[MUST SEE VIDEO] An Egyptian activist argues that Israel makes the world a better place

Sherif Gaber is an Egyptian activist who looked past the smears and insults and who now argues compellingly that Israel’s existence is a good thing that makes the world a better place — including a better one for her Arab neighbors. The video is in Arabic, but you can follow along by clicking on the “CC” button in the lower right hand corner of the video.

It would be a good thing if this video would get some traction, so please think about sharing it with your friends.

The Bookworm Beat 1/8/15 — The day after the Charlie Hebdo Massacre edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingIn an earlier post about the Charlie Hebdo massacre, March Hare made this comment:

One reason you may not see pictures of the Mohammed Cartoon or covers from Charlie Hebdo is that the Western Press will not publish close-up crowd pictures. See this article by Allahpundit at Hot Air.

Ah, yes! It’s the old philosophical question: “If a tree falls in a forest and the media refuses to report it, does it make a sound?” Well, the media hopes that’s the case, but I intend to make lots of sounds. I’ll start here, with a link to Charlie Hebdo covers, courtesy of the brave Daily Signal.

Is another great man emerging in Egypt?

Thousands of years ago, a great man, Moses, emerged from Egypt. It’s possible that Egypt has produced another great man. He’s not a prophet by any means, and he still has a long way to go to prove himself, but there’s no doubt that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is saying and doing some extraordinary things — and the MSM is therefore ignoring him as hard as possible.

The first thing Sisi did was to issue an open challenge to Islam to have an Enlightenment and, along the way, he had a great to say about Islam’s flaws:

We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

As slaughters from Theo van Gogh to the staff of Charlie Hebdo show, for Sisi to criticize Islam is an act of extraordinary courage. No wonder the media is looking the other way.

Here’s another great thing Sisi is doing — he’s working hard to destroy Hamas:

Egyptian authorities have decided to demolish the entire city of Rafah according to Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

The governor of the North Sinai district, Abd al-Fattah Harhour said at a news conference Wednesday that “a new Rafah city is being established with residential zones appropriate to the nature and traditions of the residents of Rafah.”

More than 800 homes are being demolished and 1,100 families displaced to build the 1 kilometer wide and 13.5-kilometer long buffer zone in North Sinai province.

The government hopes the buffer zone will isolate the militants who say they attack the security forces in retaliation for the government crackdown on Morsi supporters in which at least 1,400 people have been killed in street clashes.

Read more here.

When Israel destroys a single Palestinian home, the media is all over it. When Egypt destroys a whole village . . . crickets. The latter act simply doesn’t support the media’s anti-Israel narrative. Still, whether the media pays attention or not, it’s the right thing to do and I’m glad that Sisi is doing it.

This man has great potential. I hope he fulfills it.

Allahpundit and Mark Steyn make powerful statements about today’s media

Allahpundit watched Mark Steyn speak about the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He agreed with Steyn on one point, and parted ways with him on another. The finished Allahpundit product, a fusion of his and Steyn’s ideas, makes remarkably good points about the world’s media and its refusal to act bravely:

Steyn’s point, amid the “Je suis Charlie” cacophony, is that if more of us really were like Charlie, the Hebdo staff probably wouldn’t be dead. They assumed the entirety of the risk in defying Islamic taboos because their bigger, stronger, better funded brothers and sisters in western media declined to share it by publishing the images themselves. Even now, with blood on the floor in Paris, many of them are still blacking out the cartoons. (The Washington Post is a notable exception.) How do you censor the images those men died defending and then say “Je suis Charlie” with a straight face? And more to the point, how do you do it when those images are at the center of a major international news event? Steyn makes the same point here as Ross Douthat did yesterday. It’s one thing to reject a cartoon of Mohammed on grounds of poor taste or poor skill. That’s an op-ed decision. It’s another thing entirely to refuse to publish it when it’s part of the lead story in every paper in the western-speaking world.


All I ask here is honesty about what’s happening. It’s easy to tell someone who works for CNN, “you be the guy to put your life on the line by showing the cartoons.” There’s a reason there are so few Charlies. If self-censorship is the future, though, let’s be honest about why it’s happening. That’s why I part ways with Steyn in his criticism of this image:

He’s right that it’s disgraceful for a western paper to censor Charlie Hebdo cartoons, particularly on the very day that the man in that photo died for his right to display that image. I’m glad, though, that they only pixellated Mohammed and left the Jewish caricature alone. There’s honesty in that: “Sensitivity” would require that both images be blurred, but this isn’t about “sensitivity” and never was. This is about fear and no one fears a group of Hasidim descending on the Daily News offices with AKs. The clearer the double standard is, and it’s awfully clear here, the more you force people to confront it. That’s a small comfort in our censorious age.

I should add here that, if you’re really brave, join the military. If you’re not really brave, become a journalist — but don’t go parading around announcing to the world that you’re incredibly brave because you consistently fall in line with the majority and the cowards. (I do not count myself amongst the majority but must admit that I am a coward.)

Some members of the MSM are beginning to see the light.

I don’t like Bill Maher. I don’t like his crude, reductionaist attacks on conservatives and people of faith. However, I appreciate that he is one of the few brave people in the drive-by media who is willing to state the truth about Islam. One of the truths he’s just stated is that there are so many Muslims in the world that there’s no such thing as a “tiny” minority. A whole hell of a lot of them are totally on board with violent jihad:

Then there’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who is like Bill Maher’s smarter, more corporate, more polished brother. When he’s in pure Leftist mode, he gets it wrong every time. However, when he turns his attention to the scourge of Islam he, like Maher, is brave and gets it right.

Finally, George Packer, another reliable Leftist, is also beginning to realize that there’s a cancer loose in the world, and that cancer isn’t Israel or generic religion or white males or even climate change:

The murders today in Paris are not a result of France’s failure to assimilate two generations of Muslim immigrants from its former colonies. They’re not about French military action against the Islamic State in the Middle East, or the American invasion of Iraq before that. They’re not part of some general wave of nihilistic violence in the economically depressed, socially atomized, morally hollow West—the Paris version of Newtown or Oslo. Least of all should they be “understood” as reactions to disrespect for religion on the part of irresponsible cartoonists.

They are only the latest blows delivered by an ideology that has sought to achieve power through terror for decades. It’s the same ideology that sent Salman Rushdie into hiding for a decade under a death sentence for writing a novel, then killed his Japanese translator and tried to kill his Italian translator and Norwegian publisher. The ideology that murdered three thousand people in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The one that butchered Theo van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam, in 2004, for making a film. The one that has brought mass rape and slaughter to the cities and deserts of Syria and Iraq. That massacred a hundred and thirty-two children and thirteen adults in a school in Peshawar last month. That regularly kills so many Nigerians, especially young ones, that hardly anyone pays attention.

Read the rest here.

Of course, with the MSM, it’s not hard to be the smartest or bravest person in the room

While I’m willing to applaud both Goldberg, Packer, and Maher, let’s be honest: Being the smartest or bravest member of the drive-by media means you’re facing a pretty low bar. Indeed, as Jonah Goldberg points out, the bar may be so low it’s comes in underneath sea level.

Just curious, but why is the President’s office tasked with defending Islam?

The purpose of the religion clause in the First Amendment is to keep government out of religion. Both in the past and in the present, government picked winners and losers. Sometimes the losers couldn’t keep their jobs. Sometimes they couldn’t (and, under Islamist rule, still can’t) keep their heads. The Founders thought this was a lousy system and said that promoting or denigrating any one religion could no longer be the government’s responsibility.

So where in the world did Obama get the impression that his job is to promote Islam? (Yeah, of course I know that’s rhetorical a rhetorical question.  Obama couldn’t give a flying whatsit about the Constitution.)

Anyway, Ben Shapiro has done a public service by counting up the number of times the Obama administration has felt it incumbent upon itself to act as Islam’s apologist.

These posters seem appropriate here:

Obama says the future does not belong to those who slander the Prophet

Obama will stand with Islam

USA Today and Anjem Choudary performed a public service

There has apparently been some debate about USA Today’s wisdom in giving Anjem Choudary space on its pages to give his opinion about the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

I think it was a brilliant idea. If Choudary had been another CAIR apologist, explaining why Islam is a freedom-fighting, liberty-loving religion of peace, so you can just ignore the growing pile of dead bodies in its wake, I would have been angry. As it is, Choudary rips away the apologetics and, in an American paper, proudly explains what Islam is:

Contrary to popular misconception, Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone. Therefore, Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression, as their speech and actions are determined by divine revelation and not based on people’s desires.

Although Muslims may not agree about the idea of freedom of expression, even non-Muslims who espouse it say it comes with responsibilities. In an increasingly unstable and insecure world, the potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Muslims consider the honor of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, “Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.”

However, because the honor of the Prophet is something which all Muslims want to defend, many will take the law into their own hands, as we often see.

Within liberal democracies, freedom of expression has curtailments, such as laws against incitement and hatred.

With the gauzy CAIR, White House, MSM, academia, and Hollywood filter stripped away, Choudary’s straightforward explication of Islam (“Acknowledge that we’re your rulers or die”) is the kind of actual news that Americans badly need.

Bill Donohoe is half right, but entirely wrong

Bill Donohoe, President of the Catholic League, found himself in hot water for sympathizing with the Muslims after the Charlie Hebdo massacre:

While some Muslims today object to any depiction of the Prophet, others do not. Moreover, visual representations of him are not proscribed by the Koran. What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed. What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them.

Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him.

Donohoe is right that religious people aren’t out of line to get angry when their sacred ideas and images are despoiled by detractors or other people who don’t feel good will towards the faith or the faithful. I mean, Christians got plenty angry — and rightfully so — with Serrano’s (in)famous “Piss Christ.”

Where Donohoe has gone off the rails, and proven himself to be as much an intellectual totalitarian as the jihadists (see, e.g., Choudary, above) themselves, is to argue that people who poke fun at, or are mean about, religion deserve to die. Free speech means the right to challenge, insult, and laugh at people without being subject to cold-blooded murder or state-sanctioned execution. A civilized man and a civilized culture would never argue that the penalty for religious ridicule or insult should be death or, as is the case in Saudi Arabia, 1,000 lashes. Presumably Donohoe would approve of that punishment too.

Update on the GOP plans to derail amnesty

The House currently has two bills before it aimed at derailing amnesty. I can’t help but think that, with Boehner back in the Speaker’s chair, the only things that are going to get derailed are those two bills.

Feminists and the KKK — separated at birth?

Brendan O’Neill has noticed something very, very peculiar: Today’s feminists, especially on college campuses, are displaying exactly the same attitude towards rape as the KKK did.

Wars on rape have been declared before, and often for deeply reactionary reasons, having the effect of harming society rather than helping women. Consider the ‘war on rape’ declared in America’s Deep South in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the KKK and other racists likewise declared zero tolerance of rape – rape committed by black men, that is – and signalled their determination to wipe out this ‘ultimate transgression’. There was little positive in that crusade. And here are five ways in which today’s non-racist feministic ‘war on rape’ echoes the lynch-mob logic of yesteryear’s racist ‘war on rape’.

1) Always believe the accuser

The rallying cry of today’s apparently liberal crusaders against rape is: ‘Believe.’ They always believe the accuser. To doubt the accuser is to risk being branded a rape apologist. Campaign groups with names like We Believe You and I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault speak to the readiness of campaigners to accept every accusation of rape as good coin. Even in the wake of the Rolling Stone scandal, where an allegation of gang rape at the University of Virginia has been exposed as a tissue of lies, a writer for the Washington Post insisted we must ‘automatically believe rape allegations’, because ‘incredulity hurts victims’. From Dylan Farrow’s accusations against Woody Allen to various women’s accusations against Bill Cosby, the cry ‘I believe!’ has rung out, as activists have rushed to declare, without the benefit of a court case, that these women were raped.

Read the whole thing here. It will be worth your time.

This is exactly what I want to say about Pope Francis

Writing at First Things, Maureen Mullarkey voices precisely my feelings about Pope Francis.

Yet another act of internet piracy

The New York Times is still good for some things. It has a very informative article about a new form of hacking: the entire computer gets taken hostage.

Are these the real stories behind Don McLean’s American Pie

A short, sweet Easter afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s Easter Sunday, and that means all family all the time.  No complaints here, though.  It’s been a lovely day so far and I anticipate an equally pleasant afternoon and evening.  Full blogging will not happen today, but here are a few (a very few) links that intrigued me:

I’ve long known in a vague sort of way that Egypt is one grain of wheat away from a famine.  Having read David Archibald’s article, though, I now know in a very specific way precisely what kind of famine may be facing the world’s most populous Muslim nation.  While the Western world seems to have managed to stay one step ahead of Malthus, that’s not the case in Egypt, where bad things — overpopulation, underproduction, lack of diversification, political upheaval, and probable drought — are coming together to create a Perfect Storm of advanced hunger.


One of my favorite non-fiction books is Thomas Cahill’s The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels. In authoring the book, Cahill has no ego. To the extent that he’s vastly well-informed, he wants to share his knowledge with people, not overwhelm them with his erudition. The result is a book that is simultaneously scholarly and accessible. I mentioned it here because Shmuley Boteach has written what could be the short version of that same book, describing how the Jews have contributed to the world’s well-being.


Two very specific things in the early 1980s taught me that socialism cannot work. The first was the fact that, when my father visited his sister in East Germany, shortly after she retired from her decade’s long career as a high level Communist Party functionary, he discovered that she had lived for nine years with a broken and unusable kitchen sink. Not to worry, this true believer told my father.  She was “on the list” and was confident that the glorious Communist Party would one day get around to fixing her sink.  I suspect that it was still broken when the wall came down.

The second thing that taught me that socialism cannot work was the story of two hip replacements. Back in 1974, my father got his hip replacement two months or so after he was told that it was the only way to keep him from spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He walked, albeit with pain for the next twenty years of his life, until his death.

Meanwhile, in 1981, while I was living in England, I met a woman who had been told back in 1979 that a hip replacement was the only thing that would keep her out of a wheelchair. When I met her, she’d been barely functioning for two years, although she’d avoided the wheelchair. After I left, she went into the wheelchair. I lost contact with her about two years after a left England (i.e., four years after the referral for hip surgery), at which time she was still in that wheelchair. I don’t know whether she ever got that hip.

Keep those realities in mind when you read about Sweden’s socialized medicine, which works wonderfully only if you live long enough to benefit from it.


The DiploMad may not be in the State Department any more, but he has friends who are. He’s learned from these friends that the State Department has a new initiative to ensure that something like Benghazi never happens again. Let me just say that I’m with the DiploMad in thinking that the movers and shakers in State are delusional — and to despair that they’re pursuing their delusions using our dollars and American lives.


A lawyer friend of mine is brilliant, informed, and an incredibly good writer.  I hope those are adequate reasons for you to check out his post about the Free Speech (and Association) implications of the attack on Brendan Eich.

Barack Obama : the president as spectator to the world’s democratic uprisings

Obama mouth taped shutFrom the time he hit the campaign trail in 2007, Barack Obama made it plain that he considered America to be too big for her britches when it comes to international matters.  Looking at imperfect nations, you could see him mentally scolding America — “Haven’t you done enough already?” — for bringing so much pain and suffering to the rest of the world.

In the years since his election, Obama has reacted strongly to only three international issues:  climate change, gay rights, and Libya.  The first two are pet issues of the Left.  As for Obama’s enthusiasm about invading Libya . . . well, that continues to mystify me.  Obama’s silence has been most pointed and damaging when it comes to naturally occurring democratic movements within a despotic state.

It’s one thing (usually a stupid thing) for America to waltz in and take out a tyrant; it’s another thing entirely when the nation’s own citizens are yearning to be free, and are willing to face their own government’s guns to gain that freedom.  Under those circumstances, every person who believes in individual liberty should speak up — especially the president of the nation that has long represented itself as the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Obama, however, will not speak.

When brave Iranians challenged the mullahs, Obama was silent.  The mullahs tightened their hold.

When the Muslim Brotherhood filled the power vacuum in Egypt, Obama was silent.  A year of repression ensued.

When brave Egyptians challenged the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama was silent.  The country is now once again under a military dictatorship.

When brave Syrians challenged the tyrannical Assad regime, Obama was silent.  Had he spoken up sooner, a violent, bloody civil war — violent and bloody even by civil war standards — might have been avoided.  When the civil war took a chemical turn, Obama spoke up, only to retreat quickly when called to make good on his words.

When brave Turks challenged Erdogan’s increasingly totalitarian, Islamist rule, Obama was silent.

Today, Obama continues this familiar pattern.  Ukrainian citizens, horrified at the realization that their government is trying once against to drag them back into the Soviet orbit (we know how well that went for them in the 1930s and beyond) are battling in the streets.  Obama is silent.

And in Venezuela, citizens worn down by the repression and poverty of Chavez’s and Maduro’s hard-core socialism are rising up in the streets.  Obama is silent.

Since WWII, people around the world knew that if they sought freedom and called upon America for help, America would help.  Sometimes the help was military, sometimes financial, and sometimes it was moral.

This aid wasn’t for America’s benefit — at least it wasn’t directly for America’s benefit.  To the extent that democracies tend to be the most peaceful form of governments, it was always to America’s benefit to encourage democratic governments around the world.  Nevertheless, America’s first motive was often altruistic.  Because we were the world’s most powerful free nation, we believed that we had a moral obligation to wield that power beneficently.  Sometimes America’s road to Hell has been paved with those good intentions, but our craven retreats from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have all revealed that the post-American vacuum is often infinitely worse than the American occupation.

We’ve learned from our experiments in Iraq and, especially, in Afghanistan, that countries that have always had dictatorships, especially tribal and/or theocratic dictatorships, do not benefit from removing the existing dictator, because another one will always come along.  I therefore wouldn’t recommend interceding directly in a Muslim country ever again. Instead, we should be doing what Saudi Arabia did for Wahhabism:  establishing and funding institutions throughout the Muslim world that are dedicated to teaching the principles of freedom.  This generation may be lost, but perhaps we can save the next one and, along the way, save ourselves too.

Things are different, though, when the cry for freedom (or at least for less tyranny) originates within a country.  Had Obama immediately given moral support to internally grown democratic movements in Iran, Egypt, and Syria, he might have been able to turn the tide.  American moral support in Venezuela and Turkey would have fallen on especially fertile soil, because both are countries that have known some form of democracy.

Obama, however, considers that there is no such thing as beneficent American power.  To him, America’s strength is, by definition, malignant and destructive.  He truly believes that the Iranians are better off under the mullahs, the Egyptians under the Muslim Brotherhood, the Syrians under Assad, the Turks under Erdogan, the Ukrainians under Putin, and the Venezuelans under Maduro.  Judging by his complicit silence, there is no tyranny worse than that of being behold to the United States.


Egypt Open Thread

Okay, here’s what we know.

First, this was Obama:

Second, Morsi is the black knight:

Third, and now I’m getting serious, Egypt is either going to explode or the military will impose harsh military rule very quickly to prevent an explosion.  Morsi is under house arrest, which makes his refusal to step down more symbolic than real.  Nevertheless, as symbolism, he will continue as the leader for and inspiration to Islamists and other Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Fourth, despite his fawning Cairo speech in 2009, the Egyptians really, really hate Obama — as well they should.  It was Obama’s utter failure of leadership two years ago that paved the way for the Islamist/Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt, a takeover that is both totalitarian and incompetent.  This time around, Obama’s patent support for the unpopular Morsi administration, followed by his leadership from behind (now that Morsi is obviously yesterday’s news, Obama is finally officially abandoning him), have led the Egyptians to realize what we on the right already figured out:  Obama is a weak man who does not like democratic values and, if given the choice, will always hew to dictators, the more Islamist the better.

Fifth, although Morsi was a bad leader, chaos in the Middle East’s most populous and most broke nation is not a good thing.  It’s also unclear now whether the military will abide by the peace treaty with Israel into which Sadat entered, or if Morsi was able to put enough Islamists in place that it will go even further than he did to ignore or entirely abandon the treaty.  There’s only a one in three chance of this turning out well for Israel.  These are the three options:  chaos and revolution, which is bad for Israel, since the only way to stop these revolutions is to find a scapegoat outside of Egypt; an Islamisized military, which is bad for Israel, because it may bring order to Egypt, but it will still attack Israel; or the military will abide by the peace treaty, which would be a good thing for Israel and for the rest of the Middle East.

I mentioned this was an open thread.  Please let me know what you think of what’s going on now and how you think things will turn out.

Gateway Pundit has pretty much real time updates about the speed with which the military is moving in Egypt.

If you were to bet on events in Egypt, how would you bet? *UPDATED*

Egypt protest in Tahir Square

Things in Egypt are coming to a head.  The protest in Tahir Square on Sunday is being billed as the largest political protest ever.  In addition to Cairo, people are protesting all over.  A mob burned down the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters.  Obama, after staying silent for some time, finally called upon to President Morsi to meet with the opposition and enact some democratic reforms.  (Two years ago, under similar circumstances, he demanded that the Egyptian president step down.)

I see a few scenarios playing out:

1.  Morsi leaves power.  There is a power vacuum, and a civil war.

2.  Morsi does not leave power.  There is a civil war.

3.  The military takes over, creating a military dictatorship.  Since Morsi tried to purge as many non-Islamist people as possible from the military, it is an Islamist military dictatorship.

4.  The military takes over, creating a military dictatorship.  Despite Morsi’s efforts to purge as many non-Islamist people as possible from the military, the military has remained primarily secular.  Once in power, it can either retain it or, having stabilized the country, pave the way for democratic elections.

5.  The military, which Morsi purged of moderate elements, backs Morsi.  It takes extreme measures, killing hundreds of thousands of Egyptians in order to put down the protests. The Muslim Brotherhood retains power, but with increased cruelty and despotism.

Keep in mind with these scenarios that Egypt has the largest population of any nation in the Arab Middle East, and that it shares borders with Libya (al Qaeda), the Sudan (Muslim extremists), and Israel (Jewish, democratic, prosperous).  It is also a country in deep economic decline, something that began under Mubarak and accelerated under Morsi.  Famine is dogging it.  Finally, Obama has continued to pour money and weapons (including F-18 fighters) into Egypt.

What do you think will happen?  Are any of my scenarios reasonable?  I assume there are a lot of scenarios that didn’t even occur to me.

UPDATE:  Right now, it looks as if the military is starting variation 4 — taking over — and to the extent it seems to support the protests, that may pave the way for a peaceful transition to a more democratic, non-sharia Egypt.  I know I sound cynical, but I’m not sure that people bred on decades of Islamism are capable of making that transition:

Why have a lot of little posts, when you can have one really big one?

I’ve been coming across so much interesting stuff this morning that I’m going to do another flotsam and jetsam post.

One of the things we’ve long known is that the Left lies about statistics.  Examples of this are “1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted” canard and the “women earn 76 cents for every dollar men earn” lie which is (a) factually inaccurate and (b) misleading because it ignores the fact that women’s commitment to their children means many of them voluntarily take a different career track.  (The only place this is factually true, I think, is the Obama White House, where he definitely pays women less.)  Tom Elia therefore suggests that, before blindly accepting Texas Democrats’ charge that the proposed abortion law would close all but 5 of Texas’s 42 abortion clinics (because of the requirement that the clinic be within 30 miles of a hospital), we might want to check whether this is actually true.

Before you get your knickers in a twist about the revelation that the EU has been colluding with the US to hand over European data to the NSA program, remember that the source is a virulent anti-American, antisemitic truther.  This may explain why The Guardian, after touting the story, then pulled it.  Having said that, it’s not hard to believe Edward Epstein’s theory that this was never a whistleblower case but was, instead, a carefully thought out plan of espionage.

You’re my readers, so I know all of you are already aware that we’re on the verge of the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg.  Nevertheless, I thought I’d still mention it, along with the fact that at least some Americans are aware of how significant that battle was.  World War I saw bigger battles, with more deaths (Ypres, the Somme, etc.), but I’m not sure that any Civil War ever saw such ferocious days as the Civil War did at Antietam or Gettysburg, or any of the other sites where Americans clashed against each other.  I believe it’s very useful to remind some people (and I’m not naming names) that America is the only country in the world that has ever shed so much blood to fight slavery.

Just a moment to mourn Andrew Pochter, the idealistic American Jewish kid who went to Egypt to help raise up the poor Arabs and died in a welter of blood during an anti-Morsi protest.

I think things in Egypt are about to get much worseTwenty-two million Egyptians signed a petition demanding Morsi’s ouster.  Do they really think the Muslim Brotherhood is going to walk away?  If Egypt does fall into a Civil War, it will make what’s happening in Syria look like a Sunday school picnic.

Naive people think a mosque is just a House of Worship.  While it is definitely a House of Worship, it’s also something more:  a symbol of conquest.  That’s why it has to be higher than the surrounding buildings.  And that’s why, in Germany, the air is being filled with the amplified sounds of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer five times a day.

Charlie Martin, one of my favorite PJ Media writers, is at it again, writing smart stuff, this time about climate change and a really important question:  is there any evidence that humans matter?

And while we’re on the subject of climate, Robert Zubrin explains in simple terms why Obama’s recently announced climate plans will impoverish America.  With Obama focusing on climate change (despite more and more data that the entire theory is wrong), even as the economy stagnates, national secrets go walking, and the Middle East is aflame, my first thought was that he was like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.  Reading Zubrin’s analysis though of the devastating Obama’s plans will bring to the economy, the better analogy would be Nero pouring accelerant on the flames licking at Rome.  If you doubt that, check out Obama’s recent appointees, all of whom have drunk full of the climate change Kool-Aid.

Republicans are saying that this time, really, for good and for true, their eyes are open.  That whole Gang of Eight thing made them realize that the Democrats are not their friends in Congress and they promise, never, never, never again to ever again, really ever, let the Democrats play them like that.  How dumb do Republicans think we are?  Republicans are Charlie Brown, Democrats are Lucy, and Americans are a poor, kicked-around, deflated football.

A New Jersey teachers union leader said that the rich send their children to public school so that they don’t have to have contact with the poor.  I know of at least one case where this is true.  Back in 1971, busing came to San Francisco.  I was bussed from one middle class school near my home to another slightly less middle class school far from my home.  It made friendships difficult (none of my friends were near), and there were a few more black kids, but otherwise it was no big deal.  My friend, however, was bussed from her middle class school to a school in Bayview-Hunter’s Point, one of the worst slums in San Francisco.  She could beaten up every day for the first two weeks of school.  Her parents, fortunately, had the money to pull her out of the public school system and they put her in Brandeis.  So yes, they didn’t want her to have contact with the poor — because the poor wanted to have a bit too much contact with her.

If you’re wondering what’s going on in Turkey, Claire Berlinsky will explain it to you.

This is an Open Thread, so please feel free to add to it.

In which I pretend to be Thomas Sowell and offer short takes on today’s headlines

I freely admit that I will never be as brilliant as Thomas Sowell, either in my analytical abilities or in my writing quality.  That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t borrow his technique of writing the occasional post that consists of one or two sentence thoughts about interesting subjects.  So, I am for his style, even if I lack his substance.

As I understand it, striking down DOMA means that marriage in America is no longer defined as being between one man and one woman.  More than that, it’s no longer defined as anything.  In pre-21st century America, it was understood to be one man and one woman, but now those common understanding is gone.  It seems to me that the feds better act quickly to define marriage as a relationship between two consenting adult humans.  Otherwise, the door is open to polygamy, incest, bestiality, or NAMBLA- and sharia approved marriages with children.

Earl Aagaard forwarded to me a wonderful comment a friend of his made with regard to Obama’s disastrous efforts to engage with Russian President Putin regarding Edward Snowden, currently hanging out with impunity in the Moscow airport:  “It seems that Barack Obama, not content with losing the war on terror, is also trying to lose the Cold War.

I have to admit that I haven’t read closely any of the news articles about Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revitalize the Middle East peace talks.  All I can think is that trying to get the Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution is a fool’s errand — and John Kerry is most certainly a fool.

I was saddened, but not surprised, to see that the Senate passed the Immigration bill (all 1,200 unread pages of it), including 14 “yes” votes from Republicans.  I have only two hopes now.  I hope that every Senate Republican who voted “Aye” gets killed in the primaries and I hope that House Republicans figure out that they can vote “no” on the bill by pointing to the fact that, as written, it destroys American jobs, both by drastically increasing the pool of legal, low-income workers and by blending with ObamaCare to give employers the incentive to fire current workers (for whom they must buy insurance or pay a fine) in favor of amnestied workers (who don’t fall under ObamaCare).  I just know, though, the Republicans are going to be sufficiently stupid to sell this as fear of too many Hispanics.  Raaacists!!

We’re having a heat wave here in temperate Northern California.  Oh. My. G*d!  It must be global warming.  We’re all going to die!  Oh.  Wait a minute.  Never mind.  I just remembered that it’s June and we’ve had a heat wave in the Bay Area every June since my earliest memories in the 1960s.

There’s a saying that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.  There’s also a saying that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  If Obama was merely stupid, one would think that, in his approach to foreign policy, he’d occasionally get things right.  But he never does.  Think about his instincts:  With the Iranian revolution, when he should have given moral support to the opposition, he was silent.  During the Egyptian Arab Spring, when he should have supported and then gently eased out our ally, Mubarak, he was silent.  He found his voice again with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he supported — so much so that, now that ordinary Egyptians and, especially Coptic Christians in Egypt, are figuring out that they went from a bad secular government to a much worse theocratic government, Obama has fallen silent again.

Obama pulled us out of Iraq, where we had won, before we had a chance to consolidate a democratic infrastructure.  Iraq is now becoming an Iranian satellite and falling into a dystopian Islamic anarchy.  In Afghanistan, Obama didn’t even wait until we won.  He announced that we had lost and would be leaving soon, and by the way, would the Taliban please refrain from killing Americans and instead sit down with American politicians to negotiate the terms of our defeat.

Of course one can’t forget Libya, where we helped destroy a neutral (which is what Qaddafi had become) and replaced the power structure with a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  That chicken came tragically home to roost on September 11, 2012, when al Qaeda killed four Americans in Benghazi.  Then there’s Syria, where Obama sat by the sidelines when he could have helped a democratic movement against Assad’s dictatorship, but decided to provide support only when the democratic movement had morphed into — yes, again — a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  One starts to get the feeling that Obama likes the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, despite their clearly expressed goals of world jihad, with Israel as target No. 1 and America as target No. 2.

Obama’s bestest friend in the international world is Turkey’s Erdogan, who is doing his damndest to turn secular, functional, democratic Turkey into another totalitarian dictatorship.  Meanwhile, he’s alienated Russia’s Putin so much that Putin gleefully rubs America’s nose in its helplessness with regard to the gallivanting Snowden.

My conclusion:  It cannot be random that Obama gets it wrong every time.  This isn’t stupidity.  It is malice.

Speaking of Snowden, I’m still sticking with my first instincts:  Snowden did ordinary Americans a favor by revealing that the federal government is a spy state, and one that could easily tip into being like the East German Stasi.  That he did something important, though, doesn’t mean that his motives were good.  This is an anti-American man who was either working for a foreign power (probably China) from the get go, or who, having gotten his hands on America’s national security secrets, didn’t hesitate one moment when it came to selling out America.  He’s not a hero.  He’s a villain who incidentally did something helpful.

Do any of you feel like being epigrammatic?  If so, please chime in.

Over the next four years, will Obama be the only one celebrating?

In my latest newsletter (which you can view here and subscribe to here) I asked whether Republicans will be the only unhappy people over the next four years.  My starting point is that Republicans are deeply depressed right now, while Progressives are gloatingly triumphant.  Their man won.  Their agenda is the one he’ll enact.

The problem as I see it is that almost nobody — Republican or Progressive — is going to be happy with the outcome.  Unlike the Reagan years, which saw the economy soar, so much so that even the most embittered Democrats couldn’t complain directly about the economy (so they had to focus on inequities instead), Obama’s first four years have seen everything going negative:  the economy is perpetually saggy at home and disastrously bad abroad; the nation is more divided than ever before at this precise point in a President’s second term; nations that the U.S. had previously stabilized are collapsing; and there is, to borrow Carter’s term, a terrible malaise throughout the land.  More than that, it my money is on the fact that all of these trends will worsen with Obama’s policies.

Given that things are going to go from bad to worse, will any but the most die-hard Progressives be happy?  Right now, my Progressive friends (and I have many) are convinced that just a little bit more of the Obama magic will turn everything around — and then they’ll be happy.  But what if it doesn’t turn around?  Will they rationalize downwards what constitutes happiness?  That is, will we hear that it’s wonderful to be unemployed for so long, because you can do some serious navel gazing; and hey, isn’t it great that all those European and Middle Eastern nations are at war or heading to it?  I don’t think so, and here’s why.

I can say with a fair amount of certainty, because I’ve been on both sides of the political divide, that most Democrats and Progressives want wealth, security, and stability.  They’re just sufficiently foolish to believe that these things are best attained with an all-powerful state, rather than through maximum individual freedom within a legal framework that applies a few, clear laws equally to all citizens.  They might learn something when they realize that their ideology doesn’t achieve their ends.

But Obama….  His ends are very different.  I don’t think anything makes this more clear than what Jonathan Tobin noticed when he watched Steve Croft’s sycophantic 60 Minutes interview with Barry and Hillary.  Buried amidst the snowstorm of fecal matter, and the steady browning of Steve Croft’s nose, Barack Obama made one startling admission.  In defending his “lead from behind” approach to the Middle East, Obama had this to say:

President Obama: Well, Muammar Qaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment, or at least if he was around, he wouldn’t agree with that assessment. Obviously, you know, we helped to put together and lay the groundwork for liberating Libya. You know, when it comes to Egypt, I think, had it not been for the leadership we showed, you might have seen a different outcome there.

Tobin immediately honed in upon what’s so dreadfully wrong in that statement: Barack Obama is actually boasting about Libya, where al Qaeda has taken over and Obama’s own ambassador was brutally murdered, and about Egypt, which is in the increasingly vice-like control of a radical Islamist wannabe dictator who calls Israel (America’s ally) a nation of apes and pigs that should be wiped from the face of the earth.  As Tobin says:

Let me get this straight. President Obama is not merely bragging about a conflict in Libya that led to chaos not only in that country that produced the murders of four Americans including our ambassador. He is also saying that he thinks he positively impacted the outcome of the power struggle in Egypt over the last two years and actually thinks his “leadership” helped create a situation about which we are happy. So what he’s telling us is that he’s not merely pleased with what he did or didn’t do, but that he thinks the current situation in Cairo in which the most populous Arab country is now run by a Muslim Brotherhood government led by a raving anti-Semite is a good thing about which he can brag on national TV.

(You can read the rest of Tobin’s analysis here.)

Most Americans, including the millions of misguided Democrats, won’t celebrate the potential detritus of eight Obama years:  America’s economic collapse, Israel’s destruction, the Islamic takeover of the Middle East, and Europe’ ugly retreat to the 1930s.  Obama, however, has clearly signaled that he’s going to pat himself on the back for a job well done.

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that the future is not written in stone.  Things can change in an instant.  The winner can go down and the loser can suddenly take the lead.  Ever since the 2006 Winter Olympics, and Lindsey Jacobellis’ fatal hubris in snowboarding, I’ve always told my kids “winners never quit and quitters never win.”

The only thing that will absolutely and certainly defeat America’s future resurgence as a bastion of individual freedom and success is if we quit. No quitting, guys. Grieve, but come back fighting. (And to cheer you up further, I’m betting that Progressive/Obama overreach and hubris will work in our favor on the road back.)

A French military victory in Mali — and a dismal American record

The Malians are thrilled, as they should be, and the French should be pretty darn proud themselves:

French troops headed to Mali

Residents of Mali’s northern town of Gao, captured from sharia-observing Islamist rebels by French and Malian troops, danced in the streets to drums and music on Sunday as the French-led offensive also drove the rebels from Timbuktu.

The weekend gains made at Gao and Timbuktu by the French and Malian troops capped a two-week whirlwind intervention by France in its former Sahel colony, which has driven al Qaeda-allied militant fighters northwards into the desert and mountains.

So, let’s see what we have here:

Another hanging in Iran

Another hanging in Iran

On the US side, President Obama, without consent from Congress, brings US forces to Libya to destroy a nominal US ally, creating a power vacuum that al Qaeda fills, with disastrous results for four Americans serving their country in Benghazi.  Also, President Obama uses the full force of diplomatic pressure in Egypt to force out a nominal US ally, creating a power vacuum that the Muslim Brother fills, with disastrous results for the Egyptian people, who are now rioting in the streets, and quite possibly creates an existential threat Israel.  When it comes to Syria, whose tyrannical leader Obama and his political friends had praises, Obama does nothing at all, leading to mass murders throughout the country, and another major Middle Eastern refugee crisis.  Likewise, in Iran, when the people rose to challenge a tyrannical government that had abandoned even the pretense of democratic procedures, Obama stood by silently.

Obama's bitch is Egyptian dictator

Meanwhile, on the French side, in two weeks the French destroyed al Qaeda’s tightening group on a moderate Muslim nation, leading historically moderate Muslims to celebrate and to beg the French to stick around.

Obama, in common with all Progressives, tends to believe that there’s a “right side to history.”  Perhaps he ought to revisit the notion, because he seems to be on the wrong side every time.

Progressives, to placate Gaia, engage in a “civilized” version of the ancient practice of human sacrifice

Food prices in America are going up and up.  We’re not starving, thank goodness, but we are seeing more and more of our money go to groceries.  Many see a direct connection with ethanol (i.e., using food to power cars) and rising food prices.  Thus, despite the challenging drought, the administration is pursuing ethanol-based policies that keep prices inflated:

A drought is currently driving down corn production. The shortage of feed is forcing livestock producers to slaughter animals early, putting downward pressure on meat prices in the short run and guaranteeing shortages and higher prices next year. But nature is not the biggest factor in this crisis — the government is. Specifically, the federal government’s ethanol mandate, which requires that 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be produced in 2012.

Thanks to the ethanol mandate, more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop now goes into the production of a useless fuel that hardly anyone would buy if the government didn’t require it. That’s up from just 17 percent in 2005, before the mandate went into effect. Only 36 percent of the corn crop now goes for feed, and 24 percent goes for food.

Obama could solve this problem instantly by suspending the federal ethanol mandate — something his EPA actually can do unilaterally and legally. Instead, Obama will buy up meat — a move that meat producers say won’t help them much anyway. “It doesn’t solve the problem of having enough affordable corn next summer,” industry analyst Steve Meyer told Reuters. “Without changing the ethanol program, nothing can be done,” he said.

It’s bad enough that ethanol is hurting our pocketbooks at home.  What’s scary and tragic is that the diversion of food crops may be causing revolutions elsewhere.  Smart thinkers have posited that the government obsession with ethanol, which results in crop diversions and high food prices in marginal economies, may have led to the Arab Spring:

While the mainstream media focuses on the political aspects of this turmoil, they are overlooking the impact of rising inflation, driven mainly by record food prices. For example, former Bush advisor Dan Senor notes that Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer. Yet because of skyrocketing prices, Egyptian inflation is now over 10 percent, while some experts estimate that Egyptian food inflation has risen as much as 20 percent.


To be fair, not all of the food inflation can be blamed on the Fed. A good part of this problem can also be placed at the doorstep of bipartisan U.S. policies to subsidize ethanol.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2001, only 7 percent of U.S. corn went to ethanol. By 2010, the ethanol share was 39 percent. So instead of growing wheat, our farmers are growing corn in order to cash in on ethanol subsidies. Egyptians who can’t afford to buy bread and have taken to the streets in protest might be very interested to know this.

Not even Al Gore still believes that ethanol provides any environmental benefits.

More simply stated, the obsession with useless ethanol, all in the name of saving us from Gaia’s wrath, is starving people.

It occurred to me that this isn’t the first time that governments have taken to killing people in order to placate Gaia.  A little digging yielded this summary about the Aztec practice of human sacrifice.  Keep in mind as you read it that, in the 21st Century, every single itch and twitch in the weather — every heavy rain, heat wave, cold spell, etc. — is blamed on Gaia’s anger that we’re flooding her with CO2 (emphasis mine):

For hundreds of years, human sacrifice is believed to have played an important role of many of the indigenous tribes inhabiting the Valley of Mexico. However, the Mexica brought human sacrifice to levels that had never been practiced before. The Mexica Indians and their neighbors had developed a belief that it was necessary to constantly appease the gods through human sacrifice. By spilling the blood of human beings onto the ground, the high priests were, in a sense, paying their debt to the gods. If the blood would flow, then the sun would rise each morning, the crops would grow, the gods would provide favorable weather for good crops, and life would continue.

Over time, the Mexica, in particular, developed a feeling that the needs of their gods were insatiable. The period from 1446 to 1453 was a period of devastating natural disasters: locusts, drought, floods, early frosts, starvation, etc. The Mexica, during this period, resorted to massive human sacrifice in an attempt to remedy these problems. When abundant rain and a healthy crop followed in 1455, the Mexica believed that their efforts had been successful. In 1487, according to legend, Aztec priests sacrificed more than 80,000 prisoners of war at the dedication of the reconstructed temple of the sun god in Tenochtitl’n.

Just to be clear, I’m not accusing Progressives of deliberately engaging in human sacrifice.  Indeed, it’s ridiculous to compare converting corn to fuel, which has a byproduct of revolution and starvation, on the one hand, with deliberately and directly cutting the hearts out of 80,000 prisoners, on the other hand.  Nevertheless, I do think there’s a straight, albeit very thin, line between the primitive thinking of the Aztecs — “earth angry, kill people” — and the so-called “sophisticated thinking of the Progressives — “earth angry, who cares how many people we kill.”