Monday, July 29, 2013
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Philanthropy has become the “it” vehicle to level the playing field and has generated a growing number of gatherings, workshops and affinity groups.
As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.
But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.
And with more business-minded folks getting into the act, business principles are trumpeted as an important element to add to the philanthropic sector. I now hear people ask, “what’s the R.O.I.?” when it comes to alleviating human suffering, as if return on investment were the only measure of success. Microlending and financial literacy (now I’m going to upset people who are wonderful folks and a few dear friends) — what is this really about? People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn’t all this just feed the beast?
I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
There will be though feverish speculation over whether the newborn is to have a bris. At least as far back as Victorian times, circumcision was de rigueur for royal princes. According to Hanoverian tradition, the procedure was carried out not by the royal physician but a Jewish mohel. An entire generation of Jewish men is still proud to say that they were attended to by the same practitioner as Prince Charles. However, when it came to the next generation Diana, as she was to do so many times over the years, rebelled against the queen's wishes when her sons were born. If a multitude of sources are to be trusted, then William was circumcised in a medical procedure (according to some versions of his own choice at a much later date) and Harry's foreskin is still intact. No details have yet been released regarding the plans regarding the new prince's private part but if past experience is anything to go by, we will know sooner or later.
Monday, July 22, 2013
What a Whistleblower Thinks a Fellow Whistleblower Might Have Thought
This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.
As a State Department whistleblower, I think a lot about Edward Snowden. I can’t help myself. My friendships with other whistleblowers like Tom Drake, Jesslyn Radack, Daniel Ellsberg, and John Kiriakou lead me to believe that, however different we may be as individuals, our acts have given us much in common. I suspect that includes Snowden, though I’ve never had the slightest contact with him. Still, as he took his long flight from Hong Kong into the unknown, I couldn’t help feeling that he was thinking some of my thoughts, or I his. Here are five things that I imagine were on his mind (they would have been on mine) as that plane took off.
I Am Afraid
Whistleblowers act on conscience because they encounter something so horrifying, unconstitutional, wasteful, fraudulent, or mismanaged that they are overcome by the need to speak out. There is always a calculus of pain and gain (for others, if not oneself), but first thoughts are about what you’ve uncovered, the information you feel compelled to bring into the light, rather than your own circumstances.
In my case, I was ignorant of what would happen once I blew the whistle. I didn’t expect the Department of State to attack me. Snowden was different in this. He had the example of Bradley Manning and others to learn from. He clearly never doubted that the full weight of the U.S. government would fall on him.
He knew what to fear. He knew the Obama administration was determined to make any whistleblower pay, likely via yet another prosecution under the Espionage Act (with the potential for the death penalty). He also knew what his government had done since 9/11 without compunction: it had tortured and abused people to crush them; it had forced those it considered enemies into years of indefinite imprisonment, creating isolation cells for suspected terrorists and even a pre-trial whistleblower. It had murdered Americans without due process, and then, of course, there were the extraordinary renditions in which U.S. agents kidnapped perceived enemies and delivered them into the archipelago of post-9/11 horrors.
Sooner or later, if you’re a whistleblower, you get scared. It’s only human. On that flight, I imagine that Edward Snowden, for all his youthful confidence and bravado, was afraid. Would the Russians turn him over to Washington as part of some secret deal, maybe the sort of spy-for-spy trade that would harken back to the Cold War era?
Even if he made it out of Moscow, he couldn’t have doubted that the full resources of the NSA and other parts of the U.S. government would be turned on him. How many CIA case officers and Joint Special Operations Command types did the U.S. have undercover in Ecuador? After all, the dirty tricks had already started. The partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke Snowden’s story, had his laptop stolen from their residence in Brazil. This happened only after Greenwald told him via Skype that he would send him an encrypted copy of Snowden’s documents.
In such moments, you try to push back the sense of paranoia that creeps into your mind when you realize that you are being monitored, followed, watched. It’s uncomfortable, scary. You have to wonder what your fate will be once the media grows bored with your story, or when whatever government has given you asylum changes its stance vis-a-vis the U.S. When the knock comes at the door, who will protect you? So who can doubt that fear made the journey with him?
Could I Go Back to the U.S.?
Amnesty International was on target when it stated that Snowden “could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the U.S.” As if to prove them right, months, if not years, before any trial, Speaker of the House John Boehner called Snowden a “traitor”; Congressman Peter King called him a “defector”; and others were already demanding his execution. If that wasn’t enough, the abuse Bradley Manning suffered had already convinced Snowden that a fair trial and humane treatment were impossible dreams for a whistleblower of his sort. (He specifically cited Manning in his appeal for asylum to Ecuador.)
So on that flight he knew — as he had long known — that the natural desire to go back to the U.S. and make a stand was beyond foolhardy. Yet the urge to return to the country he loves must have been traveling with him, too. Perhaps on that flight he found himself grimly amused that, after years of running roughshod over international standards — Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” “black sites” — the U.S. had the nerve to chide Hong Kong, China, and Russia for not following the rule of law. He certainly knew that his own revelations about massive NSA cyber-spying on Hong Kong and China had deeply embarrassed the Obama administration. It had, after all, been blistering the Chinese for hacking into U.S. military and corporate computers. He himself had ensured that the Chinese wouldn’t turn him over, in the same way that history — decades of U.S. bullying in Latin America — ensured that he had a shot at a future in someplace like in Ecuador.
If he knew his extradition history, Snowden might also have thought about another time when Washington squirmed as a man it wanted left a friendly country for asylum. In 2004, the U.S. had chess great Bobby Fischer detained in Japan on charges that he had attended a 1992 match in Yugoslavia in violation of a U.S. trade ban. Others suggested that the real reason Washington was after him may have been Fischer’s post 9/11 statement: “It’s time to finish off the U.S. once and for all. This just shows what comes around, goes around.”
Fischer’s American passport was revoked just like Snowden’s. In the fashion of Hong Kong more recently, the Japanese released Fischer on an immigration technicality, and he flew to Iceland where he was granted citizenship. I was a diplomat in Japan at the time, and had a ringside seat for the negotiations. They must have paralleled what went on in Hong Kong: the appeals to treaty and international law; U.S. diplomats sounding like so many disappointed parents scolding a child; the pale hopes expressed for future good relations; the search for a sympathetic ear among local law enforcement agencies, immigration, and the foreign ministry — anybody, in fact — and finally, the desperate attempt to call in personal favors to buy more time for whatever Plan B might be. As with Snowden, in the end the U.S. stood by helplessly as its prey flew off.
How Will I Live Now?
At some point every whistleblower realizes his life will never be the same. For me, that meant losing my job of 24 years at the State Department. For Tom Drake, it meant financial ruin as the government tried to bankrupt him through endless litigation. For CIA agent John Kiriakou, it might have been the moment when, convicted of disclosing classified information to journalists, he said goodbye to his family and walked into Loretto Federal Correctional Institution.
Snowden could not have avoided anxiety about the future. Wherever he ended up, how would he live? What work would he do? He’s just turned 30 and faces, at best, a lifetime in some foreign country he’s never seen where he might not know the language or much of anything else.
So fear again, in a slightly different form. It never leaves you, not when you take on the world’s most powerful government. Would he ever see his family and friends again? Would they disown him, fearful of retaliation or affected by the smear campaign against him? Would his parents/best friend/girlfriend come to believe he was a traitor, a defector, a dangerous man? All whistleblowers find their personal relationships strained. Marriages are tested or broken, friends lost, children teased or bullied at school. I know from my own whistleblower’s journey that it’s an ugly penalty — encouraged by a government scorned — for acting on conscience.
If he had a deeper sense of history, Snowden might have found humor in the way the Obama administration chose to revoke his passport just before he left Hong Kong. After all, in the Cold War years, it was the “evil empire,” the Soviet Union, which was notorious for refusing to grant dissidents passports, while the U.S. regularly waived such requirements when they escaped to the West.
To deepen the irony of the moment, perhaps he was able to Google up the 2009-2011 figures on U.S. grants of asylum: 1,222 Russians, 9,493 Chinese, and 22 Ecuadorians, not including family members. Maybe he learned that, despite the tantrums U.S. officials threw regarding the international obligation of Russia to extradite him, the U.S. has recently refused Russian requests to extradite two of its citizens.
Snowden might have mused over then-candidate Obama’s explicit pledge to protect whistleblowers. “Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government,” Obama then said, “is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism… should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration.” It might have been Snowden’s only laugh of the flight.
I Don’t Hate the U.S., I Love It Deeply, But Believe It Has Strayed
On that flight, Snowden took his love of America with him. It’s what all of us whistleblowers share: a love of country, if not necessarily its government, its military, or its intelligence services. We care what happens to us the people. That may have been his anchor on his unsettling journey. It would have been mine.
Remember, if we were working in the government in the first place, like every federal employee, soldier, and many government contractors, we had taken an oath that stated: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” We didn’t pledge fealty to the government or a president or party, only — as the Constitution makes clear — to the ultimate source of legitimacy in our nation, “the people.”
In an interview, Snowden indicated that he held off on making his disclosures for some time, in hopes that Barack Obama might look into the abyss and decide to become the bravest president in our history by reversing the country’s course. Only when Obama’s courage or intelligence failed was it time to become a whistleblower.
Some pundits claim that Snowden deserves nothing, because he didn’t go through “proper channels.” They couldn’t be more wrong and Snowden knows it. As with many of us whistleblowers facing a government acting in opposition to the Constitution, Snowden went through the channels that matter most: he used a free press to speak directly to his real boss, the American people.
In that sense, whatever the fear and anxiety about his life and his future, he must have felt easy with his actions. He had not betrayed his country, he had sought to inform it.
As with Bradley Manning, Obama administration officials are now claiming that Snowden has blood on his hands. Typically, Secretary of State John Kerry claimed: “People may die as a consequence to what this man did. It is possible that the United States would be attacked because terrorists may now know how to protect themselves in some way or another that they didn’t know before.” Snowden had heard the same slurs circling around Bradley Manning: that he had put people in danger. After the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to speak of the war on terror, there is irony too obvious to dwell upon in such charges.
Flying into the unknown, Snowden had to feel secure in having risked everything to show Americans how their government and the NSA bend or break laws to collect information on us in direct conflict with the Fourth Amendment’s protections. Amnesty International pointed out that blood-on-hands wasn’t at issue. “It appears he is being charged primarily for revealing U.S. and other governments’ unlawful actions that violate human rights.” Those whispers of support are something to take into the dark with you.
I Believe in Things Bigger Than Myself
Some of the charges against Snowden would make anyone pause: that, for instance, he did what he did for the thrill of publicity, out of narcissism, or for his own selfish reasons. To any of the members of the post-9/11 club of whistleblowers, the idea that we acted primarily for our own benefit has a theater of the absurd quality to it. Having been there, the negative sentiments expressed do not read or ring true.
Snowden himself laughed off the notion that he had acted for his own benefit. If he had wanted money, any number of foreign governments would have paid handsomely for the information he handed out to journalists for free and he would never have had to embark on that plane flight from Hong Kong. (No one ever called Aldrich Ames a whistleblower.) If he wanted fame, there were potential book contracts and film deals to be had.
No, it was conscience. I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere along the line Snowden had read the Declaration of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
Edward Snowden undoubtedly took comfort knowing that a growing group of Americans are outraged enough to resist a government turning against its own people. His thoughts were mirrored by Julian Assange, who said, “In the Obama administration’s attempt to crush these young whistleblowers with espionage charges, the U.S. government is taking on a generation, a young generation of people who find the mass violation of the rights of privacy and open process unacceptable. In taking on the generation, the Obama administration can only lose.” Snowden surely hoped President Obama would ask himself why he has pursued more than double the number of Espionage Act cases of all his presidential predecessors combined, and why almost all of those prosecutions failed.
On that flight, Edward Snowden must have reflected on what he had lost, including the high salary, the sweet life in Hawaii and Switzerland, the personal relationships, and the excitement of being on the inside, as well as the coolness of knowing tomorrow’s news today. He has already lost much that matters in an individual life, but not everything that matters. Sometimes — and any whistleblower comes to know this in a deep way — you have to believe that something other, more, deeper, better than yourself matters. You have to believe that one courageous act of conscience might make a difference in an America gone astray or simply that, matter or not, you did the right thing for your country.
- See more at: http://wemeantwell.com/#sthash.AHYX83IL.dpuf
Now have a look at the uncannily prophetic description of Starnesville, a Mid-Western town in Ayn Rand’s dystopian novel, Atlas Shrugged. Starnesville had been home to the great Twentieth Century Motor Company, but declined as a result of socialism:
A few houses still stood within the skeleton of what had once been an industrial town. Everything that could move, had moved away; but some human beings had remained. The empty structures were vertical rubble; they had been eaten, not by time, but by men: boards torn out at random, missing patches of roofs, holes left in gutted cellars. It looked as if blind hands had seized whatever fitted the need of the moment, with no concept of remaining in existence the next morning. The inhabited houses were scattered at random among the ruins; the smoke of their chimneys was the only movement visible in town. A shell of concrete, which had been a schoolhouse, stood on the outskirts; it looked like a skull, with the empty sockets of glassless windows, with a few strands of hair still clinging to it, in the shape of broken wires. Beyond the town, on a distant hill, stood the factory of the Twentieth Century Motor Company. Its walls, roof lines and smokestacks looked trim, impregnable like a fortress. It would have seemed intact but for a silver water tank: the water tank was tipped sidewise. They saw no trace of a road to the factory in the tangled miles of trees and hillsides. They drove to the door of the first house in sight that showed a feeble signal of rising smoke. The door was open. An old woman came shuffling out at the sound of the motor. She was bent and swollen, barefooted, dressed in a garment of flour sacking. She looked at the car without astonishment, without curiosity; it was the blank stare of a being who had lost the capacity to feel anything but exhaustion. “Can you tell me the way to the factory?” asked Rearden. The woman did not answer at once; she looked as if she would be unable to speak English. “What factory?” she asked. Rearden pointed. “That one.” “It’s closed.”Now here’s the really extraordinary thing. When Ayn Rand published those words in 1957, Detroit was, on most measures, the city with the highest per capita GDP in the United States.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Monday, July 15, 2013
Anti-Semitic TV miniseries have become a cottage industry in the Muslim world. The latest, the Egyptian program Khaybar, takes its name from a battle in 629 CE battle when followers of Muhammad defeated a Jewish tribe, slaughtered the men and sold the women and children into slavery. It will be broadcast during the holy month of Ramadan when many families are home to break their fast and gather around the TV together. Ramadan, which falls in July this year, is "prime time."
Something deeper than the Israel-Palestinian territorial dispute is driving this disturbing phenomenon, and the problem is getting worse. Decades of frustration and distrust on both sides of the Arab-Israel conflict exacerbates this incitement, but it alone can't explain it. The "prime time" virulence is only one part of a xenophobia which also fuels anti-western sentiment and persecution of indigenous Christians. Animus against Jews might be mitigated by territorial compromise, but its roots predate the occupation and even Israel's creation. Egyptian popular author and preacher Muhammad Hussein Ya'qub said as much in a televised sermon in 2009: "They aren't our enemies because they occupy Palestine: they would be our enemies even if they had not occupied anything."
Extreme anti-Semitism has become pervasive in the popular culture. Jews-as-villains themes are found on the local equivalents of Dallas, Hardball, and The 700 Club. They even appear on the equivalent of Sesame Street: wicked Zionists killed off a Mickey Mouse look-alike star on a Gaza children's program. Talk shows are saturated with anti-Semitic rants and conspiracy theories. Holocaust denial is the norm, but Friday sermons calling for the slaughter of all Jews everywhere are not uncommon. The depiction of evil, blood thirsty Jews plotting to control the world -- extremist stuff that exists only in disreputable margins of society in the West -- is shown to hundreds of millions of people. Yusri Al-Jindy, the writer of Khaybar, minces no words about the program's anti-Semitic intent. "The goal of the series is to expose the naked truth about the Jews and stress that they cannot be trusted," he said an in interview with the daily Al-Youm. "The charge of anti-Semitism is an outdated trend and, in fact, is a lie that the Jews use against anyone who tries to expose their naked truth and conspiracies."
Khaybar is only the latest manifestation. The 2004 Ramadan Iranian television Zahra's Blue Eyesdepicted an alleged conspiracy of Zionists to steal the eyes of Palestinian children for transplant -- a new twist on the centuries-old blood libel, which alleges that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children for ritual purposes. A 2009 Turkish series, Farewell, shows Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint machine-gunning a new born Palestinian at point blank. A popular 2001 Egyptian Ramadan series, based on the anti-Semitic forgery Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, was re-broadcast this year.
Major human rights organizations all but ignore this incitement. Although Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement in 2003 condemning anti-Semitism and Human Rights Watch has condemned anti-Semitism in the West, both groups are silent about widespread and poisonous anti-Jewish animus that is now commonplace in Muslim countries. But ethno-religious incitement has already cost the lives of thousands. And it undermines peace prospects. It is hardly "confidence building" when Israelis see these hateful programs on their own living rooms broadcast from Jordan, Egypt and Gaza. They remember the "Khaybar" missiles Hezbollah fired at Israeli cities in 2005. They have heard the chant at rallies in Ramallah and Europe: "Khaybar, Khaybar ya Yahud, jaysh-i Muhammad sawf-a ya'ud!-Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the army of Muhammad will return."
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights defines ethno-religious baiting as a crime against humanity: "advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence" (article 20). Human rights groups need to speak out. This is not trivial TV entertainment. It amounts to nothing short of the psychological preparation for a potential genocide. It must be recognized and addressed.
This crude and offensive incitement defies journalistic and media standards observed elsewhere. It harms Jews, but also it undermines the standing of Muslims and the image of Islam.
In a meeting I had last month with the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and OIC's ambassador to the UN, Ukuk Gokcen, both men acknowledged incitement is a significant problem. Professor Ihsanoglu has spoken against anti-Semitism during his tenure. We look to the OIC and others within the Muslim world to take steps to help curtail this disturbing trend. To date major human rights organizations are all but silent.
Rabbi Kenneth L. Cohen is the Founder and Executive Director of The Vine and Fig Project, an interfaith dialogue about Middle East peace.(Originally published in the Huffington Post)
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
It's not enough to fight NSA's outrageously invasive spying on us — the Patriot Act itself is a shameful betrayal of America's ideals, and it must be repealed. When whistleblower Eric Snowden literally blew the lid off NSA's seven-year, super-snooper program of rummaging electronically through about a billion phone calls made every day by us average Americans, Al Gore tweeted: "Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?" It's definitely not just you, Al — this latest explosion of the Fourth Amendment is so mega-awful that authorities had to conjure up a new word for the process: Metadata mining. Most shocking, however, is the tin-eared, who-cares reaction by both Republican and Democratic leaders to this outrageous meta-surveillance. For example, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham blustered that, "It doesn't bother me one bit that NSA has my number." Hey, Lindsey, it's not your number we're worried about. It's NSA's collection of our entire country's numbers. Then came Sen. Saxby Chambliss: "We have not had any citizen who has registered a complaint," he blathered. Hello, Sen. Clueless: No one knew to complain since y'all kept the program secret from us! Remember? Even more ridiculous was President Obama's feeble effort to rationalize this spookery by declaring that Congress knew about it, as did a special spy court that routinely reviews and blesses it, so it's all legit. In a perplexed voice, Obama added: "If people cant trust the executive branch, but also don't trust Congress and don't trust federal judges ... then we're going to have some problems here." Gosh sir, We the People have now learned that all three branches of government have furtively conspired for seven years to violate our privacy — so, no, we don't trust any of them. And, yes, that is a biiiiiiig problem.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
I’ve known David for many years and used to like him a lot more . . . when I naively bought his act. When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, he and his then co-author of best-selling celebrity books, Peter Collier (who now runs his Freedom Center organization), came to visit campus. They visited myself and some other students who were involved in supporting aid to the Contras, the Nicaraguan Freedom Fighters who opposed Communist dictator Daniel Ortega. They supported us, and we appreciated their help and moral support in a sea of Marxist liberals in Ann Arbor. My, how things have come full circle. Ortega is back in power in Nicaragua. And David Horowitz is back to being a liberal. Horowitz’s love letter to Trayvon Martin and his gushing over Jew-hating Bob HAMAS Novak aren’t the only things he’s done to indicate he’s not who he says he is. Right after 9/11, David wrote an accurate, spot-on piece attacking anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, pro-HAMAS/Hezbollah Hussein Ibish, then the spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. But Horowitz not only removed the piece, he publicly apologized to Ibish and retracted it, saying he was wrong and that the openly anti-Semitic Ibish was a nice guy. Why? Because the anti-Israel Christopher Hitchens told him so. When I e-mailed David to question why he did this, he said he did it because Hitchens told him to and that it would be up to me and Daniel Pipes (yeah–I know–hilarious!) to make up for this and publish the real story on Ibish. In other conversations, David defended Matt Brooks, the chief-for-life of the Republican Jewish Coalition, who repeatedly invites Jew-haters and anti-Israel scumbags to speak at RJC events. When I questioned why Matt repeatedly gets paid over $700,000 in salary (plus benefits) so he can pig out on shrimp and lobster and hang out at poker tournaments, while large percentages of Jews vote Democrat, David got upset. After all, RJC and its associated organization (also headed by Brooks), the Jewish Center for Policy Analysis, often pay David Horowitz mega-bucks for speeches. At one of these events, David Horowitz said (and I have the video to prove it) that Jonathan Pollard should rot in prison for life, etc. As readers know, I’m no fan of George Zimmerman (though I don’t think he’s a racist in the least). I agree that he lied about his legal defense fund fundraising and didn’t listen to his first set of attorneys, who justifiably fired him as a client. I wrote about that on this site. And I’ve noted how he bragged on the jailhouse phone to his wife that they would become rich and famous off of all of this, which is quite unseemly, not to mention stupid. But it is quite clear that he killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense, and the case should never have been brought, regardless of what I or anyone else thinks of him personally. Yes, the sleazy scumbag Trayvon Martin who sent out the most disgusting tweets, was suspended from school, was an apparent drug user, tormented the homeless, etc., attacked and brutally beat Zimmerman, or he’d be alive today. But to White Black Panther David Horowitz, he’s a “guiltless” angel who did not fight with George Zimmerman or bash his head to create gashes, scars, and draw blood (I guess ghosts did that). To David, Trayvon Martin is: A young man who was unarmed and guiltless of any crime is dead. And shouldn’t there be some penalty to pay for that?
The slogan "rape culture" is right out of Orwell's "1984": "All words grouping themselves round the concepts of liberty and equality . . . were contained in the single word crimethink." Rape is a crime, and culture is a product of thought: The parallel is perfect. This column is sufficiently ornery that conversation-stoppers have the opposite of their intended effect on us. But no doubt they do deter a lot of people from speaking or even thinking, because they don't want to be thought of--or to think of themselves--as mean or unenlightened. Meanwhile, the lesson of the Oates twit-storm seems to be that for today's politically correct left, protecting Muslims from insult is a higher priority than protecting women from sexual violence.
Monday, July 08, 2013
Then comes a critical statement that explains Obama Middle East policy. Pay close attention to this: “Such a move would fail and probably prompt a shift to al-Qaeda type terrorist tactics by extremists in the Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere, the U.S. officials said.” What is this saying? Remember this is a White House policy statement. That of the Muslim Brotherhood or perhaps the Salafists are denied power in Muslim-majority countries they cannot be defeated but that they will be radicalized so that they will launch September 11 style attacks on America. In other words, the United States must surrender and betray its allies or else it faces disaster. This is called surrender and appeasement. And, besides, such a move would fail. There is a coherent Obama policy. Inquire no more, that is it. And that’s why, for example, it wants the Turkish and Egyptian armies of accepting an Islamist regime; and Syria for getting one, too; and Israel making whatever risks or concessions required to end the conflict right away no matter what the consequences. American officials say that the actually illusory demographic issue--which is simply nonsense--means that Israel better make the best deal possible now. American allies cannot win and if they try they’ll just make the Islamists angrier. The White House, it is forgotten now, even wanted to overthrow the pro-American regime in Bahrain and might have helped them replace it if the Saudis hadn't stopped them. I am not joking. I wish I were. Remember what the two NSC staffers said, in representing Obama policy because it deserves to go down in history: “Such a move [fighting the Islamists in Egypt] would fail and probably prompt a shift to al-Qaeda type terrorist tactics by extremists in the Islamist movement in Egypt and elsewhere.” The Obama Administration, on the basis of the John Brennan Doctrine—the current CIA director—has given up the battle. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are holding the United States for ransom. The demand for releasing (not attacking) the United States is the Middle East. Naturally, this is also involved in domestic politics since the Obama Administration will be largely judged by voters—including in the 2014 congressional elections—on whether they can prevent such (imaginary) attacks. The theme is consistent, just another way of protecting the American people while accumulating more votes. It should be emphasized that aside from everyone else, this is a ridiculous U.S. strategy because the Brotherhood and Salafists haven’t even thought about this tactic This isn't just a surrender; it's a preemptive surrender.
Sunday, July 07, 2013
The battle lines are forming in the case of Edward Snowden.On the one side are the statists, for whom patriotism means an unconditional pledge of allegiance to the national-security state and its deep and dark nefarious secrets involving grave infringements on liberty and privacy.On the other side are the libertarians and a few liberals and conservatives, for whom conscience and freedom reign supreme.Time will tell which side wins out. Time will tell which direction America heads in.
Friday, July 05, 2013
On the other hand, in his all too public embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, President Obama appears to have chosen the wrong side of history
Let me mention, however, two important points which better be understood if Western civilization is to survive and flourish, and other societies will advance. What has just happened in Egypt is truly a teachable moment and that should not be wasted by being lost in details.First, not everything that exists in the imagination can be achieved. Wishful thinking is no guide to policy, Just because you desire something does not mean it will or can be achieved. The whole purpose of human logic is to estimate the odds and chances.A three-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict in which everyone lives in peace and harmony is desirable. It isn’t going to be achieved, at least for many decades. A democratic Middle East in which moderation rules over the region isn’t going to happen for a long time.Karl Marx referred to revolutionaries as “heaven-stormers” but gravity and human nature does not concede such possibilities of instant transformation. It doesn’t end well as the Communist, fascist, Arab nationalist, and Third World radicalism stories show over and over.The grasp cannot exceed the reach. Social conditions, history, ideas, experiences set limits and directions in human history. That doesn’t mean nothing good can happen but it is going to happen according to a serious estimate of reality. Of course, there are also accidents and places where things can turn out differently on the decision made by an individual.Fundamental transformation is not an easy game.There are certain times, of course, when, as some sources say, the losing of a horseshoe nail which unhorsed King Richard III was a turning point in English history at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22,1485. The fact that an arrow hit King Harold II of England in the eye at the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066, meant that the fate of England was altered from a Germanic to a French/Latin civilization.The existence of great leaders==or terrible ones—can change the course of events, too. But why does a given leader or idea or movement appeal to large numbers of people at one time?Second, though, within limits change of a positive nature is possible. That’s why one has to experiment and try. On these decisions and deeds many lives depend. The decision of American colonists to take on the strongest power in the world, Britain, in 1776 and that of Israeli leaders to declare independence in 1948 were risky ventures. Yet although outsiders might judge them more so, those involved realized that the attempt was not beyond the possibility of success.But, again, you have to understand, with unflinching realism, the problems and the risks involved. This judgment is not a matter of ideology, of set and predetermined and unwavering blind belief. At a certain point, ideology gets in the way.This is especially important for those who would make—or prevent—social change. Mao Zedong called this, “The concrete analysis of concrete conditions.”When the mass media, educational system, opinion-makers, or decision-makers are paralyzed by ideology—of the do\s and don’ts of Political Correctness (which means the systematic enthronement of “well-intentioned” lies), the self-imposed blinkers will likely take the carriage off the cliff.That happened to an incredible extent in Western analysis of Egypt. Among these factors were wishful thinking, the romance of extremism, the refusal to deal with unpleasant facts, and hidden parallels between the desire of some to fundamentally transform their own societies and quite different ones.
This is the moment when European, Napoleonic Republicanism has triumphed over pseudo-Democratic Authoritarian Islam (call it Sunnism; call it Shi’ism); and it is happening in perhaps the most important Arab Country of all – Egypt. Certainly there will be ups and downs in the years and centuries ahead; but, in the author’s view, it will not be put to sleep again - at least not completely and no one knows where in the Islamic World, it will germinate again. In the author’s view, this is perhaps the most significant event in the Middle East and perhaps, even (only time will tell) the whole Islamic World of the last forty years. "All power to the People" (as they say and said in France). May their urge to be free never falter or be once again or long enshackled - no matter under whomever or in whatever the guise.
“The destruction of the stacks… will surely doom the NYPL’s mission to serve the public’s research and reference needs,” the plaintiffs said in court documents filed Wednesday. “If the stacks are destroyed, the books – the unique and distinguishing asset of the NYPL – can never be returned to their rightful place under the Rose Main Reading Room.”
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
While the entire rest of the world chews over Edward Snowden’s disclosures, sleep safe America, because your State Department (as well as somehow the Department of Agriculture) has its collective head in the sand.A previously-unpublished cable sent recently to all employees worldwide “allows” them to look at Snowden’s disclosures on the internet (congrats; that’s a step up from when Hillary Clinton banned everyone from looking at Wikileaks at work) but they better darn well not “save, copy, or print” anything. See, if you just look at a document on that thar computin’ machine, it’s A-OK. But if yens’ print it out, then it becomes magically super-classified again and you gotta poke out yer own eyes. And you kids better not be doin’ any more speculating or you’ll feel my belt on yer backside! Makes sense, right?Read it yourself (it’s all unclassified) and pretend you’re a real diplomat. Just be sure not to print this out or there’ll be a knock on your door late tonight!FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI IMMEDIATE
INFO DEPT OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS STATE 088244
E.O. 13526: N/A
SUBJECT: PROPER HANDLING OF PURPORTED CLASSIFIED MATERIALS IN THE MEDIA1. The Department reminds all personnel that the unauthorized
disclosure of purported classified documents in the media (whether
in print or on blogs and websites) does not mean the documents have
been declassified. All employees must continue to abide by the
classification markings on such documents and handle them with the
appropriate protections, even if they have been posted on internet
websites or otherwise been made public by the media.2. While Department employees may access news articles or outlets
using the Department’s unclassified computer network (OpenNet), you
are reminded not to save, copy, or print any purported classified
documents that may be posted on or available for download from media
websites. If you must print such purported classified material, it
must be handled in accordance with 12 FAM 530, which requires
locking classified materials in proper containers, as well as all
other applicable FAM and FAH regulations governing protection of
classified material.3. Personnel should neither speculate about the authenticity of any
such document nor discuss whether any publicly released document is
classified or unclassified. Any media inquiries should be referred
to your post’s Public Affairs office.4. Further questions regarding how to handle purported classified
material found in the media should be directed to your Regional
Security Office.5. Minimize considered.Kerry- See more at: http://wemeantwell.com/#sthash.pPma2BFy.dpuf
BONUS: The Army is scared too.
Edward Joseph SnowdenMoscowDear Edward:I, Bruce Fein, am writing this letter in collaboration with your father in response to the Statement you issued yesterday in Moscow.Thomas Paine, the voice of the American Revolution, trumpeted that a patriot saves his country from his government.What you have done and are doing has awakened congressional oversight of the intelligence community from deep slumber; and, has already provoked the introduction of remedial legislation in Congress to curtail spying abuses under section 215 of the Patriot Act and section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. You have forced onto the national agenda the question of whether the American people prefer the right to be left alone from government snooping absent probable cause to believe crime is afoot to vassalage in hopes of a risk-free existence. You are a modern day Paul Revere summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny and one branch government.In contrast to your actions, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responded last March as follows to an unambiguous question raised by Senator Ron Wyden:“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper testified, “No sir, it does not.” Wyden asked for clarification, and Clapper hedged: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”Director Clapper later defended his stupendous mendacity to the Senator as the least untruthful answer possible. President Obama has not publicly rebuked the Director for frustrating the right of the people to know what their government is doing and to force changes if necessary through peaceful democratic processes. That is the meaning of government by the consent of the governed. “We the people” are sovereign under the U.S. Constitution, and government officials are entrusted with stewardship (not destruction) of our liberties.We leave it to the American people to decide whether you or Director Clapper is the superior patriot.The history of civilization is a history of brave men and women refusing to bow to government wrongdoing or injustice, and exalting knowledge, virtue, wisdom, and selflessness over creature comforts as the North Star of life. We believe your actions fall within that honorable tradition, a conviction we believe is shared by many.As regards your reduction to de facto statelessness occasioned by the Executive Branch to penalize your alleged violations of the Espionage Act, the United States Supreme Court lectured in Trop v. Dulles (1958): “The civilized nations of the world are in virtual unanimity that statelessness is not to be imposed as punishment for crime.”We think you would agree that the final end of the state is to make men and women free to develop their faculties, not to seek planetary domination through force, violence or spying. All Americans should have a fair opportunity to pursue their ambitions. Politics should not be a football game with winners and losers featuring juvenile taunts over fumbles or missteps.Irrespective of life’s vicissitudes, we will be unflagging in efforts to educate the American people about the impending ruination of the Constitution and the rule of law unless they abandon their complacency or indifference. Your actions are making our challenge easier.We encourage you to engage us in regular exchanges of ideas or thoughts about approaches to curing or mitigating the hugely suboptimal political culture of the United States. Nothing less is required to pay homage to Valley Forge, Cemetery Ridge, Omaha Beach, and other places of great sacrifice.Very truly yours,Bruce FeinCounsel for Lon SnowdenLon Snowden
USA must not persecute whistleblower Edward Snowden
“The US authorities’ relentless campaign to hunt down and block whistleblower Edward Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum is deplorable and amounts to a gross violation of his human rights Amnesty International said today.“The US attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are deplorable,” said Michael Bochenek, Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International. “It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded.”The organization also believes that the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the USA.“No country can return a person to another country where there is a serious risk of ill-treatment,” said Bochenek.“We know that others who have been prosecuted for similar acts have been held in conditions that not only Amnesty International but UN officials considered cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law.”Senior US officials have already condemned Snowden without a trial, labelling him both guilty and a traitor, raising serious questions as to whether he’d receive a fair trial. Likewise the US authorities move to charge Snowden under the Espionage Act could leave him with no provision to launch a public interest whistle-blowing defence under US law."It appears he is being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its - and other governments’ - unlawful actions that violate human rights,” said Bochenek.“No one should be charged under any law for disclosing information of human rights violations. Such disclosures are protected under the rights to information and freedom of expression.”Besides filing charges against Snowden, the US authorities have revoked his passport – which interferes with his rights to freedom of movement and to seek asylum elsewhere.“Snowden is a whistleblower. He has disclosed issues of enormous public interest in the US and around the world. And yet instead of addressing or even owning up to these actions, the US government is more intent on going after Edward Snowden.”
“Any forced transfer to the USA would put him at risk of human rights violations and must be challenged,” said Michael Bochenek.http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/usa-must-not-persecute-whistleblower-edward-snowden-2013-07-02