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Monday, September 29, 2014

Roger Cohen, "Here There Is No Why": Which Is Worse, Stoning or Beheading?

Did you ever read a New York Times op-ed and want to vomit?

Describing the beheadings of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines by ISIS in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Here There Is No Why," subtitled "For ISIS, Slaughter Is an End in Itself," Roger Cohen tells us, "Presented with the counter-human, the human must fight back." So how can the US best fight back against ISIS? For Cohen, the answer is simple:

"In this fight, I would say, all means are good. The Soviet Union, an ideological rival, was a key ally of the United States in defeating Nazism. It is obvious which nation today can play that role against ISIS. Its name is Iran."

Perhaps you recall how, in 2009, Cohen sought to convince the readership of The New York Times that Iran is "not totalitarian." Ignoring the stoning to death of women in that country, the hangings of homosexuals by the mullahs, and the persecution and oppression of Baha'is, Kurds, Christians and Sunnis, Cohen continued with his harangue until he was smacked in the face with reality, i.e. the brutal suppression of Iran's Green Revolution.

Well, Iran continues to stone to death women alleged to have perpetrated adultery, and I would like to ask Cohen, which is worse, stoning or beheading? Cohen says that he watched the videos of the beheadings of Foley, Sotloff and Haines. Has he ever watched the stoning to death of a woman in Iran? The victim is buried alive up to her neck, and then she is pelted with rocks until dead.

Ashley Fantz wrote in a June 2013 CNN article entitled "Iran aims to keep stoning as punishment for adultery, rights group says":

"Stoning remains the way Iranians -- overwhelmingly women -- are punished for committing adultery, Human Rights Watch said Monday. The international group blasted a judicial council in Iraq, made up of 12 religious jurists, for inserting a stoning provision into a draft law where it had been previously removed.

Last November, security agents with the country's judiciary moved the bodies of four women who had been stoned to the Tehran medical examiner's office, according to reports on the Melli-Mazhabi site, which opposed Iran's government, the U.S. State Department says."

Iran should be the "key ally" of the United States in defeating ISIS? I don't think so.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jackson Diehl, "Obama cannot keep ignoring Bashar al-Assad": Khamenei Has Obama Over a Barrel

Observing in an important Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama cannot keep ignoring Bashar al-Assad" that "If the Islamic State is a cancer, Assad is the source tumor," Jackson Diehl explains why Obama refuses to strike the forces supporting Syria's monstrous president:

"Taking on Assad is hard: He’s proven he’s immune to diplomatic pressure, and military attacks would require a major escalation of the air campaign. Action against Assad would place the United States at odds not only with Iran and Russia, which so far are not obstructing the war against the Islamic State, but also with the Iraqi government, which continues to support the Damascus regime."

Diehl fails to note that the US is facing a November 24 deadline with Iran to reach an agreement curtailing Iran's nuclear weapons development program. If Obama were to attack those supporting Assad on the ground, including Iranian Revolutionary Guard fighters and Hezbollah forces sent by Khamenei from Lebanon, Obama's desperate effort to reach an agreement with Iran - currently going nowhere - would go down in flames.

Diehl explains the consequence of ignoring Assad:

"The problem is that ignoring Assad is likely to lead to even worse consequences. Already, the regime and its spokesmen are exulting in the U.S. bombing raids and doing their best to portray the United States as a de facto ally, while Syrians in rebel-held areas are demonstrating against the U.S. strikes because they are seen to be weakening the resistance to Assad."

Again, Obama cannot touch Assad without forfeiting an agreement on the nuclear issue with Iran. You will recall that Obama declared two years ago at the United Nations:

"Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. The United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

Remarkably, during his speech at the United Nations last week, Obama dropped all the threatening language when referring to Iran:

"America is pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, as part of our commitment to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and pursue the peace and security of a world without them. And this can only take place if Iran seizes this historic opportunity. My message to Iran’s leaders and people has been simple and consistent: Do not let this opportunity pass. We can reach a solution that meets your energy needs while assuring the world that your program is peaceful."

Yup, Khamenei has Obama over a barrel.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "From Pen and Phone to Bombs and Drones": Obama Makes the Case That ISIL Is Not Islamic

During the past month, we have repeatedly been told by President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry that the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, is not Islamic. More recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron also joined the chorus, declaring: "They are not Muslims, they are monsters."

Seven simple questions for Obama, Kerry and Cameron:

  • Are "honor killings" Islamic?
  • Is the stoning to death of women accused of adultery Islamic?
  • Is the hanging of homosexuals Islamic?
  • Is the murder of Christians Islamic?
  • Is the call to kill all Jews, found in Hamas's charter, Islamic?
  • Is the oppression of Kurds and Baha'is Islamic?
  • Is the execution of persons who convert to other religions Islamic?

If only one of these gentlemen would deign to answer.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "From Pen and Phone to Bombs and Drones," Maureen Dowd questions the morality of the "motley crew" of Arab nations dragged into Obama's war against the Islamic State. Dowd writes:

"THE president was at the United Nations on Wednesday urging young people across the Muslim world to reject benighted values, even as America clambers into bed with a bunch of Middle East potentates who espouse benighted values.

. . . .

As the U.S. woos the Arab coalition, Arab leaders are not speaking out against the atrocities of ISIS against women."

"Arab leaders are not speaking out against the atrocities of ISIS against women"? Why should we be surprised? While visiting Saudi Arabia in March 2010, Dowd reported in a Times opinion piece entitled "Loosey Goosey Saudi":

"The word progressive, of course, is highly relative when it comes to Saudi Arabia. (Wahhabism, anyone?) But after spending 10 days here, I can confirm that, at their own galactically glacial pace, they are chipping away at gender apartheid and cultural repression."

There was no mention by Dowd that in 2009 a Saudi woman was gang-raped and consequently sentenced to one year in prison plus 100 lashes. As reported at the time by the Saudi Gazette :

"A 23-year-old unmarried woman was awarded one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing adultery and trying to abort the resultant fetus.

The District Court in Jeddah pronounced the verdict on Saturday after the girl confessed that she had a forced sexual intercourse with a man who had offered her a ride. The man, the girl confessed, took her to a rest house, east of Jeddah, where he and four of friends assaulted her all night long.

The girl claimed that she became pregnant soon after and went to King Fahd Hospital for Armed Forces in an attempt to carry out an abortion. She was eight weeks’ pregnant then, the hospital confirmed."

There was also no mention by Dowd of twin honor killings that occurred not long before her visit:

"A Saudi women's group on Friday blamed the country's religious police in the 'honour' killing of two sisters shot dead by their own brother after they were arrested for mixing with unrelated men.

The Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia said the religious police had placed the sisters' lives in danger when they arrested them and then placed them in a Riyadh women's shelter.

The two women, identified as Reem, 21, and Nouf, 19, were murdered after they left the shelter on July 5.

The brother shot them in the presence of their father who, according to newspaper reports, quickly forgave the son for defending the family's honour."

But why single out Saudi Arabia? What about Pakistan? As we were informed in a June 29, 2014 CNN article entitled "Pakistani newlyweds decapitated by bride's family in honor killing" by Shelby Lin Erdman:

"A young newlywed couple in northeastern Pakistan died a horrible death at the hands of the bride's family in the latest honor killing in the nation, police in Pakistan said Saturday.

The couple, identified as Sajjad Ahmed, 26, and Muawia Bibi, 18, were married by a Pakistani court on June 18 against the wishes of the Bibi family, Punjab police official Mohammad Ahsanullah told CNN.

On Thursday, the bride's father and uncles lured the couple back to the village of Satrah in Punjab province, where Ahsanullah said the pair were tied up and then decapitated.

. . . .

According to the United Nations, some 5,000 women are murdered by family members in honor killings every year."

Afghanistan? As reported in a July 19, 2014 New York Times article entitled "Struggling to Keep Afghan Girl Safe After a Mullah Is Accused of Rape" by Rod Nordland:

"KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — It was bad enough that the alleged rape took place in the sanctity of a mosque, and that the accused man was a mullah who invoked the familiar defense that it had been consensual sex.

But the victim was only 10 years old. And there was more: The authorities said her family members openly planned to carry out an 'honor killing' in the case — against the young girl. The mullah offered to marry his victim instead.

This past week, the awful matter became even worse. On Tuesday, local policemen removed the girl from the shelter that had given her refuge and returned her to her family, despite complaints from women’s activists that she was likely to be killed."

Turkey? We were told by the BBC in a 2010 article entitled "Turkish girl 'buried alive' in family garden" by Jonathan Head:

"A Turkish teenager found dead in a hole next to her house was probably buried alive, a post-mortem examination has revealed.

Medine Memi, 16, was found in the hole in December. Large amounts of soil were in her lungs and stomach, according to a source who has seen the report.

Her father and grandfather have been arrested, but not charged.

So-called 'honour killings' take place every year in Turkey despite government moves to stamp out the practice."

Gaza and the West Bank? In a Washington Post article entitled "Honor killings rise in Palestinian territories, sparking backlash" by Anne-Marie O'Connor, we learn:

"AQQABA, West Bank — The news spread at dawn, and people in the village made their way to the olive tree where the bruised body of a young mother of six was hanging, her veil torn off. She had been killed in the name of honor.

. . . .

Here in this northern West Bank mountain town of breathtaking views, the relatives of Rasha Abu Arra, 32, who was killed in November after rumors spread that she had committed adultery, are adding their voices to an outcry against honor killings in the Palestinian territories.

. . . .

In recent years, other suspected victims have included a young Gazan mother of five who was bludgeoned to death by her father because he suspected she was using her cellphone to talk to a man. In September, a mentally disabled 21-year-old in the West Bank city of Hebron was allegedly killed by her mother after she was sexually assaulted. Another West Bank woman, who had divorced an abusive husband, allegedly was strangled by her father after being accused of 'disgraceful' acts in a petition that news reports said was signed by a legislator from the Islamist militant movement Hamas, which rules Gaza."

And let us not forget the stoning to death of women throughout the Muslim Middle East. As stated by The Independent in a 2013 article entitled "Special report: The punishment was death by stoning. The crime? Having a mobile phone" by Emma Batha:

"Two months ago, a young mother of two was stoned to death by her relatives on the order of a tribal court in Pakistan. Her crime: possession of a mobile phone.

Arifa Bibi's uncle, cousins and others hurled stones and bricks at her until she died, according to media reports. She was buried in a desert far from her village. It's unlikely anyone was arrested. Her case is not unique. Stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions. And campaigners fear this barbaric form of execution may be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq."

Particularly Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq? Why no mention of Iran? Ashley Fantz wrote in a June 2013 CNN article entitled "Iran aims to keep stoning as punishment for adultery, rights group says":

"Stoning remains the way Iranians -- overwhelmingly women -- are punished for committing adultery, Human Rights Watch said Monday. The international group blasted a judicial council in Iraq, made up of 12 religious jurists, for inserting a stoning provision into a draft law where it had been previously removed.

Last November, security agents with the country's judiciary moved the bodies of four women who had been stoned to the Tehran medical examiner's office, according to reports on the Melli-Mazhabi site, which opposed Iran's government, the U.S. State Department says."

You will recall that US Secretary of State John Kerry also sought to bring Iran into Obama's coaltion of the unwilling. This is the same Iran that has sent arms and Revolutionary Guard fighters to support Assad. This is the same Iran (together with Syria and Hezbollah) that was responsible for the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and injured another 250. This is the same Iran that hangs homosexuals, imprisons journalists and political opponents of the regime, and persecutes Kurds, Baha'is, Sunnis and Christians.

And lest we forget Egypt, 81 percent of the population believes that adulterers should be stoned to death.

Finally, what about Tunisia, the poster child of all that remains of the Arab Spring? Four months ago in a suburb of Tunis, a father burned to death his 13-year-old daughter for walking home with a boy from her school.

Obama would have us know that "No religion condones the killing of innocents." In a word: Bullshit!

Fifteen Civilians Killed in a Coalition Airstrike on Kfar Daryan: Double Standard?

The inevitable has happened: ISIS has embedded its forces in Syrian villages, and it is being claimed that 15 civilians were killed in a coalition airstrike on Kfar Daryan. Following Friday prayers, protests against the US were held in 40 Syrian towns and villages.

Why is State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki not asking that the US military do more to prevent civilian casualties? She demanded this of Israel during the recent IDF campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

And then there were also the recent coalition strikes on ISIS-controlled oil refineries in eastern Syria. Why isn't Psaki expressing concern over these attacks? You will recall that Psaki declared that "We’re deeply troubled by the humanitarian impact of reduced electricity in Gaza," after Gaza's power plant was hit during the war between Israel and Hamas. (We were told that the power plant was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, but we are now being told that the power plant is operational)

Obama adminstration double standards at work? You bet!

Obama, "ISIL Is Not Islamic": Are "Honor Killings" Also Not Islamic?

We have repeatedly been told by President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry that the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, is not Islamic. Prime Minister David Cameron has also joined in the chorus:

"They are not Muslims. They are monsters."

Seven simple questions for Obama, Kerry and Cameron:

  • Are "honor killings" Islamic?
  • Is the stoning to death of women accused of adultery Islamic?
  • Is the hanging of homosexuals Islamic?
  • Is the murder of Christians Islamic?
  • Is the call to kill all Jews, found in Hamas's charter, Islamic?
  • Is the oppression of Kurds and Baha'is Islamic?
  • Is the execution of persons who convert to other religions Islamic?
The list continues ad infinitum, but for now, let's leave it at that.

Gentlemen, I await your answers.

Friday, September 26, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Impasse Over Iran’s Nuclear Program": What a Surprise!

In an editorial entitled "Impasse Over Iran’s Nuclear Program," The New York Times informs us that negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 over Iran's nuclear program have reached a "logjam." Although the Times take the position that "The fault lies mainly with Iran," its editorial board also makes certain to blame Israel:

"The biggest stumbling block has been and remains how much enriched uranium Iran would be allowed to continue producing. Israel and its hard-line allies in Congress want to end the enriched uranium program altogether. Mr. Obama and the other big powers have said that Iran can keep a limited program for research purposes."

Why would Israel "want to end the enriched uranium program altogether"? Needless to say, the Times doesn't mention Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's July 24, 2014 declaration that "The only rem­edy is the destruc­tion of Israel."

Acknowledging that Iran's refusal "to budge on the centrifuges invites doubts about its claims to not want a nuclear weapon," the Times editorial naively concludes:

"Now Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, must decide if he has the courage to defy the forces in his country who will always see America as an enemy and let his negotiators bring a deal to a close. That would allow sanctions to be lifted and unfetter Iran to grow economically, shed its diplomatic isolation and, ideally, become a more constructive participant in regional affairs."

Yeah, right. Given the effective dismantling by the Obama administration of the sanctions regime in order to extend negotiations until November 24, Kerry's request that Iran join the coalition fighting ISIS, and Iran's recent joint naval exercises with China, Khamenei is feeling no pressure whatsoever to reach a deal.

Iran's first nuclear weapon? It's only a matter of time, unless Israel decides to act on its own.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Charles Krauthammer, "Our real Syria strategy — containment-plus": No Mention of Syria's Kurds

In his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Our real Syria strategy — containment-plus," Charles Krauthammer praises Obama's strategy against ISIS and then declares:

"The strategy will not destroy the Islamic State. It’s more containment-plus: Expel the Islamic State from Iraq, contain it in Syria. Because you can’t win from the air. In Iraq, we have potential ground allies. In Syria, we don’t."

I have enormous respect for Charles Krauthammer; however, here he is mistaken.

Syria's Kurds comprise some ten percent of the country's population, and long persecuted by the Assad regime, they would be natural American allies on the ground. However, so as not to annoy Turkey, which has been reluctant to join Obama's coalition of the unwilling, the Obama administration is doing almost nothing to assist Syria's Kurdish minority from the ISIS onslaught.

Currently, Syrian Kurds in the strategic town of Kobane on the Turkish border are desperately attempting to repel an ISIS attack. Support from the Obama coalition? There have been air strikes some twenty miles away, but they have done nothing to dislodge Islamic State forces which are besieging the town.

Ultimately, the Middle East's 30 million stateless Kurds, living in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, will have their own country. When will America wise up to this fact? Certainly no time soon, notwithstanding the longstanding friendly relationship between the Kurds in northern Iraq and the American military.

Fareed Zakaria, "The fight against the Islamic State must include Iran": Use a Terrorist Nation to Fight a Terrorist Organization

Yes, plagiarist Fareed Zakaria is still writing for The Washington Post and Time. Journalistic ethics in the 21st Century? Who gives a rat's arse?

More troublesome, however, is Zakaria's latest WaPo opinion piece entitled "The fight against the Islamic State must include Iran." Zakaria's conclusion:

"In Syria, Washington’s strategy is incoherent. It seeks to destroy the Islamic State there and attack Jabhat al-Nusra and the Khorasan group but somehow not strengthen these groups’ principal rival, the Bashar al-Assad regime. This is impossible. As these terrorist groups lose ground, the army that will most easily take advantage will be that of the Syrian regime, not the disorganized and weak Free Syrian Army. If there is some way to make this strategy less contradictory, it would be to work toward some power-sharing deal in Syria that includes elements of the Assad government — such as generals and intelligence heads. But Washington has no contact or credibility with anyone in the Assad regime. The government that does is in Tehran."

No mention by Zakaria of the fact that Iran has sent arms and Revolutionary Guard fighters to support Assad. This is the same Iran (together with Syria and Hezbollah) that was responsible for the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and injured another 250. This is the same Iran that hangs homosexuals, stones to death women, and persecutes Kurds, Baha'is, Sunnis and Christians.

This is also the same Iran that is busy building its first atomic bomb.

Zakaria doesn't tell us whether Saudi Arabia and the UAE will remain in Obama's coalition of the unwilling if Iran is recruited by Obama and Kerry.

Partner with the fanatical mullahs of Iran to fight a monstrous ISIS? I don't think so.

David Brooks, "The Good Order": Why the United States Must Be the World's Policeman

In his latest, and perhaps worst ever, New York Times op-ed entitled "The Good Order," subtitled "Routine, Creativity and President Obama’s U.N. Speech," David Brooks describes the need for "order." Who requires order, according to Brooks? Simple:

  • "[C]reative people organize their lives according to repetitive, disciplined routines."
  • "Children need emotional and physical order."
  • "Communities need order."
  • "The world needs order."

This being the case according to Brooks, "The United States is obligated to organize coalitions to impose rule of law — to beat back the wolves and maintain that order."

Telling us that Obama gave one of "the finest speeches of his presidency" at the United Nations last week, Brooks concludes:

"[T]he larger point is that the order of global civilization, like the order in a poet’s mind, is something that has to be fought and imposed every day. The best life is a series of daring excursions from a secure and orderly base."

Or in other words, the United States needs to be the world's policeman for the sake of "global civilization." Sorry, but I'm not in the market for horse manure.

Although observing the need to defend "the world order against enemies like ISIS and Putin," Brooks doesn't bother to consider how war waged only against ISIS also benefits Syria's monstrous president, Bashar al-Assad. Wasn't Assad's use of chemical weapons against civilians also an affront against world order?

Mind you, I don't oppose the use of force against ISIS, but as far as I'm concerned, the use of force has absolutely nothing to do with "the order in a poet's mind" or children's need for "emotional and physical order." My world view is simpler: Any organization that ruthlessly murders American citizens, threatens terror attacks against American cities, and perpetrates genocidal acts against innocent civilians is going to feel the wrath and power of the world's only superpower.

And as long as we're on the topic of Obama's "finest speech," Brooks fails to mention how the president declared that "the violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace." On the other hand, there was no call from Obama for the Palestinians to forgo terrorism, i.e., to stop firing thousands of rockets into Israel and murdering teenagers.

Brooks writes, "We'll see what action comes behind the words." Indeed, let's see if Obama's poll-driven resolve to confront ISIS extends beyond America's midterm elections.

Why do I have my doubts?

Is the United States Coordinating Attacks on ISIS with Assad and Khamenei?

On Tuesday, deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, informed reporters on Air Force One that American air strikes against ISIS are not being coordinated with Syrian president (and mass murderer) Assad:

"First of all, the President obviously declared publicly our intention to take military action in Syria. Subsequent to that, there was a direct contact to the Syrian regime to notify them of the fact that we would take direct action. That was undertaken at the United Nations by Samantha Power to the Syrian Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

I want to be very clear, though, that we did not coordinate with them, we did not provide them advance notice of the timing or of targets that the U.S. was going to strike. In fact, we warned them to not pose a threat to our aircraft. And again, going forward, there is no plan to have any coordination whatsoever with the Assad regime. Again, this was simply consistent with what the President had said -- a notification that we would be taking this action; frankly, a warning to not pose a risk to our aircraft. And it was in no way an effort to coordinate or provide specific information about the types of targets or timing of targets that we would hit."

Also on Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declared:

"We did not request the regime’s permission. We did not coordinate our actions with the Syrian government."

However, as reported by Reuters on Tuesday in an article entitled "Exclusive: U.S. told Iran of intent to strike Islamic State in Syria - source" by Parisa Hafezi, Louis Charbonneau and Arshad Mohammed:

"The United States informed Iran in advance of its intention to strike Islamic State militants in Syria and assured Tehran that it would not target the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

. . . .

Iranian officials told Reuters privately that Iran already was cooperating with Washington in the fight against the jihadist rebels."

Is the Obama administration also claiming that it is not coordinating its attacks on ISIS with Iran? Both Rhodes and Psaki did not mention Iran in their denials. But as known to all, the Assad regime in what is left of Syria is a proxy of Iran.

The US is not coordinating its attacks on ISIS with Assad? Why does this sound familiar to Kerry's denial that the US is at war with ISIS, which was followed by Kerry's admission three days later that the US is at war with ISIS?

Is this all just a matter of wordplay and semantics for the Obama administration to avoid embarrassing acknowledgements of fact? Is this a precursor to the Obama administration turning a blind eye to Iran's nuclear weapons development program?

Equally important, as even observed by a New York Times editorial entitled "Wrong Turn on Syria: Helping Assad?," "direct coordination is a moot point if the attacks solidify Mr. Assad’s grip on power."

Meanwhile, to avoid trouble with Turkey, the Obama administration is doing almost nothing to assist Syria's Kurdish minority from the ISIS onslaught.

We'll have to wait and see if US bombing runs extend beyond American midterm elections in less than a month and a half.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Obama Lectures Israeli on Peace at UN

Speaking today at the United Nations, President Obama took it upon himself to lecture Israelis on the "hard work" necessary to achieve peace:

"[T]he the violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace. But let’s be clear: the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza is not sustainable."

Oh, those lazy Israelis who refuse to work for peace!

Well, the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza might not be sustainable (both the US federal deficit and the situation on America's border with Mexico are also not sustainable), but somehow Obama failed to mention that yesterday, some 3,000 Palestinians, many of them waving Hamas flags, participated in the funeral honoring the two Palestinian terrorists who killed the three Israeli teenagers in June.

Where were Obama's demands at the UN that Palestinians forgo terrorism?

Come 2017, we can expect Obama to pick up Jimmy Carter's mantle.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "ISIS Crisis": I'm a Poet and I Didn't Even Know It

In a prior New York Times op-ed entitled "ISIS and SISI," we learned from would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman that ISIS spelled backwards is Sisi (the name of Egypt's president). Today, the title of Friedman's New York Times op-ed, "ISIS Crisis," draws to our attention the ineluctable truth that ISIS rhymes with crisis. Wow!

But wait! There's yet another hilarious word game in the first paragraph of Tom's latest opinion piece:

"There is a tension at the heart of President Obama’s strategy to confront the Islamic State, and it explains a lot about why he has so much trouble articulating and implementing his strategy. Quite simply, it is the tension between two vital goals — promoting the 'soul-searching' that ISIS’s emergence has triggered in the Arab-Muslim world and 'searching and destroying' ISIS in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq."

Did you catch it? "Soul searching" and "searching and destroying." President Obama, are you paying attention to Friedman's erudition?

After quoting at length from three different Arab writers to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Arab world is engaged in serious "soul searching," Friedman asks why Turkey and the various Arab regimes are not providing the US with more support in its limited war from the air against ISIS:

"After all, this is a civil war for the future of both Sunni Islam and the Arab world. We can degrade ISIS from the air — I’m glad we have hit these ISIS psychopaths in Syria — but only Arabs and Turks can destroy ISIS on the ground. Right now, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stands for authoritarianism, press intimidation, crony capitalism and quiet support for Islamists, including ISIS. He won’t even let us use our base in Turkey to degrade ISIS from the air. What’s in his soul? What’s in the soul of the Arab regimes who are ready to join us in bombing ISIS in Syria, but rule out ground troops?"

What's in their souls? Let me answer that question for you, Tom. Many Sunni Muslims regard Shiite Muslims as heretics, and notwithstanding the beheadings and other brutish behavior, they are not altogether displeased that ISIS is currently at the forefront of this war of succession following the death of Mohammad 1,382 years ago.

Erdogan, one of Obama's five best international friends? With friends like Erdogan, who needs enemies? Maybe, by the time he leaves the Oval Office in another two years and four months (yes, I'm counting), Obama will have learned as much.

A ceasefire anytime soon to this millennium-long struggle between Sunnis and Shiites? Actually, little chance that anyone can interfere with this dance.

Monday, September 22, 2014

David Brooks, "Snap Out of It": What About "The Murder of Klinghoffer"?

Over the course of recent weeks, we have witnessed an effusion of pseudo-philosophical trash by David Brooks on the op-ed page of the New York Times. The titles of some of these opinion pieces: "Startling Adult Friendships," "The Mental Virtues" and "Introspective or Narcissistic?." Today, however, Brooks's Times op-ed entitled "Snap Out of It," describing the wonders of New York City, takes the cake. Brooks writes:

"I’ve been living in and visiting New York for almost a half-century now. One thought occurs as I walk around these days: The city has never been better.

There has never been a time when there were so many interesting places to visit, shop and eat, when the rivers and the parks were so beautiful, when there were so many vibrant neighborhoods across all boroughs, with immigrants and hipsters and new businesses and experimental schools."

Regarding American cities and suburbs in general, Brooks continues:

"Of course there are the problems of inequality and poverty that we all know about, but there hasn’t been a time in American history when so many global cultures percolated in the mainstream, when there was so much tolerance for diverse ethnicities, lifestyles and the complex directions of the heart, when there was so little tolerance for disorder, domestic violence and prejudice."

And according to Brooks, the world has never been a better place:

"Widening the lens, we’re living in an era with the greatest reduction in global poverty ever — across Asia and Africa. We’re seeing a decline in civil wars and warfare generally."

Given this rosy outlook, it is no wonder that Brooks doesn't deign touch on yesterday's protest against the staging of "The Murder of Klinghoffer" by New York City's Metropolitan Opera. The opera depicts the 1985 murder of Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old American Jew, confined to a wheelchair by a stroke, who was shot by Palestinian terrorists while celebrating his 36th wedding anniversary aboard the Italian cruise ship "The Achille Lauro." Mr. Klinghoffer's body and his wheelchair were thrown into the Mediterranean by the terrorists.

In an editorial on Friday entitled "The Met Opera Stands Firm," subtitled "‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ Must Go On," The New York Times went on record as saying:

"Music critics and opera lovers have found the opera, by John Adams, moving and nuanced in imagining a tragedy that gives voice to all sides, from the ruthless and aggrieved terrorists to Mr. Klinghoffer, an innocent Jewish-American who makes some of the opera’s most powerful points in denouncing violence as a political tool."

Ah yes, a "nuanced" opera giving "voice to all sides" regarding a grizzly murder. I understand that next season the Metropolitan Opera will be staging "The Deaths of Foley and Sotloff," so as to provide operagoers with a "nuanced" view of the decapitation of these journalists by ISIS, so as "to give voice to all sides."

Judea Pearl, the father of the American journalist Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and decapitated in Pakistan in 2002, has responded to the Times editorial in admirably restrained words:

"In joining protesters of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of “The Death of Klinghoffer,” I echo the silenced voice of our son, Daniel Pearl, and the silenced voices of other victims of terror who were murdered, maimed or left heartbroken by the new menace of our generation, a savagery that the Met has decided to elevate to a normative, two-sided status worthy of artistic expression.

We are told that the composer tried to understand the hijackers, their motivations and their grievances.

I submit that there has never been a crime in human history lacking grievance and motivation. The 9/11 lunatics had profound motivations, and the murderers of our son, Daniel Pearl, had very compelling 'grievances.'

. . . .

What we are seeing in New York is not an artistic expression that challenges the limits of morality but a moral deformity that challenges the limits of the art.

This opera is not about the mentality of deranged terrorists, but about the judgment of our arts directors. The Metropolitan Opera has squandered humanity’s greatest treasure: our moral compass, our sense of right and wrong, and, most sadly, our reverence for music as a noble expression of the human spirit.

We might someday be able to forgive the Met for decriminalizing brutality, but we will never forgive it for poisoning our music, for turning our best violins and our iconic concert halls into megaphones for excusing evil."

Thank you, Mr. Pearl.

Of course, The New York Times is not finished demeaning those who are protesting this grotesquerie. In an article in today's Times entitled "At Met’s Opening Night, Protesting a Production," Michael Cooper informs us:

"On Monday morning, Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, in the Bronx, led a small group in prayers for Mr. Klinghoffer on Monday morning in a small park across from Lincoln Center. He said that he 'absolutely' hoped that the Met would cancel the production. Like many opponents, he said he had not heard 'Klinghoffer': 'I’ve not seen it, but I’ve heard enough about it and I don’t want to see it, frankly.'"

Or in other words, if you haven't seen it, you can't judge it. Fascinating. I suppose those of us who have not read "Mein Kampf" from cover to cover cannot judge its "merits."

Yes indeed, as David Brooks would have us know, it's just a wonderful, wonderful world.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Paul Krugman, "Those Lazy Jobless": Don't Use the "O" Word!

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Those Lazy Jobless," Paul Krugman tells us that the job market has "improved lately," but has not recovered from the recession. Observing "the urge to blame the victims of a depressed economy," Krugman asks:

"Why is there so much animus against the unemployed, such a strong conviction that they’re getting away with something, at a time when they’re actually being treated with unprecedented harshness?"

Krugman proceeds to answer his own question. After considering whether it is because of "race," Krugman concludes:

"My guess, however, is that it’s mainly about the closed information loop of the modern right. In a nation where the Republican base gets what it thinks are facts from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, where the party’s elite gets what it imagines to be policy analysis from the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation, the right lives in its own intellectual universe, aware of neither the reality of unemployment nor what life is like for the jobless."

Got it: Republicans, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation are all to blame.

Me? There is still horrifying unemployment out there - try to get a job if you're over 50 - and I don't blame the victims. However, I do question how Krugman can write an op-ed concerning unemployment without once mentioning the name of the president after almost six years in office.

Yes, I know, we're nearing the midterm elections, and when discussing America's lame economy, one must never use the "O" word.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ross Douthat, "Grand Illusion in Syria": Or Grand Illusion in Obama's White House?

Why can't America's message to ISIS be simple: "If you threaten me or murder my citizens in cold blood, I'm going to destroy you!" The mission should not entail building a risible coalition of antipathetic allies or creating a credible Arab army intended to go toe-to-toe with the Islamic State's monsters on the ground. Meanwhile, however, ISIS is hearing a different message: "If you threaten me or murder my citizens in cold blood, I am going to slowly round up some reluctant friends, but meanwhile, pardon me as I play another round of golf."

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Grand Illusion in Syria," Ross Douthat declares:

"Either the American military will have to intervene in force (including with substantial ground troops) or we’ll have to ally, in a very un-American display of machtpolitik, with Bashar al-Assad. Both options may have supporters within the Republican Party. Many hawks seem ready to send in ground forces, and John McCain has explicitly argued that we should be willing to go to war with both Assad and the Islamists at once. From Rand Paul, meanwhile, you hear what sounds like a version of the ally-with-Assad approach, albeit couched in somewhat ambiguous terms.

The White House would clearly prefer not to choose either path, either escalation. But its current approach seems likely to drift more in McCain’s direction, with a gradual ramping-up (today bombing, tomorrow special forces, the next day ... ?) in Syria that makes a clash with Assad and a multifront war steadily more plausible."

Rubbish! First, America already has friends on the ground willing to fight ISIS: some 30 million stateless Kurds, living in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. If the US was to assist the Kurds with coordinated air strikes, they would set the forces of ISIS reeling. On the other hand, this would be sure to displease Turkey, whose persecuted Kurdish minority (some 25 percent of Turkey's population) has long been seeking some measure of autonomy. In addition, the Turks apparently have a tacit agreement in place with ISIS, which enabled Ankara to obtain the release on Saturday of 49 Turkish hostages without a single beheading.

The White House is "likely to drift more in McCain's direction," or as Douthat describes it, toward "war with both Assad and the Islamists at once"? If so, why did John (Assad is "my dear friend") Kerry declare on Friday, "There is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran"? Think about it: This is the same Iran that has sent arms and Revolutionary Guard fighters to support Assad. This is the same Iran (together with Syria and Hezbollah) that was responsible for the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and injured another 250. This is the same Iran that hangs homosexuals, stones to death women, and persecutes Kurds, Baha'is, Sunnis and Christians.

Iran is the partner that the Obama administration so desperately wants in its coalition? Unfortunately for Kerry, Iran's purportedly "moderate" president, Hassan Rouhani, has denounced the coalition as "ridiculous."

America's president still doesn't have a strategy to combat ISIS, and he appears willing to do anything, no matter how detached from reality or devoid of substance, to boost his approval ratings.

January 20, 2017 cannot come soon enough for Obama.

Maureen Dowd, "Two Redheaded Strangers ": All You Never Wanted to Know About Eating Marijuana

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Two Redheaded Strangers," subtitled "Willie Nelson Feels Maureen Dowd’s Pain," Dowd describes a visit with 81-year-old Willie Nelson, which apparently was devoted to a discussion of how to use marijuana. Nelson told Dowd that he doesn't "do edibles." Fascinating.

Perhaps of more interest to me, Dowd concludes her opinion piece by observing:

"Given all the horrors in the world now, I said, maybe President Obama needs to chill out by reuniting the Choom Gang."

Given all the horrors in the world now, I say, maybe President Obama needs to do the United States a favor by replacing Biden, Kerry, Hagel and Holder with the Choom Gang.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

David Brooks, "Startling Adult Friendships": Do You Want to Go to Friendship Camp?

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

- Groucho Marx


Care to spend next summer in a David Brooks friendship camp? I kid you not!

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Startling Adult Friendships," subtitled "There Are Social and Political Benefits to Having Friends," David Brooks contemplates "what I would do if I had $500 million to give away." Observing that friendships give rise to better judgment, better versions of ourselves and better behavior, Brooks "envision[s] a string of adult camps or retreat centers (my oldest friendships were formed at summer camp, so I think in those terms)." He concludes by explaining:

"The goal of these intensity retreats would be to spark bonds between disparate individuals who, in the outside world, would be completely unlikely to know each other. The benefits of that social bridging, while unplannable, would ripple out in ways long and far-reaching."

Great idea! Let's send President Obama to a friendship summer camp together with a member of the Tea Party and a knife-wielding ISIS killer. I wonder who would walk away sane? More to the point, who would walk away with his head?

Thanks, but I think I'll just read a book with (not inside) Arnold.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dana Milbank, "Trey Gowdy’s unexpected Benghazi twist": Who Cares If Documents Were Culled by Clinton Loyalists?

In his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Trey Gowdy’s unexpected Benghazi twist," Dana Milbank praises Republican Congressman Gowdy for the manner in which he chaired the first public hearing of the House’s new Benghazi select committee on Wednesday:

"There was no discussion of talking points or stand-down orders, and only one of the seven Republicans on the panel — Jim Jordan of Ohio — even mentioned Clinton. Instead, Gowdy adopted as the theme of his first hearing an idea suggested by one of the committee’s Democrats, Adam Schiff of California: How well the State Department has been implementing recommendations to prevent future attacks on U.S. diplomats like the one in Libya two years ago that killed four Americans.

This is exactly what congressional oversight should be: a bipartisan effort by legislators to make sure executive-branch officials don’t repeat past mistakes."

"This is exactly what congressional oversight should be"? Oh really? On Monday, over at The Daily Signal, Sharyl Attkisson wrote in an opinion piece entitled "Benghazi Bombshell: Clinton State Department Official Reveals Details of Alleged Document Review":

"As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to 'separate' damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story."

Although this could prove "untidy" for Dana Milbank, Mr. Maxwell's story demands a thorough examination by the select committee, extending far beyond "a bipartisan effort by legislators to make sure executive-branch officials don’t repeat past mistakes." At issue is the mere integrity of American democracy.

James Bamford, "Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal": The New York Times Continues to Wage War Against Israel

So, you're interested in having a guest opinion piece published in The New York Times? Unless you're Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin or Henry Kissinger, it's not an easy thing to do. On the other hand, if you write an opinion piece - no matter how vapid or inane - excoriating Israel, you're chances of being published improve immeasurably.

In a fatuous guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel’s N.S.A. Scandal," James Bamford tells us how he "had the rare opportunity to hang out for three days with Edward J. Snowden" in Moscow this past summer. And apparently during the time that Bamford "hung out" with this American traitor, he was told that "the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200." Bamford informs us:

"Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. 'I think that’s amazing,' he told me. 'It’s one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen.'

It appears that Mr. Snowden’s fears were warranted. Last week, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 — many still serving in the reserves — accused the organization of startling abuses. In a letter to their commanders, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, they charged that Israel used information collected against innocent Palestinians for 'political persecution.' In testimonies and interviews given to the media, they specified that data were gathered on Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society."

Oh my goodness, the NSA passes communications from Palestinians to Israeli intelligence. Apparently unbeknownst to Bamford, Israel also shares intelligence with the United States. That's what friendly intel agencies do. (Would Bamford have us believe that the US doesn't share such information with the UK's MI6?)

A violation of privacy? No question about it. However, as Bamford is surely aware, every time you make an overseas call, your conversation is recorded. Say a "magic" word, and your conversation gets "special attention." That's the price we pay in order to attempt to avoid another 9/11. Sure, it's a nasty trade-off, but I personally prefer not to see another 2,600 people incinerated in a skyscraper, and I am willing to sacrifice much of my personal privacy to ensure that this does not happen again.

The Mossad and the Shin Bet make use of information concerning sexual orientations, infidelities and money problems to coerce people into becoming collaborators? Tell me, are there espionage organizations which don't do this?

And if Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the US, is raising money in the US to fund its terror activities, is this of no interest to Israel and the US?

Okay, 43 reservists and former reservists from Unit 8200, from among the thousands of Israelis who have served in this unit, published a letter criticizing Israeli intelligence gathering efforts. Am I supposed to be shocked? Doesn't this speak volumes about the tolerant nature of Israeli society, which allows citizens from a broad spectrum of political views to express their views without fear of imprisonment or corporal punishment? And are we to understand that the thousands of other Israelis who served in Unit 8200 didn't sign the letter because they are stupider than these 43 persons or less moral?

Bamford concludes his opinion piece by observing how Snowden informed him:

"It’s much like how the F.B.I. tried to use Martin Luther King’s infidelity to talk him into killing himself . . . We said those kinds of things were inappropriate back in the ’60s. Why are we doing that now? Why are we getting involved in this again?"

It never occurs to Bamford that unlike Hamas, Martin Luthor King never encouraged suicide bombings, indiscriminately fired thousands of missiles at Israeli population centers, or called for the murder of all Jews.

Only The New York Times would stoop so low as to publish this offensive tripe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Take a Deep Breath": What If Friedman Was Decapitated by ISIS?

What if it had been Obama's friend Thomas Friedman, and not James Foley, who had been captured by ISIS? Do you think Obama would have delayed a rescue mission? And if it had been Friedman who had been decapitated by ISIS in August, do you think Obama would have been on a Martha's Vineyard golf course within 20 minutes of delivering a speech deploring Tom's grizzly death?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Take a Deep Breath," subtitled "ISIS and the Arab World," would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman tells us that "an existential struggle" is taking place in the Arab world today" and asks "is it ours or is it theirs?" Questioning whether American needs to escalate its war against ISIS, Friedman goes on to say:

"What concerns me most about President Obama’s decision to re-engage in Iraq is that it feels as if it’s being done in response to some deliberately exaggerated fears — fear engendered by YouTube videos of the beheadings of two U.S. journalists — and fear that ISIS, a.k.a., the Islamic State, is coming to a mall near you. How did we start getting so afraid again so fast? Didn’t we build a Department of Homeland Security?"

Well, I don't know about a "mall near you," but these bastards are not stupid (they have Friedman writing about them twice a week), and notwithstanding Friedman's apathy, it is only a matter of time until they attempt a terror attack against the US. Place you faith in Homeland Security to deter such a disaster? I will let you answer that question yourselves.

But more to the point, when ISIS leaves behind it a trail of heads detached from their bodies and surrounds thousands of Yazidis on a mountaintop, are there no humanitarian concerns that should drive US foreign policy? Whatever happened to United Stated Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who once-upon-a-time wrote a book entitled "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide"?

And when our Kurdish allies are almost overrun by these monsters, do we turn a blind eye? After all, Friedman would have us know that it is their problem and not ours.

Now try to reconcile Friedman's column of today's date with his February 2003 New York Times op-ed entitled "Tell The Truth," in which he wrote:

"Saddam does not threaten us today. He can be deterred. Taking him out is a war of choice -- but it's a legitimate choice. It's because he is undermining the U.N., it's because if left alone he will seek weapons that will threaten all his neighbors, it's because you believe the people of Iraq deserve to be liberated from his tyranny, and it's because you intend to help Iraqis create a progressive state that could stimulate reform in the Arab/Muslim world, so that this region won't keep churning out angry young people who are attracted to radical Islam and are the real weapons of mass destruction."

So, destroying the balance of power between the Sunni and Shiites just over a decade ago was justified by the need to "stimulate reform in the Arab/Muslim world, so that this region won't keep churning out angry young people who are attracted to radical Islam." Needless to say, the inane Iraq war and its aftermath cost the United States the lives of thousands of soldiers and trillions of dollars. Has the Muslim world stopped "churning out angry young people"? No way, Jose.

Now, however, when ISIS is brazenly killing thousands of innocent civilians, grotesquely executing American citizens and overtly threatening the American homeland, Friedman would have America reconsider armed intervention. Maybe Friedman would care to try his hand at explaining away the contradiction.

Most frightening, Obama actually listens to this nincompoop.

Haaretz, "Bill Clinton strays from Hillary’s Israel script and knocks Netanyahu": DON'T VOTE FOR HILLARY!

In a Haaretz article entitled "Bill Clinton strays from Hillary’s Israel script and knocks Netanyahu," Chemi Shalev informs us that Bill Clinton, joining his wife at the Harkin Steak Fry in Iowa on Sunday, agreed with a pro-Palestinian activist that "If we don’t force him [Netanyahu] to have peace, we won’t have peace."

You don't believe it? See the video: http://freebeacon.com/politics/bill-clinton-netanyahu-not-the-guy-for-peace/

It wasn't enough that Obama attempted to compel Netanyahu to accept Qatari and Turkish mediation during the latest round of fighting with Hamas. Now, it is obvious what Hillary intends to force upon Israel if she should succeed Obama as president.

Some time in the not too distant future, Israel will be fighting another war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The last thing Israel needs is another president prepared to cut off arms shipments when hostilities begin in order to obtain the concessions she desires.

Please, anyone other than Hillary . . .

Monday, September 15, 2014

David Brooks, "Goodbye, Organization Man": ISIS, Yes; Ebola, Not yet

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Goodbye, Organization Man," David Brooks segues from the repetitive need to cobble together coalitions to fight "jihadism," to periodic unpreparedness to combat epidemics such as the current Ebola crisis, to "general institutional decay." Brooks describes what he perceives to be the root of this problem:

"Now nobody wants to be an Organization Man. We like start-ups, disrupters and rebels. Creativity is honored more than the administrative execution. Post-Internet, many people assume that big problems can be solved by swarms of small, loosely networked nonprofits and social entrepreneurs. Big hierarchical organizations are dinosaurs.

. . . .

When the boring tasks of governance are not performed, infrastructures don’t get built. Then, when epidemics strike, people die."

"Nobody wants to be an Organization Man"? Get real, David. Unemployment is still high in both the US and Europe, and many people would give their eye teeth to be employed by the World Health Organization, which employs more than 7,000 people, including "medical doctors, public health specialists, scientists and epidemiologists," as well as "people trained to manage administrative, financial, and information systems, as well as experts in the fields of health statistics, economics and emergency relief. "

Sure, in 2011 the WHO was forced to cut its annual budget by almost $1 billion, but this seems to have mainly affected administration and management staff at its Geneva headquarters, as well as travel and publications.

Sure, working at WHO does not confer rock star status upon its employees. On the other hand, there are very few rock stars in this world.

There are also those of us who are incapable of working with hundreds of other people in large organizations. (Given the pranks I played in the offices of a major financial institution many years ago, I'm amazed I wasn't found out and fired.)

But I think Brooks is missing the point. He wants action against Ebola? Well, if Obama was to raise funds from millionaires to combat this deadly disease, instead of seeking money to finance the Democratic Party, awareness could be raised. Or maybe Michelle might want to be the first to undergo the Ebola ice bucket challenge.

But that would demand leadership, which would take the president away from the links. Also, the latest polls don't demand this sort of action. ISIS, yes; Ebola, not yet.

Not to worry: Ebola's time will also come . . . and go.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Israel's Next War: Just Around the Corner

All is quiet on the border with Gaza. Israel's recent war with Hamas and Islamic Jihad set the economy of Gaza back by a decade, and it will be quite some time before these two terror organizations dare send another rocket into Israel.

On the other hand, the quiet on Israel's northern border with Lebanon is deceptive. Shiite Hezbollah refused to intervene on behalf of Sunni Hamas's behalf, given the brutal fighting in Syria between these two sects of Islam. (Hamas, of course, moved its headquarters from Damascus to Qatar owing to this tension.) However, the Israeli military is now busy preparing for a Hezbollah attack across the Lebanese border into northern Israel. As reported by Marissa Newman in a Times of Israel article entitled "Hezbollah could advance into Israel in next war, official warns":

"A senior IDF official warned Sunday that while Hezbollah has no immediate plan to attack Israel, a minor security incident could erupt into a full-fledged war on Israel’s northern front during which the terror organization would likely try to capture swaths of the Galilee.

. . . .

According to the assessment, Hezbollah could capture the Rosh Hanikra area, including a small Israeli town near the border with Lebanon, for several hours, if Israel does not strike the group preemptively.

He said the army was working on a plan to evacuate the northern residents if need be, but warned there would be casualties on the Israeli side."

Any such war will necessarily involve a deep ground penetration by Israel into Lebanon in order to stanch the firing of missiles at Israeli civilian targets. Hezbollah has received from Iran and Syria more than 50,000 missiles, which can hit anywhere in Israel.

Israeli civilian casualties? There will be many, unless Israel launches a preemptive attack.

Israel can only hope that when this happens (not if it happens), there will be a new US president, who will not seek to cut off arms deliveries in the middle of the fighting.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ross Douthat, "The Middle East’s Friendless Christians": Ignorance Is Bliss

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."

- Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Driving in central Israel this morning, I happened to notice a bumper sticker on a car in front of me. On the bumper sticker was a single word in English: "Coexist." The "C" consisted of a Muslim crescent moon, the "X" consisted of a Jewish Star of David, and the "T" consisted of a Christian cross. If you were to encounter this bumper sticker in the US, you might think nothing of it. On the other hand, try to name a country in the Middle East, other than Israel, where you can freely exhibit such a bumper sticker without being lynched. In fact, there is no other country.

In his latest New York Times op-entitled "The Middle East’s Friendless Christians," Ross Douthat seeks to explain why the Middle East's persecuted Christian minority has been largely ignored by Christians in the US. Douthat observes:

"[T]he Israel-Palestine question, with its colonial overtones, has been the left’s great obsession, whereas the less ideologically convenient plight of Christians under Islamic rule is often left untouched."

True enough. The left's hatred of the Jews supersedes all other considerations.

Next, Douthat states:

"To America’s strategic class, meanwhile, the Middle East’s Christians simply don’t have the kind of influence required to matter. A minority like the Kurds, geographically concentrated and well-armed, can be a player in the great game, a potential United States ally. But except in Lebanon, the region’s Christians are too scattered and impotent to offer much quid for the superpower’s quo. So whether we’re pursuing stability by backing the anti-Christian Saudis or pursuing transformation by toppling Saddam Hussein (and unleashing the furies on Iraq’s religious minorities), our policy makers have rarely given Christian interests any kind of due."

Here Douthat is wrong. There are some 30 million oppressed Kurds living in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, and for many decades they have been ignored by the West. Why? Because it was inconvenient to demand that the Kurds be granted independence, particularly when there are some 20 million of these Kurds living in the southeastern and eastern parts of Anatolia. The US government has consistently decided that it is better off not offending Turkey, a member of NATO, by demanding that the country's Kurds (some 25 percent of Turkey's population) be granted their fundamental rights as human beings.

Then, too, the Kurds have been ignored by the West because observing their plight in the past could have jeopardized lucrative oil drilling arrangements in Iran and Iraq.

Except in Lebanon, Christians are too scattered in the Middle East for Americans to take note? Again, not true. Copts comprise some 10 percent of Egypt's total population of some 82 million.

Douthat goes on to blame the American right for failing to take note of the tragedy befalling the Middle East's Christians:

"And the great cause of many conservative Christians in the United States is the state of Israel, toward which many Arab Christians harbor feelings that range from the complicated to the hostile."

Arab Christians harbor feelings toward Israel that "range from the complicated to the hostile"? Indeed, there are Christians in Syria who are siding with Assad, given that the alternative - ISIS or the al-Nusra Front - spells death for their communities. On the other hand, consider what Egytian Copt blogger Maikel Nabil Sand wrote of Israel in 2010:

"In reality, my support to Israel isn't a support to Israel itself more than it's a support for the values which the state of Israel represents in the region… Because the case in my view is that this is democratic and that is tyrannical, this is liberal and that is totalitarian… Therefore my bias to Israel is a bias to the democratic and the modernist values which the state of Israel represents - whether we like it or not - in the region."

Nabil is not a supporter of the Netanyahu government, but then many Israelis also stridently object to Israel's prime minister. And then there is also the Nazareth priest, Father Gabriel Naddaf, who wants Israeli Christians to serve in the IDF and establish their own political party.

Douthat would blame Senator Ted Cruz for showing insensitivity to an "an embattled religious minority" by declaring last week at a inaugural event held by an organization called "In Defense of Christians":

"Today, Christians have no greater friend than the Jewish state."

As widely reported, Cruz was booed off the stage. Well, like it or lump it, there is no place in the Middle East other than Israel where Christians are free to live their lives and practice their faith in peace and dignity. Did Cruz do something wrong by alluding to this fact? I don't think so. If Christians are to live in peace and dignity elsewhere in the Middle East, Israel must serve as an example. 

Thomas Friedman, "What’s Their Plan?": Three Things You Should Never Do in Life

Always ready with advice for the foolish and unwary, would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman begins his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "What’s Their Plan?," subtitled "Obama’s Strategy for Fighting ISIS Isn’t All About Us," by declaring:

"THERE are three things in life that you should never do ambivalently: get married, buy a house or go to war. Alas, we’re about to do No. 3. Should we?"

Go to war? Hold your horses, Tom! Didn't Secretary of State John Kerry just tell us that the US will be engaging in "a counterterrorism operation of a significant order," but not a war? Meanwhile, Kerry is attempting to stitch together a coalition of ambivalent and deceitful allies to fight the ISIS monster that even has Jon Stewart in . . . stitches.

Friedman's risible conclusion:

"ISIS loses if our moderate Arab-Muslim partners can unite and make this a civil war within Islam — a civil war in which America is the air force for the Sunnis and Shiites of decency versus those of barbarism."

Excuse me, Tom, maybe you would care to point me in the direction of some of those "moderate Arab-Muslim partners," which are not hanging homosexuals, facilitating "honor killings" of women, cutting off women's clitorises, murdering Christians and other minorities, sentencing to death those who abandon Islam, amputating the hands of alleged thieves, and executing persons accused of witchcraft.

"Sunnis and Shiites of decency versus those of barbarism"? Good luck in your search for them, Tom.

Maureen Dowd, "Throw the Bums Out": Might The New York Times Trade Dowd for The Washington Post's Zakaria?

Fantasy journalism, anyone?

What if The New York Times were to trade Maureen Dowd to The Washington Post in exchange for Fareed Zakaria? They both hit from the left-hand side of the plate, and both are known for past base stealing. WaPo would maintain its balance between lefties and righties and could increase crowd attendance, given that Dowd was born in Washington. Sure, Dowd, who is feisty and glamorous, is more popular with the fans than Zakaria, but if WaPo was to throw a little money into the deal? The Times is desperate for the cash and could use the funds to replace its tired, aging roster of Tom ("I have an answer for everything")  Friedman, David ("character, spirit and pontification") Brooks, and Paul ("Spend! Spend! Spend!") Krugman. As an added bonus, Zakaria is unswervingly obeisant to Obama, and this is certain to please the op-ed manager of the Times, Andrew Rosenthal, and its owner, the Ochs-Sulzberger family.

If only.

Meanwhile, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Throw the Bums Out," subtitled "Roger Goodell, Ray Rice and the N.F.L.’s Culture," Dowd correctly takes the NFL to task for its lenience toward familial violence involving players. Angrily referring to the elevator incident in which Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked his then-fiancée unconscious, Dowd pointedly observes:

"[N.F.L. Commissioner Roger] Goodell only suspended [Rice] for two games, two less than if he’d been caught taking Adderall.

. . . .

The last sports commissioner who didn’t kowtow to owners may have been Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who banned Shoeless Joe and the Black Sox players from baseball for life even though they were acquitted in 1921 and went out with the jury to eat to celebrate. 'Regardless of the verdict of juries,' Landis said, 'baseball is competent to protect itself against crooks, both inside and outside the game.'

If only."

But hold your horses, Maureen. Didn't you travel to Saudi Arabia in 2010 and write in a Times opinion piece entitled "Loosey Goosey Saudi":

"The word progressive, of course, is highly relative when it comes to Saudi Arabia. (Wahhabism, anyone?) But after spending 10 days here, I can confirm that, at their own galactically glacial pace, they are chipping away at gender apartheid and cultural repression."

No mention at the time by Dowd of of a young Saudi woman who was gang-raped and consequently awarded one year in prison plus 100 lashes. As reported by the Saudi Gazette :

"A 23-year-old unmarried woman was awarded one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing adultery and trying to abort the resultant fetus.

The District Court in Jeddah pronounced the verdict on Saturday after the girl confessed that she had a forced sexual intercourse with a man who had offered her a ride. The man, the girl confessed, took her to a rest house, east of Jeddah, where he and four of friends assaulted her all night long.

The girl claimed that she became pregnant soon after and went to King Fahd Hospital for Armed Forces in an attempt to carry out an abortion. She was eight weeks’ pregnant then, the hospital confirmed."

Also no mention by Dowd of twin honor killings that occurred not long before her visit:

"A Saudi women's group on Friday blamed the country's religious police in the 'honour' killing of two sisters shot dead by their own brother after they were arrested for mixing with unrelated men.

The Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia said the religious police had placed the sisters' lives in danger when they arrested them and then placed them in a Riyadh women's shelter.

The two women, identified as Reem, 21, and Nouf, 19, were murdered after they left the shelter on July 5.

The brother shot them in the presence of their father who, according to newspaper reports, quickly forgave the son for defending the family's honour."

You see, if Dowd had reported these stories, she would have been thrown out of the Desert Kingdom in the blink of a camel's eye. But she didn't.

If only.

"Joining" Obama's Coaltion Against ISIS, Qatar Pays $20 Million to Al-Nusra to Free 45 Fijian UN Peacekeepers

As reported by Ynetnews in an article entitled "Qatar paid ransom for release of Fijian peacekeepers" by Roi Kais:

"Syrian opposition sources said on Saturday that Qatar paid militants from the Nusra Front in Syria a ransom of $20 million in exchange for the release of the 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers, the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

The report comes a day after the Qatari Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that it had helped to secure the release of the peacekeepers following 'the request of the government of Fiji'."

How kind of Qatar, whose citizens have been financing the al-Nusra Front and ISIS, to pay this ransom directly to al-Nusra, a branch of al-Qaeda that has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States.

In July, the Obama administration agreed to sell Qatar $11 billion in advanced armaments, including Javelin anti-tank missiles. I can promise you that some of these missiles will find their way into the hands of the al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and Hamas.

Of course, Qatar has agreed to participate in Obama's newly announced coalition to fight the Islamic State. As reported by The Guardian in an article entitled "Middle East countries sign up to Obama's coalition against Isis" by Spencer Ackerman (my emphasis in red):

"A day after Obama told the US public that the latest war in the skies above Iraq will soon cross the border into Syria, he received a major diplomatic boost from the leaders of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf Cooperation Council - an alliance of the Sunni Arab Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – who pledged to 'stand united' against 'the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.'

In a document known as the Jeddah Communique, issued after intense diplomacy from US secretary of state John Kerry in the Saudi city, the signatories agreed to staunch Isis funding and influx of foreign fighters, critical priorities for Washington. They expressed openness to contributing directly to the war effort, saying they would be 'as appropriate, joining in the many aspects of a coordinated military campaign' against Isis."

Qatar is going to stand in the way of funding for the Islamic State and contribute "as appropriate" to Obama's military campaign? Needless to say, John (Assad is "my dear friend") Kerry is blissfully unaware of the Islamic principles of taqiyya and kitman, which permit Muslims to lie to unbelievers.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

David Brooks, "The Reluctant Leader": Comparing Obama With Moses

Holy Moses! Although we have grown increasingly accustomed to David Brooks's pseudo-philosophical babble over the course of the years, none of this prepared us for his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Reluctant Leader," which has to be his worst opinion piece ever. Contemplating the challenge posed to Obama by the Islamic State and seeking to explain how "circumstances thrust certain responsibilities" upon leaders, Brooks begins:

"Moses, famously, tried to get out of it. When God called on him to lead the Israelites, Moses threw up a flurry of reasons he was the wrong man for the job: I’m a nobody; I don’t speak well; I’m not brave.

But the job was thrust upon him. Though he displayed some of the traits you’d expect from a guy who would rather be back shepherding (passivity, whining), he became a great leader. He became the ultimate model for reluctant leadership."

Compare Obama with Moses? Yeah, right.

Moses didn't want the job of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. On the other hand, Obama did want the job of president with all its trappings; he simply didn't want - and was never prepared for - the attendant responsibilities.

And whereas Obama takes every opportunity to play golf with jock celebrities notwithstanding crises brewing at home or abroad, Moses never once hit the links in Sinai, despite its famous sand traps.

Brooks continues:

"History is full of reluctant leaders, too. President Obama is the most recent. He recently gave a speech on the need to move away from military force. He has tried to pivot away from the Middle East. He tried desperately to avoid the Syrian civil war.

. . . .

No American president could allow a barbaric caliphate to establish itself in the middle of the Middle East.

. . . .

The reluctant leader can be collaborative. He didn’t want his task, so he’s eager to share it. The Arab world can fully trust that Obama doesn’t have any permanent designs on their region because the guy is dying to wash his hands of the whole place as soon as possible."

Let's talk for a moment about Syria and what Obama did and didn't do. Obama declared that if Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, this would be a "red line" for him. Well, Assad used chemical weapons against civilians in Syria's civil war, whereupon Obama sought, but failed, to create an international coalition to fight Assad. Afterwards, Obama sought, but failed, to obtain Congressional approval for dealing with Assad. This is a man "the Arab world can fully trust"?

If "no American president could allow a barbaric caliphate to establish itself in the middle of the Middle East," how is it that an American president permitted a maniacal despot to use chemical weapons against civilians in a brutal civil war which has caused more than 200,000 deaths and resulted in nine million refugees?

Obama forced Assad to turn over his chemical weapons arsenal? No way! As reported by Reuters in an article entitled "U.N. cites concerns over possible gaps in Syria's declared chemical arms," there is considerable concern that Bashar al-Assad did not hand over all of Syria's chemical weapons for destruction. Even US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power is quoted in this article as saying:

"Certainly if there are chemical weapons left in Syria, there will be a risk that those weapons fall into [the Islamic State's] hands. And we can only imagine what a group like that would do if in possession of such a weapon."

If there are still chemical weapons left in Syria? Would anyone in their right mind - other than John (Assad is "my dear friend") Kerry place his or her trust in Assad?

"The  reluctant leader can be collaborative"? Oh really? Perhaps you remember how Obama named Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan as one of his best overseas friends in 2012; however, we are now being told by Lebanon's The Daily Star that Obama's friend Erdogan has decided not to participate in the coalition being formed by Obama to attack the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which have financed the Islamic State on the sly, are going to join a coalition fighting this monstrous organization? Not a chance.

Most remarkably, Brooks never considers even for a moment whether Obama's much delayed decision to confront the Islamic State is the product of his disastrous foreign policy approval ratings and the effect this could have on the 2014 midterm elections. Moses, on the other hand, when ordering the destruction of the golden calf, never looked to Gallup for guidance.

Expect leadership from Obama so late in his presidency? No way! He's an orator, not a leader.

Expect something other than tripe from David Brooks? I've lost all hope.

Turkey Refuses to Join US-led Coalition Against ISIS

Perhaps you remember how Obama named Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan as one of his best overseas friends in 2012.

You cannot possibly have forgotten how Obama and Kerry sought to force Israel to accept Turkish and Qatari mediation involving its war with Hamas this past summer.

Well, we are now being told by Lebanon's The Daily Star that Obama's friend Erdogan has decided not to participate in the coalition being formed by Obama to attack the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Yet another Obama diplomatic success is clearly in the offing . . . not.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Obama: "No Religion Condones the Killing of Innocents": What About Honor Killings?

In his speech from the White House last night, laying out his game plan "to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL," President Obama declared:

"Now let's make two things clear: ISIL is not 'Islamic.' No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim."

Liar!

For now, let's ignore what is being done to Christians, Kurds, Baha'is, Yazidis and homosexuals throughout the Muslim world. Let's also ignore the Hamas charter which calls for the murder of all Jews. Instead, let's focus on the killing of women by Muslims, i.e. what Muslims call "honor" killings.

As reported in a June 29, 2014 CNN article entitled "Pakistani newlyweds decapitated by bride's family in honor killing" by Shelby Lin Erdman:

"A young newlywed couple in northeastern Pakistan died a horrible death at the hands of the bride's family in the latest honor killing in the nation, police in Pakistan said Saturday.

The couple, identified as Sajjad Ahmed, 26, and Muawia Bibi, 18, were married by a Pakistani court on June 18 against the wishes of the Bibi family, Punjab police official Mohammad Ahsanullah told CNN.

On Thursday, the bride's father and uncles lured the couple back to the village of Satrah in Punjab province, where Ahsanullah said the pair were tied up and then decapitated.

. . . .

According to the United Nations, some 5,000 women are murdered by family members in honor killings every year."

Now have a look at what is happening in Afghanistan. As reported in a July 19, 2014 New York Times article entitled "Struggling to Keep Afghan Girl Safe After a Mullah Is Accused of Rape" by Rod Nordland:

"KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — It was bad enough that the alleged rape took place in the sanctity of a mosque, and that the accused man was a mullah who invoked the familiar defense that it had been consensual sex.

But the victim was only 10 years old. And there was more: The authorities said her family members openly planned to carry out an 'honor killing' in the case — against the young girl. The mullah offered to marry his victim instead.

This past week, the awful matter became even worse. On Tuesday, local policemen removed the girl from the shelter that had given her refuge and returned her to her family, despite complaints from women’s activists that she was likely to be killed."

Turkey? As reported by the BBC in a 2010 article entitled "Turkish girl 'buried alive' in family garden" by Jonathan Head:

"A Turkish teenager found dead in a hole next to her house was probably buried alive, a post-mortem examination has revealed.

Medine Memi, 16, was found in the hole in December. Large amounts of soil were in her lungs and stomach, according to a source who has seen the report.

Her father and grandfather have been arrested, but not charged.

So-called 'honour killings' take place every year in Turkey despite government moves to stamp out the practice."

Gaza and the West Bank? In a Washington Post article entitled "Honor killings rise in Palestinian territories, sparking backlash" by Anne-Marie O'Connor, we learn:

"AQQABA, West Bank — The news spread at dawn, and people in the village made their way to the olive tree where the bruised body of a young mother of six was hanging, her veil torn off. She had been killed in the name of honor.

. . . .

Here in this northern West Bank mountain town of breathtaking views, the relatives of Rasha Abu Arra, 32, who was killed in November after rumors spread that she had committed adultery, are adding their voices to an outcry against honor killings in the Palestinian territories.

. . . .

In recent years, other suspected victims have included a young Gazan mother of five who was bludgeoned to death by her father because he suspected she was using her cellphone to talk to a man. In September, a mentally disabled 21-year-old in the West Bank city of Hebron was allegedly killed by her mother after she was sexually assaulted. Another West Bank woman, who had divorced an abusive husband, allegedly was strangled by her father after being accused of 'disgraceful' acts in a petition that news reports said was signed by a legislator from the Islamist militant movement Hamas, which rules Gaza."

Obama would have us know that "No religion condones the killing of innocents"? Don't believe a word he is saying!