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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "How ISIS Drives Muslims From Islam": Yet More Drivel About Shariah Law From Tom Terrific

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "How ISIS Drives Muslims From Islam," Thomas Friedman writes:

"THE Islamic State has visibly attracted young Muslims from all over the world to its violent movement to build a caliphate in Iraq and Syria. But here’s what’s less visible — the online backlash against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, by young Muslims declaring their opposition to rule by Islamic law, or Shariah, and even proudly avowing their atheism."

Fascinating! A backlash against ISIS and Shariah law. The fly in Friedman's ointment? That's simple. As reported by the Pew Research Center in April 2013, the "% of Muslims who favor making sharia the official law in their country" is as follows:

Indonesia: 72
Malaysia: 86
Afghanistan: 99
Pakistan: 84
Bangladesh: 82
Iraq: 91
Morocco: 83
Egypt: 74
Jordan: 71
Tunisia: 56
Palestinian Territories: 89

Of course, according to the Pew Research Center, there are also Muslim countries with lower percentages, e.g., Kazakhstan with 10 percent. However, the percentage in Indonesia, the country with the largest population of Muslims in the world, is not going to decline overnight.

Friedman's examples of opposition to Shariah Law are meant to warm our hearts? Remember how Friedman gushed over the Arab Spring from Tahrir Square . . .

Spare me. I no longer have the patience.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "The Gift That Keeps Giving": More Hot Air on Terrorism From Tom Terrific

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Gift That Keeps Giving," Thomas Friedman writes:

"I have sympathy for President Obama having to deal with this mess of a world, where the key threats come from crumbling states that can be managed only by rebuilding them at a huge cost, with uncertain outcomes and dodgy partners. Americans don’t want that job. Yet these disorderly states create openings for low-probability, high-impact terrorism, where the one-in-a-million lucky shot can really hurt us. No president wants to be on duty when that happens either. Yet many more Americans were killed in their cars by deer last year than by terrorists. I don’t think Obama has done that badly navigating all these contradictions. He has done a terrible job explaining what he is doing and connecting his restraint with any larger policy goals at home or abroad."

Chaos in Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan only "create openings for low-probability, high-impact terrorism, where the one-in-a-million lucky shot can really hurt us"? Fascinating.

But now consider what Thomas S. Warrick, deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism policy at the Department of Homeland Security, told the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Trade, yesterday:

"While this hearing focuses on the terrorist threat from Syria and Iraq, core al-Qa’ida, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and their affiliates and adherents in other parts of the world are a major concern for DHS. Despite senior leadership deaths, these groups maintain the intent and, in some cases, the capability to conduct attacks against U.S. citizens and our facilities. AQAP and other terrorist groups have shown they can adjust their tactics, techniques and procedures to target the West in a number of ways.

. . . .

At present, DHS is unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. Homeland from ISIL. However, violent extremists who support terrorist groups based in Syria have demonstrated the intent and capability to target American citizens overseas. ISIL constitutes an active and serious threat within the region and could attempt attacks on U.S. targets overseas with little-to-no warning.

. . . .

We are concerned about the threat of foreign fighters from the United States or elsewhere who might go to Syria, become even more radicalized, and then return to their home countries, including the United States, where they might try to conduct attacks either on their own or in concert with others."

Note that Warrick does not refer to "low-probability, high-impact terrorism, where the one-in-a-million lucky shot can really hurt us."

So whom do you believe, Friedman or Warrick? I know whom I would trust.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sabrien Amrov and Alaa Tartir, "Subcontracting Repression in the West Bank and Gaza": Thanksgiving Israel-Bashing From The New York Times

In yet another Israel-bashing New York Times op-ed entitled "Subcontracting Repression in the West Bank and Gaza," Sabrien Amrov and Alaa Tartir write:

"Palestinians under Israeli occupation need a police force to maintain internal law and order, but one that is accountable to the people themselves, not to Israel or the donor community."

Their conclusion:

"There can be no security for Israel if Palestinians do not have their basic rights."

The Palestinian police must be "accountable to the people themselves, not to Israel or the donor community"? Palestinians must "have their basic rights"? Fascinating. And just what do the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza want?

As reported by the Pew Research Center in April 2013:

  • 89 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories "favor making sharia the official law in their country."
  • Among Muslims in the Palestinian territories who say sharia should be the law of the land, 84 percent "favor stoning as a punishment for adultery."
  • Among Muslims in the Palestinian territories who say sharia should be the law of the land, 66 percent "favor the death penalty for converts."
  • 40 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories "say suicide bombing in defense of Islam is often/sometimes justified."
  • 89 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories say that homosexual behavior is "morally wrong."
  • 44 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories say that "honor killings" are "never justified" when a "female committed the offense."
  • 87 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories "completely or mostly agree that a wife must always obey her husband."
  • 33 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories "say a wife should be able to divorce her husband."
  • 89 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories say that "Islam alone" leads to heaven.
  • 82 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories say that "converting others is a religious duty."

"There can be no security for Israel if Palestinians do not have their basic rights"? Given the findings of the Pew Research Center, perhaps Amrov and Tartir should have delineated just what those basic rights are. They obviously don't apply to women or homosexuals, and a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe that suicide bombing is often/sometimes justified, even if it deprives others of their "basic rights."

But heck, this isn't what New York Times readers want to know while gobbling their turkey and stuffing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

David Ignatius, "At an impasse with Iran": Perpetuating the Myth of Rouhani's Moderation

David Ignatius has been duped into believing Iran's good cop/bad cop routine. In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "At an impasse with Iran," Ignatius declares:

"A glimpse of this internal Iranian debate came in the statements following the announcement of the extension. President Hassan Rouhani gave a televised speech Monday night that seemed designed, at once, to reassure an Iranian public that wants a deal and to lobby the hard-line faction that doesn’t.

'I am certain that we will reach the final accord, if not today, then tomorrow,' said an optimistic-sounding Rouhani. He claimed that 'Iran’s logic is one of negotiations and dialogue' and that negotiators 'have had some agreements behind the scenes, but putting those on paper, we are still not there yet.'"

Ah yes, the "good" Rouhani, who needs to lobby Iranian hard-liners.

However, as reported by Adam Kredo in a Washington Free Beacon article entitled "Iran: ‘Americans Have Very Clearly Surrendered’":

"Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday in a television interview that the country’s 'centrifuges will not stop,' according to a translation of his remarks.

'Today we have a victory much greater than what happened in the negotiation,' Rouhani said. 'This victory is that our circumstances are not like previous years. Today we are at a point that nobody in the world [in which no one says] sanctions must be increased in order that Iran accept P5+1 demands.'

'No one says to reach agreement we must increase pressure on Iran,' Rouhani said. 'But they say to reach an agreement more time and more discussion is needed. This is a great victory for what the Iranian nation started since last June 15.'

. . . .

'Centrifuges have been running and I promise the Iranian nation that centrifuges will never stop,' he said."

So, over the course of this additional seven-month extension of the "negotiations" between Iran and the P5+1, Iran's centrifuges will continue to spin, and Iran will grow that much closer to obtaining sufficient enriched uranium for an atomic bomb. In addition, Iran will continue to recover $700 million a month in frozen assets during the extension. Yup, a pretty darned good deal for Iran.

Needless to say, there is no mention by Ignatius how "good cop" Rouhani has overseen a spike of executions in Iran. As reported in an October 14, 2014 Washington Times article entitled "Iran executions surge amid U.S. nuclear talks" by Guy Taylor:

"Iran’s abuse of human rights, including the hangings of hundreds of dubiously convicted citizens — in several cases minors — has soared over the past year, even as the Obama administration has yielded to Tehran’s demand for an extension in precarious international talks over the Islamic republic’s disputed nuclear program.

. . . .

During the 14 months since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office, Iranian authorities have carried out at least 936 executions, according to data compiled by the Connecticut-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center.

. . . .

An advance copy provided to The Washington Times notes the executions of at least 22 women since Mr. Rouhani took office and highlights more than a dozen cases of people younger than 18 accused of crimes and hanged. One case involved Iraj Nassiri, whom the report says was 'less than 15' when Iranian authorities accused him of 'premeditated murder.'"

Ignatius would also have us believe that there exists another Iranian "good cop," Mohammad Javad Zarif:

"When I was in Tehran a year ago, it was obvious that the nuclear issue had become a fundamental political and economic crossroads for Iran. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister and chief negotiator, told me that a final agreement 'can change the course of our relations with the West.'

. . . .

A year later, despite progress on many of the technical details that would frame an agreement, this split in Tehran still exists — hampering Zarif’s ability to offer concessions the West wants in return for lifting sanctions."

Ignatius fails to mention how, during the negotiations, the "moderate" Zarif screamed at US Secretary of State John Kerry. Again, as reported by Adam Kredo in a Washington Free Beacon article entitled "Reports: Top Iranian Negotiator ‘Frequently Shouts’ at Kerry, Western Officials":

"Iran’s foreign minister and lead negotiator in nuclear talks is known to frequently scream and shout at Western diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry, a practice that has caused alarm among bodyguards stationed outside the negotiating room, according to a member of the Iranian diplomatic team who spoke to the Farsi-language press.

. . . .

On one occasion, Zarif’s shouts were so loud that a member of the Iranian delegation entered the negotiation room to check on the players, according to the report, which was independently translated for the Free Beacon.

Upon entering, the Iranian official was informed by European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, a chief western negotiator, that Zarif was just shouting and she had gotten used to it, according to an independent translation of the report."

Needless to say, Kerry and Ashton didn't have the good sense to walk out of the room.

The negotiations over Iran's nuclear weapons development program are obviously going nowhere, notwithstanding the fact that Obama had hoped to make an agreement with Khamenei the crowing achievement of his second term. With this hope all but shattered, will Obama now attempt to kick this can down the road until the end of his second term? He obviously hopes to do this, and the Iranians know it.

New York Times Editorial, "A Problem Beyond Mr. Hagel": Et Tu, Brute?

As reported by Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News in an article entitled "'Greatest Privilege of My Life': Chuck Hagel Resigns as Defense Secretary," the Obama administration has already begun to snipe at outgoing US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. As reported by the article, an anonymous "senior official" declared that Hagel "wasn’t up to the job." Well, as pointed out on numerous occasions in this blog, Hagel certainly wasn't one of the brighter lights in the Obama administration (I'm being kind), but this should have been apparent to anyone witnessing his confirmation hearings. On the other hand, Hagel faithfully carried out Obama's policy of implementing military budget cuts at a time when the US was facing heightened challenges from ISIS in the Middle East.

However, proven wrong in his assessment of the threat posed by ISIS (a "JV squad"), Obama, a narcissist, could not possibly acknowledge his mistake, and a scapegoat for this failure, i.e. Hagel, needed to be found.

Today, in an editorial entitled "A Problem Beyond Mr. Hagel," The New York Times actually suggests that Hagel is not responsible for the failure of US military policy over the past two years. Remarkably, the Times appears to lay the blame on Obama:

"[Hagel] was not the core of the Obama administration’s military problem. That lies with the president and a national security policy that has too often been incoherent and shifting at a time of mounting international challenges, especially in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

. . . .

Mr. Hagel was not well served by the fact that national security policy is tightly controlled by the White House, with Mr. Obama relying on a small group of aides, including Susan Rice, the national security adviser, for counsel. That process has often resulted in delayed and contradictory signals about Mr. Obama’s foreign policy agenda and the military strategies needed to carry it out.

. . . .

A more aggressive defense secretary who has Mr. Obama’s full confidence and ear may be able to better deal with chaos and war on these fronts. But, ultimately, it is Mr. Obama who will have to set the course with a more coherent strategy."

Ouch. Et tu, Brute?

Obama, the Procrastinator-in-Chief, "will have to set the course with a more coherent strategy"? When? Between rounds of golf?

Or will this new strategy be prepared by Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes and Valerie Jarrett? Not likely. "Senior officials" in the Obama administration are too busy undercutting those perceived as the president's enemies and former faithful servants, who, it is feared, could write additional uncomplimentary memoirs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Horror in Israel": Material for a New Opera by John Adams?

Writing of yesterday's murder of four men praying in a West Jerusalem synagogue (three held dual American/Israeli citizenship, while the fourth held dual British/Israeli citizenship) and of an Israeli policeman who came to defend them, The New York Times declares in an editorial entitled "Horror in Israel":

"There is no comprehending the murder of four men, including three rabbis, at a synagogue complex in a neighborhood of West Jerusalem on Tuesday."

Indeed, there is no comprehending this horror.

Yet The New York Times wrote in a September 19th editorial entitled "The Met Opera Stands Firm" and subtitled "‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ Must Go On":

"Protesting groups are demanding that the production be scrapped, contending the opera is anti-Semitic in depicting the 1985 murder of Leon Klinghoffer by Palestinian terrorists who seized a Mediterranean cruise ship and threw Mr. Klinghoffer and his wheelchair overboard after shooting him.

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.

The Met should not have yielded to its critics, including Mr. Klinghoffer’s daughters, earlier this year when Mr. Gelb canceled live broadcasts of the opera in movie theaters around the world because of what he saw as 'rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.'"

How can The New York Times describe "The Death of Klinghoffer" as "moving and nuanced in imagining a tragedy that gives voice to all sides," yet denounce yesterday's murder of Jews engaged in prayer as incomprehensible?

Perhaps Adams should write a new opera about this abomination, again giving voice to all sides.

A double standard? You bet. Shame on the editorial board of the Times!

Monday, November 17, 2014

David Brooks, "Obama in Winter": "Gruberism" in Action

It's no secret that The New York Times has gone to extreme efforts to avoid mention of MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, whose recently revealed declarations concerning the stupidity of American voters and a lack of transparency involving the passage of Obamacare have aroused indignation throughout the United States. Well, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama in Winter," David Brooks writes of "Gruberism" as it relates to the Obama administration. Referring to Obama's threat to veto the Keystone XL pipeline and to take unilateral action on immigration, Brooks concludes:

"I’m not sure why the Obama administration has been behaving so strangely since the midterms. Maybe various people in the White House are angry in defeat and want to show that they can be as obstructionist as anyone. Maybe, in moments of stress, they are only really sensitive to criticism from the left flank. Maybe it’s Gruberism: the belief that everybody else is slightly dumber and less well-motivated than oneself and, therefore, politics is more about manipulation than conversation.

Whatever it is, it’s been a long journey from the Iowa caucuses in early 2008 to the pre-emptive obstruction of today. I wonder if, post-presidency, Mr. Obama will look back and regret that he got sucked into the very emotional maelstrom he set out to destroy."

Obama will look back and regret something in 2017 and the years thereafter? Sorry, David, not a chance. Owing to a narcissistic belief in his moral and intellectual superiority, Obama is not capable of regret. Everyone else is wrong. Everyone else is to blame. He was betrayed by those stupid American voters, who twice elected him to the highest office in the land. And given that Obama was betrayed, we can only expect total war with Congress and scorched earth during his final two years in office.

Obama has been "behaving so strangely since the midterms"? Not at all. It's all part and parcel of the Götterdämmerung of this tragedy's final act.