Thursday, April 30, 2009

How Jewish is the State of Israel?

David P. Goldman
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Israel’s Independence Day, the 5th of Iyar according to the Jewish calendar, falls on April 29th this year. This is always an occasion to reflect on Israel’s prospects, and, as always, there is good news and bad news. Earlier this week the head of the Palestinian Authority, Muhammed Abbas, once again ruled out recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Hamas clearly wants to continue violent confrontation with Israel, but Abbas prefers a peace agreement that leads to the long-term erosion of the Jewish character of Israel—through, for example, immigration to Israel of the descendants of the Palestinian refugees of 1947.

Analysts have long assumed that demographics constitutes the greatest long-term threat to Israel—the “Arab womb” overwhelming the Jews. More recent data, however, suggests that rising Jewish fertility and falling Arab fertility are likely to keep the ratio of Jews to Arabs close to the present four-to-one-level for the foreseeable future. In 1969, Jewish births in the area west of the Jordan River formed only sixty-nine percent of the total. By 2008, the proportion had risen to seventy-five percent. Israel has by far the highest birth rate in the industrial world.

New immigration, however, is low in part because Jews outside of Israel evince weaker identification with the Jewish state, and new emigration is high, in part, because Israelis see less reason to live at risk in a country whose national purpose has become less clear to them. Is Israel simply another liberal democracy that happens to be inhabited mainly by Jews and maintains the sort of “kinship-immigration” policy that Germany also has? Or is Israel a Jewish state first and foremost?

In a secular world operating according to liberal ideology, a Jewish state seems something of an anachronism. A large body of opinion wants Israel to dissolve into a single state with the Palestinians and abandon its Jewish character outright. This is the view of New York University’s Tony Judt, for example. In an often-cited essay for the New York Review of Books in 1993, Judt denounced the fact that Israel “is an ethnic majority defined by language, or religion, or antiquity, or all three at the expense of inconvenient local minorities,” in which “Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges” that do not belong in “a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law.”

Israel also faces internal pressure to conform to secular liberal criteria. At the same time that Israeli voters chose a nationalist government as a response to security concerns, other parts of Israeli society reflect a paralysis of purpose that may do as much long-term damage to Israel as the external threats. Azure magazine, a quarterly published by the Shalem Center of Jerusalem, has for years drawn attention to the actions of Israel’s Supreme Court. In the Spring 2009 issue, attorneys Joel H. Golovensky and Ariel Gilboa argue that the rigorous application of liberal principles has led the Supreme Court to disrupt the core idea of the Zionist project: to settle Jews in the Land of Israel.

In a set of rulings, the Court has compelled housing developments built by the private Jewish National Fund to accept Israeli Arab residents. This seems a minor issue, when compared to headlines about Iran’s nuclear ambitions or Hamas rocket attacks, but it goes to the Jewish state’s greatest long-term vulnerability: its desire to be Jewish. The issue is not whether Arab citizens of Israel should have access to housing but whether they may demand access to any housing.

The Court has argued that the rights of all Israeli citizens to equal treatment override other concerns and justify judicial compulsion of private associations. But what are these other concerns? Security is one. As the authors quote Ruth Gavison, former head of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, “In the context of the ongoing conflict, Israel is justified in establishing Jewish towns with the express purpose of preventing the contiguity of Arab settlement both within Israel and with the Arab states across the border: Such contiguous settlement invites irredentism and secessionist claims, and neutralizing the threat of secession is a legitimate goal.”

The Azure authors add, “Preserving the Jewish character of various communities dispersed throughout Israel, especially relatively small ones, is therefore as much an inevitable consequence of geopolitical reality as it is both historically justified and supported by commonly accepted international norms.”

Apart from the security aspect, though, a broader principal is involved, as Golovensky and Gilboa observe: “In several important ways, the state of Israel was founded as an attempt to create a framework of affirmative action—political, legal, and cultural—for the Jewish people as a whole. Despite Palestinian allegations concerning the historical injustice they have suffered, from a broader perspective, Zionism is based solidly on the principle of justice.”

From the Zionist vantage point, the state of Israel has a responsibility to the Jewish people as a whole, including prospective immigrants from the Diaspora, many of whom may be seeking residence in Israel as remedy against prospective threats. For the Jews of the former Soviet Union, that was not a minor issue. Nor is it today for the Jews of France. In that sense, what appears anomalous at the local level, namely an affirmative action policy instituted for the benefit of a majority, appears a natural response to the requirements of the tiny Jewish minority worldwide.

All depends on whether Israel sees itself as a fulfillment of the Zionist project or simply another liberal state. In the latter case, it is conceivable that the Hamas, Hizbollah, as well as the PLO and their backers among rogue states will create enough discomfort to inhibit immigration and promote emigration. Despite the surge in the Jewish fertility rate, a reversal of net immigration could over the long term undermine the Jewish State.

After all, if Israel is simply another liberal democracy indistinguishable from Belgium or Portugal, why live in a place subject to such a high level of risk? Followed to its logical conclusion, the liberal position in any case requires the liquidation of the Jewish State, just as Tony Judt demands.

Defenders of the West democracies should take a deep interest in the outcome of what might seem to be arcane legal matters in Israel. Pushed to its extreme conclusion, the secular liberal model will exclude the sacred and the traditional from public life. Of all the things sacred in the thousands of years of pre-history and history that inform Western Civilization, surely Judaism and the Jewish people are the oldest and arguably the most pertinent to the character of the West. Eroding the Jewish character of Israel is an obsession of the secular project, precisely because the Jewish people in their Third Commonwealth in the Land of Israel have such profound importance for the Christian West.

David P. Goldman is associate editor of First Things.
Thanks Ralph Zwier

Hamas Prepares for New War

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A7 News

The defacto Hamas government in Gaza is re-training its army and changing its tactics in preparation for what it believes will be another war with Israel, according to Iran and Hizbullah are advising Hamas on how to overcome its failures against Israel in the IDFs Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign earlier this year. Hamas tactics in the war backfired. It told its fighters to dress in civilian clothes as a ploy to raise civilian casualties, but the IDF surprised it by pinpointing its attacks and warning civilians to leave areas before they were bombed.

Hamas has used the ceasefire, which Israel declared on condition that international monitors would be positioned along the Egyptian border to stop smuggling, to bring in advanced weapons through new tunnels that have been built. Two Arab smugglers or workers were killed Thursday morning in a tunnel collapse underneath the border at Rafiah.

The Hamas army now includes anti-aircraft missiles that have been provided by Iran. Israel Air Force planes were equipped with devices to deflect anti-aircraft missiles during Operation Cast Lead, but the newly-smuggled weapons are more advanced.

During the next war, Hamas’s army will remain in uniform and will use hit-and-run tactics instead of directly engaging Israeli troops.

Hamas has dismissed 40 commanders of its forces, which it is re-building with more discipline. It also is developing improved communications systems to protect senior leaders, many of whom were targeted by Israel.

One tactic that worked to a certain extent was the deployment of its army in schools and hospitals, which also were used as weapons depots, forcing the IDF to delay attacking unless it could be proven beyond a doubt that the facilities no longer were functioning for civilian purposes.

In Israel, solar power that won’t need subsidies

Ilene R. Prusher | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor/ April 28, 2009 edition
Christian Science Monitor

Kvutzat Yavne, Israel

In a country that ranks among the world’s highest for average number of sunny days per year, solar energy has long been seen as a key natural resource here. All the more fitting that on the eve of its Independence Day Israel launched what it said was the first solar farm of its kind, billed as a breakthrough that will make it affordable to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The technology, a system of rotating dishes made up of mirrors, is capable of harnessing up to 75 percent of incoming sunlight – roughly five times the capacity of traditional solar panels. In addition, using mirrors to reduce the number of photovoltaic cells needed, it makes the cost of solar energy roughly comparable to fossil fuels.

While this technology has been implemented elsewhere, Israeli start-up ZenithSolar – working in conjunction with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University – is a pioneer in combining it with a water-based cooling system that increases the photovoltaic cells’ efficiency and produces thermal energy to boot.

“We’re the first to develop a cogeneration machine which will harness sunlight to produce thermal energy together with electrical energy at the same time,” said Roy Segev, founder and CEO of ZenithSolar, at a launch party Monday at this kibbutz, or communal agricultural settlement, located on Israel’s coastal plain east of Ashdod. This flagship plot of 16 dishes known as “Z20”s – which look like semiflattened satellite dishes with the texture of a disco ball – will generate about half of the total energy needs of this community of some 200 families.

Related story: Click here for a video showing how MIT students concentrated the sun’s rays so intensely that they were able to light a wooden 2-by-4 on fire.

Israel has long sought to make the most of its location: the Negev Desert, not far from here, gets about 330 sunny days in a year. Israel recruited its first solar-energy pioneer in 1949 just after the state was founded, and Israelis have have been using solar panels on their roofs to heat water for decades – more than 1 million households in a nation of 7 million have such setups, according to a recent Business Week report.

In June 2008, the government introduced a feed-in tariff, a program launched with great success in Germany and elsewhere that enables smaller-scale producers of renewables to compete in the energy market.

In 20 years, virtually free electricity?
Only recently has there been a push in Israel to commercialize solar energy. Sollel, another Israeli company that developed a solar-powered turbine, signed a deal in 2007 with Pacific Gas and Electric Company to build what promises to be the world’s largest solar plant in California’s Mojave Desert.

But the idea of affordable solar energy on a mass scale had a place in Professor David Faiman’s heart for decades. Originally from London, “where I was vaguely aware that there was a sun in the sky,” he came to Israel in 1973 as a physicist. Shortly afterward, the oil crisis of the 1970s began.

“I did a lot of soul-searching because of the energy crisis. I thought it was crazy that the whole world should be at the beck and call of a small group of countries that have oil, whereas we all have sun,” he says in an interview in the shade. That swayed him to switch over to Ben-Gurion University’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, where he is now chairman of the department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics. Professor Faiman also directs Israel’s National Solar Energy Center.

Faiman’s area of research involves not just harnessing the sun but increasing its intensity. The idea is referred to as CPV – Concentrating Photovoltaics – a technology in which mirrors increase the light incident onto semiconductors, which increases energy output.

“By using mirrors to concentrate the sun’s light, you cut down by 1,000 the amount of photovoltaic material you need, and you’ve essentially opened the door to affordable photovoltaics,” explains the white-bearded professor, a straw hat on his head to protect himself from the afternoon blaze, already strong even on a mild April day. “The beauty of the mirror-based system is that since you have to cool it, you can get 50 percent more energy out of it in the form of hot water.”

He says that after the installation of such a system is paid for – one Z20 would now run about $15,000 a pop – electricity or water-heating costs would be mostly based on maintenance costs, rather than pricey fuel.

“The world is consuming the energy equivalent of 200 million barrels of oil a day,” Faiman says. “If we can reduce that, the environmental footprint will be enormous…. And in 20 years, if we in Israel move in this direction, 60 to 70 percent of our electricity needs will not cost anything, and at that stage, what you pay will be based on the operation and maintenance costs.”

A dig at oil-rich adversaries
ZenithSolar hopes to offer its technology further afield. But can it work everywhere, even in the places without nearly as much sun? Faiman says it can, since the machines track the sun even on a cloudy day, but it might not be cost-effective.

Faiman, who is about to embark on a lecture tour in the US, explains that it would not be worthwhile to open a farm in Illinois or Pennsylvania, he found. But it would work to build one in El Paso, Texas, and then ship the electricity north.

“It turns out that in the case of Texas, it would be thoroughly cost-effective for the amount of sun available there,” he says. “Other states could buy it from Texas and transfer it by cable.”

The very use of the word “farm” to refer to these massive dishes planted in dirt puts a new spin on an old motto about making the desert bloom. As one of Israel’s veteran founders, Israeli President Shimon Peres, spoke at the inaugural ribbon-cutting here, he made a bold prediction that the technology would empower countries that lack oil – Israel among them – and made something of a dig at the countries which have oil.

“Today, terrorism is nourished mainly from those countries that have oil, including Iran,” Mr. Peres said. “Solar energy is democratic and it can change the face of the world.”

UCSB PROF calls Israelis Nazis in e-mail to students - Your tax-dollars at work!‏


UC Santa Barbara professor Spams Class with graphic “Jews Are Nazis” Email

Via Brad Greenberg, a typical example of the vicious rhetorical moves that would never be tolerated towards anyone but Jews. Can you imagine a professor accusing a black politician of "politically lynching" an opponent? Let alone sending an email about it to his enrolled students, which by the by is a violation of any number of "hostile environment" harassment policies:I just received an e-mail, which included a link to the video seen after the jump, forwarding an e-mail from William I. Robinson, a USCB sociology professor. The contents of that e-mail, which Robinson reportedly sent to students on Martin Luther King Day and ran under the heading "Parallel images of Nazis and Israelis," included 42 side-by-side photos...

"I am forwarding some horrific, parallel images of Nazi atrocities against the Jews and Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. Perhaps the most frightening are not those providing a graphic depiction of the carnage but that which shows Israeli children writing "with love" on a bomb that will tear apart Palestinian children. Gaza is Israel's Warsaw - a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians, subjecting them to the slow death of malnutrition, disease and despair, nearly two years before their subjection to the quick death of Israeli bombs. We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide (Websters: "the systematic killing of, or a program of action intended to destroy, a whole national or ethnic group"), a process whose objective is not so much to physically eliminate each and every Palestinian than to eliminate the Palestinians as a people in any meaningful sense of the notion of people-hood."

I like how he included the smear about Israeli children writing love notes on missiles, even though that incident (a) was staged by photojournalists and (b) happened during Lebanon II and has absolutely nothing to do with "Palestinian children." You can also pick apart the rest of the email - mass starvation is the opposite of true, the genocide is so "slow-motion" that the Palestinian population is skyrocketing, etc.

But why bother? He's got tenure. So blatant lying and anti-Jewish tropes - that's the very definition of academic freedom. Besides, "Jews are Nazis" is exactly the line toed by the State Department's flagship Arab public diplomacy outlet. So what's the big deal?

Anyway, here's a narration of the email, courtesy of one of the students victimized by his textbook harassment:

No word on when the Democratic left will rush to defend him. But it's gotta be pretty soon right?

OC: The Question That Didn’t Get Asked

Heritage Foundation

"While pressing Obama on a variety of national security questions, the White House press corps failed to ask: “Mr. President, if your administration is already claiming credit for jobs created in this economy, when can the American people start holding you accountable for all the jobs lost?”Yesterday before President Barack Obama’s 100 days news conference, the Commerce Department released data showing that the U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 6.1% in the January-March quarter. This comes on top of a report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics released earlier this month showing that the U.S. has lost more than 1.2 million jobs since President Barack Obama was sworn into office. Yet despite all this bad economic news Obama claimed that his stimulus $787 billion deficit spending stimulus package “has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs.”

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While pressing Obama on a variety of national security questions, the White House press corps failed to ask: “Mr. President, if your administration is already claiming credit for jobs created in this economy, when can the American people start holding you accountable for all the jobs lost?”

Obama’s desire to escape all accountability for his economic policies was also on display earlier in the day when he told a town hall in Missouri: “We inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit. That wasn’t me.” Oh really? The Associated Press fact checked Obama’s claim and reports:

Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for Obama’s last two years as Illinois senator. Obama supported the emergency bailout package in President George W. Bush’s final months — a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.

He’s persuaded Congress to expand children’s health insurance, education spending, health information technology and more. He’s moving ahead on a variety of big-ticket items on health care, the environment, energy and transportation that, if achieved, will be more enduring than bank bailouts and aid for homeowners.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated his policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years, even accounting for his spending reduction goals. Now, the deficit is nearly quadrupling to $1.75 trillion.

The cost of Obama’s massive spending explosion is about to hit home. The Treasury Department announced yesterday that it is going to step up the issuing of 30-year bonds to cover the hundreds of billions of dollars the Obama administration is spending on bailouts and stimulus. A special advisory committee to the Treasury then warned, “Treasuries will probably not receive the same favorable demand treatment from either source over the coming quarters.” Translation: foreign and domestic investors are going to demand significantly higher interest rates in exchange for buying the avalanche of new bonds.

Higher interest rates will strangle our economic recovery. Congress and the President should do the opposite of what they apparently intend: They should cut taxes on productive activities, not increase them. They should cut spending, not increase it. And rather than increase government spending with new entitlements like a government-run health plan, they should reduce future entitlement benefits to give credit markets some confidence that U.S. policymakers have not entirely abandoned fiscal discipline.

President Obama on Wednesday acknowledged for the first time that the harsh interrogation techniques he has banned might have yielded useful information.

According to scientists, genetic data indicate the H1N1 flu strain is relatively mild and won’t be as deadly as even the average winter.

Five car bombs and a roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 48 people, the latest in a series of attacks that appear designed to discredit Iraq’s security forces as the U.S. military starts to withdraw from urban areas.

Yesterday India said it will not accept any cap on its development in the name of climate change, asserting that any negotiation on climate change should take into account the overriding developmental objectives of the developing countries.

Senior Senate Democrats are objecting to the deal Majority Leader Harry Reid made with Sen. Arlen Specter, saying they will vote against letting the former Republican shoot to the top of powerful committees after he switches parties.

Comment: Please identify the 150,000 jobs that were saved and explain how you saved them!!!

Arab education displays its discontents

Raja Kamal and Tom G. Palmer
The Daily Star

Recently, a Saudi judge shocked many Saudis and global public opinion by upholding a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man. That ruling brought to public awareness an appalling practice that has for too long been hidden from view and shielded from open discussion and criticism
The case was not unique. Another highly publicized recent case in Yemen featured a 10-year-old girl who sought a divorce after being forced by her parents to marry a 30-year-old man, who took advantage of his power in order to rape and abuse her. It is disgraceful that such blatantly coerced "marriages" are allowed to take place at all. Yet, those familiar with educational systems in the Arab world are not surprised.

Shameful traditional systems of education that suppress critical thinking make it possible for such backward practices to continue, shielded beyond a local, narrow, and unexamined view of religion. Rulings like that in Saudi Arabia are the outcomes of that failing educational system. Some Arab societies have failed miserably to produce well prepared generations capable of catching up with most corners of the world. The Saudi religious curriculum, which couples rote memorization of texts with uncritical acceptance of tribal practices, keeps the country backward. It does not prepare students to cope with modernity, nor to be productive participants in an increasingly global economy.

Despite the flood of billions and billions in oil money to public education, Saudi students consistently score among the worst in math and science. The greatest culprit is the suppression of critical thinking, coupled with limited and weak exposure to math and science. An impressive investment in the infrastructure of higher education has not yielded positive returns. It is as if the state had purchased the most advanced computer hardware, but neglected to secure any software to run it.

Most Arab educational systems fail to prepare graduates for productive lives. Each year thousands of students graduate from universities with degrees in Sharia (Islamic law) or Arabic literature. The vast majority of them will be unemployed, underemployed, or employed in the bloated government sector, which will further contribute to already bloated and inefficient government. Thinking for oneself - a precondition of both entrepreneurship and of democratic participation - is suppressed. It's little wonder that judges condemn innocent young girls to such fates.

Saudi Arabia and other Arab states should look at the policies of the United States and India that transformed education and made it a major force in achieving economic growth.

Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz of Harvard University have shown that economic returns on investments in education are enormous; college graduates in market-driven educational systems earn substantial returns on the investments of money and time involved. The willingness of Americans to invest in human capital, not merely for the elites but also for the masses, fueled American prosperity. The key, however, was not merely the quantity of investment, but the critical thinking it made possible. In contrast, Saudi Arabia lavishes money on free public education, with the goal of perpetuating a religious orthodoxy that is, in any case, taught by ill-prepared teachers. A better term for the rote memorization involved is not education, but indoctrination.

India's investment in education has lifted hundreds of millions from abject poverty through impressive real economic growth. The late prime minister, Indira Gandhi, once said, "education is a liberating force, and in our age it is also a democratizing force, cutting across the barriers of caste and class, smoothing out inequalities imposed by birth and other circumstances." That liberating force has not been merely state-funded, as James Tooley of Newcastle University has demonstrated in his field research and his recent book "A Beautiful Tree." The poor invest heavily from their meager resources to secure education for their children. One result of such skill- and critical-thought oriented education has been the growth of high-tech industries in India, a prospect undreamed of only a few years ago.

The task facing many Arab countries is acknowledging the priority of education over mere schooling. The answer isn't just spending more money. Alchemy didn't fail because of a lack of investments in alchemy academies. A curriculum centered on memorization of dogma should be reformed to allow critical thought, a key ingredient in escaping backwardness. That's as true of judicial backwardness, as it is of economic backwardness. Thorough-going educational reform - involving not merely money, but orientation to the market and critical thinking - can produce judicious judges. Memorization will merely perpetuate backwardness.

Raja Kamal is senior associate dean at the Harris School for Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. Tom G. Palmer is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and vice president for international programs at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. This commentary was written for THE DAILY STAR.

BMI wipes Israel off the map

J Post Staff

Cheap British carrier BMI, which launched lines flying to Tel Aviv in March, deleted Israel from electronic maps presented to passengers on its flights so as not to offend Islam, Army Radio reported Thursday afternoon. However, the orientation of Mecca, the direction to which Muslim face when they pray, is shown on the electronic screens. In the electronic maps presented on BMI flights to Tel Aviv, Israel or any of its cities are not marked, except for Haifa, which is spelled 'Khefa,' a transliteration of the Arab name of the city as it was called before 1948.

BMI operates many lines to Muslim destinations and presents the 'Mecca Compass' as a service to its many Muslim passengers. The company holds services from England to Syria, Lebanon and Iran, among other Muslim destinations.

Recently BMI signed an agreement with the Tourism Ministry in order top add Israel to its roster of destinations.

The company said in response that two planes flying to Tel Aviv were originally intended to arrive in Arab countries and therefore the map was tailored to the passengers and showed mainly sites holy to Muslims.

A "logistic failure" caused the map to be presented on the flight to Tel Aviv, a company statement said, and it will be removed from the planes flying to Tel Aviv. The company was making every effort not to hurt passengers' feelings by adopting a nonpolitical position, the statement added.

Gate To Vienna

Baron Bodissey

"I’m tired of people who are busy losing this world war because they are still obsessed with the pfrevious one, which ended generations ago. Anti-Nazism has mutated into a permanent witch-hunt on an imaginary enemy. The notion that “neo-Nazis” constitute a prominent group today is nonsense. The most dangerous people by far are those running the European Union, who are busy dismantling European civilization and enlarging the borders of the EU to include the Middle East and North Africa, thus flooding their own countries with tens of millions of Muslims and other hostile aliens without consulting the native population. This makes the EU the largest criminal entity on the planet, preoccupied with destroying an entire continent, dismantling the greatest civilization that has ever existed and replacing the native population with others. I have described this in my book Defeating Eurabia , which is available online." The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut thinks that “Europe does not love itself.” He says that it's not forces from outside that are threatening Europe as much as the voluntary renunciation of European identity, its wish of freeing itself from its own history and traditions, only replaced by human rights. The EU isn’t just post-national; it’s post-European.

Next to the EU, the most dangerous people are the Leftists all over the Western world who are waging a Jihad to destroy their own civilization and have teamed up with Muslims to achieve this goal. Unlike neo-Nazis, these people are not only far more numerous but socially accepted and disproportionately represented in the media and the education system, where they systematically silence “racist” dissenters by destroying their livelihoods and reputations. They use an imaginary “far-Right” threat to crush people they don’t like.

According to Dr Aidan Rankin, “anti-Fascism” is the new Fascism. The so-called anti-racists and Multiculturalists are aggressors with totalitarian leanings; the people they unfairly attack are victims of a failed social experiment and one of the greatest betrayals in history:

“Progressives (as they invariably call themselves) use accusations of racism and fascism as excuses to bully and oppress impoverished white communities and isolate them in racially based ghettos. For white liberals, anti-racism becomes a form of auto-racism, directed at members of their own race who are deemed to be socially inferior. It is, in other words, a new type of snobbery and social exclusion […]. Their ideology allows for no concern for individuals, except for attack or denunciation. This contempt for the individual, the white, male worker in particular, allows the anti-fascist to reconcile two contradictory demands—for civil disobedience (including violence) and for the massive extension of state power […]. [They operate] by appealing to more basic psychological impulses of fear, envy and hatred. Anti-fascism shares with its alleged opposite a belief in the cleansing or redemptive power of violence. They share as well an obsessive preoccupation with race.”

A supposedly “tolerant” nation such as Britain is becoming more and more totalitarian the more “diverse” it gets, and I sometimes suspect that was the whole point. The fact that prominent groups can despise Christianity, destroy free speech, practice widespread censorship and ideological indoctrination, hate capitalism, promote the concept of the all-encompassing state and support other known Nazi policies while denouncing their opponents as “Nazis” only demonstrates that most people no longer understand the real nature of Nazism. “Discrimination” doesn’t necessarily lead to gas chambers. We discriminated quite sensibly in the past against allowing Muslims and other obviously hostile groups to settle in our lands. I would feel quite comfortable with re-instituting that kind of “discrimination.”

In the United States, the host D.L. Hughley at TV channel CNN stated that the Republican Party looked like “Nazi Germany” because a majority of their members are white. Being a “Nazi” today means “being born white and standing up for yourself,” nothing more and nothing less. In fact, you don’t even need to stand up for yourself; merely being white and still breathing is sufficient for some.

One of the co-founders of the state-sponsored, far-Left “anti-racist” organization Expo in Sweden, Tobias Hübinette, wrote this in 1996: “To feel and even think that the white race is inferior in every conceivable way is natural with regards to its history and current actions. Let the Western countries of the white race perish in blood and suffering. Long live the multicultural, racially mixed and classless ecological society! Long live anarchy!”

Hübinette is an “anti-Nazi. ” Since his agenda is apparently the genocide of all whites, one must assume that a “Nazi” is thus any white person who opposes his own eradication. He has continued promoting “Multiculturalism,” even received awards. To some, “Multiculturalism” apparently means “death to white people and their culture,” pure and simple.

The escalating wave of physical violence targeting whites in Western streets is closely tied to a rise in verbal abuse directed against whites from Western media. Even the “conservative” Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt has stated that the traditional culture of his country was “barbarism” and that everything good was imported from abroad. If he had said something similar about any other ethnic group on the planet he would have been forced to apologize, but saying disparaging things about Europeans and their culture is actively encouraged.

Talking about “Islamophobia” while leaders and organizations across the world are bending over backwards to appease Muslims is a joke. The truth is that, perhaps next to Jews, people of European origins are currently the most demonized people on the planet, systematically denied even the most basic level of dignity and self-preservation. Yet while anti-Semitism is at least mentioned in the media as a problem, anti-Whiteism is simply taken for granted.

Ironically, both self-professed “anti-Nazis” as well as the marginal neo-Nazi groups that do exist seem to labor under the delusion that the Nazis were “pro-white.” They were not. While Jews and Gypsies topped their hate list, they didn't particularly like “Slavs” such as Poles or Russians, either, even though they were white and in many cases a lot blonder than Mr. Hitler. Most of the people who died in Europe during the Second World War were non-Jewish whites, even though the percentage of the Jewish population that was eliminated was certainly extremely high. The Nazis waged a brutal war against other Europeans but had a positive relationship with Arab Muslims. Frankly, I would be tempted to say that Nazism was a form of Jihad against European civilization, and unfortunately a rather successful one at that. There is no single human being who has ever done more to destroy the white race than Adolf Hitler.

The idea that Jew hatred was “imported” to the Islamic world from Nazi Germany is total nonsense, as proven by Dr. Andrew G. Bostom in The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism. He is also the author of the excellent book The Legacy of Jihad. Despotism, too, comes natural to Islamic culture and does not need to be “imported.” In fact, on some levels Islamic culture is arguably more totalitarian than the most totalitarian of Western ideologies. Even the Communists and the Nazis, who championed some of the most evil ideologies ever seen in European history, didn’t ban all forms of pictorial art, ballet and classical music as a matter of principle. Fascist leader Mussolini did not deliberately destroy the artworks of Michelangelo or Raphael, but Islamic Jihadists will, if given the chance to do so. It is only a matter of time.

Nevertheless, Nazism certainly had much more in common with Islam than it had with Christianity, and the admiration was and remains mutual. In 2005, Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf was among the top bestsellers in Turkey, behind a book about a Turkish national hero detonating a nuclear bomb in Washington D.C. At the same time, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan stressed that Islamophobia must be treated as “a crime against humanity.” It is banned by law to discuss the Armenian genocide in Turkey. Would a country the size of Germany, with a history of a thousand years of continuous warfare against its neighbors and where Adolf Hitler is a bestselling author, be hailed as a moderate, Christian country?

In 2004, Erdogan warned/threatened European Union leaders that they would pay a heavy price in escalating violence from Islamic extremists if they rejected Turkey as a member and confirmed itself as a Christian club. Turkey is a member of a Muslim club, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which works to bring the entire world under sharia law, yet Turks don’t face escalating violence from Christian extremists because of this. The same Erdogan has repeatedly rejected the idea that there is such a thing as a “moderate Islam.”

It is quite clear from the actions of many Turkish and other Muslim communities in Western countries that they are here to colonize, not to adjust to their adopted homelands. Some of them have serious plans to blow up their fellow citizens in Jihadist attacks. In 2008 an elderly Cologne Council member, Hans-Martin Breninek, was beaten unconscious and sent to hospital by young Turks. He was handing out information warning against the Islamization of his country and his continent. Just how many native Europeans who have been beaten up, mugged, raped or killed by gangs of Muslims immigrants, in Germany and elsewhere, is impossible to say, but the number keeps rising fast. It’s time we say that enough is enough.

I am aware of the fact that there are anti-German feelings still prevalent in some quarters, but I do not share these feelings. My country was once occupied by Nazi Germany, but I see no rational reason to blame young Germans for this. I realize that the situation today is radically different from what it was back then, and I derive no pleasure from seeing Germans being humiliated at home by members of backward tribes. The entire European continent is now under siege. The groups who insult and harass the inhabitants of Berlin and Hamburg do the same in Oslo, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, London, Rome and Athens. Germans are not “Nazis” or “extremists” if they say that they do not want more Muslim immigration, period; they are merely exercising their right to retain their own land and shape their destiny as a people. Germans do have that right, just as much as Thais, Indians, Kenyans, Frenchmen and Italians do. Those who say otherwise are evil and should be denounced as such.

Europe is not complete without German culture. There is nothing that can be done about the past so we need to concentrate on the future. There is no reason to single out the Germans as the bad guys this time around. They now have a golden opportunity to redeem themselves and play a positive role as defenders of European civilization, something which their population size and historical achievements entitle them to.

If anything, precisely because of her history, Germany has an even greater responsibility than others to stop the spread of Jew hatred that follows inevitably from Muslim immigration. The defenders of Multiculturalism are directly responsible for the current spread of Nazi-like ideologies in the Western world and are shameless hypocrites for claiming otherwise. Opposition to Islamization in Germany is good not just for Germany, but for Europe. For this reason, we should support the Anti-Islamization Congress in Cologne on May 9th.

Crazy Times — Crazier Ones to Follow

Victor Davis Hanson
Tribune Media Services

We are in a weird age.

Do the smart thing, we were told, and invest in a 401(k) retirement account. Buy into the American dream and own your own home. But lately it seems that those who put their money in low-earning passbook savings accounts or rented rather than buying may have been better off.

Indeed, almost all the old familiar benchmarks of modern American life seem to be going by the wayside. The blue-chip corporations that were long the brand names of world manufacturing and finance — American International Group, Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Chrysler, Citigroup, General Motors and Lehman Brothers — are either gone or teetering on insolvency.

The old-guard newspaper industry is fading — the Tribune Company is in bankruptcy court, Hearst at one point threatened to shut down the San Francisco Chronicle, the Rocky Mountain News is already gone. The stock price of The New York Times is worth about the same as its Sunday paper.

Washington is more confusing. Bill Clinton balanced his last budgets but raised taxes . George Bush increased deficits but cut taxes. But now taxes, spending and deficits soar all at once. We are lectured that prior reckless federal spending and borrowing got us into this mess — but now are told that even more federal spending and borrowing will get us out of it.

We've seen housing sales slump when home prices were high but interest rates low. Or when prices were low but interest high. Or when prices and interest were alike high. But we never have seen a bad housing market in which both home prices and mortgage interest rates were low.

Nonsense is passed off as wisdom. Those who caused the financial meltdown walked away with millions in bonuses while taxpayers covered the debts they ran up. The big-spending government claims it may cut our annual $1.7 trillion deficit in half by 2012 — but only after piling up trillions more in national debt.

In our Orwellian world, borrowing to spend what we don't have has been renamed "stimulus." Those who pay no federal income taxes — almost half of Americans — can somehow be promised an income tax "cut." In the new borrowing of trillions of dollars here and trillions there, billions of dollars now sounds like pocket change.

When Americans turn to their political parties for answers, they are even more confused. Populist Democrats such as Sen. Chris Dodd and President Barack Obama took more AIG campaign cash than did pro-business Republicans.

And the list of big-tax liberals who cheated or avoided taxes they want to raise on others is astounding — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who oversees the Internal Revenue Service; failed Obama Cabinet nominee Tom Daschle; and Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Yet conservative Republicans during the Bush administration ran up the debt and increased federal spending far more than did liberals under Bill Clinton. A Republican president has not balanced a budget since Dwight Eisenhower did it over a half-century ago.

Abroad, we thought piracy ended with the age of sail — only to learn that the world's 21st century navies either will not or cannot sink a few brigands in speedboats. Meanwhile, a U.N. conference against racism showcased Iranian president — and Holocaust-denier — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spouting anti-Semitic hatred.

The old "bad" unilateral war in Iraq is now quiet; the once "good" multilateral effort in Afghanistan is not. We are warned that we must be careful not to explicitly associate the radical Islam that fueled the Sept. 11 attacks with terrorism; yet, we are advised that we should worry about returning American veterans as potential terrorists.

When our president references the 19th and 20th centuries, he apologizes for American sins but stays silent about the United States defeating Nazis, fascists, Japanese militarists and Soviet communists. The world hears contrition about Americans dropping the bomb to end World War II but never remorse from those responsible for Darfur, Grozny or Tibet.

There have been a few crazy years like 2009 in American history — 1860, 1929, 1941 and 1968. And given what followed all of them, it might be wise to prepare for even crazier times for us ahead.

A Chilling Effect on U.S. Counterterrorism

Fred Burton and Scott Stewart of Stratfor

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been carefully watching the fallout from the Obama administration’s decision to release four classified memos from former President George W. Bush’s administration that authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
In a visit to CIA headquarters last week, President Barack Obama promised not to prosecute agency personnel who carried out such interrogations, since they were following lawful orders. Critics of the techniques, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have called for the formation of a “truth commission” to investigate the matter, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to launch a criminal inquiry into the matter.

Realistically, those most likely to face investigation and prosecution are those who wrote the memos, rather than the low-level field personnel who acted in good faith based upon the guidance the memos provided. Despite this fact and Obama’s reassurances, our contacts in the intelligence community report that the release of the memos has had a discernible “chilling effect” on those in the clandestine service who work on counterterrorism issues.

In some ways, the debate over the morality of such interrogation techniques — something we do not take a position on and will not be discussing here — has distracted many observers from examining the impact that the release of these memos is having on the ability of the U.S. government to fulfill its counterterrorism mission. And this impact has little to do with the ability to use torture to interrogate terrorist suspects.

Politics and moral arguments aside, the end effect of the memos’ release is that people who have put their lives on the line in U.S. counterterrorism efforts are now uncertain of whether they should be making that sacrifice. Many of these people are now questioning whether the administration that happens to be in power at any given time will recognize the fact that they were carrying out lawful orders under a previous administration. It is hard to retain officers and attract quality recruits in this kind of environment. It has become safer to work in programs other than counterterrorism.

The memos’ release will not have a catastrophic effect on U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Indeed, most of the information in the memos was leaked to the press years ago and has long been public knowledge. However, when the release of the memos is examined in a wider context, and combined with a few other dynamics, it appears that the U.S. counterterrorism community is quietly slipping back into an atmosphere of risk-aversion and malaise — an atmosphere not dissimilar to that described by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9/11 Commission) as a contributing factor to the intelligence failures that led to the 9/11 attacks.

Cycles Within Cycles
In March we wrote about the cycle of counterterrorism funding and discussed indications that the United States is entering a period of reduced counterterrorism funding. This decrease in funding not only will affect defensive counterterrorism initiatives like embassy security and countersurveillance programs, but also will impact offensive programs such as the number of CIA personnel dedicated to the counterterrorism role.

Beyond funding, however, there is another historical cycle of booms and busts that can be seen in the conduct of American clandestine intelligence activities. There are clearly discernible periods when clandestine activities are deemed very important and are widely employed. These periods are inevitably followed by a time of investigations, reductions in clandestine activities and a tightening of control and oversight over such activities.

After the widespread employment of clandestine activities in the Vietnam War era, the Church Committee was convened in 1975 to review (and ultimately restrict) such operations. Former President Ronald Reagan’s appointment of Bill Casey as director of the CIA ushered in a new era of growth as the United States became heavily engaged in clandestine activities in Afghanistan and Central America. Then, the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair in 1986 led to a period of hearings and controls.

There was a slight uptick in clandestine activities under the presidency of George H.W. Bush, but the fall of the Soviet Union led to another bust cycle for the intelligence community. By the mid-1990s, the number of CIA stations and bases was dramatically reduced (and virtually eliminated in much of Africa) for budgetary considerations. Then there was the case of Jennifer Harbury, a Harvard-educated lawyer who used little-known provisions in Texas common law to marry a dead Guatemalan guerrilla commander and gain legal standing as his widow. After it was uncovered that a CIA source was involved in the guerrilla commander’s execution, CIA stations in Latin America were gutted for political reasons. The Harbury case also led to the Torricelli Amendment, a law that made recruiting unsavory people, such as those with ties to death squads and terrorist groups, illegal without special approval. This bust cycle was well documented by both the Crowe Commission, which investigated the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings, and the 9/11 Commission.

After the 9/11 attacks, the pendulum swung radically to the permissive side and clandestine activity was rapidly and dramatically increased as the U.S. sought to close the intelligence gap and quickly develop intelligence on al Qaeda’s capability and plans. Developments over the past two years clearly indicate that the United States is once again entering an intelligence bust cycle, a period that will be marked by hearings, increased controls and a general decrease in clandestine activity.

Institutional Culture
It is also very important to realize that the counterterrorism community is just one small part of the larger intelligence community that is affected by this ebb and flow of covert activity. In fact, as noted above, the counterterrorism component of intelligence efforts has its own boom-and-bust cycle that is based on major attacks. Soon after a major attack, interest in counterterrorism spikes dramatically, but as time passes without a major attack, interest lags. Other than during the peak times of this cycle, counterterrorism is considered an ancillary program that is sometimes seen as an interesting side tour of duty, but more widely seen as being outside the mainstream career path — risky and not particularly career-enhancing. This assessment is reinforced by such events as the recent release of the memos.

At the CIA, being a counterterrorism specialist in the clandestine service means that you will most likely spend much of your life in places line Sanaa, Islamabad and Kabul instead of Vienna, Paris or London. This means that, in addition to hurting your chances for career advancement, your job also is quite dangerous, provides relatively poor living conditions for your family and offers the possibility of contracting serious diseases.

While being declared persona non grata and getting kicked out of a country as part of an intelligence spat is considered almost a badge of honor at the CIA, the threat of being arrested and indicted for participating in the rendition of a terrorist suspect from an allied country like Italy is not. Equally unappealing is being sued in civil court by a terrorist suspect or facing the possibility of prosecution after a change of government in the United States. Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of CIA case officers who are choosing to carry personal liability insurance because they do not trust the agency and the U.S. government to look out for their best interests.

Now, there are officers who are willing to endure hardship and who do not really care much about career advancement, but for those officers there is another hazard — frustration. Aggressive officers dedicated to the counterterrorism mission quickly learn that many of the people in the food chain above them are concerned about their careers, and these superiors often take measures to rein in their less-mainstream subordinates. Additionally, due to the restrictions brought about by laws and regulations like the Torricelli Amendment, case officers working counterterrorism are often tightly bound by myriad legal restrictions.

Unlike in television shows like “24,” it is not uncommon in the real world for a meeting called to plan a counterterrorism operation to feature more CIA lawyers than case officers or analysts. These staff lawyers are intricately involved in the operational decisions made at headquarters, and legal issues often trump operational considerations. The need to obtain legal approval often delays decisions long enough for a critical window of operational opportunity to be slammed shut. This restrictive legal environment goes back many years in the CIA and is not a new fixture brought in by the Obama administration. There was a sense of urgency that served to trump the lawyers to some extent after 9/11, but the lawyers never went away and have reasserted themselves firmly over the past several years.

Of course, the CIA is not the only agency with a culture that is less than supportive of the counterterrorism mission. Although the prevention of terrorist attacks in the United States is currently the FBI’s No. 1 priority on paper, the counterterrorism mission remains the bureau’s redheaded stepchild. The FBI is struggling to find agents willing to serve in the counterterrorism sections of field offices, resident agencies (smaller offices that report to a field office) and joint terrorism task forces.

While the CIA was very much built on the legacy of Wild Bill Donovan’s Office of Strategic Services, the FBI was founded by J. Edgar Hoover, a conservative and risk-averse administrator who served as FBI director from 1935-1972. Even today, Hoover’s influence is clearly evident in the FBI’s bureaucratic nature. FBI special agents are unable to do much at all, such as open an investigation, without a supervisor’s approval, and supervisors are reluctant to approve anything too adventurous because of the impact it might have on their chance for promotion. Unlike many other law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI rarely uses its own special agents in an undercover capacity to penetrate criminal organizations. That practice is seen as being too risky; they prefer to use confidential informants rather than undercover operatives.

The FBI is also strongly tied to its roots in law enforcement and criminal investigation, and special agents who work major theft, public corruption or white-collar crime cases tend to receive more recognition — and advance more quickly — than their counterterrorism counterparts.

FBI special agents also see a considerable downside to working counterterrorism cases because of the potential for such cases to blow up in their faces if they make a mistake — such as in the New York field office’s highly publicized mishandling of the informant whom they had inserted into the group that later conducted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. It is much safer, and far more rewarding from a career perspective, to work bank robberies or serve in the FBI’s Inspection Division.

After the 9/11 attacks — and the corresponding spike in the importance of counterterrorism operations — many of the resources of the CIA and FBI were focused on al Qaeda and terrorism, to the detriment of programs such as foreign counterintelligence. However, the more time that has passed since 9/11 without another major attack, the more the organizational culture of the U.S government has returned to normal. Once again, counterterrorism efforts are seen as being ancillary duties rather than the organizations’ driving mission. (The clash between organizational culture and the counterterrorism mission is by no means confined to the CIA and FBI. Fred’s book “Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent” provides a detailed examination of some of the bureaucratic and cultural challenges we faced while serving in the Counterterrorism Investigations Division of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.)

Liaison Services
One of the least well known, and perhaps most important, sources of intelligence in the counterterrorism field is the information that is obtained as a result of close relationships with allied intelligence agencies — often referred to as information obtained through “liaison channels.”

Like FBI agents, most CIA officers are well-educated, middle-aged white guys. This means they are better suited to use the cover of an American businessmen or diplomat than to pretend to be a young Muslim trying to join al Qaeda or Hezbollah. Like their counterparts in the FBI, CIA officers have far more success using informants than they do working undercover inside terrorist groups.

Services like the Jordanian General Intelligence Department, the Saudi Mabahith or the Yemeni National Security Agency not only can recruit sources, but also are far more successful in using young Muslim officers to penetrate terrorist groups. In addition to their source networks and penetration operations, many of these liaison services are not at all squeamish about using extremely enhanced interrogation techniques — this is the reason many of the terrorism suspects who were the subject of rendition operations ended up in such locations. Obviously, whenever the CIA is dealing with a liaison service, the political interests and objectives of the service must be considered — as should the possibility that the liaison service is fabricating the intelligence in question for whatever reason. Still, in the end, the CIA historically has received a significant amount of important intelligence (perhaps even most of its intelligence) via liaison channels.

Another concern that arises from the call for a truth commission is the impact a commission investigation could have on the liaison services that have helped the United States in its counterterrorism efforts since 9/11. Countries that hosted CIA detention facilities or were involved in the rendition or interrogation of terrorist suspects may find themselves exposed publicly or even held up for some sort of sanction by the U.S. Congress. Such activities could have a real impact on the amount of cooperation and information the CIA receives from these intelligence services.

As we’ve previously noted, it was a lack of intelligence that helped fuel the fear that led the Bush administration to authorize enhanced interrogation techniques. Ironically, the current investigation into those techniques and other practices (such as renditions) may very well lead to significant gaps in terrorism-related intelligence from both internal and liaison sources — again, not primarily because of the prohibition of torture, but because of larger implications.

When these implications are combined with the long-standing institutional aversion of U.S. government agencies toward counterterrorism, and with the difficulty of finding and retaining good people willing to serve in counterterrorism roles, the U.S. counterterrorism community may soon be facing challenges even more daunting than those posed by its already difficult mission

The 100-Day Assault on America

Larry Elder
Thursday, April 30, 2009

Has it really been 100 days?

Aided by an eagerly compliant Democratic-controlled Congress, a sycophantic media, and a bunch of squishy Republicans, President Obama has taken the country on a radical, mind-boggling leap into collectivism.
Obama -- to use one of his favorite expressions -- doubled down, no, tripled and quadrupled down on Bush's "stimulus" and "rescue" packages, spending trillions of dollars to "bail out" financial institutions, too-big-to-fail businesses, and even deficit-running states. Obama promises to use taxpayer money to rescue "responsible homeowners" -- whatever that means -- from foreclosure, thus artificially propping up prices that shut out renters who would love to buy now-much-cheaper houses.

Obama proposes spending billions (or trillions?) more on "creating or saving" -- whatever that means -- 4 million, 3.5 million or 2.5 million jobs. Pick a number. Given the government's vast business expertise, Obama proposes spending gobs of money to "invest" in green jobs. And he's just warming up. He wants taxpayers to guarantee, presumably to all who request it, a "world-class education" -- whatever that means.

Firmly in charge of much of the domestic car industry, Obama effectively fired the CEO of General Motors. He threatens to fire still more executives in the parts of the financial services industry currently under the management, direction or control of Uncle Sam -- that eminent, well-regarded banker.

Obama blames the financial crisis on "greed" and the "lack of regulatory oversight." Funny thing about greed. Celebrated investor-turned-Obama-supporter/adviser Warren Buffett says, "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful." Apparently, some practice good greed, while others engage in greedy greed.

As for regulation, the SEC already heavily regulates most of the troubled financial institutions. The world's largest insurer, AIG, operated under heavy regulation. The government-sponsored entities Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae -- blamed for irresponsibly buying, packaging and selling bad mortgages -- are regulated by a government agency, called the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. Its sole responsibility is to oversee those two agencies. OFHEO, shortly before the government takeover of Freddie and Fannie, gave them two thumbs up.

Did the President, after campaigning against pork and earmarks, really sign bills that include both? Yes. Will the President's new budget really triple and quadruple the annual deficit? Yes. Will the President's budget really double the national debt within a few years and then increase still more beyond that? Yes. Do the President and members of Congress, many of whom never operated so much as a T-shirt concession booth, really believe that they can "modernize" health care, thus "saving" taxpayers buckets of money? Yes.

America traditionally represents the greatest possibility of someone's going from nothing to something. Why? In theory, if not practice, the government stays out of the way and lets individuals take risks and reap rewards or accept the consequences of failure. We call this capitalism -- or, at least, we used to.

Today's global downturn reflects too much borrowing and too much lending. But would borrowers and lenders -- at least in America -- have engaged in the same kind of behavior but for artificially low interest rates under the Federal Reserve System? Would borrowers and lenders have acted as precipitously but for the existence of Fannie and Freddie, which bought up their mortgages? Would banks have so readily lent money to those who clearly could not repay it but for the Community Reinvestment Act? That law pressured banks into relaxing their normal lending standards to help low-income borrowers.

Now let's turn to Job No. 1 -- national security. We no longer call the War on Terror the "War on Terror." We no longer call Islamofascist enemy detainees "enemy detainees." The President embarked on an I'm-not-Bush and we're-sorry-for-being-arrogant international tour. To the receptive, admiring G-20 nations, the President flogged America, calling us domineering and overbearing. What did the swooning leaders give in return? Virtually nothing. He wanted more assistance in fighting the war in Afghanistan. The NATO members offered more advisers and trainers, all, mind you, out of harm's way and only on a temporary basis.

The President offered a new relationship with Iran, provided Iranians "unclenched their fist." The President even sent a shout-out video to the Iranians on one of their holidays. What did he get in return? Iran promised to continue its march toward the development of a nuclear weapon and called Israel the "most cruel and racist regime."

Obama offered North Korea a kinder, gentler foreign policy. What did he get in return? The North Koreans, in violation of a United Nations resolution, attempted to launch a long-range missile. The President condemned the act. The United Nations Security Council convened an emergency session. What happened? Nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. North Korea kicked out the U.N.'s nuclear inspectors and announced the resumption of its nuclear weapons program. And North Korea, along with Iran, arrested and imprisoned American journalists.

On the other hand, Washingtonian magazine graced us with a spiffy, Photoshopped cover of a fit and toned swimsuit-wearing President Obama. So all is not lost.

At least he looks good.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Reconciliation's Slippery Path

George Will
Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reconciliation: The action of bringing to agreement, concord, or harmony. -- Oxford English Dictionary WASHINGTON -- But under Senate rules, "reconciliation" can be a means for coping with disharmony by deepening it. The tactic truncates Senate debate and curtails minority rights. The threat to use it to speed enactment of health care reform has coincided with talk about possible prosecutions relating to the previous administration's interrogation policies. Harmony is becoming more elusive.
Under "reconciliation," debate on a bill can be limited to 20 hours, enabling passage by a simple majority (51 senators, or 50 with the vice president breaking a tie) rather than requiring 60 votes to terminate debate and vote on final passage. The president and Senate Democrats have decided to use reconciliation by Oct. 15, unless Republicans negotiate compliantly regarding health care. But the threat of reconciliation mocks negotiations.

The reconciliation process was created in 1974 to facilitate adjustments of existing spending programs. Former Sen. John Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican, writing in The Wall Street Journal, says using reconciliation to ram through health care reform would "circumvent the normal and customary workings of American democracy." But those workings have changed markedly.

The most important alteration of the legislative process in recent decades has been the increasingly promiscuous use of filibusters to impose a de facto supermajority requirement for important legislation. And "important" has become a very elastic term.

It should be difficult for government to act precipitously. "Great innovations," said Jefferson, "should not be forced on slender majorities." Revamping health care -- 17 percent of the economy -- qualifies as a great innovation. This is especially so because the administration and its allies, without being candid about what is afoot, are trying to put the nation on a glide path to a "single-payer" -- entirely government-run -- system. They would do this by creating a government health insurance plan to compete with private insurers. It would be able to -- indeed, would be intended to -- push private insurers out of business.

But when Republicans ran the Senate, they, too, occasionally made dubious use of reconciliation. And Republicans' merely situational commitment to legislative due process was displayed in 2003 when they held open a House vote for three hours until they could pressure enough reluctant Republicans to pass the prescription drug entitlement.

As Washington becomes increasingly opaque to normal Americans, its quarrels come to seem increasingly trivial, even when they are momentous. The reconciliation tactic is unknown to most Americans and so, too, is the institution at the center of the controversy about torture -- the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. From it came the so-called "torture memos" arguing the legality of certain "enhanced interrogation" techniques.

The OLC provides opinions about what is and is not lawful government behavior. By not quickly quashing talk about prosecutions of the authors of the memos -- or, by inference, higher officials who acted on the basis of those memos -- the president has compromised the OLC's usefulness: If its judgments can be criminalized by the next administration, OLC can no longer be considered a bulwark of the rule of law.

On the other hand, four things are clear. First, torture is illegal. Second, if an enemy used some of the "enhanced interrogation" techniques against any American, most Americans would call that torture. Third, that does not mean that the memos defending the legality of those techniques were indefensible, let alone criminal, because: Fourth, the president might be mistaken in saying that there is no difficult choice because coercive interrogation techniques are ineffective.

A congressional panel, or one akin to the 9/11 commission, should discover what former CIA Director George Tenet meant when he said: "I know that this program has saved lives. I know we've disrupted plots." And what former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell meant when he said: "We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was frequently briefed as a member of the Intelligence Committee, could usefully answer the question: What did you know and when did you know it? She regularly conquered reticence about her disapproval of the Bush administration. Why not about the interrogation methods?

Furthermore, four of the president's 15 Cabinet members are former members of Congress, as are the president, vice president and White House chief of staff. So seven of the administration's 18 most senior figures might usefully answer those questions, and this one: What did you do about what you knew?

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

100-Day Lurch to the Left

Larry Kudlow
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s popularity and policies moved American politics firmly to the right. In only 100 days, Barack Obama’s politics and policies have shifted America way to the left.
The president is seeking to change the whole relationship between the government and the free-enterprise private sector. He is steering the country away from democratic capitalism and toward his big-government command-and-control vision. We are witnessing a triumph of government bureaucrats over entrepreneurs, investors, and small businesses.

And with Sen. Arlen Specter switching from Republican to Democrat, Obama can now move the nation even further to the left. A filibuster-proof Senate will mean even greater economic restructuring with expanded government control of health care and energy and increased unionization.

This looks very much like a war against investors, businesses, and entrepreneurs. Shareholder rights are being eviscerated. Political decisions are replacing the rule of law, the rule of bankruptcy courts, and free-market principles.

We are witnessing more spending, deficits, and debt-creation than anyone ever imagined. Bailout Nation has run amok. This started under Bush, but Obama is raising the stakes exponentially.

The latest federal budget would double the debt in five years and triple it in ten. For some perspective, that debt level is higher than the combined debt levels generated under every president from George Washington to George W. Bush. According to the CBO, federal debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP under Obama is projected to rise to 82 percent in ten years. The budget deficit itself never drops below $670 billion and closes the period at $1.2 trillion. That’s nearly a 6 percent share of the economy.

All of this will certainly lead to large tax-rate hikes that will rob incentive power from entrepreneurs, investors, and small-business owners. Just look at Britain, where the top tax rate has been raised to 50 percent from 40 percent. The Thatcher Revolution is being repealed over there. Unless current trends are reversed, the Reagan Revolution will be repealed over here.

The Obama budget already will raise taxes on overseas corporate earnings and oil-and-gas companies at home. It will elevate taxes on capital gains and dividends for investors and will lift the top tax rate for successful earners. And more is coming.

But this is the wrong direction for economic growth. Instead, business tax rates should be slashed -- which, by the way, would repatriate corporate earnings for domestic investment. We need a capital-gains tax holiday. We should be flattening individual tax rates across-the-board. And all manner of loopholes and special-interest deductions should be repealed to broaden the taxable-income base.

Nowhere is the Obama vision of government interference more evident than on the banking front. The White House and Treasury are using TARP as a bullying club to force government control on the country’s financial institutions. There is no exit strategy; no endgame in sight. Quite the opposite: News reports suggest that six major banks could be subjected to government ownership, putting them in the same club as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, GM, and Chrysler. This reminds one of Francois Mitterrand, the former socialist president of France. It’s way outside the American economic tradition.

And TARP itself is riddled with criminal-enterprise undertones. According to Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky, the $700 billion TARP program -- which has ballooned to more than $3 trillion in spending, loans, and loan guarantees -- is “inherently vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.” Barofsky already has opened 20 separate TARP-related criminal investigations and six audits into whether taxpayer dollars are being stolen or wasted. Rest assured that they are.

Economic recovery is still likely in the second half of the year. And President Obama will claim victory for his big-spending policies. But the reality is much different. Massive Federal Reserve pump-priming is moving the economy from deep recession to some kind of recovery. Meanwhile, the combination of deficit spending and easy money increases the threat of stagflation.

Will Republicans take advantage of the wide opening created by Obama’s 100-day lurch to the left? So far the GOP has produced only fragmented policy alternatives and no central spokesperson. That’s not unusual for the party out of power. But the Specter defection underscores the GOP’s sagging fortunes.

Right now, the most promising Republican leader -- at least in a policy sense -- is former Vice President Dick Cheney. His attack against the release of the CIA interrogation memos and his forceful call for the release of the information gathered during those interrogations -- facts that helped keep America safe after 9/11 -- clearly rattled Team Obama. Mr. Cheney should now launch a counterattack on Obama’s tax-and-spend New Deal/Great Society enlargement of government power.

It would make for delicious irony, but Dick Cheney may be most effective spokesperson the GOP has.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Geert Wilders: "The take-over of Europe is part of the global fight of Islam for world domination"

Here is Geert Wilders's acceptance speech for the Freedom Award he was given by the Florida Security Council in Miami on April 27:

Thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me and thank you US border police for allowing me to enter this country. hese are dramatic times. Europe might be very well on its way to destruction. We are now witnessing the largest influx in human history. This is endangering our heritage, our freedom, our prosperity and our culture. I wish I had come to a place they call the sunshine state with better news, but it would be unwise to deny the situation is gloomy.

It might take a while to have you understand the situation we are in now. Maybe you as Americans still think of Europe as a place with great culture, and a profound way of looking at things. Maybe you see immigration as something that is inherently good for a country, as it contributed so much to the United States.

The Europe you know from a tourist visit or from the story of your grandparents is on the verge of collapsing. We are now witnessing profound changes that will forever alter Europe’s destiny and might send the continent in what Ronald Reagan once called ‘a thousand years of darkness’.

The take-over of Europe is part of the global fight of Islam for world domination. Islam is not a religion. It is a political ideology. Islam’s heart lies in the Koran. The Koran is a book that calls for hatred, violence, murder, terrorism, war and submission. The Koran calls upon Muslims to kill non-Muslims. The Koran describes Jews as monkeys and pigs. Churchill compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

The core of the problem with the Koran is twofold. First, the commands in the Koran are not limited by place or time, they apply for all time, to all Muslims. Second, the Koran is Allah’s personal word. That leaves no room for interpretation. Therefore, there is no such thing as a moderate Islam. Of course, there are many moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam. As the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan once put it, “There is no moderate Islam, Islam is Islam.”

Apart from the Koran, the life of the prophet Muhammad plays a crucial part in Islamic ideology. Muhammad is the model for all Muslims. He was a pedophile, a conqueror and a warlord. In establishing Islam he preached violence and the slaughter of non-Muslims. He took part in 78 battles and slaughtered the Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza. Mohammed said, “I have been ordered by Allah to fight against people until they testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger.”

Muhammad’s behavior inspired Iran’s former Ayatollah Khomeini to say, “The purest joy in Islam is to kill and to be killed for Allah.” And Muhammad’s behavior – and the Koran – inspired Jihadists that slaughtered innocent people in Washington, New York, Madrid, London and Mumbai. Ladies and gentlemen, Islam has always attempted to conquer Europe. And it has done so for centuries. The Christian city of Constantinople fell in the fifteenth century. And now, in the twenty-first century, Islam is trying again. This time not with armies, but through the application of Al-Hijra, the Islamic doctrine of migration. As expounded so masterfully by my good friend Sam Solomon in his book Al-Hijra, this doctrine is based on the example of Muhammad, who himself migrated from Mecca to Medina.

Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi said, “We have 50 million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe – without swords, without guns, without conquest. The 50 million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Gaddafi is right. The Al-Hijra doctrine is, and has been, very successful. For the first time in world history there are dozens of millions of Muslims living far outside Dar al-Islam, the Islamic world. And that poses enormous problems to the West. Ladies and gentlemen, Al-Hijra may be the end of Western civilization as we know it.

The most dramatic situation is the one in Europe. My country is in the process of becoming Hollandistan, and Europe Eurabia. Only 12% of German Muslims see themselves as more German than Muslim. Churches are emptying out, whereas mosques are shooting up like mushrooms. Medieval phenomena such as burkas, honor killings and female genital mutilation are becoming more and more prevalent. Sharia testaments, Sharia mortgages, Sharia schools, Sharia banks, Sharia courts and even Sharia Barbie dolls – Europe has them all. And I have not even mentioned the fact that more than 70% of all crimes in Copenhagen are committed by Muslims. We let in the Trojan horse.

The free world is now facing a ‘stealth Jihad’, the Islamic’ attempt to introduce Sharia law bit by bit. Allow me to give you a few examples of Islamization in the United States: Muslim taxi drivers at Minneapolis airport have refused over 5,000 passengers because they were carrying alcohol; Muslim students are demanding separate campus housing; Muslim women are demanding separate hours in gyms and swimming pools; schools are banning Halloween and Christmas celebrations – indeed, schools are taking pork off their cafeteria menus to avoid offending Muslim students. Ladies and gentlemen, be aware that this is only the beginning. If things continue like this, you will have the same problems as we are currently faced with in Europe.

If we do not stop the Islamization, we will lose everything: our identity, our culture, our democratic constitutional state, our freedom and our civilization. In Europe we are already losing the right to free speech, the right to criticize Islam. I think, criticisms of religions or ideologies always ought to be possible in a free world. Human rights exist for the protection of individuals, not religions and ideologies. I propose that all laws concerning hate speech be repealed in Europe. Europe ought to defend freedom of speech with at least as much passion as the United States. In fact, Europe should adopt the US as its model in this respect. The difference between the United States and Europe in the area of free speech is shown by my movie Fitna; a few months ago I was invited by Senator Jon Kyl to screen Fitna in the US Senate. In contrast, screening of my movie has been banned twice by the European Parliament. Let us see to it that freedom of speech is exercised not only in Washington DC but also in Brussels and Strasbourg. For this purpose I propose an European First Amendment.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is one Western country that has been forced to fight the forces of jihad for its values since the very first day of its existence: Israel, the canary in the coal mine. Let me say a few words about that wonderful country.

I had the privilege of living in Israel for a few years, and since then I have visited Israel many, many times. I love Israel. However, in Europe being pro-Israel makes you an endangered species. Israel is a beacon of light in an area – the Middle East – that is pitch black everywhere else. Israel is a Western democracy, while Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt are medieval dictatorships.

The so-called ‘Middle East conflict’ is not about land at all. It is a conflict about ideologies; a battle between Islam and freedom. It is not about some land in Gaza or in Judea and Samaria. It is about Jihad. To Islam the whole of Israel is occupied territory. They see Tel Aviv and Haifa as settlements too.

I am very much in favor of a two-state solution. I mean Churchill’s 1921 two-state solution, when Palestine was partitioned in a Jewish and an Arab part. Arab Palestine is now called Jordan, and therefore, there is already a Palestinian state. With eighty percent of the population having roots on the other side of the Jordan, there is no doubt Jordan is truly the state of Palestine. I hope Israel’s government will start telling that to the world.

Islam forces Israel to fight, and Israel is not just fighting for itself. Israel is fighting for all of us, for the entire West. Just like those brave American soldiers who landed in Sicily in 1943 and stormed the Normandy beaches in 1944, young Israeli men and women are fighting for our freedom, our civilization.

Like Bosnia, Kosovo, Nigeria, Sudan, the Caucasus, Kashmir, southern Thailand, western China and the south of the Philippines, Israel is situated exactly on the dividing line between Dar al-Islam, the Islamic world, and Dar al-Harb, the non-Islamic world. It is no coincidence that it is precisely this dividing line where blood is flowing and war is raging in many areas. We have to get rid of that politically-correct fallacy that it is all about separate conflicts. Let us, please, allow ourselves at last to see the big picture, which is that those conflicts all have to do with Jihad; Jihad in the spirit of Muhammad.

Ladies and gentlemen, Europe ought to fully back Israel to the hilt in its relentless fight against those that threaten it, whether it is Hezbollah, Hamas or a nuclear Iran. Also, because of its history, Europe certainly has the moral obligation to prevent at all cost another Holocaust against the Jewish people.

My dear, Islam is not our number one problem. Cultural relativism is. The crazy idea that all cultures are equal. Let me tell you they are not. Our culture based on Christianity, Judaism and humanism is far better than the Islamic culture, and I am proud to say so. The elites have converted to this sick philosophy long time ago – government leaders, judges, churches, trade unions, universities, the media – all of them are blinded by political correctness and have chosen the side of Islam. They feel sorry for Muslims and pity them. Cultural relativism is weakening the West day by day. As a result of cultural relativism a little bit of the free West dies each day. Many politicians seem to believe that their job is not to defend democracy but to help make the transition to Sharia law as smooth as possible.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am often asked whether I have any answers to the problem and what those might be. Well, I certainly have some answers. Here are ten things we would have to do to stop the Islamization of the West:

1. Stop cultural relativism. We need an article in our constitutions that lays down that we have a Jewish-Christian and humanism culture.
2. Stop pretending that Islam is a religion. Islam is a totalitarian ideology. In other words, the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam.
3. Stop mass immigration by people from Muslim countries. We have to end Al-Hijra. 4. Encourage voluntary repatriation.
5. Expel criminal foreigners and criminals with dual nationality, after denationalization, and send them back to their Arab countries. Likewise, expel all those who incite to a ‘violent jihad’.
6. We need an European First Amendment to strengthen free speech.
7. Have every member of a non-Western minority sign a legally binding contract of assimilation.
8. We need a binding pledge of allegiance in all Western countries.
9. Stop the building of new mosques. As long as no churches or synagogues are allowed to be build in countries like Saudi-Arabia we will not allow one more new mosque in our western countries. Close all mosques where incitement to violence is taking place. Close all Islamic schools, for they are fascist institutions and young children should not be educated an ideology of hate and violence.
10. Get rid of the current weak leaders. We have the privilege of living in a democracy. Let’s use that privilege and exchange cowards for heroes. We need more Churchills and less Chamberlains.

In short, we have to go on the offensive and start fighting back. We must no longer allow ourselves to remain seated in our armchairs and get trampled over. If they bombard us with Sharia law, we will bombard them back with our human rights. If they bombard us with court cases, we will bombard them back with court cases. We have to fight back and show that millions of people are sick and tired of it all, and refuse to take any more. We must make it clear that millions of freedom-loving people are saying ‘enough is enough’.

This is the reason why last week I announced the release of another movie in 2010, Fitna 2. This movie will be not about the Koran, but about the Islamization of the West and its consequences, for example, for free speech. I assure you that I will continue my struggle for freedom.

And a struggle it is: After Fitna had been screened for the first time last year, there were threats of economic boycotts and the Dutch flag was burned. After Fitna I am being prosecuted in my own country, while France and Jordan are considering to prosecute me. I have been barred from entering the United Kingdom and Indonesia, and the most radical imam in the Netherlands is demanding compensation and threatening to take me to court. A parliamentary bill is currently being drafted in the Netherlands with the aim of protecting Islam from criticism. On top of all this, because my views on Islam, Al Qaeda is determined to kill me, I have needed full-time protection for almost five years now and for my own personal safety I have lived in a prison cell and army barracks. Can you believe it?

Ladies and gentlemen, besides all the bad news, fortunately there is some good news. There is no doubt in my mind that freedom will prevail, there are already some hopeful signs: Last week the Dutch Parliament approved a motion proposed by my party seeking to block any dialogue between government officials and Hamas. And according to the most recent opinion polls, if elections were held at this moment, my party, the Freedom Party, would be the largest party in the Netherlands. You might be looking at the next Dutch Prime Minister. And so I ask you, if it can be done in the Netherlands, why not throughout the whole of the Western world?

If the Netherlands were the first country to end up in the multiculturalist swamp, why can’t we be the first country to find a way out? Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I have not forgotten those to whom we owe our liberties. Our liberties were bitterly fought for. American soldiers fought, bled and died for European freedom. American soldiers did not die for an Islamized Europe, they died for a free Europe. We owe something to these brave men. Their legacy cannot be squandered and given away.

The third President and spiritual father of this great nation once said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” As so often, Thomas Jefferson was right. Our freedom must be safeguarded. And it is we ourselves who must do so. A period of inattention, of dropping our guard for even a short while, might cost us our freedom. Just like that. It has happened before in our history. Please let us not allow it to happen ever again.

Everything we stand for has to be defended with all our might: our identity, our culture, our democratic constitution, our freedom and our civilization. We owe it to our children.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I leave you with this expression of our determination: We will never give in. We will never give up. We will never surrender. Thank you very much, it was a privilege speaking to you.

Egypt: Targeting of apostates and Christians on the rise

Which is why one of the most famous Egyptian TV personalities very openly decried the fact that "We [Egyptians] have a major problem on our hands." "Egypt Ex-Muslim And Husband In Hiding; Violence Kills Two," from Worthy News, April 28:CAIRO, EGYPT (Worthy News) -- An ex-Muslim who converted to Christianity and her Christian husband were in hiding Tuesday, April 28, amid threats from family members and police, the latest in a series of attacks against Coptic Christians this month, in which at least two people were killed, several sources said.

Egyptian police detained Raheal Henen Mussa, formally known as Samr Mohamed Hansen, April 13, apparently for converting to Christianity and marrying a Coptic Christian man, identified as Sarwat George Ryiad, said the Voice of the Copts organization.

"Ryiad was arrested...on her way home from work. Raheal worked in a hair dressing salon in Cairo," the group added in comments monitored by Worthy News.

Mussa’s family took her from police custody on Sunday, April 19, but she escaped from them on Tuesday, 21, in Cairo and fled with her husband, Christians said.


This is not the first time a convert has been targetted, Voice of the Copts, added. "Last December the Voice of the Copts had reported the story of a woman named Martha who was arrested at the Cairo airport while attempting to flee Egypt."

News of threats against Mussa came on the heels of reports that four Muslim gunmen opened fire on a group of Coptic Christians as they were leaving church in the southern Egyptian governorate of Menya, killing two and wouding one.

The incident took place on Saturday night, April 18, as Coptic Christians were celebrating Easter in a church vigil. Coptic and Orthodox Christians marked Easter on Sunday, April 19, a week later than their Catholic and Protestant counterparts.

Copts account for about 10 percent of Egypt's 80 million population.
Thanks jihad Watch

Obama administration preparing a largely unconditional $1 billion gift to Pakistan

Considering Pakistan's duplicitous nature, the U.S. giving it a billion dollars gives whole new meaning to the jihadis', most notably bin Laden's, predictions that the U.S. will bleed itself dry in the war against jihad. "US readies $1bn gift for Pak," from Times of India, April 29:

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration and the Democrat-controlled US Congress are rushing to get a billion-dollar emergency aid package for Pakistan gift-wrapped before President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Washington DC next week despite warnings from many quarters, including a Bhutto scion, against any freebies.

Prompted by the administration and its Special Representative to Af-Pak Richard Holbrooke, who will testify before Congress on Wednesday and Thursday, lawmakers are expected to take up the matter as early as next week, according to Congressional sources.

While many lawmakers are supportive of a well-deliberated and conditional aid to Pakistan, some influential Senators, notably John Kerry, prefer a less stringent approach that gives Washington and Islamabad enough leeway to coordinate an anti-extremist policy without it being hamstrung by tight Congressional oversight. Although Kerry and the administration would prefer a substantial package of aid, reluctance on part of chary House members could see the immediate package whittled down to around $ 400 million.

Preparatory to action in this regard in Washington, Pakistan claims to have launched an all-out assault against the Taliban elements who had encroached into the country’s settled areas including Buner, an episode that raised alarm in the west about the extremist’ presence only 60 miles from Islamabad.

There have been no first-hand accounts of the fighting or pictures, but the wires are full of stories about the Pakistani army pushback amid dire warnings to the Taliban to back off.

Not everyone is convinced of Pakistan's bonafides in this regard. Islamabad’s action – and motive -- is being questioned by many critics who feel it is mere window-dressing to extract aid during the Zardari visit and the Pakistan army’s heart is not committed to fighting what some believe is its reserve force.

Among those opposing unconditional US aid to Pakistan is Fatima Bhutto, niece of the assassinated former prime minister, who wrote a scathing op-ed this week in an online journal lashing out against Islamabad’s abject surrender to the Taliban.

''It’s phenomenally silly to give that kind of money to a president who, before becoming president, was facing corruption cases in Switzerland, Spain, and England,'' Bhutto, who is studied at New York’s Columbia University, wrote. ''It’s also dangerous.''
''No amount of money, especially in the hands of a famously corrupt government, is going to help Pakistan stave off terror, especially when said government seems more than willing to capitulate to the militants they’re supposed to be using that money to save the world from,'' Bhutto said...