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The Obama Edge

John Brennan: Witless for the Defense

July 19th 2010

Obama Admin Topics - John Brennan
counterterrorism adviser John Brennan

A dry pun asks, "When is a door not a door?" - the answer being, "When it is ajar." But dry humor is clearly preferable to the deluded warping of the lexicon by the Obama administration's lead counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, which leads to this question, and requisite answer, "When is jihad not jihad?" - "When it is bloodless, spiritual struggle." Mr. Brennan vociferously advocates an exclusive, bowdlerized definition of jihad in the public discourse as "to purify oneself or one's community," lest the tender sensibilities of Muslims be offended. He further claims that, somehow, self-described jihadists "have truly just distorted the whole concept" of jihad. But it is Mr. Brennan who, irrespective of whatever flimsy, a historical rationale he provides, thoroughly misrepresents jihad - a living, bellicose Islamic institution that dates from the advent of the Muslim creed almost 14 centuries ago.

The dangerous absurdity of Mr. Brennan's jihad denial is self-evident: More than 15,600 jihad terror attacks have been committed by Muslims worldwide since the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism committed against the United States itself on Sept. 11, 2001. These data should remind us that there is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad, despite contemporary apologetics. Jahada, the root of the word jihad, appears 40 times in the Koran. With four exceptions, all the other 36 usages in the Koran, as understood by both the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam (including Abu Yusuf, Averroes, Ibn Khaldun and Al Ghazali) and ordinary Muslims - meant and mean "he fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like." Read more ..


Freedom of Religion

Islamophobia vs. Anti-Semitism: No Comparison

July 19th 2010

Islamic Topics - God bless Hitler

It seems a commonplace these days now to compare Islamophobia and anti-Semitism as equal forms of intolerance. Fighting Islamophobia, as the argument goes, helps the fight against anti-Semitism. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

“Accommodation of Muslims and their religious aspirations in the Western world would create space for political and social harmony,” declared Masood Khan of Pakistan, representing the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the United Nations Human Rights Council on September 25, 2007. Masood offered a deliberate falsehood repeated by Muslims across Europe, the Middle East, and in the U.S. suggesting, “Islamophobia was also a crude form of anti-Semitism.” He also commented that “[a]s Cathedrals adorned the skylines in many Muslim Countries, so should Minarets.”

In the past twenty years, Europe has changed dramatically. Muslim immigration has expanded exponentially, changing the atmosphere and climate of Europe like never before. Writing about the appearance of Brussels, Saudi Arab News daily Aijaz Zaka Syed explained almost jubilantly, “This is the heart of Europe, the seat of the European Parliament, and perhaps the capital of the coming United States of Europe.” He continued,

“With Arabs and Muslims living and working in this quintessentially European city, Brussels increasingly looks like Beirut, Istanbul, or any other great city of the Middle East… And it is not just Brussels. Scenes like these are increasingly familiar all across Europe—from London to Paris and from Berlin to Copenhagen to Amsterdam.” Read more ..


Religious Freedom

Beinart's Failure

July 12th 2010

Jewish Topics - AntiSemitism Protest

I love Peter Beinart. The last time we had breakfast, in Washington, D.C., about a year and a half ago, our conversation got so lively that I think someone asked us to quiet down. We don't see eye to eye on everything, but I've been moved by his compelling logic and sense of fairness in the many opinion pieces he has written over the years.

Not so with his latest, much-discussed piece, titled "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment," in The New York Review of Books. The essay is sprawling and cleverly written; you feel you are reading something important that is revealing a big truth.

My problem, though, is that once I got over the drama, I found myself asking questions like, "What exactly does he want the Jewish establishment to do?"  Read more ..


Edge on Sports

The Gods Must Be Crazy as Africa's Hopes for the World Cup Fade

July 5th 2010

Africa Topics - African soccer

With the defeat of Ghana, by penalties to Uruguay, and Brazil not making it to the World Cup semi-finals, the mood in Africa is somber. Few expected Africa to win the Cup, but the hopes of many were that one African team might beat the jinx and get through to the semi-finals; especially since the tournament was being played in South Africa, the first time on African soil. Somehow, according to traditional beliefs, the ancestors would show their pleasure by ensuring the victory for us.

So, what’s wrong with African soccer? African players are stars in Europe, so why not here? Or rather, what’s wrong with African coaches, asks Uganda’s Saturday Monitor, (July 3, 2010), since most African teams are coached by expatriates, elderly White men, who, despite their generous pay, don’t deliver. Why not hire local men who understand the local conditions and know the players better? Is it because the ‘elderly White men” don’t have the skill and experience or command respect? According to a former coach, Moses Basena, the “problem is the skin. Naturally we still look at Whites as a superior force.” Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Our Confused Special Envoy on Anti-Semitism

July 5th 2010

Jewish Topics - Hannan Rosenthal
Hannah Rosenthal

Last December, the Obama Administration's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal attacked Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for not toeing the J-Street line regarding his own country thereby taking J-Street's soft approach to terrorism against Israel. In March, in London at the Community Security Trust Dinner, while ostensibly discussing her work on anti-Semitism, she called for more effort in the fight against Islamaphobia. And most recently, in Kazakhstan at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), she again called for increased work to fight the problem. I am confused. Is she the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism or Islamaphobia? Read more ..


Edge of Justice

Rubashkin Chief Appeals Lawyer Challenges US Attorney to Public Debate on Rubashkin Prosecution

June 28th 2010

Jewish Topics - Sholom Rubashkin

U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose has decided that "silence is no longer in order" and has opted to defend her prosecution of Sholom Rubashkin in an open letter in the Des Moines Register that was also widely distributed to the media in general.

It is surprising that a United States Attorney takes offense at the exercise of First Amendment rights by American citizens who support Mr. Rubashkin and publicly denounce how he has been treated. Rose has opened the propriety of her conduct to discussion in the media, particularly since her letter makes many assertions that are false and were never proved or tested in court.

Mr. Rubashkin's principal appellate counsel, who criticized her in a letter to the Department of Justice's Assistant Attorney General, is a co-author of this response to her open letter. We now challenge US Attorney Rose to debate Mr. Lewin on the propriety of the prosecution in a public session, hopefully televised, in Des Moines at a mutually agreeable date with a mutually agreed moderator. Read more ..


The Hamas Flotilla

Jihad in Humanitarian Clothing

June 21st 2010

Contributors / Staff - Brigitte Gabriel picture
Brigitte Gabriel

As world organizations, nations and international media rally together in their favorite cause célèbre of vilifying Israel the Gaza flotilla attack, the country finds itself again on the defensive, trying to explain to the world why it instituted the blockade of Gaza and what part the terrorist organization Hamas is playing in that blockade.

Hamas’ stated goal is to wipe Israel off the map. In fact, in Palestinian schoolbooks and maps Israel is nonexistent. Hamas has many sympathizers who share its goals politically and ideologically, most notably al-Qaida and Iran. Both are welcomed in Gaza with open arms and are creative in supporting Hamas and smuggling weapons in support of their holy war against the Jewish state. This latest incident, though, sheds light on another ally of the terrorist group, the Turkish-based International Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

So who are these poor “humanitarian” activists Israel tried to stop on the flotilla?

IHH is an associate of Hamas and a member of the Union of the Good. This Union is headed by Yousef Al Qaradawi, one of the world’s most notorious Islamic terrorists (banned in England and America) and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. IHH was already involved in the purchasing of automatic weapons from other militant Islamic groups as far back as 1990 when their President Bulent Yildrim was focused on recruiting “Veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming Holy war [jihad].” Read more ..


The BP Spill

BP's Creaky Ethics in the Gulf Oil Spill

June 21st 2010

Energy / Environment - Tony Hayward of BP
BP CEO Tony Hayward

It has been an eventful week in the 60-day history of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. President Obama delivered a solemn speech from the Oval Office to the nation. The head honchos of BP arrived in Washington with apologies to the American people and agreed to a $20 billion compensation fund for people whose livelihoods have been affected. The British company’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, has fronted up to Congress and admitted that the explosion and sinking of the oil rig “never should have happened” but that “we are unwavering in our commitment to fulfill all our responsibilities.”

Responsibility is a key word in this crisis, although the specifics of whom it attaches to have been elusive. During his grilling by Congressional committees yesterday Hayward stuck to a prepared script and answered many questions with “I can’t answer that question,” “I can’t recall,” “That’s a decision I was not party to,” and “I don’t know.” “I’m not stonewalling,” he told one questioner, “I simply was not involved in the decision-making process.” Why, after almost two months, doesn’t he know these things? Read more ..


Edge on Genocide

Turkish Jew Hatred Posters Reminiscent of Nazi Era

June 21st 2010

Jewish Topics - Dogs and Jews
Turkish Market Poster Stating No Dogs or Israelis

My name is Lior Zagury and I am a very proud Israeli Jew who says, "Don't Let History Repeat Itself."

Yes, it is important for me to present myself in this way, especially today when the feeling is there is a festival for anti-Semites.

There are now signs saying "We don’t receive dogs & Israelis."

Such signs are not from the streets of Berlin in 1933 when the Nazis came to power, not from the neighborhoods of Warsaw in 1941 when the Jews lived in the Ghetto, and not even from the shops of Kielce after the second world war in 1946, just before the pogrom that made Jews understand that there isn’t a safe place for them and they need to leave Europe.

These signs have been posted at the entrance to big markets and offices in Turkey in the past few days. Similar signs were hung in Jordan. Read more ..


Mendoza Against the Deaf

Mendoza Legislation AB2072 Nudges California Back to Eugenics

June 14th 2010

History-Genocide - Verschuer-Twins-Height

California eugenics has a direct link to Nazi Germany’s war of extermination against Jews and all other Europeans deemed less worthy than the Aryan master race. In the first two decades of the twentieth century, American eugenics launched a campaign to create a white, blue-eyed, blond-haired master race in America, a biological ideal they called “Nordic.” A key center for the pseudoscience of eugenics sprang up in California. It was from California that eugenicists, backed by wealthy philanthropies such as the Carnegie Institution, created racist pseudo-medical brochures and proposed legislation to eliminate the existence of all people on earth who did not resemble the Nordic ideal.

How? Eugenicists wanted to create public gas chambers, marriage prohibition, concentration camps, and other elimination strategies for those perceived as “disabled” or less than the eugenic version of perfect. Legislation was crafted to slowly implement their goals on a state-by-state level.

Euthanasia laws were introduced in Ohio by the social worker professions as early as 1908—and defeated. Marriage restriction and concentration camp confinement laws for those with vision problems were proffered in New York by the ophthalmology profession—and defeated.

But through an extensive and pernicious campaign of fake science and academic fraud at the highest echelon, eugenicists were able to achieve forced sterilization laws in twenty-seven states. Ultimately, some 65,000 Americans were coercively sterilized, many without knowing it. Often the reasons were no more than gossip about moral character, presumed illiteracy, poverty, or the commission of a petty economic crime. In 1909, California became the third state to adopt such laws and over the coming few decades, about a third, and sometimes more, of all these 65,000 forced sterilizations occurred in California. In 1933 alone, at least 1,278 coercive sterilizations were performed in the state, 700 on women. Read more ..


The Helen Thomas Affair

Dear Helen Thomas, We Jews Aren't Getting the Hell Out of Anywhere Anymore

June 14th 2010

Jewish Topics - Helen Thomas
Helen Thomas

Here’s the thing. I’ve been thinking about poor Helen Thomas, who I believe was probably just saying what everyone thinks and has therefore been made a scapegoat. Not that I really care, because we ought to share the scapegoat status once in a while. It’s the least we can do to dispel the stereotype that we are stingy, us irritating Jews.

Irritating enough, apparently - like the too-talented and too-bossy fame-hog Rachel Berry on Glee - in our discovery of the written word, monotheism, modern physics, psychology, vaccinations, and the film industry, that every country that has ever “hosted” us has found it necessary to tell us to get the hell out, like Thomas did. (Ironically, the aforementioned Jewish Glee character Rachel, in a particularly annoying moment in one episode, was told by classmates to move to Israel. I doubt the writers coordinated this telling joke with the State Department - sorry J Street, Jews do equal Israel in the eyes of the world.)

Helen, you know why we were in Germany and much of Eastern Europe in the first place? And by the way, if I follow your advice, do you think the nice old ladies who got my grandmothers’ large houses and farms from the Nazis in what was once Czechoslovakia will kick the property back two generations? That would be cool because I’d love a vineyard and an agricultural estate.

Well, we were in Germany and Hungary and Czechoslovakia and Russia (where we were regularly just plain killed by Cossacks), and also, for many centuries, Poland (ditto), because we were told to get the hell out of England, France, and Spain. Or, you know, just plain killed by handsome and heroic fairytale knights. Read more ..


Mendoza Against the Deaf

Tony Mendoza California Eugenics-Style Bill Creates Uproar Among the Deaf Community

June 7th 2010

History-Genocide - Verschuer-Twins-Height

AB 2072, a California bill introduced in February 2010 by Assembly Member Tony Mendoza (D- Norwalk) has created uproar among parents and the deaf community because private oral school affiliates of the Alexander Graham Bell Association, an organization with a history of eugenics and social engineering, and the Oberkotter Foundation are behind this bill. The bill passed the Assembly on April 29, 2010, and is currently in the Senate Health Committee awaiting vote on June 16, 2010. The deaf community believes that the bill circumvents existing newborn hearing screening law in a way that it will promote audism, which is prejudice against people who cannot hear and speak, and will marginalize American Sign Language. The Assembly Health Committee analysis states, “According to the author, with new developments in Cochlear Implants, more profoundly deaf children are able to hear and speak and can be completely assimilated into society.”

Many in the deaf community do not perceive their inability to hear or speak as a disability. Rather, they perceive themselves as a variety of the human race in much the same way a person with different hair or eye color. Since American Sign Language was recognized as a language by Dr. William Stokoe in 1965, signed languages have gradually been recognized as a language equal to spoken languages. Hundreds of other signed languages used by deaf people have been identified all around the world and deaf people are recognized as a linguistic and cultural minority group. A survey by the Modern Language Association in 2002 shows that American Sign Language is one of the fastest growing languages offered at colleges and universities, with a growth of 432.8 percent from 1998 to 2002. Read more ..


The Hamas Flotilla

Mutual Respect: Israel and the “Freedom Flotilla”

June 7th 2010

Gaza Topics - Mavi Marmara Grenade
Israeli Commandos Under Stun Grenade Attack

On May 31, 2010, six ships of the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” destined for Gaza were stopped by Israel’s Navy off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea. Five of the ships heeded the call, one however the Mavi Maramara refused, precipitating a forced boarding by troops from Israel’s Navy. 

Each soldier who descended from the helicopter was taken by three or four men and the crowd simply exploded, beating them up, reported one Marine. "They lynched us," said one. Another stated, "They had metal clubs, knives, slingshots, glass bottles." At one point there was also live fire. This flotilla was a provocation. Because the armed provocateurs filmed the operation for their own propaganda purposes, the world got to see the humanitarians in action. They got to see that the Freedom Flotilla was really a "Terrorist Flotilla" aimed at Israel’s right to exist.

On the Mavi Maramara was a group of some 50 mercenaries, trained for fighting and spread throughout the ship awaiting the assault by Israeli troops.  According the IDF, the members of this violent group lacked identity cards and were not carrying passports. Instead, each carried an envelope of some $10,000 in cash.  There is possible evidence that this force received support from within the Turkish government itself. Read more ..


After 9-11

Rally Planned to Protest Mosques at Ground Zero

May 31st 2010

Islamic Topics - Muslim Day parade NYC

Now that it has been revealed that not one, but two mosques are planned for the area around Ground Zero, the supremacist and triumphalist character of this effort is clearer than ever. Is the Muslim population of lower Manhattan so huge that one projected mosque—even one so large as to be housed within a 15 story Islamic Center—would immediately be bursting at the seams, and thus yet another is required even before the first is built?

Of course not. Muslims are already praying at the projected site of the massive Islamic Center, an old Burlington Coat Factory outlet that was damaged by a piece of one of the hijacked airplanes fell through the roof on 9/11. (A Muslim real estate company paid $4.85 million in cash for the building. Where that cash came from has not been explained).

That building doesn’t appear to be overflowing, although Muslims are reportedly holding prayers on the sidewalk outside another lower Manhattan mosque, apparently in order to give the impression that they’re in dire need of more space. This is, however, more for show than for necessity. Read more ..


Inside Islam

How Much Female Genital Mutilation is Good for Women, and Society?

May 24th 2010

Islamic Topics - Infibulation

Take two of the most combustible issues of our time, feminism and Islam. Mix. Shake. Pour. Duck.

This is more or less what happened last week when the bioethics committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its long-standing opposition to female genital mutilation. Up to now, the AAP’s position was simple: never. In the United States, as in many other countries, opposition has been reinforced with legislation. One American father has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for cutting his two-year-old daughter.

But after years of experience with emigré communities from places like Somalia and Sudan, the AAP decided that absolute refusal to cooperate could do more harm than good. Parents have taken their daughters back to the home country where the procedure might be done in septic conditions without anesthetic, sometimes with scissors or a shard of glass. Read more ..


The Philippines on The Edge

Election of Benigno Aquino Sparks Hope in The Philippines

May 24th 2010

Asia Topics - Benigno Aquino

The expected victory of leading candidate Benigno Simeon Cojuangco "Noynoy" Aquino III has raised the hopes and expectations of the people of the Philippines. The people judged him to be the most worthy of trust and the best one able to realize their hopes and most likely to fulfill campaign promises to end corruption and work to end widespread poverty.

His greatest challenge if proclaimed president will be to resist the power, influence and pressure of the vested interests of the powerful dynastic families and foreign corporations and governments that have dominated Philippine politics and the economy for generations. The people have spoken through the new fairly effective electronic voting system that has minimized cheating and brought a swift result.  Read more ..


Israel on the Edge

Will Israel Face a 2012 Apocalypse during the Second Obama Administration?

May 17th 2010

Obama Admin Topics - Obama and flags

Some people believe the Mayan calendar predicts a global catastrophe in 2012. This was the premise of the film 2012, which imagined the earth's temperature rising to the point where much of the planet and its population is destroyed. Israel could face its own apocalypse in 2012 if the political heat continues to rise.

Imagine the following scenario:

In 2012, Obama is narrowly reelected. He is angered by the defection of Jewish voters disenchanted with his Middle East policy. Unfettered by electoral concerns, he is prepared to use his remaining years to consolidate the relationships he has built with Arab states and further reassure the Muslim world of America's friendship.

After delaying their intended 2011 announcement, the Palestinians declare independence and ask the world to recognize Palestine and to force Israel to allow the establishment of its capital in Jerusalem.

Israel protests and says that it will no longer honor its past agreements with the Palestinians. It closes its borders and reasserts the unity of Jerusalem. Read more ..


The Immigration Edge

How Arizona and the US Respond to Immigration May Define the Nation

May 10th 2010

Crime Topics - Border Patrol shakedown

The United States has resorted to fairly extreme state action in order to control undocumented immigrants. This is a long history, with ups and downs. The current phase of strong-state action began in the 1990s with Bill Clinton. But the US is not alone. Some of the most powerful states in the world – Britain, France, Italy - have increasingly reoriented large parts of their state bureaucracy to control, detect, stop, detain, and deport basically vulnerable and powerless migrants. These states have been willing to sacrifice major and minor laws, and more generally the spirit of the law - one of the most valued achievements of collective history in the west. They have sacrificed the civil liberties of their citizenry in order (supposedly) to control foreigners.

In the US, the Patriot Act (2001) authorises the immediate deportation of any alien (both documented and not), without hearings or evidence, if the attorney-general considers him/her possibly dangerous. Moreover, after 2001 the federal government authorised states to pass immigration legislation: by 2007 there were 240 laws and approximately 1,700 bills to this effect, numbers that have increased further since then. Twenty-three states in the US have signed agreements with the federal government to collaborate in arrests. The initiative by the authorities in Arizona to criminalise unauthorised residence (passed by the state’s house of representatives on 13 April 2010, and signed into law on 23 April) should be seen in this context. Read more ..


Edge of Human Rights

Does Plastination of Corpses Stretch the Limits of Human Dignity?

May 3rd 2010

Science - Plastinated Woman and Child

Is it offensive to human dignity to display naked corpses posed like shop-window mannequins?

Human dignity is a motherhood concept, like freedom of speech or the brotherhood of man. It’s great for padding out politicians’ speeches. But what happens when it conflicts with another motherhood concept: autonomy, the ability to make free and independent decisions?

An oft-quoted example of this dilemma is the sport of dwarf-tossing. When a town in France banned it in 2002, one of the dwarfs objected. He was participating freely and being treated as a basketball was his livelihood. What was the problem? The case went all the way to the Conseil d’État, the French counterpart to our High Court. It dismissed the dwarf’s appeal to autonomy. Allowing himself to be used as a mere projectile compromised his dignity, it said. The dwarf then appealed to the UN’s Human Rights and Anti-Discriminational Committee. It also upheld the ban “in order to protect public order and considerations of human dignity.”

Calibrating the balance between autonomy and human dignity is very tricky. So tricky, in fact, that quite a number of well-placed bioethicists have taken to denying the existence of (scare quotes) “human dignity” altogether. A few years ago, for instance, Ruth Macklin was widely applauded by many of her colleagues when she wrote in the British Medical Journal that human dignity was a “useless concept”, compared to autonomy. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

A Wrong Turn in Obama’s Mideast Policy

April 26th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped
Abraham H. Foxman

Nothing illustrates more how off-track the Obama Administration policy has gone as its expressions that a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is critical to winning over Arab support for America’s policy to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. This is a lazy and ultimately futile way of addressing the major challenges facing the United States in the region.

It is reminiscent of the approach to the region in the first months of the Carter Administration in 1976. Then, the U.S. posited the idea that only a comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict could contain Soviet influence with the Arabs and protect American oil interests. What resulted from this misguided thinking was severe pressure on Israel and little appreciation for America from the moderate Arabs.

Instead, Anwar Sadat went out on his own to make peace with Israel, foiling the Carter Administration’s plans for a comprehensive peace but actually strengthening American interests.

What moderate Arabs wanted then, and want now despite their rhetoric about Israel, is an America that stands with its allies and is strong in containing radical forces and states that threaten them. During the days of the Cold War the radicals were Syria and Iraq supported by the Soviets. America kept the moderates—Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States—on its side by supporting a victorious Israel in its conflict with the radicals, thereby sending the message to the wavering Arabs that the future lay with America and not the Soviets. Read more ..


The Edge of Justice

Does Rubashkin’s Sentence “Serve Justice?”

April 26th 2010

Jewish Topics - Sholom Rubashkin

In our day-to-day lives, it is rare that the words of the Supreme Court touch us personally. While serving as the United States Attorney for the District of Utah, appointed by President Bush, I frequently read, however, the Supreme Court’s message to me:

“The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all, and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the two-fold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor—indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.” Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78 (1935)

These words were and still are sobering. They were a constant reminder of the power to prosecute and the delicacy with which such power should be wielded. I was not to “strike foul” blows but I was to prosecute earnestly and vigorously—never forgetting that while I pursued the guilty, I should be just as aggressive to protect the innocent. Regardless, justice should be done. Read more ..


The Edge of Health Care Reform

Showdown in the States over Health Reform

April 19th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

Now that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has dispensed with colorful metaphors and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has removed her perma-smile, bureaucrats in Washington are busily preparing the necessary channels to begin communicating details of the massive bill to the States. And so a new chapter begins in this epic saga, but one President Obama and his team will not want to read.

As governors begin to sort through the murky details, they’re quickly realizing this albatross is worse than originally feared. Faced with higher taxes for small businesses to support Medicare rates, ballooning Medicaid burdens, mandatory requirements for every denizen, not to mention the fear that many companies will simply jettison their own health plans in lieu of the promise of something better,the wages of this federal sin will only worsen. So much for the Democratic argument that once the bill becomes law, the American people will see the light and be healed!

Less than a week after President Obama signed the bill, he was facing lawsuits from more than a dozen states charged with implementing the new law. On the Thursday after the bill was signed, Georgia Republicans, led by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, called on the state’s Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat, to do the right thing and sue the administration for imposing such a massive unfunded mandate on the Peach State.

“In addition to the questionable constitutionality of the bill, the unfunded mandates in the healthcare reform will cripple Georgia’s economic recovery,” said Mr. Cagle. “Unlike Washington, our state constitution requires us to balance the budget each year.” The constitutionality of Health Care Reform revolves around the interpretation of the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause. The Tenth Amendment reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Read more ..


Inside Africa

South Africa Faces More than Soccer Rivalries in Advance of the World Cup

April 12th 2010

Africa Topics - Eugene Terreblanch (S Africa)

Eugene Terreblanche, the white 69 year-old South African most famously known for his racist stance, was killed on April 3 in his bed, in the town of Ventersdorp, 100 miles from the capital, Pretoria. He was the stereotypical Boer: fearless, tough, no-nonsense and convinced of his racial “superiority.” In the Swahili language the word for a white person is “mzungu”, a neutral or even respectful term, but any abusive and arrogant white is known as a “kaburu,” a derivative of “Boer.”

His death, at the hands of two of his black workers, who reportedly called the police and said they had killed him in self-defense in a dispute over their wages, has re-opened old wounds, with soccer’s World Cup championship just two months away. Black farm-workers can expect to get paid less than $40 a month, which creates fertile ground for seething discontent. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Why Christians Support Israel

April 5th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

“Israel is not just necessary to the return of Christ, it is essential to it.” So says Reverend A.R. Bernard, pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in New York City.

His sentiments are shared by millions of Christians around the world, who steadfastly believe that a Jewish state is necessary for the Second Coming of Jesus. Their fervent support for Israel is buoyed by Old Testament passages that anoint Israel to the Jewish people, refer to the Jews as God's “chosen people” and promise that God will bless those who bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3).

Other Christians support Israel out of a sense of spiritual debt to the Jews, noting that the majority of the Bible was written in Hebrew and ordained by God to the Jews. It is through this original covenant between God and His “chosen people,” that gentiles are able to come to God. Paul speaks of this spiritual debt and instructs us to assist the Jews (Romans 15:27).

Other Christians have more secular reasons for supporting Israel. They believe that a united Jewish state represents the best hope of preserving the Holy Land and curbing the persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East.

Whether religious or secular in nature, a deep support for Israel resonates with millions of Christians. Undeterred by the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the widespread hostility toward Christians in the Middle East, throngs of Christians immigrate each year to the Holy Land. Indeed, Israel is the only state in the Middle East where the Christian population is actually growing. Read more ..


The Edge of Economic Recovery

Time to Stop Lying to Ourselves

March 29th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker, CURE
Star Parker

Citigroup, one the world's largest banks, was bailed out with some $45 billion of U.S. taxpayer funds and we taxpayers—you and I—still own a little over one quarter of the company. Do you recall making this investment? I don't.

Nevertheless, in testimony before a panel appointed by Congress to oversee management of the $700 billion TARP fund which financed the Citigroup bailout, the bank's CEO, Vikram Pandit, thanked all of us. “I want to thank our Government for providing Citi with TARP funds... Citi owes a large debt of gratitude to American taxpayers.” The rest of Pandit's testimony amounted to genuflecting before his government welfare officers and endorsing sweeping new government regulation of the financial services industry that Democrats in the House and Senate are championing. “I strongly believe that consumer protection can and should be strengthened at the federal regulatory level,” testified Pandit.

The $700 billion TARP fund used to bail out Citigroup, along with others, was a check written on American taxpayers that Congress gave then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to spend however he wanted. At the center of the financial collapse that brought down these banks was the illusion of infinitely rising housing prices fueled by trillions of dollars of free flowing credit, artificially cheap because it was backed by us taxpayers through FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

In other words, the heart of our crisis can be explained by Margaret Thatcher's famous summary of the problem with socialism: sooner or later you run out of other people's money. Of course we need protection. But American consumers are also American taxpayers and it's American citizens and taxpayers that need to be protected from their government. The tea party grassroots revolt that has sprouted across our country is a basic expression of recognition that we have lost control of our own government and that if we are going to be a free and prosperous people, this can't go on. Read more ..


The Armenian Genocide

Was Political Mess Over Armenian Genocide Measure Avoidable?

March 22nd 2010

History-Genocide - Armenian Victims

Did a lack of decisiveness at the White House result in a missed opportunity to end the near-regular Congressional charade of judging the horrific events in Eastern Anatolia of nearly 100 years ago?

Not surprisingly, the recent passage of the resolution labeling as genocide the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by a panel in the House of Representatives caused Turks across the political spectrum to express their outrage. The Foreign Ministry recalled envoy Namik Tan for consultations, less than two weeks after he arrived in Washington as the new ambassador. A senior ministry official predicted that any hope of near-term progress on the Turkey-Armenia Protocols, a bold attempt to by the two governments to resolve contentious bilateral and regional issues, was gone. “So much for the new era of US appreciation for the sensitivities and cultural nuances of America's allies,” a Wall Street Journal editorial quipped. Read more ..


Brazil on the Edge

Black Mark for Brazil: Yanomami, Genocide, and Malaria

March 15th 2010

Latin American Topics - Brazilian Indian
Yanomami Indian

The Yanomami of the Brazilian Amazon have been decimated in the last 20 years by an incursion of prospect-miners (garimpeiros) who brought diseases (especially malaria) and other maladies to their hitherto relatively isolated communities. Here we follow the history of the garimpeiros incursion  examining the current  trying situation and make urgent policy suggestions.

Who are the Yanomami?

The Yanomami live in an area of approximately 192,000 km² spanning both sides of the Brazil-Venezuela border. Their land varies in ecological biomes from lowland tropical rainforest in both the Orinoco and Amazon River drainages to mountainous highlands. The Yanomami numbered approximately 29,000 in 2005 with about 14,000 living within Brazil. They are dispersed throughout this region and live at low population densities.

This research essay primarily concerns the Yanomami who live on the Brazilian side of the border who are being seen as the most affected by both garimpagem (prospecting) intruding on their native lands and malaria epidemics.

Likewise, this situation, is even being termed as a genocide due to the inexcusable behavior of a number of Brazilian government officials who both lent support to the garimpeiros and knowingly adjusted to the spread of disease in order to wreak havoc on the Yanomami people (particularly due to the exposure of the tribe to malaria, against which they did not have immunity).  During the height of the gold rush from 1987 to 1999, it is estimated that the malaria epidemic, combined with the armed battles against garimpeiros, shockingly led to the loss of thirteen percent of the Yanomami population living in the region. Read more ..


The Armenian Genocide

The Betrayal of Souls and the Denial of the Armenian Genocide

March 8th 2010

History-Genocide - Armenians Hanged
Ottoman soldiers and mass hangings of Armenians
Credit: James Nazer

In the book The Guilt of Nations, Elazar Barkan wrote, “For a ‘new’ history to become more than a partisan ‘extremist’ story, the narrative often has to persuade not only the members of the group that will ‘benefit’ from the new interpretation but also their ‘others,’ those whose own history will presumably be ‘diminished,’ or tainted by the new stories.” Clearly Turkey’s reaction to the vote by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Armenian Genocide resolution shows that Turkey remains unpersuaded by its own guilt. This is painful to continue to witness.

Nearly a hundred years after the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkish forces during World War One, Turkey, an otherwise moderate country, continues to deny what eyewitness accounts prove to be an undeniable fact. Turkey’s reaction in recalling its Ambassador to the United States is both heavy-handed and a touch of “thou protesth too much.”

In recent efforts to defeat similar resolutions, Turkey has enlisted the help of high-paid Washington lobbyists to cajole, persuade, and arm twist individual Members of Congress to make it impossible to pass the resolution recognizing this genocide. Threats of dire consequences to US-Turkish relations ensued, with cynical accusations of damaging the relationship over a resolution recognizing what the world already knew to be true. March 4th’s Turkish reaction is no different. Read more ..


Inside American Medicine

Doping our Youth

March 1st 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot
Armstrong Williams

It is increasingly—and horrifyingly—commonplace in California to treat children diagnosed with deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, with marijuana. California voters passed a law allowing doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients, including those under the age of 18. The law allows doctors to recommend marijuana “for any... illness for which marijuana provides relief.” Under that broad umbrella, doctors are pushing pot to treat all kinds of maladies, including ADHD. Truly, this is horrifying.

ADHD is described as a neurological disorder that prevents children from focusing on a specific task. In essence, people with ADHD have difficulty with self-regulation and self-motivation, due to problems with distractibility, organization, and prioritization. Notably, these are the same functions that are most impaired by marijuana use.

Pot actually exacerbates problems with attention, memory and concentration that a treatment for ADHD should alleviate. That's why Stephen Hinshaw, Chairman of the Psychology Department at the University of California, Berkeley, called prescribing marijuana to treat ADHD “one of the worst ideas of all time.”

At very least, using marijuana to treat adolescents with ADHD is wildly irresponsible. First of all, the FDA has never conducted an approval process on marijuana and few institutions are willing to fund studies to show the effects of using marijuana as a remedy for ADHD.

Consequently, there are no reliable studies to show how the drug may affect ADHD. That means that all of the so-called evidence in support of prescribing marijuana to children is anecdotal; it is based completely on self-selecting and self-reporting. In other words, there is no reliable scientific basis for drugging these children into complacency. Nonetheless, doctors, school counselors, and misinformed parents are increasingly pushing marijuana to kids. Read more ..


Edge of Mideast Politics

Beyond Bogus: “International Opinion”

February 22nd 2010

UN Topics - Human Rights Council Meeting
UN Human Rights Council

In recent days, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren was heckled relentlessly and interrupted vociferously by members of University of California at Irvine's Muslim Student Union. Such negation of civility, discourse and decorum, which was noisily and gleefully celebrated by still other members of this group, is often defended by solemn-sounding references to United Nations resolutions.

This case was no exception. In a subsequent statement, the Muslim Student Union said it opposed having university departments sponsor a speaker representing a country that “is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined”—which is, in fact, the case. Those who use this type of argument rely on the halo effect of the United Nations, which is held, implicitly or explicitly, to embody “international opinion,” a term that can be invoked with reverential awe to dignify a bad, dishonest argument. Read more ..


The Obama Edge

Winners and Losers from the "Mass-acre"

February 15th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong Williams Headshot

The dust is still settling from the fallout of the special election in Massachusetts to replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The rejection of socialism, high taxes, and government restrictions on personal health care choices all became self-evident with Scott Brown's stunning upset. It was the shot heard around the political world.

History reminds us that Massachusetts was the cradle of the American Revolution. It began with high taxes and restrictions on civil liberties imposed by the British Crown. The people of the Bay State refused to succumb to a new despot's higher taxes and restrictions on freedom. Just as Massachusetts paved the way for the American Revolution, it now has set the stage for the national rejection of President Obama's hidden yet radical agenda.

Today, Democrats remain precariously perched along a political fault line that threatens to swallow more of its members if they fail to heed the call and will of the people. The special election produced far more winners and losers than the victor, Scott Brown, and the vanquished, Martha Coakley. To understand what both parties can expect in the coming weeks and months, it's important to take a look at some other winners and losers who emerged from the outcome.

The Winners

Pete Sessions: The chairman of the campaign arm for House Republicans will reap the political spoils of Senator-elect Brown's victory. With more than a 70-seat disadvantage, Republicans in the House face an uphill challenge; so large that many potential Republican contenders felt their time and effort would be better spent in 2012 or beyond. No more. Last week's victory put once-believed safe Democratic seats in play all across the land. That will help Mr. Sessions in two critical ways: he can expect more retirements from old bull Democrats too tired or bored to remain in office; and Mr. Sessions will cultivate some high caliber recruits to take on those Democratsbrave (or foolish) enough to stay in the fight come November. Read more ..


The Edge of Economic Recovery

Environmental Red Tape Cancels out Green Jobs

February 8th 2010

Economy - Green Jobs

In the midst of a recession, costly environmental legislation is not an easy sell. For that reason, the Obama Administration and congressional proponents of an aggressive environmental agenda have tried to recast their policies as a boost to--rather than a drain on--the economy. From the stimulus package to pending global warming legislation to the Senate's upcoming jobs bill, the latest mantra is green jobs--employment to be created by imposing various environmental measures.

But the reality is that these efforts increase federal spending and exert new government control over the private sector. They are thus more likely to harm the economy and reduce the prospects for net job growth. Genuine job creation can be achieved not through more environmental red tape but less--in particular by allowing more domestic energy production.

What Is a Green Job?

Generally, jobs related to renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, battery-powered or other alternatively fueled vehicles, and public transportation comprise most of what are currently considered green jobs. But there is no clear definition of a green job.

For example, proponents of green jobs are split over whether jobs in the nuclear industry--which generates electricity with virtually no air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions but generates nuclear waste--should count as green jobs.

Generally, jobs related to renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, battery-powered or other alternatively fueled vehicles, and public transportation comprise most of what are currently considered green jobs. But there is no clear definition of a green job. Read more ..


China on the Edge

Ten Myths About China for the New Decade

February 1st 2010

Asia Topics - Chinese soldier at Tienamen Square

China's economic growth has been accompanied by growing misinformation about its economy. Contrary to conventional wisdom, China is not leading the world out of a recession, is no longer moving toward a market economy, is not America's banker, and may never surpass the U.S. The Chinese economy may still be growing rapidly despite the financial crisis. One thing that has been growing even faster is misinformation about the Chinese economy. This is partly a function of unreliable economic numbers put out by China's government, but it is also partly a function of mistaken American and other perceptions. Hidden within the sweeping pronouncements of "China's decade" and "China's century" are important, specific points--some of which turn out to be demonstrably wrong. Read more ..


The Hell of Haiti

How One Man's Rant Spread Globally

January 25th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped
ADL national director Abraham Foxman

In today’s hyper-connected world, one individual’s extremist rant on the Internet can quickly become fodder for a newspaper headline halfway around the world.

 This was the case when a Seattle man posted an incoherent tirade on YouTube, making the preposterous allegation that the much-lauded Israel Defense Forces mobile hospital unit in Haiti might be involved in stealing organs for profit. 

Identifying himself as “T. West" of "AfriSynergy Productions,” he declared: “People have to be aware of personalities who are out for money.  The IDF has participated in the past in steal [sic] organ transplants of Palestinians and others.”

 Several anti-Israel Web sites and Middle East news sources immediately picked up on and reported as credible the allegations made by “T. West” that Israel may be involved in stealing organs from earthquake victims.  “Israel Harvesting Organs in Haiti?” asked a banner headline on the Web site of Press TV, a state-funded Iranian news channel. The answer was readily provided in the adjacent article, quoting directly from the “T. West” tirade.

Similar articles appeared on other anti-Israel Web sites in the Middle East, including that of Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, an armed wing of the terrorist group Hamas.  In the United States, Alex Jones, an American anti-Israel conspiracy theorist, picked up on the “story” and reported it as fact.

All of these reports cited the YouTube video from “T. West” in Seattle as their source.

How does such an outrageous accusation, made by someone virtually unknown ostensibly sitting in his living room with no information other than what he has read on the Internet and seen on television, get broadcast around the world in nano-seconds as the truth? Read more ..


The Hell of Haiti

Brazil's Burden in Haiti

January 18th 2010

Latin American Topics - Brazilian Peacekeepers
Brazilian peacekeepers

After a promising beginning that included, among other accomplishments, being the second country in the Americas to achieve independence and the first and only to do so after a slave revolt, Haiti’s prospects soured so precipitously that by the end of the millennium it was being dubbed the failed state of the Western Hemisphere.

Thus, one can hardly imagine a country that, even with the support of the international community, would take longer to bounce back from the catastrophic earthquake just witnessed on the island. If in the past, Haiti has almost chronically relied on foreign aid and debt relief, the devastating ramifications of this natural disaster will demonstrably increase this dependency. Brazil, which in recent years has maintained a strong presence in Haiti, might prove to be a favored source of such aid.

For the past two decades, Brazil has been working to expand its voice in the hemisphere. Thus, it was only natural that when the United Nations decided to replace its decade-long stretch of failed Haitian initiatives with a newly formed stabilization mission, Brasilia seized the opportunity. Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

The Fort Hood Massacre: The Price for Political Correctness

January 11th 2010

Terrorism - Fort Hood

The massacre at Fort Hood intensified the ongoing debate about the role that Islamic extremism played in such crimes. Some pundits and politicians seem to spare no pain in arguing that there were no ideological motives behind the actions of Major Nidal Hassan, the executioner of Fort Hood. They all volunteer to find an apolitical excuse for this hideous transgression. The strangest of all ought to be the claim that the major had contracted Post-traumatic Stress Disorder from treating soldiers returning from the Wars of Iraq and Afghanistan!

The records show that the Fort Hood incident was made possible by a Political Correctness going awry. Although the signals coming from the murderer were clearly suspicious and worthy of investigating, his religious affiliation appears to have prevented his superiors from questioning his political beliefs. While being in the US army exposes every officer to deep scrutiny, in the Major’s case one easily wonders how his open ranting and his communications with known extremists failed to raise any suspicions.

Read more ..

The Obama Edge

Replace Janet Napolitano—Now

January 4th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker

Last March, our newly installed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explained, in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, her vision for fighting what was formerly known as terrorism.

By calling these now “man caused disasters”, she explained, we’d “move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”

“Our policies will be guided by authoritative information. We also have assets at our disposal now that we did not have prior to 9/11.  For example, we are much better able to keep track of travelers coming into the U.S. than we were before.  The third thing is to work with our international partners and allies to make sure that we are getting information and sharing information in an appropriate and real-time fashion.”

Yikes.

Putting Ms. Napolitano in charge of a department of 200,000 people and a $50 billion budget with a stated mission to “lead the unified national effort to secure the country and preserve our freedoms” was a “man caused disaster.”  And it is one that President Obama should fix – pronto.

His number one priority to restore credibility in his administration’s ability to protect Americans from terrorism should be replacement of Napolitano. Read more ..


Inside Washington

The Saudis Take a Stroll on J Street

December 28th 2009

Contributors / Staff - Lenny Davis
Lenny Ben-David

Talk about a tough sale. Imagine being Saudi Arabia’s public relations firm in the United States in the months after the 9/11 attacks, which were perpetrated by 19 terrorists, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals. Shilling for a tarnished Saudi Arabia was the daunting task that faced Qorvis, a Washington-based PR company. The $14 million contract surely compensated.

In their 2002 contract, Qorvis promised to “draft and/or distribute talking points, press releases, fact sheets, and op-ed pieces in order to promote the [Saudi] Kingdom, its commitment to the war against terrorism, peace in the Middle East, and other issues pertinent to the Kingdom.”

Soon thereafter, a new organization appeared on the American scene, the “Alliance of Peace and Justice in the Middle East.” In April 2002, the organization ran radio spots on dozens of stations across the U.S. extolling the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by then-Crown Prince Abdullah and attacking Israel’s settlements.

According to one ad: “The [Saudis’] fair plan [would] end the senseless violence in the Mideast.” The plan involved Israel’s “withdrawal from the Palestinian land it has unjustly occupied for years. … There will be no more midnight raids and random searches, no more violence.” “Start the peace — end the occupation” is the phrase that ends the ads. It is followed by the words “paid for by the Alliance of Peace and Justice.”

Who was behind the alliance? One American Jewish activist tracked them back to a Virginia address, which just happened to be the offices of Qorvis. Read more ..


Inside Islam

Where Is the OIC When Mosques Are Attacked?

December 21st 2009

Terrorism - Pakistani Taliban

According to the Associated Press, Jihadi terrorists "stormed a mosque in Rawalpindi, killing at least 36 worshippers, including six military officers, during Friday prayers as they sprayed gunfire and threw grenades before blowing themselves up," Pakistani officials said. A military statement said four attackers hurled grenades and then opened fire as they rushed toward the mosque, located on Parade Lane in a military residential colony, just a few miles from the capital. Two Jihadists then blew themselves up inside, while the other two terrorists were killed in an exchange of gunfire.  Seventeen children and 10 civilians were killed. The dead included a major general, a brigadier, two lieutenant colonels, one major and a retired major as well as three regular soldiers, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said.

Witnesses said two of the militants entered the mosque, which had up to 200 worshippers inside, while others ran into buildings nearby. Read more ..


The Afghan War

Taliban's Counter Strategy is Based on US Declared Strategy

December 14th 2009

Afghan Topics - Afghani Taliban
Afghan Taliban

Now that we know the administration's new strategy for Afghanistan, what is the Taliban strategy against the United States?

Such a question is warranted to be able to project the clash between the two strategies and assess the accuracy of present U.S. policies in the confrontation with the forces it is fighting against in that part of the world.

So, how would the Taliban/al-Qaida war room counter NATO and the Afghan Government based on the Obama Administration's battle plan?

Strategic Perceptions

The Jihadi war room is now aware that the administration has narrowed its scope to defeat the so-called al-Qaida organization while limiting its goal to depriving the Taliban from achieving full victory, i.e. depriving them “from the momentum.” In strategic wording this means that the administration won't give the time and the means, let alone the necessary long term commitment to fully defeat the Taliban as a militia and militant network.

The jihadist strategists now understand that Washington's advisers still recommend talking to the Taliban, the entire Taliban, but only after the latter would feel weak and pushed back enough to seek such talks. Underneath this perception, the Salafi Islamists' analysts realize that present American analysis concludes that al-Qaida and the Taliban are two different things, and that it is possible to defeat the first and eventually engage the second. Read more ..



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