Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

13 March 2015

On Uranus & Assholes: The Alan Grayson Edition




Rep. Alan Grayson @AlanGrayson 

57 years ago today was a bad day for the Tea Party, the Koch Bros., Fox News, inequality, greed and war; I was born. 

12:59 PM - 13 Mar 2015



On this day 234 years ago, William Herschel discovered Uranus. 

57 years ago, he could have discovered an asshole...Alan Grayson!






Harvard Law Review: Sorry, Birthers, Ted Cruz IS A Natural-Born Citizen!




Better late than never.  


The Harvard Law Review has confirmed what I wrote on Ted Cruz's status nearly two years ago:


And,what I wrote about Obama long before that:



To HotAirians, make sure to relay this to the so-called 'HLS grad', nonpartisan!



26 February 2015

So, You Want To Ban Bullets?


shutterstock_255316480


You'd better hope that your name isn't put on one of the gazillions already in existence.

Don't worry. I personally won't make you 'Bite the Bullet!'


Hey, remember when it took a constitutional amendment to ban products (like alcohol)? 

Good times, my friends, good times! 

Now, it just takes the signature of an arrogant, preening, dicKtatorial president.


PS: Can’t wait for Proggies’ heads to explode when a future Republican President bans morning after pills via Executive Order. 

Live by the lawless sword, die by the lawless sword.


Net Neutrality Is Anything But Neutral


Net Neutrality


‘In Venezuela, with Chavez, really an incredible revolution – a democratic revolution – to begin to put in place things that are going to have an impact on the people of Venezuela. The property owners and the folks who then controlled the media in Venezuela rebelled – worked, frankly, with folks here in the US government, worked to oust him – but he came back with another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country.’ 

– Mark Lloyd, Obama’s associate general counsel and Chief Diversity Officer at the Federal Communications Commission of the United States from 2009-2012, spoken at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 10 June 2008 



Although I have yet to read the proposed regulations (Who has other than Google & Free Press and other assorted Leftist groups that are now said to be afraid that the government is 'going to far'???) because they have not been released, it is quite possible that they will – or may in the future – require that website owners, including bloggers, be licensed. In this scenario, you will be required to get a licence and, if you fail to do so, the government can mandate your internet provider deny service to you. You will either have to comply or forego your blog. 

A lot of these LIV Net Neutrality supporters believe that these regulations will do nothing more than making the internet ‘fair’. If that were the case, then the FEC would not be involved. Net Neutrality rules and regs have already been found unconstitutional. 

One would think – or at least hope – that any infringement on the First Amendment would result in these regulations being struck down as unconstitutional. Websites such as Drudge are media – just as the New York Times – and operations and regulations would infringe on the right of freedom of the press. 

My blog, in the very least, should be protected under the right to free speech. It SHOULD be protected under the right of freedom of the press, too. 

The First Amendment was written during a time when it was quite normal for ‘average citizens’ to pass out handbills, treatises, etc, of their own design. In other words, the Founders recognised that the press was not limited to established newspapers. The bloggers of today are the equivalent of Thomas Paine in the 18th century. 

‘The Bill of Rights changed the original Constitution into a new charter under which no branch of government could abridge the people’s freedoms of press, speech, religion, and assembly. Yet the Solicitor General argues and some members of the Court appear to agree that the general powers of the Government adopted in the original Constitution should be interpreted to limit and restrict the specific and emphatic guarantees of the Bill of Rights adopted later. 
I can imagine no greater perversion of history. Madison and the other Framers of the First Amendment, able men that they were, wrote in language they earnestly believed could never be misunderstood: ‘Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom . . . of the press. . .’ Both the history and language of the First Amendment support the view that the press must be left free to publish news, whatever the source, without censorship, injunctions, or prior restraints…In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. 
The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people. 
In other words, we are asked to hold that, despite the First Amendment’s emphatic command, the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the Judiciary can make laws enjoining publication of current news and abridging freedom of the press in the name of ‘national security.’ The Government does not even attempt to rely on any act of Congress. Instead, it makes the bold and dangerously far-reaching contention that the courts should take it upon themselves to ‘make’ a law abridging freedom of the press in the name of equity, presidential power and national security, even when the representatives of the people in Congress have adhered to the command of the First Amendment and refused to make such a law. 
The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have [to] bare the secrets of government and inform the people.’ 
– Justice Hugo Black, writing for the majority, in New York Times Co. v United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971) 


The Free Press Clause protects the freedom to publish, not solely writers and commercial publishers. The Founders intended for the lowliest, volunteer pamphleteer have the same constitutional protections as the Publisher of the New York Times or ‘journalists,’ who are paid for their work. The protection is to the publication – IN ANY MANNER – not merely to whom is doing the publishing (just as lawmakers were not full-time and had other jobs in the ‘real world,’ the Founding Fathers recognised that one could be both a farmer and a member of the ‘press.’) In the first case the Supreme Court dealing with the Free Press Clause, Lovell v City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 (1938), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes defined ‘press’ as ‘every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion’ based upon the writings of the Founding Fathers. 

The ‘press’ be it someone at the NYT or a blogger has First Amendment rights and CANNOT be prosecuted for seeking and publishing information. 

If Net Neutrality were about monopolies and fair use of the ‘pipes’, the FEC would not be involved. The FEC is involved because the government wants to crackdown on what it would label ‘in-kind contributions’. For example, my future posts on Her Royal Thighness would be classified as ‘in-kind contributions’ to whomever is running against her even though all that I am doing is exercising my right of free speech. 

Bear in mind that this administration claimed in Citizens United before the Supreme Court that, theoretically, the government could BAN BOOKS and that pamphlets could be treated in the same manner as child pornography. Who made that argument on behalf of the government? 

None other than Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. 

In the course of the argument, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, an experienced Supreme Court litigator, argued that a 1990 precedent, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, gave the government the power to limit any political communication funded by a corporation, even a nonprofit such as Citizens United.Justice Samuel Alito asked Stewart if that power would extend to censoring political books published by corporations. Stewart responded — consistent with the government’s position at all stages of the case — that yes, it would. There was an audible hush — if such a thing is possible — in the court. Then Justice Alito, appearing to speak for the room, merely said, “I find that pretty incredible.” 
Incredible or not, that was, and had been for many years, the position of the U.S. government. But until that moment, it seemed to have never quite sunken in with the justices. Americans are willing to accept far more abridgements of free speech than we sometimes like to believe, but the idea of banning books strikes an emotional chord that something described simply as “prohibitions and limits on campaign spending” does not. Americans may not always live up to the Bill of Rights, but Americans do not ban books. A stunned Court eventually asked the parties to reargue the case, to consider whether Austin should be overruled. 
On reargument last September, Solicitor General Elena Kagan tried to control the damage, arguing that the government never actually had tried to censor books, even as she reaffirmed its claimed authority to do just that. She also stated that “pamphlets,” unlike books, were clearly fair game for government censorship. …And the FEC has attempted to penalize publishers of magazines and financial newsletters, only to be frustrated by the courts. 

Net Neutrality is not really about 'tubes', Comcast (which will almost certainly be granted a waiver) and Netflix. The fact that the FEC has been involved should tell you exactly what this is about. The Left has been outraged by the Court's decision in Citizens United for years. It has developed Citizens United Derangement Syndrome - CUDS. In my opinion, Net Neutrality is actually, at least in part, the Left's attempt to undermine Citizens United through the backdoor. 

Unfortunately for the Too-Cool-For-School administration and its Comrades, their new massive overreach may well turn out to be illegal. Why? The FCC may very well have violated the Administrative Procedure Act of 1947

According to the Attorney General's Manual on the Administrative Procedure Act, drafted after the 1946 enactment of the APA, the basic purposes of the APA are: 
* to require agencies to keep the public informed of their organization, procedures and rules; 
* to provide for public participation in the rulemaking process; 
* To establish uniform standards for the conduct of formal rulemaking and adjudication; 
* to define the scope of judicial review. 
The APA's provisions apply to many federal governmental institutions. The APA in 5 U.S.C. 551(1) defines an "agency" as "each authority of the Government of the United States, whether or not it is within or subject to review by another agency", with the exception of several enumerated authorities, including Congress, federal courts, and governments of territories or possessions of the United States. Courts have also held that the U.S. President is not an agency under the APA. Franklin v. Mass., 505 U.S. 788 (1992).
Rules and regulations issued by federal administrative agencies are published chronologically in the Federal Register. Rules and regulations are then organized by topic in a separate publication called the Code of Federal Regulations. In comparing publication of regulations to publication of statutes, the Federal Register is analogous to the United States Statutes at Large and the Code of Federal Regulations is analogous to the United States Code.


Yes, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) permits agencies to finalize some rules without first publishing a proposed rule in the Federal Register.
This exception is limited to cases where the agency h as “good cause” to find that the notice‐and‐ comment process would be “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” These situations may include emergencies where problems must be addressed immediately to avert threats to public health and safety, minor technical amendments and corrections where there is no substantive issue, and some instances where an agency has no discretion to propose a rule because Congress has already directed a specific regulatory outcome in a law. The agency must state its reasoning for finding good cause in the preamble of the final rule published in the Federal Register.
There are other exceptions to conventional notice‐and‐comment rulemaking. An agency may go straight to final rulemaking without a proposed rule when they issue internal agency procedures, rules that affect only federal employees, and rules that manage federal property and real estate. Even these types of rules can be subject to proposed rulemaking because of a special statutory requirement or because an internal agency rule also has a substantial effect on the public. 
Agencies can also issue and enforce rules by using “actual notice,” which requires direct notification of all affected persons and entities. Because it is difficult to pinpoint every person and entity affected by a rulemaking, this option is used mostly for rules that have a very narrow effect on known or readily definable persons or corporations.'

It doesn't appear that the FCC's Net Neutrality rulemaking falls within any of the exceptions. 

PS: If the APA of 1947 sounds familiar, it is because Obama violated it when he issued his Executive Amnesty.


'Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? The constitutional theory is that we the people are the sovereigns, the state and federal officials only our agents. We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet.’ 

– Justice William O Douglas, Colten v Kentucky, 407 U.S. 104 (1972) 


‘The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.’

- Justice William O Douglas, The Court years, 1939-1975: The Autobiography of William O Douglas, 1980


For those that brought us to this infamous day in American history, may your children curse you, may you die a very slow, very painful, and very lonely death, may your countrymen dig up your bones and crush them into nothingness, and may your name forever live in infamy.  You will be loathed.


If you like your internet, you can keep your internet...


(Fine print: but you probably won't be able to. We're doing this FOR you because you are just too Grubered to know better)



UPDATE: Phil Kerpen has tweeted an, ahem, 'interesting' quote:



View image on Twitter



Just remembered this classic quote about a public utility Internet paving the way for silencing climate skeptics.



Yes, yes, yes!



http://tinyurl.com/odnqw7p





20 February 2015

WSJ: 'There Shall Be Open Borders'




I heard Levin talking about this article, so I looked it up...

If ANYONE EVER tells you that the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal is 'conservative', show them this from 3 July 1984:


REVIEW & OUTLOOK (Editorial): In Praise of Huddled Masses 

Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Jul 3, 1984. pg. 1


Amid the fireworks and picnics as this nation celebrates its independence tomorrow, we hope Americans stop to ask, what is the United States? The question is especially appropriate at this moment in the history of a nation of immigrants; upon returning from its July 4 recess Congress will try to finish work on the Simpson-Mazzoli bill.

The answer to the question is in the first words of our Constitution, "We, the people." It was the people, and especially new people, who worked this land into a New World. We hope today's gentlepeople, the descendants of the tired and poor who sought refuge on these shores, can still spare a thought for today's huddled masses, yearning to be free.

Simpson-Mazzoli, we are repeatedly told, is a carefully crafted compromise. It is in fact an anti-immigration bill. Note well that despite its grant of amnesty for aliens who have been residents long enough, its most outspoken opponents are the Hispanics, who would prefer to live with the present laws. Its constituency is an interesting and perhaps portentous alliance of the "nativist" Americans who still dominate Mountain States politics and the "Club of Rome" elitists of the Boston-Washington corridor.

We can hope that the bill will die in the House-Senate conference, which still must resolve such contentious differences as whether or not to have a program of temporary guest workers for agriculture. If it survives conference, President Reagan would be wise to veto it as antithetical to the national self-confidence his administration has done so much to renew.


Image result for illegal immigration


If Washington still wants to "do something" about immigration, we propose a five-word constitutional amendment: There shall be open borders. Perhaps this policy is overly ambitious in today's world, but the U.S. became the world's envy by trumpeting precisely this kind of heresy. Our greatest heresy is that we believe in people as the great resource of our land. Those who would live in freedom have voted over the centuries with their feet. Wherever the state abused its people, beginning with the Puritan pilgrims and continuing today in places like Ho Chi Minh City and Managua, they've aimed for our shores. They -- we -- have astonished the world with the country's success.

The nativist patriots scream for "control of the borders." It is nonsense to believe that this unenforceable legislation will provide any such thing. Does anyone want to "control the borders" at the moral expense of a 2,000-mile Berlin Wall with minefields, dogs and machine-gun towers? Those who mouth this slogan forget what America means. They want those of us already safely ensconced to erect giant signs warning: Keep Out, Private Property.




The instinct is seconded by the "zero-sum" mentality that has been intellectually faddish this past decade. More people, the worry runs, will lead to overcrowding; will use up all our "resources," and will cause unemployment. Trembling no-growthers cry that we'll never "feed," "house" or "clothe" all the immigrants -- though the immigrants want to feed, house and clothe themselves. In fact, people are the great resource, and so long as we keep our economy free, more people means more growth, the more the merrier. Somehow the Reagan administration at least momentarily adopted the cramped Club-of-Rome vision, forgetting which side of this debate it is supposed to support. Ronald Reagan, we thought, marched to different bywords -- "growth," for example, and "opportunity."

If anyone doubts that the immigration and growth issue touches the fundamental character of a nation, he should look to recent experience in Europe. Some European governments are taken in by the no-growth nonsense that economic pies no longer grow, and must be sliced. They are actually paying immigrants and guest workers to go home: the Germans pay Turks, the French pay North Africans, the British pay West Indians and Asians. It was this dour view of people as liabilities, not assets, that led to the great European emigration to the U.S. in the first place. Meanwhile, Europe today settles into long-term unemployment for millions while the U.S. economy is booming with new jobs.

The same underlying difference in vision applies in political ideals. The individual is the lightning rod of 20th-century politics. The totalitarians of the Communist Bloc don't allow their people to leave. The foremost use of the machinery of the state is to wall in the citizens. If we cannot change their regimes, the least we can do is to offer refuge to those of their peoples with the opportunity and courage to arrive here. To do otherwise is to say that the ideals upon which this Republic was founded are spent, that what is left is to negotiate the terms of surrender.

America, above all, is a nation founded upon optimism. The Republic will prosper so long as it does not disavow this taproot. The issue is not what we offer the teeming masses, but what they offer us: their hands, their minds, their spirit, and above all the chance to be true to our own past and our own future.


SoRo:

Image result for illegal immigration


As Milton Friedman once said:


'You can have open borders or you can have the welfare state, but you cannot have both.'


Exactamundo.




Will It Take The End of the World For Obama To Recognize ISIS As 'Islamic'?




Obama’s tap-dance around whether ISIS is ‘Islamic’ or not is completely wrong.


By Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa

At the White House summit on “countering violent extremism,” President Obama declared that violent jihad in the name of Islam isn’t the work of “religious leaders” but rather “terrorists.” American-Muslim leaders, attending the summit, cheered and applauded, later taking selfies in front of the president’s seal. 

But, as liberal Muslim feminist journalists who reject the vision of the Islamic State, we can say that the Islamic State, al Qaeda and the alphabet soup of Islamic militant groups, like HUM (Harkut-ul Mujahideen) and LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba), rely very much on the scholarship of “religious leaders,” from Ibn Tamiyyah in the 14th century to Sayyid Qutb in the 20th century, who very much have credibility and authority among too many Muslims as “religious leaders.” 

A very nuanced and thorough Atlantic article by journalist Graeme Wood this week, arguing “The Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic,” set off a firestorm of “derision,” as labeled by an article at ThinkProgress, a media site affiliated with the Center for American Progress, a think tank started by former Democratic operative John Podesta. ThinkProgress religion reporter Jack Jenkins wrote that the Atlantic article elicited “staunch criticism and derision from many Muslims and academics who study Islam.”

Wood argues the Islamic State views itself as “a key agent of the coming Apocalypse.” He is absolutely right, and we have been seeing the symbols for months. After spending about 200 hours combined over the last few weeks, analyzing every word and symbol in the burning video of the Jordanian Air Force pilot and the execution video of the Coptic Christians, we can tell you that both videos reveal Islamic State strategists, propagandists and recruiters are very much grounded in a logical interpretation of the Quran, the hadith, or sayings and traditions of the prophet Muhammad, and fatwa, or religious rulings.
They are also hell-bent on one mission: Chasing the apocalypse, according to Islamic eschatology—the study of the end of the world. 

Doing a verbal tap dance around Islamic theology and extremism, even calling it “whatever ideology,” Obama and his policy team have it completely wrong. We have to own the issue of extremist Islamic theology in order to defeat it and remove it from our world. We have to name it to tame it.

They are also hell-bent on one mission: Chasing the apocalypse, according to Islamic eschatology—the study of the end of the world.
Among Muslims, stuck in face-saving, shame-based cultures, we need to own up to our extremist theology instead of always reverting to a strategy of denial, deflection, and demonization. 

While Rome burns in the war plans of the Islamic State and other militants, it is important to identify the enemy clearly. As sixth-century Chinese military strategy Sun Tzu said, “Know your enemy.” This is particularly important in the kind of asymmetrical war America has been fighting for 14 years since the 9/11 attacks. We know “America is not at war with Islam.” We settled that in the days after 9/11. But we are at war with an ideology and theology of Islam. 

At the summit on “countering violent extremism,” Obama said that it would hand America’s enemy a propaganda victory if we called out the Islamic theology that is the underpinning of their violence, but the enemy will despise us no matter how politically correct we try to be. And by returning always to “historical grievances” and “root causes,” from the Crusades to colonialism, we only feed a culture of “wound collectors,” as former FBI agent Joe Navarro calls terrorists.

As Obama argues it, the murders of the Coptic Christian—or “Egyptian citizens,” as the White House spokesman first put it—following the immolation of Jordanian Air Force pilot Lt. Muadh al Kasasbeh and the beheadings of Japanese hostages, journalists and others reveal a “brutal, vicious death cult.”

But we, as Muslims, recognize every word in the Islamic State’s theology from teachings, ideas and interpretations we’ve heard through our approximately 50 years on this earth, from the living room chatter of “couch jihadis,” as one FBI agent describes “wound collectors,” to sermons, Facebook posts and Twitter messages.

***

As with earlier videos, the propagandists begin with a salutation that we know well: “In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.” This phrase starts every chapter of the Quran, the use of it by the Islamic State propagandists positioning themselves squarely within the realm of the accepted rhetoric of Islam. The media company name that produced the video flashes “Al-Hayat Media Center,” on screen, invoking an oft-repeated Quranic principle of hay at, or “life.” The Jordanian pilot burn video carried the brand “Al Furqan” media company. Furqan, a Quranic chapter title, represents “the standard” between good and “evil.”

In English, a title appears above a beach scene: “A Message Signed in Blood to the Nation of the Cross.” The phrase used is actually Ummat El-Saleeb, which actually means “Community of the Cross,” though ummat can be used as “nation.” In the burn video, the West and its Muslim allies are called “the crusader coalition”—the language of a doomsday showdown. 

Later, in the video of the Egyptian Coptic Christians, the captives are called “the people of the cross,” in English, a term used by Anselm Turmeda, a Franciscan monk in Tunis who converted to Islam, in the title of an early 15th-century, pre-Ottoman narrative, “The Unique Find for the Intelligent Mind: A Treatise of Riposte to the People of the Cross,” or Tuhfat al-adib fi al-radd ‘ala ahl al-salib.

In English, the Islamic State lambasts, “The people of the cross, the followers of the hostile Egyptian Church.” But in Arabic, the Islamic State refers to Christians as ra’aya, which means “subjects,” not “people,” of “the cross,” or al-saleeb. The Arabic word used to describe “the Egyptian Church” is al-mohariba, which means “militant,” not “hostile.” So, the actual translation is: “Subjects of the cross, from the followers of the militant Egyptian church.”

At 18 seconds, the Islamic State fighters bring the captives onto the beach, and the fighters flash a signal of orthopraxy, or external ritual. The fighters’ pant hems are high, or “high-water,” as it’s said in American slang. Again, these are signs any Muslim would recognize, from a supposed hadith of the prophet Muhammad: “Lift up your lower garment to the middle of your shank, and if you don’t wish to, then to the ankles. Beware the trailing of the lower garment, for it is arrogance, and Allah does not like arrogance.” The “shank” is around the calf, making the fighters, in our eyes, “high-water jihadis.”

Two minutes into the video, the chief fighter says, “Oh, you people, you’ve seen us on the hills of Al-Sham and Dabiq’s plain.” Al-Sham is a reference to Syria, and it is the second “S” in the name “ISIS.”

In Islamic prophetic text, Sham is where the Muslim messiah, the “Mahdi,” will appear. Eschatologists in Islam argue the murder of Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat by a dissident Egyptian in 1981, plus a string of killed rulers from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, realizes a prediction that “the inhabitants of Egypt and Sham will kill their ruler and his commands.” Sham, to Muslim eschatologists, is not only the word for Damascus but also the word for “left” and is a way to describe countries to the left of the Hijaz, the region in modern-day Saudi Arabia that includes Mecca and Medina.

A hadith, or saying of the prophet Muhammad, is translated as: “The Last Hour (of history) would not come until the Romans land at (either) al-A’maq or in Dabiq. An army consisting of the best (soldiers) of the people (the Muslims) of the earth at that time will come from Medina (to counteract them).” Dabiq and al-A’maq are towns in Syria along the Turkish border. Dabiq is about an hour’s drive north of Aleppo. According to another hadith attributed to the prophet Muhammad, this area will witness a war in which Muslims will defeat the Romans, conquer Constantinople (now Istanbul) and usher the return of Jesus, thus triggering the apocalypse.

As the Islamic State fighters pushed the captors to their knees, one of the captors’ lips moving in silent speech, another looking furtively around, the video reads, in Arabic: “Until this war ends and Issa, may the blessings and the peace of Allah be upon him, descends….”

Muslims know this name well. In Arabic, Issa is Jesus, and the fighter says, after his name, alayhi al-sallam, which means, “peace be upon him,” a saying reserved for prophets. The abbreviation in English for the shorthand translation: “Peace be upon him,” or “P.B.U.H.”

Our mothers taught us, like most Muslims teach it, that Jesus was a noble prophet—but not a God and not resurrected on the cross, thus the Islamic State video accusing the Christians in the video of shirk, or a supposed crime of equating another deity to God. Islamic eschatology, based on hadith, says Jesus will descend to Earth and meet the Mahdi in the grand mosque of Damascus, after the Mahdi arrives from Khorosan in modern-day eastern Iran and northern Afghanistan, with an army waving black banners, a black flag of the Islamic state with the shahada, or Islamic proclamation of faith, flapping in a corner of the Jordanian pilot immolation video. 

There, according to Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi will ask Jesus to lead the prayer, but Jesus will say, “No,” and pray behind the Mahdi.

Another hadith says: “At this very time Allah would send Christ, son of Mary, and he will descend at the white minaret in the eastern side of Damascus wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two Angels. When he would lower his head, there would fall beads of perspiration from his head, and when he would raise it up, beads like pearls would scatter from it.”

In the video of the Copts, one captive cries out, “Ya, Rabb! Yassou!” as masked fighters for the Islamic State slice open the throats of 21 men, their bodies flung onto the beach outside Tripoli, Libya, their blood spilling grotesquely into the Mediterranean Sea’s waters, lapping against their limp bodies. The translation: “Oh God! Jesus!”

These Muslim end-timers’ beliefs aren’t much unlike those of the Christian mullahs of apocalyptic prophecy, including groups that call themselves “Christian Zionists,” but the Islamic State doomsday believers are, literally, killing in the name of their prophecies. 

Pointing his knife at the screen, holding it in his left hand, an oddity for a culture that still scolds children to use their right hand, the main Islamic State fighter says, “To break the cross, kill the swine and impose the jizya,” the “tribute.”

The hadith for this prediction, goes like this: “The Prophet said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus. He will descent [sic] (to the earth)… He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizya. Allah will perish all religions except Islam.”

As the hostages lay slaughtered, the on-screen script read: “This filthy blood is only a portion of what awaits you to avenge Camelia and her sisters.”

A song begins: “…bullets flare , for punishment time is now, there is nowhere to hide….”

Camelia refers to Camelia Shehata, the wife of a Coptic priest, who was at the center of a sectarian dispute in Egypt five years ago. Many Muslims believed she converted to Islam but was illegally detained and tortured for doing so along with other Coptic women. Although she insisted she hadn’t converted, the grievance remained.

The song continues, “If apostasy became widespread,” a sign of the impending apocalypse, according to a hadith, “and incandescent, we will fill the valleys with red blood,” as the screen shows the sea filled with red.

We made the conscious decision to study the propaganda videos of the Islamic State because we feel there is just too much silence among Muslims against the logic of the Islamic State and like-minded militants. One of us, Hala, shook in her home in Fairfax Station, Va., after she translated the murder video of the Coptic Christians. The other, Asra, retreated into a corner of her family’s home in Morgantown, W.Va., to take screenshots of the video behind a locked bedroom door.

Muslim leaders have to realize that grievances expressed on the streets—like the tragic murder of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C., last week—become the material of terrorism videos, and we have to lead our communities out of a culture of “wound collecting,” and toward a pathway for positive, progressive healing.

The alternative is more horrifying scenes like the video on the beach. But spilled blood should inspire—not paralyze—us. Moderates must unite, to see that “revenge” isn’t our answer and that end-time eschatology doesn’t become something very dangerous: a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Pic of the Day: #HarfWits Separated At Birth


Embedded image permalink


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Poverty Is Not The Root Cause Of Terrorism




'Who becomes a terrorist?' turns out, in many cases, to be much like asking, 'Who owns a Volvo?'


By Peter Bergen

The Obama administration this week hosted a three-day conference on "Countering Violent Extremism," which is a government euphemism for how best to deal with Islamist terrorism.

Already a predictable tsunami of nonsense has washed over us about the "root causes" of terrorism. We have heard from Obama administration officials and even the President himself that terrorism has something to do with lack of opportunities and poverty. Obama said on Wednesday that "we have to address grievances terrorists exploit, including economic grievances."

He said, "when millions of people -- especially youth -- are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliations on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentments fester. The risk of instability and extremism grow. Where young people have no education, they are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and radical ideas..."

The President did acknowledge that terrorists can be rich like Osama bin Laden, who was the son of a Saudi construction magnate who attended the top high school and the best university in Saudi Arabia. It's hard to imagine someone with more opportunities. Think the Trump family Saudi-style, minus the bling, and throw in a deep admiration for the Taliban.

But in fact Osama bin Laden is more the rule than the exception. Take Mohamed Atta, the son of an Egyptian lawyer, who had worked on a doctorate in, of all things, urban preservation at a German university and who led the 9/11 attacks. Or the present leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri, a surgeon who comes from a leading Egyptian family that counts ambassadors, politicians and prominent clerics amongst its ranks.

Nearer to home we can also point to the Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan, who was not only an officer in the U.S. Army and a psychiatrist, but is also from a comfortably middle-class family in Virginia.

Let's also add to the mix Faisal Shahzad, who tried to blow up a bomb-laden SUV in Times Square on May 1, 2010. He had obtained an MBA in the United States and had worked as a financial analyst for the Elizabeth Arden cosmetics company. His father was one of the top officers in the Pakistani military.

These are not the dispossessed. They are the empowered.

"Who becomes a terrorist?" turns out, in many cases, to be much like asking, "Who owns a Volvo?"

Indeed, New America has studied the backgrounds of some 250 U.S.-based militants since 9/11 who have been indicted in or convicted of some kind of jihadist terrorist crime. They are on average middle class, reasonably well-educated family men with kids. They are, in short, ordinary Americans.

Similarly, in his important 2004 book "Understanding Terror Networks," psychiatrist Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer, examined the backgrounds of 172 militants who were part of al Qaeda or a similar group. Just under half were professionals; two-thirds were either middle or upper class and had gone to college; indeed, several had doctorates.

In a 2006 study, Swati Pandey and this author examined the educational background of 79 terrorists responsible for five of the worst anti-Western terrorist attacks of the modern era -- the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, the 9/11 attacks, the Bali nightclub bombings in 2002, and the London bombings on July 7, 2005.

We found that more than half of the terrorists had attended college, making them as well-educated as the average American. Two of our sample had doctoral degrees, and two others had begun working toward their doctorates.

None of them had attended a madrassa.

Of course, large-scale insurgent groups such as ISIS and the Taliban recruit foot soldiers who join the cause to get a paycheck. But the people running these organizations are in it for ideological reasons.

The diagnosis that poverty, lack of education or lack of opportunities have much to do with terrorism requires a fundamentally optimistic view of human nature. This diagnosis leads to the prognosis that all we need to do to solve the terrorism problem is to create societies that are less poor, better educated and have more opportunities.

The fact is, working stiffs with few opportunities and scant education are generally too busy getting by to engage in revolutionary projects to remake society. And history, in fact, shows us that terrorism is generally a bourgeois endeavor. This was just as true of the Russian anarchists of the late 19th century as it was of the German Marxists of the Baader-Meinhof gang of the 1970s and of the Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo in the 1990s.

Post-9/11 research demonstrating that Islamist terrorism is mostly a pursuit of the middle class echoed an important study about Egyptian militants that was undertaken by the French academic Gilles Kepel during the mid-1980s.

Kepel researched the 300 Islamist militants who were tried in the wake of the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Around one in five were professionals such as engineers, a quarter worked as government employees, just under half were artisans or merchants, one in 10 were in the military or police, and only one in 10 were farmers or were unemployed. Of those who were students, around a third were studying in the elite fields of medicine and engineering.

Similarly, the Library of Congress issued a study two years before the 9/11 attacks that asked the question: "Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?" The conclusion, based on a survey of all the published literature, was that there were only a few "major exceptions to the middle- and upper-class origins of terrorist groups."

There are, of course any number of exceptions to the prototypical middle-class terrorist. The terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris last month and the Copenhagen café that was hosting the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks this past weekend were from the margins of society.

But for every example of poverty or lack of opportunities as a purported rationale for terrorism, it's easy to supply important counterexamples. The "underwear bomber" Umar Abdulmuttalab, who tried to set off a bomb on a U.S. passenger jet flying over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, is the son of one of the richest men in Africa and attended University College London, which routinely rates among the best universities in the world.

Anwar al-Awlaki, the late leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who tasked the underwear bomber to blow up an American plane over an American city, was studying for his Ph.D. at George Washington University before he took up arms with al Qaeda. Awlaki's father was a Cabinet minister in Yemen.

For that we must turn to ideology, specifically religious ideology. And this is where the Obama administration has to perform some pretzel logic. It is careful to explain that the war on ISIS is not a war on Islam and that ISIS' ideology is a perversion of the religion. Fair enough. But the administration seems uncomfortable with making the connection between Islamist terrorism and ultra-fundamentalist forms of Islam that are intolerant of other religions and of other Muslims who don't share their views to the letter.

ISIS may be a perversion of Islam, but Islamic it is, just as Christian beliefs about the sanctity of the unborn child explain why some Christian fundamentalists attack abortion clinics and doctors. But, of course, murderous Christian fundamentalists are not killing many thousands of civilians a year. More than 80% of the world's terrorist attacks take place in five Muslim-majority countries -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria -- and are largely carried out by groups with Islamist beliefs.

This week the United Nations released a report showing that civilian casualties in Afghanistan were at the highest level since the organization started counting them six years ago. The Taliban were responsible for three-quarters of these deaths.

The Taliban and other Islamist terrorist groups are not, of course, secular organizations. To treat them as if they were springs from some combination of wishful thinking, PC gone crazy and a failure to accept, in an increasingly secularized era, that some will kill in the name of their god, an all-too-common phenomenon across human history.

Indeed, while ISIS and like-minded groups and their fellow travelers are not representative of the vast majority of the world's Muslims, their ideology is rooted in Salafist ultra-fundamentalist interpretations of Islam, and indeed they can point to verses in the Quran that can be interpreted to support their worldview.

A well-known verse in the Quran commands Muslims to "fight and slay the nonbelievers wherever you find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem [of war]." When bin Laden made a formal declaration of war against "the Jews and the Crusaders" in 1998, he cited this Quranic verse at the beginning of his declaration.

ISIS' distinctive black flags are a reference to a supposed saying of the Prophet Mohammed that "If you see the black banners coming from the direction of Khorasan then go to them, even if you have to crawl, because among them will be Allah's Caliph the Mahdi." In other words, coming out of Khorasan, an area that now encompasses Afghanistan, will come an army that includes the Mahdi, the Islamic savior of the world. The parent organization of ISIS was al Qaeda, which, of course, was headquartered in Afghanistan at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

Last year, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi named himself caliph, which means that in his own mind and in the eyes of his followers he is not only the leader of ISIS but the overall leader of Muslims everywhere. These beliefs may seem like a crazy delusion to most of us, but it's important to understand that they are theological in nature, and this theology is rooted in ultra-fundamentalist Islam.

ISIS sees itself as the vanguard army that is bringing back true Islam to the world. This project is of such cosmic importance that they will break any number of eggs to make this omelet, which accounts for their murderous campaign against every ethnic group, religious group and nationality that they perceive as standing in their way. ISIS recruits also believe that we are in the end times, and they are best understood as members of an Islamist apocalyptic death cult.

What does that mean for policy makers? It means that the only truly effective challenges to this reasoning must come from Islamic leaders and scholars who can make the theological case that ISIS is an aberration. This, too, is an Islamic project; it is not a jobs project.



Obama's Elementary Mistakes About Islam




By Amir Taheri

“This is not true Islam,” President Obama has again insisted of the Islamic State and other terror groups. That he doesn’t realize this is not for him to say is only one of his elementary errors here.

The three-day White House conference on “violent extremism” exposed anew Obama’s inability or unwillingness to understand the challenge of Islamist terrorism, let alone to lead the fight against it.

The conference was billed as a global event bringing together people of different views from more than 60 countries. In practice, however, it acted more as an echo chamber for Obama’s politically correct approach.

“Violent extremism” is misleading, to say the least. (Is there extremism without violence?) The generic term obscures the fact that we face a specific form of terrorism rooted, nurtured and waged in the name of Islam.

Obama did defend his evasion: “Al Qaeda and ISIL [a k a ISIS] and groups like it . . . try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam,” he said. “We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.” Operatives of al Qaeda and ISIS “are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists,” he said.

In fact, these terrorists now call their outfit the Islamic State, or IS, under a caliph. And no higher authority has the legitimacy and power to challenge their claim.

Islam has no mechanism for excommunication. Individuals can leave the ummah and be regarded as apostates (murtad). But no one who swears he is a Muslim can be excluded.

Even very bad Muslims are still Muslims as long as they haven’t thrice publicly rejected the two testimonies. (The two testimonies are accepting the oneness of God and that Muhammad is His Prophet.) Thus, neither Obama nor anyone else is qualified to decide who is a Muslim — or what is “true Islam.”

Islam does allow believers to part ways with anyone they deem misguided or deviant. At the theological level, this is known as Itizal (seeking solitude). At a more mundane level, we have Bira’ah (self-exoneration). The “violent extremists” charge their foes within Islam of Takfir (covering up the truth).

Yet Muslims aren’t using any of these three mechanisms to denounce the Islamic State or other Islamist terror groups. We’ve seen no Bira’ah marches in any Muslim-majority country, nor organized efforts by Muslim “communities” in the West to “exonerate” themselves from the IS throat-cutters.

If Islamic leaders can bring a million people in the streets of Tehran, Islamabad or Cairo to burn the US flag and Obama effigies, how is it that they do not authorize Bira’ah marches against IS?

“Ordinary” Muslims may feel that, since Obama insists that IS has nothing to do with Islam, there’s no need for Bira’ah.

Go to any mosque in any democratic country and you’ll hear sermons filled with a “lite” version of the same tale of Muslim victimhood that the “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi churns out in cyberspace.

Obama’s analysis has other faults.

At the conference, he said: “If we are going to prevent people from being susceptible to false promises of extremism, then the international community has to offer something better” — specifically, “economic growth and devoting more resources on education, including for girls and women.”

This is painfully naïve. The “Caliphate” isn’t recruiting among the world’s downtrodden. Its administration is run by highly educated individuals, many from wealthy families in Arab countries as well as Pakistan, Russia, China and Afghanistan.

The “caliph” has also attracted at least 15,000 jihadis and volunteers for martyrdom from almost all Western democracies. Indeed, more Western citizens are fighting for the “caliph” than against him.

His army, including many women from the West, does not consist of poverty-stricken individuals protesting against Western imperialism and oppression, as Obama implies.

They all seem fairly well-fed and stylishly dressed, bearing smartphones and expensive Swiss watches and cruising in bullet-proof limos.

To say that IS has nothing to do with Islam is disingenuous and dangerous.

IS is part of Islam, though Islam cannot and must not be reduced to IS or any other throat-cutting outfit. Humanity, including the overwhelming majority of “ordinary Muslims,” faces a growing movement dedicated to conquering the world for its brand of Islam.

While humanity is not at war against Islam, a part of Islam is certainly at war against humanity. To ignore that fact amounts to a dereliction of intellectual responsibility.