Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Reason For The Season - Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lest We Forget...

Photography by Jim Giunta

What We Owe the Greatest Generation On the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor















By Patrick Dorinson

Today, December 7, 2011 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on the United States Naval Base and Army facilities at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaii marking America’s formal entry into the world war that had been raging in Asia beginning in the early 1930s and Europe since 1939.

There will be an official ceremony in Hawaii to commemorate this historic event near the memorial to the USS Arizona, the “pride of the Pacific Fleet” that was sunk during the attack and to this day is the final resting place of 1,177 sailors and marines.

And across America there will be smaller ceremonies in military cemeteries, VFW Halls and at war memorials.

Among those attending will be the remaining members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. They are in their eighties and nineties and although they walk a little slower now and their hair has long since turned gray, when they talk about their experience at Pearl Harbor on that “day of infamy,” the look in their eyes is as clear as if it happened just yesterday.

I know because I recently had the honor and privilege of meeting some of them and having them on my radio program.

Meet Colonel Sam Clower, Pearl Harbor survivor and 34-year veteran of the United States Army and Air Force.

Sam was born and raised in Paducah, Texas where his parents had a small cattle ranch.

In 1939 as the war clouds in Europe darkened, Sam followed the news of the world carefully on the radio at the café across the street from where he worked. He had a good job at the time that paid him $100 a month.

He figured that sooner or later America would be drawn into the global conflict and he wanted to be properly trained so that if war came he would be ready to defend his country.

So he left his job making ice cream at the local creamery and traded his $100 a month job for $21 a month as a buck private in the U.S. Army.

On December 7, 1941 he was stationed at Wheeler Field in Hawaii. At 7:55 am he saw the first wave of Japanese planes fly over as they began the attack and he knew that his country was at war.

When I asked him if he ever doubted the country or its leaders or if he thought America would lose the war, Sam quickly answered with an emphatic “no!”

As I probed a little deeper as to why he was so confident those 70 years ago, he simply said, “We had faith in the country.”

Over the years I have spoken to many of the Greatest Generation some who served overseas and some who served on the home front and when I ask them the same question I asked Sam, I get the same response.

They had faith in the country.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

In today’s America, we don’t seem to have that kind of faith anymore. We seem unwilling to take that step without seeing the staircase first. Then when we see the staircase we make excuses not to take that first step.

But on December 8, 1941 when President Franklin Roosevelt declared, “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God”, our parents and grandparents took that leap of faith not knowing where it would lead but confident in themselves, their nation and their leaders.

And in doing so they saved democracy.

It has been said that 9/11 terror attacks were our generation’s Pearl Harbor.

Like Pearl Harbor it initially rallied America to a common cause. Flag sales went up and could be seen everywhere. Chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! were heard at sporting events.

But there were no calls from our putative leaders for sacrifice from the citizens to fight this war on terror. No draft of young men to go to war. No rationing of things like meat or sugar or gasoline.

Wars are expensive and yet there was no request for any financial sacrifice from any of us to raise the necessary revenue to fight this war.

We could have it all. We could have war and tax cuts. We could have war and more profligate spending by Congress. We could have war and go into national and private debt not caring how it would be paid back.

We could have war and go on about our lives as if there was no war since we had an all-volunteer military to do all the fighting which we could conveniently watch from the comfort of our living rooms on HDTV’s like it was a video game.

And it wasn’t too long before the partisan armies of our political system, retreated to their foxholes and once again began lobbing insults at each other.

Worst of all as things got tough, we lost our faith in our country and its ability to do what is necessary.

America is built on faith. Faith in ourselves, faith in each other and faith in our ability to overcome all the obstacles thrown in our path.

As we begin the long farewell to the Greatest Generation, we need to rediscover that essential faith.

It won’t be rediscovered in any law Congress passes or any political campaign. You can’t buy it on the Internet. It needs to come from inside each of us.

But time is running short.

Not for us but for those who sacrificed their youth to keep Old Glory flying--folks like Sam Clower and all the others who served in World War II.

When they pass into the great beyond they should be able to tell the 1,177 men who went down with the Arizona that fateful December 7, 1941 and all the others who never made it home that not only did they not die in vain but that America is in good hands.

We owe them at least that much before they take that final step up the staircase that leads to the ultimate reward for their faith--Heaven.

Patrick Dorinson blogs at "The Cowboy Libertarian" and he can be heard on a radio program with the same name on Sundays, from 3-5 p.m. PT on KFBK radio

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Does Obama Think It's Beneath Him to Be President?

By Michael Goodwin

The words cut like a knife. “What the hell are we paying you for?” Gov. Chris Christie asked of President Obama.

The New Jersey Republican has a gift for getting to the heart of things, and his broadside against the president over the debt bomb is Exhibit A. His assertion, framed as a question, makes the case against Obama better than anything heard from the actual candidates.

Christie’s decision not to run remains a disappointment, but he is a valuable player who can help sharpen the fuzzy aim of Mitt Romney, the man he supports. Christie’s consistent theme is that Obama has defaulted on the responsibility to provide presidential leadership during a national crisis.

On Monday, the GOP heavyweight called Obama “a bystander in the Oval Office” for ducking the congressional committee charged with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years.

“I was angry this weekend, listening to the spin coming out of the administration about the failure of the super committee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure, so he didn’t get involved,” Christie said. “Well, then, what the hell are we paying you for? ‘It’s doomed for failure so I’m not getting involved?’ Well, what have you been doing, exactly?”

The questions are rhetorical in that we know what the president has been doing and why. He plays golf and campaigns.

Governing is beneath him.

He doesn’t talk much to members of Congress or his own Cabinet.

They’re beneath him.

His connection to the public consists of speeches before large crowds, and he ducks behind the curtain and into the security bubble as soon as he finishes.

The people are beneath him.

Warped by a sense of entitlement and self-aggrandizement, Obama refuses to take responsibility for finding practical solutions to problems. He prefers the glory of transformation rather than the roll-the-sleeves-up work of reform.

When he can’t get his way, he appoints a czar and ignores Congress.

Democracy is beneath him.

He could have brokered a deficit deal, but doing so would have demolished his campaign slogan that Republicans are to blame for everything. Any deal would give him ownership of the results, and end the fiction that politics are beneath him.

In fact, he’s all politics, all the time. His idea of bipartisanship is that everybody agrees with him.

He’s so bad at the job that the frequent comparisons to Jimmy Carter are unfair to Carter. The former peanut farmer was a terrible president, but he was at least sincere in his starchy disdain for the country.

Obama professes to really, really like America. He just wants to change everything about it.

And when the country says no thanks, he goes off script and the smears come out. We’re “soft” and “lazy” and “bitter” and “cling” to God and guns.

Much ink has been spilled trying to figure out what went wrong after such a brilliant, history-making campaign got him to the White House. Obama smashed the Clinton machine and dispatched John McCain without breaking a sweat. Mount Rushmore was waiting.

But his first day in office marked the peak, and it’s been all downhill since. Deadenders, after blaming George W. Bush, Senate Republicans and the Tea Party, were forced to turn on their own, especially the economic advisers who are gone, Larry Summers and Peter Orszag. They were the problems.

But there are no hiding places in the Oval Office and, after three years, it’s clear who the problem is.

The campaign of 2008 looked brilliant because campaigns showcase Obama’s one real talent — blaming someone else for blocking the way to Utopia.

On that basis, he got the job. But now we know the terrible truth: Actually being president is beneath him, too.

Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Barney Frank Quits!


Longtime Massachusetts liberal Democratic Rep. Barney Frank says he will not seek re-election in 2012 because of state redistricting that makes it too strenuous to campaign.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Finally, Someone Explains The Occupy Protest... Very Well

By Marybeth Hicks.

Call it an occupational hazard, but I can't look at the Occupy Wall Street protesters without thinking, "Who parented these people?"

As a culture columnist, I've commented on the social and political ramifications of the "movement" - now known as "OWS" - whose fairyland agenda can be summarized by one of their placards: "Everything for everybody."

Thanks to their pipe-dream platform, it's clear there are people with serious designs on "transformational" change in America who are using the protesters like bedsprings in a brothel.

Yet it's not my role as a commentator that prompts my parenting question, but rather the fact that I'm the mother of four teens and young adults. There are some crucial life lessons that the protesters' moms clearly have not passed along.

Here, then, are five things the OWS protesters' mothers should have taught their children but obviously didn't, so I will:


* Life isn't fair. The concept of justice - that everyone should be treated fairly - is a worthy and worthwhile moral imperative on which our nation was founded. But justice and economic equality are not the same. Or, as Mick Jagger said, "You can't always get what you want."

No matter how you try to "level the playing field," some people have better luck, skills, talents or connections that land them in better places. Some seem to have all the advantages in life but squander them, others play the modest hand they're dealt and make up the difference in hard work and perseverance, and some find jobs on Wall Street and eventually buy houses in the Hamptons. Is it fair? Stupid question.



* Nothing is "free." Protesting with signs that seek "free" college degrees and "free" health care make you look like idiots, because colleges and hospitals don't operate on rainbows and sunshine. There is no magic money machine to tap for your meandering educational careers and "slow paths" to adulthood, and the 53 percent of taxpaying Americans owe you neither a degree nor an annual physical.

While I'm pointing out this obvious fact, here are a few other things that are not free: overtime for police officers and municipal workers, trash hauling, repairs to fixtures and property, condoms, Band-Aids and the food that inexplicably appears on the tables in your makeshift protest kitchens. Real people with real dollars are underwriting your civic temper tantrum.



* Your word is your bond. When you demonstrate to eliminate student loan debt, you are advocating precisely the lack of integrity you decry in others. Loans are made based on solemn promises to repay them. No one forces you to borrow money; you are free to choose educational pursuits that don't require loans, or to seek technical or vocational training that allows you to support yourself and your ongoing educational goals. Also, for the record, being a college student is not a state of victimization. It's a privilege that billions of young people around the globe would die for - literally.



* A protest is not a party. On Saturday in New York, while making a mad dash from my cab to the door of my hotel to avoid you, I saw what isn't evident in the newsreel footage of your demonstrations: Most of you are doing this only for attention and fun. Serious people in a sober pursuit of social and political change don't dance jigs down Sixth Avenue like attendees of a Renaissance festival. You look foolish, you smell gross, you are clearly high and you don't seem to realize that all around you are people who deem you irrelevant.



* There are reasons you haven't found jobs. The truth? Your tattooed necks, gauged ears, facial piercings and dirty dreadlocks are off-putting. Nonconformity for the sake of nonconformity isn't a virtue. Occupy reality: Only 4 percent of college graduates are out of work. If you are among that 4 percent, find a mirror and face the problem. It's not them. It's you.



Marybeth Hicks is a weekly columnist for the The Washington Times and editor of Family Events, a weekly e-newsletter and blog site for women from the publishers of Human Events. She is the author of Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left's Assault on Our Families, Faith, and Freedom (Regnery Publishers, 2011), Bringing up GEEKS: How to Protect Your Kid’s Childhood in a Grow-up-too-fast World (Penguin/Berkley, 2008) and The Perfect World Inside My Minivan–One Mom’s Journey Through the Streets of Suburbia (Faith Publishing, 2006).

Marybeth Hicks is the author of "Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left's Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom." Find her on the Web at www.marybethhicks.com.

Friday, November 4, 2011

How Did Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' Predict an America Spinning Out of Control?

By Onkar Ghate












Author, Ayn Rand

Nearly thirty years after her death, Ayn Rand’s novels continue to be wildly popular—"Atlas Shrugged" alone is selling more today than it did when it was first published in 1957 -- more than one million copies have sold since the 2008 elections.

Especially among Tea Partiers, Ayn Rand is being hailed a prophet. How could she have anticipated, more than 50 years ago, a United States spinning out of financial control, plagued by soaring spending and crippling regulations?

How could she have painted villains who seem ripped from today’s headlines?

There’s Wesley Mouch, who in the face of failed government programs screams like Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts for wider powers.

There’s Eugene Lawson, “the banker with a heart,” who like former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is ever ready with a bailout.

There’s Mr. Thompson, who like President Obama seeks to rally the country behind pious platitudes.

There’s Orren Boyle, who like President Bush says that we must abandon free-market principles to save the free market.

And in the face of this onslaught, what can you do? Should you, like Rand’s heroes, “go Galt,” stop working, retreat to a secluded valley, and try to rebuild only when the country has collapsed?

Rand was asked these very questions in her own lifetime. Her answers might surprise you.

In the 1970s, America was in a deep financial crisis (a new word, stagflation, had to be coined), urban violence was rampant, and power-seeking politicians like President Nixon instituted wage and price controls that led to, among other things, gas stations with no gas.

How, people wondered, could Rand have foreseen all this? Was she a prophet? No, she answered. She had simply identified the basic cause of why the country was veering from crisis to new crisis.

Was the solution to “go Galt” and quit society? No, Rand again answered. The solution was simultaneously much easier and much harder. “So long as we have not yet reached the state of censorship of ideas,” she once said, “one does not have to leave a society in the way the characters did in Atlas Shrugged. . . . But you know what one does have to do? One has to break relationships with the culture. . . . [D]iscard all the ideas—the entire cultural philosophy which is dominant today.”

Now, the fact that "Atlas Shrugged" is not a political novel might surprise you. But the book’s point is that our plight is caused not by corrupt politicians (who are only a symptom) or some alleged flaw in human nature. It’s caused by the philosophic ideas and moral ideals most of us embrace.

“You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded,” the novel's hero John Galt declares to a country in crisis. “Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster.”

He elaborates: “You have sacrificed justice to mercy.” (For example, calls to make homeownership “accessible” to those who could not afford it and then bailouts and foreclosure freezes to spare them when they couldn’t pay.)

“You have sacrificed reason to faith.” (For example, attempts to prevent stem cell research on Biblical grounds, or blind faith that Mr. Obama’s deliberately empty rhetoric about hope and change will magically produce prosperity.)

“You have sacrificed wealth to need.” (For example, Bush’s prescription drug benefit and Obamacare, both enacted because people needed “free” health care.)

“You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial.” (For example, attacks on Bill Gates for making a fortune; applause when he gives that fortune away.)

“You have sacrificed happiness to duty.” (For example, every president’s Kennedyesque exhortations to “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”)

The result? “Why . . . do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality . . .”

This is what "Atlas Shrugged" is asking us to question: our ideals. Rethink our convictions and philosophy of life from the ground up. Without doing so, it argues, we won’t escape further crises.

Strike, the book urges us, but intellectually, since to strike means to reject the fundamental terms of your opponents and assert your own.

This kind of thinking is difficult, Rand held, but necessary to enter the Atlantis depicted toward the end of the novel.

"If Atlas Shrugged" has been on your list of books-I’ve-been-meaning-to-get-to, then consider finding out for yourself how a story published in 1957 so eerily captures the world we live in today and so beautifully presents a road to a brighter future.

Postscript: And if you’re like the millions who prefer reading e-books, I highly recommend the just-released Atlas Shrugged app for iPad: it includes the unabridged text of the classic novel, and offers a glimpse into the backstory of the book and sketches out the essentials of Rand’s original philosophic system, Objectivism.

Dr. Onkar Ghate is a vice president and senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. He teaches at the Institute’s Objectivist Academic Center, speaks on philosophy and Objectivism across North America, and publishes scholarly articles on Ayn Rand’s fiction and philosophy. Recently he wrote "A Teacher’s Guide to 'Atlas Shrugged,'” a classroom resource published by Penguin.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Doorbell

Power Line Blog held a prize competition for $100,000 for whoever can most effectively and creatively dramatize the significance of the federal debt crisis. Any creative product was eligible: videos, songs, paintings, screenplays, Power Point presentations, essays, performance art, or anything else.


Several entries have gotten a lot of attention and a lot of views or listens. But unquestionably, the one that has most gone viral so far is Doorbell.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Obama and the Destroyers In Zuccotti Park

By Michael Goodwin

With each passing day, the Occupy Wall Street movement is picking up steam. The growing roster of A-list supporters at home and from around the globe is impressive, if that’s the right word.

Iran’s chief mad mullah, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, loves the protests, the government of China applauds them, and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is positively gung-ho.

Naturally, the American Nazi Party favors the lusty attacks on the “Judeo-capitalist banksters” while the Socialist Party USA and the Communist Party USA are happy passengers on the anti-Wall Street bandwagon.

Oh, and Barack Obama hearts the movement, too.

Because you should judge a man by his allies, our president might want to reconsider the villainous company he is keeping. Despite his claim that protesters reflect a “broad-based frustration about how our financial system works,” the people sleeping in Zuccotti Park are not there to help him create middle-class jobs or save the ones that exist.

If they were, America’s crackpot foreign and domestic adversaries wouldn’t be cheering. Their support reveals what the movement is really about.

Plain and simple, the movement is about destroying capitalism, which most protesters see as the enemy. They don’t want to fix the financial system. They want to bring it down.

Movement leaders don’t want the economy to grow, which would mean the Big Bad Banks would be healthy enough to lend and Evil Corporations would be healthy enough to borrow. They want to redistribute wealth, not create it.

They hope banks and corporations go belly-up, except, of course, for those that produce cool stuff they like. The cool stuff, actually, all stuff, should be free because profits are filthy.

For the Wall Street campers, housing grows on trees and storks deliver small businesses. They oppose banks making money on home mortgages and loans to entrepreneurs. Pollster Doug Schoen finds a third are willing to use violence to get their way.

It is bad enough that Obama is trying to recruit this destructive cult for partisan purposes. It is even worse that he is not alone.

Mitt Romney, the probable GOP presidential nominee, foolishly gave credence to the protesters’ distorted vision that American society consists of a few haves oppressing a multitude of have-nots, with nothing in the middle.

“I don’t worry about the top 1 percent,” Romney told a New Hampshire audience. “They’re doing just fine by themselves. I worry about the 99 percent in America. And so I look at what’s happening on Wall Street, and my own view is, boy I understand how those people feel ... The people in this country are upset.”

Yes, yes, about 75 percent of Americans are upset about the economy and the lack of jobs. But it verges on insanity to say that the protesters in lower Manhattan are typical examples of that angst, and thus deserving of mainstream support.

To endorse the radical movement’s sentiments is to deny reality and make the jobs crisis worse. More taxes, debt and regulation would kill the future. If new entitlements are created, it’s game over.

Obama already has made the financial system a pinata. Now that it’s spilled its candy -- Goldman Sachs is losing money, hooray! -- he wants to beat it to death to get four more years. He certainly doesn’t need Romney’s help.

As I noted Sunday, New York City has about 3.7 million jobs, yet fewer than 500 committed leftists are holding the city hostage with their Woodstock tent city. Everybody knows they are torturing the First Amendment, but nobody has the guts to say “Enough!”

Mayor Bloomberg has come up especially small in this emergency. He laments the protesters selfishness in harming local businesses and residents, yet is too timid to forge a solution.

So he dispatches a garrison of New York’s Finest to baby-sit a group of hooligans who occasionally attack them, spew anti-Semitic rants and turn the streets into toilets. And working New Yorkers pick up the exorbitant tab for the stand-off.

Someday, there might be a comic angle to this drama, but not yet. For now, Occupy Wall Street is shaping up as a tragedy that will doom the hopes of millions of Americans who simply want an honest government and a decent job.

Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Have We Forgotten How to Raise Boys Into Men?

By William J. Bennett

Fashioning men has never been easy, but today it seems particularly tough. Boys need heroes to embody the everlasting qualities of manhood: honor, duty, valor, and integrity. Without such role models, boys will naturally choose perpetual childhood over the rigors of becoming a man—as many women, teachers, coaches, employers, and adults in authority can quickly attest to today.

Too many boys and men waste time in pointless and soulless activities, unmindful of their responsibilities, uncaring in their pursuits. Have we forgotten how to raise men, how to lead our boys into manhood?

In "The Book of Man," I try to chart a clearer course, offering a positive, encouraging, uplifting, realizable idea of manhood, redolent of history and human nature, and practical for contemporary life.

For boys to become men they need to be guided, through advice, habit, instruction, example, and correction. It is true in all ages.

Someone once characterized the two essential questions Plato posed as: Who teaches the children, and what do we teach them? When the older generation fails to properly teach the younger males (and females) coming behind them, trouble surely follows.

Today, for the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious, and arguably more successful than men. Society has rightly celebrated the ascension of women. We said, “You go, girl” and they went. We praise the rise of women but what will we do about what appears to be the very real decline of men?

The data shows that there is trouble with men today. In 1970, men earned 60% of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50%, by 2006 it was 43%. Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women's earnings grew 44% from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6% growth for men. In 1950, five percent of men at the prime working age were unemployed. Today twenty percent are not working, the highest ever recorded.

Perhaps most worrisome are the cultural indicators. Men are more distant from a family or their children then they have ever been. The out of wedlock birthrate is over forty percent in America. In 1960, only 11% of children in the U.S. lived apart from their fathers. In 2010, that share had risen to 27%. Men are also less religious than ever before. According to Gallup polling, 39% of men reported attending church regularly in 2010, compared to 47% of women.

But you don’t need numbers. Just ask young women about men today, and you’re likely to hear how many believe their males counterparts are more like male children, refusing to grow up. Too many young women today are asking, “Where are the good single men?” Contemporary men exhibit a maturity deficit, and are in danger of falling further behind the more well adjusted women of today.

And so in our time especially there is a need for guidance, and the important role of men for boys is a particularly acute need. Of course there are successes. Every day great boys are raised to be great men, but there are other cases as well.

Confusions regarding manhood abound, including confusion about a proper understanding of virility. Fathers are missing from boys’ lives in devastatingly high numbers. Children are exposed to a dizzying array of cultural signals about what it means to be a man, signals both good and bad. Our society is moving forward so rapidly that it has forgotten much good from the past. And women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways.

As Hanna Rosin points out in her seminal article, “The End of Men,” women have now surpassed men in several categories that reflect economic and cultural standing. In American colleges, for every two men who graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree, three women receive a B.A. Women now dominate thirteen of the fifteen job categories expected to grow the most in the coming decade. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?

So what’s the problem? Increasingly, the messages to boys about what it means to be a man are confusing. They mistake the machismo of the street gangs for courage. They fill the vacancy left by missing fathers with video games, television, and music. Gay culture, with its flamboyant display, often challenges traditional masculinity. Hollywood films glorify male characters who refuse to grow up. Too many men today treat women like toys, easily discarded when things get complicated. Through all these different and conflicting signals, our boys must decipher what it means to be a man, and for many of them it is harder to figure out.

We need to fight back against this culture and send our boys and young men a clear and achievable message of what it means to be a man. The founding virtues – industriousness, marriage, and religion, are still the basis for male empowerment and achievement. It may be time to say to a number of our young men, “Get off the video games five hours a day, pull yourself together, get a challenging job, and get married.” It’s time to bring back men.

William J. Bennett is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood. (Thomas Nelson)" Bennett is the Washington fellow of the Claremont Institute. He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and was director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

To Keep America Safe We Must Address Our Intelligence Failures In Iran

Revelations that Iranian agents plotted an alleged attack to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and blow up the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia in the heart of Washington should have surprised neither analysts nor journalists. The only thing certain about the Islamic Republic, after all, is its uncertainty.

More than 30 years after the Islamic Revolution, Iran remains a black hole for American analysts. The unknowns regarding Iranian command, control, and capabilities represent an intelligence failure the likes of which make the Central intelligence Agency’s 2002 false findings regarding Iraq weapons of mass destruction program look like small potatoes.

The first hint about the scope of America’s Iran intelligence woes came in 2005, shortly after the relatively unknown Mahmoud Ahmadinejad surprised analysts by becoming Iran’s president.

Almost immediately, a debate erupted about whether Ahmadinejad had been among the hostage-takers who seized the American embassy in 1979. The debate indicated an intelligence failure, not only about Ahmadinejad, but also about why, after more than a quarter century, the CIA has not parsed every single photograph of the embassy captors to determine the identity of each.

This would enable American officials to issue warrants, prosecute, seize or, at the very minimum, blacklist so that those who abused American hostages would not even now be able to enjoy the legitimacy a diplomatic conference room grants let alone gain visas to enjoy visits to Hollywood Boulevard or even Disneyland.

During his press conference outlining the terrorist plot, Attorney General Eric Holder fingered the Qods Force, an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG), as responsible for the alleged assassination plot. It is ironic that while it is the IRGC that most concerns Western policymakers, American officials know very little about the group. After all, while analysts debate whether Iranian politicians are reformers, pragmatists, or hardliners, there is no corollary debate about the factions within the IRGC.

Both inside and outside government, many analysts argue that many recruits join the IRGC less on ideological grounds and more for the incumbent privileges: higher gasoline rations, advantages in university entrance exams, and job security amidst Iran’s economic woes.

That may be true, but without doubt, others join the IRGC for purely ideological reasons. General David Petraeus, the new director of Central Intelligence, can brag about an achievement as important as the Iraq surge should he illuminate what his predecessors failed to do and force the intelligence bureaucracy he overseas to map out who believes what within the IRGC.

There is no more important question. After all, as the guardians of the revolution, the IRGC will control Iran’s nuclear arsenal.

While pundits might debate Iran’s nuclear program as a whole, what should keep policymakers up at night is their failure to understand who would actually have their finger on the button. Ninety-nine percent of Iranians might be pragmatic, reasonable, and averse to national suicide, but if an ideologue willing to take the fight to America regardless of the consequences controls a nuclear bomb’s launch codes, then neither containment nor deterrence will work, and millions of Americans may be at risk.

Whether the Iranian plot on Washington was a rogue operation or not is irrelevant should the Iranian system allow the same rogues to achieve custody of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

American authorities also remain largely ignorant of Iranian decision-making. Any book purporting to explain Iranian politics comes replete with wire diagrams seeking to explain the relations among Iran’s myriad power centers. That not all wire diagrams match reflect some analytical confusion, but the real danger for Iranian analysis is that such wire diagrams may be increasingly irrelevant.

After all, the IRGC has executed a slow, creeping military coup d’état. While Americans picture the Islamic Republic as a state run by ayatollahs and clerics, a cleric heads only one out of 22 ministries; most of the rest fall to IRGC veterans (or their wives).

Ahmadinejad himself is a veteran of the IRGC. The governorships are stacked with IRGC veterans, and the current parliament is stacked with IRGC veterans. Most of these IRGC members or retirees are veterans of the Iran-Iraq War. When predicting Iranian behavior, what matters most are not the formal networks outlined on wire-diagrams, but rather who served with whom on the frontlines with Iraq. When battle buddies can pick up phones and coordinate among each other, the formal network go out the window and the informal network—one about which the United States has little clarity—become everything.

Analytical ignorance, however, could mask good news. It is not certain that the Islamic Republic can survive. After all, over the 2,500 year expanse of Persian history, the ayatollahs represent an anomaly rather than a natural outcome of Iranian political evolution. Here, filling in another analytical blank becomes essential: In September 2007, the IRGC reorganized.

With threatening regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan gone, and declaring the Americans little more than paper tigers, IRGC head Mohammad Ali Jafari restructured the force to counter-internal dissent more than rebuff external enemies. It was partly because he had assigned one IRGC unit to every province and two in the capital of Tehran that the regime was able to weather the 2009 post-election uprising.

The question analysts should ask, however, is whether those staffing any particular IRGC unit hail from the province in which they are stationed.

If they do not, then that is a sign that behind Ahmadinejad’s bluster lays a country without the confidence to assume that their revolutionary guardians would obey orders to fire on crowds if there was a chance that their family members, neighbors, or classmates were among the protestors. A coherent strategy in such a situation would be to exacerbate Iranian internal divisions rather than cut a deal which would protect the status quo.

It is because of the fortitude of the Justice Department—as well as just plain luck—that the United States was able to avert a bloodbath in Washington, D.C.

Rather than shrug off the incident in the hope of further engagement, the Obama administration should recognize how little the United States knows about the power centers and relationships which matter within our chief adversary in the Middle East. Only when American analysts are able to fill in the blanks will President Obama or his successors be able to craft a strategy which can truly counter the Iranian threat and protect American national security interests.




Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Facing Execution for the 'Crime' of Being a Christian In Iran

By Ben Cohen

In 2010, the Iranian regime carried out 546 executions, more than at any other time during the preceding decade, and representing an increase of around 25 per cent on the previous year. Increasingly, execution is becoming Tehran's favored method for dealing with anyone it deems an opponent -- like Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor who has refused to recant his Christian faith.

Pastor Nadarkhani's case is another grim illustration of the volatile situation faced by religious minorities living under Iran's Islamist clerics. Even though the state formally recognizes the existence of Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, these minorities are under no illusions about their subordinate status.

Since 2009, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole Iran's election to claim a further term as the country's president, the crime of "moharebeh" -- waging war against God -- has frequently been invoked against those who question the Islamic legal codes which underpin the state.

Pastor Nadarkhani's embrace of Christianity, is a prime example of "moharebeh," and carries the penalty of death. This is despite the fact that Nadarkhani maintains he has never been a Muslim as an adult. But an Islamic court has determined that he has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith.

It's important to note that the persecution of religious minorities in Iran did not begin with Ahmadinejad.

Ayatollah Khomeini, who led Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979, was clear that abandoning Islam amounts to apostasy.

In 1990, Hossein Soodmand, a Muslim who converted to Christianity in 1960 -- nearly two decades before Khomeini came to power -- was executed. Soodmand's fate proved that the Islamic Republic has no hesitation about acting retroactively in the face of such "crimes."

The only way to escape the death sentence, as Pastor Nadarkhani knows, is to publicly renounce his conversion to Christianity. That he has not done so is a humbling display of his courage, for in Iran, the death sentence is the climax of a long punishment that begins in the jails of the regime.

Recent Congressional testimony by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom detailed the torture and abuse faced by inmates whose offense is simply to adhere to a different faith, or to ascribe to an alternative set of political beliefs.

At a human rights summit in New York last week, Ahmad Batebi, a former Iranian political prisoner, gave a chilling account of his own experiences, which included having his head forced into drain filled with excrement, and being compelled to watch his friends beaten senseless in order to secure his confession.

Thousands of Iranians can offer similar testimony, among them many Christians. A recent shocking case involved Vahik Abrahamian, an Armenian Pastor carrying a Dutch passport who served a year in prison, including 44 days in solitary confinement. Abrahamian's family's spoke of the "severe mental and psychological torture" which he'd faced while in jail.

Arguably, the circumstances of those religious minorities who are not defined as "People of the Book" -- a term denoting those faiths which came before Islam's advent -- is even worse.

The 300,000 members of the Baha'i faith, whose religious beliefs crystallized in 19th century Persia, are regarded by Iran's rulers as virtually subhuman. Under Iranian law, the blood of a Baha'i is "mobah," which means that Bahai's can be killed with impunity.

When they are not being killed, Bahai's face discrimination with few parallels elsewhere in the world. In May, for example, the regime's security forces arrested and imprisoned hundreds of Bahai's who were involved in a clandestine university that had been launched only because members of their faith are legally proscribed from attending Iranian universities.

Against this bloodstained background, Ahmadinejad again flew to New York last week to address the U.N. General Assembly. His visit sparked fervent demonstrations outside the U.N. building, with many of those present demanding his arrest; as a head of state, however, Ahmadinejad is free to come and go as he pleases.

Ahmadinejad's annual jaunt to the U.N. General Assembly highlights a painful truth: as public awareness of his regime's depravity has reached unprecedented levels, the outside world has remained utterly powerless to rein him in.

"We have very little leverage in Iran," Rev. Keith Roderick, a leading advocate for the civil rights of religious minorities, told me. "Ahmadinejad is at war with the Christian church there, but our influence has diminished."

Rev. Roderick explained that on the cases of individual prisoners, intervention by Vatican or Swiss Embassy representatives in Iran can be helpful. However, the occasional act of mercy by the Iranian authorities does not change the legal or political fundamentals.

Should the Iranian regime should one day decide that it no longer needs to use its religious minorities for political window dressing, the consequences are too painful to imagine.

Ben Cohen is a political analyst and commentator based in New York. He writes frequently on Iranian and Middle Eastern issue. Follow him on Twitter @BenCohenOpinion.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Responder: The Untold Story of a True American Hero

As the 10th anniversary of the events of September 11th draws near, I wanted to make note of this milestone by putting my thoughts down on paper, something I’ve refrained from doing until now. As a former member of the military, and one who has always felt a deep and abiding love for this country, and what it stands for, the events of that terrible day affected me in a way I didn’t think possible. The initial and inevitable sense of unmitigated and raw anger which I first felt, gave way to a profound sense of grief that closed in on me like a dark cloud, a cloud that has prevented me from truly coming to terms with the magnitude of the events of that day.

Except for viewing, initially, the news reports those first few days, I’ve refrained from watching the footage over the past number of years, because the thought of doing so brings back remnants of that malevolent cloud that chokes me with an almost debilitating sadness. I still haven’t been able to watch the movie they made about Flight 93, as many times as I’ve felt that I should, in honor of those forty American heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But somehow, even though I never went out of my way to seek out the news surrounding the events as they unfolded that clear, sunny Tuesday morning, in the weeks and months that followed, I was sure I had heard, in one way or another, most of the stories that circulated, concerning the timelines, persons and circumstances that have now become engraved in our national consciousness. When first I decided to write something, to mark this anniversary, I was at a loss as to what exactly, or possibly, I could say or relate, that hasn’t already been chewed and regurgitated hundreds, if not thousands of times, by talking heads of major news outlets, or mind numbing politicians, trying to sound patriotic, while stumping for votes for their next election.

And then, tonight, a few scant hours before the dawn of this 10th year remembrance, while flipping through the channels on TV, I came across the most remarkable interview, done just about a month ago. It was remarkable for a great many reasons, not least of all because it was the first time I had ever heard the story related, and it was being told by the very person who experienced it, a very remarkable person indeed, who, until now, was totally unknown to me, and whom I have to assume is also unknown to most people.


This person’s name is Major Heather Penney, of the District of Columbia, Air National Guard. On September 11th, 2001, then First Lieutenant Penney, call sign “Lucky,” was one of two F-16 fighter pilots who became the ultimate first responders that fateful fall morning. Shortly after the two inbound airliners slammed into the twin towers in New York, and immediately after the third commercial jet flew straight into the Pentagon, Penney, flying as wingman for Colonel Marc Sasseville, was ordered to take off immediately to meet the threat of the now fourth inbound aircraft, United Fight 93, headed for another Washington target, almost certainly the Capital building.

As remarkable as this story is, what makes it even more poignant is that because the threat of an attack on American soil was seen as such a remote possibility at the time, the 121st fighter squadron at Andrews Air Force base, outside Washington, had no fully-armed fighter jets on standby. The F-16’s that Penney and Sasseville jumped into, and immediately took off in, barely giving the flight mechanics time to remove the flight deck safety pins from various parts of the aircraft, doing it literally as they were taxing down the runway, were only equipped with 105 lead nosed bullets and no other armament of any kind. The two remaining F-16’s left on the ground we’re to be armed with AIM 9 heat seeking missiles, but they first had to be secured from an ammo dump far from the flight line.

While suiting up, and after having received orders to take out any inbound aircraft that posed a threat to Washington, D.C., Penny and Sasseville looked at each other and immediately formulated their plan. They knew they wouldn’t be able to shoot down the jumbo jet with the small amount of lead nosed ammunition they would have on board, so Colonel Sasseville said he’d ram the cockpit, and Penney agreed she’d ram the tail of the inbound airliner. For a few seconds, Penney recounted, she wondered if it would be possible to eject before ramming her fighter jet into the aircraft, but immediately realized she wouldn’t be able to guarantee a solid hit, and promptly dismissed the idea. She resolved herself to the fact that this take off would probably be her last.

We all know now that Flight 93 never reached Washington, as forty heroic passengers assaulted the hijackers in the cockpit and crashed the plane into a field in Pennsylvania. But, the F-16 pilots didn’t learn of the aircraft's fate until later that afternoon, continuing to fly air cover for most of the day, awaiting potentially hostile, inbound aircraft, and the possibility they would have to give their lives to protect our nation’s capital. Later, after the immediate threat of inbound aircraft was not realized, and after having landed and refitted with a full compliment of armament, including air to air missiles, Penney was one of the pilots who escorted Air Force One, with President Bush on board, back to Andrews Air Force Base, in Washington.

Major Penney, now a mother of two little girls, then seeing the smoke billowing from the wreckage of the Pentagon shortly after take off, remembers flying low over the survivors, while using full after burners, before starting her sweep to the Northwest, to let them know she was there and that no one else would enter the airspace she now protected, to hurt them further. When asked later what were the emotions she was feeling at the time, said she was absorbed with the urgent job at hand and had no time for emotions. "It wasn't so much that I kept my emotions in check. It was that they didn't even exist," she said. "There was significant adrenaline. It was really just, dear God please don't let me screw up."

Hearing for the first time the story of Major Penney and her fellow pilots, a story mostly untold till now, I find that dark cloud of despair I’ve felt in the past, slowly lifted, and with it a renewed sense of pride and honor in the 911 generation, one that saw 2.5 million of its members sign up for military duty, in the wake of the turmoil that surrounded this nation ten years ago, with thousands of these brave Americans since having given the last full measure of devotion, and with tens of thousands also having been wounded and maimed.

I pray that the sacrifices these Americans have suffered will never be forgotten, whether it be the innocent lives of people who were going about their daily routine, or the more than 400 first responders who rushed into harms way and paid the ultimate price, or the forty brave passengers who refused to let their plane be an instrument of terror, or the F-16 pilots like Major Penney who ensured the safety of our seat of government in this country by being willing to offer her life in exchange, or the millions of members of this nation’s military and armed forces, who are a shining beacon of hope to the dark corners of the world where freedom fights for a foothold.

The evil that visited us that terrible day ten years past, crashed planes, crumbled buildings and murdered innocents. But, as horrific as the damage was they did inflict, they failed in their task to crash, crumble or murder the spirit of this nation. That resides in the memory of our loved ones lost and in the hearts of its remaining citizens, and with it the resolve to ensure that this particular evil will never triumph, but rather eventually will breathe its last.

-Jim Giunta

To watch the full one hour C-SPAN interview with Maj. Penney, click the link below and then the link on the right side of the page called "Complete File" under the Video Playlist heading:

http://www.c-span.org/Events/September-11th-Interview-Major-Heather-Penney-Fighter-Pilot/10737423885/

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years -- We Are Still Missing the Lessons of 9/11

By Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser

In recent years and even weeks, the lessons of September 11, 2001 have been lost to constant distraction, the most recent being Mayor Bloomberg’s unfathomable decision to forbid people of faith a role at the tenth anniversary commemoration.

Faith was the impetus for the attack, faith was the instrument for healing, and faith is the only hope we have to defeat the ideology that attacked us ten years ago.

Bloomberg’s stance encapsulates our greatest liabilities as a nation ten years after 9/11. We, now, more than ever, lack the political will, the national skill sets, and the prominent American Muslim leadership willing to identify, engage, and defeat Islamism.

While many Muslims take the bait of victimology preached by supposed Muslim civil rights groups in America, as American Muslims the rest of us cannot continue to deny the connection no matter how unfair between certain interpretations of our faith and Al Qaeda’s brutal attack.

Usama bin Laden did not just represent a handful of militant extremists. He was a standard bearer for an end stage of a global ideology – political Islam (Islamism) – that has buried its roots deep within interpretations of our faith. Islamism is a theo-political construct that believes in the supremacy of the Islamic state and that is the antithesis of what makes America unique and exceptional. It can only be defeated by Muslims who step beyond the distractions and denials and champion an ideological path that binds our identity and faith to liberty and individual freedom.

If American Muslim leaders want to do anything to combat fear of Islamism and any unfair association of all Muslims that may exist, the most effective move would be to form an offensive strategy against Islamists and their ideas from within.

My family came to the U.S. in the 1960’s escaping Syria’s Baathist oppression in order to be free, more free than they ever dreamed of being in Muslim majority nations.

Yet, it is unconscionable that 10 years after 9/11, the United States is still dithering over the root cause of Islamist terror.

Islamists detest the very fabric of American society. September 11 was not the first attack and it was not the last. If we do not engage in a full throated ideological fight we will continue to witness an ever increasing threat to our homeland.

Sadly, the America I know that I chose to serve as a naval officer has spent an uncharacteristically sheepish decade asleep against the greatest existential threat to our survival. We must now develop and implement a coherent tactical plan to defeat the ideological root of militant Islamism- political Islam and the dreams for some Muslims of the Islamic state.

The threat to the United States has grown exponentially in ten years. A report from the Department of Justice in March of 2010 showed that of 228 terror-related arrests 186 of them were Muslim. That is over 80 percent from a Muslim community that represents less than 2 percent of the U.S. population.

What this report does not tell us is that of the 186 Muslim arrests almost certainly all of them were Muslims that believed in and adhered to an Islamist ideology. Since this report we have seen upwards of another 28 terror-related arrests of Muslims including the likes of Faisal Shahzad -- the Times Square bomber -- and Pvt. Naser Abdo who was preparing a second attack on Fort Hood who both claimed to be “Muslim soldiers” fighting for the ummah (Muslim nation).

The threat is increasing because the ideological message has largely gone unchecked. To change that we need to empower reform-minded liberal Muslim leaders. We need the political will from the Administration and Congress to identify political Islam as the problem and devout reformist Muslims and enlightened Islam as the solution. We need our government, media, and academe to have the skill set to not cower when terms like “Islamophobia” are leveled against those who are smart enough and brave enough to call out political Islam as the problem and we need for Muslims to separate religion and state to defeat Islamism. Unless we do that, our “whack-a-mole” approach to security will eventually miss one.

Western pluralistic societies that embrace individual liberty are not in conflict with the faith of Islam as practiced by most Muslims. This is not a war against a religion. We cannot allow our ideological enemy to use faith to tie our hands in this fight. Hear that Mayor Bloomberg? Mr. President? PC police? We must break the shackles of political correctness and step beyond the fear that paralyzes us against matters that happen to touch on faith.

The founding fathers never intended for faith to be sacrosanct and beyond public discourse. Perhaps the greatest outcome of the American experiment is that the U.S. Constitution reclaimed faith from the hands of the monarch and the clergy and vested it in the hands of the people as it was always intended. Now faced with an existential theo-political threat, we are failing that vision and need to rededicate ourselves to our founding principles.

The only way to win is to stop playing defense and create an offensive strategy which empowers liberty-minded Muslims whose identity is tied to Americanism and our Establishment Clause, rather than Islamism, shar’iah, and victimhood. We must tackle the fallacy of the Islamic state and demonstrate to Muslims the religious strength that comes from individual liberty.

We have yet to operationalize these lessons of 9/11. We will not win this struggle and therefore never have true national security without confronting the hard issues of Islamist ideology. Our enemy does not suffer the same malady and in fact utilizes ideology as their primary weapon in this battle.

We must do the same. Our dedication to the concepts of liberty and unyielding belief in the inalienable rights of man as endowed by our creator are the key to our victory.

Dr. Jasser is president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a former U.S. Navy Lt. Commander and a physician in private practice based in Phoenix, Ariz. He can be reached at info@aifdemocracy.org

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fast and Furious Screw Up Hurts Innocent Americans


By Michelle Malkin

There are now enough Operation Fast and Furious officials playing hide-and-seek in the Obama administration to fill a New York City-style “rubber room.”

Yesterday, the Justice Department announced it was shuffling Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, out of his job. The disclosure comes amid continued investigations into the administration’s fatally botched “gun sting” racket at the border and spreading outrage over legal obstructionism and whistleblower retaliation by Justice brass. The department’s inspector general is also conducting a probe.

Internal documents earlier showed that Melson was intimately involved in overseeing the program and screened undercover videos of thousands of straw purchases of AK-47s and other high-powered rifles -- many of which ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel thugs, including those who murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December. Fast and Furious weapons have been tied to at least a dozen violent crimes in America and untold bloody havoc in Mexico.

In secret July 4 testimony, Melson revealed he was “sick to his stomach” when he discovered the extent of the operation’s deadly lapses. Join the club, pal.

Melson told congressional investigators that he and ATF’s senior leadership “moved to reassign every manager involved in Fast and Furious, from the deputy assistant director for field operations down to the group supervisor” after ATF whistleblowers went to the press and Capitol. But according to Melson, he and company were ordered by Justice Department higher-ups to remain silent about the reasons for the reassignments.

In other words: The ATF managers in the know were “effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand,” as GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, concluded in July.

Melson has been kicked back to DOJ’s main office in a flabbergasting new slot as “senior adviser on forensic science in the department’s Office of Legal Policy.” He may have been “sick to his stomach,” but the federal careerist apparently has no intention of quitting an administration with blood on its hands. And now he’ll be advising others on how to track and handle evidence. Nice make-work if you can get it.

Others on the Fast and Furious dance card of lemons:

* Assistant US Attorney Emory Hurley in Phoenix, who helped oversee the straw-gun-purchase disaster. He’s being transferred out of the US Attorney’s Office’s criminal division and into the civil division.

* Assistant ATF Special Agents in Charge George Gillett and Jim Needles. Moved to other positions.

* ATF deputy director of operations in the West, William McMahon. Promoted to ATF headquarters.

* ATF Phoenix field supervisors William Newell and David Voth. Promoted to new management positions in Washington.

Keep your friends close and your henchmen on the verge of spilling all the beans closer.

There’s been only one visible Fast and Furious resignation: U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke in Phoenix, who quietly stepped down on Tuesday. One of his last acts? Opposing the request of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s family to qualify as crime victims in a court case against the thug who bought the Fast and Furious guns used in Terry’s murder.

The fish rots from the head down, of course. DOJ is run by Eric Holder, the Beltway swamp creature who won bipartisan approval for his nomination -- even after putting political interests ahead of security interests at the Clinton Justice Department in pushing presidential pardons for both big donor Marc Rich and several Puerto Rican FALN terrorists.

Screw up, move up, cover up: It’s the Holder way, the Obama way, the Washington way. And innocent Americans pay.

Michelle Malkin is a New York Post columnist. This column originally appeared in the New York Post on August 31.





No Religion Can Claim Superiority Over Safety and Security


By Cal Thomas

No religion can claim superiority over safety and security. On Tuesday, Rye Playland, an amusement park near New York City temporarily shut down after an altercation erupted with a Muslim group over the park's headgear policy.

Muslim women in a tour group at Playland were reportedly denied access to several rides because they were wearing hijabs – their traditional headscarves, according to FoxNews.com.

The park's deputy commissioner said, "Our headgear policy is designed to protect the safety of patrons and safety is our first concern...This policy was repeatedly articulated to the tour operator, but unfortunately the message did not reach some of the members of his group."

Since the regulations at Playland were established before this incident with Muslim women and their head scarfs, no one can credibly claim they are being used to discriminate against Muslims, especially since park officials claim to have "painstakingly" told the Muslims about the ban.

Because some of them attempted to board the rides anyway, it can't help but raise a question about whether this was another attempt to force us to lower our guard against those Muslims who mean us harm.

As we have seen at airports and other venues, Muslim activists have deliberately tried to create incidents against the government in order to avoid searches and questions about their behavior and conversations.

I'm not saying this was a coordinated effort at Rye Playland to achieve such ends, just that it fits a pattern of what we have seen since 9/11.

Respect is a two-way street. Muslims have more rights in America than in the countries from which many of them come. If Americans visit those countries they are expected to abide by the laws and religious rules. A similar amount of respect and adherence to our laws and rules should also be expected.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated newspaper columnist.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why Islam is NOT Protected Under the US Constitution!


By Kevin A. Lehmann

Contrary to conventional stupidity, Islam is NOT protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. Is there anyone left in the three branches of government today that can interpret our most sacred document (the Declaration of Independence not withstanding) correctly?

Like in Christendom, where the exegesis and hermeneutics of certain passages of scripture are often skewed to conform to a particular ideology, agenda, or belief system, so too has the clear and concise language of the Constitution and the 27 Amendments progressively undergone exegetical attacks over the decades—depending on which party is in power—to conform to a particular political ideology.

But this is one hermeneutical battle America can ill afford to lose. Our founding principles, i.e. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness hang in the balance. In short—our country’s very survival depends on it.

America faces a grave threat from Islam. Muslims are infiltrating our country in droves and they’re doing it under the guise of “Constitutional Protection.” And like England, if we don’t stand our ground now, it will be too late. Muslims are cunning, crafty and clever. They’re using our ignorance of the understanding of our own Constitution against us, and they are clandestinely and methodically spreading their freedom-snatching tentacles in a quiet and unassuming manner.

Federal, state, and local governments on the other hand won’t acknowledge the imminent threat. They incorrectly claim that Muslims have “Constitutional Rights” to come here, proselytize people, build mosques, and implement shariah in their communities and in the public square. They’re dead wrong! And by and large, Islam is getting away with it just like they have in Europe. Only unlike in Europe and Great Britain in particular, where many local non-Muslim citizens now live in perpetual fear and oppression, it’s not too late to stem the tide, but we have to act now. Time is not on our side. In fact, this may come as a shock, but there are more mosques being built on American soil than Christian churches. We are already well under way to being Islamized.

To understand Islam is to understand sharia. The religion of Islam is nothing short of a totalitarian political, economic, military, social and legal system that’s camouflaged in religious garb. Their mandate (not objective) is to incorporate our country into a global Islamic caliphate.

Sadly, they are making serious inroads towards their tyrannical mandate because America is not resisting. We are all that stands between freedom and a worldwide Islamic caliphate. The United States of America is the world’s last bastion of hope.

Yet, the dreadful message we get from ignorant and incompetent lawmakers is that our Constitution renders us powerless to do anything about it. On the contrary, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence—properly interpreted—actually give our federal, state and local governments justification and authority to stop Islam dead in its tracks!

Here’s How . . .

Islam is NOT a religion in the sense we understand religion. Islam—which stands for “submission” or “surrender”—is about COMPLETE DOMINANCE. It is a totalitarian form of government that controls every aspect of the lives of its adherents. It’s a barbaric form of life. It masquerades as a monotheistic religion rooted in Old Testament principles, but more appropriately follows the thievery and murderous thuggery of it’s founder, Muhammad, a descendent of Ishmael, who came on the scene 600 years after Christ’s ascension. Only their modern day tactics now include recruiting mentally ill, naive and gullible idiots who become suicide bombers. And Western countries indoctrinated with the lies of multiculturalism and political correctness—to their demise—have reluctantly turned a blind eye. But like Communism, Marxism and Socialism, the Constitution of the United States of America empowers us to defeat it.

Given that fact, we must understand our founding principles that (1) Rights come from God alone, (2) Muslims do not have the right to divest us of our Rights, and (3) the purpose of civil government is to secure the rights God gave us.

What are our rights, and where do they come from? The Constitution? The Bill of Rights? No! The Declaration of Independence says:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. —that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men . . .”

So, where do our rights come from? God. And what are those rights? Life , Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Liberty is the very essence of God’s model for civil government. Inscribed on the Liberty Bell is Leviticus 25:10 - “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

Do Muslims respect the rights God gave us? Of course not! Sharia stands in stark contrast to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Let’s have a look . . .

1. Life: Islam is a culture of death, e.g., murder, honor killings and suicide bombers.

2. Liberty: Islam is a culture where women are slaves and prisoners, children are sex toys for old men, and conversion to another belief system is seen as a capital offense and met with a brutal death.

3. Pursuit of Happiness: Theirs is a culture of torture and sadism. How many times have we already heard of young Muslim girls in America who, after they talked to non-Muslim boys, were shot to death or run over by their father for allegedly bringing shame to their family? Public wife beating is commonplace. Women who don’t cover their hair are beaten on the spot. They’re often gang raped and mutilated and maimed on their faces, even in their own homes, needing multiple witnesses to testify against their male aggressors.

4. Freedom of Speech: Try criticizing Islam in Saudi Arabia—one of our Arab allies. See how swiftly justice is met with your head as the ornament of of an Opec member’s Mercedes.

For every right God gave us—not the Constitution or its Amendments—the Muslims seek to eradicate.



Do Muslims have the “right” to impose shariah in this country which strips us of our God-given rights? No! God did not give Muslims the “right” to take away from us, the rights He gave us!

Lawmakers tell us Muslims have a First Amendment “right” to build mosques, proselytize, and implement shariah here. But is that what the First Amendment says? No!

See for yourself . . .

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Now consider the verbiage very carefully. A lot of lawmakers and most Americans make the exegetical error that the First Amendment grants us rights. The First Amendment doesn’t grant any rights to anybody. All it does is prohibit Congress from making laws about religion, speech, the press, or assembly.

Therefore, Muslims do not have a First Amendment “right” to build mosques, proselytize, and implement shariah in our country.

Not only do Muslims claim the “right” to impose shariah in the Muslim communities that are rapidly spreading throughout our country, they also claim the “right” to impose shariah law in the public square. They demand shariah compliant financial institutions, foot baths in public places, and that such abominations as wine and pork be banned from their presence. Moreover, they demand that public streets be closed off for “prayers.”

So it begs the question: Do Americans have any Constitutional protection against the invasion of a foreign law being foisted upon us? Absolutely!

Article VI, Clause 2 of our Constitution states . . .

“This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

Did you get that? Our Constitution and laws are authorized by the Supreme Law of this Land. And anything to the contrary must fall.

The practice of sharia in the United States, at any level directly violates our Constitution. Muslims who therefore seek to overthrow our Constitution or otherwise usurp or circumvent it are guilty of Criminal Sedition. The federal government has the duty to prosecute them for sedition, or deport them.

The Declaration of Independence says the purpose of civil government is to secure the rights God gave us. Muslims seek to take away our God-given rights. Civil government is supposed to protect us from those who seek to divest us of our rights. Therefore it’s incumbent on every American citizen to insist that our federal, state, and local governments immediately STOP the Islamization of OUR COUNTRY—starting with an immediate cease and desist on the construction of all mosques! The purpose of our civil government is to protect our GOD-given rights.

The Declaration of Independence recognizes God as Creator, Supreme Judge and Regulator of the World—our Divine Protector.

In fact, Article VII of our Constitution recognizes the Lordship of Jesus Christ . . .

“Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Seven . . . “

In Summary:

1. Our rights come from God. They predate and preexist the Constitution. Our Constitution doesn’t give “rights” to anybody. So Muslims don’t have “constitutional rights” to come to our Judeo-Christian established country and build mosques, proselytize, and impose shariah.

2. Muslims take away from people the rights God gave them. Since our Declaration of Independence acknowledges that the purpose of civil governments is to secure the rights God gave us, it is the duty and responsibility of civil governments at all levels to protect us from Islamization.

3. Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution—the “Supremacy Clause”—is the silver bullet that makes it unconstitutional for Muslims to practice shariah law anywhere in our Country.

Let me be perfectly clear. Islam is not a friend of America. It is our enemy. The very notion of “Chrislam”—a syncretistic fusion of Christianity and Islam—being promoted by such notable Christian celebrities as Rick Warren, author of the best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, is an abomination. It’s anti-American, and antithetical to the Christian principles upon which our great nation was founded. It is imperative that you understand the inherent danger of multiculturalism, and the amalgamation of polarizing religions.

Your state senators and congressmen are completely oblivious to the imminent threat that Islam and sharia pose to the sovereignty of our nation. They are uneducated and weak. It’s imperative you demand they get informed very quickly and embrace the fight to stop the spread of mosques and sharia at the local level. The Center for Security Policy issued a report last year entitled: “Shariah: The Threat to America”. Demand they read it and take immediate action to defend your community from Islamization.

Are you curious to know what life is like when your community has been infiltrated with Muslims, especially after they outnumber the local citizens? Click here to listen to my radio show back on March 21st with Tommy Robinson, the leader of the EDL (English Defense League) in England. Since that time, he was nearly murdered and has had multiple death threats against him, his wife and children for having the guts to speak up.

Europe, in the interest of multiculturalism and political correctness, made a grave error. And now they are hopeless to reverse it, especially in England, without a civil and very bloody religious war. An entire country, even with it’s parliamentary government in tact, is now at the mercy of Muhammad and his warriors of death or submission.

Recently exonerated Dutch Member of Parliament, Geert Wilders, listed ten steps Western countries must take to stop the Islamization of their countries.

ALL ten steps are mandated by our Declaration of Independence, and consistent with our Constitution:

1. Stop cultural relativism: We must formalize the idea that we have one dominant culture that is based on Judaism and Christianity [Wilders adds "humanism"].

2. Stop pretending that Islam is a religion.

3. Show the true face of fundamentalist Islam. It is a brutal totalitarian ideology.

4. Stop all immigration from Muslim countries. For Muslims who are already citizens, tell them that if they adhere to our values and our Constitution, they may stay as equals. But if they deviate, we will expel them.

5. Outlaw shariah and deport practitioners.

6. Require Muslims to sign legally binding pledge of integration and allegiance.

7. Stop building mosques.

8. Seek reciprocity with Saudi Arabia for Western churches and synagogues.

9. Close all Islamic schools—they are fascist institutions teaching hate.

10. Remove our current weak leaders.

In closing, we are at war with a very evil and cunning enemy. An enemy that seeks to destroy everything that is good about the United States of America; Everything we value; Everything we cherish, Everything our forefathers and successive generations fought and died for, so that we could receive the torch of freedom and pass it on to our children and grandchildren. This is our moment. It is our time to boldly stand up for our God, our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our beloved Freedom! Let us exercise our God-given unalienable rights and say “Yes to Freedom!” and “No to Oppression!” We owe it to our children, our grandchildren, and our grandparents.

Until next time . . . Wake Up America!

Kevin A. Lehmann



Friday, August 19, 2011

Why History, Even Recent History Is So Important. PERSPECTIVE!

Why I Worry About My Generation


By Nicole Swinford

I sat in the college classroom—a bright-eyed freshman. My notebook was out, my pencil was at the ready—this was it! I was finally in an institution of higher education! I would face bigger challenges, have to work harder—more would be expected in the adult world and I couldn’t wait to get started. As I furiously jotted down notes and punched numbers into my calculator to double check my answers, the girl a few seats down raised her hand.

“Do we really have to memorize all five of those equations? That’s so much work! Can’t you just put them up on the board for us during the test?”

My jaw dropped. What had just happened? Was I back in kindergarten? But I was soon to find that this would not be a singular occurrence. Other students joined in on the plea and this mindset would permeate other classes as well. But apparently more was not expected of us—the professor did indeed write the equations on the board for our test just as requested.

Reality check: college was not exactly the challenge I expected it to be. And I was thoroughly disappointed.

I soon realized that my generation has a problem. We are, as a whole, rather lazy. Many of us simply don’t understand what it means to really work.

But work is an essential part of America. After all, isn’t that what the American Dream really is? That if you work hard enough, you will succeed? That if you work for it, anything is possible. I was under the impression that we were the Land of Opportunity, but now it seems more and more like we are the Land of Entitlement.

Why do we lack this work ethic? The answer is simple: our world is one of instant gratification. With all of technology’s advances, life is considerably easier than what it once was, and many of us, having known no other life, take it for granted—it’s an easy trap to fall into. Work no longer has much value and it is a direct result of the way we live.

Our mindset has two aspects: easy and fast. You only have to turn on the television and watch a few commercials to catch on to this frame of mind. Easy and fast sells, and it is expected.

The problem is that work is the exact opposite of these concepts. It is hard and it takes time. The result is sadly predictable; many of us reject a good work ethic. And there are plenty of distractions to assist us in this pursuit (all of which involve staring impassively at a screen doing absolutely nothing)—television, computers, video games, movies. These activities involve no physical or mental effort. These are instant gratifications. Even our social lives can be conducted without ever actually putting ourselves in a social setting.

However, far from being a minor annoyance, there are much bigger consequences that the future holds for this generation should we as a whole continue in this mindset and these practices.

I beg my peers to consider this: if we remain apathetic in our everyday lives, we will be apathetic in our political lives; furthermore, it is less likely that we will take the time or be willing to do the work to research the actual issues and will end up debating everything on pure emotion.

Lord Acton, a political philosopher and economist, once explained that the reason he did not condone the government feeding, clothing, or caring for the people was because with a loss of responsibility the people would become dependent on the government. Essentially, without any sort of work ethic, without a sense of responsibility, the people will ultimately enslave themselves. Freedom is work. We are not free simply because we are Americans. We are free because men and women worked to make it so. Because they died to make it so. And that work is never over. If we allow ourselves to lose our work ethic, we have given up our freedom. Is this where we are headed?

Thomas Paine told those who originally fought for our freedom, “That which we gain too cheap, we value too lightly.” We would do well to remember those words. This holds true for all that we do, whether it concern something as vast as freedom, or something as specific as our schoolwork. They are linked. What we manifest in our individual lives will take root and grow into everything we do.

So, here is my challenge to my generation: Yes, the world is an easy and fast-paced place to live now and it is only getting more so. We, as the future of America, face an important question: how do we salvage our traditional work ethic?

The answer is simple: we change because we as individuals recognize that we need to (after all, they say admitting the problem is the first step) and we choose to do so. Whether or not we get up off the couch and start working is up to us. These are our choices, our consequences, and our responsibilities.

So, I encourage you: get up and do the work (Who knows? You might be surprised to find what satisfaction a job well done can bring)! It may not necessarily be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

Nicole Swinford is a student at Chapman University in Orange, California.



Monday, August 15, 2011

Is Obama Leaking Details of Bin Laden Killing to Boost His Approval Ratings?


By Michael Goodwin

Pete King has a reputa tion as a hothead, but the Long Island Republican kept his cool recently when he had every right to lose it. During an interview about King's criticism of media leaks and a film about the Usama bin Laden raid, one of CNN's liberal poodles suggested King was being "a little silly" since there were so many important things happening in Washington.

Whoa, Nellie! My head almost exploded just watching, but King's eyes flashed red only for an instant before he coherently repeated his point: The White House could be leaking secret information, putting lives and future missions at stake, and that's pretty damn important.

So it is, and King, who is already examining Islamic radicalization, is off again to slay more sacred cows. That this battle involves the Hollywood elite makes it all the more delicious.

King's concern started when he saw a drip, drip of sensitive operational details emerging since the May 1 bin Laden killing. Magazines and newspapers had information that, as head of the House Committee on Homeland Security, he knew was supposed to remain secret.

The published details he's worried about include: the name of the courier who was followed to the compound in Pakistan, that retired Pakistani military officers were recruited by the CIA to man an observation post near the compound, where the FBI got a DNA sample from a bin Laden family member, the capabilities of our satellites, the base the helicopters used in Afghanistan and how they evaded Pakistani radar, the names, bases and training sites used by units on the mission, the number of SEALs involved, the weapons and equipment they carried, which Al Qaeda plots we learned of from data seized in the compound, which may tell Al Qaeda which plots we do not know about.

King notes that at least five Pakistanis were arrested after the reports surfaced.

"Nobody in the intelligence world or the military is going to give out that kind of information unless they're told to from above," he told me. He called the leaks "an inside job" and added that the failure of the administration to probe the sources "shows they are involved."

If that were all, it would be more than enough. But the stench from the film project reveals how the raid is being put to propaganda use by President Obama's political team.

A filmmaker is getting favored treatment for a movie scheduled to be released a month before the 2012 election. The film is being distributed by Sony, whose top brass gave Obama a fund-raiser last April.

Maureen Dowd of The New York Times first reported that Kathryn Bigelow, director of the Oscar-winning "Hurt Locker," and a screenwriter are getting wide access to defense and intelligence sources. King said he heard from insiders that Bigelow attended a CIA ceremony honoring the SEALs involved in the raid.

King, who lavished praise on Obama for the mission, doesn't begrudge the president getting a legitimate political boost. But he notes that military secrets are held for years or decades and released only when the war is over and there is zero chance the enemy can benefit.

To that end, he wants inspectors general in defense and intelligence to make sure no classified information has been released, to draw up guidelines for what can be released and to make sure the limits are enforced.

Those aims are modest. There's already too much smoke around these leaks for there not to be fire. Let's put it out before the nation gets burned.

Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Obama Is Jimmy Carter 2.0

By Bradley Blakeman

The evidence is mounting more than ever to suggest that President Obama is morphing into failed Democratic President Jimmy Carter.

The latest comparison was made by dour New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in her column on July 30. This is some of what she said:

"Democratic lawmakers worry that the Tea Party freshmen have already 'neutered' the president," as one told me. They fret that Obama is an inept negotiator. They worry that he should have been out in the country selling a concrete plan, rather than once more kowtowing to Republicans and, as with the stimulus plan, health care and Libya, leading from behind.

As one Democratic senator complained: 'The president veers between talking like a peevish professor and a scolding parent.' (Not to mention a jilted lover.) Another moaned: 'We are watching him turn into Jimmy Carter right before our eyes.'"

Dowd who once loved Obama is now souring on her liberal-media-created sensation and now she believes that the comparison of Obama to Carter is a valid one.

So what are the valid comparisons between the presidencies of Obama and Carter that allow for even a Democratic Senator to allege it?

Management Style

Carter: Ineffective. He was seen as a micro-manager who even had to decide who was allowed to play on the White House Tennis Court.

Obama: Ineffective. He is the ultimate delegator who likes being president but doesn't like the work. He rather sub-contract presidential leadership to Reid and Pelosi on health care and the vice President on spending and the economy and Secretary Clinton on foreign affairs.

Iranian Hostages

Carter: He was paralyzed by the Iranian Hostage Crisis where 52 Americans were held against their will for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, (the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president). During his presidency he was consumed by the crisis and in the end was powerless to end it.

Obama: He ran on a platform of apology to foreign enemy powers for past American "aggression" and pledged to usher in a new approach toward Iran that would bring better relations between the U.S. and Iran.

President Obama has failed to bring Iran around and in fact, today, two American hikers have been held hostage for over a year and a half by the Iranian government

Iran continues to crack down on its people and is accelerating their plans to build nuclear weapons. The country's leadership also continues to arm rebels in Iraq, Syria and other Middle East hot spots and destabilize the region.

Energy Crisis

Carter: In 1979 America faced an oil crisis in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. OPEC reduced production and as a result oil prices shot through the roof and supply was severely curtailed.

Carter, instead of taking on OPEC and demanding increased production, imposed rationing on gasoline, and home heating oil and placed tariffs on imported oil. America literally ran out of gas and what gas could be purchased was paid for at outrageous prices.

Obama: In the aftermath of his sluggish response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the Obama administration ceased drilling in the Gulf and set in place a moratorium on new offshore drilling. This action was being taken in spite on America's dependency on foreign oil. Gas prices have risen over 120 percent since Obama has taken office.

Economic Crises

Carter: Because of his failure to lead and his failed economic policies of government spending and indecision, the "misery index" ¬- unemployment plus inflation ¬- crested at 20 percent, the highest number since WWII. Add double-digit interest rates into the mix and you have "stagflation." Stagflation is defined as a situation in which the inflation rate is high and the growth rate is low. The result was high prices, high unemployment, low confidence, and low growth.

Obama: There is no doubt that Obama like Carter inherited a recession, however, it is equally apparent that both leaders made their situations much worse by their actions and inaction.

Obama, like Carter, went on a government-spending spree in response to the recession with little to show for it.

Obama promised that if his $800 billion stimulus were passed the national unemployment rate would not exceed 8 percent. Our country's unemployment rate has not dipped below 8% since Obama has been president and has spiked above 10% well after the stimulus was passed.

Instead of dealing with high unemployment, soaring energy prices, a record number home foreclosures, bankruptcies and record setting debt, Obama turned his attention to health care and started a third war in Libya.

The president caused the current self-inflicted crisis on the debt ceiling increase this summer by failing to lead well in advance of the deadline. He could have taken the recommendations of his bi-partisan commission as a starting point to lead on spending and deficit reduction over a year ago when their report was delivered to the White House.

Public Opinion

Carter: At the time of his re-election campaign his approval ratings was below 30% and a majority of Americans felt that America was on the wrong track.

Obama: Today the president's approval rating averages 42% and a majority of Americans believe we are on the wrong track.

The hallmark of the Carter years was the word "malaise." Malaise is defined as "a feeling of uneasiness, indisposition, and distress." All these symptoms existed during Carter's tenure and we can clearly see these same symptoms -- and some additional new ones -- manifesting themselves under Obama's tenure.

President Obama has governed at a time of America high unemployment, low GDP growth, inflation on the rise for consumer goods, falling housing prices, a stalled housing market, home foreclosures and bankruptcies at record levels, high gas prices, 3 wars, and a government that spends too much and takes in too little.

While "malaise" may have defined the Carter years perhaps the word "funk" best describes the the Obama years so far.

Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University.





 



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