Tag Archives: Andy McCarthy

Us And Egypt, Egypt And Us

Bruce Riedel at The Daily Beast:

The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia has sent a shock wave through the Arab world. Never before has the street toppled a dictator. Now Egypt is shaking, Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-old regime faces its most serious threat ever. The prospect of change in Egypt inevitably raises questions about the oldest and strongest opposition movement in the country, the Muslim Brotherhood , also known as Ikhwan. Can America work with an Egypt where the Ikhwan is part of a transition or even a new government?

The short answer is it is not our decision to make. Egyptians will decide the outcome, not Washington. We should not try to pick Egyptians’ rulers. Every time we have done so, from Vietnam’s generals to Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, we have had buyer’s remorse. But our interests are very much involved so we have a great stake in the outcome. Understanding the Brotherhood is vital to understanding our options.

The Muslim Brethren was founded in 1928 by Shaykh Hassan al Banna as an Islamic alternative to weak secular nationalist parties that failed to secure Egypt’s freedom from British colonialism after World War I. Banna preached a fundamentalist Islamism and advocated the creation of an Islamic Egypt, but he was also open to importing techniques of political organization and propaganda from Europe that rapidly made the Brotherhood a fixture in Egyptian politics. Branches of the Brotherhood grew across the Arab world. By World War 2, it became more violent in its opposition to the British and the British-dominated monarchy, sponsoring assassinations and mass violence. After the army seized power in 1952, it briefly flirted with supporting Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government but then moved into opposition. Nasser ruthlessly suppressed it.

Andrew McCarthy at National Review on Riedel:

One might wonder how an organization can be thought to have renounced violence when it has inspired more jihadists than any other, and when its Palestinian branch, the Islamic Resistance Movement, is probably more familiar to you by the name Hamas — a terrorist organization committed by charter to the violent destruction of Israel. Indeed, in recent years, the Brotherhood (a.k.a., the Ikhwan) has enthusiastically praised jihad and even applauded — albeit in more muted tones — Osama bin Laden. None of that, though, is an obstacle for Mr. Riedel, a former CIA officer who is now a Brookings scholar and Obama administration national-security adviser. Following the template the progressive (and bipartisan) foreign-policy establishment has been sculpting for years, his “no worries” conclusion is woven from a laughably incomplete history of the Ikhwan.

By his account, Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna “preached a fundamentalist Islamism and advocated the creation of an Islamic Egypt, but he was also open to importing techniques of political organization and propaganda from Europe that rapidly made the Brotherhood a fixture in Egyptian politics.” What this omits, as I recount in The Grand Jihad, is that terrorism and paramilitary training were core parts of Banna’s program. It is by leveraging the resulting atmosphere of intimidation that the Brotherhood’s “politics” have achieved success. The Ikhwan’s activist organizations follow the same program in the United States, where they enjoy outsize political influence because of the terrorist onslaught.

Banna was a practical revolutionary. On the one hand, he instructed his votaries to prepare for violence. They had to understand that, in the end — when the time was right, when the Brotherhood was finally strong enough that violent attacks would more likely achieve Ikhwan objectives than provoke crippling blowback — violence would surely be necessary to complete the revolution (meaning, to institute sharia, Islam’s legal-political framework). Meanwhile, on the other hand, he taught that the Brothers should take whatever they could get from the regime, the political system, the legal system, and the culture. He shrewdly realized that, if the Brothers did not overplay their hand, if they duped the media, the intelligentsia, and the public into seeing them as fighters for social justice, these institutions would be apt to make substantial concessions. Appeasement, he knew, is often a society’s first response to a threat it does not wish to believe is existential.

Ron Radosh:

As bad as Mubarak is, and the Egyptian people have good reason to despise him, he is a lot better than other dictators who have led regimes in the Middle East. Remember Saddam Hussein, and also recall the forces that took power in Iran after the populace ousted the shah in 1979. I vividly remember all those student protesters on U.S. campuses bearing photos of the victims tortured by the shah’s secret police, and demanding the Shah’s ouster and his replacement by the great democratic revolutionaries led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. That was a popular theme as well in precincts of the always wise American left, symbolized by the arguments of Princeton University political scientist Richard Falk, or the comment of Jimmy Carter’s UN Ambassador Andrew Young that Khomeini was a “saint.”

It is most instructive to look back at Falk’s arguments, made a scant two weeks after the shah’s government fell and he fled Iran, and the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini returned to the country. Khomeini, Falk wrote in The New York Times (Feb.16, 1979), “has been depicted in a manner calculated to frighten,” and President Jimmy Carter had “associated him with religious fanaticism.” He was also “defamed” by the news media, some of whose pundits dared to call Khomeini an advocate of “theocratic fascism.”

Rather than being a religious leader who fit any of those dire characteristics made by his enemies, the movement had “a nonviolent record.” In addition, the would-be radical Islamist was a man who pleaded with Iran’s Jews to stay in the country. Certainly, even Falk had to acknowledge that the coming leader was against Israel. But that “of course” was due to the fact that Israel “supported the shah” and had not “resolved the Palestinian question.”

Khomeini was not dissembling, Falk assured his readers, since he expressed “his real views defiantly and without apology.” Moreover, his closest advisers were “uniformly composed of moderate, progressive individuals” and those he sought to lead a new government, all of whom “share a notable record of concern for human rights and see eager to achieve economic development that results in a modern society.” The reason the entire opposition deferred to Khomeini was not due to coercion, but because they knew that he and the Shiite “tradition is flexible in its approach to the Koran and evolves interpretations that correspond to the changing needs and experience of the people.” Its main desire and “religious orientation” was concern “with resisting oppression and promoting social justice.”

He knew that Khomeini sought “not to govern,” but instead simply to “inspire.” That is why he would live in the holy city of Qum, a place removed “from the daily exercise of power.” He would simply be a “guide or, if necessary, …a critic of the republic.” He would thus be able to show the world what “a genuine Islamic government can do on behalf of its people.” Falk assured readers that Khomeini scorned “so-called Islamic Governments in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Pakistan.” Thus one could talk of “Islam’s finest hour,” in which Khomeini had created “a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics.” Iran, he knew, would” provide us with a desperately needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.”

And you wonder why those of us who have become conservatives no longer trust the great spokesmen of the American left/liberal intelligentsia.

Ross Douthat in NYT:

The memory of Nasser is a reminder that even if post-Mubarak Egypt doesn’t descend into religious dictatorship, it’s still likely to lurch in a more anti-American direction. The long-term consequences of a more populist and nationalistic Egypt might be better for the United States than the stasis of the Mubarak era, and the terrorism that it helped inspire. But then again they might be worse. There are devils behind every door.

Americans don’t like to admit this. We take refuge in foreign policy systems: liberal internationalism or realpolitik, neoconservatism or noninterventionism. We have theories, and expect the facts to fall into line behind them. Support democracy, and stability will take care of itself. Don’t meddle, and nobody will meddle with you. International institutions will keep the peace. No, balance-of-power politics will do it.

But history makes fools of us all. We make deals with dictators, and reap the whirlwind of terrorism. We promote democracy, and watch Islamists gain power from Iraq to Palestine. We leap into humanitarian interventions, and get bloodied in Somalia. We stay out, and watch genocide engulf Rwanda. We intervene in Afghanistan and then depart, and watch the Taliban take over. We intervene in Afghanistan and stay, and end up trapped there, with no end in sight.

Sooner or later, the theories always fail. The world is too complicated for them, and too tragic. History has its upward arcs, but most crises require weighing unknowns against unknowns, and choosing between competing evils.

The only comfort, as we watch Egyptians struggle for their country’s future, is that some choices aren’t America’s to make.

Justin Logan at Cato on Douthat:

The fact that theories are imperfect does not make them any less necessary.  We take refuge in foreign policy theories because there is no alternative.  As Ben Friedman pointed out in responding to Douthat previously, it is impossible to have foreign policies without foreign-policy theories.  The same goes for economics, domestic politics, and a whole range of human behavior.  People take (or oppose) various actions based on their expectations about what outcomes the actions will (or will not) produce.  Whether people are conscious of it or not, our expectations are products of our theories.  People disagree about which theories are good and which are bad, but we all have them.

Laura Rozen at Politico:

Just got late word that Dunne, Kagan and others from their group including former Bush NSC Middle East hand Elliott Abrams, as well as George Washington University Middle East expert Marc Lynch, and the National Security Network’s Joel Rubin, formerly a U.S. Egypt desk officer, have been invited to the White House Monday.

“We do think-tank sessions on an almost weekly basis,” a senior administration official told POLITICO’s Playbook. “The goal is to bring in some of the top opinion leaders and thinkers on a given subject and have a candid conversion. We’ve done it with China, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Today’s topic is Egypt.”

 

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Ten Years After…

Peter Finn at Washington Post:

The Obama administration has shelved the planned prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged coordinator of the Oct. 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, according to a court filing.

The decision at least temporarily scuttles what was supposed to be the signature trial of a major al-Qaeda figure under a reformed system of military commissions. And it comes practically on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attack, which killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden.

In a filing this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department said that “no charges are either pending or contemplated with respect to al-Nashiri in the near future.”

The statement, tucked into a motion to dismiss a petition by Nashiri’s attorneys, suggests that the prospect of further military trials for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has all but ground to a halt, much as the administration’s plan to try the accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in federal court has stalled.

Thomas Joscelyn at The Weekly Standard:

Is it taking this long to prepare for Nashiri’s trial – nearly ten years after the Cole was attacked and 17 American servicemen were killed?

That’s hard to believe. And the Post talked to some “military officials” who “said a team of prosecutors in the Nashiri case has been ready [to] go to trial for some time.” Here is the kicker:

“It’s politics at this point,” said one military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy. He said he thinks the administration does not want to proceed against a high-value detainee without some prospect of civilian trials for other major figures at Guantanamo Bay.

A White House official disputed this, but the Post did not offer any other good reason for the delay.

Is the Obama administration really holding up Nashiri’s trial because they want to make sure civilian trials for other detainees (i.e. the 9/11 co-conspirators) don’t lag behind?

That’s not so hard to believe, unfortunately. The administration has tried to please left-wing human rights groups by (initially, anyway) pushing forward with a federal criminal trial for top al Qaeda terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. If Nashiri’s trial by military commission moves faster than KSM’s trial by federal court, then the administration may have a PR problem.

The Post reports the usual caveat: Nashiri was waterboarded (one of only three al Qaeda terrorists who were subjected to that treatment) and this complicates things “because any incriminating statements Nashiri might have made are probably inadmissible under the 2009 Military Commissions Act.” As a result, prosecutors will be relying heavily on the statements of two Yemeni detainees, both of whom implicated Nashiri during interviews with the FBI.

But here’s the catch. When Nashiri testified before his combatant status review tribunal (CSRT) at Gitmo he made all sorts of admissions. Those concessions cannot be easily dismissed because they weren’t part of an interrogation. Nashiri was free to say whatever he wanted in response to the allegations, and he did.

Nashiri did not admit outright that he conspired with Osama bin Laden. Instead, Nashiri offered implausible explanations for his sordid history. In particular, Nashiri admitted that he met with Osama bin Laden often, but said this was in the context of his fishing business.

Andy McCarthy at The Corner:

None of this is terribly surprising. Prosecuting the Cole case by military commission sticks in the Left’s craw because it shows the incoherence of the Obama/Holder position. They want to treat the war like a crime and endow our enemies with all the rights and advantages of civilian courts; yet, they went military in the Cole case, despite the fact that there is a pending Justice Department civilian indictment addressing that attack. There can be only one explanation for that: they are afraid the case against Nashiri is weak and might not hold up under (slightly) more exacting civilian court due process. That is, the Obama/Holder position is not principled — for all their “rule of law” malarkey, they are willing to go where they have the best chance to win. But there were no military commissions when the Cole was bombed, so what is the basis for trying it militarily? Answer: the 9/11 attacks and the ensuing war . . . except the Left doesn’t accept that it’s a war and the administration wants to prosecute the 9/11 plotters in civilian court. None of it makes any sense.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:

Pretty unconscionable stuff, isn’t it? And a final decision on KSM has also been delayed, it is widely assumed, so that the administration need not disclose its intentions before the election. In an administration with plenty of both, this ranks near the top when it comes to hypocrisy and politicizing the administration of justice.

Michelle Malkin:

Before there was 9/11, there was 10/12. Do you remember? We are nearing the 10th anniversary of the USS Cole bombing that took the lives of these American heroes on Oct. 12, 2000:

Electronics Technician 1st Class Richard Costelow
Mess Management Specialist Lakina Francis
Information Systems Technician Tim Guana
Signalman Seaman Recruit Cherone Gunn
Seaman James McDaniels
Engineman 2nd Class Mark Nieto
Electronics Warfare Technician 3rd Class Ronald Owens
Seaman Recruit Lakiba Parker
Engineman Fireman Joshua Parlett
Fireman Apprentice Patrick Roy
Electronics Warfare Technician Kevin Rux
Petty Officer 3rd Class Ron Santiago
Operations Special 2nd Class Timothy Sanders
Fireman Gary Swenchonis Jr
Ensign Andrew Triplett
Seaman Apprentice Craig Wibberly
Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class Kenneth Clodfelter.

In another disgraceful act of the Obama Department of Social Justice, the Washington Post reports that the feds are “shelving” prosecution of a major USS Cole bombing suspect at Gitmo. Why? Because of bad optics.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit

Weasel Zippers

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The Speaking Of The Rauf

Pam Geller:

The media frenzy to destroy good, decent Americans who oppose a 15-story mega-mosque on Ground Zero is rabid. Even for them. Despite red flags everywhere and the nationwide grief caused by this grotesque act of Islamic supremacism, why isn’t the media doing its job, investigative journalism?

Instead, the morally ill media is in full-on operational smear machine mode in the raging war of ideas, the information battle space, the objective of which is to erect the Ground Zero mega mosque. Tolerance is a crime when applied to evil (Thomas Mann). Whilst the NY Times front page spins interfaith yarns into PR gold faster than Rumpelstiltskin and accords godlike status to Imam Feisal Rauf, new audio surfaces. Here are a couple of soundbites of tolerance:

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf: “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.

No mention of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilation and enslavement. No mention of the recent slaughter by Muslims of Christians, Hindus, Jews, non-believers in Indonesia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Somalia, Philippines, Lebanon, Israel, Russia, China……………. no candor, no criticism of Islam.

Andy McCarthy at The Corner:

At Atlas Shrugs, Pamela Geller has uncovered audio of imam Feisal Rauf, the man behind the Ground Zero mosque, making public statements in which he opines that “the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.”

There’s more . . . and it’s here. YouTube video link is here.

The Jawa Report:

Once again, this is not evidence that Rauf is an extremist wolf in moderate sheep’s clothing. For Muslims, the idea that US foreign policy is hostile to Muslims and that Americans don’t care about the deaths of innocents is widely held. By definition, this makes Rauf’s opinion mainstream in most majority Muslim countries.

On other issues, Rauf would be considered quite liberal in the Muslim community.

But to equivocate between the intentional killing of civilians by al Qaeda and the unintended killing of civilians by the US is worse than wrong — it is evil.

Yes, we kill civilians sometimes. That is truly one of the many sad realities of warfare.

When al Qaeda kills civilians they not only do it intentionally, but they also celebrate it.

No one in the West praises the Predator drone operator who accidentally blows up a wedding party. We think of such acts as the regrettable but inevitable outcome of war.

But in many parts of the Muslim world “The Magnificient 19” — the men who carried out the 9/11 attacks — are praised as heroes and martyrs.

I heard someone on the radio today (Hannity or Rush?) make a good point about this. He mentioned that Rauf’s equivocation seemed very much in line with Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s theory of America. Which may be why Obama’s State Department has no problem with paying for this guy to go on a goodwill mission to the Muslim world. If these are the kinds of speeches he has been delivering, then of course they will like what he is saying!

Let me add that the SOB still has a right to build a mosque wherever the hell he wants. Even the Nazis have that right.

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

If someone wants to argue that the sanctions regime on Iraq was counterproductive, because Saddam’s regime simply seized the resources they needed and let the Iraqi people suffer and starve, that’s a fair point. Madeline Albright’s comment that containing Saddam was “worth it” — i.e., the death of Iraqi children — was idiotic. But to suggest that the indirect effects of a U.S. sanctions regime is remotely morally comparable to al-Qaeda’s deliberate mass murder — much less to suggest that they are morally worse — is to eviscerate one’s claim to be moderate, pro-American, or sensible. He says it is a “difficult subject to discuss with Western audiences.” Does he ever wonder why?

From this audio, we can conclude that Rauf has a gentle tone of voice. But that does not mean that his words are gentle.

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:

[…] Rauf uses the word “innocent” only in the part about non-Muslim blood. But I doubt he would have drawn the comparison unless he believed that the U.S. is culpable in something like the same way as al Qaeda for wrongful killing.

Indeed, the Muslim blood Rauf refers to is that of “innocents”; specifically Iraqi children he says died as a result of American sanctions. Rauf not only fails to mention that the sanctions were designed to undermine one of the most unjust and bloodthirsty regimes of modern times, he proceeds to take the U.S. to task for “its contribution to injustice in the Arab world.” By overlooking the injustice of Saddam Hussein, and failing to acknowledge our efforts against that tyrant, Rauf reveals himself to be an anti-American ideologue, an apologist for al Qaeda, and a charlatan.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

Yes, U.S. taxpayers are spending $16,000 so Rauf can spread his “moderate” message.

Alex Massie:

I continue to be impressed by how thin the case against Faisal Abdul Rauf is. You’d have thought that by now the staunch defenders of liberty crazies would have found either a smoking gun or a ticking bomb. To be fair, Pamela Geller* certainly thinks she has found evidence that he’s just as bad as his critics would have us believe. Or maybe even – and this may make your (my!) weak dhimmi-flesh creep – worse

But, actually, all she has unearthed from a 2005 talk Rauf gave to, of all places, the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, is evidence that Faisal Abdul Rauf could be considered a neoconservative. That is, he shares a central neoconservative insight:

How many of you have seen the documentary: Fahrenheit 911? The vast majority – at least half here. Do you remember the scene of the Iraqi woman whose house was bombed and she was just screaming, “What have they done.” Now, I don’t know, you don’t know Arabic but in Arabic it was extremely powerful. Her house was gone. Her husband, I think, was killed. What wrong did he do? I found myself weeping when I watched that scene and I imagined myself if I were a 15-year old nephew of this deceased man, what would I have felt?
Collateral damage is a nice thing to put on a paper but when the collateral damage is your own uncle or cousin, what passions do these arouse? How do you negotiate? How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism. It’s hard. Yes, it is true that it does not justify the acts of bombing innocent civilians, that does not solve the problem, but after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of US support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?

Emphasis added. This is a core tenet of neoconservative foreign policy thought (and, in my view, a salient point too). Condi Rice made a famous speech making exactly this point and acknowledging that there was a terrible disconnect between proclaiming the universality of human rights, self-determination and freedom of expression and yet also propping-up ghastly, coercive, dictatorial regimes across the middle east for fear something worse might succeed them were those great American ideals and principles given free expression.There were – and are – good, or to put it differently, expedient, reasons for US policy and true too the evangelism of the Bush administration might have been both too optimistic (or naive) and, in the end, awful precisely because in the end it accepted that the bastards we know, for all their bastardy, may be better than the bastard nutters that might follow them.

Nevertheless, Imam Rauf shares at least some of the Bush administration’s diagnosis of the pathologies afflicting much f the middle east.

So how does Pamela Geller characterise this statement? “And the Imam is conspiracy theorist – 911 was an inside job.” I don’t actually understand how you get from watching Fahrenheit 9/11 (for all its many faults) to here. Then again, Geller does seem to have a curious interpretation of these matters. So when Rauf says:

“We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.

Well, you or I or any other ordinary person might think this a statement of the, alas, bleeding obvious, Geller thinks it needs to be glossed, thus: No mention of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilation and enslavement. Never mind that it’s obvious that Rauf is talking about the post-9/11 world, not the 750 years before the United States even existed.Needless to say Andy McCarthy thiks this means Rauf is saying US Worse than al-Qaeda when, clearly, he’s not saying that at all. It is, I think, incontestable that the United States and its allies have killed more Muslim civilians than al-Qaeda have killed non-muslims since 9/11. Noting this has precisely zero impact on one’s views of the wars or their righteousness.

Rauf, in fact, seems to have some understanding that empathy – which is not the same thing as either agreement or, for that matter, “appeasement” – is a useful quality when it comes to foreign policy:

The West needs to begin to see themselves through the eyes of the Arab and Muslim world, and when you do you will see the predicament that exists within the Muslim community.

This, quite evidently, does not mean that the west need agree with the arab world and nor is it a call for “surrender” or any such nonsense. Nor is it any kind of endorsement – if this needs to be pointed out – of the Wahhabist worldview.I suspect that I’d disagree with Faisal Abdul Rauf on a good number of issues. But his opponents – who have had ample opportunity to discover all that’s bad about him – have, to my mind, singularly failed to produce any real and damning evidence against him. Surely they can do better than this and if, in time, they do then I’ll be happy to change my mind even if my understanding of the First Amendment would require me to support his plan even if I were more strongly disapproving of it.

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Governor Moonbeam And The Color Pink

Jim Hanson at Big Peace:

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Jerry Brown has some unsavory friends; he has been a far-left extremist most of his life. But it is worth looking at which Californians are supporting him in his current run for Governor.

One who bears some serious scrutiny is Jodie Evans, co-founder of the reprehensible Code Pink. This collection of foul harridans is in the anti-America/military protesting business and specializes in theatrical grotesqueries. Like most veterans, military folks and patriotic Americans she makes my skin crawl.

Perhaps their most reprehensible act was protests outside the Walter Reed Medical Center where our wounded troops were recuperating. They would gather on Friday nights to coincide with the arrival of the bus carrying our wounded just arrived from overseas. What kind of low human being does it take to attack those injured while fighting for our freedom? A Code Pinko, that’s who.

Debbie Lee at Big Peace:

I still clearly remember the day that I was summoned home by my oldest son Kristofer to find the Navy officers and chaplain waiting inside my home to tell me the most painful and agonizing words I would ever hear, “We are sorry to inform you that your son Marc Alan Lee was killed in action.”

August 2nd, 2006 forever changed my life. I don’t breathe the same, I don’t think the same, I don’t act the same, I don’t live the same. Everything I do since that day is much deeper and with greater passion. I cherish every moment that I breath, every person in my life, every hug and the precious gift of life. Since that day I have dedicated my life to honoring and supporting our troops, their families and especially the families of the fallen.

I have always been a patriot and understood that our men and women serving have paid for my freedoms but since the day Marc willingly sacrificed his life, I understand in a much deeper way the cost and sacrifice that our brave warriors and their families make. “Freedom isn’t free” is a reality not just a patriotic slogan.

It’s hard to believe that we have just passed the four year anniversary of Marc’s death. I have dedicated the last four years to telling Marc’s heroic story, standing for our troops, thanking them, and fighting across this nation to make sure they have the funding, benefits, health care, respect, and support they need. This is more than a full-time endeavor for me. These are our heroes who are willing to give up their lives if need be to defend this country and fight for our freedoms.

Numerous times over the past four years I have confronted the antics of Jodie Evans and her anti-war Code Pink cronies. We’ve all seen the nightly news with them being arrested time and time again throwing their leftist temper tantrums with their pink boa feathers wrapped around their necks as they kick and scream like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum to get attention. They have sent over $600,000.00 to the terrorists in Fallujah, or as they called them, “freedom fighting” heroes. You would think treasonous acts like this would have them locked in jail. Over and over they have attacked our military recruiting offices causing thousands of dollars of damage to the offices and threatening the recruiters.

In 2008 they barricaded the recruiting office in Berkeley with the blessing of the Berkeley City Council. We at Move America Forward had all we could stomach when we heard them tell the Marines they were unwelcome, unwanted intruders, not in Iraq or Afghanistan but on American soil in Berkeley, California. Americans from across the nation joined us in Berkeley to counter-protest these anti-war hippies. Numerous times they told me they support the troops but not the war, yet over and over when I asked if they had sent care packages, phone cards, written letters, or helped the families left behind in anyway, they conveniently couldn’t remember anything they had done. Yet they had a successful fundraiser to send $600,000.00 to our enemies in Iraq?  Yet Jodie Evans and her Code Pink degenerates taunted me and made light of my son’s sacrifice telling me, “Your son deserved to die in Iraq if he was stupid enough to go over there.”  It took every ounce of reserve in my body to not level these idiots to the ground. These same people who call terrorists “freedom fighters” says that my son, who gave up his life for their freedoms, deserved death.

Now Jodie Evans is at her fundraising efforts again, this time to support Jerry Brown for Governor of California. California is at the top of the list for military bases and boasts one of the largest populations of Veterans, yet Jerry Brown a past governor of the state and candidate for the office again, is willing to take thousands of dollars from one of the largest anti-war groups in America.  What a slap in the face to all of our brave warriors who have fought and sacrificed so much for our freedoms.

Andy McCarthy at The Corner:

Evans, a major Obama ally and fundraiser, is about to hold a fundraiser for California Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. In her spare time, she raises money for terrorists and other America-haters – with impunity. This includes helping launch the “peace flotillas” against Israel in order to help the Hamas terroristorganization, a project on which she works with the president’s friends Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn (the former Weather Underground terrorists).

Melanie Morgan explains Move America Forward’s protest against Evans’s Brown fundraiser, here. That so disgusting a figure as Evans could be a mover and shaker in Democratic Party politics explains a lot about the current mood of the country.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

The Code Pink Marxists taunted wounded soldiers at Walter Reed, they traveled to Iraq to support Saddam Hussein before the war, they sent thousands of dollars to support Al-Qaeda in Fallujah, they’ve traveled to Afghanistan to meet with the Taliban, they’ve met the leaders of the Iranian regime…

Blackfive:

“Disgust” is a word that, while appropriate, doesn’t begin to carry the heft required to describe my feeling for anyone who would say that to any person who has lost a son or daughter in war – any war – whether I agreed with the war or not.  And I couldn’t help but wonder if Evans ever said that to Cindy Sheehan.

Debbie Lee’s son, Marc Alan Lee, was the first Navy SEAL to lose his life in OIF.  Lee has worked ceaselessly since then to honor her son’s memory by standing for our troops, thanking them personally – by the thousands – for what they’ve done and making sure “they have the funding, benefits, health care, respect, and support they need.”

To be confronted like she was by the absolute scum that people the Code Pink movement – who always claim to “support the troops but not the war”, makes me physically ill.  As for their claim of “supporting the troops and not the war”, this is the same crew who raised and sent $600,000 to the insurgents in Fallujah during the battle there, calling the insurgents “freedom fighting heroes”.

I don’t know about you, but I consider such activity traitorous at the least.  And now this traitor is engaged in fundraising for Jerry Brown, the Democratic candidate for Governor in California.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

This episode tells us something about Jerry Brown. He is sometimes viewed as a harmless eccentric, a left-over hippie, a crazy uncle who means well. But he is much worse than that. He is a dyed-in-the-wool leftist, as shown by his willingness to align himself with the vicious anti-Americanism of the Code Pink loonies.

Coincidentally, I talked yesterday with a Minnesotan who recently attended a fundraiser for Meg Whitman, Brown’s opponent in the race to be California’s governor. He was blown away by Whitman’s command of the issues and her commitment to get California’s economy and educational system back on the track through free-market policies. A strong America needs a strong California. Please go here and make a modest contribution to Whitman’s campaign.

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Filed under Military Issues, Political Figures

What Was Said At A Ramadan Celebration

James Hohmann, Maggie Haberman and Mike Allen in Politico:

The White House on Saturday struggled to tamp down the controversy over President Barack Obama’s statements about a mosque near Ground Zero — insisting Obama wasn’t backing off remarks Friday night where he offered support for a project that has infuriated some families whose loved ones died in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obama’s comments placed him in the middle of the controversy over a Muslim group’s plans for a mosque near the site of the 2001 attack — and in turn, transformed an emotion-laden local dispute in New York into a nationwide debate overnight.

Republicans pounced, amid early signs that the issue would seep into some state and congressional contests. “It is divisive and disrespectful to build a mosque next to the site where 3,000 innocent people were murdered at the hands of Islamic extremism,” said Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio. His opponent, Charlie Crist, a Republican turned independent, came out in support of Obama’s comments.

And Democrats — at least some who were willing to comment — could barely contain their frustration over Obama’s remarks, saying he had potentially placed every one of their candidates into the middle of the debate by giving GOP candidates a chance to ask them point-blank: Do you agree with Obama on the mosque, or not?

That could be particularly damaging to moderate Democrats in conservative-leaning districts, already 2010’s most vulnerable contenders.

“I would prefer the president be a little more of a politician and a little less of a college professor,” former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), who once ran the House Democratic campaign arm, wrote in POLITICO’s Arena. “While a defensible position, it will not play well in the parts of the country where Democrats need the most help.”

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:

We now have official Washington’s response and take on the President’s speech last night stating that Muslim-Americans have every right to build an Islamic center on private property near Ground Zero. It comes in the form of Politico’s ubiquitous and closely followed “Playbook” email. As the author puts it, the statement poses a basic choice: is it “Obama delivering on his status as a breakthrough figure on American history”, by which we mean a feel-good affirmative action president with a foreign-sounding name or “elitist arrogance.”

It continues with various responses — mainly from chortling but unnamed Republican operatives marveling at the president’s being out of touch or courting a backlash from regular Americans but also one from Michael Bloomberg and a circumspect response from a White House aide.

The stand out for me was the response from what the author labels a “middle American” …

“This is too much. It’s not insensitivity that’s leading these guys to build this mosque. It’s a monument to their conquer of the site — just like the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem or the conversion of the Hagia Sophia (former primary church of the Byzantine empire in Istanbul) into a mosque”

There’s also what’s titled a “flashback” to what is apparently the most apt comparison, President Bush’s impromptu speech at Ground Zero two days after the attack: “”I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

It’s a quite a moment. We’re still hung up on the Turks turning the Hagia Sophia into a Mosque in 1453? Soon after 9/11 we marveled at how the bin Ladenites could still be so aggrieved over the abolition of the Caliphate in 1923 and the loss of Muslim Spain in 1492. But I guess times change.

John Hinderaker at Powerline

Frank Gaffney at Big Peace:

At a White House celebration of Ramadan tonight in the company of representatives of several of the Nation’s most prominent Muslim Brotherhood front organizations, President Obama announced his strong support for one of their most immediate objectives: the construction of a mega-mosque and “cultural center” at Ground Zero.  In so doing, he publicly embraced the greatest tar-baby of his presidency.

In the process, Mr. Obama also inadvertently served up what he likes to call a “teachable moment” concerning the nature of the enemy we are confronting, and the extent to which it is succeeding in the Brotherhood’s stated mission: “…Eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

As the AP reported, “President Barack Obama on Friday forcefully endorsed building a mosque near Ground Zero saying the country’s founding principles demanded no less. ‘As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,’ Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has riven New York and the nation. ‘That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.’

“Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect to those who are different from us—a way of life that stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.”

So much for the pretense that, as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had previously declared, the President would not get involved because the Ground Zero mosque (GZM) controversy was “a local matter.” (As opposed, say, to the arrest of a Harvard professor on disorderly conduct charges.)

Gone too is the option of continuing to conceal an extraordinary fact: the Obama administration is endorsing not only this “local matter,” but explicitly endorsing the agenda of the imam behind it – Feisal Abdul Rauf.  Rauf is the Muslim Brother, who together with his wife Daisy Khan (a.k.a. Daisy Kahn for tax purposes, at least) runs the tellingly named “Cordoba Initiative.”   He is believed to be on a taxpayer-underwritten junket and/or fund-raising tour of the Middle East, courtesy of the State Department, which insists that he is a “moderate” in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary. Interestingly, the President’s rhetoric – like that of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other apologists for and boosters of the GZM – tracks perfectly with the Muslim Brotherhood line about why we need to allow what Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin has correctly described as an “Islamist victory arch”  close by some of America’s most hallowed ground.  It is, we are told, all about “religious freedom” and “tolerance.”

Glenn Greenwald:

What makes this particularly commendable is there is virtually no political gain to be had from doing it, and substantial political risk. Polls shows overwhelming opposition to the mosque nationwide (close to 70% opposed), and that’s true even in New York, where an extraordinary “50% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans, and 52% of ‘non-enrolled’ voters, don’t want to see the mosque built.”  The White House originally indicated it would refrain from involving itself in the dispute, and there was little pressure or controversy over that decision.  There was little anger over the President’s silence even among liberal critics.  And given the standard attacks directed at Obama — everything from being “soft on Terror” to being a hidden Muslim — choosing this issue on which to take a very politically unpopular and controversial stand is commendable in the extreme.

The campaign against this mosque is one of the ugliest and most odious controversies in some time.  It’s based purely on appeals to base fear and bigotry.  There are no reasonable arguments against it, and the precedent that would be set if its construction were prevented — equating Islam with Terrorism, implying 9/11 guilt for Muslims generally, imposing serious restrictions on core religious liberty — are quite serious.  It was Michael Bloomberg who first stood up and eloquently condemned this anti-mosque campaign for what it is, but Obama’s choice to lend his voice to a vital and noble cause is a rare demonstration of principled, politically risky leadership.  It’s not merely a symbolic gesture, but also an important substantive stand against something quite ugly and wrong.  This is an act that deserves pure praise.

UPDATE: To anyone wanting to quibble with what was done here — the timing, the wording, etc. — I’ll just pose this question:  when is the last time a President voluntarily entered an inflammatory public controversy by taking a position opposed by 70% of the public?

Tom Maguire:

I have an idea our President will love – maybe we can open an Islamic Waffle House in a building damaged in the 9/11 attacks.  Obama can be the first customer.

On Friday night President Obama explained tolerance and the Constitution to We The Rubes, drawing this headline from the Times:

Obama Strongly Backs Islam Center Near 9/11 Site

With uncanny prescience AllahPundt explained that the media was reporting on their fantasies, and that Obama was actually splitting the difference:

So what’s a poll-readin’ president to do? On the one hand, he’s at a Ramadan dinner and doesn’t want to alienate either the audience or his base. On the other hand, he’s staring at supermajority opposition to the mosque. Hey, I know: How about a statement that mostly dodges the question of whether it should be built in favor of the easier question of whether the owners have the right to build it? Not a Bloombergian lecture, in other words (unlike Bloomberg, Obama’s not a lame duck and thus can’t afford to wag his finger like The Enlightened so enjoy doing), but rather a pat on the back for free exercise and a pat on the back for the mosque’s opponents by acknowledging their “emotions.” He’s basically voting present. But since the media is pro-mosque too and eager to leverage authority on behalf of its position, this’ll be spun tomorrow as some sort of stirring statement in defense of the right to … alienate everyone around you, I guess, in the ostensible interests of “dialogue.”

And on cue, here is President Obama on Saturday, backpedaling from the media so quickly he might be the answer to the Jets Darrelle Revis problem:

Obama Says Mosque Upholds Principle of Equal Treatment

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERGPANAMA CITY, Fla. — President Obama said on Saturday that in defending the right of Muslims to build a community center and mosque near Ground Zero he “was not commenting” on “the wisdom” of that particular project, but rather trying to uphold the broader principle that government should treat “everyone equal, regardless” of religion.

…White House officials said earlier in the day that Mr. Obama was not trying to promote the project, but rather sought more broadly to make a statement about freedom of religion and American values. “In this country we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion,” Mr. Obama said at the Coast Guard station. “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.

“And I think it’s very important as difficult as some of these issues are that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.”

That was quick.  Gutless, but quick.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs:

So, of course, now right wing bloggers are crowing that Obama is “walking back” his earlier statement; but I don’t see that at all. Obama is emphasizing that his remarks were meant to support the Constitution — which should be enough for anyone. The idea that it’s somehow “unwise” to build this project is a concept promoted by opponents, and it’s irrelevant to the Constitutional issue; it would have been neither appropriate nor productive for Obama to wade into that poisoned debate.

Andy McCarthy at The Corner:

Already getting trounced in the polls, Democrats are reeling over the President’s decision to side with the Muslim Brotherhood over the American people by endorsing the Ground Zero mosque. So he’s trying to close Pandora’s Box.

Politico reports [and thanks to John Hinderaker at Powerline for pointing this out] that Obama is now seeking “to defuse the controversy” by explaining that he was merely talking about the mosque proponents’ legal right to build at the World Trade Center site. “I was not commenting and I will not comment,” he said, “on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there” (emphasis added).

Good luck with that one. Compounding insult with cynicism and cowardice is probably not a winning strategy.

Doug Mataconis

UPDATE: Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard

Andy McCarthy at NRO

David Dayen at Firedoglake

Tbogg on Kristol

UPDATE #2: Robert Wright and Mickey Kaus at Bloggingheads

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Filed under Political Figures, Religion

Almost A Year From Our Original Post, We Return To The Land Of Panthers And 60s Revivals

Ace Of Spades:

The 10 Minutes fight between Megyn Kelly and Kirsten Powers on FNC may be the greatest ten minutes of television, ever.

I mean it.

Somebody please send me this clip. Not only did Kelly reveal Powers to be a know-nothing mouthpiece for the left (something I’ve always asserted), but she further owned her for knowing next to zero about the New Black Panther case.

Now I know why Dylan named his album “Blonde on Blonde”. That’s shorthand for “so awesome it hurts”, isn’t it?

Robert Stacy McCain:

Megyn’s one-upsmanship – ”Have you read the testimony?” — is what sparks the fireworks. I’m sure King Samir Shabazz watched this and said to himself, “Crazy cracker bitches.”

Aaron Gardner at Redstate:

Earlier today, Megyn Kelly of Fox News had Kirsten Powers on to talk about the Justice Department’s handling of the Voter Intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party(NBPP). Specifically, Brad Sherman’s [Democrat representing CA-27], reaction to a constituent question on the subject.

For a bit a background, members of the NBPP committed voter intimidation, one of which is Samir Shabazz. This is not in doubt as injunctions had been put in place. Unfortunately, in a land where Law is no longer king, injunctions can be reversed at the whim of a bureaucrat working to affect his leaders style of change.

The injunctions were reduced or reversed by the direction of AG Holder and the case was put out to pasture. The people, seeking justice, come to their duly elected representative to ask questions and they are met with arrogance clothed in ignorance.

The scene is now set, prepare yourselves for 10 minutes of pure awesome …

Michelle Malkin:

I’ll let you provide all the commentary, with only one observation: Kirsten sank to her lowest and most ignorant low with her “scary black man” snark at Megyn — who showed amazing restraint in the face of being accused of racial demagoguery by a fellow Fox colleague who has no grasp of the basic facts and import of the DOJ’s corruption in the case and who demonstrated complete cluelessness about the poisonous, violence-promoting history of the NBPP.

Abigail Thernstrom at National Review:

A number of conservatives have charged that the Philadelphia Black Panther decision demonstrates that attorneys in the Civil Rights Division have racial double standards. How many attorneys in what positions? A pervasive culture that affected the handling of this case? No direct quotations or other evidence substantiate the charge.

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, makes a perfectly plausible argument: Different lawyers read this barely litigated statutory provision differently. It happens all the time, especially when administrations change in the middle of litigation. Democrats and Republicans seldom agree on how best to enforce civil-rights statutes; this is not the first instance of a war between Left and Right within the Civil Rights Division.

The two Panthers have been described as “armed” — which suggests guns. One of them was carrying a billy club, and it is alleged that his repeated slapping of the club against his palm constituted brandishing it in a menacing way. They have also been described as wearing “jackboots,” but the boots were no different from a pair my husband owns.

A disaffected former Justice Department attorney has written: “We had indications that polling-place thugs were deployed elsewhere.” “Indications”? Again, evidence has yet to be offered.

Get a grip, folks. The New Black Panther Party is a lunatic fringe group that is clearly into racial theater of minor importance. It may dream of a large-scale effort to suppress voting — like the Socialist Workers Party dreams of a national campaign to demonstrate its position as the vanguard of the proletariat. But the Panthers have not realized their dream even on a small scale. This case is a one-off.

Forget about the New Black Panther Party case; it is very small potatoes. Perhaps the Panthers should have been prosecuted under section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act for their actions of November 2008, but the legal standards that must be met to prove voter intimidation — the charge — are very high.

In the 45 years since the act was passed, there have been a total of three successful prosecutions. The incident involved only two Panthers at a single majority-black precinct in Philadelphia. So far — after months of hearings, testimony and investigation — no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots. Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.

Doug Mataconis:

Moreover, as others have pointed out, the district at which these two members of the NBPP were filmed was a majority black district that had gone overwhelmingly for John Kerry in 2004. If these two guys were really interested in intimidating white voters in the Philadelphia metro area rather than engaging in street theater, they would’ve shown up at a polling place in King of Prussia or Bensalem, not one in the inner-city at which, conveniently a guy with a video camera had shown up.

As I noted in an earlier post, there’s no evidence that any actual voters were intimidated by these two men, or even that their “protest” lasted longer than the amount of time that the camera crew was there filming them. In fact, judging from this video, it seems clear to me that these two guys were playing for the cameras

David Weigel at Andrew Sullivan’s:

I don’t really get a chance to watch TV in Unalaska, and the one thing I miss is Megyn Kelly of Fox News. The last week or so of her work — her one woman crusade against the New Black Panther Party — has been truly riveting television. Kelly widens her eyes in a way that bespeaks both horror and anger at the subject she’s reporting on. “Shocking new video,” she’ll say, introducing a clip of the Panthers acting like idiots and yelling about “crackers” at a Philadelphia street festival. “We have a DOJ whistleblower alleging there is a discriminatory policy at the DOJ voting rights section,” she’ll say, “and no one seems to give a darn.” It’s the “darn” that ties this together — she’s not just a journalist, she’s a concerned citizen who has to bring you this story before it’s. Too. Late.

The people who grab these videos for the web use the same cliches to title them. “Megyn Kelly DESTROYS Kirsten Powers on New Black Panther Case” says one of them; “Megyn Kelly schools lib pundit over New Black Panthers Party.” But why is she doing so many stories on the Panthers? It’s because Fox News uses the Panthers the way that Phil Donohue used to use the KKK or G.G. Allin. They’re good on TV. The difference between the Panthers and other freakish groups that look good on the air, of course, is that that they threaten white people.

How often does Fox bring on the Panthers, or talk about them? A Lexis-Nexis search finds 68 mentions of “Malik Zulu Shabazz,” a leader of the NBPP. The majority are appearances on Fox News, where Shabazz is repeatedly brought on to act as a foolish, anti-Semitic punching bag.

[…]

Kelly’s obsession with the current NBPP controversy is something else, though. No one disputes that two members of the Panthers lurked outside of a heavily black, Democratic polling place in Philadelphia on election day 2008, and no one thinks this was a smart or legal thing for them to do. Police were called to the scene to disperse them, and King Samir Shabazz, who was filmed holding (though not using) a nightstick, lost the right to be a poll-watcher for the next election cycle. It was the only recorded incident like this in the nation; nearly two years later, no voter has come forward and said he or she was prevented from voting by the Panthers. And in his publicity tour to attack the DOJ over the Panther case — a second-rate case against a fifth-rate hate group — J. Christian Adams has been unable to name any case in which the DOJ was presented with a crime committed by black people and chose not to prosecute it.

So why obsess over the Panthers? Is it turnabout for the way that liberals elevate the craziest tea party activists, or the way they call them racist? Because it’s obviously not a search for justice or a muckraking effort to discover reverse racism in the DOJ. If this is an effort to make sure that King Samir Shabazz is prosecuted for intimidating voters, why not try to find some voters he intimidated? Why, instead, as Kelly and Glenn Beck have opted to do, show video of the Shabazz yelling about “crackers” at a street fair before the election? No one disputes that he hates white people — just watch one of the tapes from the times Fox News invited his colleagues on to discuss how they hate white people.

One of the more jarring passages in Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland” is his recounting of a popular myth that went around Iowa in 1966, the year of the conservative backlash against the Great Society. The myth was that black gang members on motorcycles were going to head from Chicago to ransack Des Moines. Reading this in 2008, it sounded preposterous, the kind of thing that no one could believe in the country that was about to elect Barack Obama. But Kelly, under the guise of journalism, is working to create a rumor like this in 2010. Watch her broadcasts and you become convinced that the New Black Panthers are a powerful group that hate white people and operate under the protection of Eric Holder’s DOJ. That “Megyn Kelly DESTROYS Kirsten Powers” video that I mentioned begins with her introducing a clip of a town hall meeting with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Ca.) in which he gets an angry question about whether the DOJ has a policy of not prosecuting African-Americans.

“I am extremely sure that we do not have a policy at the Department of Justice of never prosecuting a black defendent.”

The crowd rises up. “Yes you do!” shouts one voter. When Sherman says he doesn’t know much about the Panther case, the crowd erupts in boos. They’ve been driven to fear and distrust of their DOJ by round-the-clock videos of one racist idiot brandishing a nightstick for a couple hours in 2008.

Congratulations, Megyn.

Jesse Walker at Reason:

The New Black Panther Party plays the same role for the right that Hutaree-style militants play for the left: They’re a tiny, uninfluential group whose importance is magnified to keep the base excited. Left and right wind up worrying more about each other than they care about the institutions that actually govern the country. It’s great if your goal is maintaining movement identity, but not if you’re more interested in changing policy than collecting scalps.

EARLIER:  Why Don’t Any Of These Sixties Revivals Include A Beatles Reunion? Oh. Yeah.

UPDATE: Ben Smith at Politico

The Washington Times

Andrew Alexander at WaPo

Joan Walsh at Salon

Adam Serwer at The American Prospect

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary

Allah Pundit

UPDATE #2: Andy McCarthy responds to Thernstrom

Thernstrom responds to McCarthy

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Filed under Crime, Race

The Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani Case

Joshua Jamison:

Iran loves to kill its own people.  The country, second only to China (population being a factor), executed 388 people last year – most were hanged.  Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman convicted of adultery, has already received 99 lashes from a whip, five years in prison, and is allegedly scheduled for stoning as early as this weekend.

Ashtiani’s son has pleaded with authorities to spare his mother’s life on the grounds that there’s no evidence.  Ashtiani’s judge sited “judges knowledge” as an explanation for the sentence-a rule allowing judges to sentence without evidence.  As a last resort Ashtiani’s son reached out to the international community, in the hopes that his mother’s life will be spared.  Explain again how Sharia Law and the U.S. Constitution will coexist here in America?  Newsweek has the full story:

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, convicted of adultery in Iran, may be stoned to death unless a last-minute campaign saves her.

Human-rights campaigners say that Ashtiani, who says she was under duress when she confessed to adultery, could be buried up to her breasts and stoned to death as soon as this weekend.

Ashtiani has been in prison since May 2006, when she was convicted of adultery and sentenced to 99 lashes. Later that year she was accused of murdering her husband. Those charges were dropped, but an inquiry into the adultery charge was reopened. She was, according to The Guardian, sentenced to death under a rule that allows judges to cite “judge’s knowledge” and convict without evidence.

Ashtiani, represented by prominent human-rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, has failed in her appeals. AOL reports that a panel may convene as soon as Saturday to decide her fate. According to Amnesty International, the Iranian penal code specifies that “stones are large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill the victim immediately.”

God Bless this poor woman, and may her life be spared.  Sharia law is nothing more than cowardly Muslim men committing horrific crimes against women, and doing so in the name of religion, law or whatever-the United States needs to reject this pathetic ‘excuse’ for a ‘set-of-laws’ and ban it forever.

Nicki Kurokawa at The Washington Examiner:

For the past several days, CNN has been documenting the case of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani in Iran, who has been condemned to death by stoning. Fortunately, her case has caught the attention of the international human rights community – offering some hope that the sentence will not be carried out (although, to be fair, with Iran having executed 126 people this year already, there’s certainly no guarantee.)

Despite condemnation from countries around the world, stoning is still extremely widespread; Women News Network recently posted on Twitter (follow them at @womenadvocates) that the practice still exists in Nigeria, India, Nepal, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United Arab Emirates. Even the United Nations has condemned stoning – although they did recently consider Iran for a slot on their Human Rights Council, and gave them a slot on the Commission on the Status of Women – so let’s be honest, they don’t have a lot of gravitas on this issue.

However Ashtiani’s case is settled, it is important that the international community remain vigilant about both the cruel and unusual nature of the punishment and the uneven way that this “justice” is doled out.  Women in particular are singled out for this barbaric punishment – which should be of concern to feminists around the world (of all stripes). According to a (very informative) 2008 Amnesty International report:

“Women suffer a disproportionate impact of the punishment of death by stoning in Iran.

  • One reason is that they are not treated equally before the law and courts, in clear violation of international fair trial standards. …
  • Women are also particularly vulnerable to unfair trials because they are more likely than men to be illiterate and therefore more likely to sign confessions to crimes they did not commit. In addition, women from ethnic minorities are less likely to be able to speak Persian – the official language of the court – so they often do not understand what is happening to them in the legal process or even that they face death by stoning. …
  • Discrimination against women in other aspects of their lives also leaves them more susceptible to conviction for adultery. …
  • Women face strict controls on their behaviour that are imposed and policed by the state, controls that are discriminatory and restrict their right to freedom of expression and movement. …
  • Poverty, drug addiction and domestic violence also play a part in making women more vulnerable to stoning than men. …
  • Finally, the very procedure specified for carrying out executions discriminates against women. Article 102 of the Penal Code states that, during stoning, the man shall be buried in a ditch up to near his waist and the woman up to near her chest. Article 103 states that if the condemned person manages to escape from the pit, they will not be stoned again if they had been sentenced after confession, but clearly it would be harder for a woman to escape than a man, since she would have been buried more deeply.

Many of the countries that still practice stoning are eager for the prosperity (and foreign aid) that accompanies expanded relations with the world; as such, they are particularly sensitive to any international outcry that may jeopardize their standing. The Obama Administration’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim world offer an excellent opportunity for the United States to remind these nations of the priority that we as a country place on human rights – and how seriously we take violations.

Reza Aslan at Daily Beast:

News that Iran has suspended the stoning of a 43-year-old mother of two, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, for the crime of adultery certainly came as a relief. But the case has once again focused international attention on a barbaric and draconian form of punishment that, in some Muslim states, has become an effective and horrific tool of misogyny.

Stoning is a brutally precise punishment with a host of specific procedures and regulations. The convicted person is wrapped in a shroud, placed into a pit, and buried either to the waist if a man or the chest if a woman. If the adultery was proven in court by confession, the judge has the responsibility of throwing the first stone. But if the case was proven through witnesses, they start first, followed by the judge, and then by any others who are present, the number of which cannot be less than three. The stones are then hurled one by one until the accused is killed. And if the person manages to wriggle out of the pit, she or he is set free (which explains why these pits are so often little more than loosely packed holes in the ground).

The Iranian Penal Code is chillingly explicit regarding the proper stones to use. Section 119 states: “The stones for stoning to death shall not be so big that one or two of them shall kill the convict, nor shall they be so small that they may not be called ‘stones.’”

Islamic law considers adultery, or zina, to be one of six Quran-mandated offenses whose punishment is prescribed by God (the other five are false accusations of adultery, theft, robbery with violence, apostasy, and drunkenness). These are essentially a random collection of crimes whose only connection is that their punishment is mentioned somewhere in the Quran. Consequently, these “crimes” receive special treatment in Islamic law.

But the punishment for adultery in the Quran is lashes, not stoning. In fact, nowhere in the whole of the Quran is stoning prescribed for any crime—though this is a point of endless debate for legal and religious scholars.

Although zina literally means adultery, in practice it refers to any unlawful sexual act, whether adultery (illicit sex between married persons), fornication (sex between unmarried persons), sodomy, rape, or incest. However, even the simplest definition of zina can become hopelessly entangled in the complexities of Muslim sexual ethics. For instance, some legal scholars suggest that zina should not be applied in instances in which a married person is unable to enjoy his or her spouse due to legally acceptable conditions, such as prolonged travel or life imprisonment. Then there is the problematic relationship between adultery and rape in some Islamic penal codes. Rape victims can themselves be charged with adultery if they are unable to definitively prove sexual coercion. Indeed, there have been some cases in which the victims of rape, rather than the rapists, are convicted of zina and stoned to death for adultery.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

But the worst joke of all is the United Nations. Here is a headline from April: U.N. Elects Iran to Commission on Women’s Rights.

Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women….

Just days after Iran abandoned a high-profile bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, it began a covert campaign to claim a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women,” according to its website.

Buried 2,000 words deep in a U.N. press release distributed Wednesday on the filling of “vacancies in subsidiary bodies,” was the stark announcement: Iran, along with representatives from 10 other nations, was “elected by acclamation,” meaning that no open vote was requested or required by any member states — including the United States.

Fast-forward three months, to today’s headline: Iran human rights chief defends stoning sentence.

Andy McCarthy at NRO:

I wonder if Elena Kagan knows about Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Ms. Ashtiani is about to be stoned. That’s where they bury you up to your chest and hurl rocks at you until you die. The rocks can’t be too big. You see, this is real torture, religion-of-peace torture. It’s the kind that happens every day but that Democrats prefer not to talk about. With stoning (or “lapidation” as the press gently call it on those rare occasions when it is mentioned at all), the ordeal must not end too quickly. Otherwise, it might not make the right impression, as it were, on the victim — the sinner — and the community at large.

Had the solicitor general heard about Ms. Ashtiani’s plight, one imagines, she’d have told her to get herself to the nearest courthouse and seek the protection of the law. Alas, it is pursuant to the law that this barbarity will take place. The stoning of this 43-year-old mother of two has been ordered by a court in her native Iran, where the only legal code is Allah’s law, sharia. It is the Islamic sentence for adultery, the crime to which Ashtiani confessed after serial beatings by her interrogators.

During her a stint at the Clinton White House, we now know, Ms. Kagan struck the pose of a champion of women’s rights — at least if you weren’t an unborn girl. So fierce was her devotion to the cause of “reproductive freedom” that she subverted science in the service of abortion on demand — specifically, to preserve the partial-birth abortion procedure, which exceeds even stoning in its ghastliness. She then went on to Harvard Law School where, as dean, she became the champion of sharia.

Not of stoning and other grotesque penalties, of course — nothing so obviously offensive. To hear progressives tell it, we can do nice, clean, friendly sharia, just like we do nice, clean, friendly Islam. “Lapidations,” they will tell you, are no different from jihadist suicide bombings: outmoded vestiges of a long-forgotten time. Except they’re not. They are undeniably rooted inIslamic scripture, and they are happening today, with frequency, wherever sharia reigns. That is because the “moderate Islam” progressives like to banter about is a mirage in search of a cogent set of principles. There is no moderate Islam that can compete with the mainstream, sharia Islam. Thus the crimes and punishments, in all their ghoulishness, endure.

Paul Waldman at Tapped on McCarthy:

You may have heard of the heartbreaking and outrageous case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman who has been convicted of adultery (which she denies) and sentenced to death by stoning. We might want to note, as we rightly condemn this kind of brutality, that the Old Testament mandates death by stoning for a large number of crimes, including worshiping other gods, not being a virgin on your wedding night (just for the ladies, of course), disobeying your parents, failing to keep the Sabbath, and — you guessed it — adultery. Just something to keep in mind next time you run into someone who says the Bible is the inerrant word of God and the foundation on which the American system was built.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. Predictably, this case has been seized on by some conservatives to argue that liberals are on the wrong side of our war on Islam. What, you didn’t know that liberals support harsh punishments for people accused of transgressing sexual norms? Then you’re just not thinking creatively enough. Take a cue from National Review‘s Andrew McCarthy, who manages (as Adam mentioned yesterday) to argue that Elena Kagan is for all intents and purposes a supporter of this kind of vicious punishment. (Follow the logic: When Kagan was at the Harvard Law School, the university — not the law school, but the university — accepted a large donation from a Saudi prince to establish an Islamic Studies center. Therefore, Kagan is OK with the imposition of Sharia law in the United States, and therefore soft on stoning, like all Democrats. Makes perfect sense, no?) But I have to highlight this passage from McCarthy’s piece:

Ms. Ashtiani is about to be stoned. That’s where they bury you up to your chest and hurl rocks at you until you die. The rocks can’t be too big. You see, this is real torture, religion-of-peace torture. It’s the kind that happens every day but that Democrats prefer not to talk about. With stoning (or “lapidation” as the press gently call it on those rare occasions when it is mentioned at all), the ordeal must not end too quickly.

That’s a very interesting claim: The liberal media, loath to say anything that might reflect poorly on fundamentalist Islam, almost never mention stoning, and when they do, call it “lapidation.” I found that rather striking, since I had never even heard the term “lapidation.” But it couldn’t be that McCarthy is just making this up, based on his general presumption that everything the media does is bad, since they’re a bunch of liberals — could it? Fortunately, this isn’t a statement of opinion but an empirical claim, and one we can test using an obscure instrument called Lexis/Nexis.

As a first try, we’ll go with the U.S. Newspapers and Wires database. And let’s use the last five years, shall we? All right: The number of mentions of the word “stoning” in the last five years in that database was 2,558. That seems like quite a few, but if McCarthy is right, there ought to be at least five or 10 times as many mentions of “lapidation,” right?

The number of mentions of “lapidation” in the last five years was … three. So for every mention of “lapidation,” there were 852 mentions of “stoning.” Incidentally, one of those “lapidations” did come in that most hated liberal media outlet, The New York Times (it was in a book review, but still). How many times in the last five years has the Times mentioned “stoning”? It came up in 120 Times articles.

But wait — maybe it’s on television where McCarthy has seen the liberal media so often refer to stoning as lapidation, in order to make it seem less barbaric. Let’s search the Transcripts database. And the the results are: “stoning,” 2043 mentions; “lapidation,” 0 mentions. Zero.

The Hollywood Gossip:

We put nothing past Lindsay Lohan. Nothing.

That said, she did not overtly compare her legal plight to that of an Iranian woman being tragically stoned in her latest Twitter rant. But you still have to wonder.

Maybe she’s just so moved by Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who may be stoned to death for adultery, that she linked to Newsweek article to draw attention to it.

Or she’s trying to subtly draw a ridiculous parallel to herself, having been sentenced to 90 days in jail Tuesday for repeatedly, brazenly violating her probation.

Come on. Has Lindsay ever cared about anything besides herself? We’re talking about a spoiled brat who walks into court with the words “f–k u” on her nails.

Voice Of America:

A judicial official in Iran says a woman’s sentence of death by stoning is not being carried out “for the time being.”

Iran’s state-run news agency attributes the statement to the head of the Justice Department in East Azerbaijan province, Malek Azhdar Sharifi. He told the news agency that while the guilty verdict is definitive, its application has been halted by Iran’s judiciary chief due to humane considerations.

However, the provincial official said the death sentence will be carried out whenever the judiciary chief deems it expedient, regardless of what he termed Western media propaganda.

Many Western nations and human rights activists have urged Iran not to stone the woman to death.

UPDATE: BBC

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