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Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Afternoon Roundup - The Challenge of Challenger

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. It is an almost unremarked disaster.

In his State of the Union address, Obama mentioned Sputnik, but not Challenger. He only briefly mentioned NASA, the agency that he effectively dismantled and turned into a global warming alarmist press release mill and Muslim pandering laboratory.

But the story of Challenger is also the story of how one of America's greatest achievements was watered down and turned into another grant factory. The Space Shuttle program was always a white elephant. It had no real point, except to run research missions. It had no goal. And now even it is dead and Obama has killed its replacement vehicle.

Probably one of the saddest moments has to be NASA's commemoration of Challenger.

NASA on Friday said "fear of failure" should not hold back its mission to test the boundaries of human space exploration, as the agency marked the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster...

"We who remain on the ground and asked them to fly failed them that day, as we would fail the crew of Columbia 17 years later and as we failed the crew of Apollo 1 19 years before," said Bill Gerstenmaier, who now oversees NASA's human space flight programs.

"We can't let the fear of failure stop us," he said. "The team has learned tremendous lessons from these events," Gerstenmaier told a crowd of about 250 gathered at Kennedy Space Center's Space Mirror Memorial.

But it's not fear of failure that's holding us back, but fear of American exceptionalism.

NASA's human space exploration is now a relic of history, like Apollo. The only way NASA personnel can get to space is by hitching a ride on Russian space vehicles. Just like the billionaires who pay the Russians 20 million for a ride each.

There's nothing bittersweet about this. Just bitter. We did not meet the challenge of challenger. Or the challenge of America. We elected Obama to rule over us and give us a nanny state instead.

Moving on, I was initially not going to write about the so-called 400 Rabbis ad. What's ridiculous about the 400 Rabbis ad is just how much attention it has received. The ad should have been ignored, instead it's been talked up to death. Without the histrionics some conservative bloggers have engaged in, let's cut directly to the chase.

This is an ad taken out by a left wing group which uses Jews as a front. This is an old tactic going back to the Communist days, when front groups would pop up for races, religions and professions all pushing the same line. Jewish Funds for Justice is not a Jewish group, it is a left wing group run by a community organizer. There are hundreds more identical to it which associate themselves with Latinos, African-Americans, Asians and so on and so forth.

The bulk of the 'Rabbis' who signed on are left wing activists. Some are not even Jewish. Some like Michael Lerner (Hillary Clinton's favorite Rabbi) are not even Rabbis. They are the same people who sign on to left wing letters while hiding behind the moral authority of a religion that they undermine at every occasion.

After Hamas won, 400 Rabbis signed a letter urging Bush to "constructively" engage with the Hamas terrorists who are sworn to destroy Israel and exterminate the Jews who live there.

Plenty of the signers of both letters are the same. Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Rabbi Rolando Matalon, Rabbi Andrew Hahn, Rabbi Melanie Aron, Rabbi Michael Holzman, Rabbi Lewis Barth, Rabbi Victor Reinstein, Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld, Rabbi Phyllis Berman, Rabbi Raphael Kanter, Rabbi David Rosenn, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn and I've hardly even gotten through the first 60 names on the list. I don't have the time or energy to go through both lists in detail, anyone who wants to can do it here and here. Along with the Rabbis for Obama list here.

Remember Rabbis for Obama? Guess what, many of the same names. Again. I documented that way back during the election.

In other words these are many of the same 'Rabbis' you go to if you want someone to sign their name on a left wing petition.

A list with left wing radicals like Michael Lerner, a campus radical who began claiming to be a Rabbi when he got too old to riot on campus, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, a freakshow who's played mentor to a generation of anti-Israel and left wing activists, and Rabbi Rolando Matalon of Brit Tzedek Ve'Shalom, a radical anti-Israel organization, have one thing in common. They don't represent Rabbis or Jews. They represent the far left.

That's it. Bottom line.

Conservative blogs should not be treating this as a rabbinical organization. There is no organization here. Just a group of left-wing activists who pull the same stunt over and over again. They know that calling themselves Rabbis will give them more authority, than just sticking their own names on a sheet of paper.

Beck isn't always right, but his statements about Soros are undeniably factual and backed by Soros' own personal recollections. And some of the "Rabbis" on the list are as bad as Soros.

Take Rabbi Tirzah Firestone.

Firestone is on the advisory council of radical anti-Israel organization J Street (funded by Soros) who has repeatedly condemned Israel and promoted Hamas.

Here's one of her op eds

In addition, we must call upon the government of Israel to resume indirect talks with Hamas. It is abundantly clear that military action, blockades, and occupation are unsustainable tactics that will never yield true or long-term peace, but rather engender more anti-Semitism and suffering on all sides.

Demanding that Israel negotiate with terrorists and blaming Jews for anti-semitism for defending themselves, all in one paragraph. Yet we're supposed to believe that this radical anti-Israel leftist is concerned with the memory of the Holocaust. Please.

There's Rabbi Rolando Matalon, another one of the Hamas Rabbis, who blamed Israel for Hamas' victory. Matalon was also instrumental in Clinton's pardon of two Weathermen terrorists.

I could go on, but I don't have the stomach for it. This is the far left masquerading as the religious left. They have their opposite numbers in most major churches in America. They are an unmitigated evil and like Soros, Jews are their primary targets. Believe me, they hate Jews and Israel, much more than they hate Glenn Beck. Some disguise it behind lovey dovey rhetoric, and some just bare their teeth.

These people are not Rabbis, anymore than Father Pfleger is a priest. And calling them the 400 Rabbis only maintains the 'wolf dressed up as grandma' image that they're employing.

After Tunisia, the disturbances have moved on to Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. Despite what is being predicted, I wouldn't count on any of these countries undergoing the same kind of turnover.

Mubarak is a canny old goat and his secret police forces are extensive and effective. And given a choice between complying with Obama's demands and giving in, on cracking down, he will crack down. All that is being accomplished by the calls for Mubarak to democratize and resign is to show how irrelevant America is and how worthless it is as an ally.

Probably the dumbest piece so far comes from Jackson Diehl at the Washington Post

the Obama administration's embrace of Mubarak, even as the octogenarian strongman refused to allow the emergence of a moderate, middle-class-based, pro-democracy opposition, has helped bring the United States' most important Arab ally to the brink of revolution. Mass popular demonstrations have rocked the country since Tuesday; Friday, when millions of Egyptians will assemble in mosques, could be fateful.

Key word here, mosques. Read Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak will not be replaced by Diehl's imaginary moderate middle class democracy opposition. It will be a tyranny of one kind or another. And the odds are still on the Muslim Brotherhood as the only force capable of replacing Mubarak.

Second, the Obama administration's Middle East experts concluded that there was no chance of serious reform - much less revolution - under Mubarak. So they plotted at playing a "long game" of slowly nurturing grass-roots movements and promoting civil society, in preparation for the day when Egypt might be ready for real reform. In this they badly underestimated the secular opposition that was rapidly growing in the blogosphere and that months ago began rallying behind former U.N. nuclear director Mohamed ElBaradei.

This is so much crap that it could be shoveled to make strawberries. Only a Beltway journalist would take the Egyptian blogsphere seriously as an opposition force. The Egyptian blogsphere consists of mostly middle and upper class privileged Egyptian kiddies. They will be absolutely irrelevant once the shooting starts and they have no role whatsoever in determining who takes over the country.

Mohamed El Baradei's "popularity" is an even bigger myth. El Baradei is mostly popular with Western journalists. No one in Egypt gives two shakes of a donkey's tail about him.

Those demands are coherent and eminently reasonable: Mubarak should step down and be replaced by a transitional government, headed by ElBaradei and including representatives of all pro-democracy forces.

How is this reasonable? ElBaradei hasn't won an actual election. Why should it be assumed that he should take power? Because he's a favorite of the WaPo columnists? Get real.
That government could then spend six months to a year rewriting the constitution, allowing political parties to freely organize and preparing for genuinely democratic elections. Given time to establish themselves, secular forces backed by Egypt's growing middle class are likely to rise to the top in those elections - not the Islamists that Mubarak portrays as the only alternative.

And then happy bunnies will fly out of their ears and sing magical songs about something or other.

Really? Open elections. That are going to be won by the secular middle-class? What secular middle-class? Most of Egypt is poor. The vast majority of it is religious and fanatical. If this had happened in the 1950's, it still probably wouldn't have worked, but there might have been a shot. But now. A secular middle-class government in Egypt?

I don't have the proper words to express how insane and delusional this is. The only secular governments in the Muslim world are run by dictators. And that is how it is going to stay.

A democratic election will be won by the Muslim Brotherhood. No ifs ands or buts. They may temporarily enlist secular allies, but they will ultimately rule alone. They are happy to use ElBaradei as a front, but the end result will be an Islamist regime.

Either Jackson Diehl should learn something about Egypt beyond browsing the so-called Egyptian blogsphere, or be replaced by a talking banana. It's not too late to take the right side.

A footnote, consider the pundits who have urged us to embrace Castro's reforms, but would like us to see remove Mubarak. There is little difference between the men in principle. Mubarak is certainly less of a tyrant than Castro. But Cuba is the left's pet cause. And they fantasize that Egypt will see a left wing government take hold once Mubarak is gone. Fantasies are those are. Iran should have taught them better.

An alliance between secularists and Islamists will lead to an Islamist regime. A sample of the apologetics via Atlas Shrugs shows the excuses being trotted out.

The Egyptian Brotherhood renounced violence years ago, but its relative moderation has made it the target of extreme vilification by more radical Islamists. Al Qaeda’s leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, started their political lives affiliated with the Brotherhood but both have denounced it for decades as too soft and a cat’s paw of Mubarak and America.

If you ever wanted to be around when pundits were explaining that Hitler was really a moderate who wanted to restore Germany, and the real threat would come from a German military regime, you can be witness to it right now.

And if you want to understand why our governments make such awful decisions, here's the author's bio

Bruce Riedel, a former long-time CIA officer, is a senior fellow in the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. At Obama’s request, he chaired the strategic review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009

The Muslim Brotherhood are non-violent moderates. This coming from a man who has significant input into administration policymaking. God help us all, seems to sum it up nicely.

Pamela Geller also has coverage of the Sheepshead Bay mosque. I've been aware of this for a while and had been meaning to write about it, but it got overshadowed by the Ground Zero Mosque.

It's a story about a community trying to resist what Creeping Sharia calls the Zoning Jihad. Muslims are operating without regard for the law, building mosques and defying anyone to stop them. And in Bloomberg's New York, it's working.

Geller also has the invaluable Sarah Honig's take on it. It's one of those articles that must be read to get the street level flavor of what is happening in New York.

It was common for the house-proud Irish to keep property in the family, and hence I'd soon reenter the two-story red-brick home in whose wood-paneled rec-room we occasionally whiled away hours. But when I climbed up the grimy station stairs and surveyed the street, I suspected that some supernatural time-and-space warp had transported me to Islamabad. This couldn't be Brooklyn.

Women strode attired in hijabs and male passersby sported all manner of Muslim headgear and long flowing tunics. Kathy met me at the train and astounded me by pointing out long kurta shirts as distinguished from a salwar kameez. She couldn't help becoming an expert. She's now a member of a fast-dwindling minority because "people are running away.

We're among the last holdouts of our generation. My kids have fled." Pakistani and Bangladeshi groceries lined the main shopping drag, and everywhere stickers boldly beckoned: "Discover Jesus in the Koran." An unremarkable low-slung building on the corner of Kathy's block was now dominated by an oversized green sign identifying it as Masjid Nur al-Islam (the Light of Islam Mosque) and announcing that "only Allah is worthy of worship and Muhammad is his LAST prophet." Here too Christians were urged to "turn to the Koran" if they were "genuinely faithful to Jesus."

It wasn't hard to identify the remaining non-Muslim residences. Kathy's was typical. A huge American flag fluttered demonstratively in the manicured front yard, accompanied by a large cross on the door and an assortment of patriotic/jingoistic banners. "We're besieged," she explained. "Making a statement is about all we can do. They aren't delighted to see our flag wave. This is enemy territory."

This is a story that deserves to be told. Because this is part of the spearhead of the invasion. What is happening in the UK and France, is happening here too. We are all becoming Israel. Our geography becoming seized and transformed into a cultural and eventually military war zone.

In other Hussein news, Powerline's Scott Hindraker has a brief roundup of SOTU Sputnik moment reactions, including my own

Scott points out Krauthammer's own NR piece

And of course, once again, there is the magic lure of a green economy created by the brilliance of Washington experts and politicians. This is to be our “Sputnik moment,” when the fear of the foreigner spurs us to innovation and greatness of the kind that yielded NASA and the moon landing.

Apart from the irony of this appeal being made by the very president who has just killed NASA’s manned space program, there is the fact that for three decades, since Jimmy Carter’s synfuel fantasy, Washington has poured billions of taxpayer dollars down a rat hole in vain pursuit of economically competitive renewable energy.

This is nothing but a retread of what used to be called industrial policy, government picking winners and losers. Except that in a field that is not nearly technologically ready to match fossil fuels, we pick one loser after another — from ethanol, a $6 billion boondoggle that even Al Gore admits was a mistake, to the $41,000 Chevy Volt that only the rich can afford (with their extended Bush tax cuts, of course).

I would argue that the real problem is not just that we're picking winners and losers, but what we're not actually picking winners. These are not serious attempts at energy independence, but pork tossed toward particular states and companies. We are not trying to get off oil, foreign or domestic, just spending taxpayer money for political reasons.

There is no comprehensive plan. What I wrote about Obama's high speed rail yawp applies here too

China's high speed rail program is impressive, but also a Communist party project that loses money every year. It's more about control, than it is about economic necessity. If we had expanding urban infrastructure and a booming manufacturing sector, the way China does, then at least we would be building high speed rail in context. But we don't. We're building high speed rail, because the administration likes the idea. Not because American business is in desperate need of it. Like Kathy's biofuels degree, it's another program without context.

Is there actually a comprehensive government plan to switch to biofuels or electric or anything else? No there isn't. Just money being tossed around. Remember Bush pledging 100 million to develop an electric car in a SOTU address. It's just more of the same. Some people in key positions cash in. Research grants get doled out. And nothing moves forward. Biofuels are not meant to move us off oil, but to move money around.

Ramparts has Mark Levin's reaction to the SOTU, for those who have trouble accessing his Facebook

President Obama’s foot remains where it has been since the day he entered the Oval Office, on the gas pedal. He’s not braking for anyone or anything. All this pre-SOTU spin from Obama’s whisperers, gobbled up by the Obama-hungry media, was always nonsense. Obama has no intention of touching entitlements in any significant way, period. Why would he tamper with the New Deal and Great Society when he considers them a good start but insufficiently bold to advance his statist beliefs? Obama has no intention of honestly working with Republicans on health care, cap-and-trade, etc. These are hallmarks of his transformative agenda. They define him and his presidency. His bureaucracy is working overtime to institute them.

It amazes me that some usually thoughtful people seize on anything they can find to argue, or hope, that Obama has been chastened by the last election. For weeks they’ve pointed to the tax deal as evidence of his “pivoting.” Actually, what Obama did is tee-up the tax fight for a time when he believes his class warfare demagoguery can be best employed — during the final weeks of his re-election bid. He already started it last night. And, of course, the Republicans fell for it, hailing the tax deal as momentous. Obama is ready to deal some more, they reckoned — a sad delusion.

I would argue that there has been a mild change in tone, but none in substance. Procedurally compromises have to be made, but they're not favorable ones. It's a Judo contest to see who can flip whom. And the Republicans are in danger of getting flipped.

My article on Warsi's speech, Anglophobia or Islamophobia - What's the Real Problem? has won the Watcher's Council non-council vote.

But I would like to spotlight the third place, New Zeal blog post on the elevation of Patrick Gaspard.

In a move clearly signaling that planning for the 2012 Presidential election is underway, President Barack Obama's "go to" man Patrick Gaspard is leaving the White House to serve as Executive director of the Democratic National Committee...

Gaspard's move also signals the almost complete acceptance of hard-left and labor union influence in the upper reaches of the Democratic Party. In embracing Gaspard, the D.N.C. has surrendered its "commanding heights" to the Party's almost completely dominant far left.

While never a proven member of any of the several radical and Marxist organizations operating within and the Democratic Party, Gaspard has worked with several of the most influential.

He is undoubtedly a servant of the far left.

Patrick Gaspard was reportedly born in Kinshasa, Zaire, after his father, a political opponent of the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti, fled there.

Patrick Gaspard’s father moved with his wife from Haiti to "post-liberation" Zaire, when its pro-communist leader, Patrice Lumumba, appealed to French-speaking academics of African descent to teach in the impoverished nation.

Three years after Patrick Gaspard’s birth, the family moved to New York.

Read it all because it tells us what the 2012 fight will really be like. Obama may make a show of playing nice, but he's relying of Get Out the Vote programs among the union rank and file and the plantation vote among heavily controlled minority groups. This is about to become a very ugly election. I am beginning to have a feeling that 2012 will make 2008 look good.

Closing note from the same article

Barack Obama, as a young man, admired third world revolutionaries like Frantz Fanon. He went into community organizing and the DSA/Committees of Correspondence aligned Chicago left, before moving on to the White House.

Patrick Gaspard, as a young man, admired third world revolutionaries like Aime Cesaire. He went into radical organizing and mixed with the DSA/Committees of Correspondence aligned New York left, before moving on to the White House.

Patrick Gaspard was "made" by the same socialist "mafia" who made Barack Obama.

Now these socialist "twin souls" face the struggle of their lives, the war for the White House 2012.

Obama cannot succeed in 2012, without complete control of the Democratic Party machine. He'll surely be sleeping a little easier now, knowing that Patrick Gaspard has back over at the DNC.

This is Obama and his backers doubling down in a big way. Make no mistake about it.


  1. The situation in Egypt doesn't look good for Mubarak at all.
    I don't know whether to see the American betrayal of him as a deliberate stab in the back, or plain stupidity.
    The role of the president is to further American interests, not spew his private idiotic views about 'Democracy'. As mentioned elsewhere, there were no similar demands during the riots in Iran.
    The question is, who would the islamization of Egypt help, besides the Iranians and their ilk?

    Also, Daniel, I'm interested to know how do you see Brooklyn in a decade or so from now - would it be overrun with muslim immigrants?

  2. It's a combo of leftist agitation which mainly aids the Islamists in their goals. Not new unfortunately.

    Brooklyn is a toss up. I think there will be a much larger Muslim presence. And some parts of it will be no go zones. Some are headed that way already. But there are too many other immigrants already there for them to take over all the way.

  3. The bulk of the 'Rabbis' who signed on are left wing activists. Some are not even Jewish.

    I have just been reading "The Finkler Question" by British author Howard Jacobson and he seems to have coined a description, which you might find appropriate, for these so called Rabbis - Semi-Secular Rabbis.

    All descriptive terminology of events in history and sociological expressions seem to have been reduced to mere clichés in the armoury of clubs to browbeat the opposition (human rights, democracy, holocaust etc.), to now include "Rabbis" which were once upon a time erudite men but now mere theocratic cudgels.

  4. It's a good line, I'm not just too sure that the qualifier of semi is needed.



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