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A project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center
Updated: 1 hour 51 min ago

Allan Dershowitz at Restoration Weekend

3 hours 19 min ago

Editor's note: Below are the video and transcript of remarks given by Alan Dershowitz at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's 2018 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 15th-18th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

Transcript:

David Horowitz: Okay.  Thank you.  I have admired Alan Dershowitz ever since I opened his first book, The Best Defense, over 30 years ago, and read its opening words.  The difference he wrote between Perry Mason, Perry Mason's clients and mine is that mine are guilty, and then he explained why it was important to provide the guilty the best defense.  It was to keep the prosecution, the government, honest.  Although Alan is a liberal and he and I would probably disagree over many issues, when you think about it, this idea is the bedrock of the conservative outlook.  As conservatives, we believe that the root cause of social problems is not society, which is a reflection of us, but us, our flawed human nature as human beings.  The people who are in government have the same impulses to lie, cheat, steal and destroy as those they are prosecuting, but because they have the power of the state behind them, they are potentially even more dangerous than their targets, and that is why keeping them honest and holding them to the rules, to the process and the law is such a vital task in our democracy.  And it is why Alan Dershowitz, a liberal and a lifelong Democrat, is such an important figure to our nature in its present political crisis.  It is a tragedy for our nation that the Democrat party itself is no longer a liberal party committed to due process and individual rights.  It has been taken over by a progressive cohort and etiology that does not believe the root cause of our social problems is the flawed nature of individuals but instead it is the oppressive nature of groups based on race, gender and sexual orientation.  The disgraceful witch hunts of President Donald Trump and Judge Brett Kavanaugh reveal a party that does not believe in due process or innocent until proven guilty but is comfortable with guilty by race and gender and guilt by accusation.  If these beliefs that inspire these attitudes prevail, our still young republic is over.  That is why I believe Alan Dershowitz is an iconic figure, even the iconic figure in the battle to preserve this great democracy and restore its founding principles of equality, fairness and respect for the rule of law. 

Alan is both a liberal and a democrat.  The two are no longer synonymous.  Today, he is respected by political conservatives and vilified by progressives as the chief defender of President Trump who was the target of a sadistic attempt by the leaders of Alan's own party to impeach and overthrow him.  So disrespectful of due process by these democratic leaders, that they have constantly invoked the Twenty-Fifth Amendment as grounds for impeaching him.  This is an amendment that was specifically designed to remove presidents incapacitated by strokes and similar catastrophic events.  No one in his right mind can think that Donald Trump, who has accomplished more in the first 2 years in office than any president in the memory, is a stroke victim.  Because Alan is a lifelong democrat and his community of lifetime friends reflect the progressive currents that have overtaken his party, he has been shunned and attacked by the circles he moves in.  To be Alan Dershowitz requires remarkable courage, integrity and commitment to principle and dedication to the ingenious design of the American Founders.  In this time of national crisis, Alan Dershowitz is an American hero and a beacon for a hopeful American future.  We are deeply honored by his presence at our weekend.  The way—finally--I see him, can be summed up in this thought:  If the leaders of the Democratic Party were to become liberals like Alan Dershowitz, we would still have a two‑party system but our nation's crisis would be over and democracy restored.  Alan Dershowitz. 

Alan Dershowitz: Thank you, David.  Thank you very much.  I appreciate the warm welcome.  This is not the kind of venue I'm used to speaking at.  I usually speak at meetings of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Democrat party, liberal organizations, liberal universities, but I'm not getting that many invitations from them these days.  I'm here today not because I am lonely.  I'm here today because I think it's so important for liberals and conservatives to speak to each other and not to shout, threaten, intimidate.  I'm here today because true liberals and true conservatives share many, many values, and I want to speak about how these core values are under attack today.  Our core constitutional and political values are being challenged in many places by many people, but most dangerously, by students and faculty at many of our leading universities.  Why is that so dangerous?  Because our current students are our future leaders.  When I used to teach at Harvard, I would look out at my first-year class, and I would see 150 frightened students.  They were frightened because I was a tough Socratic teacher.  There was no such thing as a right answer in my class, and they looked at each other and were scared, but when I saw the 150 students, I saw the next president of the United States, the next chief justice, the next publisher of various newspapers, the next senior managing partner of Goldman Sachs.  Why?  Because all of those students had been in my classes, and I realized the responsibility that a teacher has to students who are going to be our future leaders, and I worry so much about the distortion of values today on college campuses. 

These values include free and open exchange of ideas, and hold and express views that offend some listeners, the marketplace of ideas as a means of discerning truth.  These values also include truth itself and the need for diversity and ideas.  Challenges as well are being directed at due process and the presumption of innocence for those accused of misconduct.  They also challenge individual versus identity accountability and other traditional hallmarks of liberal democracy and barriers to tyranny.  In place of these proven protections, many students and faculty today are insisting that freedom of speech, and I'm quoting now, is part of a patriarchal privilege designed to preserve the status quo, that truth is identity based and variable and that evidence is in the eye and the experience of the beholder.  I'm reminded of Groucho Marx's famous statement.  Who are you going to believe?  Me or your lying eyes?  They insist that they know the truth, capital T, capital T, and do not need to hear other points of view.  They argue that due process is a tactic for requiring the oppressed to prove their victimization.  They argue that identity politics must displace individual responsibility and that the academic construct of intersectionality that teaches us that all oppressed groups share common oppressors demand group accountability.  If you're a man, if you're white, if you're heterosexual, you're guilty.  It doesn't matter what the facts may be.  And that democracy and liberty are themselves constructs of a hegemonic white male aristocracy.  This is the language one hears today on university campuses.  Most frightening is the fact that some faculty members and some students today believe that if they cannot get their way through democratic means that violence is a viable and legitimate alternative.  This is a throwback to the 1970s when the Weathermen blew up college campuses, engaged in violence against individuals, engaged in threats and we're seeing that today as well. 

These attacks on our traditional values are now spreading beyond university campuses.  We're already seeing the first manifestations of that by the election of several young extremists, Democrats, to Congress in the most recent election, and that is a frightening phenomenon.  Much as I love diversity and think it's important to have diverse representation in Congress, to have the kind of people in Congress that do not support free speech and support boycotts against Israel and support other repressive measures in the name of being progressives is a frightening phenomenon.  Centrist liberalism which is stand for conservatism share a commitment to the core values under attack.  We are being marginalized by extremists who used to dwell on the fringes of society.  The political center is shrinking as many on the left move from liberalism toward misnamed progressivism that often espouses some of the most repressive, intolerant and reactionary elements and some of the right are moving toward hyper nationalism and outright white supremacy.  This is a worldwide trend manifested both on the right and on the left.  Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain represents the hard left in this trend.  He is a bigot, an anti-Semite, an intolerant person and he may yet become the next prime minister of America's closest ally.  And who is supporting him?  Bernie Sanders.  Can you imagine?  Bernie Sanders goes to England to show support for an anti-Semite, an anti-American, like this man, Corbin.  We are seeing as I mentioned some democratic politicians in our own country.  The trend toward the hard right is represented by nationalist leaders in Hungary, Poland, Greece, Austria and Holland and other European countries as well as by a small number of extremist Republican politicians in this country. 

Here in the United States we have been blessed with a constitutional system of checks and balances that constrain the excesses of either extreme, but the most important and the most powerful check has always remained within the hearts and minds of individuals.  As the great Judge Learned Hand once wisely reminded us, liberty lies in the hearts of men and women and when it dies there no constitution, no law, no court can ever save it.  Our democratic system of checks and balances transcends what we learned in high school civics.  In addition to the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial branch, we have non‑government checks.  We have the media.  We have the academy.  We have churches.  We have business.  We have so many other elements, and a perfect example was this.  When the president of the United States decided to separate families at the border, the checks and balances came into operation.  Not necessarily in the courts or in the legislature, but business leaders objected to it, academic leaders, church leaders objected to it, and ultimately it became clear this was not the American way, and the president withdrew that ill-advised suggestion.  Some of the media as well have prioritized ideology over truth.  Opinion over reporting.  The New York Times now, it's subtle, sometimes you can't notice it, has on the front page something called News Analysis.  It's simply a disguised editorial.  Their headlines are disguised editorials.  And it's very hard today, oh for the good old days of Walter Cronkite.  Walter Cronkite never voted in elections because he didn't want to appear to be biased or be biased.  At the end of his life, I knew Walter Cronkite.  He came to Martha's Vineyard.  I sailed with him on his boat.  He actually had some strong political views.  You would never had known that from his reporting.  He was trusted to report not to opine, and he represented the best of the media; something we don't have today. 

The great concerning question is where the current trends toward extremism and intolerance are wounding liberty to the extent that they will not be able to recover.  Do we have the capacity to treat these wounds before they fester and become fatal?  History has generally blessed this country with an absence of powerful and influential extremes.  We never had the kind of large fascist or communist parties that plagued Europe in the 1920s and the 1930s.  To be sure, we had regional extremists such as the Ku Klux Klan and the communist party, but they never had a major impact on American politics.  When Europe responded to the depression after World War II with Nazism and communism, America responded in its way.  We had the New Deal, we had President Roosevelt who saved us from extremism and saved capitalism.  You might disagree with him, but he prevented the United States from moving toward either communism or fascism.  President Trump was justly criticized for not condemning more forcefully the white supremacists who falsely claimed to be speaking in his name, so too must Democrats be criticized for not condemning more forcefully those who distort liberalism and turn it into intolerant radicalism.  So too should educational leaders condemn those who misuse the academic license to propagandize rather than to teach and who tell their students what to think rather than how to think for themselves. 

When I taught at Harvard, for 50 years, I never expressed a personal view in the classroom.  Students did not know whether I supported or opposed the death penalty.  I had devoted much of my professional life to opposing it.  Students didn't know because I took the devil's advocate position in the classroom and defended every possible position.  Students didn't know my views on Israel unless they read my material outside the classroom.  I think it's an abuse of the lectern for teachers to try to propagandize their students and yet it's going on all over the academy.  Too many mainstream Democrats have remained silent even some complicit with the anti-Semitic and anti-gay incitements of Louis Farrakhan along with his bigoted followers on campus.  I want you all to imagine the following scenario.  Imagine that President Bill Clinton, who I liked and voted for twice and I regard as a personal friend, imagine if he had been invited to the memorial service for a white country and western singer who he liked, and he came to the memorial service and he saw sitting in a place of honor two places away from him David Duke.  He wouldn't have stayed on that platform for 10 seconds.  He would have been furious for having been duped into standing on the same platform as David Duke.  But that happened.  He went to the memorial for Aretha Franklin and who was sitting two seats away from him?  Louis Farrakhan.  Did President Clinton get up and leave?  No.  He stayed there, and he shook hands with that horrible bigot.  Shame on President Clinton for not applying the same standard he would have applied to David Duke. 

It's so easy for people on the left to condemn the extremism on the right.  So easy.  You don't have to lose any friends or anything, and it's also easy for people on the right to condemn the extremism of the left.  What is hard to do and what I call on everybody to do, my liberal friends and my conservative friends, if you're a liberal, if you're a person of the left, you must prioritize condemning the extremism of the hard left and the bigotry of the hard left.  That's your responsibility.  And if you're a person of the right, if you're a conservative, you must go out of your way to condemn the extremism of those on the hard right.  That's where President Trump made his mistake.  When at Charlottesville, he did condemn both.  He condemned them equally, but as a person of the right and as a person who some of the people in Charlottesville claimed to speak in his own name, he had a special obligation to single out people of the extreme right who purported to speak in his name.  They weren't speaking in his name.  He doesn't support any of that.  There isn't an ounce of anti-Semitism or bigotry in President Trump, but he has a special obligation to condemn those on the extreme right. 

Look, we've experienced shooting in places of worship.  We've experienced targeting lawmakers playing baseball.  We've experienced pipe bombs being sent to people.  These are all symptoms of a deeper underlying sickness in our system.  The root causes include a growing intolerance on both sides of the political spectrum, that such intolerance is being taught to our future leaders makes it even more dangerous than the rare manifestations of actual violence.  Now there's good news.  The good news is that students, many students on our university campuses are finally standing up to the intolerance of the hard left and are fighting back.  They're fighting back against faculty members.  I'll give you an example.  Recently at the University of Michigan, a young woman decided she wanted to take a year leave and study abroad, so she went to her professor and said I'd like you to write me a recommendation, and the professor said great, you're a terrific student.  It would be an honor to write you a recommendation.  By the way, where do you want to study in your year abroad?  She said Israel.  He said oh no,  I can't write you a recommendation to Israel.  I'm part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement against Israel, so I refuse to write.  She fought back.  She fought back and she got the teacher punished, and the University of Michigan is now setting up standards by which professors cannot express their bigotry in the way they treat students.  The best response to hatred, the best response to hate speech is to fight back.  Fight back and use every legal remedy at your disposal. 

Sigmund Freud once said that civilization began the day the first person hurled an insult instead of a spear, and there's some truth to that, but we also have to stop hurling insults.  We have to start talking to each other.  Start listening to each other.  I listen to my conservative friends.  Recently, I introduced at an event of the Zionist Organization of America, the head of the organization, a man named Morton Klein, and people said to me why are you introducing him?  You don't agree with any of his views.  And in the introduction, I said but I learn from him.  I listen to him.  He even on occasion persuades me, and he did persuade me to change my mind on some issues, and I persuaded him to change his mind.  That's the way dialogue must operate.  It's impossible to know which is cause and which is effect.  The growing extremist on both sides of the political spectrum make nuance conversation difficult.  The extreme left and the extreme right share a common tactic.  Shutting down their opponents without listening to them.  True believers do not need to hear opposing arguments.  They know their right, and they understand that there's no reason to listen to wrong arguments.  Neither the extreme, and I'm talking about the extreme, extreme right, the David Duke right, or the extreme left support free speech as a principal, equally applicable to themselves as their opponents.  Free speech for me but not for them is what extremists believe in.  Many observers have noted that the extreme left is now on the forefront of seeking censorship on university campuses.  They asked me when did the change occur, and they're deeply surprised by my answer.  There has been no change.  The hard left has never supported free speech.  They have never supported it as a principle.  They employ freedom of speech as a tactic to help themselves. 

I grew up during the McCarthy period, when the hard left was being censored so of course they advocated free speech because they were the victims of censorship.  Even the famous free speech movement, those of you who are old enough to remember it, Mario Savio at Berkeley, that was not free speech for everybody.  That was free speech for the hard left and no one else.  The hard left has never ever supported free speech from Stalin to the American Communist Party, and we can't count on the hard left ever supporting the free speech of conservatives.  I'm sure we can’t count on the hard, hard right supporting the free speech of liberals.  Freedom of speech has always been a centrist principle supported by both authentic centrist liberals and by authentic centrist conservatives.  Liberal centrists generally support free speech for conservative centrists as well as radicals on both sides.  Centrist conservatives also generally support free speech for liberals as well as for radicals on both sides.  Some of you may remember that about 20 years ago I was regularly on television debating my friend, Bill Buckley, William Buckley.  He called me his favorite liberal.  I called him my favorite conservative.  We would have these great arguments.  We agreed about nothing, but we agreed to talk to each other, and we agreed to try to persuade each other.  Those days are long gone. 

You know I served on the National Board of the American Civil Liberties Union for many years in the 1970s.  It was in those days my fellow board members were Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, all of whom shared a common commitment to free speech for me and for thee.  We defended the rights of Nazis to march through Skokie as well as the rights of communist to advocate their pernicious doctrines.  We defended the free speech rights of pornographers, perverts and other ne'er-do-wells because as H. L. Mencken once put it, the trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels, for it's against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it's to be stopped at all.  What has happened to the American Civil Liberties Union?  It's become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.  Would you believe that 2 days ago when the Trump administration finally and belated changed the rules regarding how young men who are on college campuses and who are accused of sexual misconduct, what rights they have to defend themselves.  Finally, the administration has said that people who are accused have the right to cross-examine.  You would think that would be the most basic thing of all.  They would have the presumption of innocence.  How would the ACLU respond to this?  Let me read you what they said.  The ACLU says these new proposals promote an unfair process improperly favoring the accused.  Can you imagine the old ACLU saying that?  The Fifth Amendment does the same thing.  It favors the accused.  The Fourth Amendment does the same thing.  The First Amendment does the same thing.  It favors all kinds of speech.  Is the ACLU now going to seek the abridgement of the Fourth, the Fifth, the Eighth amendments in the Bill of Rights because they favor the accused?  My god what has happened to the ACLU. 

The ACLU has now made a fortune.  They started out with the budget before the Trump administration of $20 million.  It went up to $120 million because they changed their policies.  They are no longer neutral advocates of everybody's civil liberties.  They are part of the get Trump at any cost campaign.  They will do anything, no matter what it does to civil liberties, if the end result is to get President Trump out of office.  That's what's happened to the American Civil Liberties Union.  They took positions on political candidates.  They opposed the Kavanaugh nomination, refused to stand up for his basic due process rights.  They have become a partisan extremist organization, part of the problem rather than part of the solution.  Let me tell you a story about how bad things have become.  So, some of you know I wrote a book called The Case against Impeaching Trump.  I didn't initially intend to write that book.  Why?  Because I believed like many others that my friend and the person who I supported, Hillary Clinton, would be elected president, and I watched as the Republicans said the day she becomes president we will move to impeach her.  You'll remember the cries of “lock her up”, “lock her up”.  So, the original book I was going to write and here's the cover, The Case against Impeaching Hillary Clinton.  But when Donald Trump got elected, I just changed the word Clinton to Trump.  It's the same exact argument.  What I argue is to impeach a president you need to have treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors and that when the framers of the constitution put those safeguards in, they meant it.  Now if I had written the book, The Case against Impeaching Hillary Clinton, they would have built a statue to me on Martha's Vineyard.  Instead, nobody will talk to me.  They even require trigger warnings.  If you're going to invite Dershowitz somewhere, you have to give us advanced notice so we don't come and sully ourselves by meeting him. 

As the result of that, I had my publisher come up with yet a third cover for the book.  This is a plain brown wrapper so people can read my book on the beach of Martha's Vineyard without being accused of being a Trump supporter.  So, what does the future hold?  The prophecy ended with the destruction of the Second Temple so I'm not going to be either a fool or naive to try to prophesy.  I do think that the spirit of liberty is deep in the American people.  I think it's going to be tough for the college students today who want to deny us liberty to prevail.  I think students get older, they mature, they understand the values of liberty, they understand the values of free speech.  In Israel, they say the difference between a pessimist and an optimist is a pessimist says:  things are so bad they can't possibly get any worse.  An optimist says: yes they can.  Now I'm an optimist.  I'm an optimist but not in that sense.  I think things are very bad on university campuses today.  I think the Democratic Party is destroying itself and shooting itself in the foot by pandering to the extreme left, by thinking that the future lies with people who are intolerant of differing points of view.  But we are fighting back.  We must form coalitions between centrist liberals and centrist conservatives.  We must form coalitions that fight for the basic values that we share in common, and I'm confident that if we join together in those coalitions, that American still is a country that values liberty. 

Senate Report Reveals Russians Targeted Blacks and Latinos More Than Conservatives

3 hours 21 min ago

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

What if everything you knew about Russian election trolling was a lie?

That’s the problem faced by two Senate Intelligence Commission reports commissioned from two outside organizations which struggle with the problem of reconciling the facts about Russian election trolling with upholding the Clinton campaign’s conspiracy theory about Trump and the Russians.

The two reports, from New Knowledge and Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project, about Russian disinformation serve as their own disinformation campaign, pushing the same false claims that the Russians had sought to help Trump win, even when they were working against him.

New Knowledge is a purely partisan source and its report amplifies echo chamber conspiracies about Trump, while Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project report is the adult in the room, occasionally conceding the more nuanced reality of the Russian campaign by noting that peak Russian propaganda volume actually occurred long after the election during the Syria missile strike: a key national interest area for Russia. It also confirms what Facebook has already told us, that Russian activity actually increased after the election.

That suggests an influence operation rather than election interference.

It also reveals that the Russians bought over 1,000 ads targeting African-Americans and less than 300 targeting conservatives. There were 81 social justice ads and only 24 patriotism ads, 66 pro-gun ads and 70 LGBT ads, 43 veteran ads and 57 Muslim ads, not to mention 143 Latin American culture ads.

The African-American ads also produced over 1.5 million clicks while the conservative ads produced well below 500,000. The former ads also racked up over 15 million impressions while the conservative ads scored below 6 million. Not only did the Russians seem to spend less time and achieve fewer result by targeting conservatives, but they produced more clicks, 548,139, by targeting Latinos.

So the actual story of Russia’s Facebook operations is that they targeted African-Americans and even Latinos more than conservatives. That would be entirely in line with Russia’s past propaganda, and its influence operations in the United States, but it doesn’t fit the Clinton conspiracy theory.

The Oxford report is even forced to concede that the Russians hit Muslims with “pro-Clinton” messages and that the Russians had “targeted Canadians with ads encouraging donations to Justin Trudeau’s campaign.”

That doesn’t fit the narrative, so it’s dismissed as confusing.

When Russia posted pro-Trump material, it’s touted as proof of Russian backing. But when the Russians supported Bernie Sanders, Justin Trudeau or other leftists, suddenly “it’s not what it looks like.”

But if the Russians had set out to influence elections in swing states (a popular lefty conspiracy theory) they were doing a particularly terrible job of it since 152 ads targeted New Yorkers, 127 ads were aimed at Texans, 75 at Californians and only 42 at people in Florida. Pennsylvanians were neglected with only 25 ads while Georgians were barraged with 119 ads.

The Russians gave Iowa the cold shoulder, with only 1 ad, while throwing 6 ads at Alaska.

Missouri was barraged with the most ads, but that seemed to have a lot more to do with Russia’s African-American outreach than an election strategy. This wasn’t a strategy to influence key swing states since the Russians targeted or neglected states for reasons having very little to do with their status.

Just ask Nevada and Colorado, both of which were ignored, while Louisiana was bombarded.

Meanwhile on Twitter, “Right and left activity levels tracked closely together, at almost even levels, until early 2017. By the middle of 2017, there was a marked surge of activity focused on conservatives.”

The Oxford report may be more nuanced, but ultimately, like the New Knowledge report, it exists to service a Clinton campaign conspiracy theory denying the legitimacy of the election.

But it’s vastly better than the New Knowledge report. That’s not surprising considering the source.

New Knowledge claims that it was inspired to set up shop by ISIS and Gamergate. The bizarre equation of Islamic beheading videos and protests by gamers against unethical behavior by gaming journalists neatly sums up its radical slant.

When NK’s CEO Jonathon Morgan talks about “extremists”, he means Republicans. “Radicalization didn't start on mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It was festering for years in spaces you never think about, like the comments section of Breitbart.” He tweeted.

NK’s non-profit arm, Data for Democracy, appears to receive funding from Pierre Omidyar, a French-Iranian billionaire bankrolling leftist initiatives and sabotage efforts aimed at Trump and Republicans.

Raina Kumra, a director at the Omidyar Network, writes that she led "investments" in, among others, Data for Democracy. And on Twitter, DFD thanked the Omidyar Network for its "continued support". The Omidyar Network’s most famous product is The Intercept, a pro-terrorist site which has justified anti-Semitic violence by Islamic terrorists and which famously served as a platform for Edward Snowden.

Morgan’s past also includes time at the famously Qatari-funded Brookings. And The Intercept has also allegedly served as a clearinghouse for Qatari election tampering and propaganda. The next vectors for the Russia conspiracy theory have been Saudi Arabia, Israel and the UAE: all enemies of Qatar.

The Senate Intelligence Committee hired a firm which appears to have received funding from a deeply partisan source that was used to aid Russia’s biggest intelligence coup against America in a generation to analyze a Russian disinformation campaign. This may be their worst decision since hiring James Wolfe.

And NK’s leadership uses the phantom menace of Russian propaganda to call for internet censorship.

When Facebook leadership attempted to investigate a campaign funded by George Soros, a notoriously anti-Semitic leftist billionaire, NK’s Morgan tweeted, “Facebook and the other social media companies should not be trusted to police themselves. The self-serving attempts to undermine the credibility of those holding these companies accountable are reprehensible.”

The core message of censorship had already been put out last year by NK’s Director of Research Renee DiResta in a piece titled, “Why Facebook and Twitter Can’t Be Trusted to Police Themselves”. Social media companies, she insisted, must ensure that their users see “authentic information".

Who decides what’s "authentic information"? The usual answer is media fact checkers.

People, in DiResta’s worldview, are passive consumers of information or misinformation who must be protected for their own good from the consequences of an open marketplace of ideas on social media.

She proposes an "independent government agency" that would regulate the "marketplace of ideas".

The Oxford report is more subtle, but finds its way to the same place. “We need to develop stronger rules and norms for the use of social media,” it insists. “We cannot wait for national courts to address the technicalities of infractions.”

These arguments, equating government responsibility to oversee financial transactions with a responsibility to monitor the legitimacy of ideas, to protect people from malfunctioning consumer products and protect them from dangerous ideas, are deeply disturbing false analogies.

"Democracy is predicated on an informed electorate," DiResta told CNN. "Things like misinformation, radicalization, pushing people into conspiratorial groups and then profiting from that because it drives engagement, that's just not a viable state for the information ecosystem to be in."

But who decides what’s information and what’s misinformation?

There are two possible answers. Individuals can decide these things for themselves. Or some central agency, corporation, regulatory body, or media echo chamber can be put in charge of deciding them.

Are the claims that Trump is a Russian puppet a conspiracy theory? Or is the claim that the Russia conspiracy theory is an attempt to overturn the election a conspiracy theory?

You can decide for yourself. But the people pushing the former theory would like to decide for you.

NK’s report pushes the conspiracy theory that Russia was backing Trump. It reconciles Russian engagement with leftists as part of its pro-Trump agenda. This is a classic example of a conspiracy theory in that it treats contradictory information as affirming, rather than contradicting, its central thesis by revealing a deeper level of the conspiracy.

Conspiracy theorists begin with a central truth that is fundamental to their worldview, in this case, the illegitimacy of Trump. All new data, no matter how contradictory, is used to support that truth.

And so the Senate Intelligence Committee brought in anti-Trump conspiracy theorists, with links to foreign interests, to produce a report propping up their conspiracy theory about foreign interests.

Morgan and DiResta keep calling for transparency, but New Knowledge doesn’t list its clients and Data for Democracy doesn’t list its donors. The same people who keep claiming that our elections are being influenced won’t say who’s influencing them. In the nebulous environment of the internet, we are told to distrust everyone and everything, except the people feeding national distrust at the highest levels.

That’s what the Russians did. It’s what the media and its political allies are doing.

In a free society, everyone gets to decide what is information and misinformation. Truth isn’t determined by spurious scientism nor is debate silenced with dark murmurs about foreign interests.

The Russia conspiracy crowd tells us that we have to “protect our democracy” through censorship. Censorship doesn’t protect democracy. Just ask the people living in any dictatorship. Including Russia.

Only totalitarian movements believe that people need to be “protected” from different views.

The Russians set out to divide Americans by sowing mistrust in our institutions. A conspiracy theory pushed by a Russian intelligence source to a British ex-intel agent hired by the Clinton campaign to manufacture opposition research against Trump, that was then circulated by Clinton allies in the media and government to justify everything from eavesdropping on Trump allies to questioning the legitimacy of the election, allowed Moscow to succeed beyond its wildest expectations.

Our politics now inhabits a vast media echo chamber in which paranoid conspiracy theories advanced by special interests are used to justify the destruction of democracy and free speech on the internet.

The new war against disinformation is based on disinformation. Its strategy for winning isn’t truth, but censorship. Every populist movement from America to Europe to Asia that the Left disapproves of is immediately blamed on a Russian conspiracy enabled by an unregulated social media.

The past two years have produced a bumper crop of fake patriots warning that the only way to defeat Russian “fake news” and “protect our democracy” is to put them in charge of censoring the internet.

The best way to “protect our democracy” is with free speech. A genuinely free press creates trust by enabling debate. The media oligarchy that we have now creates mistrust and a perfect breeding ground for conspiracy theories and fake news, because of its abusive power and disregard for the truth.

People instinctively trust free institutions and distrust information distributed by central authorities.

Censoring the internet won’t make Americans more likely to trust the media. Like the Russians in the Soviet Union, they will instead believe that whatever the media reports, the opposite is true.

The Russians can’t destroy America. Only Americans can do that.

Body Language In The Trump vs. Pelosi-Schumer Meeting

3 hours 27 min ago

After Pres. Donald Trump's public meeting Dec. 11 with Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer about a proposed border wall, most experts criticized Trump's seeming petulance. But those critics ignored Trump's body language -- which reflected confident, tactical cunning against his two biggest legislative opponents, at least in one observer's mind.

Mandy O'Brien, a consultant with Bombards Body Language, interpreted a video of the meeting's first 19 minutes. Most of her commentary analyzed Pelosi's and Schumer's reaction to Trump through their posture and movement. That analysis began before the video started playing.

Let's set the scene. Trump invited Pelosi and Schumer to the Oval Office for what they thought would be private negotiations over funding the wall. After extending the invitation, Trump called an impromptu press conference at the Oval Office. The ensuing assembly of reporters with their cameras, microphones and recorders caught both Democratic leaders off-balance -- and it showed.

As the video began, Schumer was slouching forward with his left hand gripping his right wrist, his face showing disgust. Pelosi, meanwhile, sat erectly and stiffly with her legs close together and her left hand holding her right while managing a smile.

"Pelosi's very stressed," O'Brien said. "She's holding her hands, stressed smile, not happy. Schumer's hunched, literally like a hunchback -- hunched over, grabbing his wrists, uncomfortable. You know, it almost reminds that he really didn't expect the press to come in this room." 

Schumer also revealed his agitation by briefly and nervously tapping his right foot and the fingers of his left hand.

"See the foot going up on Schumer, the hand, the fingers going up?" O'Brien asked. "No, they're not happy. They did not expect this press to come in."

Trump, however, used his hands to form what Allan and Barbara Pearse call "the steeple" in their book, "The Definitive Book of Body Language." The fingertips on both of Trump's hands touched each other while his fingers were spread, forming a three-dimensional triangle. He maintained that position for almost the entire video.

"We found that the steeple was frequently used in superior-subordinate interaction and that it indicates a confident or self-assured attitude," the Pearses wrote. "Superiors often use this gesture position when they give instructions or advice to subordinates, and it is particularly common among accountants, lawyers and managers. People who are confident, superior types often use this gesture and, by doing so, signal their confident attitude."

Pelosi and Schumer remained defensive for the rest of the video. Even when Schumer appeared to relax as Trump began talking about the wall, the senator remained fundamentally anxious.

"Apparently at this moment, Schumer's starting to relax," O'Brien said 2 minutes, 31 seconds into the video. "It's not as bad a tongue-lashing as he initially thought. He's not grabbing his wrists any more. He just now gated: hands clasped together. His hunchness is now supported by his elbows. He's just not as tense. He's trying to get out of the 'fight or flight' mindset."

As Pelosi and Trump discussed whether he had the necessary votes for the wall, the President gesticulated with open palms, generally signifying openness.

"This is what it looks like when you have somebody giving facts back, when there's actually debate and discussion," O'Brien said about Trump. "You can point out what's wrong with what they're saying, or what's right with what they're saying. But if you have someone who constantly makes it their life mission to never have any opposition to anything they say, they don't know how to counteract that. That's what you just saw with Pelosi. She just collapses her hands back in and stays stiff."

O'Brien then made a fascinating comment.

"I will say that Trump, on the other hand, is being a little devious today," she said. "You see him look at that moment at the cameras? He knows what he's doing. (He's saying) I've sat there. I've dealt with these people behind closed doors. I know how they truly act. Now, I'm going to bring it out in the limelight and show you all -- and I'm going to behave." (italics indicate vocal emphasis)

By bringing Pelosi's non-verbal reactions into the limelight, Trump exposed the Speaker-designate's vulnerability. 

"There you have the negative head shake, the belief system up," O'Brien said at 10:41. "Not listening, shut down. That is not what you want to have in a negotiation. You should never mentally just start shaking your head, avoid eye contact and shut down. That's not a good negotiator. That's what children do."

When Schumer told Trump that the Washington Post gave the President "a whole lot of Pinocchios" concerning his assessments about the wall, O'Brien criticized the Senator's approach.

"Obviously while (Trump) was talking to Pelosi, Schumer had enough time mentally to think of a rebuttal, which is not a negotiation," she said. "It's a form of attack. That doesn't make for a very good negotiator, either." 

When Trump forcefully responded that he would reject any Congressional proposal without funding for the wall, Schumer revealed a significant personal weakness. 

"What does Schumer do? He stops looking at (Trump) instantly and goes to his wrist," she said at 17:20. "Schumer's strength is only when you are bowing down to him. If you do not bow down to him, he runs. So really, he's a pushover. He's all bark and no bite."

Schumer returned to barking with this response to Trump's comment about Republicans winning the Senate, a remark that sabotages his credibility in rural areas: "When the President brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble." 

Pelosi and Schumer would not have embarrassed themselves publicly had Trump not contacted reporters to witness the meeting. By doing so, Trump forced his two biggest political adversaries to fight on his terms.

The President continued that approach two days later with a brief Twitter video in which he called the Democrats "absolute hypocrites" on border security. That video included brief clips of Schumer, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during his days as an Illinois Senator publicly opposing illegal immigration, with Clinton saying she voted "numerous times as a Senator" to fund border barriers.

A commenter named "treehugger," who said he supported Sen. Bernie Sanders for President, posted his surprising opinion of the meeting on Rod Dreher's blog at "The American Conservative":

"I’m not even (Trump's) constituency on this — and I thought the two democrats (sic) looked condescending and small. They looked like insiders annoyed with the uncouth president. They wanted to play faux-statesman masking small-minded gamesmanship — as in, strike a deal so long as Trump can’t claim a win — and to push dumb word games about who 'owns' a government shutdown. On that one, I actually found myself respecting Trump for essentially saying 'look, if that’s the foolish game you want to play, I’ll take the "blame" and I’ll take it proudly.' When you take the bullet it’s no longer a threat.

"At this point, I’m inclined to vote for Trump in 2020, for the mere fact that I see him actually taking on the sacred cows of Washington which hasn’t happened in decades. That’s the signal. The rest is noise. I’m setting aside traditional political/policy differences for this single dynamic. I know it’s arguable. And I’ll tell you I’ve never admitted that except where I can do so anonymously, like here." (emphases in original)

The public showdown with Pelosi and Schumer shreds the stereotype of Trump as the petulant adolescent. Those who underestimate him do so at their own risk.

U.S. Rejects UN Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants

3 hours 52 min ago

The United Nations General Assembly affirmed what is called the “Global Compact on Refugees” on Monday. There were 181 UN member states voting in favor of approving the compact, with the United States and Hungary voting against and the Dominican Republic, Eritrea and Libya abstaining. On Wednesday, the General Assembly is scheduled to vote and approve, by a somewhat smaller margin, a separate global migration pact formally known as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This compact was already adopted by 164 states at an international inter-governmental conference last week in Marrakech, Morocco. The United States opposes this compact as well.

Both the refugee and migration global compacts are said to be legally non-binding, although they purport to establish international “norms.” Globalists at the United Nations and elsewhere believe that such norms create, or broaden the scope of, a “universal” right, declared as such by all or a significant majority of the UN’s member states. As interpretations of norms acknowledging such rights are repeated in international bodies and incorporated into the laws or judicial rulings of more and more UN member states, they can then become a part of what international lawyers refer to as legally binding “customary international law,” whether there is a formal treaty or not.

The refugee and migration compacts state that they are guided by or rest on various international human rights legal instruments. The United States is not a party to a number of these instruments and does not consider itself legally bound by them, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The United States is a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, which the Global Compact on Refugees cites but goes far beyond by seeking to “translate” the principle of international cooperation “into concrete and practical action.” The compact purports “to provide a basis for predictable and equitable burden-and responsibility-sharing among all United Nations Member States,” which includes “hosting and supporting the world’s refugees.” The refugee compact contains a detailed program of action and a “comprehensive refugee response framework” under United Nations coordination to accomplish this objective. As just one example, the refugee compact calls upon member states to “resettle at least 25 percent of annual resettlement submissions within six months” of “referral” by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and to follow UNHCR priorities and criteria for resettlement.

Irrespective of the compacts’ self-descriptions as legally non-binding, advocates for migrants and asylum-seekers can be expected to argue that the compacts are part of customary international law in furtherance of existing international human rights and humanitarian law and supported by an overwhelming number of countries who intend to align their immigration and asylum legal policies with the compacts’ terms. Advocates in the United States would then take their cases to enforce the supposed “universal” rights of migrants and refugees to sympathetic judges in this country willing to incorporate the global compacts’ norms into their judicial decisions. As seen so often, left-wing activist judges are eager to stretch the U.S. Constitution and U.S. immigration laws to fit their progressive social policy agendas. To avoid getting entangled in this legal web spun by globalists, the Trump administration had to clearly and unambiguously disassociate itself from both global compacts. The administration had to state that it considers the United States to be bound legally only by U.S. immigration laws and treaties which the U.S. has signed according to the text of those treaties and no more. Despite the Trump administration’s actions to that end, globalists at the United Nations and elsewhere will persist in their efforts to entangle the U.S. and infringe on its national sovereignty.

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said that the Global Compact on Refugees represented “a new commitment to shared values of solidarity and the quest to just and sustainable solutions for disadvantaged people.” In a not too subtle dig at the Trump administration, Mr. Grandi added: “In this world of ours, which often turns it back to people in need, that has shamefully politicized even the pain of exile, that has demonized and continues to demonize refugees and migrants and sometimes even just foreigners, this compact, in synergy with the other compact, the compact on migration, can really represent tangibly, a new commitment to international cooperation.”

Even before the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees giving the UNHCR a significant role in facilitating the burden-sharing objectives of the compact, the UNHCR took it upon itself to criticize the United States for not doing enough to help the self-proclaimed asylum-seekers in the caravans from Central America. The UN refugee agency said that it “expects all countries, including the United States, to make sure any person in need of refugee protection and humanitarian assistance is able to receive both promptly and without obstruction, in accordance with the 1967 refugee Protocol [relating to the Status of Refugees] to which the United States is a party.” The UN refugee agency claimed that requiring asylum seekers to present themselves only at official U.S. southern border ports of entry would fall short of this requirement because of insufficient reception capacity at the official ports of entry.  Such insufficient capacity, the UN refugee agency asserted, would result in “significant delays in northern Mexico” and force “many vulnerable asylum-seekers to turn in desperation to smugglers and cross the border irregularly.”

Following the General Assembly’s approval of the refugee compact, Mr. Grandi said that “we are asking everybody to keep their doors open.” He was responding to my question whether, in his opinion, the United States is still obligated to admit asylum seekers from Central America who are offered the opportunity to seek asylum in Mexico before they arrive at the U.S. border but prefer to settle in the United States. “For some people, it may be necessary to go to the United States,” he said without specifying why. Seeking better economic opportunity in the United States than would be available in Mexico is not a valid reason for asylum.

It is instructive to learn that Mr. Grandi and his UN refugee agency have singled out Iran as “a global example through its progressive and inclusive refugee policies.” The challenge, said Mr. Grandi last September, is to make sure Iran, with its large population of Afghan refugees, is supported and funded by the international community so it can continue along this path, adding “Iran has experienced 39 years of a refugee situation since it started receiving Afghans in 1979.” Referring to the Global Compact on Refugees, Mr. Grandi said that it provides “a blueprint for how the international community will engage with countries – like Iran - hosting large refugee populations. This is the global compact on refugees made real, made live. Iran is already implementing many of the responsibilities and contributing to a shared public good - the well-being of refugees. I hope Iran’s example will be taken up by other countries and will receive the support it deserves.”

In short, Mr. Grandi believes that Iran is a shining example of a country fulfilling its global obligation of shared responsibility for refugees while the U.S. is lagging. He envisions more global financial support for Iran, in direct opposition to the Trump administration’s objective to isolate Iran economically. As for the Afghan refugees in Iran who would supposedly be helped by the financial support Mr. Grandi requests for Iran, Mr. Grandi has blinders on. Iran has a miserable record in the treatment of its Afghan population. According to a 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report prepared by the U.S. State Department, “Afghan migrants and refugees, including children, are highly vulnerable to forced labor, debt bondage, and sex trafficking.” It referred to international organization and media reports that “the Iranian government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) coerced male Afghans resident in Iran, including migrants and refugees, to fight in military brigades deployed to Syria by threatening them with arrest and deportation to Afghanistan.”

The United States is by far the largest contributor of funding to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. As of  September 24, 2018, the U.S. contributions to UNHCR in 2018 came to $1,291,774,188, nearly triple the amount contributed by the next most generous donor, the European Union. In 2017, the U.S. contributions to UNHCR amounted to $1,450,360,238, a bit more than triple the amount contributed by Germany, the next most generous donor whose open borders policy precipitated the refugee crisis in Europe in 2015.

The United States has nothing to apologize for in standing up for its national sovereignty and opposing global compacts that do not serve the interests of the American people. As the Heritage Foundation concluded in urging the United States not to sign on to the Global Compact on Refugees, “Too often, even non-binding, voluntary compacts serve as gateways to binding commitments and vehicles for politically motivated criticism.” Moreover, if the leadership of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees continues to slam U.S. refugee policies and press for international funding for Iran, the Trump administration should consider cutting back substantially on what the U.S. contributes annually to this UN bureaucracy.

Can Trump be Europe’s Salvation?

3 hours 57 min ago

Islam: Europe Invaded, America Warned is a new English translation of a book that has sold 50,000 copies since appearing in Norwegian three years ago – a figure that, given Norway’s small population, is equivalent to over three million copies in the U.S. Its author, Hege Storhaug, who -- full disclosure – is a longtime friend, former employer, and (frankly) heroine of mine, began her career as a left-wing feminist writing about the rights of women and girls and ended up becoming a supposedly right-wing critic of Islam because she recognized the Religion of Peace as, by far, the greatest threat to females in Norway.

Hege has now been fighting on the Islam front for a quarter-century. She’s advised members of the Norwegian parliament on the subject, handed them tons of material documenting the social and economic consequences of Muslim immigration, and made a number of specific proposals that have resulted in legislation (and, alas, many more proposals that have gone nowhere). Unsurprisingly, her work has made her enemies not only among the nation’s Muslims but also on the radical left, members of which, on New Year’s Eve 2006/7, broke into her Oslo home and beat her up. She now lives in a secret location outside the city, and since the Norwegian edition of her book came out she’s routinely been accompanied to her public events by a cohort of armed police officers. The cops didn’t even tell her beforehand that they’d decided to start guarding her: she found out about it on November 4, 2015, the day before her book’s official publication date, when she showed up at a small-town community center to deliver a lecture and found three – count 'em, three – police cars parked out front.

“I’m the first person in Norway ever to require such protection,” she told me when we spoke the other day. Of course it’s a sign of the times – a reflection of the very real menace that Islam now poses to its outspoken critics in this once placid land. Not surprisingly, the mainstream Norwegian media have kept mum about Hege’s unique security status. Entirely. A naïve observer might think they’d consider it big news that in Norway, in 2018, a writer – a writer! – needs to be followed around by uniformed men packing heat (this in a country where you hardly ever see a cop with a gun). You might also think the Norwegian media – which are notorious for their habit of debating to death the most niggling, nugatory issues you can imagine – would consider this grim sign of the erosion of free speech in Norway worth discussing. Nope. After all, if they reported on Hege’s police escorts, they’d have to acknowledge that Islam really is a threat – and that’s verboten.

Still, the word about Hege’s police escorts has gotten around, so that now, when she’s planning to give a talk, she hears from admirers who’d like to attend but who tell her they’re freaked out by the cop angle – after all, if there’s a police presence, that means there’s a real danger of violence. (Perhaps this is the best place to mention that the American woman who translated Hege’s book into English has chosen, out of sheer fear, to remain anonymous.)

In short, it isn’t easy being Hege Storhaug. Though she may well be the most admired woman in Norway, the media are constantly at her throat. And hard as she works at trying to save Norway from Islam, she often feels as if she’s banging her head against the wall. During the last couple of years, she admitted to me, the reception she’s received from politicians has been particularly frustrating. She had hoped that her book's huge success might make them sit up and take notice – the sales figures, after all, confirm that the Norwegian people are deeply concerned about what Islam is doing to their country – yet elected officials, she laments, have been less responsive than ever to her urgent calls for action.

It’s not that they don’t get it. Hege met recently with some Labor Party politicians, and asked them what they think will happen to the pubs in Oslo when that city turns majority Muslim – a development that isn’t so very far off. They shrugged. They know what’s coming. They just don’t know what to do about it. Haven't a clue. Even those who might want to take action, moreover, have to deal with a single massive obstacle that goes by the name of Erna Solberg. Solberg is Norway’s prime minister, and used to be known as “Iron Erna” because of her purported toughness. But top politicians have told Hege that Solberg won’t listen to a word about Islam. She not only refuses to talk about it; she refuses to allow members of her government to discuss it.

In this regard, of course, Solberg is pretty  much on the same page as Theresa May and Angela Merkel. Why, I asked Hege, is Solberg so pigheaded? What is it with these politicians? “They don’t know what to do,” Hege said simply. “They hope it’ll go away, even though they know it won’t. They care too much about their careers, and know that if they say anything they’ll be stigmatized. So they just figure that when the time comes, they’ll hand the problem over to their successors.” Hege emphasized that she wasn’t criticizing all politicians. “Next week,” she told me, “I’m having lunch with two top Labor Party people and two top Progress Party people. But they didn’t want to meet at a restaurant or café in Oslo.” God forbid they should be seen in public with Hege Storhaug! “So we’re meeting someplace private.”

Hege learned about Islam firsthand in Pakistan, which she’s visited seventeen times, often staying for long periods. She has good friends there who consider themselves to be Muslims, but who don’t go to mosque, and who are, in fact, distressed by the increasing radicalism of their countrymen. While working on her new book, Hege told me, there were times when she felt exhausted by the daunting amount of research involved, and at one point she told the adult daughter of her Pakistani best friend that she was close to throwing in the towel. “Hege,” replied the young woman with real intensity, “you have to write this book! People need it!” The point being that even in Pakistan, there are people who, while nominally adherents of the Religion of Peace, understand that, as the original Norwegian title of Hege’s book puts it, Islam is indeed a plague.

That young Pakistani woman and her mother, Hege pointed out, have visited Norway from time to time over the years, and have thus been able to follow the Islamization of Oslo. “And they’ve been shocked,” Hege said. “Hijab is now a more common sight in Oslo than in Pakistan.” Hege has spent time in London too, and says of niqab, the garment that covers everything but the eyes, “I’ve never seen as many niqab in Pakistan as I have in London.”

Which country in Western Europe is in the worst shape? For my part, I sometimes think it’s Sweden, sometimes Britain or maybe Belgium, although the Yellow Jacket riots in Paris lifted France to the top of my current list. Hege was way ahead of me on this one. Her book contains a long, harrowing chapter entitled “Marseille: Report from the Lost City.” Another friend of mine, Claire Berlinski, in her important 2006 book Menace in Europe, held Marseille up as an example of relatively successful multicultural mixing; her chapter on the city (which is now 35% Muslim) was entitled “The Hope of Marseille.” Today, Hege sees no hope in Marseille or anywhere else in France. “The situation in France is much worse than the surface picture might suggest,” Hege said. (We spoke before the terror attack in Strasbourg.) At the end of her chapter on Marseille, she writes: “I believe that France has reached a ‘point of no return.’” In other words, all hope is gone. “After I wrote that sentence,” she told me, “I took it out. It sounded too stark. But then I thought, no, this is what I believe; I might as well say it. So I put it back in.”

Although she does consider France a lost cause, Hege wouldn’t make predictions about the rest of Western Europe. “There are so many things that could happen,” she said. “What will Erdogan do? What if there’s a massive terror attack in Norway or Sweden or the UK? Will the EU take control of its borders and the Mediterranean?” Perhaps some politicians will grow a spine. Perhaps the rioting in Paris will intensify and lead to political crisis. It has already spread to the Low Countries; perhaps it will continue to spread. All Hege knows for sure is that, at present, “not one country in Western Europe, except maybe Austria, has a government that’s taking the proper action.”

As for the U.S., the main reason Hege was eager to get her book translated into English was that she wanted to do her part to help America avoid Western Europe’s fate. She fully supports the idea of the U.S. subjecting potential immigrants to an ideological test that would weed out freedom-lovers from sharia-lovers. “It may seem extreme,” she admitted, “but we have to save our free societies.” Her friends in Pakistan, she noted, would pass such a test with flying colors. In our conversation, she was fervent in her expression of hope that Donald Trump would be able to introduce a test of this kind. It would not only rescue America, she contended; it could also rescue Western Europe, because if Trump actually took such a step, his Western European counterparts might actually screw up the courage to do the same thing.

“Trump,” she summed up, “can be Western Europe’s salvation.”  

Obama-Loving Country Music Star Partners with Terror-Sponsoring Communists

4 hours 12 min ago

Don’t get me wrong, amigos. The “mainstream media” does not label gun-control-loving Tim McGraw’s upcoming tour in the same manner as does this column. Instead we read stuff like this: 

Tim McGraw to perform in [totalitarian] Cuba--McGraw’s 2019 Memorial Day Weekend trek, dubbed “One of Those Havana Nights.”..The McGraw trip offers lodging in ocean-view rooms at [totalitarian] Havana’s upscale Meliá Hotel, where a box of cigars and a bottle of rum will await each traveler. The all-inclusive tour is designed to make foreigners' typical Havana dreams come true, featuring a ride around [totalitarian] Havana in a classic American convertible, a rumba party, and the chance to “Walk in the footsteps of Hemingway and Obama!” in Old [totalitarian] Havana….Prices range from $2,999 to $5,799 for the four days (May 24-27), which does include airfare, [totalitarian] Cuban visas, taxis and other incidentals.

I apologize for spending time clarifying this issue, amigos. But there was a day when most Americans understood what the term “totalitarian” meant. Indeed, the longest-reigning totalitarian dictator in modern history himself explained the issue: “Inside the Revolution (regime), everything-- outside, nothing.” (Fidel Castro, July 16, 1961.)  Like with so many others, Castro copped this line from Benito Mussolini

Despite all the poppycock propaganda from the Fake News Media about “reforms” in Cuba, Raul Castro’s son Alejandro (a fanatical Stalinist and KGB-trained Colonel in Cuba’s Secret police) actually runs Cuba from behind the scenes.

In fact, when Trump-hating CIA director Brennan secretly traveled to Cuba in 2015 to do some advance work to help facilitate Obama’s whimpering surrender--called “opening” by the Fake Mews Media--to the Castro-Family Crime-Syndicate (called “Cuba” by the Fake News Media), the man he met with was Alejandro Castro.

You see, amigos: Cuba’s entire economic infrastructure, and especially the tourism industry infrastructure, is majority-owned — not only by the Stalinist regime’s military and secret police sectors (the only people in Cuba with guns, in case you’d forgotten) — but more specifically by the Castro family itself.

In a presentation a few years ago at a hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Committee debating travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Simmons, a recently retired Defense Intelligence Agency Cuba specialist, explained the issue in detail. He showed how through a corporation named GAESA, Raul Castro’s military owns virtually every corporation involved in Cuba’s tourism industry, among the Stalinist regime’s top money-makers lately.

And as GAESA’s chief executive officer we find none other than Raul Castro’s very son-in-law Maj. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas.

In fact, McGraw’s Cuba tour, with a business partnership with the Castro family, would have been unthinkable when Soviet subsidies kept Cuba afloat; and when American music in all its forms, from rock to jazz to country, was viciously denounced by regime propaganda as “imperialist!”

Obviously things have changed, and here’s why: take as an illustration, a millennial Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supporter who lives in his divorced mother’s basement room. Say his mother, finally tired of his sloth and stupidity, cut off his allowance and booted him from her basement. So he moves in with his father, who provided the new room, board and allowance. Chances are that the Ocasio-Cortez supporter would suddenly find a way to extol the virtues of his father and forget all the horrible things he said about him while eagerly agreeing with his mother when he encountered her while raiding the refrigerator or asking for her car keys. Don’t you think? Alas, the son’s sloth and stupidity would probably remain unchanged.

Well, think of the Castro regime as that Ocasio-Cortez supporter. Back in the early 1990’s his mother (Russia) finally tired of the arrangement and booted him into the street, so to speak.   

So now Cuba lives with his father (tourism), while retaining essentially all of his disgusting habits. Living with this new provider requires that Cuba slightly change his “tune” – and slightly modify his behavior — but really nothing major, nothing of substance. “What’s a little lip-service in exchange for room, board and my uninterrupted Wi-Fi?” the Ocasio-Cortez supporter snickers.

In brief, the Castro regime briefly “hooked-up” with Tim McGraw for the simple expedience of filling its coffers with millions more in tourist money, one of its major financial lifelines nowadays. In the meantime, Castro’s subjects--while allowed to boot-scoot-n-boogie a bit--essentially remain the impoverished and oppressed subjects of a totalitarian regime.

An OH!...almost forgot! As billed, Tim McGraw’s Cuba tour also offers that “Walk in the footsteps of Hemingway and Obama in Old Havana.

“Castro’s revolution is very pure and beautiful,” Hemingway wrote in 1960, “I’m encouraged by it. The Cuban people now have a decent chance for the first time. The people getting shot all deserve it.”

But in fact, I doubt seriously that McGraw’s tour facilitators will arrange the exact footsteps that Ernest Hemingway walked in old Havana. Because you see, amigos, those steps often took charming old “Papa” Hemingway (also a failed KGB agent) to a ringside seat to watch and gloat during the Castro brothers’ and Che Guevara’s firing squad murder marathons.

Think I jest? Please click here for thorough documentation.

Visa/Mastercard and the Assault on Civil Rights

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 05:58

Every day there is a new report about how Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and other giants of social media censor content, banish certain commentators for incorrect views, and otherwise work in a steady if unsystematic way to homogenize political opinion within an acceptably progressive bandwidth.  Ideas are scoured for “racism”—as contentiously defined by the intellectual stylebook of the hard left Southern Poverty Law Center, which the media have set up as an “authority” on hate speech; freedom of speech is seen a nuisance rather than a guarantee of personal liberty and true diversity of opinion.

But there is an even more sinister threat to the first amendment than the social media, a threat that operates in a stealth way in the most crucial arena of our economic system.  It is corporate giants Master Card and Visa, which now use their unparalleled financial power to determine what speech should be allowed and what speech should be silenced.

Most Americans use a credit or debit card everyday and take these two corporations as much for granted as the light switch or the automobile ignition.  We buy things with their cards ranging from the annual vacations to the daily groceries. These two interlocked corporations are the drum majors marching us into a cashless society.  They are powers unto themselves, but their eminence rests on our money and the fees they exact to accommodate our transactions. 

The cards they issue are even more critical to the vendors whom they pay. Without the ability to accept charges to these cards as payment many businesses would in effect be out of business.

Unlike the comparatively clumsy and very public efforts of the social media to erase “offensive”—all too often a synonym for conservative—opinion, the cognate machinations of Visa/Mastercard take place more remotely and without response in the dark space of the mundane financial transaction.

It is as simple and as faceless as a lethal injection: An individual who wants to support an organization online makes the digital donation and is then informed that Visa/Mastercard will not process it.  Neither the individual nor the organization he wishes to support are told that it is on a blacklist, let alone informed how or got there or how to get off.  The donor is denied his right to put his money where his mouth is.  The organization he supports is condemned to death by strangulation in the dark in a world designed by Kafka.

The Freedom Center had such an experience a few months ago when online donations were overnight peremptorily refused by Visa/Mastercard with no reason given and no protest accepted.  We were able to create enough noise about this injustice—in the media and with the threat of legislative attention—that the credit card giants turned the power back on just as capriciously as they had turned it off.

We were lucky. Robert Spencer, whose jihadwatch.org is one of the indispensable sites for understanding the intentions and the threat of Islamic terrorism, has been shut down from receiving supporters’ donations for several weeks now, and is forced to try to keep jihadwatch going on a shoestring while Visa/Mastercard imperiously ignores demand letters and threats of court action from his attorneys.  The anti Semitic Nation of Islam’s credit card donations are processed; the anti Islamist jihadwatch’s are not.

This oligopoly acts with the faceless finality of an IRS lien when it sets itself up as lawmaker, judge and jury with the power to decide which speech should be allowed and which should be shut down.  It kills free speech not by arguing against the ideas it disapproves of, but by the silence of the arbitrary act, using the financial system to accomplish the deed.

An analogue to what Visa/Mastercard has done and is doing was once banned by the 1964 Civil Rights Act which, among other things, gave U.S. citizens, specifically African Americans, the right to sit at a lunch counter and have a sandwich the way any other America could. This opening of public accommodations to African Americans in effect told private businesses that they were accommodations open to the public and that all people, regardless of race, comprised that public and that they could not deny the civil rights of anyone seeking to use their facility.

Can there be any doubt that MasterCard and the other major card companies are similarly a public accommodation? Over half the people of the United States who own a debit or credit card use as their sole method for paying bills. (Most of the other half uses them too, just not as frequently.) In 2015 there were 69.5 billion debit card payments with a value of $2.56 trillion and 33.8 billion credit card payments with a value of $3.16 trillion--together adding up to around 6 trillion in an economy of 19 trillion.

This is a very sizable public accommodation. More importantly it is immense power, power that can be and is being used to shut down the civil rights of people who want to support the speech of the Freedom Center, Jihadwatch, other conservative groups and anyone else in our political universe.  

Visa/Mastercard tell the people whose rights they strangle that they can always get funds to the organizations whose speech they want heard by other means.  That is true---people can write a check and mail it or make a cash withdrawal from their bank and drive it to the offices of the organization they support  just as black people in the South in the 1950s could have eaten at some other lunch counter in a more remote part of town. 

The money these corporate giants hold belongs to private individuals who have a fundamental civil right to direct that money—which they pay the oligopoly a handsome fee to distribute to organizations they approve of and for the opinions they want heard in the public square.  Their money is their speech.  When they hit the “donate” button on a nonprofit’s website they are saying, “I believe….”as surely as if they were holding a placard in a march or writing to a legislator.  

We have come to a point in our history when government must once against step in to preserve rights and prevent wrongs just as it did in 1964. Civil Rights are as much imperiled now as they were then. The technology revolution has undeniably brought much that is good and fruitful, but as it has evolved, this revolution has developed a dark side that concentrates increasing power in the hands of fewer people.  These people control vast amounts of information. The information can tell the most of intimate of details from what we spend, what we bought with what we spend, what our daily commute is, who we may like or dislike, and, yes, our political leanings.  Hardly a day goes by without some news of an intrusion into private lives which are ransacked and violated for others’ profit.

And in this context, Visa/MasterCard must be seen not merely as the hygienic facilitators of the billions of daily transactions that are the white sound of our financial life, but as an oligopoly that has converted its privileged position into political power exercised opaquely and without control or justification.  

Congress should immediately investigate the imperious intrusions of Visa/MasterCard into consumers’ privacy and draft legislation that would prevent this cartel from violating their civil right to use their money as a form of speech.

Wallace Nunn is a member of the David Horowitz Freedom Center Board of Directors.

Never Trumpers Who Accuse Trump of Being a Russian Spy Are Funded by Backer of Russian Spy Site

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 05:50

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

“Putin’s Party?” a Weekly Standard headline asked.

It was the summer of 2016. Trump had won the nomination, but Bill Kristol, the most recognizable figure in the Never Trump camp, was laying out a case against him that rested heavily on Russia.

"Honest and patriotic Republicans who support Trump," Kristol urged, should review the evidence of his "many troubling connections with Vladimir Putin's regime."

These days, Kristol is using Defending Democracy Together, a 501c4 dark money organization of "conservatives and Republicans ", to try and primary Trump. Components of DDT include, Republicans Against Putin and an analysis of Russian troll tweets. Beneath the concerns about national security and Russia, Kristol’s organization shares a funding source with a platform for the greatest Russian intel coup.

As Julie Kelly of American Greatness recently revealed, DDT is heavily funded by Pierre Omidyar's Democracy Fund. Omidyar is a French-Iranian billionaire who is known for funding campaigns against national security, not for it. Omidyar’s best known media investment is The Intercept, a site that does everything from distributing Qatari propaganda to defending anti-Semitism.

But it’s best known for its role as a platform distributing classified materials stolen by Edward Snowden.

Snowden, currently hiding out in Moscow, was at the heart of the most devastating Russian intelligence coup against the United States in a generation. The damage that he did to our national security, both in the surveillance of Islamic terrorists, and rival powers Russia and China, is incalculable. The Intercept was crucial in not only distributing stolen documents, but in allowing Russia’s intel coup to pass under the cover of domestic journalism and whistleblowing.

The Snowden operation has largely been occluded by a conspiracy theory hatched by the Clinton campaign that Trump was secretly working for the Russians. This conspiracy theory was fed into the Obama DOJ and was then transmogrified into the Muller investigation, and was embraced by the Never Trumpers who inveigh against Russia, yet share a common funding source with Snowden’s site.

Never Trumpers accuse Trump supporters of ignoring intelligence conclusions about Russia’s election role, yet they seem quite satisfied to ignore the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's report on Snowden, his links to Russian intelligence and the fact that his stolen information mostly had “no connection to programs that could impact privacy or civil liberties, but “instead pertain to military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America’s adversaries.”

After all the calls to put country ahead of party, this was a report that both Rep. Nunes and Rep. Schiff had signed on to. Meanwhile it’s the Never Trumpers who refuse to put country ahead of Omidyar.

Former hawks are now reduced to being funded by a ferocious opponent of America’s military and formerly pro-Israel pundits have sunk so low as to take money from one of the leading funders of media anti-Semitism putting them in the same company as Glenn Greenwald, Max Blumenthal and assorted defenders of Hamas and Hezbollah. And yet they accuse Trump supporters of having no standards.

Omidyar's funding of Kristol’s anti-Trump efforts is not unique. Instead the French-Iranian billionaire has become a subtler version of George Soros, funding the organizations and outlets of the radical Left, like The Intercept, The Nation and Mother Jones, but also funding Never Trumpers.

While Kristol’s attempt to challenge Trump in 2016 came to nothing, Omidyar has also become the backer of another Never Trumper “national security” challenger in 2016.

Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer, launched an independent bid against Trump. McMullin, like Kristol, accused Republicans of being the “party of Putin”. “It’s patently clear that the president is under the influence, control of Vladimir Putin," he claimed. At BYU, McMullin huffed about impeachment and treason. "There are things I know that I haven't made public."

What has been made public is that McMullin belongs to the party of Omidyar.

McMullin’s Stand Up Republic received sizable funding from Omidyar’s Democracy Fund. Mindy Finn of Stand Up Republic took part in another Democracy Fund project.

Like Soros, Omidyar groups love including democracy in their names even though they represent the exact opposite of democracy. Democracy means respecting election results while Omidyar’s “democracy” groups consist of Washington D.C. insiders trying to cast doubt on the outcome of an election and reverse its results, because they believe that the people should not be allowed to vote.

The National Summit for Democracy was the Omidyar equivalent of Soros’ Democracy Alliance. Despite the grandiose name, the “National Summit” apparently only managed to attract some 90 participants including Bill Kristol, Evan McMullin, Senator Jeff Flake and the Washington Post’s Max Boot.

It was hosted by Stand Up Ideas, another McMullin group, and Protect Democracy, a group of Obama’s top lawyers, led by Obama’s former Associate White House Counsel, formed to undermine Trump.

Protect Democracy, like McMullin, has been backed by Omidyar money. The summit was also backed by Rachel Pritzker, a founding board member of Soros' Democracy Alliance. And Pritzker can be seen on social media touting one of Kristol’s Defending Democracy Together spinoffs, Mindy Finn and other Omidyar network beneficiaries. But the Omidyar presence was not hidden with an unnamed representative being quoted discussing its goals.

Also getting Omidyar cash is R Street's American Institutions Network founded by global warming believers from Heartland. Eli Lehrer, its president, appeared on Hill’s list of anti-Trump Republicans.

And in his write-up of the summit, Max Boot touted R Street as one of the groups fighting Trump.

Much of this is business as usual. Washington D.C. is full of influential and non-influential groups that no one has heard of, and that only strive to reach small numbers of people. Intraparty political conflict is often driven not by the abstractions of ideology, but by the concrete financial interests of pros who have been shut out by the candidate of their own party. That’s where the Bernie Sanders movement originally came from. It’s what sustains the professional infrastructure of the Never Trumpers beyond the punditocracy. And as Republicans donors grew reluctant to subsidize what had become a sabotage campaign against a sitting president, they turned to the radical leftist political interest that would.

But it’s particularly perverse for the Never Trumpers, a group that has made Russia and national security into the centerpiece of its anti-Trump agitation, to be taking cash from The Intercept’s backer. It’s like learning that the Moral Majority was really backed by Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt.

It’s the rankest sort of hypocrisy that destroys the other key Never Trumper argument: principles.

If Trump isn't hawkish enough on national security, swapping him for Pierre Omidyar is like moving to Vegas because Omaha is just too immoral.

If you truly believe that Trump’s friendliness to Russia represents a grave national security threat, why are you taking wheelbarrows of cash from the guy whose pro-terrorist site gave Snowden a platform?

The same people who inveigh against Trump for being too friendly to Wikileaks have nothing to say about their own connections to The Intercept. While Omidyar funds the “conservative” pseudo-Russia hawks, he also funds lefty Russia skeptics at The Intercept and The Nation. When a billionaire funds both Glenn Greenwald and Evan McMullin, his agenda isn’t holding Russia accountable, it’s weakening America, defeating Republicans and putting the Left in power.

But that’s consistent with Omidyar funding radical lefty elements and lefty Republicans who want to talk bipartisanship. It’s a cunning election strategy and there’s nothing illegal about Omidyar pitting Republicans against each other. But Never Trumpers are being deeply dishonest when they claim that they want bipartisanship while rubbing elbows and agendas with an uncompromising radical fringe.

The Omidyar network is not a coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans, but of extremist Democrats and lefty Republicans. That’s not a coalition for moderate bipartisan politics, but in support of the extremism of one political movement. It has enemies to the right, but no enemies to the left.

The same people who will tell us that Trump is just too close to tyrants and racists for their principles have no problem sharing a funding source with a defender of Hamas and Hezbollah, not to mention a platform for the worst Russian intelligence coup against America in a generation.

And no, it didn’t involve their silly obsession with Russian trolls on Facebook.

Even their rants about the danger of foreign governments hacking the emails of party officials became a farce after the Qataris hacked the emails of Elliott Broidy, the finance chair of the Republican National Committee, and an opponent of the Islamic terror state, and The Intercept ran multiple hit pieces based on those stolen emails. But Omidyar’s Never Trumpers are okay with lefties doing it.

To paraphrase Kristol, “honest and patriotic” Republicans who oppose Trump should review the evidence and make it clear that they will no longer take money from Pierre Omidyar.

Or they are neither.

The Never Trumpers have told us that they had too many principles to back Trump. And that may well have been true of some. But the professional Never Trumper infrastructure increasingly looks like a dirty arrangement that will take money from radical anti-American lefty funders in order to defeat Trump and his conservative allies. This is not the principled conduct of men and women of character.

It’s prostitution and treason, not just to the movement they claimed to be part of, but to America.

Popelitical

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 05:48

Last week a leftist Honduran thug named Alfonso Guerrero Ulloa barged into the U.S. consulate in Tijuana and demanded the United States pay $50,000 to each member of the “caravan” so they could return to Honduras and start a business. Sen. Marco Rubio called the shakedown a “joke” but others were taking it seriously.

Rush Limbaugh recalled the Pope’s August 2017 statement that “solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience — from departure through journey to arrival and return,” which might be taken for an endorsement of the $50,000 demand, and anything else Ulloa wanted. Limbaugh said “this is one of those areas where I will back off what I really think about some of this.” Rush gets a lot of things right, but this is no time to back off about papal pronouncements on migration.

Pope Francis is a throwback to the days when the pope was a primarily a political leader. For a record of that see Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. In similar style, the Roman Catholic Church was a major force in Spanish colonialism of the Americas.

That took place at the time of the Counter-Reformation, a reaction against the Protestant Reformation, which empowered the individual in many ways. The Spanish colonies in the Americas never encouraged individual enterprise, entrepreneurship and commerce, and the colonialists remained hostile to non-Catholics.

In 1478 Spain established the Inquisition and began persecutions of “conversos,” those who secretly practiced Judaism. In 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella issued the Alhambra decree which ordered the Sephardim to convert or leave within 90 days. Some departed for the new world but the Inquisition pursued them there.

“After the Alhambra Decree is issued, it was illegal to be Jewish anywhere in the Spanish world, on pain of death,” explained Frances Levine of the New Mexico History Museum, where the decree itself has been displayed.  “If you were Jewish, you were quite clandestine anywhere in the Spanish Empire.”

Victims of the Inquisition included Don Luis de Carvajal, a colonial governor of New Mexico, and his family. He confessed, “I was Jewish, I was holding Shabbat services,” and his whole family was burned at the stake. If that atrocity disturbed Pope Gregory XIV, he gave no indication. The hatreds of the Inquisition backed the essentially feudal arrangements of the Spanish colonies, which never became engines of economic growth.

The former British colonies, on the other hand, prospered through property rights, individual enterprise, and a market economy based on free exchange. Pope Francis has a problem with that. As Rich Lowry noted, “The pope’s capitalism is parody seemingly drawn from the pages of Noam Chomsky.”  The Pope visited Communist Cuba, “built entirely on economic theft and political oppression, and yet he couldn’t bring himself to say a peep about it.”

Pope Francis has also kept quiet about the corrupt, repressive governments of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. And he didn’t say a peep on October 2, the 50th anniversary of the day the Mexican government massacred hundreds of students. Yet the pontiff is vocal about the rights of “migrants,” with whom the United States must show “solidarity” and who override any U.S. security concerns about thousands of unknowns pouring into the country.

Likewise, Pope Francis shows little if any moral outrage over parents who place their children in the hands of criminal smugglers. That makes sense given his inattention to massive sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

A recent Pennsylvania grand jury report flagged 1,000 underaged youths sexually assaulted by priests in the Pittsburgh area, and the list is also growing in San Diego and Sacramento. His recent trip to Ireland, Tanya Sweeney wrote in the Irish Times, was “an affront, given the Catholic Church’s cover-up of child sexual abuse, both here and around the world, over decades.”  Yet, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich claims Pope Francis’ critics “don’t like him because he’s a Latino.”  There’s a bit more to it.

The Vatican is surrounded by a massive wall, but the Pope dislikes President Trump’s plans for a wall on the Mexican border. Pope Francis shows fathomless ignorance about the principles that create wealth. He chides the United States and its allies while keeping silent on Communist repressions. He ignores criminal human traffickers such as Alfonso Guerrero Ulloa and presumes to dictate U.S. immigration policy. As Terry Jones said of King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “who does he think he is?”

The Pope seems unaware that an elected president and elected representatives determine immigration policy, and that the United States maintains separation of church and state. The Catholic Church, as Jay Leno once quipped, needs to do more about the separation of priest and altar boy. The supreme head of the Catholic Church should devote full attention to that problem.

In the meantime, U.S. officials have no reason to take seriously any statement from Pope Francis. Better to speak out against “the adorable mascot of the American left,” as Rich Lowry called him. Better to push back against the neo-colonial policies that defy American sovereignty, harm American prosperity and threaten American security.

CAIR Sex Predator Changes Name, Heads to Pakistan

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 05:25

Former CAIR-Florida operative Ahmad Saleem’s two-year prison term stemming from his 2015 Orlando-area arrest, during a child sex sting operation, has expired. In an attempt to put the shame and scandal behind him or a way to further his illicit exploits from a different locale, Saleem looks to be starting anew elsewhere. He has even traveled outside the country, and he has changed his name on social media. Unsuspecting parents, both here and abroad, need to be made aware of his presence.

On the night of May 20, 2015, Ahmad Abrar Saleem was arrested in Clermont, Florida, a short distance from his Orlando home. Saleem was intending to meet the twelve-year-old girl he had been chatting with online, but instead, met Sheriff’s deputies waiting for him and 21 others in a child sex sting operation. He was charged with “use of computer to seduce/solicit/entice a child to commit sex act” and “travel to seduce, solicit, lure a child to commit sex act.” Ironically, the car he was driving, when apprehended, had a specialty license plate which read, “Invest in Children.”

In December 2016, Saleem was sentenced to two years behind bars in state prison.

This could not have come at a worse time for Saleem. His star was quickly on the rise within the radical Muslim community. He had just a couple years earlier served as President of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) as well as the MSA National Service Director; he was being invited to speak at different Islamist conferences; and he had recently been named Orlando Regional Coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Indeed, merely two weeks prior to his arrest, Saleem posted on his Facebook page, where he now goes by the name “Ahmad Shaheen,” a photo of himself posing with 60 other CAIR leaders from around the nation. He is seated in the front row only five seats from CAIR’s founder and National Executive Director Nihad Awad. About the photo, he wrote, “Proud to upgrade this year to be sitting and being amongst such community giants… May Allah bless the CAIR National team across the country…”

CAIR has strong ties to Hamas, including financial ties. The group was founded by Hamas operatives and established within an umbrella organization run by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook.

CAIR’s Florida chapter reflects a similar pro-terror, anti-Israel ideology. In November 2012, CAIR’s future replacement for Saleem in Orlando, Rasha Mubarak, tweeted, “#LiesImTiredOfHearing Israel has the right to defend herself.” In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally held outside the Israeli Consulate in downtown Miami, where rally goers repeatedly shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.” And in August 2014, CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly tweeted, “Israel & it’s supporters are enemies of God and humanity!”

No doubt, CAIR was thrilled to have Saleem as part of its organization. Under another photo of Saleem on Saleem’s Facebook page, in August 2014, CAIR-Florida Regional Operations Director Nezar Hamze commented/exclaimed, “My man!”

Around the same time, there were several extremely disturbing photos of Saleem pictured with very young children, on his Facebook. One, posted April 2014, has Saleem holding the hand of a small girl [maybe five-years-old] with him referring to her as “My little lover.” Another has him with the same girl putting a stuffed dog to his face with him writing, “Is this your way of kissing me, A’aishah?” Yet another has him lounging on a bed [appears to be in Pakistan] with two small girls laying on his lap with him writing, “Get off me?... please? lol.”

Saleem was released from jail, last August. [He still owes a debt of $37,500 for his incarceration.] Parents should be awfully concerned.

When Saleem was convicted, he was found solely guilty of “willful child abuse.” As such, he is not subject to any sexual offender registry, and therefore, the communities that he resides in cannot be properly informed about his troubling history.

According to Saleem’s Facebook page, he is currently living in Denver, Colorado. Also according to his Facebook page, last month he flew to Pakistan, the native home of both his father and mother. He says he will be there “at least till mid january.”

He arrived at the Islamabad International Airport, on November 14th, and headed straight for a conference, titled ‘LIFT Pakistan.’ While there, he claims to have spoken to a number of young people. About them, he states, “[T]hey are regular young people ready to support passionate people…”

It makes sense that Saleem would wish to get away from Florida, given the egregious crime that he has committed there. First of all, he has family and friends in Florida, and they all must have felt anger and embarrassment over Saleem. Second, by leaving the area – and changing his identity – it helps Saleem, if he wishes to continue with his sordid activities, finding new fanatical Islamist groups to join up with and seeking out new victims to further his deviant behavior.

For Saleem (Shaheen) and the rest of the community he dwells in, it is a recipe for disaster.

Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.

Hezbollah’s Violation of UN Resolution 1701

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 05:20

Last week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched operation Northern Shield to destroy the cross-border attack tunnels Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group, has built. The tunnels were meant to occupy Israeli territory in the northern Galilee, with a pre-emptive attack on Israeli military facilities and civilians.  Israel requested a United Nations (UN) inquiry into what amounts to a gross violation of resolution UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

The government of Lebanon must address the presence of Hezbollah terrorists along the border with Israel, in contravention of Resolution 1701.  The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), on its part, needs to perform its assigned duties of preventing Hezbollah from launching cross-border attacks, as exemplified by the cross-border attack tunnels.  Unless Hezbollah’s presence is curbed, Israel will be forced to act to secure its border with Lebanon and protect the lives of its citizenry.

Resolution 1701 called for the cessation of hostilities following the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese war in which the IDF engaged Hezbollah terrorists following the incursion into Israel by Hezbollah terrorists, and the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers.  Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon, simultaneous with UNIFIL soldiers deploying throughout southern Lebanon, along the border with Israel. 

The resolution also called for the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon including Hezbollah. No armed forces other than UNIFIL forces and the Lebanese army should be operating south of the Litani River. And, there should be no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of the Lebanese government.  It also addressed the urgent need for the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers, which were the cause of the crisis that led to the 2006 war.  Resolution 1701 required all parties to respect the Blue Line, marking the international border between Israel and Lebanon.

Resolution 1701 was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council on August 11, 2006.  The Lebanese cabinet approved the resolution on August 12, 2006, and on the same day, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah announced that his terrorist group would honor the call for a ceasefire.  He also claimed that once the Israeli offensive stopped, Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on Israel would stop.  On August 13, 2006, the Israeli cabinet voted 24-0 in favor of the resolution (one abstention).  The ceasefire effectively began on August 14, 2006, at 8AM local time.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has made clear to the Lebanese government that Lebanon might suffer the consequences of Hezbollah’s deliberate provocations and terror against Israel.  Netanyahu warned (December 11, 2018) that “Whoever tries to harm the State of Israel will pay a heavy price.”  He added, “Israel is operating decisively and responsibly on all fronts simultaneously.  We will continue with further actions - public and clandestine - in order to safeguard the security of Israel.”  U.S. National Security advisor John Bolton said that, “The U.S. strongly supports Israel’s right to defend its sovereignty,” and called on Hezbollah to “refrain from escalation and violence.”

According to the American Taskforce for Lebanon (December 11, 2018), Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that “The United States has informed Lebanon that Israel has ‘no aggressive intentions,’ adding that his country harbored none either.”  Aoun added, “We are ready to remove the causes of the disagreements, but after we get the full report and decide what are the issues we need to handle.”  Aoun however, is allied with Hezbollah, and is unable, unwilling, and unlikely to control the terror organization.  Israel, in the meantime, has shown the UN peacekeepers the tunnels, and cited them as a violation of the ceasefire that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon war. 

On Tuesday, (December 11, 2018) the UN peacekeeping force or UNIFIL confirmed the presence of two tunnels.  Commander of the UNIFIL force, Major Stefano Del Col, said he met with Aoun and the speaker of Lebanon’s parliament, and informed them that UNIFIL experts have inspected the two tunnels near Metulla, Israel’s northernmost town.  IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus pointed out that Hezbollah’s activities represent a flagrant violation of Israeli sovereignty, and the UN resolutions.” He added, “This activity is another example of the negative effects of Iranian entrenchment in the region.”  Conricus intimated that Hezbollah has been developing offensive plans against Israel that would shift the battleground into Israel.  According to Conricus, Hezbollah planned to use firepower, and ground units, with the surprise element of the plan being the tunnels.  This would have allowed Hezbollah terrorist infiltrators into Israel.

With the war in Syria coming to an end, it is apparent that Iran is seeking ways to open up a front against Israel, albeit, not directly, but rather through its proxy – the Hezbollah.  Moreover, as the war winds down in Syria, thousands of Hezbollah fighters are preparing their return to Lebanon, and it is quite clear that Nasrallah intends to use them against Israel.  Nasrallah knows full well that if he provoked a war with Israel, Israel might cause even greater devastation to Lebanon this time, even more than it did in 2006.  Nasrallah wants to operate on Israeli soil as a justification in case Israel deals a devastating blow to Lebanon, so that he can say “I tried to bring the war to the enemy.” The tunnels were the tools for Nasrallah and his masters in Tehran to take the war to Israel, and Iran increased its aid to Hezbollah to cover the costs of the tunnel building.

Israel, for the most part, refrained from getting involved in the Syrian civil war. As Iran sought to extend the Shiite crescent into the Mediterranean Sea, and has incrementally encroached on the border of Israel in the Golan, Israel has attacked Iranian missile sites in Syria, and foiled sophisticated arms shipments to Hezbollah.  Hamas terrorists in Gaza are a nuisance that creates a serious problem for Israeli residents of the Western Negev.  Hamas does not however, pose a serious a threat to Israel as a whole.  Hezbollah, on the other hand, does constitute a significant threat with its 150,000 missiles that can reach all corners of the Jewish state.

While neither Israel nor the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorists are interested in a full-scale war at this time, any incident around the border can flare up into a major war.  The Lebanese army must take charge of the border area with Israel, and Aoun’s government must somehow compel Hezbollah to withdraw from the border area.  Chances for this to happen are slim to say the least.  It is therefore incumbent upon the UN to condemn Hezbollah’s violation of Israel’s sovereignty, and to charge the UNIFIL forces in Lebanon (along the border with Israel) with enforcing the ceasefire agreement and not merely observe the two sides passively.  It means beefing up UNIFIL’s capabilities, and responsibilities.  Should Hezbollah continue its provocations and force Israel’s hand, it is the UN that must take full responsibility for its inaction.

Does 'Merry Christmas' Matter?

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 05:02

Is "Merry Christmas" a thing of the past, a greeting from a bygone era, a remnant of a past with which we no longer want to be associated? We might not be there yet, but if current trends continue, we're not far off. If so, it's a shame, a further coarsening of the culture — and worse. It is yet another an example of the removal of religion, specifically Christianity, from a country that has long been the most religious major industrialized democracy in the world.

Proponents of "happy holidays" argue that this is no big deal. They say the advocates of saying "merry Christmas" are making a mountain out of a molehill. There is no "war on Christmas," they say. But the "happy holidays" advocates want it both ways. They dismiss promoters of "merry Christmas" as hysterical while simultaneously replacing "merry Christmas" with "happy holidays"; "Christmas vacation" with "winter vacation"; and "Christmas party" with "holiday party."

So, is all this elimination of the word "Christmas" important or not?

The answer should be obvious. It's very important. That's why so much effort is devoted to substituting other words for "Christmas." And these efforts have been extraordinarily successful. In place of the universal "merry Christmas" of my youth, in recent decades I have been wished "happy holidays" by virtually every waiter and waitress in virtually every restaurant I have dined; by virtually everyone who welcomes me at any business; by flight attendants and pilots; and by just about everyone else.

When I respond, "Merry Christmas!" I often sense I have created tension. I suspect many of those to whom I wish "Merry Christmas!" are probably relieved to hear someone utter what has become the "C" word, but all the sensitivity training they've had to undergo creates cognitive dissonance.

The opponents of "merry Christmas" and other uses of the word "Christmas" know exactly what they're doing. They're disingenuous when they dismiss defenders of "merry Christmas" as "fabricating" some "war on Christmas." Of course there's a war on Christmas — or, more precisely, a war on the religious nature of America. The left in America, like the left in Europe, wants to create a thoroughly secular society, not only a secular government — which is a desirable goal and which, in any event, has been the case in America — but a secular society.

Most people do not realize that the left believes in secularism as fervently as religious Christians and Jews believe in the Bible. That's why "merry Christmas" bothers secular activists. It's a blatant reminder of how religious America is — and always has been. That's why I predict activists on the left will sooner or later seek to remove Christmas as a national holiday.

Now, the left doesn't announce that its agenda is to thoroughly secularize American and European societies. Instead, it camouflages what it is doing by offering the "inclusiveness" argument: "Merry Christmas" or "Christmas party" or "Christmas vacation" is not "inclusive."

This inclusiveness argument plays on Americans' highly developed sense of decency. But the argument is preposterous: Who, exactly, is being "excluded" when one wishes someone "merry Christmas"? Non-Christians?

I'm a non-Christian. I'm a Jew. Christmas is not a religious holy day for me. But I'm an American, and Christmas is an American national holiday. Therefore, as an American, it is my holiday — though not my holy day — as much as it is for my fellow Americans who are Christian. It was a Jewish-American, Irving Berlin, who wrote "White Christmas," one of America's most popular Christmas songs. In fact, according to a Jewish musician writing in The New York Times, "almost all the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jews."

Apparently, all these American Jews felt quite included in Christmas!

And while on the subject of Jews, here's a question for those Jews disturbed by "merry Christmas": Should Israeli radio and TV stop saying "Shabbat Shalom" to be more inclusive of Israel's non-Jewish minority?

It borders on the misanthropic, not to mention the mean-spirited, to want to deny nearly all of your fellow citizens the joy of having Christmas parties or being wished a merry Christmas.

By not wishing me a merry Christmas, you are not being inclusive. You are excluding me from one of my nation's national holidays.

But even if Christmas were not a national holiday, I would want pilots to wish their passengers a merry Christmas, companies to have Christmas parties and schools to continue to have Christmas vacations. Just because I don't personally celebrate Christmas, why would I demand my society drop the word "Christmas" when the holiday is celebrated by 90 percent of my fellow Americans?

The vast majority of Americans who celebrate Christmas — and who treat non-Christians so well — deserve better.

Please say "merry Christmas" and "Christmas party" and "Christmas vacation." If you refuse to, you're not "inclusive." You're hurtful to most of your fellow Americans.

Democracy, Deliberation, and the Internet

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 05:58

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

For 2500 years a consistent criticism of giving political power to the masses has been the question of competence. To critics like Socrates and Plato, the knowledge of history, philosophy, and facts necessary for governing are beyond the abilities of the average citizen. Hoi polloi had to spend their time making a living rather than studying these disciplines, or they were by nature driven more by their self-interest, appetites, and passions than by the rational search for knowledge of the true and good. Thus from Plato’s Republic to today’s progressive technocrats, some form of technocracy has been preferable to rule by the “low-information” voting masses.

In the last few decades, the explosion of information instantly available on the internet has made this fear of giving political power to the uninformed more urgent in an age of “fake news.” Has the availability of an astonishing volume of information worsened the dangers of ignorance to governing, or has it provided a means of correcting it?

Plato’s student Aristotle, in his critique of his old teacher, points toward one answer to this perennial discomfort with mass democracy and voter ignorance. Responding to Plato’s complaint of the lack of technical and philosophical skills among the people, Aristotle pointed out that what we now call “crowd-sourcing” can still make democratic deliberation effective:

For the many, of whom each individual is not a good man, when they meet together may be better than the few good, if regarded not individually but collectively . . . For each individual among them has a share of excellence and practical wisdom, and when they meet together, just as they become in a manner one man, with many feet, and hands, and senses, so too with regard to their character and thought.” Thus, “although individually they [the masses] may be worse judges than those who have special knowledge, as a body they are as good or better.

In some respects, the internet provides ample evidence of the mechanism at work. A trivial, some might say, example is the P.C. police’s complaints about the Christmas classic “Baby it’s Cold Outside.” This postwar hit, whose lyrics comprise a back-and-forth between a man and woman in which he’s trying to convince her not to leave, has been condemned by progressives for promoting “date rape,” and for being a “trigger” for women who have been sexually assaulted. The comments from the online Wall Street Journal article on the controversy illustrate how the “wisdom of crowds” can be manifested and consumed by millions of people, and come to conclusions superior to those who fancy themselves superior thinkers.

The commentators quickly identified the obvious problems with those advocating for banning the song. One quoted some obscene and vulgar lyrics from a Jay Z song––“Gosh, no misogyny or risk for a woman in this song,” he observed, exposing the usual incoherent politically correct double standard by which innocuous popular songs from 70 years ago are condemned and banned while gangsta-rap lyrics replete with misogyny, violence, and copious amounts of vulgarities like “bitch” and slurs like the so-called “n-word” pass unnoticed. Someone else also hit the hypocrisy of the left’s complaints: “Remember when the left had to remind VP Dan Quayle that Murphy Brown was just a fictional character?” Another respondent pointed out the obvious fact of changes in tastes and standards through time: “All manner of lyrics, books, and television shows won’t pass muster with modern taste and values.” Yet they are historical artifacts that open a window into an earlier time, which can be a learning experience for the open-minded.

Another points out, “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you are right.” A necessary reminder of moral common sense. Still another reminds us that each of us has the power to turn off the radio if we’re offended by the lyrics: “Turn the knob on the radio. Free speech trumps offensiveness. You have no right not to be offended. Get over it.” Then there’s the point that “there are more important problems around that will affect more people’s well being [sic] that we should be worried about.” Or we’re provided information that the reporter missed: “The song is sung on the movie [E]lf . . . Really cute, no thought of rape, i think” [sic]. And don’t forget usual comments-section waggery: “Size of mind inversely proportional to size of mouth. And these people can be very LOUD.”

Now, one can fault taking examples from The Wall Street Journal since it represents a more affluent, educated, or conservative sample of readers. But that’s not an issue when you have hundreds of thousands of venues where such conversations take place non-stop. That’s what the internet has brought to the media in this country––enough variety to make sure every demographic has numerous niches that appeal to each, a big improvement over just a few decades ago.

Before cable news, the internet, social media, and talk radio, a large and diverse citizenry had to get its news and editorials from a greatly reduced number of newspapers, AM radio, and three television networks. Unsurprisingly, the creators and deliverers of content became more and more homogenized by class, region, education, and political point of view. We all know what the consequences of that have been: the colonizing of establishment media by an increasingly left-wing Democrat Party, a change evident over forty years ago in the partisan coverage of Vietnam and Watergate.

Cable news, talk radio, and especially the internet weakened that monopoly by restoring and exponentially magnifying the diverse sources that earlier only television, daily newspapers and radio provided. Now millions and millions of people are providing information and opinion, and working as watchdogs subjecting information to scrutiny and analysis. The iconic example of this function took place during the 2004 presidential campaign, when the forged documents Dan Rather and CBS’ used to attack George Bush were exposed within hours of the broadcast by internet sleuths who showed the documents had been created on a word processor unavailable at the time the documents was allegedly composed. The ruin of Rather’s career showed that establishment media’s monopoly on information, and our faith in their skills and integrity, had been broken.

We also may be tempted to find these comments obvious or banal, and so of little value. But as George Orwell said, “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” What ordinary people find “obvious” is usually common sense, or what Aristotle above calls “practical wisdom,” the knowledge and understanding required for all to successfully manage their daily lives and interactions with others.  But we often discount common sense, for we have turned philosophical conflicts–– over human nature and behavior, or how people should live in order to fulfill their potential as rational human beings, or what social and political orders create the most freedom, justice, and happiness for the most people––into “sciences” that only an elite of credentialed “experts” can master, to whose authority we should defer and not even challenge, lest we expose ourselves as “anti-science.”

This category error of thinking that deliberating and talking about people and their social behavior can be a “science,” or that all policies can be “science-based,” as progressives claim, lies at the heart of modern progressivism’s dream of a technocracy. But when we consider the extent of the surreal lunacy of many of the ideas embraced and promoted today by formally educated people–– such as denying the scientific fact that sex identity is biological–– we can see that of many issues our progressive “brights” think that science supports, in fact are mere bad philosophical ideas reflecting personal or ideological preference rather than a reality supported by empirical evidence. Indeed, traditional wisdom and common sense are frequently a better guide to human reality than the thousands of “studies” turned out by think tanks and universities, significant numbers of which cannot be replicated by other researchers. The crowd-sourcing of the internet has become a useful and efficient way for fulfilling that “first duty” of those who still have their common sense and practical wisdom to counter the pretensions of scientism.

A more serious criticism of the internet wild west of information is the lack of filters (other than Google and social media censors) on raw content that can reach the reader instantly. Yet this problem is essentially similar to another complaint about democracy that arose with its origins. Critics like Plato and Thucydides decried the average citizen’s susceptibility to orators and rhetoricians schooled in the duplicitous arts of persuasion, the power through language to make the bad and false appear the good and true. Those trained in such rhetorical skills will seduce the citizens with appeals to their passions and appetites. Their passions roused by sophists, as Plato says in the Republic, the citizens will get swept up in the excitement, and few will be able “to stand firm against the overwhelming flood of popular opinion,” or will be “carried away by the stream,” and soon “have the notions of good and evil which the public in general––he will do as they do, and as they are, such will he be.”

If these are the dangers of listening to public debates among a few thousand citizens occurring face-to-face in real time, how much more insidious and threatening is our vast virtual world of 24/7 and anonymous abundance not just of words and texts, but of images both real and imaginary, all of which magnify exponentially the power of the sophist and demagogue to shape opinions.

Yet in the end, the responsibility for consuming critically the information available to us lies with the free citizen, in whose hands the success of democratic governments with universal voting rights have always lain. It is as much up to us to use that freedom and resource carefully and responsibly, as it was up to the Athenian citizen to listen warily to the smooth-talking orators.

The larger point is either we are capable of self-rule or we are not. America for over two centuries has been an experiment on the answer to that question. The democratizing and decentralizing of information of the last few decades should improve our ability to engage in political discourse more effectively by loosening controls over who produces or provide information. If it doesn’t, the fault will lie with ourselves, not the internet.

Obamacare Struck Down

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 05:56

In an early Christmas gift for freedom-loving Americans, a federal court unexpectedly struck down Obamacare, the massive, failing government healthcare program that is driving up costs, crushing patient choice, and shortening American lifespans, finding it unconstitutional because the individual mandate penalty that allowed the program to pass constitutional muster no longer exists.

The commonsense ruling this past Friday, Dec. 14, by Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas held that in 2017 when Congress effectively repealed the mandate that forced Americans to buy health insurance that body “sawed off the last leg it [i.e. Obamacare] stood on.”

“The court finds the individual mandate ‘is essential to’ and inseverable from ‘the other provisions of’” the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, O’Connor wrote.

The court decision was celebrated on Twitter by President Donald Trump.

“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions.”

After calling the ruling “Great news for America!” Trump exhorted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to “get it done!”

The court ruling came a day before the Saturday cutoff for Americans to enroll in federal insurance exchanges authorized by the Obamacare statute.

The political legitimacy of the huge government takeover of the American healthcare sector has long been in doubt because it had no GOP support in Congress. Although some Republican lawmakers voted for Democrat Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, not a single Republican lawmaker voted for Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the disastrous Affordable Care Act. Because of Obamacare, insurance premiums throughout America have skyrocketed and bureaucratic red tape has strangled patient choice.

But Judge O’Connor’s ruling won’t be enforced right away. The losing side, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), has vowed to appeal the decision. Both sides say the legal dispute will make its way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the decision has “no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan,” Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, wrote on Twitter.

Obamacare had withstood major legal challenges until now.

In the 2012 case, NFIB v. Sebelius, Chief Justice John Roberts went rogue, infamously siding with left-wing justices on the Supreme Court in a tortured, nonsensical judicial opinion that was widely ridiculed. On a 5-to-4 vote the all-encompassing 2,000-page Act was upheld as constitutional on the theory that the individual mandate, which required consumers to buy health insurance even if they didn’t want it, was somehow a valid exercise of the congressional power to tax. The same court also upheld the individual mandate in 2015 in King v. Burwell in a 6-to-3 vote. In 2017, Congress effectively nullified the mandate by reducing the tax penalty for not purchasing insurance to zero effective next year.

Texas, 18 other states, and consumers then launched a lawsuit arguing the law as amended in 2017 was unconstitutional because the individual mandate was so key to the Obamacare program that it could not operate in its absence. Sixteen states took the opposite tack and insisted the revised law be upheld.

Robert Henneke, general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at the Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation, who was part of the legal team that vanquished Obamacare in the lawsuit, told The Epoch Times the new ruling was “the third chapter in the trilogy” of significant challenges to Obamacare.

“The entire Affordable Care Act when it was originally crafted by Congress was built around the individual mandate penalty, the premise that the way to fund and to make viable this entire regulatory scheme was by compelling individuals to purchase health insurance. Hard-written into the statute in many ways is how it’s an essential component and how the regulatory scheme doesn’t function without the individual mandate penalty.”

In NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court deemed the mandate a valid exercise of congressional taxing power because it generated revenue, rejecting the government’s argument that the mandate could be justified under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

Because the mandate penalty was reduced to zero by Congress last year, it no longer would generate revenue and could not be seen as an exercise of congressional taxing authority, Henneke said.

According to Judge O’Connor’s decision, the mandate, Henneke said, is “therefore … unconstitutional and because the entirety of the Affordable Care Act is built around the individual mandate penalty … the entire statute failed and was declared invalid.”

The court decision was immediately attacked by former President Barack Obama, his allies on the Left, and various legal commentators, largely on hyper-technical procedural grounds that have little or nothing to do with the Constitution.

Obama, who lied brazenly and repeatedly throughout the legislative process that culminated in the enactment of Obamacare, promising insurance premiums would go down and that patients could keep their medical doctors, used the court ruling to attack Republicans for doing the right thing.

“All of this should also be a reminder that Republicans will never stop trying to undo all that,” Obama said Saturday.

“If they can’t get it done in Congress, they’ll keep trying in the courts, even when it puts people’s pre-existing conditions coverage at risk.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the court ruling was “cruel” and “absurd” and that it “exposes the monstrous endgame of Republicans’ all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who in January will preside over an even smaller minority of Democrat senators, whined about the ruling on Sunday.

“It’s an awful, awful ruling, and we’re going to fight this tooth-and-nail, and the first thing we’re going to do when we get back there in the Senate is urge — put a vote on the floor urging an intervention in the case,” Schumer said on TV.

“A lot of this depends on congressional intent. If a majority of the House and a majority of the Senate say that this case should be overturned, it’ll have a tremendous effect on the appeal,” he fantasized.

Henneke said claims people will lose insurance coverage because of the court ruling miss the point.

“To give a contrary example to those who are critical of this opinion, alleging that it will cause people to lose their insurance, I would point to the fact that you already have millions of people who have lost their insurance because of their inability to afford” the government-mandated plans, Henneke said.

Now we need to move forward with real healthcare reform, not more federal meddling in Americans’ lives, he said.

“We need to look at the policy not through the courts but by the legislative process and I think this is the more important lesson of how critical it is for the states to now reassert themselves in their role, to step back in and to be the drivers of healthcare policymaking.”

“We also look to encourage Washington, D.C., to recognize this for the sea change that it is and to stand down,” he said. “It’s never been a proper role for the federal government to regulate healthcare and health insurance. It is a proper role for the states.”

God Through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 05:50

Remember when the kid in Catcher in the Rye says something about how, after reading a book he likes, he wishes he could pick up the phone and call the writer? I rarely feel that way. I know better. Yet to read the newly published God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery is to want not only to phone the author, Danusha Goska, but to give her a big hug and sit up with her late into the night, sipping wine and talking about life, death, and the universe. She writes in a voice – conversational, confiding – that draws you in from the very first sentence. You feel you know her intimately and that she’s talking to you alone. She radiates candor and self-knowledge. Her book falls into the category of memoir/spirituality, but she’s no self-conscious spinner of lofty abstractions. Particulars preoccupy her. She is, among other things, a keen birdwatcher, binoculars ever at the ready – hence the title. She’s a devout Catholic, but she doesn’t reflexively embrace any theological tenet or heed any clerical authority.

At the center of her book is an account of her brief visit, several years ago, to a rural Catholic monastery. But she is skeptical about some aspects about the monastic life, and questions its value as a long-term lifestyle choice. She even acknowledges that she’s “no fan of Thomas Merton, America’s most famous monk,” an Ivy League Protestant who converted to Catholicism, moved to a remote monastery, congratulated himself for choosing a life of self-abnegation when in fact he was still doing better than most folks on the planet, and churned out self-celebratory bestsellers that were neatly tailored to the spirituality marketplace. No, I don’t like Merton either. I also share Goska’s lack of enthusiasm for Henri Nouwen, another writer of precious little volumes packed with lofty abstractions but lacking in so much as a single glimpse of his own actual daily life.

But I love Goska’s book. She’s the real deal. Born to cruelly abusive immigrants from Eastern Europe, she joined the Peace Corps, studied at Berkeley and the University of Indiana, earned a Ph.D. but, unable to secure a decent teaching job, endured years of poverty, loneliness, ill health, and bad luck. Her experiences might have turned her into a cynical misanthrope, but instead they have contributed to her development of a tough, brave, mature, and deeply reflective personal faith that rejects mindless credulity and seeks God throughout His creation. Jesus, she reminds us, “defied our anxiety about our physicality by becoming God-in-the-flesh. Jesus ate meat. Jesus drank wine. Jesus almost certainly farted.” If, she suggests, these thoughts make us uneasy – if we react uncomfortably to the idea of God-made-flesh – it’s “because we have trouble loving ourselves.”

Goska is ever alert to phoniness and pusillanimity. On the faculties of the colleges at which she studies and teaches, she meets professors who are scared to voice politically incorrect views. At the monastery, she meets a monk who, when she observes that Catharine of Siena, the subject of a book sold at its gift shop, behaved in a way that “contradicts what the church demands of women today,” timidly replies, “I can’t comment on that.” Even Merton was enough of a wimp to tell a think-tank audience that he’d like to write an honest book about Trappist monasteries but that he wouldn’t “be able to get away with it.” As Goska comments: “He’s saying right here that he doesn’t say, in his writing, what he really thinks. Isn’t telling one’s truth a writer’s number one job? Write the things themselves? Isn’t that how Jesus lived his whole life?”

Nor is Goska thrilled by Merton’s tendency to criticize “America, the West, and Christianity” for their supposed evils while indulging far more barbaric non-Western cultures. In one memorable passage, she describes her effort to explain to a classroom full of college kids that, despite their personal lack of religious faith and unfamiliarity with the Bible, they are the products of Judeo-Christian culture, and that, notwithstanding the multicultural mush they’ve been spoon-fed, that is objectively better than being the product of, say, Aztec or Spartan culture.

But none of this is what’s central to Goska’s book. What’s central is her visit to the monastery, which comes at a point in her life when she is a soul in desperate need. At first the retreat feels like a scam, a waste. The people she meets seem petty and inconsiderate. Is the monastery, she wonders, just one more institution, like the academy, that doesn’t live up to its proclaimed principles – and that, in this case, is all the worse given the exalted nature of its claims for itself? Then she meets an Episcopal theologian, takes a walk with him, discovers a rare and remarkable shared interest, and finds something, yes, holy in their interaction. This is a woman for whom a key scriptural passage is the one in which Elijah discovers that the Lord is not in the wind, or in the earthquake, or in the fire, but in the “still small voice” that follows. Yet hearing that voice isn’t a matter of going to monasteries or churches but of encountering other people, giving them a chance, and paying attention.

This is a woman who cherishes Judeo-Christian civilization because of things like Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, a painting of “a girl, just a girl,” who “could be a nun or a streetwalker, a queen or the youngest daughter of low-status parents….All we have of her is her face and the soul shining through it. She appears to be lost in her own thoughts. The artist deems her worth seeing.” Yes, let experts spend their lives studying and collecting the art of the pre-Columbian era, and let the likes of Merton eulogize “Zapotec culture as Shangri La” (he did!): but, she asks, “[i]n 2,500 years of Mesoamerican art, did any artist find one random, daydreaming girl to be worthy of his time? Did any tribe see that work of art and say, ‘this, this anonymous girl, this we must cherish’?” Goska has yet to see any proof that they did. That’s part of the reason why she’s a Christian and an enthusiast for the Judeo-Christian tradition – to which her book is a quirky, luminous, and altogether beautiful contribution. 

Geert Wilders at Restoration Weekend

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 05:48

Editor's note: Below are the video and transcript of remarks given by Geert Wilders at the David Horowitz Freedom Center's 2018 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 15th-18th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

Transcript:

Robert Spencer: It is my great honor and great pleasure to introduce to all of you tonight the great visionary who is going to be the one who turn things around for Europe and brought about its salvation as a continent upon which free people could still live, and the one man who has stood firm all these years against absolutely extraordinary and crushing pressure to give in, the great, the heroic, Geert Wilders.

Geert Wilders: Thank you. Robert, thank you so much for the most kind words. So, hello America, how are you tonight?  It's an honor for me to be at Restoration Weekend again, and it's a pleasure to be amongst friends. I see so many here, great people with strong convictions and love for freedom, people who supported me for so many years, like the great David Horowitz himself. Thank you David. 

But also Dr. Bob Shillman, Nina Rosenwald, Daniel Pipes, all people that I will have to say thank you so much for all you did, but also please allow me to say a word of respect to a colleague of mine in your own U.S. Congress, a hero, somebody that I respect a lot and was re-elected at the mid‑terms, the congressman from Texas, Louis Gohmert, Louis rise. 

Thank you. And of course, I'm not involved in your own domestic politics, but for me one of the best news was, not only that our friend Louis Gohmert, but also that our friend Steve King from Iowa was elected. Congratulations both. And of course, it's always a pleasure for me to be in the United States, the land of the free and the home of the brave. America is a country that is not afraid to let its own national interests prevail as it should; to do what is best for its own people--the American people--where most of the leaders in my part of the world, Western Europe, cannot even spell the word national, let alone the combination national interest, your country is led by one of the strongest and bravest leaders of the free world, and I honor him from that, Donald J. Trump.

Europe desperately needs more strong leaders like Mr. Trump for we are fighting for our existence, and I'm not exaggerating. Our freedom, our way of life, our culture, our identity, our national security, are at stake and heavily under attack, and the reason for that indeed still is mass immigration and Islamization combined with the total failure, and even betrayal by weak European politicians who are unwilling to fight back. 

They, those weak leaders, do not protect us but they facilitate our destruction and when political leaders become pieces of evil, the people must speak, and so we have to do that.  And that is why we do speak out and fight back. But, that comes with a price. If you dare to fight back, if you dare to speak the truth about Islam, the authorities and the Islamists will do anything to silence you. You will be taken to court.  I have myself been taken to court or threatened to be taken to court in my own country, the Netherlands, in Austria, in Pakistan, in Jordan, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Saudi Arabia. 

The biggest Muslim country in the world Indonesia declared me persona non grata for life. 

I am indeed the biggest leader of the second biggest party in the Netherlands. We have 13 parties in our Dutch Parliament and I am leading the second biggest party, but still (applause), thank you. I'm looking forward to your applause when I become Prime Minister soon.

Others are even taken to court too in Europe. Recently, the European court of human rights upheld a guilty verdict of an Austrian court which sentenced a friend of mine, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolf, for speaking the truth and nothing but the truth about Mohammed when she suggested that Mohammed had pedophile tendencies. Saying that, speaking the truth is punishable by law in Europe today; or my great friend, Tommy Robinson, who was even jailed. He was jailed while reporting about Pakistan raping gangs in the United Kingdom. He deserved a medal, not a conviction. 

But my friends, it is not only legal jihad.  Unfortunately, it is also real jihad.  I am on the death list of al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS.  Recently, I got another fatwa; this time from a Pakistani  clerk who called upon all Dutch Muslims to go in my house and kill me. My wife and I live in safe houses. We have 24/7 police protection for more than 14 years now.  I am driven to Parliament every day by the police in a motorcade of armored cars with sirens. The only freedom I have left today is my freedom of speech.  Why do I need this protection?  I am not president. I am not a king. I am a simple parliamentarian, but I am marked to death. Why?  Why?  For speaking the truth about Islam and fighting for the freedom of my people.

But my friends, enough about me. It is not about me. I am not the only one under attack. My country is under attack. My continent is under attack. Your country is under attack. Your continent is under attack. As a matter of fact we are all under attack. Our civilization, the whole free western world is under attack today. And my friends, I spoke here at Restoration Weekend last time in 2014, and at that time I urged you to avoid all the mistakes Europe made. I ask you to protect America against Islam, to stop the immigration from Islamic countries, and while you elected a great president who is eager to stop illegal immigration and fight Islamists, we in Europe did exactly the opposite. 

My country, 70 million inhabitants, one‑quarter of the size of the state of Florida imported over the last few years alone 400,000 non‑western migrants, many from Islamic countries. In Germany, more than a million migrants arrived. Europe indeed is on the brink of cultural suicide. 

We are confronted with hat scarves, with burkas, with polygamy, with honor killings, with rape, with female genital mutilation, with sharia courts in the United Kingdom. Anti-Semitism is growing rapidly. Again, the European soil is unsafe for juice.  In my own country, Moroccans are the largest ethnic group along Islamic immigrants and two‑thirds of the Moroccan boys between 12 and 23 have already been arrested at least once. Crimes, crimes like rape in many European countries are rising. In Germany last year, sex crimes with asylum seekers as suspects jumped by 91 percent in 1 year. 

Europe has at the same time as you know been the victim of many terror attacks in the last few years while all over the continent, innocent people were murdered by Islamic-inspired individuals that hate us and cherish death more than life. Thousands, thousands of both home grown and imported jihadis are present in Europe today willing and motivated to kill in the name of Allah, and our governments are making it easy for them for we have no internal borders. We have no passport checks. We have open-door policies in most parts of Europe, and the Dutch, my people, increasingly feel like foreigners in their own country as many people in European countries do. Unless there are radical changes to the present policies towards immigration, over 30 percent, just an example, over 30 percent of Sweden will be Islamic in the middle of the century. Can you imagine? Over one‑third of Sweden.

The demographics are not promising either.  It will get worse if we do not act today because the population of Africa is exploding while the population of Europe is decreasing.  According to the United Nations, the population of Africa will grow from 1 billion today to 2 billion in 2050 and 4 billion at the end of the century, and needless to say that many of those people will come and want to come to Europe, and many of them come from Islamic countries with Islamic values, and it will be like an invasion.  It will be that our population will be replaced and our nations completely Islamized if we don't act today, so we have to act today. 

First, we have to elect more brave leaders like you did, and some-- Robert said it correctly--some European countries already did, like Italy and Hungary.  My dear friends, Matteo Savini, of the Lega, Minister of Interior, was elected.  My friend, Prime Minister Victor Orban of Hungary are examples that it can be done. That we can fight back the unelected at least from the European Union and regain national sovereignty and close our borders for fortune seekers and terrorists and built if needed a fence at the border as the brave Hungarians already did. 

We should close our borders but also, we should give a message to all those more than a million Islamic immigrants who are already on our soil today.  If you subscribe to our laws, to our constitution and to our values, you are welcome to stay and equal to anybody else. For those are our values.  But if you break a law, if you start acting according to Sharia law, we will deport you out of our country immediately and never ever let you return. For this is our land and not your land, but we should do more. If we want to stop the terror, the violence, the attack on our women, if we want to protect the freedom and the freedom of generations to come, we have to get rid of the concept, the dangerous concept of cultural relativism, the false idea that all cultures are equal.  People are equal, but cultures are not. And people and cultural relativism is weakening the west day by day even today. Government leaders, lawyers, judges, churches, trade unions, media, academia, charities, the majority of them today are still blinded by the political correctness and are condoning Islam, and as a result a little bit of freedom in the west dies each day. But the truth of course is that the cultural relativists are wrong, that our culture and identity that is based on Christianity, on Judaism and on Humanism is not equal to but far better than the Islamic culture, and we have to be proud of that.

For our civilization is based on the legacy of Jerusalem, of Athens and Rome, and it's the best civilization on earth.  It gave us democracy, freedom, equality before the law, the separation of church and state and the notion of sovereign states to protect it all and the remedy to all this misery and terror is clear.  We have to reassert what we are. Only then, only then we will be able to ensure a future for our children. The Europe today as I said the problems indeed are existential, not economics, Islamization, terrorism, mass immigration are our main problems today because it determines who we are, what we are and if we will still exist as free people in the future. We have to support one another, and for that reason I believe that we should always, always also support our friends of the Jewish State of Israel for Israel. Israel is one of us. It's the only democracy in the Middle East.  It's a beacon of freedom in a very dark and unfree region. It is forced to defend itself against the dark forces of Sunni and Shia Islam and it is our duty to support Israel.  It's a vital outpost of our western civilization.  It's the canary in the coal mine. If Islam would conquer Israel, my friends we will be next. Let us never forget that.  Samuel Huntington was wrong. There is no clash, and the Israeli Arab conflict is the best example that Huntington was wrong. There is no clash of civilization. There is a clash between a civilization and barbarity. That is the truth.

My friends we are the free men and women of the west and those who want to deny freedom to us just do not belong to our society. It's as simple as that. Islam is dressed up, we have to be honest like that, Islam is dressed up as a religion but in reality, it's not so much a religion as a totalitarian ideology. It is totalitarian because it wants to dominate any society and is unwilling to integrate or to assimilate in any society. It is totalitarian because there is not one country in the world where Islam is dominant today that there is true freedom. It does not exist, and there are two more reasons why Islam is not to be considered a religion but a totalitarian violent ideology. 

First, no real religion should demand that those who leave it be killed. It's totalitarianism. It has nothing to do with religion and second, a religion should never mandate the subjugation of those who do not belong to it, but Islam does.

My friends, last month as a lawmaker, I proposed a bill into Dutch parliament unique to any parliament in the world.  My bill will be discussed and voted upon in the Dutch Parliament next year.  It is called the Ban of Islamic Manifestations Act. As one of your best presidents ever, President Ronald Reagan used to say “when you can't make them see the light make them feel the heat.”  So, I proposed no more Islamic schools, no more burqas no more Korans, no more mosques in public space. What people do in the home is their own business, but no more in public space. According to a national poll done by one of the major polling agencies in the Netherlands this proposed bill that has not been yet voted upon in our Parliament got immediate support from 40 percent of the Dutch voters. Millions of people from Christian democrats to conservatives and even, even one‑third of the electorate of the Dutch Socialist Party were in favor of that proposal.  We have to face the facts.  Moderation in the face of evil is evil itself.  Islam indoctrinates people with hatred against our society. 

Your own America's sixth president, John Quincy Adams, was right when he said, "The precept of the Koran is perpetual raw against all who deny that Mohammed is the prophet of God."  As was Winston Churchill the great British wartime prime minister when he called Islam “a retrograde force.”

Of course, there are many moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam.  Let nobody fool you, there is no moderate Islam. Islamic terrorists may be a minority but both suggests that they have the support of the majority.  Surveys in my own country reveal that 73 percent of the Islamic population in the Netherlands consider Muslims who went to fight to Syria to wage Jihad to be heroes. 73 percent of the 1 million Muslims in Holland and may I ask you where are the mass demonstrations of tens of thousands of Muslims in Amsterdam, New York, London, Islamabad and anywhere in the world who'd say that they do not agree with the violence committed in the name of Islam after any terror attack. Did you see it?  Did you witness this?  Where are they when radical Muslims called for the Christian Pakistani girl, Asia Bibi to be hanged for blasphemy just because she was a Christian--is a Christian.  Where are they?  They are not there. 

The majority may not commit violence but they do not oppose it either.  That is the truth.  And of course, the majority of the Muslims are not committing crime or acts of terrorism.  The question is however if the silent majority allows things to happen. In second World War, in Germany too, it was only a minority that committed the atrocities, but the majority allowed it to happen.  In the Soviet Union too, it was only a minority that committed the horrible crimes, that the majority allowed to happen. So, my point is that by depriving Islam of the means to destroy our identity, we are not violating freedom, we are persevering freedom.  We are preserving and guaranteeing freedom and our identity.

It would be contradictory to sing the praise of freedom while at the same time standing idly by when Islam is eating away our freedoms. So I say, stop this charade.  We should not turn freedom into a snake eating its own tail.  Islam at the end of the day wants to dominate, wants to enslave us, wants to get Sharia law as the acting law, and fight and even kill anybody who resists or dares to reject it.

Abraham Lincoln, the American president who liberated your country from slavery said, "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves" and I fully agree.  It is, it really is not wrong to discriminate between good and evil, between democracy and tyranny, between freedom and slavery. 

The terrible situation that we are in today is caused by our tolerance of evil.  We are too tolerant to the intolerance.  We are too tolerant to Islam.  We think that by allowing freedom to the enemies of freedom we prove the world that we stand for freedom, but in reality, by refusing to draw the boundaries to our tolerance, we are handing away our freedom.  We are handing it away, and I do not want that.  I do not want Sharia Law in the west.  I want the west to be free of Sharia law.  Listen to what Carl Popper, the famous philosopher had to say about this, "Unlimited tolerance leads to the disappearance of tolerance.  If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant; if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerance, then the tolerant will be destroyed and tolerance with them."

So, we should not be tolerant that we open the door to the horror of intolerance.  It is our duty as western patriots to protect our children from slavery, to adopt a sensible view of freedom, to secure our continued existence as free individuals in a free society.  We live today in an age where people like the idea of having rights as long as they do not have to pay the price for it but when duty, when honor commands them to defend those rights, they often flee away and turn against it to do their duty.  They call it sometimes even extremists.  They drag us to court.  They try to silence us or even kill us, but my friends let us not fool ourselves; Churchill warned that when someone threatens to kill you, you had better take him seriously and you do everything you can to stop him.  Freedom has a price and we must be willing to pay that price, and the choice has to be made: the choice between Islam and freedom.  There is no middle way because there is nothing more precious than liberty and freedom.  

Submission is unacceptable.  We are neither prepared to collaborate with evil nor to appease it. Defending our freedom, defending our way of life is not a task that is solely in the hands of brave men and women fighting battles in faraway lands.  Defending freedom requires constant vigilance against those who attack it right here on the soil of our homelands. The enemies of freedom will not seek to overthrow the constitution in a single day.  Instead they will try to erode it from within.  They will chip away little pieces of liberty with every attack on our freedom of speech.  They will hack and grind and chisel until the granite cathedral of our constitution is no more than a brittle and a hollow. 

So, defending our freedom, defending our way of life requires all of us to be vigilant, to be courageous, to be audacious.  It requires all of us to raise our voice, to raise a voice against the enemy for freedom, against the tyranny of Islam, against everyone who tries to silence us. My friends I cannot think of a better time and place than to make this appeal than right here and right now.  Amongst all those freedom fighters that you are, and my message may be a tough one, but I'm sure that we can win if we stand together as we do today.  If we do our duty as we do today, we honor the legacy of the Founding Fathers of our great nations by preserving the freedom of our children and grandchildren, and we will never, we will never apologize for being free men.  We will never bow for the combined forces of the left and Mecca, and we will never surrender.  We stand on the shoulders of giants.  And there is no stronger, no stronger power than the force of free men fighting for the great cause of liberty.  So let us, let us do our duty, let us go forth with courage and let us save freedom.  Thank you very much. 

“Experts”: U.S. Will Never Beat Jihadis Unless They Give Them Money and Power

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 05:47

AFP reported Saturday that “experts” say “Western powers fighting Islamist groups around the globe are condemned to a never-ending battle if they only tackle the symptoms and not the underlying causes of jihadist insurgency.” That is true, but these establishment “experts” have no idea of the actual underlying causes, and are recommending the same counterterror remedies that have failed again and again.

“The West is on the road to winning all the battles and losing the war,” warns Katherine Zimmerman, who wrote a recent report for the American Enterprise Institute. On that, Zimmerman is actually right. But she and her fellow analysts are clueless about how to win it. They demonstrate in this AFP article that they haven’t the first foggiest clue as to what those underlying causes of “jihadist insurgency” really are, and have learned nothing over the last seventeen years of failed analysis, failed policies, and failed foreign misadventures.

Katherine Zimmerman, who wrote a recent report for the American Enterprise Institute, says: “It’s easy to say, ‘We’re going to kill the person responsible for making the bomb.’ It is much more difficult to say that our partner government has disenfranchised this group and it’s one of the reasons why this person joins the terrorist group. And now he is the bomb maker.”

So the problem, you see, according to the “expert” Zimmerman, is that “our partner government has disenfranchised this group,” and these disenfranchised Muslims turn to jihad. If only we stopped disenfranchising Muslims, they wouldn’t turn to jihad. Zimmerman likely doesn’t know it, but in Islamic law the goal of jihad is to establish the rule of Sharia. So what she is recommending is that we give them their goal, the rule of Islamic law, so that they won’t have to fight for it.

Yes, it’s absurd, but it’s exactly what we did in both Afghanistan and Iraq: we fought wars to install Sharia Constitutions in both countries, ignoring the fact that Sharia directs Muslims to wage war against and subjugate non-Muslims. Did it lessen the jihad? Obviously not. The Sharia Constitutions ensured that neither country would or could ever be a reliable ally of the United States, and planted the seeds for the eventual disruption of the relationships in which the U.S. has invested so many trillions of dollars.

But John Allen, who heads the Brookings Institution, wants us to spend still more. He said that the problem is “a development issue, much more than a counter-terrorism issue.”

“A development issue,” i.e., we have to help Muslim countries develop, that is, give them money, and that will end the jihad.

But jihad activity doesn’t actually arise from poverty. The New York Times reported that “not long after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001…Alan B. Krueger, the Princeton economist, tested the widespread assumption that poverty was a key factor in the making of a terrorist. Mr. Krueger’s analysis of economic figures, polls, and data on suicide bombers and hate groups found no link between economic distress and terrorism.”

CNS News noted in September 2013 that “according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, ‘Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.’”

Said AFP: “If those grievances were not taken into account, they warned, the jihadist groups were sure to be back.” And the jihadists will be back, but largely because the “experts” have no idea how to counter them.

The fact that these “experts” are so far off track is not really a surprise. The American Enterprise Institute has always been clueless, and the Brookings Institution is thoroughly compromised and Qatar-funded. Yet these are the voices that are heeded and studied at the highest levels, while I am derided and dismissed. The only thing is, I am right and they are wrong, but by the time anyone in any position of authority realizes that, it is likely to be far too late.

Los Angeles Doubled its Homeless Budget, Doubled Homeless Crime

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 05:24

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the nation watched transfixed in horror as fires tore apart California, destroying homes and claiming lives. In all the debates about global warming and forestry management, one singular cause of the fire was left unaddressed.

Global warming wasn’t starting the fires. People were.

Last December, the 422-acre Skirball Fire that forced the evacuation of 700 homes and took 10 days to put out was started by illegal cooking in a homeless encampment. The Leo Baeck Temple in Bel-Air, which celebrates "social justice", even sued Los Angeles (both city and county) over fire damage for ignoring multiple complaints about the homeless encampment and the fire hazard that it posed.

This November, the Los Angeles Zoo had to evacuate its animals over a fire in yet another homeless encampment. That fire not only endangered lives, but diverted resources from fighting the much more serious fires in Ventura County.

But instead of shutting down the encampments, Mayor Garcetti, who has done more to legalize and subsidize homelessness in Los Angeles than any of his predecessors, sent "outreach workers" from the expanding behemoth of the LA Homeless Services Agency to ask them to please move.

That worked about as well as expected.

Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer blasted Garcetti for condoning campfires and refusing to arrest "homeless firebugs" and "vagrants" because there weren’t enough "No Trespassing" signs. “It’s unclear to me how many signs Mayor Eric Garcetti thinks he would need to cover the Santa Monica Mountains behind Bel Air and the Getty Museum," he angrily wrote.

Brush fires are just one of the wages of the legalization and subsidization of the homeless. And while these fires are spectacular, they are not the most dangerous consequence.

Los Angeles had doubled its homeless budget to $450 million. Despite that its homeless population had only dropped to 39,826, a reduction of only 256 people. The only surprise in those statistics is that the population dropped at all. Homeless spending has the notorious effect of increasing homeless populations rather than diminishing them as vagrants swarm in and agencies inflate their numbers.

But while doubling its homeless budget didn’t significantly diminish the homeless population in Los Angeles, it did have another spectacular statistical effect on the wellbeing of city residents.

LAPD statistics showed that homeless crime actually increased by nearly 50%, jumping from 5,976 crime reports of homeless perpetrators in most of 2017 to 8,906 crime reports in most of 2018.

Los Angeles had doubled its homeless budget and doubled the amount of homeless crime.

Homeless advocates like to claim that the police wrongly arrest the homeless for quality of life offenses that other people get a pass on. If ordinary people aren’t arrested for public urination or campfires, why should the homeless?

That argument fueled the legalization of homelessness which allowed vagrants to urinate and defecate in public, resulting in businesses fleeing the affected areas, and Hepatitis outbreaks among homeless populations in Los Angeles and other major California cities, and it also allowed them to start fires.

Several epidemics and fires later, not to mention an outbreak of shoplifting and tents being set up in residential areas and outside small businesses, the full scale of homeless legalization looks even worse.

It’s not just the “quality of life” offenses or broken windows policing whose accomplishments helped bring back American cities in the 90s, but which the pro-Crime progressives have been reversing.

LAPD statistics showed that while the homeless were suspects in 4.3% of all crime in Los Angeles, they were the suspects in 12.6% of aggravated assaults. The footprint of homeless crime was three times as high when it came to aggravated assaults compared to the whole general geography of crime.

And that’s not surprising.

Despite the echo chamber of public officials and media talking heads claiming that the homeless are just “ordinary folks” who are down on their luck, the most visible homeless population is the one that stays outside the shelter system, that aggressively camps in public areas and that is mentally ill.

Drive around Los Angeles for a few hours and you will quickly encounter Third World street scenes. Ragged men and women stomp down deserted streets, threatening, cursing and violently gesticulating in the air. Legions of schizophrenics hang out in even the most expensive areas having angry debates with unseen antagonists. And sometimes they take a break from fighting ghosts to punch passerby.

Talk to enough people and the anecdotal stories of being threatened, punched or otherwise assaulted by the homeless population pile up. Most of these assaults aren’t serious and aren’t reported to the police. But they have frightened residents and made them more willing to shovel money into a homeless services system that only encourages and enables the very problem they are hoping to end.

The real story of the homeless crisis is not about economics, it’s about mental illness. And the way it has played out is another demonstration of how leftist activism can manage to wreak havoc on a city, a state or a country on behalf of an incrementally tiny and dysfunctional population.

LAPD statistics show 8,906 crime reports among a homeless population which has been measured at 39,826 people. The crime rate per population in Los Angeles is a little over 3%. Among the homeless, it’s 22%.

Out of 4 million people, 39,826 homeless are responsible for 12.6% or one eight of aggravated assaults.

Less than 1% of the population commits one eight of the aggravated assaults in a city of four million. Meanwhile 4.5% of a budget meant to serve those 4 million is going to 1% of the population.

As it turns out, there is a 1% that is responsible for many of the problems. It’s just the other 1%.

It’s not the people who work harder, who achieve more and who produce more that are the problem. Nor is it the people who have fallen on hard times, but are still looking to get back on their feet.

It’s the people who are wrecking everything.

The greatest lie that leftists have ever told is that they seek to help the less fortunate. They don’t. If they are accidentally helped, that’s collateral assistance. Instead they elevate the most disruptive elements, economically, politically, socially and culturally, in order to wreck cities, states and countries.

Lefty activism insists that everything stop to help that 1% which can’t stop dealing drugs, complaining about microaggressions or urinating in doorways. It inflates their numbers, their suffering and their significance to prop up a narrative of an uncaring society that must be taken over and reformed.

By the Left.

The opposite is true.

It’s not that we care too little. We care too much. The Left took over by playing on that empathy.

Our empathy often overpowers our common sense. We do what feels good, rather than what is good. But our good deeds don’t lead to good outcomes. We legalize homelessness and Hepatitis outbreaks follow among the very people we tried to help. The more money we spend on the homeless, the more homeless there are. And then violence, crime and brush fires break out because we listened to the Left.

The Left wants us to enable criminals and the mentally ill. But when we do that, it not only harms us, it harms them.  Mental illness and crime are not social problems. They are individual problems. They only become social problems to the extent that we lose the ability to meaningfully address them. And that not only means that we can’t help ourselves, it also means that we can no longer help them.

California’s homeless crisis is a tragic demonstration of a society losing its values and its sense. The Hepatitis outbreaks, violent assaults and brush fires are just symptoms of what happens when the 99% allow the 1% and its progressive protectors to get away with anything in the name of social justice.

Operation Northern Shield Deprives Hezbollah of Major Strategic Asset

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 05:15

On November 14, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left many scratching their heads in bewilderment when he unexpectedly agreed to a ceasefire with the Gazan-based terror group, Hamas. In a two-day spate of cross-border violence, sparked by an intelligence operation in Gaza, the terrorist group fired an unprecedented 460 rockets and mortars into Israel, the highest ever for the terror group in such a brief period.

Of course, the fact that no Israelis were killed during the bombardment (a Palestinian living in Israel was killed) made Netanyahu’s announcement more palatable to the Israeli public but there was another more pressing matter that was dogging the prime minister. At an event hosted in honor of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, He made a cryptic reference to other “considerations that must be hidden from the enemy,” which “the public can’t always be privy to.”

Two weeks later, on November 29, Israel struck multiple enemy positions near Damascus and southern Syria. The target bank included pro-Iran militias as well as weapons bound for Hezbollah. It was the first reported Israeli strike in Syria since the September 18 downing of a Russian IL-20 “Coot” surveillance aircraft by inept Syrian anti-aircraft crews.

At the time, some speculated that Netanyahu was referring to this operation since it carried with it the potential of conflict with the Russians. Within days however, it became clear that Netanyahu was referencing a more sinister development on the Israel-Lebanon border. On December 4, Netanyahu announced that Israel had undertaken Operation Northern Shield, an undertaking aimed at uncovering and destroying Hezbollah tunnels penetrating Israel from Lebanon.

The task of detecting and uncovering subterranean Hezbollah infrastructure is painstaking and difficult but the operation, which is ongoing, is yielding significant positive results. Using sophisticated equipment which detects seismic and subterranean anomalies, the Israelis have thus far uncovered at least three terror tunnels. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman indicated that there were more tunnels but the IDF has remained mute about this due to security considerations.

The first and most extensive tunnel was uncovered near the northeastern Israeli border town of Metula. This tunnel was more than 80ft beneath the surface, was 6ft wide and 6ft tall and penetrated 130ft into Israeli territory. It was large enough to accommodate swarms of Hezbollah operatives equipped with ATVs and motorcycles. The tunnel originated from the Lebanese village of Kafr Kela beneath civilian infrastructure and was constructed right under the noses of UN forces operating in the area. It is also likely that the Lebanese Army (also known as the Lebanese Armed Forces) was aware of its existence. The LAF, having lost all vestiges of independence, is subordinate to Hezbollah and acts as its auxiliary arm.

Israel believes that Hezbollah intended to use the Metula tunnel to cut the town off from the rest of the country and engage in a mass murder-kidnapping spree. The second tunnel was found in northwestern Galilee near the small town of Zar’it. The IDF announced the existence of a third tunnel but has not disclosed its location.

During the operation, Israeli combat engineers lowered a camera-equipped robot into the Metula tunnel and shortly thereafter, it filmed two Hezbollah terrorists operating within its confines. One of the operatives caught sight of the robot and moved in for closer look, whereupon the robot detonated a charge sending both terrorists scurrying like frightened rabbits. One of them was identified as Imad “Azaladin” Fahs. According to I24, Azaladin has a PhD in mechanical engineering from Tehran's University of Technology and also has ties to Mexican drug cartels, having trained with them near the border with the United States. Hezbollah’s ties to narco-terror are well known. The group has deep roots in Venezuela and Mexico and the US Justice Department recently designated Hezbollah a transnational criminal organization.

During Israel’s 2014 counter-insurgency campaign against Hamas, known as Operation Protective Edge, the IDF uncovered a network of some three dozen, Hamas-constructed tunnels leading into Israel. This shocking development prompted the IDF to re-think its strategy vis-à-vis Hezbollah to the north. Despite religious differences, one being Sunni and the other Shia, Hamas and Hezbollah maintain similar radical Islamist ideologies and are allies who share information. It would therefore be logical to assume that Hezbollah, whose capabilities are far greater than its southern cousins, were digging tunnels as well.

The challenges for Hezbollah are far greater, however. The subterranean soil around Gaza is soft making construction of tunnels easier. In Lebanon, Hezbollah must dig through solid rock. It is a virtual certainty that Hezbollah embarked on its tunnel-digging initiative with the assistance of Iran and North Korea, the latter being expert in the practice of tunnel-digging.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah attempted to use tunnels to execute mega attacks. In 2014 however, Hamas prematurely played its hand and unwisely attacked Israel before most of the tunnels were ready for use. Accordingly, Israel deprived Hamas of a major strategic asset. Hezbollah too suffered from Israel’s southern coup. Israel began to invest heavily in anti-tunneling technologies and its combat engineers became proficient in tunnel detection, causing many to collapse and transforming Hamas tunnels into giant burial chambers for its Islamist operatives. This expertise was transferred northward culminating in the current Northern Shield initiative.

Hezbollah intended to use its tunnels in conjunction with a massive rocket barrage as part of an opening salvo against Israel. Had it succeeded, Hezbollah could have surprised Israel with swarms of heavily armed operatives roaming northern Galilee, perhaps even capturing a small community or two and sowing fear and chaos throughout. Just as frightening is the prospect of Hezbollah capturing dozens of Israelis – civilians and soldiers – in a surprise attack from areas deemed secure and shuffling them at gunpoint back into the tunnels and straight into Lebanon for future use as bargaining chips.

But Northern Shield has robbed Hezbollah of the initiative and deprived it of a major strategic asset. All Hezbollah can do now is sit, wait and watch as Israel systematically dismantles and destroys what took Hezbollah years to construct. Israel 1, Hezbollah zero.

20 Years of Muslim Christmas Terror in the Capital of Christmas

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 05:58

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

On the second day of Christmas, the only things stirring in some apartments in Frankfurt, Germany, were some Muslim refugees, the German cops smashing through the door and the chemicals in their kitchen bomb labs which they had been plotting to use to commit mass murder a year before 9/11.

It was the year 2000. And Muslim terrorism was far from unknown, but still a little bit exotic.

While the Algerian terrorists did not prove very cooperative, their home videos were very evocative, especially a shaky video videotape taken by Salim Boukari at the Christmas market in Strasbourg, France.

"This cathedral is Allah's enemy," the Algerian Muslim refugee narrated as he watched the cheerful shoppers outside the Strasbourg Cathedral.

"These are the enemies of Allah. They dance and are happy. You will go to hell, Allah willing."

As the home of the European Parliament and, around this time of year, the “Capital of Christmas” with lavish displays marketing to tourists from around the world, Strasbourg was a natural target.

The massive Al Qaeda terror plot in Strasbourg targeting the cathedral, Christmas market, possibly a synagogue and European Parliament building would have brought together Muslims from Spain, Germany and the UK in a grandiose plot that might have included the use of nerve gas and bombs.

Instead the Muslim refugee terror plot was broken up.

Boukari, who had tried to claim political asylum in the UK, had his conversation with Abu Doha, the terrorist mastermind and another refugee, intercepted.

Aeurobui Beandali, the bomb builder, was another refugee who had come to Germany as a minor, applied for asylum, and committed thefts and assaults. Despite a deportation order, he stayed in Germany and began selling drugs, carrying out robberies and then made it out to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. He then used that training to work on a pressure cooker bomb.

At the trial, Lamine Maroni, a Muslim refugee who had applied for political asylum, quoted the Koran, declared that non-Muslim were dirt, accused everyone in the courtroom of being Jews, and refused a lawyer because, "Allah will defend me."

Allah didn’t do a great job. But he didn’t have to. It was a European court, so the terrorists were only sentenced to between 10 and 12 years in prison. That was well below the legal maximum of 15 years. Maroni got 11. Boukari, who mocked the judges, got 12.

That means they’ve been free men for a while.

Abu Doha, the mastermind of the attack, had a special hatred for Christmas. The United States had been looking for him over the LAX bomb plot on New Year’s Eve. But Doha was another Muslim refugee who had applied for political asylum in the UK in the 90s. And his lawyer claimed that he couldn’t get a fair trial in America. When last we heard from him, he was in the UK under house arrest.

While the Strasbourg Cathedral bomb plot, as it came to be known, faded from memory, the threat never went away. It just fell to a new generation of Muslim terrorists to carry it out.

"This cathedral is Allah's enemy," a Muslim refugee had declared in Strasbourg in 2000. “You will go to hell, Allah willing.”

On December 11, Cherif Chekkat, a Moroccan Muslim terrorist, opened fire at the Christmas market in Strasbourg. As bullets cut through the shoppers, he cried, “Allahu Akbar”.

What North African terrorists had failed to do for Allah in Strasbourg in 2000, a North African terrorist was doing now.

Cherif Chekkat’s story echoes his Jihadist predecessors who had plotted mass murder in the same place. Like them, he was a criminal who turned to terrorism. Despite a reported 27 convictions for theft and assault, he remained on the loose.

On the morning of the attack, he was due to be arrested for attempted murder.

Like his Jihadist predecessors, Chekat had operated and been arrested in Germany. And had been deported last year from Germany to France.

But Chekkat was very different from the members of the Frankfurt cell, whose work he had completed, in one disturbing way. While they were mostly refugees who had migrated to Europe, he was born there. In the time between the original Strasbourg Cathedral bomb plot and the latest attack, a generation of homegrown Islamic Jihadis had been born and bred on European soil.

Chekkat and the 12,000 Islamists on the terror watch list are the new generation of Islamic terror. Despite the watch list and the Christmas market security zone, he was able to carry out his attack.

Eighteen years later, few meaningful precautions had been taken to stop Islamic terrorist attacks even though Christmas market terror plots have lately become ubiquitous in Europe.

In 2016, the Kindergarten bomber, a 12-year-old Iraqi boy, had planted a nail bomb in the Christmas market in the German city of Ludwigshafen.

That same year, a North Africa Muslim refugee drove a truck into the Berlin Christmas market killing 12 and injuring 56 until it came to a halt on a trial of blood with its back wheel resting against a market stand boasting of the "magic of Christmas".

And then there were the alleged failed Christmas bomb plots in the UK and Belgium. A total of 29 lone wolves were busted in Christmas terror plots in the UK, Australia, Brussels and France.

One of those plots was centered once again on Strasbourg with the arrests coming five days before the opening of its famed Christmas market. The seven arrests were announced in Strasbourg and Marseille preventing, what was described as, "a long-planned terror attack."

Four of the arrests were made in Strasbourg.

One of the arrested men had worked for the Strasbourg government on "special events".

The plot has been largely kept secret by French authorities, but was allegedly, “an action envisaged by the Strasbourg group for the first of December.”

Potential targets might have included the Christmas market on the Champs-Élysées, rather than in Strasbourg.

That same year, 7 Muslim settlers from Strasbourg were convicted of having gone off to join ISIS. The 7 were part of a group of 10. Of those 10, 2 were killed in the fighting in the region.

One man, Foued Mohamed-Aggad, came home, slipped past the authorities, and helped kill 90 people in France in the Bataclan attack.

After the long trail of Islamic terrorism leading out of Strasbourg, it was inevitable that a Muslim terrorist would strike in the French city and finish what the Frankfurt cell had started in 2000.

Death and terror had been deferred at the Christmas market for eighteen years.

And then Cherif Chekkat, one of the numberless North African Muslims crowding France’s terror lists, slipped past the security zone and opened fire, killing tourists in the “Capital of Christmas”.

The attack was inevitable.

Individual Islamic terror plots can be prevented, as had happened twice in Strasbourg, but the sheer momentum of Islamic terror is a relentless force whose motivating power is the Islamic population.

You can no more stop Islamic terrorism than you can stop crime or end poverty. But, unlike crime and poverty, Islamic terrorism is not a human condition. It is an Islamic condition. It is inevitable in Islamic countries and in those countries that choose to maintain Islamic populations with their infrastructure of Jihadist mosques and Islamist organizations interlinked with counterparts in their mother countries.

After the 2016 plot, Strasbourg’s Christmas market was sealed off. Pedestrians approaching the market were searched in security zones. It might have been enough. But it wasn’t.

Cherif Chekkat got through with a knife and a gun. He shouted, “Allahu Akbar” and began to kill.

Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries told a TV station that, "life must go on."

It's a familiar refrain in the cities targeted by terror.

And life will go on. Until the next attack. And the one after that. Until everyone learns the lessons of Strasbourg and the shadow of Islamic terror no longer hangs over the “Capital of Christmas.”

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Photo from LenDog64

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