Friday, March 22, 2013

The "diminishing" man

President Barack Obama distorted Palestinian Authority terror at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday night and asserted that 2012 was a good year in Judea and Samaria because no one died from terrorist attacks.

He also implicitly stated Israel could settle for less than total security so long as the possibility of rocket attacks from Judea and Samaria were “diminished.”

President Obama tried to minimize his comments on the “peace process” during the “Barack and Bibi” show, which showed that they are the best of chums who never disagree.

The president called Netanyahu “Bibi” several times, and both of them poured lavish praise on each other while being remarkably honest on Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu admitted for the first time that President Obama is correct in saying that Iran is at least a year from manufacturing a nuclear weapon. He differentiated between Iran’s ability to make a weapon and its capability to produce enough enriched uranium for one.

It was the “peace process” that prompted comments from the president that were enough to show that his advisers still think terrorist attacks, at least in Israel, are only dangerous when people are killed. That was the same kind of thinking that kept Israel from striking at Hamas terrorists in Gaza so long as rockets landed in “open areas” and wounded “only” a few farmers and foreign workers. After missiles started wounding and murdering civilians closer to Tel Aviv last November, Israel finally “had a right to defend itself.”

President Obama made two statements that ignore reality and which will give him the excuse to lecture Israelis at his speech at the Jerusalem Conference Center Thursday night that Israel faces disaster if it does not admit that the country cannot exist so long as Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria remain an “obstacle” to a Palestinian Authority state.

First of all, the president said that there was not a single death in Judea and Samaria in 2012 due to Palestinian terror.

Secondly, he stated that a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority cannot be concluded until Israelis feel that the possibility of rocket attacks has “diminished.” He did not say that there should be “no chance” of missile attacks but only that the “possibility of rockets has diminished.”

A “diminishing” possibility is what the United States and well-meaning starry-eyed Israeli dreamers, like President Shimon Peres, supposedly created in 2005 with the expulsion of Jews and the withdrawal of all Israeli soldiers from Gaza.

Knesset Members scoffed at right-warnings that rockets would land on Ashkelon, let alone Tel Aviv. President Peres found himself stating later that he simply cannot understand why Hamas would attack Israel with rockets after the withdrawal from Gaza.

Obama’s mention that no one died in attacks from Judea and Samaria last year is even more off the mark.

First of all, there were many serious injuries.

Secondly, an infant’s life is hanging in the air at this very moment after last week’s savage rock-throwing terrorist attack on a central Samaria highway. The rock-throwers achieved their aim of causing a crash, similar to the fatal accident in Kiryat Arba in September 2011 that killed Asher Palmer and is two-year-old son. But that happened less than four months before 2012, so Obama could forget about it in his wrap-up for the year. And last week’s attack is in 2013, so that also does not count.

Thirdly, the reason there were no deaths is not because Palestinian Authority terrorists did not try but because the IDF has been able to deploy from within Judea and Samaria to prevent them, an impossibility if Mahmoud Abbas takes full control of Judea and Samaria and excludes the IDF.



Fusion Power on the Right

By Jonah Goldberg.  Jonah might have quoted the Gipper: "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism..... The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom"

"At CPAC, the Future Looks Libertarian," read a dispatch on Time magazine's website. "CPAC: Rand Paul's Big Moment," proclaimed The Week magazine. Meanwhile, the New York Times headlined its story about the annual conservative political action conference "GOP divisions fester at conservative retreat."

George Will, a man who actually knows a thing or two about conservatism, responded to the NYT's use of the word "fester" on ABC News' "This Week." "Festering: an infected wound, it's awful. I guarantee you, if there were a liberal conclave comparable to this, and there were vigorous debates going on there, the New York Times' headline would be 'Healthy diversity flourishes at the liberal conclave.'"

Will went on to note that social conservatives and libertarian free-market conservatives in the GOP have been arguing "since the 1950s, when the National Review was founded on the idea of the fusion of the two. It has worked before with Ronald Reagan. It can work again."

Will was right as far as he went, but I would go further. Fusionism was an idea hatched by Frank Meyer, a brilliant intellectual and editor at National Review. An ex-communist Christian libertarian, Meyer argued that freedom was a prerequisite for virtue and therefore a virtuous society must be a free society. (If I force you to do the right thing against your will, you cannot claim to have acted virtuously.)

Philosophically, the idea took fire from all sides. But as a uniting principle, fusionism worked well. It provided a rationale for most libertarians and most social conservatives to fight side by side against communism abroad and big government at home.

What often gets left out in discussions of the American right is that fusionism isn't merely an alliance, it is an alloy. Fusionism runs through the conservative heart. William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative movement, often called himself a "libertarian journalist." Asked about that in a 1993 interview, he told CSPAN's Brian Lamb that the question "Does this augment or diminish human liberty?" informed most of what he wrote.

Most pure libertarians and the tiny number of truly statist social conservatives live along the outer edge of the Venn diagram that is the American right. Most self-identified conservatives reside in the vast overlapping terrain between the two sides.

Just look at where libertarianism has had its greatest impact: economics. There simply isn't a conservative economics that is distinct from a libertarian one. Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, James M. Buchanan & Co. are gods of the libertarian and conservative pantheons alike. When Pat Buchanan wanted to move America towards protectionism and statism, he had to leave the party to do it.

Libertarian and conservative critiques of Obamacare, the stimulus and other Democratic policies are indistinguishable from one another. On trade, taxes, property rights, energy, the environment, intellectual property and other issues, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you the difference, if any, between the conservative and libertarian positions.

On the Constitution, there are some interesting debates, but both factions are united in rejecting a "living Constitution." The debate on the right is over what the Constitution says, not what liberals think it should say.

When Jim DeMint resigned from the Senate, the pro-life libertarian journalist Timothy Carney wrote for the Washington Examiner, "For libertarians, Christian conservative pro-lifer Jim DeMint was the best thing to come through the Senate in decades." DeMint had a 93 percent rating from the National Taxpayers Union and a perfect 100 percent from the libertarian Club for Growth.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), according to most media accounts, represents a new, younger, more libertarian approach. But at CPAC, Paul also announced that he would be introducing the "Life at Conception Act." On gay marriage, Paul's position is that it should be left to the states. And on immigration, Paul's newfound support for a path to citizenship has more in common with George W. Bush's compassionate conservatism than it does with doctrinaire libertarianism.

Libertarianism has a better brand name than conservatism these days, particularly among young people. Conservatives shouldn't be freaking out about this any more than libertarians should start a victory dance. The agreements between the two sides remain far greater than the differences.



U.S. National Security Document Will Omit References to Islamic Extremism and Jihad

In what appears to be another victory for the US Muslim Brotherhood, Associated Press is reporting that "religious terms" such as Islamic extremism and Jihad will be removed from the document known as the National Security Strategy. According to the AP report:

"President Barack Obama's advisers will remove religious terms such as "Islamic extremism" from the central document outlining the U.S. national security strategy and will use the rewritten document to emphasize that the United States does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terror, counterterrorism officials said. The change is a significant shift in the National Security Strategy, a document that previously outlined the Bush Doctrine of preventative war and currently states: "The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century."

The officials described the changes on condition of anonymity because the document still was being written, and the White House would not discuss it. But rewriting the strategy document will be the latest example of Obama putting his stamp on U.S. foreign policy, like his promises to dismantle nuclear weapons and limit the situations in which they can be used. The revisions are part of a larger effort about which the White House talks openly, one that seeks to change not just how the United States talks to Muslim nations, but also what it talks to them about, from health care and science to business startups and education.

That shift away from terrorism has been building for a year, since Obama went to Cairo, Egypt, and promised a "new beginning" in the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. The White House believes the previous administration based that relationship entirely on fighting terror and winning the war of ideas.

The AP report also identifies a little known White House office that appears to have played a major role in the language change:
"You take a country where the overwhelming majority are not going to become terrorists, and you go in and say, ‘We're building you a hospital so you don't become terrorists.' That doesn't make much sense," said National Security Council staffer Pradeep Ramamurthy. Ramamurthy runs the administration's Global Engagement Directorate, a four-person National Security Council team that Obama launched last May with little fanfare and a vague mission to use diplomacy and outreach "in pursuit of a host of national security objectives."

Since then, the division has not only helped change the vocabulary of fighting terror but also has shaped the way the country invests in Muslim businesses, studies global warming, supports scientific research and combats polio.

Before diplomats go abroad, they hear from the Ramamurthy or his deputy, Jenny Urizar. When officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration returned from Indonesia, the NSC got a rundown about research opportunities on global warming. Ramamurthy maintains a database of interviews conducted by 50 U.S. embassies worldwide. And business leaders from more than 40 countries head to Washington this month for an "entrepreneurship summit" for Muslim businesses.

A post from 2008 discussed a Department of Homeland Security memo urging employees not to use terms including ‘jihad,' ‘jihadist' or ‘Islamic terrorist' in describing Islamic terrorism. As that post noted, the efforts of the US Brotherhood to change US counterterrorism language dates back to the 1988  bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa:

"Prior to the activities of Al Qaeda, MPAC and CAIR focused their efforts on defending the activities of Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas, arguing as noted above that they were motivated by suffering and oppression. Following the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, the Brotherhood groups were faced with a new issue- organized Islamic terrorists attacking the United States and killing civilians who were not party to any conflict involving Muslims.

After initial denials that Muslims were involved in the attacks, the U.S Brotherhood groups began arguing that although the grievances were "legitimate", the action were "un-Islamic." In total, the U.S. Brotherhood effort is in accord with the larger Muslim Brotherhood notion of "defensive Jihad" which holds that Jihad is justified where Muslims or "Muslim honor" is under attack. Therefore, under this definition, Hamas/Hezbollah violence is not terrorism because it is justified and Al Qaeda violence is not "Islamic" because it is not justified.

Another earlier post discussed the Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project, an organization whose report expressed support for changing the language used to describe terrorism. Members of the Leadership Group include well-known past and present political figures including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, US Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) President Ingrid Mattson, and Obama Muslim "Faith Advisor Dalia Mogahed.

The US Brotherhood effort to remove terms such as "Islamic extremism", in turn, is part of a larger rhetorical strategy which appears designed to obscure the true goals of the organization.

It should be noted that the change in the tone of US counterterrorism language was presaged in President Obama's counterterrorism adviser John Brennan's February speech at NYU at which Ingrid Mattson was present.



The Unmourned

By Mark Steyn

In 2011, I wrote about mass murder at Kermit Gosnell’s abortion “clinic”:  "From the Office of the District Attorney in Philadelphia:   Viable babies were born. Gosnell killed them by plunging scissors into their spinal cords. He taught his staff to do the same."

    This is a remarkable moment in American life: A man is killing actual living, gurgling, bouncing babies on an industrial scale – and it barely makes the papers. Had he plunged his scissors into the spinal cord of a Democrat politician in Arizona, then The New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC and everyone else would be linking it to Sarah Palin’s uncivil call for dramatic cuts in government spending. But “Doctor” Kermit Gosnell’s mound of corpses is apparently entirely unconnected to the broader culture.

And so it goes two years on, at “Doctor” Gosnell’s trial:

"Medical assistant Adrienne Moton admitted Tuesday that she had cut the necks of at least 10 babies after they were delivered, as Gosnell had instructed her. Gosnell and another employee regularly “snipped” the spines “to ensure fetal demise,” she said.   Moton sobbed as she recalled taking a cellphone photograph of one baby because he was bigger than any she had seen aborted before. She measured the fetus at nearly 30 weeks, and thought he could have survived, given his size and pinkish color. Gosnell later joked that the baby was so big he could have walked to the bus stop, she said."


Notwithstanding Dr. Gosnell’s jest, and the fact that newborns delivered alive are generally regarded as “babies,” the New York Times’ only story on the case is punctilious enough to refer to Gosnell’s victims as “viable fetuses,” and its early paragraphs emphasize the defense’s wearily predictable line that this is a “racist prosecution.”

Instead of my Arizona comparison, what about Sandy Hook? One solitary act of mass infanticide by a mentally-ill loner calls into question the constitutional right to guns, but a sustained conveyor belt of infanticide by an entire cadre of cold-blooded killers apparently has no implications for the constitutional right to abortion. As one commentator wondered two years ago:

    "Does 30 years of calling babies “blobs of tissue” have no effect on the culture?"

For the answer, consider the testimony of “Nurse” Moton — and the clarification by AP writer Maryclaire Dale:

    "She once had to kill a baby delivered in a toilet, cutting its neck with scissors, she said. Asked if she knew that was wrong, she said, “At first I didn’t.”  Abortions are typically performed in utero."

“Typically.” So, finding oneself called on to “abort” a “viable fetus” in a toilet with a pair of scissors, who wouldn’t be confused as to whether it’s “wrong” or merely marginally atypical?

Gosnell’s murderous regime in Philadelphia reflects on him. The case’s all but total absence from the public discourse reflects on America:

    It’s time for the lukewarm to get over whatever prejudices are keeping them from getting on the right side of this issue, for the good of the victims of this ghastly culture, and for their own good as well.




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