Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

01 June 2013

Syria: John McCain’s Next Libya

He fails to discriminate between friends and enemies.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

Did you catch Senator John McCain’s much-heralded (by Senator McCain) trip to the Syrian civil war — by way of our NATO ally Turkey, the lifeline of the Hamas terrorist organization? Yeah, Senator McCain blew into town to prove that all of us dissenters from his latest adventure in “Democracy, Sharia Style” are wacko birds. Surely, the Forward March of Freedom can work just as well in Damascus as it has in Benghazi, Cairo, Baghdad, and Kabul.

Well, he’s probably right about that.

The Maverick is sensitive to the criticism that he has been a smidge less than discriminating when it comes to sorting out America’s friends from America’s mortal enemies. Thus, the immediate objective of his latest Middle Eastern jaunt was to show that the anti-Assad “rebels” — I’d call them the Syrian Mujahideen, which is how most of them think of themselves — are predominantly, indeed overwhelmingly, secular and moderate. Oh, there may be a bad apple or two in the rebel legions, but rest assured that the arsenal McCain wants to dole out to them, in conjunction with U.S.-led aerial attacks on Assad’s forces, will not be yet another exercise in arming the next anti-American jihad. Those who claim we cannot tell the good guys from the bad guys are just a bunch of craven isolationists.

How unfortunate for the senator, then, that he managed, in the midst of this scintillating exhibition, to get himself photographed with Mohamed Nour and Ammar al-Dadikhi (also known as “Abu Ibrahim”) — two of the swell “rebels” from the very moderate “Northern Storm Brigade” who last year kidnapped eleven Lebanese Shiite pilgrims. Nour is the chief spokesman for the Brigade, which is still holding nine of the pilgrims captive.


True to form, McCain completely missed the point of his contretemps. His office quickly issued a statement asserting that “it would be ludicrous to suggest that the Senator in any way condones the kidnapping of Lebanese Shia pilgrims.” Well, yes, that’s probably why no one is suggesting it (as Allahpundit explains in an excellent analysis at Hot Air). No one thinks the Beltway’s progressive Islamophilic consensus affirmatively endorses the jihad. McCain & Co. are just willfully blind to the fact that it thrives on their delusions.

McCain is nothing if not consistent. There was the oops in Qaddafi’s tent back in 2009, when McCain was urging more U.S. aid for the Libyan regime — then acknowledged to be a critical counterterrorism ally of the United States. That was only a few months before the Maverick abruptly pivoted, deciding that the regime we’d been supporting needed to be overthrown. This, he . . . er . . . reasoned, would surely empower our new allies (or was it our old enemies?), the moderate rebels of Benghazi — who were just back home from waging years of jihad against America’s Islamic Democracy project in Iraq. Just as he does now when it comes to Syria, McCain looked out on an Islamic-supremacist sea, saw a couple of progressive islets, and pronounced the rebels his “heroes” — while they blared their Allahu Akbars, waved their black jihadi flags, and carried out their terrorist atrocities.

Oops again.

There is a stubborn fact Republicans may want to consider as McCain, their wayward foreign-policy guru, tries to browbeat them into Libya Act II — because, you know, Act I has worked out so well. It is this: The Obama administration’s shocking derelictions of duty in connection with the Benghazi massacre cannot erase the GOP fingerprints all over the Libyan debacle. Obama is the one who took us over the cliff, but only after McCain shoved him to the very edge.

Obama’s Libya war, which the president was pleased to lead from behind while McCain whirled in front, was not authorized by Congress. This was fine by McCain, who declared that saving Benghazi was too important to delay over such constitutional trivia as a green light from the American people’s representatives. After all, what would America have done without Benghazi? So Libya now stands as a treacherous precedent that a president may unilaterally take us to war, in consultation with the Arab League’s Islamist regimes, under circumstances in which not only are there no vital American interests to be served but our intervention actually disserves our interests by empowering America’s enemies.

To be generous, post-intervention Libya was a disaster long before our ambassador and three other Americans were killed by jihadists nine months ago. Our mysterious diplomatic facility in Benghazi had been a terrorist target for months before September 11, 2012 — and the purpose for having a State Department mission in a place so notoriously perilous for Americans has still not been explained. Qaddafi’s weapons depots were raided by jihadists and now facilitate their rampages across North Africa. In Libya itself, as Barry Rubin catalogues, armed militias run rampant, Western facilities (such as the French embassy in Tripoli) continue to be attacked, and the al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists who murdered our officials are the de facto rulers of Benghazi. What passes for a central government is too impotent to establish its authority.

This was not an unforeseeable outcome. It was easily predictable for anyone willing to see the region as it is rather than as he would have it. That will never be Senator McCain, who, when not rubbing elbows with Syria’s motley jihadists this week, was assuring us that Assad’s opponents “are just trying to achieve the same thing that we have shed American blood and treasure for for well over 200 years.”

Yeah, just like in Benghazi. And in Egypt, where a pogrom against Christians is underway, and the Muslim Brotherhood government McCain joins Obama in supporting has just installed a sharia constitution. And in Iraq, where Sunnis and Shiites are back to slaughtering each other under the sharia constitution our State Department helped them write. And in Afghanistan, where, under a similar American-sponsored sharia constitution, the Taliban bides its time while the U.S.-backed Islamist forces turn their guns on their American trainers. And in Turkey, where an Islamic-supremacist regime jails its political opponents, supports terrorist organizations, undermines sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, and gradually suffocates what was once a pro-Western democracy.

Liberty is not spread by fueling sharia supremacists. The futile hope that propitiating America’s enemies will turn them into our friends is an Obama policy. Shouldn’t the Republicans be offering an alternative — maybe something other than “oops”?

31 May 2013

Axie Post of the Day: The Eyes Have It!

He’s a very cheeky boy
The kind you don’t take home to mother
He’ll drink you under the table before his spirits are down
Once you get him off the street, ow boy

He likes the Swalkers in the band
He says that PB&Js are his all-time favourites
When he make his move to his room it’s HAZMAT time
It’ll cause death after a sneeze

That boy is pretty wild now
The boy’s a supergeek you read about
In Dostoevsky magazines

That boy is pretty kinky
The boy’s a super freak
I really love to tease him
Every time we meet
The sun’s not as bright, so, yeah, he’s all right
That boy’s all right with me, yeah

He’s a super freak, super freaked
By my super-freaky


Super-freak, freaked by super-freaky-deaky
He’s a very special boy
The kind of boy you want to know
From his head down to his ingrown toenails
Man of incomparable feats, yeah

And he’ll wait for Swalker backstage with “BYOKS”
In a limousine
Going back in Chinatown
Three’s not a crowd, it’s a start
“Room 714, I’ll be waiting”
When they get there he’s got PB&J-flavoured condoms, bacon candles, and Sparks’ Econoline
It’s such a freaky sign…
Of the freaky-deaky things to cum

Temptations sing!
Super freak, super freak
That’s a super-freak-deaky boy

He’s a very cheeky boy
The kind you don’t take home to father
He’ll drink you under the table before his spirits are down
Once you get him off the street, ow boy

Bow, Axe, bow!

The Lois Lerner Defence

File it the next time the IRS calls you up.

Erdoğan Over the Edge - II

When the company building the shopping mall began cutting down trees, protesters occupied the park—peacefully. But in truth, these protests weren’t about the park or even about the shopping malls. They were about a people exhausted by Istanbul’s uncontrolled growth; by its relentless traffic; by the incessant noise (especially that of construction); by massive immigration from the countryside; by predatory construction companies—widely and for good reason believed to be in bed with the government—which have, over the past decade, destroyed a great deal of the city’s loveliness and cultural heritage. But most of all, they are about a nation’s fury with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s growing authoritarianism, symbolized by Istanbul’s omnipresent police, the phalanxes of so-called Robocops. They are so notoriously trigger-happy that journalists on Twitter post a daily tear-gas report.

Of late, almost every sector of the electorate has felt unease about one part or another of Erdoğan’s agenda. Restrictive new alcohol legislation, rammed through parliament, as usual, with contempt for the minority opposition, has prompted outrage; the so-called peace process with the PKK, which no one understands, has caused great unease. Anxiety is growing as well, not only about press censorship, but also about the prosecution of those who insult government officials or “Islamic values” on social media. There is outrage about the bombing in Reyhanlı that left 52 Turks dead and which appears to have been attributable to a series of inexcusable police and intelligence blunders (but no one knows, and no one believes what the press writes); there is fear of war with Syria; there is concern about strange reports that al-Nusra, a Syrian militant group affiliated with al-Qaida, has been cooking up Sarin gas in Adana, five miles east of the United States’ Incirlik Air Base; and there is deep skepticism about Erdoğan’s plans for grandiose construction projects—such as a third airport, a second Bosphorus canal, and a gigantesque mega-mosque intended to exceed in size every mosque left behind by his Ottoman predecessors. The thing will dominate Istanbul’s already-martyred skyline, and replace yet another pleasant and leafy park.

The recent announcement that a new bridge over the Bosphorus was to be named after Sultan Selim the Grim, slayer of the Alevis—a substantial and beleaguered Turkish religious minority—didn’t help matters. Nor did it soothe fears when a minor AKP official from the sticks wrote on Twitter that “My blood boils when spineless psychopaths pretending to be atheists swear at my religion. These people, who have been raped, should be annihilated.” Two weeks ago in Ankara, a disembodied voice on the subway, having apparently espied them by means of a security camera, denounced a couple for kissing. The voice demanded that they “act in accordance with moral rules.” In return, incensed Ankara lovers staged kissing protests: as the couples shyly smooched outside the subway station, a group of young men confronted them, chanting “Allahu Akbar!” It was reported but not confirmed that one of the kissers was stabbed; but given the mood of hysteria here right now, it would be unwise to believe every rumor one hears.

Erdoğan, it seems, severely underestimated the degree of his subjects’ displeasure, confident that God, a strong economy, and a weak opposition were all he needed to ensure his hegemony. He brusquely dismissed the tree protesters’ concerns: “We’ve made our decision, and we will do as we have decided.” An AKP parliamentarian then unwisely announced that some young people “are in need of gas.”

So the Robocops once again used pepper spray and water cannon against the protesters. A photographer captured them spraying tear gas directly into the face of a vulnerable, middle-aged woman in a pretty red dress. The photo went viral and enraged the public: she was clearly no hooligan. As one conservative journalist noted, she looked “decent.”

Rather than dispersing for good, the protesters returned—and more gathered to support them. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The police panicked. At dawn, they attacked with pronounced violence, injuring not only students, but also journalists and opposition members of parliament who had come to show their support. They also seriously wounded the photographer who took the “red dress” photo, which was probably not a coincidence. Nor was it likely a coincidence that they fired a tear-gas canister “at close range” at the head of journalist Ahmet Şık, best known for writing about the infiltration and corruption of Turkey’s police forces by the followers of the Turkish imam Fethullah Gülen. For this, Şık was jailed as a “coup-plotter.” This time, he wound up in the hospital, though he is expected to recover.

Riot police blocked the roads leading to Taksim, the city’s central square, as well as those leading to Istanbul’s famous Istiklal Avenue. They fired gas bombs at everything that moved, including the city’s bewildered stray dogs. Helicopters circled the skies. Wi-Fi in the city center was jammed. The hospitals quickly filled with the injured. So far, reports of deaths have been hard to confirm, with some exceptions. Human-rights activist Ethem Sarısülük is now brain dead, having “come under fire” from police—what kind of fire, we don’t know. Mehmet Ayvalitas, reportedly a member of a banned group of left-wing hackers, is also dead. Human Rights Watch believes the casualty numbers are much higher than those claimed by the government. Reports of two other deaths, in particular, sound credible, but it’s impossible to be sure. I saw a video of a police vehicle crushing a woman under its wheels; I would be surprised if she survived.

I obtained casualty reports from the hospitals in my neighborhood, which is close to Taksim Square. From one: “A 22-year-old male has lost his left eye due to a plastic bullet. A 19-year-old male is being watched closely with a subdural hematoma diagnosis resulting from the impact of a gas capsule. A 22-year-old male patient has taken a frontal hit in the head and suffered a fractured skull and is under close watch due to acute hematoma diagnosis.” From another: “Over 100 injured patients were treated. Of these, nine suffer from significant trauma, five were admitted for surgery. Of these, one suffered trauma in the testicle, one subdural hematoma (brain), and two trauma of the left eye. One was operated on and has lost all eyesight. The other eye patient is being watched with the diagnosis of eye perforation. Of those planned to be operated on, two suffer from maxillofacial trauma, one with a broken left arm and another with multiple fracture of the collarbone.” From yet another: “Received hundreds of applications during the first two days due to central location. Majority were respiratory cases, eye irritation due to exposure to gas. Of the three patients with head injury, a 34-year-old female received emergency surgery due to brain hemorrhage and compression fracture. The same patient was also operated on the next day due to subdural hematoma. She is under surveillance in life threatening condition.”

It is confirmed that rubber bullets have knocked out the eyes of at least six people. Gas has covered the city like a volcanic cloud. Everyone, even those who stayed indoors, has been weeping and coughing. Adding insult to injury—and injury to injury—the cops fired gas into the accident and emergency ward of two hospitals close to Taksim Square. The police now seem to have moved from pepper spray to a more noxious lachrymatory agent—probably CS gas—causing panic among the public, which believes itself to be under attack by some terrifying species of chemical weapon.

Almost as chillingly, the muzzled and gutless Turkish media downplayed the events. The main source of news here was Twitter. Precisely as BBC World was showing shocking scenes of the protests, Turkey’s TV24 was featuring a lecture from Erdoğan about the dangers of smoking. While Taksim burned, NTV aired a cooking show, and another channel featured an incisive documentary about liposuction.

But as news of the injuries and deaths spread by word of mouth, and particularly as photos and videos of the clashes and the wounded began circulating on social media, the entire city rose up in fury. The three largest Turkish football teams, usually mortal rivals (in some cases literally), announced that they would unite to join the protests. Istanbullus poured out on the streets, some in their pajamas, banging pots and pans, whistling, clapping, and shouting “Erdoğan, resign!” Elderly women handed out lemons from their windows (people here erroneously believe these mitigate the effects of tear gas), and shouted at passersby to “keep resisting!” Taxi, bus, and minivan drivers honked their horns in support. Massive crowds crossed the Bosphorus bridge from the Asian side of the city, all marching to Taksim Square. I have never seen such a spontaneous outpouring of public rage—coupled, of course, with the hysterical joy of the mob. But others have seen it here before. In the 1980s, the great travel writer Jan Morris described Istanbul thus:

The leftists think of themselves as progressives, modernists, but they are really honoring a tradition even older than Islam: for long before the caliphate was invented, the city crowd was a force in Byzantium. In those days the rival factions of the Blues and the Greens, originally supporters of the competing charioteers in the Hippodrome, were infinitely more riotous than any soccer crowd today, and the great circuits of the racetrack, around whose purlieus the backpack nomads now drink their mint tea . . . was the supreme arena of anarchy, the place where the frustration of the people found its ferocious release in bloodshed and insurrection . . .

I see better now what she meant.

Turks held up signs calling their prime minister “Chemical Tayyip” and spread the slogan on Facebook. Then reports began pouring in from other cities—protesters, in the dead of night, marching to the parliament building in Ankara; protests in Konya (particularly amazing, because this is the ruling party’s base), and in Eskişehir, Trabzon, Adana, Edirne, Antalya, and Diyarbakır—protests spanning the whole geography of the country.

Yesterday, the riot police pulled out of Gezi Park. Cries of triumph echoed through the city. But the exuberance was short-lived, for the Robocops quickly turned their attention to gassing the rest of Istanbul. Beşiktaş (where the prime minister keeps his office), Dolmabahçe, Gaziosmanpaşa, and Baghdad Avenue became the new blood lands. So did the cities of Ankara, Antalya, Izmir, Adana, Kocaeli, Mersin, and Eskişehir. Interior Minister Muammer Güler announced that as of yesterday evening, 235 demonstrations had taken place over six days in 67 provinces, with 1,730 people detained. Unconfirmed reports tell of torture in Istanbul police stations.

The news from Ankara and Izmir has been particularly disgusting. Police threw gas bombs at the capital’s famous Swan Park, injuring (yes) the swans. Last night a friend, an MP from the main opposition party and a tireless campaigner for Internet freedom in Turkey, told me that his daughter, a junior in law school, had been wounded. She had sent him an SMS: “Police gassed the infirmary.” He asked if I would let the American media know. Police in Izmir called female protestors “sluts” and assaulted them; people there were begging to be let into buildings to escape. A journalist whom I trust, based in Izmir, wrote: “I’m telling you. No one threw one single stone this evening where I am. They are still gassing peaceful people.”

Friends have called to say that their social-media access has been restricted or blocked. Turkey’s telecoms regulator claims that this is due to a traffic surge, rather than an official block, which is plausible. But trust in the government, at this point, is low, to put it mildly.

Erdoğan may believe that he can outlast the protesters, and he may be right, particularly if the protesters succumb to the temptations of violence and vandalism. So far, they have been reasonably constrained. But the Robocops are exhausted—photos are circulating of them falling asleep on the street—and if there is one thing a prime minister best known for “taming the military” can’t do, it is to call in the army to settle things down. If the protests keep escalating and the crackdown intensifies, it’s hard to see how this can end well. Best case: the protests will spook the prime minister and give him a much-needed dose of humility. Worst case: The protests will spook the prime minister and leave him even more paranoid and vengeful.

Unfortunately, the early signs point toward the second scenario. Speaking of these events yesterday for the first time since the protests began, Erdoğan announced that the police had come under attack, and that the main opposition party and “certain media organizations” had provoked the events. He threatened to take the fight even deeper into the streets: “If they’ve got 20,000 people to go to Taksim, I can get 500,000 to turn out in Kazlıçeşme. We have that strength. . . . What is happening is entirely ideological. This approach is targeting my government, my person, and the municipal elections. They are thinking about how they can take the municipal authority from the AK Party.” He then suggested that anyone who drinks is an alcoholic—though he subsequently clarified that one or two drinks a year might be alright—and denounced Twitter, which has been trending for days with the slogan, “Tayyip, Resign!” That obviously displeased him. “There is now a menace which is called Twitter,” he said, and “the best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.” Just last week, he thought it was alcohol. He did concede that the police had been a touch excessive. The words came out of his mouth, but there was no corresponding remorse on his face.

While no doubt some of the protesters committed vandalism, and some threw stones at the police, their social responsibility overall was impressive: as soon as the police pulled out of Taksim, they organized a cleanup of the square and its environs, even arranging makeshift first-aid stations for injured stray animals.

So no, the unrest roiling Turkey is not about Gezi Park, though it would have been poetic if it had been: the park was once an Armenian cemetery, appropriated by the government and transformed into a barracks after the Armenians “abandoned” it. The protests are about authoritarianism, plain and simple. What will happen now is anyone’s guess. The demonstrators are disorganized, and while they know what they don’t want, they aren’t sure what they do want. The opposition parties are hopeless. Politicians do not resign in Turkey generally; Tayyip Erdoğan certainly won’t. But he has damaged himself greatly and unleashed an unpredictable evil upon a land that has already known far too much of it. How strange that such a shrewd politician should make so grievous a tactical blunder. Then again, it is well known that whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

Claire Berlinski, a City Journal contributing editor, is an American journalist who lives in Istanbul.

The Progressive Surrey With The Lunatic Fringe On Top Heads Yonder To My Progressive Little Ponyland

A few weeks ago, Meg Lanker-Simons was exposed for the radical, pathological fraud that she has always been. In her defence, her supporters invited the world to dive head-first down the rabbithole when they argued this:


Which I reduced at the time to:

‘Yes, she did it, but she’s innocent because it was a justifiable faking of a hate crime and she doesn’t deserve to be held accountable because, well, she’s special. That’s why.’

‘Earlier this year, I secretly made an audio recording of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican on the planet, at his campaign headquarters in Kentucky...In a technology age marked by vigilante heroes like Julian Assange and Anonymous, the line between journalism and espionage has grown thin. McConnell was quick to frame himself as the victim of a crime, which was to be expected. It was the guilty repositioning of a politician who has been caught being craven.’

- Curtis Morrison, a self-titled ‘liberal activist’


‘Victims of my crimes should just STFU about my craven behaviour and acknowledge that my guilty repositioning is noble because I’m like Julian Assange or something. This applies, especially, to those that are not enlightened Progressives like myself.’

Progressivism is a mental disease.