Thursday, December 31, 2009

The wake-up call from Flight 253

by Jeff Jacoby

AFTER THE SEPT. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was widely asserted at the time, nothing would be the same. What Pearl Harbor had been for our parents and grandparents, 9/11 would be for us: a shattering national wake-up call revealing both the gaping holes in America's homeland security and the reality that we were at war with an implacable enemy whose defeat would require years of sacrifice and resolve.

But it became clear after a while that for many Americans, 9/11 had not marked a break with old ways of thinking. As the near-unanimity of 9/11 receded, Americans divided into what the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes dubbed September 12 people, for whom 9/11 had changed everything, and September 10 people, who believed the terrorist threat was being exaggerated by the Bush administration and who regarded the fight against Islamist extremism as chiefly a matter of law enforcement.

Would that divide have closed if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had succeeded in blowing up Northwest Airlines flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day? If al-Qaeda, which reportedly trained Abdulmutallab in Yemen and is claiming responsibility for the thwarted attack, had succeeded in carrying out another 9/11, would the short-lived unity and moral clarity of that terrible day in 2001 have returned?

Had Flight 253 ended in the mass-murder the bomb plotters intended, Americans would today be filled with grief and fury. They would also be grappling with some hard lessons -- lessons that in recent years too many had been inclined to dismiss. Among them:

* Terrorism isn't caused by poverty and ignorance. Abdulmutallab came from a wealthy and privileged family, and had studied at one of Britain's top universities. He wasn't trying to kill hundreds of Americans out of socioeconomic despair. Like the 9/11 hijackers and countless other jihadists, Abdulmutallab was motivated by ideological and religious fanaticism. The teachings of militant Islam may seem monstrous to outsiders, but that is no reason to doubt that their adherents genuinely believe them, or that by giving their lives for jihad they hope to change the world.

* The global jihad is real. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was widely derided for initially insisting that Flight 253 wasn't blown up in mid-air because "the system worked" and "the whole process went very smoothly." Far more troubling, however, was her effort to downplay the suggestion that Abdulmutallab's attempted attack was "part of anything larger" -- this even after he had terrorist acknowledged his ties to al-Qaeda. Of course Abdulmutallab is part of something larger: He is part of the global jihad -- the relentless assault by Islamist radicals whose deadly serious goal is the submission of America and the West to Islamic law. If government officials like Napolitano cannot bring themselves to speak plainly about the jihadists' ambitions, how will they ever succeed in crushing them?

* Terrorists can always adapt to new restrictions. After 9/11, knives and sharp metal objects were banned from carry-on luggage, so Richard Reid attempted to detonate a shoe bomb. Thereafter everyone's shoes were checked, so the 2006 Heathrow plotters planned to use liquid-based explosives. Now liquids are strictly limited, so Abdulmutallab smuggled PETN, an explosive powder, in his underwear. There is no physical constraint that determined jihadists cannot find a way to circumvent. Yet US airport security remains obstinately reactive -- focused on intercepting dangerous things, instead of intercepting dangerous people. Unwilling to incorporate ethnic and religious profiling in our air-travel security procedures, we have saddled ourselves with a mediocre security system that inconveniences everyone while protecting no one.

* The Patriot Act was not a reckless overreaction. Security in a post 9/11 world has not come from pressing a "reset button," sending Guantanamo inmates off to Yemen, or refusing to use terms like "war on terrorism." It has come from stepped-up surveillance and stronger intelligence-gathering tools, and from working to pre-empt terror attacks in advance, rather than prosecuting them after the fact. Congress was not out of its mind when it enacted the Patriot Act in 2001, and the Bush administration was not trampling the Constitution when it deployed the expanded powers the law gave it: They were trying to prevent another 9/11 -- and they succeeded. President Obama has repeatedly and ostentatiously criticized his predecessor's approach. Perhaps it is not just a coincidence that Obama's first year in office has also seen an unprecedented surge in terrorist threats on US soil.

We came fearfully close to having to re-learn those lessons the hard way last week. Only the failure of Abdulmutallab's explosive to ignite and the bravery of the passenger and flight attendants who rushed him prevented what would have been the bloodiest attack on US soil in more than eight years. The world remains extremely dangerous, and the war against radical Islam is far from over. Flight 253 was another wake-up call. Did the September 10 people hear it?



Whistleblowers punished for warning of aviation security lapses

They've been frantically trying to warn America for the past six years: Aviation security is a joke, and it's only a matter of time before terrorists destroy another airplane full of innocent passengers.

The close call in Detroit on Christmas Day has vindicated a group of highly experienced experts -- including former airline pilots, federal air marshals and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors -- who were fired or demoted for pointing out obvious flaws in the nation's post-9/11 aviation security system to their chain of command.

Even now, facing financial ruin after their careers were trashed and their families destroyed, courageous members of the Whistleblowing Airline Employees Association ( refuse to be silenced.

Former United B-777 Captain Dan Hanley was forced out of the cockpit after filing federally mandated complaints in 2003 about the lack of federal air marshals and onboard cabin cameras aboard his high-risk London-to-New York flights. Six years later, there was still no federal air marshal aboard Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, even though both cities are well-known hotbeds of radical Islamic activity.

Robert MacLean, hand-picked as one of the first federal air marshals, was fired for publicly criticizing the Transportation Security Administration's plan to remove marshals from nonstop, long-distance flights -- in violation of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 -- because the agency didn't want to pay their hotel bills.

Former FAA inspector Gabe Bruno uncovered evidence that an airline mechanic certification school was being run by a criminal syndicate. He's still trying to get somebody -- anybody -- in the federal government to find out where all the bogus mechanics are currently employed.

Fellow FAA whistleblower Rich Wyeroski was canned for asking too many questions -- and pointing out the lunacy of forcing passengers to take off their shoes when the airplanes they board are serviced offshore in completely unsecured facilities.

Former TSA Red Team Leader Bogdan Dzakovic, one of the world's top experts on aviation security, was demoted to human answering machine after he testified at the 9/11 Commission's second hearing that safety issues were still not being addressed.

The U.S. government's No. 1 job is to protect American citizens, but it didn't stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who was already on the terrorist watch list, from buying a ticket -- in cash -- for Seat 1House,Senate,President,White House,Conservatives,Liberals,Barack Obama,President,Democrats,Republicans,Libertarians,Irwin Stelzer:26398789:26398789:Irwin Stelzer, directly above the aircraft's fuel tank, or from boarding the Detroit-bound flight with explosives sewn into his underwear.

"This individual should not have been missed," fumed Maine Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member of the Senate homeland security committee, in a classic example of understatement. But the harsh punishment meted out to whistleblowers has had its predictably chilling effect. "Who's going to speak out if you have a 2 percent chance of success and your career will be trashed?" Hanley asked.

The few brave souls who lost everything to warn Americans of the ever-present danger in the skies have been kicked to the curb, while those who failed to perform the Department of Homeland Security's core mission -- led by Secretary Janet Napolitano and her claim that "the system worked" in the Detroit incident -- continue to collect their government paychecks, aided and abetted by an irresponsible Congress.

As Robert Spencer, author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam," told The Examiner: "In reality, nothing worked. ... All the stupid and humiliating airport security procedures, all the little Baggies for toothpaste and shampoo, all the padding through the security scanner in stocking feet didn't work."

The dirty and dangerous secret about airline security is that it's all just political theater designed to calm passengers' very real fears. If the system allows a young, radicalized Islamist known to U.S. authorities to board a plane with 80 grams of pentaerythritol tetranitrate sewn into his pants, nobody is safe.

Meanwhile, your government is too busy bailing out failed banks and car companies and taking over the health care industry to provide for the common defense. Just don't say you weren't warned.



Why Does Interpol Need Immunity from American Law?

You just can't make up how brazen this crowd is. One week ago, President Obama quietly signed an executive order that makes an international police force immune from the restraints of American law.

Interpol is the shorthand for the International Criminal Police Organization. It was established in 1923 and operates in about 188 countries. By executive order 12425, issued in 1983, President Reagan recognized Interpol as an international organization and gave it some of the privileges and immunities customarily extended to foreign diplomats. Interpol, however, is also an active law-enforcement agency, so critical privileges and immunities (set forth in Section 2(c) of the International Organizations Immunities Act) were withheld. Specifically, Interpol's property and assets remained subject to search and seizure, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions like the Freedom of Information Act. Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.

On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations. That is, Interpol's property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America's defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?


Another comment

American law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level are bound by open records act laws. At the federal level, the Freedom of Information Act applies.

Knowing that an intrepid reporter can, after establishing credible sources, file a judicially enforcible FOIA request to obtain information from a law enforcement agency is one of the chief deterrents to law enforcement agencies from abusing discretionary power.

Additionally, Interpol is a foreign power, but operates out of the U.S. Department of Justice inside the United States. While Interpol has some limited immunities given by Ronald Reagan in the early 1980’s, it does not — or at least did not until last week — have immunity from the 4th Amendment. Consequently, this international agency could, should it abuse its powers, have the federal government seize its assets, etc.

In other words, the international police organization Interpol was treated like every other law enforcement agency in America — it was subject to FOIA requests and could, like any arm of a municipal, county, state, or federal government agency, have its property taken by the federal government if it crossed the boundaries of criminal law protection for the accused.

For no discernible reason whatsoever, last Wednesday when no one was looking, Barack Obama signed an executive order giving all immunities of foreign powers to Interpol.

In other words, Interpol is now in a better position than any American law enforcement institution that operates on American soil. It cannot have its records searched or seized and it is not subject to the restraints of sunshine and transparency that FOIA requests can bring.

At a time when Obama is worried about ensuring the rights of terrorists against the abuses of the American government, he has no problem surrendering American rights to an arm of the United Nations. This is extremely important because it comports with Barack Obama’s world view in ways harmful to American sovereignty. Obama has said repeatedly that he views no nation as greater than any other nation. He has said repeatedly that one nation should not be able to impose its will on another. He applies this even to the United States.

In Barack Obama’s world, the United States is no better and no worse than Iran, China, North Korea, or Kenya. In his world view, we are all players on an international stage with the United Nations as the leader. Therefore, while Obama will not give up American sovereignty to Peru, he is perfectly happy to give up sovereignty to the United Nations.

The man is not just an amateur. He is also a damnably naive fool.

This is also a backdoor to the International Criminal Court (”ICC”). The United States chose, before Obama took office, to avoid the ICC. Interpol has become the law enforcement arm of the ICC. By taking away the limits to Interpol’s immunity in the United States, Barack Obama has freed the organization up to conduct criminal investigations of individuals inside the United States on behalf of the ICC without any of us knowing about it.

And who does the ICC want to investigate? The lawyers, CIA operatives, and soldiers who have defended the United States in the War on Terror by setting up GTMO and prosecuting the war. These men and women now have yet another deterrent to keep them from being fully effective — the fear of an international criminal investigation that they don’t even know about.

How many Americans will get killed because of the policies Barack Obama is employing to undermine our safety and security in a dangerous world?




Not so liberating: The twilight of liberation theology: "It went almost unnoticed, but on December 5th, Benedict XVI articulated one of the most stinging rebukes that has ever been made by a pope of a particular theological school. Addressing a group of Brazilian bishops, Benedict followed some mild comments about Catholic education with some very sharp and deeply critical remarks about liberation theology and its effects upon the Catholic Church. Apart from stressing how certain liberation theologians drew heavily upon Marxist concepts, the pope also described these ideas as ‘deceitful.’”

Back from the brink: "For years, perhaps decades to come, Americans will be whittling away at the mountain of debt the Obama administration has built, in part to apply Maynard Keynes’s nostrums to the sagging economy, in greater part permanently to expand the size and role of government. On the day before Christmas, immediately after its dawn vote to pass the health care bill, when few were watching, the Senate joined the House in raising the debt ceiling so that the administration could borrow enough money — $290 billion — to keep the government running, but only for a few months, so great is the amount of red ink pouring onto the federal books. Congress is also preparing a second stimulus bill — it will have a different name — and instead of using the money flowing in from the banks to repay the government’s bail-outs to reduce the deficit, the president and Congress are converting it to a slush fund to be spent on a variety of new programs. Throw in the fact that no one believes the health care bill will not add to the deficit, and Americans will remember 2009 as the year they loaded huge burdens on their children and grandchildren.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One formidable lady

HIGH standards, a short temper and a taste for whisky - Margaret Thatcher's personality is laid bare in secret files released in Britain Wednesday which cover the first few months of her premiership.

The files, covering the first few months of her premiership, reveal she refused a guard of 20 "karate ladies'' when she visited Japan soon after becoming prime minister in 1979 and personally handled pistols to decide which model was best for police in Northern Ireland.

Her impatience for the failings of ministers and civil servants less formidable than herself is also shown in a volley of curt, scrawled annotations on documents.

Perhaps the most unusual story in the files relates to her attendance at the Tokyo Economic Summit in June 1979, the month after she was elected Britain's first female premier. British officials heard of Japanese plans to lay on 20 "karate ladies'' to provide her security at the event, but Thatcher insisted she did not want them. "The Prime Minister would like to be treated in exactly the same way as the other visiting Heads of Delegation; it is not the degree of protection that is in question but the particular means of carrying it out,'' a confidential official communique from the Foreign Office said. "If other Delegation leaders, for example, are each being assigned 20 karate gentlemen, the Prime Minister would have no objection to this; but she does not wish to be singled out.''

Another document records a conversation between Thatcher and the then US President Jimmy Carter at the White House in December 1979. She was trying to persuade him to reverse the US policy of not selling arms to Northern Ireland's police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Arguing her case, Thatcher said, according to the official record: "She herself had handled both of the gun(s) which the RUC at present used and that which was on order. "There was no doubt that the American Ruger was much better.''

A file on her first visit to France in June to meet president Valery Giscard d'Estaing revealed that embassy staff in Paris paid for her duty-free cigarettes and alcohol. They later had to chase Downing Street for a refund.

An invoice in the file lists one bottle of Teacher's whisky, known to be her drink of choice; one bottle of gin, a "snifter'' of which was favoured by her husband, Denis; and 200 Benson and Hedges cigarettes for Thatcher and a senior Downing Street figure.

Elsewhere, Thatcher berates officials for not providing a "sufficiently interesting'' itinerary for the first day of her maiden tour to the US and requests a "fuller program'' in New York.

She furiously annotates documents in blue fountain pen, adding notes, underlining and even correcting officials' grammar.



Utopian new left just like old left

How did the European left rationalize communism's crimes and transform itself into a viable political force after the fall of the Soviet Union? It's all explained in "Last Exit to Utopia: The Survival of Socialism in a Post-Soviet Era." First published in 2000, the book by the late French intellectual Jean-Francois Revel is only now available in English. But given Revel's insights into today's leftist movements, it couldn't be more timely.

The old left's attempt to "excommunicate" modernity, as Revel describes it, is as alive today as it ever was. He traces the left's ideological rejection of modern civilization and the idea of progress back to French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who in the 18th century launched the Romantic rebellion against the Age of Reason.

Revel explains how Rousseau's "primitivism" and denial of reason manifested itself in the utopian ideologies of communism and fascism. These ideologies are often mistakenly associated with rationalism, progress and science. But their deeper motivation was the irrational impulse to eliminate all the uncertainties of the human condition -- to create, in short, an earthly paradise. Revel calls this the "totalitarian temptation" because mankind is tempted into thinking that the only obstacle to creating the good society is a lack of will and power.

Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany were the most extreme examples of this idea. But Revel notes there were softer versions, ranging from socialism to the progressive movements in the United States. Yes, some versions were violent while others were not. But, Revel stresses, all shared the idea that their noble cause to create an ideal society morally justified the means, and the means of choice was state power - sometimes grossly violent and sometimes not.

Hitler's creation is long gone, and so, too, is the Soviet Union. But the legacy of Rousseau's assault on civilization and progress lives on in three modern political movements.

The first is environmentalism. By this I don't mean the mere desire to have a clean environment, but rather the messianic mission to create a new ecological order through the application of state power. Environmentalism, particularly in its more radical forms, has inherited all of the old left's habits of mind, only on a far grander scale. It seeks to transform not just civilization, but the physical planet as well.

As with the old left, new left environmentalists view capitalism and the free market as enemies. But so, too, is reason. The lengths to which some scientists will go to stifle dissent reveal not only a disrespect for the scientific method, but also contempt for using reason to understand reality. If truly understanding climate change were the main goal, there would be no hesitation to look at all the evidence of global warming. In the minds of many climate-change scientists, however, the top goal is not to understand the planet but to "save" it. The cause transcends the science.

Another new left movement is dedicated to "global governance" -- the creation of supranational institutions to control societies. Manifested in the United Nations, the European Union, and other international institutions, the ostensible aim is more happiness for more people, but the means is the same old centralization of power in ever larger governing institutions -- in this case, regional and global ones.

The enemies here are also familiar, namely, the nation-state and the free market. The United Nations and the European Union seek to bypass and control both, empowering bureaucratic elites who are unaccountable to the democratic process. In the old days, the nation-state was to be the engine of socialism; today, it is supranational institutions.

Unsurprisingly, this movement exhibits all the traits of the old left. Dissent from the received ideal is tolerated no more than the fat-cat bourgeois was by old-school socialists. For example, EU advocates in the European Parliament are boycotting its new European Conservative and Reform Group because it questions some aspects of integration. Its sin is apostasy from the creed of European integration, which EU advocates equate with wanting a return to the bad old days of suicidal wars. The same advocates never explain how regulating the size and shape of bananas and cucumbers or the noise that tires make serves such a noble cause.

Another great utopian movement of our era, militant Islamism, differs in origin from these secular leftist movements, but it shares some of their mental habits. The Muslim Brotherhood rejects capitalism and freedom no less than the most ardent environmentalists. It matters little whether advocates want to create a religious caliphate or an ecological nirvana. They share the utopian's disregard for progress and civilization, and see few if any limits on the means to stop them.

Though written about the past, Revel's book is a window into the future. Read it and you understand why, as the French say, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" ("The more things change, the more they stay the same.")



Leftist destruction in Britain

The economy has suffered its worst decade of growth since the Second World War, figures revealed yesterday. The findings, which show a far worse performance than under the Tories in the 1990s, raise serious doubts about Labour's claims to superior handling of the economy during its 13 years in power.

Gross domestic product, which is the country's total economic output, rose just 1.7 per cent a year in real terms, which means the figures have been adjusted for inflation. At this low level, the last decade has been Britain's weakest period of economic expansion of any ten-year period since the 1940s, according to the research based on figures from the Office for National Statistics. By contrast, in the 1990s, when John Major was in power before being ousted by Tony Blair in 1997, output rose by an average of 2.2 per cent a year.

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have made a habit of disparaging the economic record of the Conservative Party, but yesterday the Tories said the figures exposed the Government's dismal record. Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond said: 'After more than a decade in power, Labour's economic legacy is record low growth and a poorly performing stock market. 'This shows the urgent need for change to ensure the next decade is one of sustainable growth and a return to soundly-based prosperity.

The biggest loser over the decade was the embattled manufacturing sector, which collapsed into negative territory, falling by an average of 1.2 per cent every year. This did not happen even in the 1970s and 1980s, a time when Britain's industrial base virtually collapsed with victims such as shipbuilding, coal mining and car manufacture. During those two decades, output grew at an average annual rate of 0.6 per cent and 1.0 per cent respectively.

The sluggish performance of the economy is made even worse by the fact that the population has ballooned in recent decades. A rising population is usually associated with a rise in economic output, rather than a fall. The population has grown from 56 million in 1971 to 61 million in 2007, and is forecast to keep on climbing to nearly 63 million in 2011.

The findings come at a bleak time for Britain, which remains the only G20 economy still in recession. Latest ONS figures show that output fell between July and September, down 0.2 per cent. Since the recession started last year, the economy has shrunk 6 per cent, the biggest slump in modern times.

Unemployment has shot up to 2.5million, and a warning has come from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development that another 250,000 could lose their jobs. Its chief economic adviser Dr John Philpott said the outlook may be even worse, with unemployment possibly reaching three million. He said: 'Private sector employers will seek to contain wage costs and public sector employers will have to cope with the consequences of fast shrinking budgets and mass job downsizing.'



The most important civil right of all

Well, to paraphrase a famous president of a slightly earlier time, "you're doing a heckuva job, Janet." That goes for everybody at the White House.

If Barack Obama wants to reassure a nervous public that bureaucratic incompetence won't be tolerated, he might look to the example of what happened to the director of FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But no one expects the president to sack Janet Napolitano, the secretary of something the government insists on calling Homeland Security.

That's not how an administration that regards words and deeds as equals actually works. The lessons in the latest Islamist attempt to bring down a Western airliner could be useful, but such lessons are too painful for the guvvies to think about.

Mzz Napolitano's early assurance, since amended, that "the system worked" was either dopey beyond belief, or an unintended ringing endorsement of the ancient folk ethic that "God helps those who help themselves." Better God than a guvvie, but not everyone can count on having as a fellow passenger a young Dutchman with quick instincts, athletic grace, a sharp eye and a full complement of bravery and courage. That's not really a "system" for securing the homeland.

President Obama, interrupting a day at the beach, told reporters in Hawaii that he would pursue the plotters in Arabia and he would not rest until they are caught. This time he did not promise they would be executed, as he did of the Guantanamo plotters who are to be tried in New York City. But the attempt to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit was "a serious reminder" of the dangers George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and other Republicans warned us about. (Of course, he couldn't afford to say it quite that way.)

Mr. Obama's tough-guy rhetoric, his words plain, pretty and well-parsed, is more reassuring than his deeds, or would be if there was evidence that he really understands what must be done. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young jihadist from Nigeria by way of Yemen, was quickly indicted on federal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, which means that he will have the full array of rights accorded to every defendant in an American court. Someone will have to read his Miranda rights, and he will have the right to a lawyer. This will please the civil rights radicals who imagine the Constitution to be a suicide pact, and who don't, or can't, understand that the most important civil right of all is the right not to be murdered. Murder, after all, is the surest way to deprive someone of his other civil rights.

If ever a system isn't working, this is the one. Warning flags the size of bedsheets fluttered above checkpoints on two continents. The suspect's father tried to warn the American government that his son had been radicalized and was looking for an opportunity to slaughter innocents. That should have been enough to interview the young man before revoking his visa. But such common sense, common nearly everywhere else, is rarely rewarded in the government precincts of the politically correct. Someone eager to scratch the itch to wound America might be offended.

Where were the intelligence services that soak up so many of the nation's billions every year? Did the CIA talk to the FBI, or the DEA to DIA, or did considerations of protecting turf take precedence, as such considerations often do? The Obama administration promises an investigation, naturally, and of course it will be fair, thorough, hard-hitting, blah, blah and blah. Congress should be suspicious of bureaucrats investigating themselves, and conduct its own investigation. But Democrats in Congress will no doubt be more interested in protecting the administration than finding out what really happened. To find out might compel even a senator to actually do something.

The Detroit incident ought to persuade President Obama once and for all that making nice with those who are determined to kill as many of us as they can is a fool's errand. He can go back to Cairo again and again to apologize as eloquently as he can, and when the apologies are over and he bumps the floor with his forehead in bowing to whomever, the Islamic jihadists will still despise us and will continue to plot to destroy us.

Janet Napolitano can conjure up more ways to harass air travelers, going after all those blue-eyed Scandinavian grannies in Minnesota again to avoid "profiling" the likely terrorists. She may require us to take off our pants as well as our shoes. But even with more harassment of the innocent, she still won't have a "system" that works. We must pray for a Dutchman.



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Obama handles Northwest Airlines terror incident differently than Ft. Hood

Yet Ft. Hood was where people died. Is it only terrorism if it doesn't succeed?

The Obama White House has been aggressive in its press outreach regarding the Northwest Airlines terrorist incident. Some of the earliest stories on accused terrorist Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to set off an explosive device on board Northwest Flight 253 were sourced to the White House, and White House officials were quick to label the incident an "attempted act of terrorism." The White House wants the public to know that President Obama, on vacation at a luxurious oceanfront home in Hawaii, has received conference call updates and is keeping close tabs on the situation.

"President Barack Obama's Christmas Day began with a briefing about a botched attack on an airliner in Detroit," began an Associated Press account published Christmas evening. "Obama's military aide told the president about an incident aboard a plane as it was landing in Detroit just after 9 a.m. here [in Hawaii]. The president phoned his homeland security adviser and the chief of staff to the National Security Council for a briefing…'We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism,' one White House official said on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive situation."

Those details didn't come from nowhere. "Within a few hours of the Delta/Northwest Airlines flight touching down in Detroit, a senior administration official telephoned and e-mailed members of the White House press pool," writes the Atlantic's and CBS's Marc Ambinder, a reliable source of the White House perspective. The administration message: We're on the case. "The apparatus of government is in high gear now," Ambinder reported.

The White House messaging on the Flight 253 affair stands in stark contrast to its handling of the massacre at Ft. Hood, Texas in which Obama, on the day after the killings, cautioned the public against "jumping to conclusions" about the murders of 13 people, and then, a day later, declared that "we cannot fully know" accused killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's motives. Now, the administration is openly using the T-word.

But it appears the White House's press outreach has been more extensive than its outreach to actual officials in the government. "They're keeping information very tight, in terms of not giving it to Congress," says Republican Rep. Peter King, who has been on television frequently in the hours since the incident. "There are not too many details coming out."

In his appearances, King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, has been described as having been "briefed" on the issue. It turns out he has been briefed, but not by the administration. "When I say 'briefing,' these are people on my staff who are in contact with people in the government agencies," King says. So far, King has had just one contact with the administration: a phone call from Homeland Security deputy secretary Jane Holl Lute, who told him about airport security measures. Beyond that, nothing. "As far as all the other details I've gotten, they came from sources that we have in the government," King says. "I understand the Democrats are getting the same treatment, so it's not a partisan thing."

The important issue now, King says, is for officials to get to the bottom of how the incident could have happened. "There are real issues we have to look at as to why [Abdulmutallab] was on a watch list, or why he was on a classified file that the our government had on him, and yet he was not on a no-fly list and not on a secondary screening list," King says.

King isn't blaming the Obama team for what happened. "If [Abdulmutallab] was known about for two years, then that goes back into the Bush administration," King says. Still, it is the Obama administration's responsibility to find out what happened, and King is hopeful but a little wary. "The only reluctance I have is that the White House would not cooperate with us on the White House gate crashers incident, which was far less important than this," King says. Now, with an incident involving the nation's defenses against terrorism, "We have to have a full investigation as soon as possible."



One war Obama is keen on

Taking his vendetta with Fox News to a new low, President Obama sent an administration spokesperson to appear on every network but Fox to discuss the Northwest Airlines flight 253 terror attack.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Meet the Press and CBS’ Face the Nation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Meet the Press, and CNN’s State of the Nation.

Communicating to the American people the facts and status of an attempted terror attack should be of paramount importance to a President plunging in the polls, but Obama appears more obsessed with ostracizing Fox News than keeping the American people informed of the war on terror.

The Fox network has the highest cable network ratings beating every other network. Shouldn’t the administration want their message to reach to the largest possible audience? Perhaps the Obama administration is afraid Fox might ask questions about their Homeland Security policies that allowed the suspect to be purged from the government database of potential threats.

The White House reports Obama received a brief update on heightened air travel safety measures and the investigation. It would be interesting to know how much time Obama spent organizing his administration’s media strategy to blacklist Fox News.



Some questions that need answers

Situational awareness is a term I learned from the fly-guys. When you’re hurtling along at 1000 miles an hour, knowing where you are (and where you need to be) in relationship to the ground and every other aircraft isn’t a matter of passing interest, it’s a matter of life and death. It’s the same thing for drivers, especially those who are talking on the cell phone while smoking a cigar and driving a car with a six-speed manual transmission.

Being on an airliner or a train is pretty much the opposite, especially at the end of a long trip. On a long transatlantic flight -- even in business class -- all you want to do is get off the doggone plane, get through customs and home to that waiting hot shower. You’re not thinking about someone seated a few rows in front of you who has a bomb concealed in his underwear.

That’s not your problem, right? They screen everyone, the highly-trained Federal Air Marshals are on board -- undercover -- and ready to spring into action. But what if they’re not? What if you’re departing from a high-risk airport such as Amsterdam’s Schipol, with a young Nigerian man aboard whose explosives go undetected? And what if there are no watchful FAMs aboard? It’s not only your problem: it’s the problem of every person on that aircraft.

For all the inconveniences we go through -- for all the blue-haired Norwegian grannies who are practically strip-searched regularly at the airports -- our security people seem to be unable to stop even the crude kind of attack attempted by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day.

No sentient being could have been comforted by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s ABC TV appearance on Sunday morning. No matter the question, she stuck to her mantra of how the system reacted perfectly to the attack, impervious to the question of why the system didn’t interdict it. She said in-flight aircraft were warned, the crew of Flight 253 reacted well and so forth. But she evaded every substantive question Jake Tapper asked.

Tapper asked questions -- ranging from why Abdulmutallab wasn’t prevented from getting on the flight to why DHS has spent billions on new technologies but hasn’t yet fielded one of them -- and Napolitano ducked every one.

Congressional Republicans should be asking Napolitano some pointy-type questions right now. Such as:

1. Abdulmutallab’s father apparently reported him to the embassy in Lagos, saying he'd turned radical. Who shared that information and with whom? Was there any follow-up?

2. What is the function of the so-called “Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment,” which listed Abdulmatullab, other than to keep DHS bureaucrats employed?

3. What does it take to be promoted from the “TIDE” list to the “no-fly” list?

4. Abdulmutallab has apparently claimed that Yemeni al-Queda planned the attack and provided him with the means. Are those claims true?

5. What preventive actions are being taken while Abdulmutallab’s claims are being investigated?

6. In light of Abdulmutallab’s claims, will the administration delay or cancel plans to release some Gitmo inmates to Yemen?

7. The flight reportedly had no Federal Air Marshals aboard. Why? Schipol is notoriously lax in security.

8. How much has Homeland Security spent on new passenger and baggage-screening technologies? What do we have to show for it?

Which brings us back to our personal dilemma: we can either stop flying -- which we mustn’t do -- or we can take personally our duty to defend ourselves and our fellow passengers in the air.

TSA shouldn’t panic: no one is advocating sneaking weapons aboard or punching every suspicious person in the gut. But what I am saying is that our right of self defense is also a duty and it has to be undertaken seriously.

We have to be aware, and we have to be willing. How many of us would have reacted as did Jasper Schuringa, the brave Dutch filmmaker who jumped over other passengers to subdue Abdulmutallab and put the underwear fire out? Too few, I’d guess.




A non-Christian Christmas for the Obamas: "President Obama and his family celebrated Christmas in Hawaii on Friday, but with their own twists. The president and his wife, Michelle, started their day at 6:40 a.m. by going to the gym -- a feat unimaginable to most parents of young children eager to open presents on Christmas morning -- and returned more than an hour later. The first couple did not swap presents, aides said. And the Obamas did not attend church services, instead spending the day at the oceanfront home they are renting in Kailua, on the island of Oahu. Later on, the children -- along with Obama's sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, her husband, Konrad Ng, and their children -- were to open gifts. A meal of roast beef and potatoes was to follow, aides said." [I don't claim to be a Christian but even I attended the cathedral service in honour of the day]

Obama supports oil drilling in Brazil but not in the USA: "The U.S. government is preparing to provide up to $10 billion in loans to finance the development of massive hydrocarbon reserves off Brazil’s coast thought to contain 80 billion barrels of high-quality crude, an amount that could lead to a six-fold increase in Brazil’s current proven reserves and transform that nation into one of the world’s 10 largest oil producers. President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, discussed the matter with officials this week during a visit to the South American country, Brazilian Planning Minister Paulo Bernardo da Silva told reporters. He said the U.S. Export-Import Bank already has signed a letter of intent in that regard with Brazilian state oil company Petrobras."

Poll: Just 29% Say U.S. Heading on Right Course: "Just 29 percent of U.S. voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest level measured since early February, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. The percentage of voters who felt the country is heading in the right direction remained in the narrow range of 31 percent to 35 percent from July to early November. For the previous three weeks, however, confidence in the country’s current course has held steady at 30 percent. The majority of voters (65 percent) continue to believe the nation is heading down the wrong track. The latest finding is up slightly from last week and has remained fairly consistent for months. In the weeks just prior to Barack Obama's election, more than 80 percent of voters felt that way. Eighty-nine percent (89 percent) of Republicans and 74 percent of unaffiliated voters believe the nation is heading down the wrong track, findings that have held roughly steady for months. Democrats are more closely divided on the question: 52 percent say right direction, 38 percent say wrong track. Just nine percent (9 percent) of GOP voters say the United States is heading in the right direction."

Housing boom in southern Israel: "When Israel launched a massive offensive in the Gaza Strip a year ago, political leaders said the primary objective was to snuff out cross-border rocket fire against villages in southern Israel. That military mission has largely been accomplished. Launches of short-range Qassam rockets plummeted 90 percent to a decade low in 2009. The newfound peace of mind has fueled a surge in demand for homes in a region that people had been fleeing. Although much of Gaza remains in ruins, renewed interest in real estate in Sderot, the main target of the Qassam rockets, has pushed home values up by as much as a 30 percent. In the kibbutz, or farming collectives, around Gaza, there is also a resurgence in demand. Yisrael Gunwerg, a real estate marketing executive for neighborhood projects at two kibbutzes, said sales of new homes have tripled while prices have risen 15 percent. However, that sense of relief belies a long-term trepidation that a new, worse flare-up is only a matter of time. Southern Israel residents are aware of Israeli army intelligence assessments that Hamas is learning the lessons of the war and stocking hundreds of missiles in preparation for another round of fighting."

Hollow talk: "President Barack Obama on Monday vowed to use ‘every element of our national power’ to keep Americans safe and said the failed Christmas Day plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner was ‘a serious reminder’ of the need to continually adapt security measures against changing terrorist threats. But even as Obama spoke, word came that a State Department warning had failed to trigger an effort to revoke the alleged attacker’s visa.”

TSA admits it: Rules confusion is intentional: "You are now free to move about the cabin. Or not. After a two-day security clampdown prompted by a thwarted attempt to bomb a jetliner, some airline officials told The Associated Press that the in-flight restrictions had been eased. And it was now up to captains on each flight to decide whether passengers can have blankets and other items on their laps or can move around during the final phase of flight. Confused? … The Transportation Security Administration did little to explain the rules. And that inconsistency might well have been deliberate: What’s confusing to passengers is also confusing to potential terrorists. ‘It keeps them guessing,’ transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman said.”

UAW: We did it for cars, we’ll do it for your kids: "Michelle Berry runs a day-care service from her home in Flint. Although she owns the business, Berry’s been told she is now a government employee and union member. It’s not voluntary. Berry and 40,000 other Michigan private day-care providers have union dues taken out from the child-care subsidies the state sends them on behalf of their low-income clients. The ‘union’ is a creation of the United Auto Workers. This racket means big money to the UAW, writes the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank.”

Cash for Clunkers: Home edition: "Cash for Clunkers (cars) is over. Cash for Clunkers (houses) continues. Legislators just extended the scandal-marred $8,000 home- buyer tax credit — which means another $11 billion will be wasted. Ground zero of last year’s financial crash was the politically driven collapse in the housing market. Six years ago, Rep. Barney Frank, now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, declared: ‘I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.’ Uncle Sam rolled the dice a lot, and we all are paying the bill.”

Notorious British "child protection" authority still being careless: "An urgent review has been ordered after the 15-page Haringey Council file, which included details about a boy taken away from his mother over fears he could be abused, was found in a railway carriage in London. "This is an isolated case but of course the council is extremely concerned that sensitive papers relating to child safety appear to have been left on public transport," a council spokesman said. "It is the position of the council that such documents should be stored and used securely. We will urgently review our procedures and tighten them where necessary to make sure it doesn't happen again." A council worker has been suspended while the review is carried out." [They're clearly just bureaucrats who don't give a damn until they are caught out]


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, December 28, 2009


It takes a Leftist to do real rage. He even calls it rage

The far left is not happy with President Barack Obama, their Messiah.

"Now I'm Really Getting Pissed Off" is an article by David Michael Green, a progressive professor at Hofstra University in New York, that provides a devastatingly negative critique of Obama and his economy-wrecking policies, including his disastrous healthcare reform legislation. Below is the text of his article. Professor Green’s occasional Republican whack with his anti-capitalism club pales in comparison to his shocking blow to Obama's socialist solar plexus, using the same type of rhetorical bludgeon. As one of our grassroots activists, Dan, wrote: “We live in really bizarre times”.

Although the article is a view from the far left, it shows that liberals are finally realizing the danger posed to our nation by the inept Obama and out-of-control Democrats in Congress. What took liberals so long to wake up from their Obama-worship stupor?

Now that progressives/liberals are starting to remove their rose-colored Obama glasses, is there any possibility they will also take off their socialist blinders? If they did, then we might witness an abrupt halt to their quest to turn our country into a failed socialist nation. Sadly, though, the brains of progressives/liberals may be so marinated in socialist dogma they may never understand socialism is like a Vampire that sucks the blood out of an economy, forever turning a nation into the “living” dead, like Cuba and North Korea.

Please Note: In his article, Professor Green also continues to promulgate the Democratic Party’s false version of civil rights history while we, in the NBRA, are working hard to set the civil rights record straight. History shows that it was Republicans, not Democrats, who championed civil rights for blacks. For details see our NBRA Civil Rights Newsletter that is posted on our website.
Now I'm Really Getting Pissed Off


Hey did you hear about the iconic African-American guy who plays golf, and whose relationship with the public is in a free-fall lately? No, as a matter of fact – I’m not talking about Tiger Woods. You know, I’ve really been trying not to write an article every other week about all the things I don’t like about Barack Obama. But the little prick is making it very hard.

Like any good progressive, I’ve gone from admiration to hope to disappointment to anger when it comes to this president. Now I’m fast getting to rage. How much rage? I find myself thinking that the thing I want most from the 2010 elections is for his party to get absolutely clobbered, even if that means a repeat of 1994. And that what I most want from 2012 is for him to be utterly humiliated, even if that means President Palin at the helm. That much rage.

Did this clown really say on national television that “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street”? Really, Barack? So, like, my question is: Then why the hell did you help out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street? Why the hell did you surround yourself with nothing but Robert Rubin proteges in all the key economic positions in your government? Why did you allow them to open a Washington branch of Goldman Sachs in the West Wing? Why have your policies been tailored to helping Wall Street bankers, rather than the other 300 million of us, who just happen to be suffering badly right now?

Are you freakin’ kidding me? What’s up with the passive president routine, anyhow, Fool? You hold the most powerful position in the world. Or maybe Rahm forgot to mention that to you. Or maybe the fat cat bankers don’t actually let do that whole decision-making thing often enough that it would actually matter...

But, really, are you going to spend the next three interminable years perfecting your whiney victim persona? I don’t really think I could bear that. Hearing you complain about how rough it all is, when you have vastly more power than any of us to fix it? Please. Not that. Are you going to tell us that “I did not run for office to be shovel-feeding the military-industrial complex”? But what – they’re just so darned pushy?

“...I did not run for office to continue George Bush’s valiant effort at shredding the Bill of Rights. It’s just that those government-limiting rules are so darned pesky.”

“...I did not run for office to dump a ton of taxpayer money into the coffers of health insurance companies. It’s just that they asked so nicely.”

“...I did not run for office to block equality for gay Americans. I just never got around to doing anything about it.”

“...I did not run for office to turn Afghanistan into Vietnam. I just didn’t want to say no to all the nice generals asking for more troops.”

Here’s a guy who was supposed to actually do something with his presidency, and he’s turned into the skinny little geek on Cell Block D who gets passed around like a rag doll for the pleasure of all the fellas with the tattoos there. He’s being punked by John Boehner, for chrisakes. He’s being rolled by the likes of Joe Lieberman. He calls a come-to-Jesus meeting with Wall Street bank CEOs, and half of them literally phone it in. Everyone from Bibi Netanyahu to the Japanese prime minister to sundry Iranian mullahs is stomping all over Mr. Happy.

And he doesn’t even seem to realize it. Did you see him tell Oprah that he gave himself “a good solid B+” for his first year in office? And that it will be an A, if he gets his healthcare legislation passed? Somebody please pick me up and set me back on my chair, wouldya?

I am seriously beginning to worry that this cat is delusional. He has lopped off twenty full points from his job approval rating in less than a year’s time, falling now below fifty percent. His party, once dominant in generic congressional election poll questions, is today almost even with hated Republicans in the public mind. Last month, Obama’s inverted coattails (don’t even ask where those go) got two Democrats clobbered running for governor in New Jersey and Virginia. The otherwise obnoxious George F. Will (very) rightly points out that in Kentucky, “a Republican candidate succeeded in nationalizing a state Senate race. Hugely outspent in a district in which Democrats have a lopsided registration advantage, the Republican won by 12 points a seat in Frankfort by running against Washington”. Wow. Obama is now wrecking state senate races! What’s next? Will local Republican candidates for sheriff win office just by opposing the embarrassment in the White House who chooses abysmal policies and then refuses to fight for them, lest he should ruffle any feathers?

“For Democrats, the red flags are flying at full mast," said Democratic pollster Peter Hart in a recent AP article. "What we don't know for certain is: Have we reached a bottoming-out point?” Au contraire, Peter. Au contraire. I think anyone more sentient than a newborn amoeba can answer that question. The first thing to note is that the economy is not coming back anytime soon, if it comes back at all. Unless, of course, you’re a fat cat Wall Street banker. Then you’re just fine, because the Bush-Obama administration took care of you quite nicely, thanks very much. The rest of us poor slobs out here in real-world land, on the other hand, got a “jobs summit”.

I can’t even begin to describe how insulting Obama conducting a “jobs summit” is to me, or what an unbelievably ham-fisted piece of public relations that was for the White House, which is increasingly showing itself not just to be sickeningly regressive, but also fully inept. I think I speak for a whole lot of Americans when I say that, one year into his stewardship over a destroyed economy that was actually atomizing for at least six months before inauguration day, I don’t want my president sitting around a table, running a dog-and-pony show, pretending to kick around ideas on how to generate jobs. I wanted him to have those ideas, himself, before he was inaugurated. I wanted those to be real ideas, that produce real jobs for real Americans who are really hurting. I wanted that to be, and still be, the be-all and end-all of his presidency, not some distant fourth-place priority, behind healthcare and the White House dog selection process. And, especially not some fourth-place priority behind jive healthcare reform.

Which brings us to the second answer to Mr. Hart’s question. If Democrats think they’ll be screwed next November because of unemployment, wait till Congress passes this healthcare monstrosity. Or doesn’t. At this point, either way they’re gonna get slammed for it, and rightly so.

If they don’t pass anything, they will be seen as unable to govern. This perception will be quite true because they will have failed to pass a major piece of legislation, despite having 60-40 majorities in both houses of Congress and control of the presidency. It doesn’t get much better than that for a governing party in the American system. But it will be true in an even more profound sense, because the whole priority structure of the Democratic agenda is wrong. Sure, people want healthcare reform right now (especially if it were to miraculously also have the virtue of being authentic healthcare reform), but what they really want, overwhelmingly, is jobs. This choice of priorities is the equivalent of, say, invading Iraq when you’ve been attacked by people in Afghanistan. Surely no president would be that stupid, right? Surely any political party would realize the costs of having priorities so divorced from those of the voters, right?

On the other hand, the Democrats and their hapless president are probably in worse shape if they actually pass this legislation. Especially now that it’s been stripped of nearly every real progressive reform imaginable, it has become an incredibly stupid bill, from the political perspective. It will force people who can’t afford it to spend a giant amount of money on lousy insurance, without any real choice to hold down costs, and it will fund this by hacking away at the Medicare budget. No wonder an insurance industry lobbyist broadcast an email last week declaring: “We WIN. Administered by private insurance companies. No government funding. No government insurance competitor.”

But here’s a little riddle that any sixth-grader can easily figure out, although it seems to have eluded the brain trust at the White House: If insurance companies are winning big-time, then who is doing the losing? Something tells me that if Democrats are dumb enough to pass their own legislation, voters will provide them the answer to that puzzle in November of 2010, and then again two years later. What could be stupider than saddling thirty-five million Americans with a new monthly bill that will probably represent the second or third biggest item in their budget, in exchange for crappy private sector health insurance that is unlikely to pay out when needed, and wastes a third of the dollars paid in premiums on bureaucracy and profits anyhow? Slapping big fines on them if they don’t pony up for the insurance, perhaps? Yep, that’s in there too.

This bill alone could mobilize legions of people to go to the polls and vote for whichever party didn’t do it, and I’m pretty sure the GOP won’t be shy about reminding Americans who that is. I mean, if Democrats were searching for legislation less likely to win them votes, why didn’t they just bring back slavery or the debtor’s prison? Why not come out for pedophilia? It would have been so much more efficient. At least they wouldn’t have spent the last year looking like idiotic bunglers who, in addition to sponsoring really unpopular ideas, also inadvertently left their testicles at the coat check and have spent the last thirty years trying to find their way back to the gala.

Ah, but wait! If you order now, there’s more! As I understand it, the bill doesn’t even actually force insurance companies to cover people, at least in the sense that they can charge prohibitive amounts to those with whatever they define as pre-existing conditions. You know, like the young woman who had a policy but died when she was denied cancer treatment because she had a bad case of acne as a teenager.

This will be a total train wreck for the Democratic Party. Already, the public opposes the plan by a ratio of 47 to 32 percent. And they haven’t even been handed the bill for it yet. And they haven’t even had their premiums skyrocket yet. And they haven’t even seen insurance corporation executives buy small countries for use as second homes with the increased compensation they will be floating in. And they haven’t even found out what this does to their Medicare yet. And they haven’t even seen the impact on the national debt yet. And they haven’t even realized that the ‘good’ parts of the bill don’t go into effect until FOUR YEARS from now.

You know, elite Republicans may be sociopaths, and they may be lower on the moral totem pole than your basic cannibal, but they’re not stupid. I bet they’re salivating at the idea that this thing passes. I bet they’d even have Olympia Snowe vote for it if necessary, just to put it over the top. They must be laughing their asses off at this gift. All they have to do is oppose it right down the line, then say “Told ya so!” at the next election, squashing the pathetic Demognats, one after the next. Hey, even if worse comes to worse and the thing eventually becomes popular, they can always wait a decade or two and become champions of the new publically beloved healthcare system – just like they did for Medicare, Social Security, civil rights, etc.

This is President Nothingburger’s great gift to America, along with doing nothing about jobs, doing nothing about the Middle East, nothing about civil liberties, nothing about civil rights, and now doing nothing at Copenhagen. Regarding the latter, the world is literally on fire, and he jets in, gives a speech haranguing the delegates that “Now is not the time for talk, now is the time for action”, then splits even before the vote in order to beat the snowstorm headed to the east coast that might delay him getting home to his comfy bed. I’m not kidding. You can’t make this shit up, man.

This guy is killing me, though at the same time I still can’t quite figure him out. Here’s what I get: This president is a corporate hack. Like Bush or Clinton, he has constituents, alright – but you and I are not on that particular list. Here’s what I don’t get: He is radically tanking, at a moment when people no longer have patience for those kind of politics anymore. Here’s what I get: This president has his fingers in many pies, as he needs to, ranging from global warming to economic implosion to two wars abroad to massive federal debt.

Here’s what I don’t get: Why does he bother to do these things in a way that pleases no one, and only dramatically undercuts his own political standing? Why does he refuse to make anyone his enemy, thus making everyone his enemy? Is he just massively deluded? I wouldn’t have thought so, but watching the guy give himself a very good grade for 2009 – straight face and all – during the same year he’s lost twenty points off his job approval rating, and at a moment when even blacks and gays are deserting him, you know, you have to wonder.

Is he happy just to be a one-term president – just to say he’s been there and done that, and then sell some more books – even if he is reviled as one of the worst in history? Maybe. But what about the rest of us?

The rest of us, indeed. It’s been quite some time since anyone in the White House ever cared about that sorry pack of rabble. Obama looked like he could’ve been something different. He ain’t. So this is it, folks. Change you can believe in? More like bullshit you can take a bath in, if you ask me.



Senator Max Baucus In A Drunken Tirade On Senate Floor

During the general debate on the health care legislation that recently passed the Senate, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat from Montana, took to the floor of the Senate and engaged in a drunken tirade. Oblivious to the fact that he was slurring his words and mangling his sentences, Senator Baucus shouted down opponents as he let loose a rambling, and at times incoherent, tirade against those dastardly Republicans who refused to be bipartisan.

This drunk is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, charged with overseeing our taxpayer dollars. As is clearly evident from this video, the less than honorable Baucus should not be in charge of a toll booth, much less have a say in the crafting of legislation that will affect every single American.




New blog -- The Conservative Deist Its author is professional philosopher Mike Valle. I like his praise of Sarah Palin.

A Christmas Orange for iPS Cells: "Ever get an orange in your Christmas stocking? Scientists working with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) got the equivalent of an orange in their Christmas stocking this year. Chinese and Austrian scientists reported on Christmas Eve that simply adding ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to the culture medium in which cells are grown increases by 100-fold the efficiency of mouse and human iPS cell production. IPS cells behave like embryonic stem cells, but no embryos, eggs, or cloning are involved in their production. Genes are added to normal cells, such as skin cells, that reprogram the cells to behave like an embryonic stem cell."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" mentions of race etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009: The Year of Lost opportunity in Iran

by Charles Krauthammer

On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not just reject President Obama's latest feckless floating nuclear deadline. He spat on it, declaring that Iran "will continue resisting" until the U.S. has gotten rid of its 8,000 nuclear warheads.

So ends 2009, the year of "engagement," of the extended hand, of the gratuitous apology -- and of spinning centrifuges, two-stage rockets and a secret enrichment facility that brought Iran materially closer to becoming a nuclear power.

We lost a year. But it was not just any year. It was a year of spectacularly squandered opportunity. In Iran, it was a year of revolution, beginning with a contested election and culminating this week in huge demonstrations mourning the death of the dissident Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri -- and demanding no longer a recount of the stolen election but the overthrow of the clerical dictatorship.

Obama responded by distancing himself from this new birth of freedom. First, scandalous silence. Then, a few grudging words. Then relentless engagement with the murderous regime. With offer after offer, gesture after gesture -- to not Iran, but the "Islamic Republic of Iran," as Obama ever so respectfully called these clerical fascists -- the U.S. conferred legitimacy on a regime desperate to regain it.

Why is this so important? Because revolutions succeed at that singular moment, that imperceptible historical inflection, when the people, and particularly those in power, realize that the regime has lost the mandate of heaven. With this weakening dictatorship desperate for affirmation, why is the U.S. repeatedly offering just such affirmation?

Apart from ostracizing and delegitimizing these gangsters, we should be encouraging and reinforcing the demonstrators. This is no trivial matter. When pursued, beaten, arrested and imprisoned, dissidents can easily succumb to feelings of despair and isolation. Natan Sharansky testifies to the electric effect Ronald Reagan's Evil Empire speech had on lifting spirits in the Gulag. The news was spread cell to cell in code tapped on the walls. They knew they weren't alone, that America was committed to their cause.

Yet so aloof has Obama been that on Hate America Day (Nov. 4, the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran), pro-American counter-demonstrators chanted "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them," i.e., their oppressors.

Such cool indifference is more than a betrayal of our values. It's a strategic blunder of the first order.

Forget about human rights. Assume you care only about the nuclear issue. How to defuse it? Negotiations are going nowhere, and whatever U.N. sanctions we might get will be weak, partial, grudging and late. The only real hope is regime change. The revered and widely supported Montazeri had actually issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons.

And even if a successor government were to act otherwise, the nuclear threat would be highly attenuated because it's not the weapon but the regime that creates the danger. (Think India or Britain, for example.) Any proliferation is troubling, but a nonaggressive pro-Western Tehran would completely change the strategic equation and make the threat minimal and manageable.

What should we do? Pressure from without -- cutting off gasoline supplies, for example -- to complement and reinforce pressure from within. The pressure should be aimed not at changing the current regime's nuclear policy -- that will never happen -- but at helping change the regime itself.

Give the kind of covert support to assist dissident communication and circumvent censorship that, for example, we gave Solidarity in Poland during the 1980s. (In those days that meant broadcasting equipment and copying machines.) But of equal importance is robust rhetorical and diplomatic support from the very highest level: full-throated denunciation of the regime's savagery and persecution. In detail -- highlighting cases, the way Western leaders adopted the causes of Sharansky and Andrei Sakharov during the rise of the dissident movement that helped bring down the Soviet empire.

Will this revolution succeed? The odds are long but the reward immense. Its ripple effects would extend from Afghanistan to Iraq (in both conflicts, Iran actively supports insurgents who have long been killing Americans and their allies) to Lebanon and Gaza where Iran's proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, are arming for war.

One way or the other, Iran will dominate 2010. Either there will be an Israeli attack or Iran will arrive at -- or cross -- the nuclear threshold. Unless revolution intervenes. Which is why to fail to do everything in our power to support this popular revolt is unforgivable.



Obama's year of falling swiftly

Reality bites

As Barack and Michelle Obama prepare for their first Christmas in the White House, they might wonder why he has fallen so swiftly from being virtually a national icon to the unhappy status as among the least popular occupants of the Oval Office since modern polling began.

Regardless of what happens during the balance of his presidential tenure, Obama will always be a national treasure because he proved for all time that America truly is the place where any child, including one whose skin is not lily white, can be elected to the most powerful office on Earth.

But, just as Americans can elect whomever they choose to be their commander-in-chief, they can also decide they made a serious mistake in their choice. There is an especially bitter cast to that realization when it involves a recognition that they were lied to by somebody in whom they invested a historic trust.

To grasp the depth of the gathering disappointment with Obama, consider this fact: He is less popular today, not quite a year into his first term, than the battered and bruised George W. Bush was at the end of his eight years in office.

Here are the numbers: Scott Rasmussen's latest survey of likely voters -- the most reliable predictor of future election results -- finds 56 percent of those questioned either disapprove or strongly disapprove of Obama's performance, with 46 percent falling in the latter category. When Bush left office, 43 percent strongly disapproved of his performance.

In the Gallup Poll, only one in four Americans is satisfied with the direction in which Obama and the Democratic Congress are leading the country. Rasmussen's tracking finds Republicans with their biggest lead of the year in the generic congressional party balloting, leading Democrats by 44 percent to 36 percent. Only one in four Americans approves of the job Congress is doing, according to Gallup.

It's not hard to see why Obama and the Democratic Congress have sunk so low in the public esteem. Obama's signature issue, for example, is health care reform, and his solution is to create a government-run health care system.

Whatever the merits of Obama's proposed solution, health care reform is an odd choice for a signature issue. As Gallup puts it, "the perception that healthcare is the nation's top problem was fairly scarce during most of the decade, reaching a low point of 1% in October 2001 (as terrorism overrode other concerns)."

When Obama and congressional leaders turned their attention away from economic recovery to the campaign to enact Obamacare, "the public's mentioning of healthcare as the country's top problem began to rise again, reaching 26% by late August/early September," according to Gallup.

But now, "at decade's end, concerns over healthcare had drifted back to 16%."

In other words, the smartest guy in the room ran a slick presidential campaigns, capitalizing on public disgust with his predecessor by portraying himself as a tax cutter who would deliver "a net spending reduction," and benefiting from a generational yearning to make history by electing the country's first black president.

It was a brilliant strategy, but, once in office, Obama lost his touch. He and his advisers believed their own hubristic press releases about solving the nation's problems by doing what Washington Democrats have been doing since FDR -- throwing tax dollars and bureaucrats at them -- only doing it more spectacularly than ever before.

So they've done pretty much what I predicted they would do in a Feb. 11 column: Obama has spent 2009 "making himself the symbol of what's wrong with Washington rather than being the agent of change in Washington."

The title of that column was "Obama headed to a one-term strategy." He still is.



Detroit terror attack is a major intelligence and security failure

The fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was able to trigger his home-made incendiary device on board a US airliner represents an intelligence and security failure of staggering proportions. Tough questions need to be asked of not just the US security agencies – such as the CIA and the FBI – but also of Britain's MI6, MI5 and the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorist unit.

How can a Muslim student, whose name appears on a US law enforcement database, be granted a visa to travel to America, allegedly acquire an explosive device from Yemen, a country awash with al-Qaeda terrorists, and avoid detection from the world's most sophisticated spy agencies?

Every intelligence agency across the world is fully aware that the targets of choice for al-Qaeda and its numerous affiliates and sympathisers are airliners – preferably those flying to the US. Yet Abdulmutallab seems to have avoided detection in both Nigeria and Holland when he passed through the various security checks at Lagos and Schiphol airports respectively. Embarrassingly for Washington, Lagos airport had recently been given the "all clear" by the US's Transportation Security Administration, an agency established in the wake of the 9/11 attacks which was supposed to improve the security on American airliners.

Attacking airlines is not exactly new territory for al-Qaeda. After 9/11, Richard Reid, a British Muslim convert, tried to blow up a transatlantic airliner by detonating explosives hidden in his shoes. More recently, Britain was the base for the so-called liquid bomb plot when a group of British Islamists plotted to destroy up to 10 US bound airliners in a series of attacks designed to kill thousands. As 9/11 showed, for a relatively cheap outlay- the cost of the operation was estimated at round £300,000 – the impact of an airline attack can be global: the desired conclusion for every al-Qaeda mission.

Yet Abdulmutallab, a 23-year Nigerian, who US officials said studied mechanical engineering at University College in London, came frighteningly close to committing a terrorist atrocity undetected. MI5, Britain's security service, will be spending the next few weeks frantically trying to discover whether Abdulmutallab had, at any time, appeared on their radar. The service will want to know whether he was a complete unknown or if he was one of the 2,000-plus "persons of interest" MI5 currently has on its books and who are believed to be associated with al-Qaeda in some capacity.

There will be further concern and some embarrassment within MI5 and the British government if it emerges that Abdulmutallab entered the country with a student visa. There is a belief within some quarters of Whitehall that the visa offer potential terrorists easy access into the UK where they can recruit support and plot attacks. If it is established for definite that the suspect did study in the UK, MI5 will be keen to discover if he was a terrorist before he entered Britain in 2005 or whether he was radicalised in the UK.

Any Yemen connection brings an international dimension to the plot and suggests that this "near miss" was a conspiracy and not the work of one man acting alone. Such a notion will prove hugely worrying for the US and Britain because it would suggest that al-Qaeda have managed to create another international, and as yet unknown, network capable of planning and mounting attacks.

The US has an important and sensitive relationship with Yemen, a rare western ally in the Gulf region and a country fighting an insurgency against Islamist radicals. CIA drones have killed al-Qaeda operatives based in the country and just last week two terrorist leaders were reported to have been died in a Yemeni air force attack.

The simplicity of the latest plot – another al-Qaeda hallmark – could also lead to changes into the way passengers are body searched in the future. Reports suggest that Abdulmutallab was able to carry the powdery substance undetected by concealing it on the inside of his upper thigh, close to his groin – an area likely to avoid detection even by the most conscientious of security officials. It would appear that he was allowed to take a syringe containing a liquid on board the aircraft by apparently taking advantage of airlines' policy of allowing diabetics to inject themselves during flight. Changes of some sort to passenger travel would seem to be a certainty. British Airways has already announced that hand baggage has been reduced to one item following the attack.

Whether Abdulmutallab was directed by al-Qaeda – as he initially claimed to US investigators but later denied – or whether his connections were more "aspirational" remains to be seen.

But what this incident demonstrates is that despite all the improvements in security since 9/11, determined terrorists can and will continue to mount terrorists attacks against western targets – and one day they will succeed.




China's 245mph train service is the world's fastest... and it was completed in just FOUR years: "In the week that Britain's high speed rail link closed down because the wrong sort of snow interfered with the engine's electronics, China unveiled the world's fastest train service on one of the coldest days of the year. Days after thousands of passengers were left stranded when Eurostar services were cancelled, China's new system connects the modern cities of Guangzhou and Wuhan at an average speed of 217mph - and it took just four years to build. The super-high-speed train reduces the 664-mile journey to just a three-hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven-and-a-half hours, the official Xinhua news agency said. Work on the project began in 2005 as part of plans to expand a high-speed network aimed at eventually linking Guangzhou, a business hub in southern China near Hong Kong, with the capital Beijing, Xinhua added. 'The train can go 245mph, it's the fastest train in operation in the world,' said Zhang Shuguang, head of the transport bureau at the railways ministry. By comparison, the average for high-speed trains in Japan was 150mph while in France it was 172mph, said Xu Fangliang, general engineer in charge of designing the link."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)