulent airborne form of PTSD) and Times Square bomber Faisal Shazad (suffering from uncontrollable Foreclosure Fever) on the analyst's couch. Another misunderstood victim of poorly articulated rage that led him to snap and try to kill a whole bunch of people, who coincidentally happened not to be Muslim.

For a depressing stretch of the 20th century, sociologists insisted there was no such thing as a criminal, only a set of responses to social inequities. Robbers, rapists and murderers were just lashing out because of social discrimination in an unfair class system. They weren't depraved, they were deprived. The solution was not to put a beat cop on every street. What was the use. You couldn't fight 'crime' anyway. No more than you can fight 'terrorism'. All you could do was expand welfare programs, pour money into the inner cities and turn a blind eye to crime. Then the improvements in social conditions would end crime naturally.

At some point after the millionth mugging victim and Dukakis getting taken down by Willie Horton, the Democratic party finally realized that no amount of Donahue and Oprah was going to counter the popular demand to get tough on crime. But what didn't work for crime, is now being put to work for terrorism.

Terrorists are never terrorists. And never Muslim. Even when they're both. They might dress up like Osama bin Laden, quote from the Koran and curse the Great Satan-- but the blowdried anchors in their dollhouse news sets will still blame the whole thing on teenage bullying or PTSD in the water. And who are you really going to believe, the terrorists who happily explain their motives, or a newscaster with two advanced degrees in reading things off a teleprompter?

And so it turns out that the terrorists are human beings just like us who never got enough love. Who are too insecure not to be terrorists. Our job is to make them feel more comfortable and give them a confidence boost. Pat them on the back and tell them how wonderful Islam is and how superior Muslim culture is to our rotten degraded lifestyle. "No need to feel bad, Ahmed. I only wish I could murder my own sister every time I catch her talking to a man." "Leila, I would give up my career and the freedom to travel without a male guardian's permission in a split second just to be able to wear a bag on my head all day."

Because what terrorists need most is appeasement. Appeasement is apparently Muslim Prozac. Give them enough of it, and they'll no longer want to behead us or blow us up. Or so the politically correct theory goes. And there you have our international affairs in a nutshell.

This February, Senator John Kerry met with the Emir of Qatar, whose family is intimately tied up with Al Qaeda. And whose government is directing millions of dollars a year to Al Qaeda. Naturally the Senator from Massachusetts didn't waste his host's time on anything as picayune as a request to please stop funding the terrorists who are murdering Americans. We are talking about the nation's premier windsurfing cheese-eating boarding-school attending diplomatic Frankensenator here after all. Instead he wanted the good Emir's help on resolving that whole Middle East peace thing between Israel and the Muslim terrorists.

And the Emir, in between mailing off the latest check to "Sheikh Usama, Forbidden Cave of Mystery, Afghanistan, 90210", was more than happy to oblige.  

Painstakingly the Emir explained that Hamas was actually ready to make peace with Israel. But it couldn't come out and say so. Then it would lose popular support and be overthrown. Israel would just have to go ahead and appease Hamas anyway-- and Hamas would pretend not to notice, but really it would notice, and stop the violence. The Emir of Qatar was actually saying that Hamas is more moderate than the average Palestinian Arab Muslim-- a scary, but not particularly surprising revelation.

If Senator Kerry had managed to hang on to more than one single unbotoxed brain cell in that frightening skull of his, he might have asked what the point of a secret peace agreement is-- when the people on whose behalf you're signing it, can't be told about it. But as a good democrat, he was probably already on the same page as a petty tyrant like the Emir in believing that the ignorant rabble have no business knowing what their enlightened leaders are up to anyway.

Pushing his luck further, Senator Kerry asked the Emir what could be done about the extremists. The Emir told him that if Israel gives the strategic high ground of the Golan Heights to Syria, then Syria will help Hamas leaders "make tough choices". Trying to control the hysterical laughter bubbling up in his throat, the Emir told Kerry that, the "return of the Golan is important not just to Syria but also to Hizballah and Iran". Which it of course is. Not because any of them give a damn about the skiing possibilities of the Golan, but because it's a fantastic position for bombing Israel.

Yet Kerry swallowed all of this. Probably nodded knowingly. Didn't blink when the Emir suggested that Ahmadinejad would suddenly change his tune on Israel if only Syria got the Golan Heights. And went off back to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he chairs with his information safely tucked away in the recesses of his equine cranium.

The depressing pattern in all this lunacy is that we've decided that the only way to deal with terrorists is to give them things. Give them some land and money, and they'll be your pet terrorists. Then you can take them out for walks, and hug them and kiss them, and give them long baths. But not only do the terrorists need material things, they also need constant reassurance. You can't just negotiate with the terrorists. You've also got to negotiate with the enablers. And the enablers need land and money too. If you want to talk to Hamas, you've got to give Syria the Golan Heights. And then Hezbollah and Iran will want things too.

Negotiating with terrorists is now like signing a crazy reclusive artist to a record label. You have to woo his handlers and stroke his ego. Reassure him that everyone likes him. And that he won't have to "sell out" by promising not to kill people anymore. All he'll have to do is wink and nod, and that'll be as good as a signature.

We've gone beyond appeasement and into pure toadying. Because the poor terrorists with their bruised egos have been hurt too many times. They don't show up at negotiations anymore. You have to pamper them first to even get them to show up. Abbas needs a Settlement Freeze forever, or he won't even deign to arrive and accept the next batch of Israeli concessions. Hamas can't even show up to negotiate, but if Israel throws its most vital high ground to its buddy, the genocidal optometrist in Syria, then maybe Hamas will put a halt to the violence. For a week or two.

Locally and globally, we're deep in the appeasement business. So deep that we've put aside even the appearance of dignity. We're no longer ashamed of flattering and pandering to the murderers of our own people. We're proud of it. Our political and cultural leaders treat such behavior as a mark of sophistication. Only ignorant bible and gun clinging savages want to kill terrorists. The enlightened among us get down on their knees and search for the nearest available Mecca bound posterior.

Bombing terrorists is old and outdated. Love-bombing terrorists is the new hotness. Especially Muslim terrorists on American soil. They're all walking wounded. Victims of divorce, vicious Oregonian bullying, home foreclosures and airborne PTSD. Discriminated against in airports. Hounded by FBI agents for doing such simple things as trying to maim and murder thousands at a Christmas tree lightning ceremony or outside a showing of the Lion King. Persecuted just for being who they are. It's enough to make even the coldest Amnesty International member with a heart of taffy, weep.

So we've got to make them feel better by constantly praising Islam, letting them build an obscene Victory Mosque near Ground Zero, and jailing anyone who criticizes Islam. Then maybe they'll stop being so insecure and they won't feel that they need to kill us in order to feel good about themselves. Those poor miserable terrorist bastards. Sobbing into their keffiyahs, stuffing the hole in their heart with falafel and C4. Trying to compensate for their unhappy childhood by acting out and killing a few thousand people here and there. How can we not, like President William Jefferson Clinton, feel their pain?

And the answer is so very simple. No one's ever really shown them some love or told them they care. Maybe when we've given up all our freedoms and surrendered all the way. Then they'll finally realize that we mean it after all. That we really truly and completely like them. All the way. When we've appeased them so much, given them so much that we have nothing left to give, then we will finally have atoned for our selfishness, our miserable globalism, our wicked imperialism and consumerism and nationalism, and all our filthy isms. And it's so easy. All we have to do is hug a terrorist. And not mind the bulky dynamite strapped to his chest.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It Just Isn't Christmas without a Muslim Bombing

Mistletoe. Egg nog. And now Muslim terrorism. Last year's Christmas bomber was an African Muslim who stuffed his underwear full of plastic explosive and tried to detonate it on Flight 253. This year it's another African Muslim who tried to get an early start on Christmas terror by trying to car bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

Last year's Christmas terrorist hailed from Nigeria. This year's mad Muslim bomber comes from Somalia. And they bring with them tidings of a new season. A season in which holiday shopping now comes with massacre plots mixed in with the radio jingles and cheer.

If gift wrapping and church going are Christmas traditions, carrying out massacres during other people's holiday celebrations is a Muslim tradition. In Israel, holidays are a time for extra special caution. The Passover massacre in which dozens of senior citizens attending a holiday meal were murdered, the Yom Kippur War in which Muslim armies invaded Israel on the holiest day of its year or the Purim bombing outside a Tel Aviv mall using a nail bomb, are just some of the obvious examples of Muslim religious tolerance at work.

It's not limited to Jews or Christians either. In 2008, a number of bombs went off in Delhi just before Diwali. And back in 1991, Muslims planned to massacre thousands of Hindus during Diwali. Had they succeeded, the death toll might have been bigger than 9/11. Nearly two decades ago, North America was put on alert that importing Muslim immigrants, also meant bringing along their genocidal tendencies. Like renting rooms to tenants whose dogs have a little rabies problem, importing Islam, also means bringing in the same people who have been murdering Christians, Jews, Hindus and countless others around the world, ever since Mohamed's namesake first preached that he had a unique revelation and an exclusive license to kill, rob, rape and subjugate in the name of Allah.

While the news stories will insist that Mohamed Osman Mohamud (twice the Mohammed for twice the mayhem) was "lured" into a life of terror, he was just doing what Muslims since the time of Mohammed have naturally done. "O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you", the Koran proclaims to the devout Muslim. For Mohamedx2, the "unbelievers" were grouping together at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland. And his goal was simple enough, "I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave dead or injured."

While we may go on denying it, for Muslims this is a religious war. And what better target for terror, than an infidel's religious event?

The clergy at interfaith conferences may yammer on about how we're all the children of god, but Muslims know better. They are the slaves of Allah and we are heretics and idol worshipers. It's their duty to fight us, until we submit and accept Muslim rule. The more we resist, the more they're obligated to kill us until we give in and there's a mosque on every corner and the Koran replaces the Constitution. It's a religious duty for a Muslim to make the Way of Allah triumphant all across the globe. To Muslims, this is a sacred duty and a way of life, that is not a detail, but the heart of the Koran.

Unlike Christians and Jews, the Islamic holy texts are not a complicated structure that takes place across a swath of history-- but an enormously simple one dominated by a relatively brief period and a single categorical imperative, to expand, dominate and rule. For the Muslim, life is complicated, but Islam is simple. And even the most secular and westernized Muslim will sooner or later feel an imperative to escape from the complications of modern life, into the pure simplicity of Islam. The media charges that such escapees misunderstand Islam, but in actuality they understand it quite well. It is a reversion to the barbaric, an Islamic narrative that sweeps aside the complexities of civilization and personal choice for something more elemental.

Goggling when university grads, doctors and other high end professionals suddenly embrace their "Inner Mohammed" and go on killing sprees is foolish. Modernity for the Muslim is a sham inflicted by colonialism and globalism on his own country and multiculturalism when he's abroad in the West. It is not the natural product of his own advancements, and no matter how often he's told that his people invented everything from telescopes to planes, it's always a poor fit.

Civilization is not something the Muslim invented, but something that was forced on him in defiance of his law, his culture and his traditions. And if he does everything in his power to bring it down in ashes, to burn, loot and rape his way across the continent, and every continent that was foolish enough to allow him entry in the hopes that he would be a good citizen and a worthwhile member of society, then its governments have more of the blame than he does.

The United States has taken in large numbers of Somalis. A poor idea even if they had not been coming over from a disaster area of a country, whose own version of the Taliban, the Islamic Courts Union made even the Afghan version look mild by comparison. A country where the motto is "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God", where the law is Sharia law and the beheadings and floggings come fast and furious. Our newfound Somali citizens have since then done their parts to make America a more dangerous and more Muslim place.

In Minneapolis, Somali Muslim cabdrivers tried to deny service to infidels carrying duty free liquor. They've intimidated and shaken down companies who are afraid of being condemned as Anti-Muslim or Islamophobic. This August a baker's dozen of Somali immigrants were arrested for funneling money, weapons and fighters back home. Last year it was another eight. And the hits keep on coming out of Minnesota's "Little Mogadishu".

But Oregon has its own "Little Mogadishu". Before the influx of Somali Muslims, the American experience with Mogadishu was limited to the Battle of Mogadishu in which American military personnel were brutally murdered in the streets of that godforsaken urban slum masquerading as a city. Today there are Little Mogadishus everywhere. Sweden's Little Mogadishu suffers from riots and arson. And the usual terrorist recruitment. And their American Swedish cousins over in Minnesota are burdened with their own Little Mogadishu. Oregon's "Little Mogadishu" in Cedar Riverside has come of age, producing not just social problems, but a plot of Muslim mass murder.

Not that this is a bad thing of course. For a while it was a running joke, that the best way to upgrade your country was to attack America, lose and then wait to get rebuilt. That's the way it is in the Little Mogadishus too. The liberal solution to Muslim terrorist is to treat it as a social problem, throw some community centers, job opportunities and social services at it. And if some of that money filters back to the terrorists. If the social services centers become stealth mosques and the graduates of OSU choose bomb throwing over pigskin tossing, that just means not enough money has been sunk into making them feel at home. Meanwhile the Little Mogadishus keep growing, until they're not so little anymore.

Over in Oregon, Mohamed Osman Mohamud has made his own contribution to American culture. And the media assures us that this was one of those once in a million events. Nothing to see here, folks. We'll find out soon enough that he had personal problems. Maybe his rap career didn't work out. The girl he liked wouldn't go out with him and agree to be his third wife. And the camel's milk wasn't flowing like honey anymore. Not that it really matters. Everyone has stressors. And if we are to keep Muslims stress free, for fear that they'll start flipping through a Koran and shooting up the joint, then even the most ardent devotee of the Lady overlooking Liberty Island must ask himself if the price of Muslim immigration is really worth it.

Multiculturalism is one thing. But that's not what we have here. It's not living side by side with chicken noodle soup and tandoori restaurants. Or stacking churches, synagogues, ashrams and Shinto shrines on every block. Because while the political and cultural elite of the West may subscribe to multiculturalism, its Muslim imports subscribe to only one law. The law of Islam. They may lapse at times. They may get through a university education, attend nightclubs and strip clubs, listen to the same music all the other kids their age do-- but there's still a ticking time bomb inside their heads. And that bomb is the same one that appears as the lit fuse on the turban of the cartoon Mohammad. The cartoon that Muslims were willing to kill over. The bomb is Islam. And when it's lit, the result is mass murder.

It is an uncomfortable thing to think about. We who pride ourselves on our tolerance and slap ourselves on the back for our open-mindedness do not like to think that our civilization is an illusion, a parquet floor built over the roaring fire of barbarism underneath. But it was not so long ago, in the space of years, that our ancestors would have thought no more of killing people because they were different, than we would think of swatting a fly. The difference between us and the inhabitants of the Little Mogadishus is that we have changed. They have not. We have changed because we had time to change. Because we are the products of a culture that has changed. They are the products of a culture that has consciously resisted change. And much as we may befriend them, the thought of killing us can never be entirely wrong to them. After enough time spent together, we might rank above flies to them, but well below full-fledged and fellow humans. And when they need answers, they turn to a book whose verses promise salvation to our killers.

It is important to think of these things, because our lives and the survival of our civilization are at stake. We have begun to learn what it is like to live with terror. But we have not learned all of it by far. Terror haunted Christmas tree lighting celebrations are the beginning, but not the end of it. This is not a bridge we can cross with some multicultural cuisine and a PBS special. It requires that we understand what we have done. We have imported people from a culture and religion that has never accepted the most basic premise of our way of life. Coexistence. And so we cannot coexistence with them. And they cannot coexist with us. After a few years or decades of baffled attempts to adjust to a foreign way of life, they will either wall themselves off or make war on us. Or both at the same time. They cannot be our neighbors, only our enemies.

The sooner we realize that, the fewer bombing stories at Christmas we'll have to read about.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

No, I Don't Miss Bush

The billboards ask me if I miss George W. Bush, and my honest answer has to be, "No, I don't." I do miss Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. I miss John Bolton. But I don't miss Bush. I appreciate that Bush, who found himself suddenly leading a country at war, said most of the right things, and even did some of them too. But he didn't say the most important things of all. And that's the problem.

Bush looks best against the background of Obama. But that's setting the mark fairly low, because there is hardly an occupant of the White House in the last 60 years who doesn't look pretty good compared to Obama.

The Bush I remember picked up a loudspeaker and talked tough at Ground Zero. But he was also the man who gave CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood groups a hall pass to the White House. The man who posed in flight suits and cowboy hats also pushed for amnesty for illegal aliens. He warned about the need to regulate Fannie Mae, but he also oversaw out of control spending, not just for the war effort, but even for the NEA, which even most Republicans marginalized. It isn't so much that Bush was a man of contradictions, we all are. But that he's a poor role model for the challenges that we face today.

Bush confronted terrorists, but appeased Muslims. He threw around money like it grew on trees, which only helped feed the spending frenzy in congress. Bush didn't treat hundreds of billions of dollars like pocket change, the way Obama does. But he did treat hundreds of millions of dollars that way. We just weren't paying attention then, because the economy seemed to be humming along nicely. And so it all sounded good. So what if the NEA's budget got the biggest increase since 1984. It's only money. And it's still only money.

Much as we would like to believe that the Bush era was an abrupt break from the Clinton era, it wasn't. Bush not only kept on some of Clinton's people, from Tenet to Minetta, but kept many of his policies too. Similarly the Obama era isn't a complete break from the Bush era. The men at the top are very different. Many of their associates have changed. But many of the Washington D.C. policies have remained, they've just gotten more irresponsible and destructive. And so have the people implementing them.

Bush didn't endorse a mandatory carbon tax, but he had no problem pushing voluntary ones in global summits. He didn't bow low to the Saudi king, but he did hold hands with him. Before Obama nominated his Associate White House Counsel to an open Supreme Court seat, Bush did the same thing. It was only a desperate effort by Republicans that gave us Justice Samuel Alito, instead of Harriet Miers. Condoleezza Rice was pressuring Israel, before Hillary Clinton got into the act. And before Obama's bailouts, there was Bush's own bailout. There's no comparison between Bush and Obama in matters of character, but unfortunately there are points of comparison in matters of policy.

The point is not to bash Bush, as it is to say that we can do better. That we have to do better.

While George W. Bush's book promotion tour didn't take place before the election as threatened, the post-election tour has taken the focus off the extraordinary coast to coast victories, and instead put them right back on the man of the previous hour. Suddenly we're back to discussing his personal life, and getting an uneasy glimpse at how much he allowed liberal criticism to manipulate his administration, from the Cheney Puppet Master meme to Kayne West. And once again many conservatives are gasping in admiration at his plainspoken language, while overlooking just how liberal many of his policies were.

The attacks of 9/11 insured that we would never really know what the Bush Administration would have been like had fate not intervened. Yet we did get glimpses at the beginning and toward the end. And from the vast expansion of foreign aid to amnesty for illegal aliens, there was every sign that Bush really was committed to his "Compassionate Conservatism" motto. Which may be why, unlike Cheney, he seems to have no problem with Obama, and even writes admiringly of him. He has also refused to condemn the Ground Zero Mosque. While some conservatives are eager to use him as a prop in criticizing Obama, Bush himself actually seems to like Obama.

Bush's conservative credentials rest on two legs, his general pro-business attitude and the War on Terror. And he does deserve plenty of credit for both of them, but while he had the right attitude, both were implemented without considering the long term effects. Which is what helped the Democrats finally bring down the Republican congress and take the White House in 2008. Like far too many of his Republican predecessors, Bush was pro-business and strong on national defense, but hard to distinguish from liberals in most other areas. And unwilling to seriously roll back what the left had done to America.

Because he was unwilling to roll back the relationship between the government and the taxpayer to what it had been, or to stem the growth of government, his pro-business policies were band aids applied to a volcano. When the volcano burst, his policies went out the window. And because he endorsed a War on Terror, without ever quantifying what the source of that terror was, the left could attack the policies, without ever addressing their own complicity in promoting and defending Islamic terrorism. Bush's policies looked good in the short term, but they had no long term future. They were not the solution. In retrospect, they were part of the problem.

So no, I don't miss Bush. To miss Bush because of Obama, is as wrong as missing Nixon, because of Carter. It's a flattering comparison, but only by contrast. What we need is more. Much more than that. And at a time when we should be looking toward leadership that will reduce the size of government and its involvement in our lives, stand up to Islam and secure the border-- Bush's reemergence is an unhelpful distraction. As much a reminder of what we shouldn't be doing, as what we should. But it is also a warning.

Two or six years from now we could very well end up with another Bush, and another ride on the same merry-go-round that has been going around for a long time now. And with the likes of Romney and Huckabee crowding around for a shot at the wheel, it's all too likely that our next Republican President will have more in common with Bush, than with the qualities it will take to stand up and save this country. After four to eight years of Obama, it will be all too easy to put our faith in someone who looks the part, and talks the part, rather than acts the part. Who wears cowboy boots, but gives up the ranch. And that won't be enough. Because as there is more than one Bush out there. There's also more than one Obama waiting in the wings. Waiting till another Republican president screws up all over again.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Afternoon Roundup - Thankless in Obamaland

Obama meets with a different breed of Turkey

This is one Thanksgiving weekend which finds Americans with little to be thankful for. The economy is sliding badly and the dollar is endangered, which could potentially wreck the nation's economy long after Obama is gone. Flying was a more unpleasant experience due to the TSA's aggressive insistence on harassing American fliers, rather than Muslim terrorists. Then there's the worldwide chaos, which now threatens to open up a whole new war in Asia.

With a political beating in the midterm elections and a confused administration, even liberals seem to have little to be politically thankful for. But even mentions of Thanksgiving seem inevitably accompanied by historical revisionism which reduces the contact between specific groups of European settlers and certain Indian tribes to a one-sided narrative whose goal is to delegitimize the very existence of the United States. Everyone from PETA to indigenous activists to Michelle Obama's fat insanity has tried to have a go at it.

Thanksgiving is problematic for many on the left because it provides a positive view of American settlement and the interaction between European settlers and Native Americans. Which is why liberals will try to subvert the story of Thanksgiving by depicting the settlers negatively. This is almost universally common on television nowadays. And for those activists obsessed with what people eat, Thanksgiving with its obligatory heavy turkey dinner, is also a major target. So we get HRH Michelle Obama telling Americans what they can and can't eat for dinner. The difference is that Americans eat their own food. Unlike Michelle and her husband who eat at taxpayer expense.

The protests over the TSA have also failed to lead to a serious dialogue about what we should be doing to fight terrorism. Instead junk catchphrases and people stripping to their underwear while flying have turned media coverage of the situation into a series of running gags. Drudge forced media coverage of the backlash, but he steered it into freakshow areas. The media responded by running stories to pick up some of the traffic, but the stories they ran were more about the publicity stunts, while their above board coverage defended the Obama Administration and the TSA. It's a ridiculous situation when people can Tweet that they're going to fly in their underwear and get major news organizations to go and film them, that does nothing to address the problem. Instead it quickly leads to viewer fatigue and disinterest. And that means the policies will stay in place.

Too much of the backlash has focused on what people don't want, rather than what they do want. That has allowed the Obama Administration to frame it as a choice between security and privacy. When it's actually a choice between good security and bad security. That isn't entirely accidental. Too much of the coverage was led by sources who don't think that there even is such a thing as terrorism. Drudge and other blogs linked to content from 9/11 Truther Alex Jones and Prison Planet. This was Jones' most successful effort to embed himself among conservatives to date. For those such as Jones or Ron Paul, there is no terrorism. The whole thing is a government conspiracy. The way they fed the story, was the way it got told. And an opportunity to actually reform airline security was missed.

And so what should have been an upbeat time, a harvest festival and a reunion with friends and family, instead is tinted in haze. And that seems par for the course under Obama.

In the UK there's controversy over radical left faux artist Banksy's gallery promoting a picture of the 7/7 bombing by Mark Sinckler, a Muslim who moved from metro vandalism to poorly done collages. All the attention paid to this just means mission accomplished for Banksy, who has successfully ridden and ridiculed an art world, where the only coin that matters is notoriety, not talent.

The entire thing is hopelessly cynical. Sinckler's Age of Shiva is a cynical parody of British sensibilities over the 7/7 massacre. Cynically marketed by Banksy's Marks and Stencils gallery, which was also set up to mock art galleries and public sensibilities, it's the work of emotionally dead people who believe that by mocking everything that other people value, they remain above it. As always the joke is on the average person, the bourgeois, the same type of person who was riding a bus when it was blown up.

The controversy will move up Banksy and Sinckler further up the ladder. The careers of both derive from vandalism and end there. First vandalism of public spaces and then vandalism of public faith and public values.

Meanwhile in Israel, Netanyahu once again finds himself in another Wye situation, caught between signing on to what Obama wants and betraying his country, or resisting and standing up to Obama. It's not a pleasant situation to be in. Last time around Netanyahu failed the test when he gave in to Clinton. It seems as if he may be failing it again this time. (Latma has their usual scathing take on it.)

Meanwhile Turkey's Islamist thug Erdogan "the minarets are our bayonets" is at it again, amping up the rhetoric and threatening war. This after the latest document releases suggest that Erdogan's Turkey helped Al Qaeda. This shouldn't be too much of a shock as Erdogan's AKP party has Al Qaeda ties. Which shouldn't be shocking either, as it's funded by Saudi money.

Erdogan's "Support Hezbollah" visit to Lebanon was met with Armenian riots. In the past Erdogan had threatened to ethnically cleanse Armenians from Turkey. (hap tip Joshua Ivens)

Erdogan is now making common cause with Islamic terrorists and he's sabotaging Turkey's ties to Israel and America, in order to fulfill his goal of integrating it with the Muslim world. In particularly those Middle Eastern countries which have funded his takeover of the media by his business partners and political allies. Ranting about standing up to Israel with "Allah's Grace" shows how low Turkey has fallen from a formerly secular country that understood that the greatest threat to Turkish nationalism came from Islam.

His trip to Lebanon was full of that kind of Caliphate prep work, for example

"although we are talking different languages in this vast geography, we should not forget that we have one history, one culture and similar values. We have given a shape the history together. Be sure that we will give a shape to the future altogether.

Erdogan said Turkey mutually removed visa requirements with Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Jordan. "We have not lost anything or met any problem. On the contrary, when we removed the visa requirements, we clearly saw that they were meaningless. We have not removed the visa requirements; we have removed a century old yearning among our people."

Whether Turks are actually yearning to import crime and unskilled labor from the Arab world is debatable, but that doesn't really matter. What it means is that if Turkey joins the EU, Muslim terrorists and criminals from across the Arab world will have no trouble getting in.

Erdogan then proposed an Islamic EU, a Schengen, to bridge the gap to the Caliphate.

Via Desert Conservative, an interesting piece on a forgotten massive pre 9/11 terrorist plot in Canada.

Toronto’s terror plot of 1991 (pre September 11) has been forgotten and become a lost memory to Canadians.

The terror plot was planned by five black Muslims who were followers of Jamaat Al Fuqra, a Pakistani movement. They were acquitted of planning to kill 4,500 people within two buildings in Toronto. The attacks were to be done one after the other.

At the time of the attack, it was seen as an isolated case but now after a series of planned attacks in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto it has been associated with a series of attacks by Islamist terrorists.

...

Just two years before the first World Trade Centre bombing, and a decade before the 9/11 attacks Toronto was the potential terror plot destination of North America where thousands of people would have died had the terrorists not been on the radar beforehand.

The terror plot was set to blow out during the Hindu festival of Diwali at two separate locations one after the other. The first spot was the India Centre cinema on Gerrard Street with a 500 people capacity (most commonly occupied by Sikhs and Hindus) and the second spot was the Vishnu Hindu Temple, which has a capacity of 4000 (occupied by Hindus) in Richmond Hill.

What is disturbing about this is not just the scale of the planned attacks, but a reminder that Muslim ethnic cleansing and racism is being exported by Muslim immigrants and converts. The Muslim world has committed genocide against non-Muslims numerous times. And it's at it again in Europe and in Canada.

In the roundup, Phyllis Chesler tackles the PA's latest attempt to Islamize the world's holiest Jewish site

The Muslims (not the Islamists, but the Muslims) mean to take over every Jewish site in Jewish Israel. And the United Nations means to assist them.

Long before a sovereign Jewish state ever existed, Muslims massacred the Jews of Hevron in 1929. Surviving Jews returned, but were then forced to flee again during the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939. This burial chamber of our Jewish ancestors is a cave whose purchase is carefully and exhaustively reported in the fifth parasha (portion) of the Torah. According to Jewish religious sources, this purchase took place in approximately 1677 BCE.

Please remember: In 1929, when the Muslims massacred the Jews of Hevron, there were no Jewish “settlements” in “occupied Palestinian land.” There was no Muslim “Palestine” and no sovereign Jewish state. In 1996, under the Wye Accords, Jewish Israel surrendered most Jewish access to this Cave to the Waqf.

Today, Jews can pray there in an outer, small chamber only under heavy guard and only a few times a year in the main prayer chamber. Muslims took the lion’s share of the main prayer hall because, as they claim, Abraham is also their forefather.

Of course if Abraham were around today, he'd be boycotted in London and beheaded in Gaza.

The whole thing still reminds me of my old post, "Muslims announce 5 New Holy Sites". Considering that this was written in Feb of 2007, a day after Obama announced he was running, one section proved to be unfortunately prescient.

The White House

Mohammed HTFBUH (High Tax Fees Be Upon Him) reportedly visited the White House as a guest of President Millard Fillmore, slept in the Lincoln Bedroom (which was then called, the 'Give Me A Bribe and You Can Spend the Night Bedroom) and tried to molest some of the President's carriage horses.

As such the highest authorities in Islam (three blind clerics who live in Cairo and still think it's 1922 and want an end to British colonial rule) have announced that the White House from now is to be off-limits to non-Muslims unless they're there to serve incoming President, Barack Hussein Obama.

Elder of Ziyon does some fact checking of the language being used about the Temple Mount.

Israel Matzav asks about the Tea Party position regarding Israel. Using a New York Times article as a starting point is always a bad idea. Since we're talking about a grass roots movement composed of different organizations, there's no official position. But demographically most of the Tea Party people are conservative and opposed to Muslim terrorism. Its focus is on domestic, not international politics.

The Times uses Rand Paul as a prototype of a Tea Party candidate, which is a terrible idea, because he doesn't have all that much in common on many issues with actual TP candidates. Paul, like his father, is basically a secessionist and conspiracy theorist, who shares the left's view on national security issues. It's doubtful that he could have won under a Republican President. But under Obama, enough people have been willing to overlook the things he's said, like comparing the US Army to Hitler.

Compare Paul to Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman, Marco Rubio, etc and you see the huge gap opening up.

The American Thinker has an interesting piece by James Lewis, who views the entire TSA mess as part of a racist revenge fantasy by Obama. I don't know that I agree with him. I don't believe that this is a plan, but the disdain with which complaints have been met, may be. That makes it more of a Shirley Sherrod situation, in which the situation itself is not created out of racism, but the neglect of those who are suffering and the favorable treatment meted out on the basis of race is. This has been a too common pattern in government. But it's been practiced more commonly by white liberals, than by black people. But Obama may arguably fall into the former category, as much as into the latter one.

Finally on the Thanksgiving theme, the Daily Beast has some interesting historical background for the origins of the holiday.
We can also restore the meaning of early Thanksgivings in New England by coming at it from another angle, equally authentic. We find it in Judaism and the Hebrew scriptures.

If you were English, and you wished to express gratitude to God, you would turn to one majestic Biblical text before any other. It speaks about the wilderness of the Sinai, about danger and deliverance, about the journey of the Israelites across the Red Sea, and about the duty to give thanks when the exodus is complete. The text is Psalm 107. In the reign of Elizabeth I, when the realm survived a plot, a plague, or the Spanish Armada, her subjects went to church and gave thanks to the Almighty, using the same psalm: “We will offer unto him the sacrifice of Thanksgiving: and tell out his works with gladness.”

So at Provincetown, when the Mayflower first dropped anchor in 1620, the Pilgrims did likewise. For them, the psalm possessed a still deeper resonance. Keen scholars of Hebrew, which they saw as the original language of God, the Pilgrims knew that Psalm 107 was the source of the Jewish thanksgiving prayer, the birkat ha-gomel. They owned books by an English scholar, Henry Ainsworth, who used the Jewish philosopher Maimonides to show that this was so. The birkat ha-gomel was the prayer that every devout Jew should say, upon safe arrival after a dangerous voyage. The Pilgrims said it too.

And so in New England the Pilgrims took a variety of sources, and over time they blended them together to create their early Thanksgivings. Their successors did the same. They said Thanksgiving psalms like Jews, sometimes they fasted and sometimes they ate and drank, and like their British cousins they puffed themselves up with national pride. Centuries later, Americans ended up with a hybrid of Elizabethan patriotism, Algonquian fun, and a dash of non-denominational piety. In other words: the modern Thanksgiving. All you need add is Psalm 107, to make the event sublime.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why Airline Security Doesn't Work

Three men go on a camping trip. On the way there they're told by a park ranger to be careful because their campsite is located near some dangerous animals. What dangerous animals? The park ranger won't say, because that would be profiling. "Just keep in mind", he tells them, "that people who camped there in the past never made it back alive."

As the sun goes down, they pick up their hunting rifles and stand watch for dangerous animals. But they don't know what dangerous animals, they're watching out for. And they don't want to profile. So they keep watch for crickets as much as for bears, and for deer as much as for mountain lions. A rabbit, an owl or a bullfrog all equally frighten them out of their wits. They open fire on mosquitoes and stand watch against monstrous raccoons. By the end of the night, they can hardly see anything or react to danger. That morning, a pair of mountain lions stroll lazily into their camp and find them snoring away.

This little story illustrates why we can't do things this way. Because it's stupid and it's suicidal. Human survival is based on recognizing threats, not on reacting to all stimuli because one of them might be threatening, but we don't want to single it out and make it feel bad. If we actually did things that way, we'd all be dead by now.

There are three stages to coping with a threat. First you have to recognize the threat. Second, you have to formulate a plan for dealing with the threat. Third, you have to implement the plan.

So far we haven't even made to the first stage. We haven't recognized the threat. At the airline security level, we insist that the threat is completely random. Anyone at all could be a terrorist. There's no specific ideology or countries that are sources of terrorism. Instead terrorism is like some sort of disease. Anyone at all could be a carrier. And so we have to watch out for everyone. All the time. And like those hunters, we're either on alert all the time or we're completely apathetic. We're either security manic or security depressive. We go from letting everyone pass to strip searching everybody. There's no rational approach to danger, because we don't have a rational plan. We just go from 0 to 60 every time there's a new threat.

Since we failed the first stage, we can't move on to the second stage. We can't recognize the threat, so every plan we formulate to deal with is doomed from the start. Instead of addressing a known threat, we go down a lot of blind alleys. Technology keeps getting abused as a shortcut in another episode of security theater, as new machines are bought and installed. But technology is 'dumb'. Machines are a tool, not a plan. Like any tool, they can let us do more. But like all tools, they're only as smart as the people using them. And the people using them are trained to be dumb.

'Dumb' is the only policy that can exist in the absence of intelligent threat recognition. To be 'smart' you have to make it to the second stage. When you can't even identify the threat, then you're hopelessly stuck on stupid, no matter what your IQ might be, or how many diplomas are hanging on your wall. And if you're just a glorified security guard following a 'dumb' policy, then the outcome is going to be really dumb.

Technological solutions to terrorism driven by 'dumb' policy are a dead end. No machine can defeat a human being, because the human being can step outside the box and cheat. Any automated security approach might work 99 times out of a 100, but it won't work 100 times out of a 100. Because it has a weakness. And that weakness is inflexibility. Every automated solution has a way around it. It's just a matter of finding it and exploiting it.

When human beings play a game of cat and mouse, they think about what their opponent will do. Machines can't think. Neither can bureaucracies. They can only enact policies. And when those policies are 'dumb' in addition to inflexible, then the bureaucracy is no better than a machine. And a machine can be beaten. The people we're up against don't have to think about what we will do. They know what we will do. All they have to do is find a way around it. Then in response to their latest attempt, we look for a way to close the hangar, after the plane has already flown away.

In response to 9/11, we obsessively focused on preventing anyone from carrying sharp objects onto domestic flights. Every time the terrorists tried something, we responded with new 'dumb' security regimes. We banned liquids in carry on luggage, made fliers take off their shoes and now we run passengers through naked scanners. When the terrorists think of something else, we'll have to ban that too or find some new way to inconvenience and humiliate anyone who exercises the "privilege" of flying. As plans go, this is as dumb as buying a bulletproof vest, 6 months after you've been shot.

Our security agencies are actually pretending that this hopelessly reactive approach is a "plan". It's not a plan, it's a high tech buzzword rich version of Keystone Kops. We don't have a plan. We have an approach. And our approach is to try and interdict weapons and bombs that terrorists might try to smuggle on board. Since we're focusing on the tools, not the terrorists-- everyone is a suspect. Imagine if after every stabbing, we disregarded the physical description of the perpetrator, and instead went after everyone who owns a knife. An hour later, there would be thousands of angry citizens arrested for having kitchen knives, bread knives, boxcutters and anything with a blade. And then the police department would be doing things, the same way that the TSA operates now.

The problem isn't knives or bombs. It's Muslim terrorists. The knives or bombs are just some of the tools they use. But it's the terrorists who are the threat, not the tools. By now we know that explosives can be smuggled in liquid containers and shoes and powder and body cavities and countless other ways. Even if everyone actually flew naked and without luggage, there would still potentially be a way to blow up a plane, including surgical implants. The TSA has not actually stopped a single act of terrorism. All it has done is inconvenience and humiliate travelers.

Saddled with a political taboo against identifying Muslim terrorists as the threat, security agencies have been left with no choice except to focus on the tools. If we don't know anything about the attacker, then we have to think about the weapons. But from a security standpoint, it's not possible to reliably interdict a weapon before it's used. Not when the weapon can be almost anything at all.

Law enforcement exists to interdict perpetrators during a crime or to capture them afterward. Trying to prevent a crime from being carried, when we can't even identify the potential perpetrators, and to do so only based on outdated information about the potential weapons they might use, while trying to screen them from among tens of thousands of other people, without actually slowing down airline travel or inconveniencing anybody-- is functionally impossible. Such a system will always be broken from the start. And it won't accomplish any of its goals.

Liberalism created a taboo against identifying criminals, blaming the tools they used, rather than the men themselves. This led to the farce of 'Gun Control' which insisted that guns are to blame for violent crime in urban areas, not the residents themselves. The UK is living out the Gun Control fantasy, and now it's busy fighting "Knife Crime" and asking residents to turn in their knives. Security cameras are everywhere. There's a national DNA database. Everything short of Minority Report's Pre-Crime psychics is in play, and yet violent crime in the UK is worse than it is in the US.

The TSA's policies aid and abet the same fantasy, that it's not Muslim terrorists we should be worried about, but bottles of liquid, shoes and personal privacy. But bottles of liquid and shoes don't blow up planes, Muslims do.

The first stage of fighting terrorism is to identify the terrorists. We haven't done that. The second stage is to formulate a plan for fighting them. Instead we've formulated a plan to try and stop them from doing the things they tried to do six months ago. The third stage is to implement the plan. Since we don't have a plan, we just randomly terrorize people in the hopes that the terrorists will be so impressed by our security theater that they'll give up and go away, and if they don't, then at least none of the bureaucrats and politicians in the loop will be held responsible for the next 3,000 dead.

We can stop the terrorists and keep America safe. And we can do it without treating everyone who flies like a criminal or demand that fliers accept the unacceptable. But to do that we have to go through those three stages. We have to identify the problem, formulate a plan for dealing with it and implement that plan. To do that requires going back to the beginning and remember why we're at war.

We weren't attacked by boxcutters in 9/11. We were attacked by Muslims who were acting in the name of Islam. They were not lone gunmen. And their creed goes beyond a few men living in caves in Afghanistan. They did what they did, because their religion and their bible commanded them to do it. This is the enemy. Every mosque on our soil is another base for terror. Every Muslim at the gate is another potential terrorist. You may not like hearing that, but those are the facts.

In the 1930's most Europeans did not like hearing that they would soon have to fight another World War. All educated and moral people back then knew that wars were bad. The "real enemy" was the government and the capitalists who wanted to make the working class fight another war. So they denied it for as long as they could. Until the enemy was at their gates and the bombs were falling on their cities. Their politics blinded them to the threat. Just as they blind us today. And the blind are vulnerable. When violence happens, the blind have to suspect everyone and grope everyone. Because they can't see who their enemies are.

Right now our security setup is blind, deaf and dumb. It's three little monkeys in a row. One who can't see any evil. One who can't hear any evil. And one can't speak out and identify any evil. Only when it can see, hear and speak-- will we have any shot at fighting the terrorists, instead of terrorizing our own.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Second Fall of Camelot

This week marks the 47th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination which took place barely two years into his first term. The myth of a fallen Camelot created in the wake of his murder fed the illusion that America had lost out on a chance at ennobling itself and solving all its social ills. Yet had he lived, his real legacy would likely have been that of LBJ, blamed for disastrous social and military policies, and disavowed by the same young liberals who had once embraced him.

As the second coming of JFK, Barack Hussein Obama has no Camelot to escape to. His myth has been broken, not by a bullet, but by reality. Nor can his supporters take refuge in the imaginary wonderland that might have been. Because there is no wonderland. No world in which we were ennobled and uplifted to be better people. Just the grim reality of defeat abroad and economic disaster at home. And that second fall of Camelot is the one that hurts the most.

With JFK, liberals were able to reinvent the New Deal, not as a paternalistic Big Brother response to an economic crisis, but as the New Frontier of progressive striving. If the New Deal was materialistic, the New Frontier was idealistic. It did not foist government intervention on us in order to feed and clothe us, but to make us better people. To turn America into the country that it was "meant to be".

Hope and Change tried to combine both themes, with Hope reflecting the New Frontier's plan to transform American society into a beacon of social justice, and Change gesturing to the New Deal's economic controls and crisis management. But that only made it an awkward fit. Obama talked Hope and practiced Change, but unlike the New Deal it was a change disconnected from the economic concerns of ordinary Americans. And Obama's own borrowed JFK mythology only made him seem more distant from those concerns.

Like JFK, Obama was a glamorous myth with a seedy truth hiding underneath. A shiny new car with mud on its wheels and far worse on the undercarriage. We already know some of it now. We will likely have to wait decades to learn all of it. But it paradoxically that very seediness that seems to give rise to myth. JFK, Clinton and Obama were horrifyingly corrupt in their personal lives and their political associations. Yet they were able to wear a glamor of youthful idealism and promise a new and better era convincingly enough for large numbers of people in America and across the world to believe them. And believe in them.

With the passing of time, that glamor fades. It winks out and it becomes hard to even understand the appeal. Seen across the march of time, they seem tired and insincere. Matchstick men waiting for the night to come. Moths drawn to the flame of fame. Con men messiahs performing for an audience that they fear is always on the verge of getting bored with their tricks. And so they juggle more balls, recite more speeches and draw more imaginary cloaks across their naked bodies, hoping to delay that final terrible moment when even a child will know enough to cry out, "The emperor is naked."

JFK never witnessed that moment come in his lifetime. The grave and the myths that haloed over his resting place kept some of it at bay. But even in life, he had to know that moment was coming. With death, LBJ implemented his policies with the savvy streak of a born dealmaker, but without the charm. JFK went down in history as the idealistic martyr and LBJ as the ugly car salesman, the man who finally gave liberals what they wanted, and nearly torched the country doing it.

And it is the martyred idealists that liberals love to remember. That is why Obama will always be a hero to them, a martyr not to a bullet, but to his moral superiority to the American peasant who shops at Wal-Mart and clings to his shotgun and his bible. "He was too good for us", is the myth that liberals have already drawn like a long white cloak over the second fall of Camelot. What they really mean is, "He was too good for them."

The blame will fall on Rahm or Biden, on Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner, and all the other wonks, nerds, yes men and hit men, the LBJ's around Obama who actually did all the dirty work of policymaking, but weren't nearly as good at inspiring liberal college students to feel like they could do anything-- even with a Philosophy major. Of course a good deal of the blame will also fall on the Republicans. The ignorant and superstitious lot, rallying the peasants to torch Frankenstein's tower. And whose fault was it really, that behind that easy smile, the good doctor had given his Monster in Chief, a criminal's brain.

Time marches on and men such as these are merely the avatars of policies. It is easier to sell America on a man, than on a policy. Especially when the policies are written up in bills thousands of pages long that no one can actually read. It is easier to put forward a man, to cozen the public with yet another progressive messiah, another fresh face of socialism to paste over the moldy halls of bureaucracy behind his policies. And both parties need their image men. Their political avatars.

For Democrats, the messiah is the college student frozen in time, idealistic without being judgmental, cool and self-aware enough to be a peer, but vulnerable enough to echo their inner child. He enjoys traveling to foreign countries and reading all the right books. He is pretentiously unpretentious and sophomorically inspirational. He speaks so well that no one notices, that he knows not what he speaks of. This is the mold from which JFK, Clinton and Obama were cast.

On the Republican side, he is a cowboy, or looks and sounds like one anyway. He's outdoorsy, folksy and more at home on a ranch, than in the White House. It may all be theater, but it's usually good theater. The cowboy who speaks imperfectly but sincerely, who is rough but honest, who values the open frontier, more than the rulebook, who is reluctant to fight but knows when to reach for a rifle, and how to use it-- that is the mold of a Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush or a Sarah Palin.

If the Democratic messiah embodies that hallowed moment of college youth in which the rays of learning broke through into the liberal head, the Republican messiah embodies independence and personal freedom. The vision of an America swiftly passing away. As Reagan's broad Americanism was the antidote to Carter's narrow anti-Americanism, George W. Bush's echo of a simpler time was the antidote to Clinton's changing America, so too Sarah Palin's mixture of frontier and faith, is the antidote to Obama's insistence on faith in bureaucracy. But the image is not the same as the man or the woman behind it.

Camelot was a myth, because it was carried on by people who needed that myth. Who needed to understand why they had failed, and couldn't accept that it was the policies that had failed. It was easier to believe that the dream had been murdered, then that the dream was never alive at all. Simpler to turn on America, than to admit defeat. To embody a myth in a man is a dangerous thing. It is a sign of low regard for both man and myth.

The first Camelot is dead now. The liberals who once used to ask each other where they were when they heard that JFK died are letting this latest anniversary pass with little notice. The myth of JFK had since been eclipsed by the myth of Obama. It fulfilled its purpose in elevating him. And now the myth has been discarded. And it was the myth that they had always cared about, not the man. JFK knew that and it dug at him. Clinton knew it and reveled in it. Obama hides behind the myth as protective coloration. But the myth is being ripped away. You can fool all of the people some of the time, but never all of the time. The One is dead, long live the One.

Monday, November 22, 2010

$335,906 is the Price of the Constitution

When Senators give speeches, they will say that you can't put a price on freedom. But as it turns out you can. You can actually put an exact dollar amount on the Constitution. And that amount is $335,906.

That's the amount that Hollywood gave Senator Patrick Leahy. And in return, Leahy gave them COICA. That's not the name of some new disease, it's the abbreviation for Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, the biggest and more comprehensive internet censorship proposal in the history of this country. It would give Attorney General Eric Holder the power to create a blacklist of websites and force all companies that do business in the United States to comply with that blacklist.

Ever since the Clinton Administration's Communications Decency Act, Democrats have been obsessed with censoring the internet. And that drive has kicked into high gear again. COICA is the most ambitious plan to enact government control over freedom of expression on the internet since the days of the CDA.

While this bill was crafted on behalf of the entertainment industry, the applications go far beyond that. Websites that feature collections of articles, such as FreeRepublic or DemocraticUnderground could easily be targeted under the terms of COICA. And so could many blogs, which list entire articles or cite extensively from them. Any site or blog that embeds videos or images which are not authorized by the copyright holder could be similarly targeted. And with the Attorney General of a highly politicized administration wielding the power to preemptively shutter and blacklist entire websites, it would be all too easy for COICA to be used as a club for suppressing dissent.

While on paper COICA is only supposed to apply to 0.01 percent of the internet, in its broadest interpretation it could apply to anywhere between 30/40 percent of the internet. And the damage can go even beyond that. COICA gives the AG's office a billy club that can destroy any company's business overnight. And will that billy club be used strictly for copyright oversight alone? When the Attorney General's office has the power to shut down any webhost, costing its owners millions in revenues, what will the owners do when they're asked to shut down a site that does not actually fall under COICA? Will they call the AG's bluff and prepare for a legal battle to restore the site and hope their business survives, or will they do the practical thing and comply?

We already know the answer to that. Some larger companies with deep pockets will put up a fight. Maybe. Smaller companies will just go along. And this is not what free speech was supposed to look like in America.

COICA is just the beginning. It's the first step in transforming the internet into an environment completely controlled by the government. If the Senate can move along a law that creates a copyright blacklist, the next step is to create a blacklist for political extremism. Once we've established the principle that you can just pull a switch and blacklist sites that the government doesn't like, where does it end?

Liberals screeched for years about the Patriot Act, but very little attention is being paid to COICA, which is primarily co-sponsored by Democratic senators. The endless Hollywood movies bemoaning the oppression of the Patriot Act, won't give way to movies bemoaning COICA. But that's because COICA was written for Hollywood's benefit. And the forms of oppression that are practiced by the people who make movies about oppression, naturally don't make it into movies.

Some conservatives are defending COICA as a means of protecting private property, but it's not. It creates a privileged status for specific industries through government action, which those specific industries paid for. This is classic 'Rent Seeking Behavior' which uses government force to protect a bad business model. Hollywood is suffering from the plague of piracy because of its own convoluted structure and its need to negotiate every iota of every action with its own unions. Rather than adapt and evolve, it uses lawyers and lobbyists to protect its defective business practices. And having a 'red phone' to the AG's office in order to protect defective business practices does the entertainment industry no favors in the long term.

COICA is a unconstitutional bailout of our freedoms and internet civil rights for a specific industry that has troubling implications for everyone. And it's a demonstration of just how dangerous the intersection of corporate lobbyists and politicians can be. Some conservatives believe that supporting capitalism means blindly endorsing any corporate action. It does not. When corporations subvert public representation and harness government force for their own benefit, then they act like a part of the government.

Leahy is a perfect example, a Senator from Vermont, not exactly a major hub of the entertainment industry, with deep ties on the other coast. Leahy's ties to big Hollywood studios like Time Warner go so ridiculously deep that he actually got a part in the last Batman movie and had the movie premiere at his own fundraising event back in Vermont. Carrying water for Hollywood has nothing to do with the needs of Vermont's citizens. But this is what happens when corporations can buy themselves their own senators.

Leahy picked up that infamous 335,906 from TV and movie industry donors and PAC's. He was the third largest recipient of entertainment industry money in the Senate. The top recipient, Senator Schumer is a COICA cosponsor. So is the 5th top recipient, Senator Gillibrand, Schumer's own trojan horse. And there's plenty of overlap between top donors and cosponsors on the rest of this list. This isn't unusual. This is how Washington D.C. does business all the time. And that's the scary part.

This isn't just about the entertainment industry. It's about how the intersection of money and power, routed through a centralized federal government can and does lead to tyranny. When politicians are given a legislative framework that allows them to exercise virtually unlimited powers, without regard to the United States Constitution or individual freedoms or the public will, and then allowed to put that power at the service of their biggest donors, the end result is not democracy, but oligarchy. And COICA is another product of that oligarchy.

Senator Leahy appearing in his fave company's movie
When you can ante up $335,906 to a Senator in exchange for a bill that lets the government play croquet with freedom of expression on the internet, then freedom is dead.

Giving the Federal government unlimited legislative scope is why we will now be forced to buy health insurance from HMO's (an entity created by the Nixon Administration) whether we want to or not. Call it a tax, call it a fine, the bottom line is that the current position of the Obama Administration is that they have the right to force people to purchase services from their corporate donors. And most liberal judicial experts appear to agree with them, and see no civil rights violations or unconstitutionally in empowering politicians to force the public to buy a service from their own donors, for the crime of 'breathing' in the United States.

There's no rhyme or reason to it. It's justified by agenda politics and corporate profits. A combination that has torn the Constitution asunder, over and over again. The only answer is to take away that power, to tear it out of the hands of politicians that willfully, fanatically and greedily abuse it, and restore it back to its original owners. The American people.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Unfair Game

Imagine North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il financing an Anti-American movie to be released in thousands of theaters. Well you don't need to imagine it anymore, because with Fair Game, we have the next best thing. Fair Game is an Anti-American movie financed by Imagenation Abu Dhabi, a company owned by the UAE royal family, and the chief difference between North Korea and the UAE is better PR. Both are brutal dictatorships ruled over by vicious little men which built ridiculous resorts and gargantuan projects for their own self-glorification. But unlike North Korea, the UAE has managed to get gullible Westerners to show up to their Dubai slave paradise without asking any inconvenient questions.

When the US contemplated taking out Bin Laden in 1999, two years before the September 11 attacks, they were unable to do so, because Uncle Osama was passing the time with UAE royals. Now Imagenation Abu Dhabi, a company run by UAE royals, is funding Anti-American movies like Amreeka, My Name is Khan and Fair Game. Amreeka and My Name is Khan focus on the mistreatment of Muslims by America after 9/11. Fair Game, on the other cleverly moves the Muslims to the background, and instead focuses on more photogenic versions of liberal frauds Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame.

Fair Game is the ugly shotgun marriage between liberals and Islamists, with both sides working together to undermine and smear America. It features the likes of Sean Penn, who visited Iraq before the war to defend Saddam Hussein's regime. Then there's director Doug Liman, better known for the first Bourne movie or his MoveOn.org commercials. The screenplay is by Jez Butterworth, a British devotee of radical leftist Harold Pinter.

This is a movie that panders to liberal fantasies about Plame and Wilson by recasting them as younger and more photogenic heroes, splices their dueling books together into one fantasy. Like Leni Riefenstahl, it tries to transforms propaganda into pop culture, fusing the already truth-challenged narrative of Wilson and Plame with Liman's Bourne movies to create a lie completely detached from reality.

Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame have already been discredited in every way possible, and the idea that Plame was some sort of undercover agent operating in a danger zone, who was put at risk, has become a running gag. Fair Game tries to up the element of danger by showing the two Washington D.C. celebutards ducking and covering. In reality the only thing they were doing was primping for the press and pushing their memoirs.

The myth of the Plame Affair, like the claim that the Supreme Court unfairly took away the presidency from Al Gore, is one of those things that liberals will go on believing no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary. And Fair Game gives their internal fantasy lives new meaning through the magic of Hollywood, financed by a repressive regime looking to cloak its own Anti-Americanism in Tinseltown glamor.

But the timing of it is particularly bad. Fair Game's release overlaps with the release of Bush's memoirs, probably not an accident. But it's also much too late for anyone to care about it. Liberals bitter after the 2010 election, would rather have some Michael Moore, than Doug Liman playing out a bureaucratic version of Jason Bourne. Fair Game dives into a closed chapter in the War in Iraq with a Democratic administration focused on winding down and getting out. It celebrates a dissent that no longer has any meaning.

Yet it's curious how liberals and Islamists find common ground over anti-American conspiracy theories. So much so that Osama bin Laden felt compelled to cite Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11. Because both reflect a common reality. To the Muslim world, conspiracy theories maintain an absence of responsibility, making it all too easy to blame America or Israel for all their defects. That same flexibility of narrative appeals to liberals, who discarded the fact that the Clinton Administration seriously explored an invasion of Iraq, to promote the conspiracy theory that Bush invaded Iraq out of religious fanaticism or to measure up to his father. It's easier to substitute conspiracy theories for the truth, that Saddam Hussein was an unstable element for several administrations who debated internally over what to do with him. And that is what Fair Game does best, substituting conspiracy theories for difficult truths.

But Fair Game allows a regime associated with Al Qaeda to fund an Anti-American movie distributed in American theaters. And that is an ominous development, because it demonstrates a new phase that goes well beyond grainy videotapes. Instead top Hollywood talent become the message bearers, receiving their funding from totalitarian regimes, while the final product appears coast to coast. By taking advantage of liberal hostility toward America, they can get their message across.The UAE's rulers were always opposed to sanctions on Iraq. And they have promoted radical propaganda claiming that the Holocaust was carried out by the Jews and that 9/11 had been carried out by the United States itself. Fair Game can easily be seen as an extension of that strategy.

And if you want to understand what kind of priority the UAE regime places on propaganda films like Fair Game, here's Liman's own description of his reception there.

We land in Dubai at 8 a.m. One of the perks of visiting what amounts to a monarchy is the VIP treatment. We are whisked off the plane, down a back set of stairs and into a Mercedes -- no airport, no customs. They can do whatever they want since it's their country.

"Their" of course being the UAE royals. It certainly doesn't belong to and isn't run by ordinary people. No more than Imagenation Abu Dhabi is run by the hoi polloi. To say nothing of the countless Asian slave laborers who make it what it is today. And when even Western celebrities have had to go through customs and strip searches, Liman's red carpet treatment by the regime telegraphs that Fair Game is a priority for them.

In one passage, Liman naively pretends not to understand the realities of the region

Khaled Nabawy also joined us in Abu Dhabi. He plays an Iraqi scientist in the film, a role that has caused him an enormous amount of trouble in his native Egypt because I cast an Israeli actress to play his sister. During the shoot, Khaled was threatened with being kicked out of the Egyptian acting union if he acted in a scene with an Israeli, and our permits to shoot in Cairo were threatened unless I guaranteed that I would not bring the Israeli actress into Egypt with a personal letter to the Egyptian culture minister. At the time, I was happy to not bring the actress into Cairo because I really wanted to shoot her scenes in Baghdad. It turned out I couldn't bring her into Iraq either -- no Israeli's allowed. I was shocked to discover we had rebuilt Iraq as a foe of Israel.

Perhaps Liman would be equally shocked to discover that his UAE hosts have no use for Israelis in their own country either. It took international pressure for them to allow an Israeli tennis player to enter the country for a tennis tournament. They don't have much use for Jews either. Unless they're doing their bidding. Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed funded a center which claimed that Jews drink blood and that the Holocaust was a myth. And Imagenation Abu Dhabi answers to Sheikh Zayed's son. Today the UAE is promoting conspiracy theories about the War in Iraq, but there's no reason to think it will stop there. Turkey's Valley of the Wolves used Hollywood actors to promote an Anti-American and Anti-Semitic message. And the Zayed Center, which hosted everyone from 9/11 Truthers to Lyndon LaRouche still has plenty of material to offer.

Liberals will have to choose whether they want to get in bed with a brutal regime that tortures opponents in a way that few Hollywood movies could equal, a regime that has promoted rabid Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism, and whom Richard Clarke tied to Osama bin Laden. But once they have made their choice, then they can no longer claim the shield of decency or the scepter of patriotism. Once you have betrayed your country, you can no longer wrap yourself in its flag.

Fair Game is the equivalent of taking money from Nazi Germany to make a movie celebrating Lindbergh's Anti-War activism. It is not quite an act of treason, but it manages to take up residence in the same neighborhood.