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Monday, September 1, 2014

David Brooks, "The Revolt of the Weak": Indifference to the Next 9/11

David Brooks's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Revolt of the Weak" is an obscenity.

Lumping together Vladimir Putin's adventure in the Ukraine with the emergence of the Islamic State in what used to be Syria and Iraq, Brooks downplays the threat that both pose to our lives:

"We are not living in a moment of immediate concrete threat, but we are in a crisis of context.

The specific problems that make headlines right now are not cataclysmic. The venture by President Vladimir Putin of Russia into Ukraine, for all its thuggery, is not, in itself, a cataclysmic historical event. The civil war in Syria, for all its savagery, is not a problem that threatens the daily lives of those who live outside."

Brooks goes on to say that "These problems are medium-size" and constitute a "a revolt of the weak." Declaring that "Putin and ISIS are not threats to American national security" but rather "threats to our civilizational order," Brooks concludes:

"This summer, the bad guys have looked energetic while the good guys have looked tired. We’ll see at the NATO summit meeting in Wales this week if there’s a leader who can step outside the crush of events and explain how fundamental the threat to the rules of civilization now is."

Or stated otherwise, Obama can continue with his golf game. However, as far as I am concerned, Brooks is comparing apples with oranges, and the threat from the Islamic State is far greater than that described by Brooks.

As abhorrent as Putin's conduct may be, he is not threatening to take his war to the United States. His objectives are regional, which, of course, is not to say that this bully, who is testing Obama's tenacity, should not be opposed.

On the other hand, the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL, is indeed threatening to take its war to America. An August 9 ISIS tweet declared:

"We are in your state. We are in your cities. We are in your streets."

And then there was also the recent message to Americans:

"We will drown all of you in blood."

So what it really boils down to is whether you believe the threats being made by these radical Islamists are more than mere words. I do. I have witnessed firsthand the destruction and paralysis that can result from assymetric warfare, i.e. warfare waged by the "weak."

The Islamic State's jihadists are not stupid, they are not afraid to die, and it is only a matter of time until they bring down a skyscraper or an American commercial airliner. The effect on the American economy will be devastating.

So should Obama also ignore the next decapitation of a US citizen and continue with his vacations and Democratic Party fundraising efforts at the homes of the ultra-wealthy? As the first invertebrate ever to occupy the Oval Office would have us know, "The world has always been messy."

Or, should the president fire Chuck "Chowderhead" Hagel and John "Botox" Kerry, and assemble a war cabinet capable of preparing for the contingencies which could soon face the United States?

I know what I would do.

Shmuley Boteach, "The New York Times Censors Anti-ISIS Ad": Times Readers Mustn't See the Knife Used to Kill Foley

As reported in a Breitbart article entitled "The New York Times Censors Anti-ISIS Ad" by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, The New York Times refused to run an advertisement if it showed the knife used by the ISIS murderer to decapitate James Foley. Rabbi Boteach writes:

"Our organization, This World: The Values Network, was forced to remove the photograph and replace it with one without a knife in order to have the ad appear this Tuesday in The New York Times."

Apparently, sensitive Times readers must not be allowed to be visually reminded of the manner in which Foley was executed.

Rabbi Boteach goes on to say:

"Yet, the NYT's response was a lot better than The Los Angeles Times which demanded the removal of a second image that depicted Hamas terrorists standing alongside hooded alleged collaborators which they were about to execute."

On the other hand, on April 18, 2012 The Los Angeles Times published photos of American soldiers posing with the remains of Afghan suicide bombers.

Excuse me, but I think an explanation from the editors of The Los Angeles Times is certainly in order.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Stop Hiding Images of American Torture": Stop Hiding the Videotape of Obama Honoring Khalidi

In an editorial entitled "Stop Hiding Images of American Torture," The New York Times concludes:

"Images of war are frequently appalling, and the safety of American citizens and soldiers is vitally important. But the greatest threat to that safety lies not in the photographs of horrific behavior; it lies in the fact of the behavior itself. The treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was a shameful episode in U.S. history.

America reinforces its values and thus its security by being transparent about even the worst abuses of those values, not by hiding the evidence deep in a file drawer."

In response, I have two thoughts:

On April 18, 2012 The Los Angeles Times published photos of American soldiers posing with the remains of Afghan suicide bombers. On the other hand, The Los Angeles Times is keeping a 2003 videotape of Obama toasting Rashid Khalidi in a vault, not a "file drawer." Isn't it high time for The Los Angeles Times to release this videotape, which reveals the candid thoughts of America's commander-in-chief?

In addition, if The New York Times wishes to publish photographs of "horrific behavior" by American troops, perhaps they might first want to publish pictures of the decapitation of James Foley? Indeed the pictures of Foley's decapitation are horrifying beyond words, but perhaps they would go a long way toward placing Obama's golf game, minutes after his speech condemning Foley's execution, in perspective.

In fact, out of deference to Foley's family, I wouldn't want these pictures on the front page of The New York Times or any other newspaper. Some images are just too horrible to be exposed in this manner.

But does The New York Times truly seek transparency? Rubbish! They cannot acknowledge their own mistakes, and they are certainly not about to print anything that might besmirch their beloved president.

Friday, August 29, 2014

John Kerry, "To Defeat Terror, We Need the World’s Help": Indeed, "We Don't Have a Strategy Yet"

As reported earlier this week in a Time article entitled "Obama Says ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy Yet’ for Fighting ISIS" by Zeke Miller:

"President Barack Obama seemed to commit the worst of Washington gaffes Thursday when he updated the American people about the ongoing threat from Islamist militants wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.

'I don’t want to put the cart before the horse: we don’t have a strategy yet,' Obama said of the effort to combat the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in its safe haven in Syria. 'I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.'"

Or is Obama, already desperate to finish his second term and go back to writing books about himself, reluctant to put the cart before the "hearse" and not the "horse"?  It's not every day that the president of the world's sole superpower acknowledges that he is clueless as to how to handle the world's premier terrorist organization.

Well, not exactly clueless. How about just plain stupid? In July, the Obama administration inked an agreement to sell $11 billion of arms (including 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles) to Qatar, and as observed in a recent Daily Beast article by Josh Rogin entitled "America's Allies Are Funding ISIS" (my emphasis in red):

"But in the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime."

It would take a fool to believe that the anti-tank missiles being sold by the US to Qatar will not ultimately find their way into the hands of ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and Hamas.

My suggestion: Following his "we don't have a strategy yet" remark, maybe it would be best for Obama to disappear on another Martha's Vineyard golfing holiday.

But wait! None other than US Secretary of State John (Assad is "my dear friend") Kerry has resurfaced, after his failed Gaza mission, to save the president's butt! In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "To Defeat Terror, We Need the World’s Help," Kerry refers to the Islamic State "threat" or "threatened" five times (my emphasis again in red):

  • "In a polarized region and a complicated world, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria presents a unifying threat to a broad array of countries, including the United States."
  • "ISIS (which the United States government calls ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) poses a threat well beyond the region."
  • "Its leaders have repeatedly threatened the United States."
  • "Following the [Nato Summit meeting in Wales], Mr. Hagel and I plan to travel to the Middle East to develop more support for the coalition among the countries that are most directly threatened."
  • "During the General Assembly session, President Obama will lead a summit meeting of the Security Council to put forward a plan to deal with this collective threat."

Okay, I think we understand: ISIS poses a threat. But what is the United States planning to do about it? Simple! Kerry explains at the end of his opinion piece:

"ISIS’ abhorrent tactics are uniting and rallying neighbors with traditionally conflicting interests to support Iraq’s new government. And over time, this coalition can begin to address the underlying factors that fuel ISIS and other terrorist organizations with like-minded agendas.

Coalition building is hard work, but it is the best way to tackle a common enemy. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the first President George Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III did not act alone or in haste. They methodically assembled a coalition of countries whose concerted action brought a quick victory.

Extremists are defeated only when responsible nations and their peoples unite to oppose them."

Great, let's wait until the US is able to put a coalition together, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which have been funding, either directly or indirectly, ISIS on the sly.

Kerry's support for this new "strategy"? President George Bush's victory over Saddam Hussein. Of course, Kerry avoids any mention whatsoever of what happened in Libya three years ago. In 2011, Obama organized a five-nation coalition to cripple Qaddafi's defenses using airstrikes, and we all know what resulted from that intervention: chaos. As President Obama recently acknowledged to Thomas Friedman:

"I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you're going to do this."

The first invertebrate ever to occupy the Oval Office is now going to "come in full force" against ISIS? Get real! In fact, notwithstanding Kerry's attempt to paper over Obama's faux pas, there is still no US strategy vis-à-vis ISIS.

Go back to sleep, John.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

David Brooks, "The Mental Virtues": What About Anti-Semitism at The New York Times?

In his latest New York Times op-ed, "The Mental Virtues," David Brooks asks, "Is it possible to display and cultivate character if you are just an information age office jockey, alone with a memo or your computer?" Brooks's answer:

"Thinking well under a barrage of information may be a different sort of moral challenge than fighting well under a hail of bullets, but it’s a character challenge nonetheless."

Brooks next claims that we can "grade ourselves" on the "cerebral values" listed by a book entitled "Intellectual Virtues" by Robert C. Roberts of Baylor University and W. Jay Wood of Wheaton College. The values:

  • love of learning
  • courage
  • firmness
  • humility
  • autonomy
  • generosity

Brooks's conclusion:

"Character tests are pervasive even in modern everyday life. It’s possible to be heroic if you’re just sitting alone in your office. It just doesn’t make for a good movie."

Great news! I just can't wait to receive my virtual Congressional Medal of Honor in an email from Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama.

Meanwhile, wouldn't it be wonderful if even one op-ed writer at The New York Times would have the guts to confront the issue of anti-Semitism at The New York Times? As Dr. Phyllis Chesler recently wrote in an article entitled "Incitement to Genocide: How NY Times' Coverage and UN Complicity Breed Anti-Semitism":

"The twenty-first century coverage of Israel and Zionism in the paper of record far exceeds its twentieth century pattern of mere dismissal. In the last fourteen years—in the last year-- in article after article, photograph after photograph, and especially when Israel has been under attack, this paper has systematically put forth an Islamist and pro-Hamas agenda with malice aforethought. If not 'malice,' then the level of willful journalistic ignorance and blindness is hard to believe."

New York Times double standards involving Israel? As recently observed by CAMERA:

"We found that 6 out of 7 NYT editorials addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. Opinion columns by NYT staff followed the same pattern of condemning Israel: 5 out of 6 were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. As for invited Op-Eds on the topic, 15 out of 20 were negative toward Israel, while only one was positive."

More evidence of outrageous anti-Semitism at the Times? Have a look at "Roger Cohen, "A Jew Not Quite English Enough": What About Anti-Semitism at The New York Times?"

Mr. Brooks, I don't give a damn about any laundry list of "cerebral qualities" evidencing heroism. I'm merely waiting for you or any other Times writer to confront your newspaper with its incitement against Israel, which sparks racial hatred.

That would take courage.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Questions on Airstrikes in Syria": Do You Remember the Barbary Pirates?

A hypothetical question: Someone whom you don't know walks up to you and punches you in the nose. Do you then say to yourself, "I don't know this person well enough, and before doing anything rash, I need to know more," or do you respond with a haymaker?

Now consider how the US should respond to the beheading of James Foley.

In an editorial entitled "Questions on Airstrikes in Syria," The New York Times tackles this question by first observing:

"One problem is the administration’s insufficient knowledge about ISIS, including its numbers, skills and organization."

Or in other words, if someone walks up to you and punches you in the nose, i.e. beheads one of your citizens, before responding, you should return home and run a Google search on your attacker.

The Times editorial continues:

"The United States, however, has not been invited into Syria and the administration has not articulated a legal justification for crossing the border. Nor has Mr. Obama explained how Syria’s divided moderate anti-Assad opposition could be strengthened in time to fight against ISIS.

As in Iraq, military action alone is not enough to defeat the extremists who gain followers by exploiting repression against the Sunnis. American officials are organizing a coalition of allies to take on ISIS — for instance, Turkey and some Gulf states are permitting the use of their military bases for airstrikes and European countries are arming the Kurds.

But no comprehensive strategy has been worked out yet. And without that, it would be unwise to expand a mission that President Obama has acknowledged 'won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick.'"

Ah, now I understand: You're at your neighbor's Labor Day weekend barbecue, and someone whom you don't know walks up to you and punches you in the nose. Before responding, you should:

  1. Ask permission from your neighbor to respond;
  2. Put together a coalition of others at the party, who are willing to assist you;
  3. Work out a "comprehensive strategy" for retaliation.

Does this make sense to you? It makes even less sense given that Syria no longer exists as a country, i.e. there is no longer anyone to issue an "invitation." More to the point, does the US require an invitation from Syrian madman Bashar al-Assad before striking ISIS?

New York Times editorials are usually less interesting as regards their inane content, and more interesting as a snapshot of what Obama administration officials are thinking. This editorial is a telling reflection of "Lead from behind" and "Don't do stupid shit."

Do you remember the Barbary Pirates? Unless you studied history, probably not, inasmuch as they were before your time. Back in the 1790s, the Barbary Pirates were being bribed not to raid American shipping in the Mediterannean. But then in 1801, Thomas Jefferson got tired of paying tribute and sent American Naval hero Stephan Decatur and the fledgling US Marines to deal with the problem. Hence, the reference to the "shores of Tripoli" in the "Marine's Hymn."

Now, can you imagine Jefferson saying to himself, "Before dealing with these assaults upon American sovereignty, I must first learn more about these miscreants, ask for the assistance of France and Britain, and seek an invitation to attack"? I didn't think so.

Fortunately for America, Jefferson had bigger cojones than golf fanatic Barack Obama, whose world philosophy revolves around avoiding the rough.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "He Has a Dream": Outsourcing the Presidency

We live in an age of outsourcing. Corporations have discovered that it often makes sense, from the standpoint of cost and efficiency, to outsource various functions, e.g. manufacturing and research and development. This being the case, why not outsource the US presidency, which has grown expensive and "ineffective" (I'm being kind)?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "He Has a Dream," Maureen Dowd tells us that Obama has "deputized Al Sharpton" in order to deal with Ferguson. Highlighting past escapades of Sharpton, whom she labels "a self-promoting TV pundit with an incendiary record," Dowd concludes:

"Obama has muzzled himself on race and made Sharpton his chosen instrument — two men joined in pragmatism at a moment when idealism is needed.

We can’t expect the president to do everything. But we can expect him to do something."


But more to the point, what should we be expecting of Obama? He is an orator and a writer of books about himself. He still has no managerial experience.

His use of Sharpton? Why should we be surprised? Obama is a radical in moderate's clothing. There was Obama's association with Rashid Khalidi (the 2003 videotape of Obama and Khalidi is still safely locked away in a Los Angeles Times vault). And in March 2009, "activist" (I hate the word) Van Jones was forced to resign as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, but now, with just over two years remaining of his presidency, perhaps Obama feels that he can comfortably do whatever he wants without repercussions.

What should we expect of Obama in 2017 and thereafter? More golf and more books about himself for certain. In addition, Jimmy Carter, a dedicated Israel-hater who has grown decrepit with age, is desperately searching for a successor.

Yes, the world has turned foul.