UNNECESSARY DEATHS IN EUROPE
One of the consequences of drug prohibition is that the illegal drugs people use are more dangerous than they would otherwise be. Because these substances are traded on the black market there is no quality control and they are often adulterated with harmful some times deadly ingredients. Such is the case in Europe where at least eight people have died from using heroin tainted with anthrax. Most of the deaths occurred in Scotland where the government’s answer to the situation has been, in many people’s opinion, cruel and wholly inadequate. The Drug War Chronicle reports that it has “responded by urging heroin users to stop using and to seek drug treatment. That advice has not gone over well with drug users and public health and harm reduction advocates, who are demanding an emergency public health response.”
January 25, 2010
WHAT DOES SCOTT BROWN’S VICTORY MEAN?
The highly improbable victory of Republican Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat is and will continue to be a subject of intense analysis. Left leaning commentators want to believe that it was the result of an extremely poor campaign by Coakley and a generalized anger that according to Barak Obama is "not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years." However, Charles Krauthammer is not buying that explanation. Instead, he argues that Brown won because he ”ran on a very specific, very clear agenda. Stop health care. Don't Mirandize terrorists. Don't raise taxes; cut them. And no more secret backroom deals with special interests.” Krauthammer also contends that the Democrats should have been able to see the signs that this would be a winning platform but they are asleep and he hopes they remain that way. Although, that would probably not be the best thing for the country.
January 22, 2010
TARIQ RAMADAN TO BE ALLOWED INTO THE US
While Professor Tariq Ramadan likes to present himself as a moderate, many believe his scholarship and actions lend support to terrorist activity. That includes the Department of Homeland Security which denied him a visa to enter the United States in 2004 when Notre Dame offered him a teaching position. Now, lending credence to those who argue the Obama Administration is not serious about ending Islamic terrorism, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will allow Ramadan and another professor with extremist leanings, Adam Habib, to come here. The saga of Ramadan’s efforts to spread his doctrine in America and the reasons that should have been prevented are well documented by Daniel Pipes here and here.
January 21, 2010
OUR PRESIDENT STILL DOING FAVORS FOR THE SAUDI KING
Clearly the Bush family had a special connection with the Saudi royal family when they held the executive office. Now one of the most important voices discussing the relationship between Islam and the West, Nonie Darwish, is arguing that since the election of Barak Obama the situation has not changed, our president is still doing favors for the Saudi king. She points out that just when there is a new spirit of criticism and defiance is gaining strength within the Muslim world Obama’s bow to King Abdulla “was no small matter, but of great significance in Muslim culture. It is a Muslim symbol of subjugation and inferiority.” Darwish also asserts that the decision to hold terrorism trials in New York City “intentionally or unintentionally, will be contributing to reforming Islam’s image, supporting its old ways of doing business and suppressing the brave reformation movements across the Muslim world, a true New Year’s gift to King Abdullah.”
January 20, 2010
MARTHA COAKLEY REWRITES BASEBALL HISTORY
The comprehensive overhaul of our medical care system may very well hinge on the vote of a single Senator. This makes the coming election in Massachusetts to replace Senator Edward Kennedy especially significant. If Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley wins healthcare reform will pass, however, if Republican Scott Brown wins the Democrats will no longer have a super majority making the legislation much less likely to succeed. An editorial by the Townhall.com staff maintains that Massachusetts law stipulates once the election is held the now sitting interim Senator will not be eligible to vote for the bill so any delaying tactics won’t work.
Those who believe the reform bill to be bad legislation can take solace in the exceptionally inept campaign being run by Coakley. Her latest gaffes include a self serving tone deaf speech at a Martin Luther King Day dinner clumsily attempting to tie his legacy to her political fortune and her assertion that Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s support for her opponent means nothing because Schilling of the bloody sock is a Yankees fan.
January 19, 2010
PROBLEMS WITH HEALTH CARE REFORM
At best the proposed reform of our healthcare system seems very convoluted, at worst it appears to be blatantly unfair to certain groups such as people with good insurance plans who are not members of a union and those who live in states other than Nebraska. Two other aspects are also very troubling, the fact that despite numerous campaign promises by Barak Obama to televise proceedings surrounding the bill on CSPAN negotiations are in fact happening in secret and also because of a rushed atmosphere the legislators who have to vote on it will not have time to read the extremely lengthy law much lees discuss in a meaningful way its implications. This prompts GOPAC chair Frank Donatelli to ask a very simple question: “if the bill is so good, why does everyone need an exemption to vote for it?” Perhaps members of Congress should take a cue from the physicians they seem so keen to control and seek to first do no harm.
January 16, 2010
THE ELITIST VIEW OF ISLAMIC THREAT IS DANGEROUS
Protecting Americans from the threat of terrorist violence is more than a matter of physical security measures; it also involves perceptions and attitudes. In his response to critics who argue that Islamic terrorism is a product of western bigotry Tony Blankley asserts that “there is a widening gap between public common sense and governing class idiocy when it comes to spotting Islamist danger in our midst -- and doing something about it.” He also warns that the “slaughtered American troops at Fort Hood are just among the early few in what will surely become whole legions of the dead victims of political correctness -- if the public does not soon succeed at overruling the Western governing elite's unconscionable moral blindness to the malign danger in our midst.”
One person who has been working tirelessly and effectively for years to help solve the problem described by Blankley above is Steven Emerson. In 1995 he founded The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) to monitor and expose Jihadist activity. An outstanding profile of Emerson published in The Middle East Quarterly informs us that ”IPT has established itself as the most effective nongovernmental organization (NGO) monitoring Islamic radicalism. It is the only private entity in the United States that conducts undercover research into the activities of Islamist groups. To preserve its independence, IPT accepts no funds from the U.S. government or donors outside the United States.” It also reveals that his organization “maintains the world's largest collection of nongovernmental data on radical Islamic groups, including more than four million documents, thousands of hours of clandestine video and audio recordings made at radical Islamic conferences, training sessions, fundraising activities, and assorted gatherings; and tens of thousands of original terrorist manuals and periodicals.” Hopefully Emerson is destined to play a successful role in changing the attitudes of our leaders before it is too late.
January 13, 2010
ONE VERSION OF THE CONSTITUTION BEING UPHELD IN NEW JERSEY
Medical marijuana has achieved another success, this time in New Jersey. The legislature has passed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act and Governor John Corzine has already pledged to sign it. Marijuana law reformers can count another state, fourteen in all, in their victory column but another group of political activists, those concerned with the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution also have reason to celebrate.
When the law makers in New Jersey decided to change their policy concerning Cannabis use they did so with the full knowledge that the Supreme Court has ruled that federal law supersedes state policy when it comes medical marijuana. In effect these legislators were asserting their rights spelled out in the Tenth Amendment. In an article for the Tenth Amendment Center: the tenther grapevine author Michael Boldin points out that an “honest reading of the Constitution with an original understanding of the Founders and Ratifiers makes it quite clear that the federal government has no constitutional authority to override state laws on marijuana.” In his dissent of Gonzales v. Raich, the decision asserting federal supremacy on this issue, Justice Clarence Thomas countered the majority’s argument that the commerce clause applied by saying that the respondents “use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything–and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.” Boldin calls this effort to justify an unconstitutional federal intrusion into the affairs of the various states at best dubious and “at worst an intentional attack on the Constitution and your liberty.”
The Democratic Party has long history favoring the constitutional right of the states to resist federal interference, unfortunately most of this support has been associated with unconstitutional slavery and racial discrimination. Would it not be a good thing for both us and them if they reaffirmed that tradition in a much better cause, a more humane and effective drug policy?
Plainly, the issue of whether the politicians in New Jersey have the right to legitimize the use of medical marijuana has implications far beyond the limited subject of cannabis. For example, even before it has passed numerous state attorney generals are talking about challenging the federal health care reform bill with it thousands of unread, by those voting for it, pages and unfunded mandates. No matter what medical reform law President Obama signs there will surely be attempts to nullify it on Tenth Amendment grounds.
January 12, 2010
SYSTEMIC FAILURE TO PROVIDE SECURITY
Since the attempt to destroy an airliner bound for Detroit by a Muslim from Nigeria on Christmas day there has been a renewed interest and commentary on the subject of terrorism. President Obama’s admission of “systemic failure” and the fact that it was the passengers themselves that prevented loss of life has given rise to a school of thought which argues that the system that failed is notion that government can and will make us secure.
Writing for The Independent Institute Ivan Eland argues that the terrorist mission failed not because of any government action but rather because of a change in attitude. He asserts that “even if the government had done nothing in the realm of anti-terrorism after 9/11, the skies would have been much safer. The reason is that aircrews and passengers changed their response to attempted aircraft hijackings. Prior to 9/11, pilots, flight attendants, and the flying public were of the mindset to cooperate with any hijackers. The image in their minds was of being flown to Cuba and eventually being released once the hijackers had publicized their cause. After 9/11, a vision of being slaughtered en masse and used to massacre even more non-passengers has been seared into the minds of the traveling public.”
Two articles appearing on Townhall.com also take up this same theme. Star Parker asks us to compare the record of government bureaucracy with of the private sector pointing out again that the actions of private citizens saved those lives on December 25th. Meanwhile, Allen Hunt offers six suggestions for restoring “security sanity” including the firing of Janet Napolitano and other Obama Administration officials. He also maintains that abolishing the TSA and returning responsibility for the safety of air travel to the airlines themselves would help.
January 11, 2010
THE UNITED KINGDOM’S UNIVERSITIES AND RADICAL ISLAM
Ever since the attempted destruction of an airliner bound for Detroit by terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallah, who was affiliated with University College London, there has been an increased focus on the situation in Yemen as an important front in the war on terror. However, a Wall Street Journal editorial suggests that some of this attention should be directed at the universities in Great Britain. The piece argues that the incident is “reviving concerns in Britain that its universities and colleges—even the elite—can breed Islamic radicalism. In several of the terrorist plots linked to London since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., the suspects have been university students or graduates. In many cases, the schools involved are among Britain's most prestigious, including UCL, King's College London and the London School of Economics, all of which receive taxpayer funding.”
January 9, 2010
THIS ONE LEAVES ME SPEECHLESS
On December 30th suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi killed eight CIA agents in Afghanistan. Now Andrew Breitbart’s website is reporting that his wife, Defne Bayrack, has said “I am proud of my husband. He carried out a great operation in this war. I hope Allah will accept his martyrdom, if he has become a martyr.”
January 7, 2010
OBAMA SUPPORTER CRITICAL OF RESPONSE TO ISLAMIC TERRORISM
In 2008 Barak Obama asked Edward I. Koch to help him get elected by reaching out to the Jewish community and he obliged. Now, Koch is in complete agreement with Charles Krauthammer’s column, War? What War?, which is highly critical of the president’s approach to the threat of Islamic terrorism. Koch tells Obama that he hopes “you read the Krauthammer column. It is not too late for you to recover from the setbacks you suffered in the year just ended. Your commitment to battling Islamic terrorism led by al-Qaida, which has a presence in an estimated 62 countries, must be believably reaffirmed with both words and deeds.”
January 6, 2010
UNEXPECTED SOURCE OF SUPPORT FOR MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION
As the debate over decriminalizing marijuana advances new reasons to support the change in policy will surely continue to surface. In his story about the effort in California for the San Francisco Chronicle Joe Garofoli gives an example of this as he informs us that the “suburban ‘soccer moms’ who are likely voters have told pollsters that the measure, which would give local governments the authority to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis to adults 21 or older, would provide a safer way for their adult children to buy pot.”
January 5, 2010
CANNABIS INITIATIVE ON EXPECTED BALLOT IN 2010
A second effort to decriminalize the use of marijuana in California is proceeding along the path of ballot initiative. In an excellent and comprehensive article Daniela Perdomo discusses the history, dynamics, and chances of the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. The organization behind this effort is called Tax Cannabis and judging from Perdomo’s essay and their website it seems they have a good strategy for success.
January 4, 2010
WHAT WILL GREATER US INVOLVEMENT IN YEMEN MEAN?
Ever since the unsuccessful attempt to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas day, supposedly conceived of in Yemen, many commentators have been calling for increased participation in that nation’s affairs by the United States and Great Britain. In his analysis of this prospect, drawn from personal experience with that country, Eric Margolis uses the analogy of kicking over a hornet’s nest. He points to some facts that should give us pause. He writes that a “military dictator, Ali Saleh, has held power since 1978. Saleh's U.S.-backed regime is accused of extensive human rights violations and deep corruption.” Margolis also tells us that poverty stricken “Yemen has three civil wars going on and bitter fighting between Sunni and various Shia sects. Yemen's warlike tribes hate any outside authority, starting with their own government.”
January 4, 2010
ATTEMPTED MURDER IN THE NAME OF ISLAM
We are once again reminded that some Muslims believe it ethical to promote their religion through violence. Recently a Somali man attempted to murder Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard who has been under threat of death ever since a drawing of his depicting the Prophet Muhammad was published. However, we should also be aware that a group of moderate Muslims stated that the“Danish Muslim Union strongly distances itself from the attack and any kind of extremism that leads to such acts," If we are to win the war on terror their interpretation of Islam must be supported in every way possible.
January 2, 2010
JUST HOW BAD IS OBAMA ON SECURITY?
This British journalist thinks he should get a failing grade.
December 30, 2009
OBAMA ADMITS TO INTELLIGENCE GAPS
One consistent criticism of the Obama Administration has been that it does not take the threat of Islamic terrorism seriously enough. In the wake of the attempted destruction of yet another airplane with hundreds of innocent civilians on it by Nigerian jihadist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab the president is for the first time admitting that there is a problem with our efforts to prevent such incidents from happening. The Washington Post quotes Obama as saying that a "mix of human and systemic failures" allowed the terrorist access to the aircraft. He vows to improve the situation and let us hope for all of our sakes he keeps his word. A good place to start would be to publically state that the root of the problem is an extremist view of Islam that condones the indiscriminate killing of non-believers.
December 30, 2009
HEROIN TWO DIFFERENT APPROACHES
For some patients, such as the terminally ill, heroin could prove to be a very beneficial medication. Yet, its medical use is virtually non-existent throughout the world even though the drug started as an accepted remedy considered to be very useful. This altered as the problem of addiction became the only concern. The Heroin Solution (page 46) argued that: “One of the distinctive features of the developing attack on heroin, however, was a battle to prohibit its use all together in the practice of medicine, to eliminate not only the abuse of the medicine but the very substance itself, in short, this was the beginning of the ritual of demonization.” It was not until after the legal status of heroin changed that the drug became the most dangerous known to man and its users all dope fiends.
This demonization process continues to have intense repercussions until today. China recently demonstrated that fact where the government executed a British citizen involved in the heroin trade. In a hopeful sign this barbaric act provoked strong reactions from Great Britain, France, and the European Union. Meanwhile in Canada a much more humane, sensible and ultimately effective approach to the dilemma of addiction is being implemented. A new heroin maintenance trial is about to begin in Vancouver continuing a worldwide trend of turning heroin users back into human beings.
December 29, 2009
MARIJUANA LAW REFORM CONTINUES FORWARD
Not since 1996, when a referendum in California legalized medical marijuana, has reform of the cannabis laws been such a mainstream topic and progress seemed so possible. Now Washington and Nevada can be added to the list of states where decriminalization of marijuana for everyone, not just patients, is under serious consideration. It seems the only people speaking out against change are some of those in law enforcement who now directly benefit from the current legal status of the drug.
December 28, 2009
MOST BIASED MEDIA AWARDS
The media coverage of conflict in the Middle East is very often skewed and biased against Israel. The website HonestReporting provides us with a comprehensive look at how this trend operated last year, with awards given to the most egregious examples.
December 28, 2009
CARTER AND OBAMA: TWO MYSTERIES WRAPPED INSIDE MANY ENIGMAS
If anyone can explain Cater and Obama, I await with bated breath that report if it comes in terms I can understand. Carter was easily one of our weakest presidents. Since leaving office he has created even more harm by his seeming prostitution on the altar of bigoted Arab money. His worst offenses in this regard were constant attacks on Israel based upon hurtful distortions of the basic facts. His distortions helped in the continuing delegitmization of the one Jewish state in the world. Now suddenly Jimmy has recently come out with an apology and a request for forgiveness regarding his attacks on Israel and Jews in general. Why now? Why at all? I do not understand as I have not understood his previous bizarre pronouncements. We all will have to wait for more information from this bizarre man.
Then there is our current president who came into office bearing so much good will from many Americans, including this one, and from many millions of people around the world. Mr. Obama has paid great attention to the health issue and at the same time has remained virtually silent on many other vital matters. Take the one example of the Iranian threat which in my eyes looms as a much greater threat to the health and well being of the entire planet than does the matter of health insurance for Americans. If the Iranian thugs do get their hands on nuclear weapons, or if the Israelis attack just before they do, the results on all sides could be catastrophic. There seems to be one golden opportunity to stop this awful scenario in its tracks and that is change of the Iranian nutcase regime. That golden opportunity is found in the masses of Iranians now in the streets demanding that change – and even possibly an end to their nation’s nuclear ambitions and suicidal plans of attack. Here, some words from Mr. Obama could do some good, even some mild words of support for the protesters and criticism of the brutal regime. At a time when some modest courage is needed, Mr. Obama looks like the old wimpy Carter. There is no need right now for war on Iran but there is need for those words plus some tough economic sanctions and perhaps even some covert aid to the protesters. As Charles Krauthammer wrote today about Obama’s virtual silence, “Such cool indifference is more than a betrayal of our values. It is a strategic blunder of the first order.” Krauthammer’s entire column is worth reading today even though it is a very disturbing indictment of our chief magistrate and his failing policies on this vital front, as on so many others. On this day I would rather just think positive and happy thoughts about peace on earth.
December 25, 2009
AVAILABILTY OF CLEAN NEEDLES INCREASING
As far back as 1993, it was pointed out in Legalize It? (page 11) just how effective the availability of clean needles could be in preventing the spread of HIV among drug addicts. A trip to England in 1989, where addicts had access to sterile means of injection, had revealed that the Merseyside Health Region around Liverpool with a population of 2.5 million people had only five addicts with the AIDS virus while at the same time at least half the 200,000 injecting addicts in New York City were infected.
Despite this knowledge it has taken until just recently for Congress to lift the ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs. Now, another step forward has occurred in Pennsylvania where the State Board of Pharmacy ended the requirement of having a prescription in order to buy syringes. This development should be especially welcome in Philadelphia where the HIV rate is currently three times that of New York City.
December 23, 2009
CHASE BANK NOT TO BE TRUSTED
JP Morgan Chase & Company sponsored an online contest though the social networking system Facebook called The Chase Community Giving contest. The top one hundred nonprofit organizations receiving the most votes were to receive $25,000 and a chance at a $1 million donation. However, an e-mail from Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) informs us that “during the final days of the contest, Chase rigged their own system to obscure the vote count and then revoked the winnings of a few groups, including SSDP and the Marijuana Policy Project” (MPP). At the time according to unofficial vote counts both organizations were well within the top one hundred with SSDP being in fourteenth place. Chase stopped giving voting information three days before the contest ended and has announced the winners but is refusing to release the final vote tally.
The New York Times story on the controversy quotes Micah Daigle, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy as saying that, “They never gave us any indication that there was any problem with our organization qualifying. Now they’re completely stonewalling me.” The paper also reports that the two above groups “believe that Chase disqualified them over concerns about associating its name with their missions.”
Apparently, Chase Bank wishes to be associated with greater use of alcohol and a class based higher education system. You can join the boycott against Chase by clicking here.
December 22, 2009
MEXICAN DRUG WAR PRACTICALLY DESTROYING A WHOLE CITY
Drug prohibition wrecks far more lives than the use of drugs itself ever could. Now in Mexico it is destroying an entire metropolis. In a horrifying first person account Alvaro Vargas Llosa of the Independent Institute’s Center on Global Prosperity tells us about the current conditions in once thriving Ciudad Juarez. After describing the startling economic decline he writes that “on the morning I arrived here, a woman was found buried in her own backyard a few blocks from where I am staying; two bodies were also identified in Anapra, a nearby slum. When I went to dinner, I learned that four people had been shot earlier outside the same restaurant. Another shootout had left a couple of victims on the Paseo Triunfo de la Republica, a major artery. Someone mentioned that a child had been found hanging from a bridge earlier in the week, just another corpse adding to the numbing statistic: 2,300 people killed this year. No wonder a quarter of the population has fled.”
December 22, 2009
CAN THE OBAMACARE BILL REALLY BE THIS AWFUL?
Well more than half of the American people do not want the health care reform bill to pass in its current form. After a comprehensive explanation as to why this legislation will be destructive in its effect The Wall Street Journal editorial page declares that when Obama took office there existed a consensus for improving the nation’s medical care system “instead we have this vast expansion of federal control. Never in our memory has so unpopular a bill been on the verge of passing Congress, never has social and economic legislation of this magnitude been forced through on a purely partisan vote, and never has a party exhibited more sheer political willfulness that is reckless even for Washington or had more warning about the consequences of its actions.”
December 21, 2009
STAY OUT OF BRITAIN TO FIGHT THE VIRUS OF ABUSE TOWARD ISRAEL?
I would consider it a great loss to stop going to the UK, a country for
which I have had warm and loving relations. But perhaps this is not the
same country I remember so fondly. Read this story and you decide
if now is not the time to stop going to the UK until sanity is restored.
December 21, 2009
A TENUOUS CONNECTION AT BEST
Ever since 9/11 attempts by the government and the mainstream media to hold the users of the currently illicit drugs responsible for terrorism have been common. The latest effort comes in the form of a Washington Post headline: U.S. holds 3 in alleged narcoterrorism case. However, if one reads the article carefully the connection between this drug bust, which took place in Africa, and the suicide bombings taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan does not seem especially valid.
The reasons stated by the DEA for labeling this narco-terrorism rather than plain old drug trafficking include being supplied by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), the world's largest distributor of cocaine, an alleged tie to a group once funded by Osama Bin Laden decades ago, and the presence of an eleven man "militia" providing transport security. Also, noted are anti-American statements made by one of those arrested but if that is going to be the criteria for accusing someone of being a terrorist then there are literally hundreds of millions of such people in the world. Lastly, if we suspend disbelief and do find that this is real a case of drug profits supporting terrorist acts then that just is another strong reason to legalize drugs and cut off such funding.
December 20, 2009
RAISING THE LEVEL OF POLITICAL DISCOURSE
The charge that the political discourse of a particular time contains an especially mean spirited tinge has a long history and the present day is no exception. Economist Steven Horowitz offers some suggestions to improve our debates over public policy. He argues that “when things get nasty in our own time we shouldn’t just shrug our shoulders and say things never change. Such nastiness can and should be avoided, and those of us in the freedom movement can take the lead by setting a better example.” One place to begin with would be to dispense with the all too common accusation that someone we disagree with is a racist.
December 18, 2009
DRUG POLICY ACTIONS DO NOT ALWAYS MATCH WORDS
Federal pronouncements on drug policy have been remarkably consistent over the years. Despite a recent increased tolerance of medical marijuana, the law enforcement approach of prohibition is still deemed the only acceptable course of action. Drug dealers continue to be portrayed as immoral uncaring fiends deliberately poisoning and killing their fellow human beings.
Now, it seems that our leaders are willing to work clandestinely with the sellers of illegal narcotics even though publicly we label them enemies of humanity. Citing an article containing a first hand account published in Harper’s Magazine the website OpEdNews.com alleges that our military is intimately involved in supporting the drug trade in Afghanistan. Author Glen Ford writes about cooperation between certain drug dealers and our troops saying that an “alliance was forged by American forces during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and has endured and grown ever since. The drug lord, and others like him throughout the country, is not only immune to serious American interference, he has been empowered through U.S. money and arms to consolidate his drug business at the expense of drug-dealing rivals in other tribes, forcing some of them into alliance with the Taliban. On the ground in Pashtun-speaking Afghanistan, the war is largely between armies run by heroin merchants, some aligned with the Americans, others with the Taliban.”
December 17, 2009
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OBAMA TO END A WAR
The so called war on drugs is a colossal waste of time, energy, and resources that damages far more lives than drug use ever will and it needs to end. Writing for AntiWar.com Kelley B. Vlahos describes numerous reasons for us to believe that there is a real chance that Barak Obama may be willing to make peace. However, lest we become too optimistic, she also repeats CATO Vice-president David Boaz’s argument that the challenges facing reformers “are still very real, and perhaps ultimately insurmountable. Prohibitionist lawmakers and bureaucrats across the spectrum won’t cave without a protracted and bloody political fight, especially when their long-held beliefs and livelihoods are truly threatened.
December 15, 2009
ISLAMOPHOBIA DECREASES WHILE ANTI-SEMITISM INCREASES IN EUROPE
A new study of group focused enmity in Europe found that negative attitudes towards Muslims have decreased while resentment of Jews and homosexuals is rising. The research conducted at University of Bielefeld in Germany discovered variable levels of anti-Semitism throughout the continent with the Netherlands and Great Britain having the lowest levels and Portugal, Poland, and Hungary displaying the highest. One of the authors, Beate Küpper, believes a possible reason for these trends maybe the growing financial crisis. The study reports that “hatred of both groups is on the rise as they are considered to be found also among people of a high status.”
December 15, 2009
ATTEMPTING TO DISPEL HEALTH CARE REFORM CONFUSION
A political issue that has lately been provoking significant passion is health care reform. Each side strenuously claims the moral high ground and the media’s coverage tends to confuse rather than clarify people’s understanding of this debate. However, in a comprehensive article for The Atlantic Ronald Brownstein analyzes in an objective rather than partisan manner the expected effects of the current Senate version of restructuring. He is most concerned with answering the question; will this legislation achieve the primary goal of containing expense in the long term? Brownstein also explains the two sides’ fundamental difference over how to save costs arguing that “Democrats mostly want to change the incentives for providers. Republicans mostly want to change the incentives for patients by shifting toward a model where insurance covers only catastrophic expenses and people pay for more routine care from tax-favored health savings accounts. In essence, the Republican view is that the best way to hold down long-term costs is to directly expose patients to more of them. Few Democrats accept that logic though and it has little influence on either chamber's legislation.”
December 14, 2009
SUPPORT FOR OBAMA SLIPPING AMONG AMERICAN JEWS
One of the more fervent groups favoring the presidency of Barak Obama has been the American Jewish community. However, as Jennifer Rubin tells us, in the pages of Commentary, recent polls show that backing is beginning to erode. While conceding that Jews continue to be among the most loyal of Obama’s supporters, she also points out that “Jews are much less enthusiastic than a year ago, when 78 percent of them gave Obama their vote. They are perhaps not entirely impervious to experience. Obama’s presidency has given them, and all Americans, little to cheer about. Their support may continue to wane unless Obama shows he can achieve something more than an election victory.”
December 12, 2009
GOOD NEWS FROM BOTH THE CZECH REPUBLIC AND THE US
Once again a European country is demonstrating a more practical and humane approach to drug use than that of the United States. Starting January 1st the possession of small amounts of various drugs will be allowed in the Czech Republic.
Such a positive policy change could occur here as a recent Angus-Reid public opinion poll shows that 53% of Americans favor legal cannabis. This follows in the wake of a Zogby survey reported in May which found that nationwide 52% of the people supported legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana.
December 11, 2009
THREE POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS GO AGAINST TREND
The rise of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli sentiment at the world’s institutions of higher learning has been a most distressing development. However, the news on this front is not always negative. For example, it took less than a half hour for the governing board of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) to unanimously reject a suggested academic boycott of Israelis. Also, the Edinburgh University Students’ Association handily defeated a proposed motion advocating a comprehensive boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The organization’s president, Thomas Graham, said: "I'm pleased that the motion was rejected by an overwhelming majority. It's clear that students at this university do not want our campuses to be intimidating, but be places where everyone is welcome and respected.”
Meanwhile, Great Britain is to get its first academic institute for the study of anti-Semitism. It will be established at London University’s Birkbeck College next to Wiener Library the globe’s oldest Holocaust memorial collection. The school’s funding originates with a 1.5 million pound grant from the Pears Foundation. Trevor Pears, executive chairman of the charity, stated that, “we are setting up the institute with Birkbeck at this particular time because our foundation considers that this strategic approach to the study of anti-Semitism is not being sufficiently addressed elsewhere and is long overdue.”
December 9, 2009
SUPRISING ECONOMIC PROGRESS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
The carefully cultivated image throughout the world of the Palestinians is that of a people suffering great hardship, startling economic progress does not come to mind. However, as former Jerusalem correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph Tom Gross informs us it should. The West Bank and even Gaza to a certain extent are now experiencing a period of growing prosperity, much of it fostered by Israeli assistance. In a time of worldwide financial distress the IMF reports a seven percent growth rate for the Palestinians and Prime Minister Salam Fayad, a former World Bank and IMF employee says the real number is closer to eleven percent. The article quotes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as saying that, “in the West Bank we have a good reality. The people are living a normal life." Gross asserts that this monetary progress towards peace can continue “so long as the Obama administration and European politicians don't clumsily meddle as they have in the past and make unrealistic demands for the process to be completed more quickly than it can be.”
December 8, 2009
PARALLELS BETWEEN DREYFUS AND GOLDSTOME
Clearly the Goldstone report is an anti-Semitic product but it is far from the first example of this in history. In an interesting article for the Jewish Canadian News Gerald Steinberg sees strong evidence of anti-Semitic motivation in both the results of the UN inquiry and the French army’s verdict against Capitan Richard Dreyfus for treason in 1895. He points out that “in late-19th-century France, police and military ‘researchers’ produced handwriting samples that did not match those of Dreyfus, while absurdly claiming that this mismatch ‘proved’ how clever he was in hiding his identity. In the case framing Israel, the technical evidence consists of repeating the white phosphorus accusations made by HRW’s former ‘senior military analyst’ (and Nazi memorabilia fetishist), as well as pieces of ammunition that Goldstone, with no military experience, claims to have identified in the walls of a mosque months after the fighting ended.”
December 7, 2009
NEW HAMAS DRUG POLICY
Time and again Hamas has proven itself to be an organization the loves killing people. This is the case once more as they change their drug policy in Gaza from one based on Israeli military law to the Egyptian model and this will now allow the death penalty for sellers. Very likely those executed in the future will be cannabis dealers because the Drug War Chronicle reports that “most goods, including illicit ones, imported into Gaza are smuggled in, primarily through a network of tunnels on the Egyptian border. But Hamas has cracked down on drug trafficking and drug traffickers, claiming more than 100 arrests, and the seizure of dozens of kilograms of drugs, mostly marijuana.”
December 4, 2009
THE OBAMA MAGIC SEEMS TO HAVE FLED THE COUNTRY
The reaction to last night’s speech, even from the West Point cadets who heard it live, was probably not what the president had hoped for. In a scathing review of the talk, posted on Spiegel Online International, Gabor Steingart asserts that the magic is gone and that “never before has a speech by President Barack Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America's new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric -- and left both dreamers and realists feeling distraught.”
December 2, 2009
STATE LEVEL MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION AND LEGALIZATION
For more than a decade court cases, proposed legislation, and executive actions involving marijuana have largely dealt with medical cannabis. Now, however, that is beginning to change as decriminalization and legalization for everyone starts to take center stage. The Drug War Chronicle has provided us with a nice summary of the many efforts this year, at the state level of government, to decriminalize and even legalize marijuana.
December 1, 2009
THE TRUE MEANING OF BEING PRO-PALESTINIAN
On campuses all over Europe and North America a substantial number of people claim to be pro-Palestinian but what does such a statement mean? For far too many this entails equating the Israelis with the Nazis, accusing Israel of every imaginable crime, and asserting that Zionism is racism. However, journalist Khaled Abu Toameh strongly disagrees with that definition. He suggests switching Israel Apartheid Weeks for Palestine Democracy Weeks and argues that the individuals who really support the Palestinians “are the brave people who are standing up to both Fatah and Hamas and calling on them to stop killing each other and start doing something that would improve the living conditions of their constituents.”
November 30, 2009
DISGUSTING BEHAVIOR AT THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS
Academic circles in Great Britain are also largely anti-Israeli circles. Never has that fact been more evident than when the London School Economics invited Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon to give a lecture. An appalling account of the event posted on PajamasMedia by Master in Global Politics Candidate at the school Noah Schwartz describes outrageously biased behavior by both students and faculty. Encouraged to some extent by faculty protests of the invitation and the introduction of the occasion’s host Professor Michael Cox, Ayalon took the stage to a chorus of boos and “had scarcely delivered his eighth sentence when various students began shouting obscenities at him and delivering impromptu sermons on their view of Israel.” If the conduct displayed in relation to this appearance doe not seriously damage the reputation of the London School of Economics it should.
November 29, 2009
MEDICAL MARIJUANA ADVANCES IN ISRAEL
One of the more enlightened states when it comes to the medical use of marijuana has been Israel; two recent developments there show additional progress on this issue. The Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer is now the first Israeli hospital to allow its patients the use of medicinal cannabis. Also, in the Knesset the Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee is requiring the Health Ministry to complete proposals for the regulation of medical marijuana within four months. The use of cannabis for health reasons is expected to increase and committee head MK Haim Katz asserts that the drug “should not become too costly for the suffering patient to purchase. A detailed bill to regulate medical marijuana would supervise the production, quality and marketing of the product and prevent the drug from reaching illegal users or merchants.”
November 27, 2009
THE JEWISH PEOPLE DO EXIST
One bankrupt strategy for attacking Israel is to pretend that the Jewish people do not exist. In her review of Shlomo Sand’s book The Invention of the Jewish People Patricia Cohen points out that the author “a scholar of modern France, not Jewish history, candidly states his aim is to undercut the Jews’ claims to the land of Israel by demonstrating that they do not constitute ‘a people,’ with a shared racial or biological past.” She also quotes Harry Ostrer, director of the Human Genetics Program at New York University Langone Medical Center, asserting that “it’s pretty clear that most Jewish groups have Semitic ancestry, that they originated in the Middle East, and that they’re more closely related to each other than to non-Jewish groups.”
November 26, 2009
ONLY ONE OPINION ALLOWED AT MCKINNEY EVENT
When a group takes a position and then goes to extreme lengths to keep information criticizing that stance away from the public we can only conclude that they do not have much confidence in their argument. Such a situation occurred at Binghamton University when the graduate student organized Binghamton Political Initiative and the Multicultural Resource Center sponsored a talk by former Representative from Georgia Cynthia McKinney titled Black in America, Black in Palestine. The news service JTA reports she has a long history of anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic discourse. The article informs us that “McKinney, whose father famously blamed ‘J-E-W-S’ when she was defeated in a race for re-election to her Atlanta-area congressional district in 2002, has most recently been involved in the Free Gaza movement. She was arrested last summer by Israel for attempting to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and called Israel's operation in Gaza ‘full-scale, outright genocide.’”
Expecting that the former Congresswoman’s presentation would be rather one sided, students from the Binghamton Hillel Jewish Student Union decided to distribute flyers with pro-Israeli information sure to be neglected. The organizers of the event not only confiscated these handouts but during the question answer period anyone who queried McKinney in a critical manner was silenced or ridiculed.
In its eloquent Response to Cynthia McKinney the Hillel executive board stated that “we are deeply saddened by the fact that our peers who planned this event clearly had no desire for any real discourse other than the hate speech that was delivered to the audience. While we do not have to agree with one another, we do have a responsibility to respect one another and allow for the open exchange of opinions. Ms. McKinney's visit to Binghamton was an affront to any multicultural efforts on campus.”
November 24, 2009
THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF NEEDLE EXCHANGE
This article repeats an established truth and also demonstrates once again
the destructive impact of ignorant government officials.
November 22, 2009
MORE DISTURBING NEWS ABOUT MAJOR HASAN
And the inability of many American leaders to admit to the dangers in our midst. Thanks to Daniel Pipes for this analysis.
November 20, 2009
AN AMAZING STORY ABOUT THE SAFETY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF MARIJUANA AS A MEDICINE
Thanks to Al Byrne for sending out this press release on Irvin Rosenfeld, one of my heroes. Al is one also of course. The communication below comes from Patients Out of Time:
World Record Set by United States Cannabis Patient
On November 20, 2009 Irvin Rosenfeld, a Florida stockbroker, will set the world record for the consumption of cannabis cigarettes.
The United States federal government has supplied Rosenfeld and three other US citizens for decades with a smokable cannabis medicine. Irv Rosenfeld has received his medicine for 27 years and is the longest known cannabis patient.
One of four patients intensely tested in 2001 by Patients Out of Time as part of the Missoula Study Irv was found to be in excellent health for a man of his age. All physiological systems were examined by neutral investigators since the US federal government had never required or requested such a complete overview to discover the efficacy of the plant product they were medically administering under the Compassionate New Drug Program of the FDA.
Irv will consume his number one hundred and fifteen thousand joint or marijuana cigarette sometime on November 20, 2009. All 115,000 cigarettes have been prescribed by US federally approved medical doctors from cannabis plants grown at the University of Mississippi in a test location and prepared for consumption in the research triangle area of North Carolina
Speaking as a cannabis patient and Director of the cannabis patient advocacy organization Patients Out of Time Irv stated, “I cannot fathom the reluctance of my federal government to allow the use of medical cannabis for the sick and dying of the US My experience of use, the calming of my negative symptoms, that has allowed me to be a useful, contributing member of society must be extended to all the ill based on the judgment of medical professionals and not guided or restrained by the dictates of law enforcement who have no empathy for the ill nor the education to appropriately enter into doctor-patient relationships and treatment options.”
115,000 and counting. When do the sick not named Rosenfeld, receive their cannabis medicine?
November 19, 2009
MARIJUANA NOW PLEASING POLITICIANS
The people have always been far more favorably disposed to the use of marijuana then the politicians. However, a new trend, the taxation of medical marijuana promises to change the attitude of a great many legislators. California which now garners $16.5 million in yearly revenues from medicinal cannabis has been joined by Colorado in benefiting from such money. That state anticipates an up to $15 million sales tax haul per annum. Maine, New Mexico and Rhode Island are also actively pursuing this option.
This is what I and numerous others in the reform movement have been working towards for decades, that marijuana be treated as an ordinary item of commerce. Dale Gieringer, director of California's National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, points out that "now people have a place they can go where they're accountable, they employ people, they pay sales tax, they even pay health insurance. Contrary to the predictions of our opponents, the sky has not fallen.”
November 19, 2009
THE PROXY WAR TAKING PLACE IN YEMEN
The world’s media is paying very little attention to events taking place in Yemen considering that they may be the beginning of a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran is backing the zaidites a sect of Shiism- Huthi rebels in their fight against the Saudi supported central government. In his analysis of the situation Olivier Guitta, an Adjunct Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, informs us that recently the insurgents crossed into Saudi Arabia killing a border guard while occupying some territory and Riyadh responded with an attack by a column of tanks and motored infantry on rebel positions in Yemen.
As if the state of affairs were not dangerous enough Guitta reports that, “at the same time Yemen is also fighting Al Qaeda in the east in the province of Hadramuth. Al Qaeda has succeeded in mounting very daring operations such as a brazen attack on a convoy of high-ranking security officials that resulted in the death of three of them on Nov. 3. Several media reports evoke the probability of complicity with Al Qaeda among members of the Yemeni army.”
November 17, 2009
THE AMAZING DR. SULTAN, AGAIN
I have written about her in the past. Here is a commentary by Larry Hass on her latest book. Raw courage and true grit. Larry raises important issues that must be faced.
November 17, 2009
CANDIDATE FOR E-MAIL OF THE YEAR
Thanks to Myrna Smith for sending us the following e-mail: After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said: Let me see if I've got this right.
You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning. You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride. You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job. You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.
You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card. You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps. You want me to do all this and then you tell me. . . I CAN'T PRAY?
November 16, 2009
SIGNS POINTING TO A GROWING ACCEPTENCE OF MARIJUANA
Whether or not the eminently sensible and beneficial policy of legalizing marijuana is enacted anytime soon there are a growing number of signs that attitudes towards the drug are changing. In Colorado, which has legalized medical marijuana, the Denver based alternative newspaper Westword has advertised a position writing reviews of the different strains of medical marijuana available in that city. While in Michigan, another state which has made medicinal pot legal, entrepreneur Nick Tennant has followed in the footsteps of Oaksterdam University by opening Med Grow Cannabis College whose mission is to teach the art of growing cannabis. The Washington Times reports that “so far, there doesn't seem to be any opposition to this trade school.”
November 15, 2009
SCIENTISTS RESIGN IN PROTEST
In America as well as Great Britain drug policy is most decidedly political policy with scientific evidence playing a very inadequate role. Stating such an elementary truth can get you fired as British psychopharmacologist Professor David Nutt head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) found out two weeks ago when he lost his job for criticizing the Home Office’s decision to reclassify cannabis from a class C drug, the least harmful, to class B. In a lecture given at the Center for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London Professor Nutt accused then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith of basing the move to change the marijuana classification on a willful "distorting and devaluing" of the scientific evidence. He stated that "we have to accept young people like to experiment -- with drugs and other potentially harmful activities -- and what we should be doing in all of this is to protect them from harm at this stage of their lives. We therefore have to provide more accurate and credible information. If you think that scaring kids will stop them using, you are probably wrong."
Needless to say, the sacking of the head of the ACMD has caused a great deal of controversy with two members of the drug council, chemist Les King and clinical director Marion Walker resigning in protest. This week current Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who is responsible for Nutt’s dismissal, agreed to meet with the remaining members of the ACMD. The session described as tense by The Independent led to the resignations of three more council members, chemist Dr Simon Campbell, psychologist Dr John Marsden and scientific consultant Ian Ragan. Science spokesman for the opposition Liberal Democrats, Evan Harris, contended that "the latest resignations represent a deepening in the crisis of confidence of scientists in the Government – in particular in the Home Secretary. That they come after Alan Johnson met the ACMD demonstrates that he just doesn't get it when it comes to the importance of respecting the academic freedom and integrity of independent, unpaid science advisers."
November 14, 2009
FATAL FLAW IN OUR STRATEGY FOR FIGHTING TERROR
There are some very important lessons that we need to learn from the massacre which took place at Fort Hood. Despite some very clear warnings signs no one in the military command seemed to view the killer, Major Hasan, as a serious threat. If the same amount of mayhem which took place during the event had occurred in Afghanistan the Taliban would now be celebrating a significant victory. Will this horrific incident finally teach us that the peril is ideological not geographical or will a naïve political correctness continue to prevail, endangering us all?
In an excellent analysis of the Fort Hood deaths by Mark Steyn published by The Orange County Register, he points to an almost willful attempt by some of the mainstream media to misunderstand the true ideological nature of this experience. Steyn concludes by asserting that “what happened to those men and women at Fort Hood had a horrible symbolism: Members of the best-trained, best-equipped fighting force on the planet gunned down by a guy who said a few goofy things no one took seriously. And that's the problem: America has the best troops and fiercest firepower, but no strategy for throttling the ideology that drives the enemy – in Afghanistan and in Texas.”
November 11, 2009
THE FORT HOOD MASSACRE WAS A TERRORIST ATTACK
The massacre at Fort Hood where 12 people died and 29 were wounded raises some serious questions. Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has called for a congressional investigation to determine if the event was a terrorist attack. As CBS station WJZ reports there are indications gleaned from perpetrator Major Nidal Malik Hasan past which point to a significant role played by extremist ideology.
In 2007 and 2008 fellow classmates at Uniformed Services University objected to comments made by Hasan arguing that the war on terror was in fact a war on Islam. The website Telegraph.co.uk informs us that Hassan also gave a presentation justifying suicide bombing and asserted that Islamic law superseded the Constitution while there. Also, the major attended the same Virginia mosque as two of the 9-11 hijackers.
Perhaps, the most disturbing aspect of this story is that another student “wrote in a command climate survey sent to Pentagon officials that fear in the military of being seen as politically incorrect prevented an ‘intellectually honest discussion of Islamic ideology’ in the ranks.” We as a nation and especially in the military can not afford to ignore the part that extremist thought plays in the creation of terrorism.
November 10, 2009
ISLAM’S POWERFUL INFLUENCE
The sensibilities of Muslims are of great concern in an increasing number of quarters here in America. Take for example Roland Emmerich a film director who specializes in disaster movies which include the cinematic destruction of famous landmarks. In his latest epic 2012 he obliterate among other places the Sistine Chapel, St. Peters Basilica, the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro but not the Islamic holy site the Kaaba in Mecca. Emmerich stated that he wanted to include such a scene, however, “my co-writer Harald said I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie. And he was right. ... We have to all ... in the Western world ... think about this.”
Then there is Judge David Hamilton who Barak Obama has appointed to sit on the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. A Washington Times editorial opposing the nomination quotes Senator Jeff Sessions as arguing that Hamilton's ruling in Hinrichs v. Bosma "prohibited prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives that expressly mentioned Jesus Christ ... yet he allowed prayers which mentioned Allah.”
Lastly we come to the actions of the Yale University Press. They published Jytte Klausen’s book about the Danish cartoons that caused so much controversy by depicting Allah, The Cartoons That Shook the World, but they forbid the inclusion of the drawings that the work is about. While the university gave concern about violence as the reason for its abridgement of academic freedom the more likely motive is the possibility of donations from wealthy Muslims. In its scathing condemnation of this outrageous censorship The New Criterion asserts that “Yale really does seem to be afraid of offending Muslims. But not because of any threats of violence—there were none. The unspoken threat that really worries Yale concerns money, not mayhem.”
November 8, 2009
LATEST DATA ON MARIJUANA ARRESTS IN AMERICAN
The most recent information on marijuana arrests verifies many facts that argue for a repeal of prohibition. A new report, Marijuana Arrests in the United States posted on The Bulletin of Cannabis Reform contains a wealth of significant data including state by state breakdowns.
The account tells us that from 1991 to 2009 the number of marijuana arrests doubled while the number of users has remained consistent. Also, punishment for infractions falls disproportionately on young people and African-Americans and most tellingly that strictness of the law has almost no effect on usage rates. In his executive summary author Jon Gettman points out that “there are wide disparities between states in both marijuana arrest rates and the severity of penalties. These differences bear little relationship to rates of use, while the penalty structure actually serves as a price support for the illicit market.”
November 6, 2009
ISRAELI TESTIMONY WAS IGNORED BY GOLDSTONE
A doctor, who was seriously wounded to the point of needing eight operations, when a missile fired from Gaza hit her clinic in Southern Israel, testified before the UN Commission investigating alleged war crimes. In a UN Watch video she asks Richard Goldstone the author of the final report; “Why did you completely ignore my story?”
November 5, 2009
ECONOMIC PRICE OF DRUG PROHIBITION
The human costs, including loss of liberty and the direct monetary support of drug prohibition are widely recognized, however, hidden economic damage also occurs. Take the case of Mexico which seemed poised to take off economically in the 1990s but failed to achieve the expected results. In his analysis of the Mexican disappointment Alvaro Vargas Llosa suggests that that country’s so vigorous pursuit of drug control could be a partial reason for their financial shortfall. He contends that Mexican President Felipe Calderon “made what a large number of his Mexican supporters think was a colossal mistake in devoting to the drug war the energy and resources that he should have committed to completing the truncated reforms. The evidence indicates that the drug cartels are simply shifting some of their operations to Central America while continuing to corrupt the Mexican institutions and suck the blood out of an administration consumed by the struggle with the enemy it has picked.”
Whatever the true economic costs of the Mexican drug war, it is clear that human costs have become enormous. In its weekly update of the situation, which includes an astonishing day by day accounting, the Drug War Chronicle reports that death toll for 2009 has just surpassed 6000.
November 5, 2009
NO CRITICISM OF ANTI-ISRAELI ZEALOTS ALLOWED
Unduly harsh and unfounded attacks on Israel have become standard discourse on American college campuses. Many of these ubiquitous contentions fit the State Department’s working definition of anti-Semitism. However, for some that such hate filled speech is freely and widely disseminated is not enough, there must also be no response to it.
Two individuals who feel this way are David Theo Goldberg, director of the system-wide University of California Humanities, and Saree Makdisi, a Professor of English Literature at UCLA. They have written an article for Tikkun magazine titled The Trial of Israel's Campus Critics, which posits “attempts to silence or stifle criticism of Israeli policy on American college campuses.”
Both of these authors have a long history of virulent anti-Israeli speech and writings including a letter to President Obama accusing Israel of "one of the most massive, ethnocidal atrocities of modern times” and a UCLA conference talk that asserted Israel’s government has a “premeditated state policy to kill Gazans and stunt the growth of their children.” In an excellent rejoinder to Goldberg and Makdisi published by American Thinker Tammi Rossman-Benjamin argues that their “criticisms are arguably neither scholarly nor legitimate. By wrapping themselves in the mantle of academic freedom, Goldberg and Makdisi have egregiously abused the freedom that comes from such an action. And by falsely accusing anyone who would criticize them of committing the very offenses they themselves have committed, they take intellectual thuggery to vile new depths.”
November 3, 2009
WE ARE ALL SAD
Brighton Beach closes. Sad. Sad,
November 2, 2009
I DO NOT WANT TO BELIEVE SOWELL'S MESSAGE BUT …
Sadly it appears to be quite true.
October 30, 2009
ONCE AGAIN MEDIA IGNORES ISRAELI SIDE OF THE STORY
The latest charge against Israel is that it is denying Palestinians access to water. The accusation comes from Amnesty International and the mainstream media in both Great Britain and the United States were all too happy to accept the report at face value. The Times of London headline read Palestinians suffer under Israeli water torture. While most outlets did provide for a limited Israeli response CNN could not even be bothered with that much.
Again it is left up websites such as HonestReporting to point out that there are two sides to this story. An article posted on the site links to a Jerusalem Post editorial which informs us that “Israel's Water Authority was prevented from making any sort of presentation to Amnesty's researchers or responding to the report's charges before publication” despite he fact that it released an extensive report on the subject in March of this year. Also, the newspaper notes that since the Six Day War the per capita water available to Israelis has decreased 70% while the per capita water for use by the Palestinians has increased by 22%. Lastly, the piece highlights the fact that “Israel supplies water to the PA well in excess of its 1995 Oslo Accords undertakings. Systematically overlooked by Amnesty, meanwhile, are Palestinian breaches of these accords - including pirate drilling, water theft and routine damage to pipelines, failures to purify waste water (despite massive contributions by donor nations), irrigating crops with fresh rather than reclaimed water, dumping untreated sewage into streams, severely contaminating Israel's Coastal Aquifer and forcing Israel to deal with PA sewage.” None of this, course of, is of any interest to CNN.
October 29, 2009
ANOTHER YOUNG TALENTED BOY, ONE I NEVER HEARD OF
But soon the world will listen in awe. A must!
October 27, 2009
ANOTHER WONDERFUL REVIEW FOR OUR GUY FROM GEORGETOWN DAY SCHOOL!
Yeah, Noah. Don't stop now.
October 27, 2009
AND NOW FOR SOME KUDOS TO A KID WE ALL LOVE
Wow. It is great to read wonderful things about a kid we knew was a terrific actor, Noah Robbins. But we only dreamed as did he that he would be able to show it off on Broadway!
October 27, 2009
NEVER AGAIN IS NOW MOVEMENT
Worry over the very survival of the Israeli people seems to be much more intense than usual. This fear had led some people to call for drastic action. Stan Zir and Buddy Macy have proclaimed a Jewish People’s Declaration of Independence. They have also named November 9, 2009 the anniversary of Kristallnacht to be the Day of Juden and they are organizing a march on Washington for that date.
October 22, 2009
CAN ASPECTS OF ISLAMIC CULTURE BE DISCUSSED IN SAFETY?
This week we got another reminder that speaking about certain aspects of Islam can compromise one’s safety. Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, auteur of the film Fitna which connects passages in the Quran to the violent actions of Muslim extremists, spoke at Temple University. During the question and answer period the crowd became so ugly that Wilders security team felt it necessary to have him leave the stage. Despite how the evening ended the university itself should be commended for allowing the event to take place. Temple officials stated that the school “is a community of scholars in which freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression are valued."
October 21, 2009
LA PROSECUTOR WAGES PERSONAL WAR ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA
For some time now when it comes to the issue of medical marijuana the federal government has been seen as the problem with local officials perceived as being much more reasonable. However, with the promulgation of a Justice Department memo ordering personnel to stop prosecuting medical marijuana suppliers in compliance with state laws that allow it and the declaration by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley that he intends to shut down medical cannabis clinics that make a profit these roles are being reversed.
Cooley’s intentions raise a number of questions. He says he will “target stores who are profiting and selling to people who don't qualify for medicinal marijuana.” Since he has no medical expertise how is he to determine who does and does not deserve relief? This becomes just another case of law enforcement putting their ill informed judgments ahead of doctors. Also, physicians, hospitals, laboratories, and insurance companies all make profits supplying all sorts of medical services why should medical marijuana clinics be any different? In addition, city government has “been unable to pass an ordinance governing the dispensaries.” How can people follow rules that do not exist? It seems that whether or not you are in compliance depends upon the whim of Steve Cooley. Lastly, because robberies, rapes, and murders occur in Los Angles County on a daily basis would not the public be better served by a different employment of limited law enforcement resources?
Clearly, the people living in Los Angles County are in the same predicament as those residing in San Diego County. They both are saddled with vicious district attorneys who care much more about the welfare of their political careers than they do about the well being of the citizens they are supposed to protect.
October 20, 2009
THE OBVIOUS HYPOCRISYAND DEPRAVITY OF THE UNHRC MEMBERSHIP
Despite the fact that the deeply flawed Goldstone Report does contain ample evidence of human rights violations committed by Hamas the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) resolution condemns only Israel. As pointed out in an article posted on HonestReporting, this comes from a body where 68% of the 25 member nations voting against Israel are judged to be either despotisms or corrupt pseudo-democracies. This is the sixth time the UNHRC has had a special session on Israel while the rest of the entire world has engendered only four.
Even the Goldstone Report’s author seems to call into serious question the justification for the resolution stating, in an article posted by The Jewish Daily Forward, that “if this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven. I wouldn't consider it in any way embarrassing if many of the allegations turn out to be disproved.”
In a scathing editorial, addressing the report and urging the United States to use its veto if any action is attempted in the Security Council, The Washington Times asserts that “there is no moral equality between Hamas and Israel any more than there is between al Qaeda and the United States. Yet under the Goldstone logic, terrorists and sovereign states are identical. The incidental, unintentional civilian deaths Israel caused during the Gaza conflict are condemned as war crimes; the widespread and intentional Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians are basically ignored. The Goldstone model makes it impossible for civilized states to strike effectively against the world's barbarians who are fighting a shadow war against decency that views innocent noncombatants as both legitimate targets and useful shields.”
October 20, 2009
THE GOLDSTONE SAGA GETS MORE BIZARRE EVERY DAY
This would be funny if it were not so serious. Again, it leads to the conclusion that it is time for the US and all democracies to get out of the harmful UN nutcase. You cannot make this stuff up. Read this and laugh and weep at the same time.
October 19, 2009
THE WASHINGTON TIMES SHAMES THE MSM AGAIN -- THIS TIME WITH ITS POWERFUL EDITORIAL DISPARAGING THE UN SUPPORT OF TERROR
The Washington Times should get credit for dealing with this vital issue in clear and unmistakable terms. Bravo to the editorial writers and leaders of the Times. A Bronx cheer to the cowards and bigots at The Washington Post and other members of the MSM.
October 19, 2009
THE NEW FEDERAL MARIJUANA POLICY IS A VICTORY FOR COMMON SENSE … FINALLY!
Years ago when I was leading the Drug Policy Foundation, we hoped that this would be the result of our political and financial support of state reform actions. Now it seems to have occurred: even though Federal law is supreme, as a practical matter, Federal prosecutors will not go after individuals whose actions are in compliance with state law, and when no violence or other transgressions are involved. Marijuana remains illegal under Federal law and under most state laws.
This is somewhat in line with the way in which most sex crimes are treated by prosecutors, an approach I have long advocated. The laws remain on the books for political reasons but generally are not enforced except when there is true abuse such as rape. If all the sex laws were actually enforced on consenting participants, there would be no judges on the bench and no prosecutors or police officers to bring in sex law violators.
October 19, 2009
UK MILITARY LEADER: DURING OPERATION CAST LEAD, THE ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES DID MORE TO SAFEGUARD THE RIGHTS OF CIVILIANS IN A COMBAT ZONE THAT ANY OTHER ARMY IN THE HISTORY OF WARFARE
In making this statement Colonel Richard Kemp demonstrated that the Goldstone Report was a lie, root and branch. He was of course ignored by the UN bigots running the hearing in Geneva and will be ignored by most of the world.
October 18, 2009
LEGAL MARIJUANA IN OAKLAND
One of the more unfair aspects of the debate over drug prohibition is the demand that those who oppose proscription describe in exacting detail the consequences of a change while those who favor law enforcement approaches get to assume that the only result will be the cessation of use. Well now in Oakland, California there is a concrete example of marijuana legalization in action. A nine block area in downtown Oakland surrounding Oaksterdam University, a school for people wanting to enter the expanding marijuana business, has become a gathering place for users of virtually legal cannabis.
The primary noticeable effect of this occurance seems to be increased commerce. The Oakland Community and Economic Development Agency reports that 160 new businesses have moved into the downtown area while the vacancy rate has decreased from 25% to 5%. The city has passed an excise tax on marijuana and it is expected to bring in over $1 million during the first year. The founder of the cannabis college, entrepreneur Richard Lee, points out that "the reality is we're creating jobs, improving the city, filling empty store spaces, and when people come down here to Oakland they can see that."
Those who oppose these recent developments use the same tired unfounded arguments they have always employed, unfortunately repeated in the Newsweek article linked to above. However, there is nothing that has happened in Oakland which bolsters their position that legal marijuana is a problem. Quite the contrary it is proving to be beneficial.
October 17, 2009
I DO NOT CARE A FIG ABOUT BIG RUSH BUT HIS TREATMENT WAS INCREDIBLY HYPOCRITICAL
Some owners of NFL teams are truly creeps and nothing is said about them
October 17, 2009
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION IN MASSACHUSETTS
Efforts in California to legalize pot have been receiving a great deal of attention but that is not the only state moving forward on this issue. In Massachusetts Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) has filed H2929 which would make lawful the adult use of marijuana. The legislation begins by stating that; “The governor and the representatives of the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging that previous efforts have not succeeded in eliminating or curtailing marijuana use and abuse; determined to exercise some measure of control over the use of cannabis consistent with respect for individual freedom and responsibility; and declaring our objectives to be the reduction of cannabis abuse, the elimination of marijuana-related crime and the raising of public revenue, do hereby ordain and enact The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act.”
This bill, the idea of former NORML and StoptheDrugWar.org board member Northampton attorney Richard Evans, got a hearing before the legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee this week. Arguing that state revenues would be greatly enhanced Evans testified that "whether you like it or you hate it... it is undeniable in 2009 that marijuana has become inextricably embedded in our culture. It is ubiquitous and it is ineradicable. Members should put on your green eye shades and give close scrutiny to marijuana prohibition." While the law is not expected to pass in this session its proposal and the hearing are nevertheless important steps in the right direction.
October 16, 2009
CAIR: THE MUSLIM MAFIA
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) claims to be a grassroots organization whose only concern is human rights. Daniel Pipes calls attention to a new book, Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that's Conspiring to Islamize America, that destroys such assertions. Written by P. David Gaubatz, whose son Chris interned for six months at CAIR's D.C. headquarters in 2008, and Paul Sperry the work provides an inside view of the organization. The authors reveal among other things that only 3% of CAIR’s funding comes from membership dues and that they offer their services for the promotion of commercial interests. In light of these facts, Daniel Pipes asks “should CAIR not be required to register as a foreign agent, with the regulations, scrutiny, and lack of tax-deductible status that the designation implies?”
October 15, 2009
ACCORDING TO BBC SUFERING OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN VERY IMPORTANT SUFFERING OF ISRAELI CHILDREN NOT SO MUCH
The Israeli children living in the town of Sderot were subject to Hamas rocket fire for over eight years. The attacks were often scheduled to maximize the chance of killing children traveling to and from school. Needless to say living under such conditions took a significant psychological toll. A 2008 study by the Center for Victims of Terror and War found that “between 70% to 94% of Sderot children suffer from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
However, in yet another biased anti-Israeli program broadcast by the BBC the suffering of Israeli children is very much downplayed while the suffering of Palestinian children is hyped. The network’s Katya Adler subtly questions the idea that the attack on Gaza was motivated by the constant mortar and rocket fire coming from there. She intersperses interviews of Palestinian children with dramatic footage of warfare while the tiny amount of time spent on Israeli children is set in a nice safe clean schoolyard. The website HonestReporting points out that “there is no mention of Sderot, Hamas, Palestinian terror or any other details, even in a simple form that might aid a child's understanding of the situation. Instead, young minds will invariably perceive Israel as the bad guy in the story.”
October 14, 2009
A TIME FOR OUTRAGE AND INTOLERANCE OF THE NUT CASES RUNNING THE UN
I just signed the enclosed petition to our ambassador to the UN. But much more must be done. If the president does not lead a campaign of outrage then he has lost all moral standing. Lets hope he damn well does. Over two thousand years of this is quite enough.
October 13, 2009
THE CONTRADICTIONS OF ISLAMIC SUICIDE BOMBINGS
The phenomenon of suicide bombings carried out by Muslims is a very complex issue fraught with contradictions. Islam forbids its followers to commit the act of killing oneself and in countries where that religion predominates the regular suicide rates involving only one person are very low. Yet, those who blow themselves up killing others in the process are honored as holy martyrs. Also, when waging Jihad only enemy combatants are supposed to be killed but the victims of suicide bombings are almost always civilians.
In a thoughtful and far ranging essay published in the Middle East Quarterly, Editor Denis MacEoin argues that suicide bombings are best understood as acts of worship pointing out that with exception of the Tamils living in Sri Lanka those dying in that manner are almost exclusively Muslims. MacEoin concludes that while security measures are necessary they are not the ultimate solution, asserting that “we have to make suicide bombing an affront to religion and a matter of great dishonor.”
October 13, 2009
IT SEEMS ONLY ARABS CAN BE REFUGEES
There is a monstrous double standard applied to Israel and the rest of the world when it comes to acceptable conduct. This dual system of judgment has been in place for quite some time. The website Facts & Logic About the Middle East (FLAME) reminds us of this fact by reprinting an essay written in 1968 by non-Jewish social philosopher Eric Hoffer. The author asserts that, “the Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people, and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it. Turkey threw out a million Greeks and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese and no one says a word about refugees. But in the case of Israel displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab.” Sadly things have changed little since than.
October 12, 2009
UBIQUITOUS FEDERAL CRIME
The founding fathers never intended the federal government to be in the business of prosecuting ordinary crime. This task was supposed to be left to the states. However, with the advent of alcohol and drug prohibition that line became increasingly blurred to the point where all sorts of seemingly mundane behavior can land someone in federal prison.
In a very alarming article by Brian W. Walsh, a senior legal research fellow in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, the movement by the federal government to turn everyone into a criminal is discussed. The piece begins by describing a SWAT team raid by the Fish and Wildlife Service that trashed the home of George Norris. Walsh tells us that “Mr. Norris ended up spending almost two years in prison because he didn't have the proper paperwork for some of the many orchids he imported. The orchids were all legal - but Mr. Norris and the overseas shippers who had packaged the flowers had failed to properly navigate the many, often irrational, paperwork requirements the U.S. imposed when it implemented an arcane international treaty's new restrictions on trade in flowers and other flora.”
Mr. Norris is an elderly man with significant health problems and the two years in prison, along with the years fighting the charges, constitute a tremendous physical and financial burden on someone for what was essentially faulty paperwork. He represents a growing class of people, victims of overzealous federal prosecutors enforcing intrusive irrational laws. So many individuals and their families have had their lives ruined that the problem has warranted Congressional hearings. The question becomes who will be next person receiving this kind of injustice?
October 8, 2009
A HISTORY LESSON FOR JIMMY CARTER
Jimmy Carter’s recent assertion that those who oppose Barak Obama on the issues do so because of the color of his skin is both ridiculous and demonstrably false. In an essay titled What Jimmy Carter Doesn’t Know Jonathan Bean argues that the former president is stuck in an unhistorical 1960s overly sensitive radical mindset which fails to understand the true origins of racist policies. He points out that Carter fails to see that the integration of immigrants into society and the acceptance of interracial marriage have changed the racial dynamic. Bean reminds Carter that “in fact, it is government that has done the most harm to people living in our country because of their skin color. Government supported slavery, Jim Crow, Chinese Exclusion, Japanese internment, forced sterilization of ‘inferior races,’ and today’s race preferences in hiring, promotion, awarding of contracts, and other areas.”
October 6, 2009
EVEN STRONG CRITIC DEFENDS DAVID HOROWITZ’S RIGHT TO SPEAK
The censorship on American campuses regarding any discussion of Islamic extremism has become so heavy handed that even opponents with strongly different viewpoints have begun to protest. Recently the Saint Louis University administration arbitrarily canceled an invitation by the College Republicans for the presentation of a lecture titled An Evening with David Horowitz: Islamo-Fascism Awareness and Civil Rights. These circumstances prompted long time critic Cary Nelson, national president of the American Association of University Professors, who has called Horowitz wrong and offensive, to issue a statement on the AAUP website. Nelson asserts that Saint Louis University has joined “the small group of campuses that are universities in name only. The free exchange of ideas is not just a comforting offshoot of higher education; it defines the fundamental nature of the enterprise.”
October 5, 2009
MARC EMERYMAY BE EXTRADITED
One of the most sought after targets for the DEA and federal prosecutors has been Marc Emery who earned the nickname “prince of pot” for his successful marijuana seed business and his tireless legalization activism. As documented in Fatal Distraction: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror Emery has been a very high priority target since 2005 despite tangible terrorist threats and because of his political outreach. Unfortunately, he now sits in a Vancouver jail awaiting possible extradition to the United States.
The authorities may be able to imprison him but they surely will not silence him. At press conference held shortly before he turned himself in, an unapologetic Emery declared that "I'm disappointed in my government, but very proud of my 'Overgrow the Government' revolution. This terrible, insidious prohibition has been propped up by Liberal and Conservative governments for 45 years. It's a public policy with no public benefit, and it has caused so much misery, heartbreak, and torment for so many Canadians."
This could turn out to be a pyrrhic victory for the prohibitionists. No arrest in recent memory has outraged so many people and plans for energetic protests on both sides of the border are well underway. Also, if Emery is extradited the motivational factor may very well cause Steven Harper’s Conservative Party to pay a heavy price at the polls next election. The more attention that is paid to the bankrupt policy of marijuana prohibition the worse it is for those who support it.
October 4, 2009
PROBLEM OF HONOR CRIMES FINALLY BEING ADDRESSED IN GREAT BRITAIN
Those in the West who believe that there should one law, Shariah, for Muslims and another for the rest of us have suffered a setback in Great Britain. The government is now addressing the problem of honor crimes by issuing specific guidelines for police that will engender greater attention to this horrific practice. Cases like that of Banaz Mahmod who was killed by her father and uncle despite her asking law enforcement for help four separate times will no longer be tolerated. The website IslamistWatch asserts that, “the nation's new approach to honor crime reflects the lessons of this tragedy. Now other countries should follow the UK's lead. Innocent lives hang in the balance.”
October 1, 2009
DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY WAGES WAR ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA
In order to make herself more politically palatable to conservative voters for an upcoming election the lesbian District Attorney of San Diego County, Bonnie Dumanis, is once again persecuting medical marijuana users with a vengeance. In an outrage provoking article the Drug War Chronicle is reporting that in early September, contrary to state law, fourteen medical marijuana dispensaries were raided and closed. The event resulted in thirty three arrests and the spectacle of a man being dragged out his wheelchair by law enforcement. Despite President Obama’s assurances that such federal actions were a thing of the past the DEA took part in some of the incursions.
Trying to have it both ways, Dumanis claims to be a friend of medical marijuana, however, no clinic, despite great effort to do so, ever seems to be able to live up to her exacting legal standard. Dion Markgraff, San Diego coordinator for Americans for Safe Access, argues that “she can't follow the plain language of the law, but instead she holds some impossible standard that no one else knows about. We're on the front lines of the most terrorist county in the whole state. The DA is sending in cops who lied to doctors to get valid recommendations, and then busting dispensaries that are operating according to the law. At worst, maybe somebody didn't file this or that piece of paper or had a zoning issue, but there was certainly nothing criminal."
The Drug Policy Alliance is petitioning California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown asking them to help put a halt to Dumannis’ unjust harassment. You can sign it here. With all of the discrimination and maltreatment that gay women have had to endure over the years you would think that someone with the DA’s background would be little more hesitant to inflict such treatment on other people, especially the sick.
October 1, 2009
EDITORIAL SPARKS A GREAT DEAL OF POSITIVE COMMENTARY
Sometimes an idea is so startling and new that its importance can not be ignored. The editorial published in The Washington Times on September 28th arguing that Israel is now the leader of the free world is one such notion. Not only did the paper’s readers respond with a substantial number of thoughtful and overwhelmingly positive comments but numerous other forums have contributed to the discussion by posting the piece and allowing responses (see here, here, and here). The website HonestReporting calls the op-ed simply amazing. I remain doubtful if Israel will be in that leadership position in the eyes of most of the people of the West although again it is an intriguing though idealistic idea.
September 30, 2009
THE NEW LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD IS... ?
Israel! At least that is the position of The Washington Times in a prominent editorial yesterday. It is a persuasively argued piece and one worth thinking about. At the least it is a rather novel argument.
September 29, 2009
MIXED REVIEWS FOR OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY
Ambivalent is a good word to describe the general opinion of Barak Obama’s foreign policy. Some like David Broder give the President high marks for his performance so far viewing the appearance at the UN as an exam passed with flying colors. In this same camp is Fareed Zakaria liking Obama’s dealings with the world as a gamble that machismo is counterproductive. He argues that this bet “has already produced remarkable results. Russia and China, after long opposition, agreed last week to a toughening of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In a striking shift, Russia signaled that it may support tougher sanctions against Iran. The Obama administration's decision to cultivate a relationship with both countries, to listen to their concerns, is paying off.”
On the other hand, many conservative commentators such as Caroline Glick see a dangerous foreign policy dominated by anti-Israeli advisors such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samantha Powers that is encouraging Muslim extremism throughout the globe. She argues that that “Obama is willing to live in a world in which Iran is armed with nuclear weaponry” and points out that “since entering office, Obama has struck a hard-line position against Israel while adopting a soft, even apologetic line toward Iran and its allies.” I want very much to believe he is succeeding but I remain worried that Glick is more correct than the other commentators.
September 28, 2009
THE NEXT PALESTINIAN LEADER
In their history the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority have had only two leaders, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. So, the question of who the third person in charge will be is one of utmost importance. Barry Rubin offers us a disturbing profile of the most likely candidate, hardliner Muhammad Ghaneim.
Rubin strongly suggests that this matter has been highly overlooked arguing that, “an issue that is supposedly the most important, high-priority question in the world is studied so little has a simple explanation. The contemporary narrative is that the Palestinian leaders yearn for a state, an end to the conflict, and peace, while the failure to achieve these can be blamed on Israel. Yet even the slightest real examination shows the exact opposite is true.”
September 28, 2009
THE FORGOTTEN MIDDLE EAST REFUGEES
Throughout the world there is much sympathy lavished on the between 500,000 and 750,000 Palestinian Arabs who left Israel in 1948 despite the fact that their current status as refugees is deliberate. However, there are very few tears being shed over the much less known ordeal of the more than 850,000 Jews forced to flee Arab countries between 1948 and 1970.
The story of one of these persecuted people, Linda Abu-Aziz Menuhin, has now been told in the pages of The Jerusalem Post by Lela Gilbert. After the Six Day War Menuhin wrote a letter to her aunt in America describing the shocking conditions Jews were enduring including the banning of Jewish institutions, people disappearing, and the horrific execution of nine innocents in front of a large joyous cheering crowd. The letter under the title, Anne Frank from Baghdad, was published in Israel.
In the piece Gilbert points out that, “these forgotten refugees were members of ancient Jewish communities that predated Christianity. More than a few were wealthy, powerful and successful. Nearly all of them left their homes with little more than the shirts on their backs, leaving behind houses, bank accounts, investments, personal treasures and their means of livelihood. They resettled, mostly in Israel. From then until now, they have received no reparations, no inventory of their lost possessions and virtually no consideration in negotiations for Middle East peace.”
September 26, 2009
SUGGESTED COURSE FOR OBAMA ON IRAN
With The New York Times hinting that “Mr. Obama appears to have crossed a psychological threshold on Iran” it appears that changes in policy are imminent. Writing for The North Star National Lawrence J. Haas argues in favor of more support for Iranians dissatisfied with the actions of their government. He suggests that “Obama should make clear to the Iranian people that the United States stands behind them, applauds their bravery and supports their aspirations. He should reassure Iranians that Washington's dispute is with the regime and has nothing to do with our desire for closer ties with them.”
September 25, 2009
IS HE ACTUALLY IMPOTENT?
I disagree with much of Obama's policies but I am not prepared to label him
as impotent. However, this Guardian writer is. Of course, I now usually
disagree with anything appearing in this British newspaper. As it happens I do agree with a bit of what he says here. In any event, it is worth reading and reflecting about.
September 23, 2009
THEY WILL MUTTER PRIVATELY
Thank God for Israel!
September 22, 2009
WHAT IS YOUR DOG THINKING?
For thousands of years dog and man have been boon companions yet we know relatively little about what is going on inside our friend’s mind. That is beginning to change with a new systematic research effort. In a fascinating article for Time Carl Zimmer shares some surprising results and plans for greater understanding of how dogs think.
September 22, 2009
SPECIAL RULES FOR PALESTINIAN PROFESSORS AT COLUMBIA
At Columbia University fourteen professors from various departments have signed a letter protesting the awarding of tenure to anti-Israeli professor of Arab studies, Joseph A. Massad. They charge that the university’s procedures for granting tenure were violated in favor of Massad who was denied tenure in 2007. He has a history of intimidating students, an inadequate academic record, and in the past equated Israel to the Nazis. In her excellent article on the subject Judith Miller, a contributing editor of City Journal and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writes that “underlying the professors' procedural concerns about the tenure award is not only their objection to adding yet another stridently anti-Israeli voice to Columbia's lopsidedly pro-Arab Middle Eastern studies department, but also dismay about their administration's abject unwillingness to reject a tenure candidate whose academic record is notably thin. Still, Massad has managed to turn himself into what his critics call a poster boy for academic freedom on campus.”
September 21, 2009
A WONDERFUL STORY LONG FORGOTTEN
Awesome courage and religion on the battlefield (listen to the service and more here).
September 18, 2009
SUGGESTED READING FROM OSAMA BIN LADEN
The latest communication from Osama bin Laden contains the usual denunciation of American foreign policy but it also has some suggested reading. The New York Times informs us that the Al Qaeda leader “described three books that he says support his analysis of global politics and the systematic maltreatment of Muslims at the hands of America and her allies.”
Among the three tomes recommended is former President Jimmy Carter’s work, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The Blog Moonbattery helps us understand why Osama Bin Laden views Carter’s writing with such favor by quoting The New York Times review of Carter’s screed. At the time the reviewer stated that Carter “simply offers a narrative that is largely unsympathetic to Israel. Israeli bad faith fills the pages. Hollow statements by Israel’s enemies are presented without comment. Broader regional developments go largely unexamined. In other words, whether or not Carter is right that most Americans have a distorted view of the conflict, his contribution is to offer a distortion of his own.”
September 17, 2009
BIASED GOLDSTONE REPORT
The United Nations Human Rights Council, never a friend of Israel, has issued a 575 page report derived from a fact finding mission headed by Richard Goldstone a Jewish war crimes judge from South Africa. This Goldstone Report has been a subject of concern for supporters of Israel for some time now. They feared it would be highly biased and that it would needlessly complicate upcoming talks with both the Palestinians and Iran. They were not disappointed as the document calls for the investigation of Israeli war crimes.
HonestReporting has posted a detailed refutation of the Goldstone Report describing its background and bias. It includes these five important points:
”Israel did not deliberately target the civilian population of Gaza and, in fact, made efforts to prevent civilian casualties that no other army in the world would have done.
Contrary to the assertions of Goldstone, Hamas did use Palestinian civilians as human shields.
The Goldstone Report is not objective and is, in fact tainted by bias and politicization, both from the UN Human Rights Council and members of the mission itself.
The report relied upon the contributions of anti-Israel non-governmental organizations and unreliable Palestinian "eyewitnesses."
Israel respects human rights and has a sophisticated legal and judicial system. Hamas does not. Yet the report has created an unjust equivalence of a democratic state with a terror organization.”
September 16, 2009
PROMINENT CRITIC OF ISRAEL LIKES TO COLLECTS NAZI MEMORABILIA
In 2005 the Israeli Defense Force was accused of killing Palestinian civilians on a beach with 155mm artillery shell. It was subsequently revealed that the shrapnel did not come from that type of weapon and that in all likelihood Hamas had staged the incident.
At the time one of the leading voices condemning Israel belonged to Human Rights Watch’s Marc Garlasco who continued his accusations despite the fact that he could not contradict the findings of an Israeli Defense Force report proving they were not responsible. His statements were consistent with his overall pattern of anti-Israeli rhetoric.
Now HonestReporting has revealed that Marc Garlasco is obsessed with Nazi memorabilia to the point where he has written a 430 page book on the Third Reich’s war paraphernalia. In the story HonestReporting links to it is pointed out that “this isn't about him as an individual. It's about HRW's institutional culture, where people couldn't tell that something was amiss because everyone holds the same opinions he does. His anti-Israel biases are literally institutionalized in that organization. As I said at the bottom of this post, this is their mess as much or more than it is his.”
It is one thing to have one of your leading attackers of Israel be an expert on Nazi war souvenirs but is quite another to have that fact publicized, so Human Rights Watch has now suspended their war expert Marc Garlasco.
September 16, 2009
JUDAH PEARL ON THE NEED FOR A NEW LEGAL REGIME
On the eighth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center Judah Pearl father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl speaks for the victims of terrorism. He argues that new international rules for dealing with those who commit terrorist acts are necessary. In the pages of The Wall Street Journal Pearl urges our government to send a clear message to people contemplating such atrocities. He asserts that,”first and foremost, it must proclaim unequivocally that America is still committed to the war on terror, and that this war includes not just active combatants or members of recognized terrorist organizations, but the ideology of terror itself. In other words, America should affirm its commitment to fight any ideology that licenses the targeting of innocent civilians to transmit political messages.” The new system should include trials in secret. When caught, the fate is nothingness mainly so they cannot spread their message and also to punish them. Oblivion is the key.
September 12, 2009
VAN JONES APPOINTMENT RAISES IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
The Obama Administration’s appointment of Van Jones to be the Green Jobs Czar raises two important questions. First just how radical is Barak Obama and secondly is his administration competent? Even though Jones has resigned his position these questions are still very important.
This video posted on Breitbart.tv explains why that is so and it also gives us an idea how radical Mr. Jones is by playing some of the statements he has made over the years. We are left wondering just how much of this drastic viewpoint does President Obama share and the affair also forces us to ask how did someone with such a problematic history get appointed to high office?
September 10, 2009
A PLUG FOR AN INTRIQUING RELATIVELY NEW PRESS
It sounds fascinating. And I love the title, felony and mayhem indeed.
Also the boss is Maggie Topkis the daughter of my old wonderful editor at
Yale, Gladys Topkis, who recently passed away. Buy some of their books.
September 10, 2009
THE ISRAEL TEST: IS A TEST OF OUR OWN ABILITY TO SURVIVE AS A FREE NATION
This is powerful logic and it may well be true in agonizing detail. A must read.
September 9, 2009
HERE'S TO A REAL HERO, NICHOLAS WINTON, WHO IS 100 YEARS OLD NOW
This is a story worth telling again and again. I know some of the kids --
now adults -- who escaped but I have never met the hero Nicholas who did not
even tell his family about his amazing exploits until forty years later. Wow.
September 7, 2009
I HATE TO ADMIT IT BUT WILL CONVINCED ME
The new military commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has given President Obama his initial assessment of the war which calls for an increase in the number of ground troops assigned there. Of course many of Obama’s supporters in the last election will be opposed to this step. However, this time they will be joined by conservative columnist George Will whose recent controversial essay is titled “Time to Get Out of Afghanistan”. After giving a cogent argument that an increase in troop levels will not really change things Will suggests that “instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.”
The reaction to Will’s opinion from the political right has been swift and highly critical. In The New York Times Eric Etheridge reviews the responses to the idea of leaving Afghanistan. Ethridge also asserts that while antagonism to the Afghanistan policy from the anti-war left may be very strong and very vocal, opposition to these policies by George Will may be in the long run more problematic for Obama.
September 4, 2009
NORWAY’S NOT SO HUMANITARIAN FACE
Sweden and Norway share a very long border and apparently their people also share some of the same anti-Semitic attitudes. The latest manifestation of hostility towards Israel is the divestment by the Norwegian government of their stake in the Israeli company Elbit Systems Ltd., ostensibly for working on the West Bank security fence. However, in their story about this action The Jerusalem Post quotes an Israeli diplomatic official as saying that "there is no doubt this is connected to the elections. Is Elbit only now involved with the fence? There is no doubt that this is a cheap political attempt to get a few votes from a very specific constituency."
We should not be surprised by the Norwegian government’s deed. In fact, Norway has unexpectedly extensive record of anti-Semitic attitudes and actions in recent years. This fact is exhaustively documented on the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs website by Manfred Gerstenfeld author of Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews.
September 4, 2009
THE FALSE CONCEPT OF A CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
During his campaign for president Barak Obama consistently referred to a “cycle of violence” in the Middle East. This mistaken notion implies equivalence between the Israeli government and Palestinian organizations such as Fatah and the even more extreme Hamas who specifically advocate terrorist violence as a means to advance political objectives. While now President Obama does not still use that precise phrase he still adheres to the notion of equivalence.
Purdue University professor Louis René Beres explains why Obama’s false conception is an impediment to a lasting peace. Beres asserts that “Mr. Obama still accepts an erroneous symmetry between Arab terrorism and Israeli counter-terrorism. This unfortunate acceptance belies his seeming intent to embrace a fair and honorable approach to the problem. More generally, it also has the effect of eroding crucial differences between crime and punishment, between murder and self-defense.”
September 4, 2009
CONTROVERSY OVER SWEDISH ANTI-SEMITISM CONTINUES
One has to wonder if the editors of Aftonbladet anticipated the firestorm of criticism that would come down upon their heads when they published that disgusting libelous article (here in English) accusing the IDF of harvesting organs. It has indeed caused a great deal of controversy and HonestReporting has provided us with links to a great deal of the commentary.
Another issue is also threatening to permanently damage the reputation of the Swedish people. Their government has been illegally forcibly returning Christian Assyrian refugees to Iraq. Some of them have worked for the Americans and their lives are being put in mortal danger.
September 1, 2009
MORE ON THE SWEDISH SUPPORT OF TERRORISM
Recently the most read Swedish newspaper published a truly vile anti-Semitic article accusing, with no creditable evidence, the Israeli Defense Force of kidnapping Palestinians in order to harvest their organs for sale. Now, NGO Monitor has uncovered another Swedish organization which desires the destruction of Israel. Their report on Sweden’s largest humanitarian organization reveals that Diakonia has a long record of anti-Israel activity Though Diakonia is supposedly a non-governmental organization most of its budget comes from the Swedish state. The report on them states that, “while some of the organization’s programs appear to be genuine and important humanitarian projects, the vast majority of resources are devoted to political campaigns, including a submission to the Goldstone Commission vilifying Israel and delegitimizing its right to defend itself against rocket attacks.”
August 31, 2009
THE CULTURAL IMPACT OF MARIJUANA
From the Club des Hachichins in 1840s Paris where the literary lights of France gathered, to the jazz loving vipers of America in the 1920s and 1930s and the hippies congregating on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in 1960s San Francisco marijuana has often exerted a profound effect on popular culture.
According to Adam Tschorn writing in in the Los Angeles Times we are now in a period where marijuana’s cultural influence is ascendant. He argues that, “after decades of bubbling up around the edges of so-called civilized society, marijuana seems to be marching mainstream at a fairly rapid pace. At least in urban areas such as Los Angeles, cannabis culture is coming out of the closet.”
While this article is accurate, it is also incomplete. There is, like almost all articles about marijuana, no mention of the fact that numerous commissions, investigations and studies such as the Nixon appointed Shafer Commission and the Canadian Senate report have consistently found that there is no valid reason for marijuana to be illegal in the first place.
August 31, 2009
SADLY WE MUST BOYCOTT IKEA AND VOLVO AND EVERYTHING ELSE SWEDISH
I am not happy to say what I just did but is there any other option? These
beautiful thugs were actually allies of the Third Reich and Hitler and now
they are allies of Hamas and others of that hateful ilk. Again, how sad but
we must take notice of hate when it appears or we are all suicidal. The Swedes are of the West in appearance but not in their hearts if they have
any. Hearts that is.
August 30, 2009
THE JUSTIFIED DISMISSAL OF TARIQ RAMADAN
A primary reason that so many students throughout the world display such anti-Israeli attitudes is the pernicious propaganda emanating from Islamic Studies departments. Therefore the dismissal of Professor Tariq Ramadan by the Dutch city of Rotterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam must be seen as a positive development. Ramadan’s writings include copious anti-Semitic material as well as the argument that Western Europe should accept a dual system of Shariah law coexisting with established civil law.
In an article for the American Thinker Stephen Schwartz reviews the career of Tariq Ramadan which included a ban, on entering the United States for funding terrorist organizations. However, thanks to the Obama Administration’s desire to let him in that ban is now lifted. After reading this piece one can only conclude that the students of Erasmus University Rotterdam are now better off.
August 29, 2009
VIDEO OF HAMAS EXECUTION
Hamas is an extremely brutal organization which believes that its goals justify murder. This deadly violence is not reserved for only Jews but rather anyone who opposes them. Haaretz is reporting that video of Hamas gunmen executing members of the Jund Ansar Allah sect has been shown on Israeli television. Hamas did not capture, try, and then execute, rather it killed its opponents on the spot.
Note that this video was not shown or even discussed on U.S. television thereby helping to keep the true nature of Hamas hidden from the American people. Yet the Obama White House and much of the MSM act outraged over the fact that the Israelis are building houses on Jewish land.
August 28, 2009
SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN PROVIDES A TURNING POINT IN THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE
Millions of people are losing their jobs and the Congressional Budget Office projects a nine trillion dollar deficit over the next decade. Is now really the right time to commit America to an unprecedented and very expensive overhaul of our health care system? Senator Joe Lieberman has caused controversy by raising this very question. On health care reform he has said that, “I'm afraid we've got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy's out of recession. There's no reason we have to do it all now, but we do have to get started.”
Commentator Dick Morris believes Lieberman’s speaking out about the timing and costs of reform will be an important turning point in the debate. He argues that Lieberman’s “go-slow commentary integrates worries about the economy, the deficit and interest rates with those about the health-care proposal itself. In making this linkage, Lieberman cautions supporters of the idea and of the plan that this might not be the right time to try to do it all.” Morris further states that, “by expressing the obvious -- that this is a time for retrenchment, not for expansion of the public sector -- Lieberman may even have given President Obama an avenue of escape, permitting him to accept a scaled-back, phased-in program that might attract bipartisan support.”
August 27, 2009
AMERICAN MEDIA BIAS AGAINST ISRAEL HAS A LONG HISTORY
In 1958 Mike Wallace conducted a half hour interview with then Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Abba Eban. In the introduction to their link to this video The Jerusalem Connection asks us to watch this discussion conducted by a relentlessly hostile “interviewer intent on repeating on national television, in the most watched show in the US, every charge against Israel that the most scurrilous people make, and the brilliant responses from the incomparable Abba Eban, Israel's Ambassador to the UN. Eban's responses were deftly and delicately stated. They succeeded in turning all the horrific charges Wallace made into Israel's favour, with dignity and irony.”
August 25, 2009
MEXICAN DECRIMINALIZATION BILL NOW THE LAW
For some time the Mexican Government has been considering the idea of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs. Well on Friday it finally happened and the possession of small amounts of marijuana, heroin, opium, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine, and ecstasy is now legal there. One of the main differences this year, as opposed to times the issue came up in the past, is that the United States government did not actively and forcefully lobby against the change in law. The AP story tells us that, ”prosecutors said the new law sets clear limits that keep Mexico's corruption-prone police from extorting casual users and offers addicts free treatment to keep growing domestic drug use in check.”
However, perhaps the new law is not the step forward it seems to be. The Drug War Chronicle asserts that ”whether the overall bill is a step forward or a step back is open to debate.” In their earlier analysis of the bill, sponsored by Mexican President Felipe Calderón, they quote Isaac Campos Costero, an assistant professor of history at the University of Cincinnati and visiting fellow at the University of California at San Diego's Center for US-Mexican Studies, who maintains that “this looks like one step forward, two steps back. If we're talking about reducing the crisis of violence in Mexico, I don't think this bill does anything good, and may even exacerbate it. It won't reduce demand, and at the same time it seeks to prosecute small-time dealers more energetically."
We must wait to see if this new policy is a step forward. One can only hope that Mexico has the same kind of astounding success that Portugal has experienced with its drug decriminalization.
August 22, 2009
OAKTON DRUG BUST
Zero tolerance drug policies are common in school systems across the country. Commentator Stephen Colbert demonstrates his support for that notion. He asserts that, ”America is fighting a war on drugs. Drugs destroy lives, so we’re destroying those lives first.”
August 20, 2009
SWEDISH NEWSPAPER’S UGLY ANTI-SEMITISM ON DISPLAY
The largest Swedish daily newspaper, Aftonbladet, has run a shameful undocumented article accusing the Israeli Defense Force of kidnapping Palestinians for the purpose of harvesting their organs. However, Sydsvenskan the leading paper in Southern Sweden has responded with a highly critical editorial condemning the story.
Haaretz is reporting that Sydsvenskan’s leading columnist Mats Skogkär wrote that, “We have heard the story before, in one form or the other. It follows the traditional pattern of conspiracy theory: a great number of loose threads that the theorist tempts the reader to tie into a neat knot without having been provided with any proven connection whatsoever.” The Israeli paper also quotes Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor as saying that, ” in a democratic country, there should be no place for dark blood libels out of the Middle Ages of this type. This is an article that shames Swedish democracy and the entire Swedish press.”
August 20, 2009
MIKE HUCKABEE SETS HIMSELF APART ON ISRAEL
During the 2008 Republican presidential primaries Mike Huckabee, a little known ex-governor from Arkansas, vaulted into the public eye by becoming the true conservative candidate and lasting the longest against eventual winner John McCain. Since then he has landed a national television show on the FOX network.
Now, he is making news by traveling in Israel and directly challenging the so called two state solution and settlements policy favored by the Obama Administration. At an appearance in Jerusalem Huckabee said that, “it concerns me when there are some in the United States who would want to tell Israel that it cannot allow people to live in their own country, wherever they want.”
Huckabee with his high profile has to be considered one of the front runners for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. If he wins then we will see a very substantive and lively debate about our relationship with Israel during that November’s election.
August 19, 2009
HAMAS NOT EVIL ENOUGH FOR SOME
Surprisingly there are people living in Gaza who believe Hamas is not radical enough and does not hate Israel enough to suit them. The disagreement is now resulting in bloodshed. The Washington Times is reporting that “fighting began when Hamas forces surrounded a mosque in the southern Gaza town of Rafah where about 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Companions of God, were holed up, including some armed with suicide belts and rifles, according to residents of the area.”This group wants Gaza declared an Islamic emirate and is against the present cease fire with Israel.
August 17, 2009
HEALTH CARE REFORM AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISCRIMINATE
You would think that in this day and age with all of the concern about racial justice any health care reform legislation would be race neutral, not so according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Reporter Jenifer Haberkorn writing in The Washington Times informs us that the commission “says some little-noticed provisions in the House health care bill are racially discriminatory, and it intends to ask President Obama and Congress to rewrite sections that factor in race when awarding billions in contracts, scholarships and grants.”
The civil rights body also argues that, “these programs are unlikely to reduce health care disparities among racial and ethic groups. A growing body of evidence indicates that increasing access to high-quality physicians - whatever their racial or ethnic ancestry - is the best way to mitigate such disparities.”
August 17, 2009
TONE DEAF CAMPAIGN FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM
During his campaign for president, Barak Obama developed a reputation for employing eloquent reasoned communication. However, in a very insightful essay Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Dorothy Rabinowitz describes his campaign for health care reform as being tone deaf. After pointing out that the effort to convince the American people is not going well at all, she argues that, “this would have to do with the fact that the real Barack Obama—product of the academic left, social reformer with a program, is now before that audience, and what they hear in this lecture about one of the central concerns in their lives—his message freighted with generalities—they are not prepared to buy. They are not prepared to believe that our first most important concern now is health-care reform or all will go under."
August 12, 2009
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF DISHONEST BRITISH REPORTING ON ISRAEL
Two Palestinian families living in East Jerusalem were recently evicted from their homes for non-payment of rent. However, that is not the story told in Great Britain by the BBC, the Guardian, and the Times. Their coverage presented a tale of unjust Jewish land theft and included the charge of ethnic cleansing with no mention of unpaid rent.
Fortunately, commentator Rafael Broch has presented us with the true facts of the case. He quotes IrAmim an Israeli organization supporting the evicted families as saying that, “the legal issues surrounding the Sheikh Jarrah evictions are quite complex. In short, the Israeli courts have accepted the settlers' claim of ownership over the property, but recognised the Palestinian residents to be protected tenants. Some of the 28 families continued to pay the rent, but some did not accept the court's ruling and therefore did not pay the rent. Against those, the court issued eviction orders."
August 12, 2009
IS THIS HOW WE HONOR OUR TROOPS?
Here is an enraging story from Mother Jones Magazine titled ”I Love a Mark in Uniform” about unscrupulous car dealers and young military personnel. Throughout the article a lack of concern by both the command structure and government officials for the ripped off soldiers and sailors is apparent. Author Stephanie Mencimer tells us that, “federal lawmakers have been more inclined to protect the dealers, a politically savvy bunch who doled out more than $9 million to federal candidates during the 2008 election cycle alone.” and that “in any case, the feds have limited authority. Regulation of auto sales falls largely to state dealer boards. But the dealers, who have even more clout in local and state politics, tend to dominate.”
A reader of the article, D. Hudson, also posted this comment: “Trust me, no one gives a god damn for our lowliest troops. After the lowly enlisted man or woman is ensnared in some sleazy, predatory scheme to bilk them out of their pitifully meager salary, the predators resort to their commanding officers to help them collect their blood money. The CO's willfully assist them with threats of courts martial.”
August 11, 2009
ONCE AGAIN DRUG WAR TRUMPS PEACEFUL FOREIGN RELATIONS
As pointed out in Fatal Distraction: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror the efforts to enforce drug prohibition often hinder the efforts to keep us safe from terrorism. So too does the drug war interfere with the pursuit of a peaceful and harmonious foreign policy. Recently revealed plans to upgrade the U.S. military presence in Colombia, in the name of fighting drugs, has provoked a great uproar of disapproval in many other Latin American countries.
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela claims the real reason for the increased American presence is in preparation for an attack on his country and he argues that, “we're talking about the Yankees, the most aggressive nation in the history of humanity.” Whatever the truth of that statement this new more aggressive drug policy certainly does not detract from its credibility, especially since leaders in Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina also have expressed opposition to any Colombian-U.S. deal.
In our ongoing evaluation of President Obama’s real attitude concerning drug policy this news has to be seen as sign that things are not going to change. His decision to follow in the footsteps of the utterly failed and discredited Plan Colombia indicates a close mindedness reminiscent of the last administration.
August 10, 2009
USA IS RATED NUMBER ONE AGAIN
The latest statistics are in and once again they say there are more Americans per capita behind bars then anywhere else in the world. The Economist tells us that “in one area America is going from strength to strength—the incarceration of its population. America has less than 5% of the world’s people but almost 25% of its prisoners. It imprisons 756 people per 100,000 residents, a rate nearly five times the world average. About one in every 31 adults is either in prison or on parole. Black men have a one-in-three chance of being imprisoned at some point in their lives. ‘A Leviathan unmatched in human history’, is how Glenn Loury, professor of social studies at Brown University, characterises America’s prison system.”
Federal prisons have enough inmates to total 130% of capacity and 20% of these people have experienced sexual assault. The above article also discusses first term Senator Jim Webb’s laudable efforts to change this deplorable situation, including an examination of the role played by drug prohibition.
In California conditions have deteriorated so much that a federal court panel has ordered the state to reduce its prison population by 40,000 over the next two years. The three judge panel asserted that, "the convergence of tough-on-crime policies and an unwillingness to expend the necessary funds to support the population growth has brought California's prisons to the breaking point," To his discredit Governor Schwarzenegger quickly had it announced that his administration would appeal the decision taking it to the Supreme Court.
But there is another side to this standard story. Yes indeed the U.S. has a very high imprisonment rate, something I have written about and worked against for many decades. It is a disgrace and we should change that situation. On the other hand I do not believe there is any proof that we are number one in that sad regard, even though that is a standard claim, as I said. The US is efficient and honest and reports openly on the number of prisoners. Many countries however are neither efficient nor honest. When I was in Russia some years go and spent time with their criminologists and justice officials I became convinced that they had no reliable data on the number of jails and prisons never mind the number of inmates. No official I met in Russia did. The same is true for many other nations.
This does not relieve our country of its dreadful prison situation but places it in proper comparative context.
August 6, 2009
IMPROVED AMERICAN ISRAELI RELATIONS ON THE HORIZON?
The relationship between the United States and Israel is at an especially low point these days. However, writing in The Jerusalem Post Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal, argues that there is reason to believe the situation is about to improve.
He points out that the recent visit to Israel by U.S. officials did not worsen things and that the settlements issue seems to be fading. Rubin also asserts that, “it is dawning on the administration that its Middle East policy isn't working so well. The phrase ‘no success in six months’ is being heard. That obviously isn't enough time to solve the world's problems, but to fail to have a single positive development anywhere in the globe - given the high expectations generated by this administration and its over-optimism - is humiliating. And as it looks ahead, it doesn't see any successes on the horizon.” He then finishes his essay with the thought that, “one day - though it's not going to happen this calendar year - the Obama administration is going to have to think about things like toughness, the use of force (not necessarily applied by itself) and defining enemies in serious terms.”
August 5, 2009
OBAMA POPULAR EVERYWHERE BUT IN ISRAEL
The Pew Global Attitudes Project did a survey of 25 countries and only in Israel was the people’s image of America getting worse. The Washington Post is reporting that, “one of the more striking results of the Obama administration's first six months is that only one country has worse relations with the United States than it did in January: Israel. The new administration has pushed a reset button with Russia and sent new ambassadors to Syria and Venezuela; it has offered olive branches to Cuba and Burma. But for nearly three months it has been locked in a public confrontation with Israel over Jewish housing construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
August 3, 2009
BUCHANAN IS WORTH LISTENING TO BUT WITH A GRAIN OF SALT
I disagree with so much that gritty ol' Pat says that is with great reservations that I post an essay he recently wrote. There are some parts with which I disagree -- such as Christian salvation and so on -- but not with the basic thesis. To wit: prejudice is a two-way street and there is plenty of anti-white prejudice (including anti-Semitism) among American blacks. Moreover, the black crime rate is appalling. Also affirmative action almost always involves racial discrimination against those not of the benefited minority group, such as poor white Catholic kids in Ohio. There is one other thing to be considered- despite his many bizarre views I have found Pat to be a very decent human being in person. In the broad scheme of things that may be irrelevant but it affects my judgment of his views.
August 2, 2009
THE REAL LESSON IN THAT CAMBRIDGE CONFRONTATION
When they had that beer, let us hope that the imbibers discussed the real lesson to be learned in reviewing that dust up at the professor’s house.
But, first, here is my view of the confrontation heard round the world. Sergeant James Crowley acted quite properly without the slightest hint of racial profiling; the professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., lost his cool and acted like an arrogant Harvard faculty member. In his defense, it is understandable that a person just off a plane from China and probably jet lagged would lose his cool when involved in an unpleasant confrontation.
Our president should never have expressed an opinion on the matter since he admitted that he did not know all of the facts. He was correct, however, in saying that police often treat minority group citizens with less respect than whites.
These are not the most important teachable moments, to use the president’s words, involved here. Behind all of this is the awful fact of obscene levels of black crime in America coupled with the reluctance of top opinion leaders to face that fact. It is something not openly discussed in polite company. Yet, unless we Americans start to deal with it realistically, that elephant in our living rooms will continue to cause immense damage. It is now clear that the angry outbursts from the Ivy League professor alarmed the police officer, induced him to ask the professor to calm down and step outside, and eventually led to the arrest. The officer did not know who else was in the house, perhaps just as angry as the professor.
Many other Americans are scared of angry black males, usually of a younger age to be sure, and there is good reason for their fear, an emotion that cripples race relations in every corner of this country. To cite just one recent example, blacks constitute approximately 12.7 percent of the American population, but for 2007 blacks accounted for the majority of arrests, 50.4 percent, for the serious offense of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, which of course means that blacks are fatally violent at a much higher frequency level than would be expected based upon their relatively small proportion of the population. Even more alarming crime data occurs when looking at arrests for the crime of robbery; blacks accounted for fully 56.7 percent of those arrested for this fear-producing crime during 2007. Blacks constitute the great majority, but not all, of the victims of these serious crimes.
These disturbing patterns have appeared over the years every time I have reviewed current data. I summarized some of that black crime data in my latest book in 2006. As has happened often in the past, several of my white colleagues objected to my including this material in the book. They gave a whole range of reasons but in my opinion the major reason was that many intellectuals and liberals view the very mention of the high level of black crime as racist. This is the standard posture of many black opinion leaders.
Fortunately, there are many other black leaders who have courageously confronted the appalling level of black crime. One of those is Bill Cosby, who gave a tough speech on the subject to an NAACP gathering several years ago. He was greeted with severe criticism by some NAACP officials. In 2007, Mr. Cosby and Dr. Alvin Pouissant, a black psychologist and also a Harvard professor, came out with a ground-breaking book titled Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors. It is one of my favorite books because it deals directly with black crime and other black failings – and goes on in an optimistic tone to say that blacks can face up to these failings and conquer them. Like them, I truly believe that such a victory is possible although it would be very difficult to achieve.
Sometimes positive forces converge in unpredictable ways. We now have a brilliant black leader in the White House, who has a background in community organizing, which is a vital part of any attempt to deal with black crime. Professor Gates happens to be another brilliant black leader and scholar whom I have long admired. Sergeant Crowley is a front line white police officer with a wonderful record in dealing with racial antagonism in law enforcement. Perhaps the time has arrived for the White House to take a deep breath and confront black crime head on. Mr. Obama could appoint a task force on black crime which would include Gates, Crowley, Cosby and Pouissant, among others. Their mandate would be to develop programs that would cut black crime drastically within the next few years. This would be no easy task but it is time to start that vital job with presidential backing.
As for racial profiling in arrests, there would be little discussion of that issue if the arrest rate of blacks for murder and robbery was somehow reduced to approximately 12.7 percent.
July 31, 2009
THE PRO-ALCOHOL OBAMA ADMISTRATION
Last week the new Drug Czar told the American people his first huge lie. At a press conference in Fresno Gil Kerlikowske asserted that, "marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit.” This week President Obama invited two people, who have recently been involved in an intense, personal, and volatile conflict, to drink alcohol at the White House.
Mason Tvert is executive director of Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) sees an administration that “is sending an incredibly dangerous message to the American people. The message is that they should be using alcohol rather than making the rational choice to use a less harmful substance instead. To make matters worse, the administration continues to support a system under which those who prefer to make the safer choice to use marijuana are threatened with arrest and other serious punishments.”
In an outstanding essay Tvert presents an abundance of scientific evidence showing that of the two, marijuana and alcohol, the latter drug is by far the more harmful substance to both the individual and society as a whole.
Not only is Obama sending a horrendous message that will help continue the present pattern of wasted resources and lost economic opportunity but his policies will also increase the amount of harm done by alcohol. That is because there is a substitution effect. The more difficult it is to obtain marijuana the more consumption of alcohol takes place. This has been evident since the early days of marijuana prohibition in the 1930s when marijuana and jazz musicians were closely associated. Much of their music celebrated viper culture where marijuana was seen as beneficial substance which made one mellow allowing people to cope with the many stresses of the Great Depression.
When the reality of marijuana prohibition set in these performers began to sing about consequences of this change. One of the consistent themes of these songs involved a very reluctant return to drinking alcohol. In “The ‘G’ Man Got the ‘T’ Man” Cee Pee Johnson and his band sang “They have to drink their lush and stagger even though they know it is wrong” and the lyrics of “All he Jive is Gone” recorded by Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds of Joy lament that “All the jive is gone, so come on and drink some gin.”
The jazz musicians who wrote and performed these songs were intimately aquatinted with the use and effects of marijuana. So when they tell us that there is a substitution outcome associated with the banning of marijuana, that increases alcohol use, we should believe them. (This item is based upon the research of Keith Halderman, my assistant.)
July 31, 2009
THE EXPERTS TAKE ON THE GATES ENCOUNTER
Perhaps the organization most concerned with interaction between citizens and police is Flex Your Rights. Among their projects has been a how to video on dealing with the police. If the professor had viewed the Flex Your Rights film before the encounter, Officer Crowley would probably not be famous now. Here is their take on the Gates arrest.
July 30, 2009
WHO IS WORKING FOR THE BORDER PATROL?
One of the most enduring aspects of drug prohibition is the corruption of the authorities charged with enforcing it. Nowhere is that more evident than in Mexico with much of its law enforcement in the pay of the powerful drug cartels even at the highest levels. Now Mother Jones Magazine reports that the problem is increasingly crossing the border. The United States Customs and Border Protection Agency expects to hire 20, 000 new agents and many of them will be plants also working for the smugglers. James Smith, special agent in charge of the Department of Homeland Security inspector general's El Paso office, tells us that, “we're not just seeing disgruntled employees going bad. We're seeing more cases where agents are already employed by the drug-trafficking and alien-smuggling organizations before they go to work for CBP."
July 28, 2009
THE PESIDENT SHOWED SOME GOOD COMMON SENSE ON THE PROF AND THE COP
Thank you Mr. President. Finally. You showed come class and style. Even though you did not apologize, you came close and inviting the cop and the prof over for a beer and a chat was a great idea.
Now, Mr. Community Organizer, start dealing with the real elephant in the living room -- the horrendous level of black crime in America. That should be one of your leading domestic priorities.
July 25, 2009
THE MOST TRUSTED MAN IN AMERICA OPPOSED DRUG PROHIBITION
When Walter Cronkite died earlier this month the American people lost someone they felt they could trust. In the 1960s after Cronkite began to publicly question the war in Vietnam President Johnson felt he had lost the support of Middle America. And, Vietnam was not the only war that caused Cronkite enough concern to speak out.
In 1995 Cronkite was involved in a program broadcast on The Discovery Channel, The Drug Dilemma - War or Peace?, where he said that, “just about every American was shocked when Robert McNamara, one of the master architects of the Vietnam War, acknowledged that not only did he believe the war was 'wrong, terribly wrong,' but that he thought so at the very time he was helping to wage it. That's a mistake we must not make in this tenth year of America's all-out war on drugs.” Three years later he along with numerous other notables from around the globe signed an open letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stating that, “we believe that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself.”
Later Cronkite agreed to become an honorary board member of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) where he helped produce fund raising letters. In one such missive he wrote, “And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.” As Ethan Nadelmann head of the DPA put it, “Walter Cronkite got it -- and he got it early. He knew a failed war when he saw one.”
Is it not time for the American people to get it also? It would indeed be a fitting tribute to Walter Cronkite to once again trust him and end the failed policy of drug prohibition.
July 24, 2009
PRESIDENT SPEAKS WITHOUT KNOWING FACTS
The president and the professor look stupid while the cop looks calm and professorial and even presidential. The Ivy League really flunked this one. At Little Green Footballs they agree asserting that Officer “Crowley seems very credible. The President may have made a serious political mistake when he couldn’t resist playing the race card, and smeared an entire police department without having the facts of the case.”
July 23, 2009
MORE DRUG LAW REFORM FROM CONGRESS
It appears that any drug law reform is going to be coming from Congress rather than the Obama Administration itself. First a congressional committee addressed the federal ban on funding needle exchange programs. Now the House Education and Labor Committee, chaired by George Miller, D-Calif., is taking on the denial of student loans to those with drug convictions. The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette is reporting that, “under the change – which would not go into effect unless it is approved by the House and Senate – limits on student aid would continue on students convicted of selling illegal drugs. But students convicted of possession would no longer risk losing the scholarships, loans and work-study assistance underwritten by Washington.”
July 23, 2009
FEDERAL NEEDLE EXCHANGE BAN MAY BE GONE
Despite the fact that needle exchange programs are an effective way of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS a federal ban on funding such programs was put in place during 1988. Ten years later Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and Surgeon General David Satcher both argued that the scientific evidence warranted a lifting of this proscription. Nevertheless, President Clinton chose to ignore the relevant facts and sacrifice more people on the alter of drug war politics by continuing the federal ban.
The issue is once again on the table. Thanks in large part to House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, legislation attached to the spending measure funding the Departments of Labor and HHS for fiscal year 2010 includes a repeal of the ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs. Even though many in the Obama Administration favor this step forward, the President does not seem to agree. Candidate Obama said that, “we have to look at the drastic measures potentially, like needle exchange, in order to assure that drug users are not transmitting the disease to each other”, however, President Obama’s FY 2010 budget includes the phrase “no funds appropriated in this Act shall be used to carry out any program of distributing sterile needles or syringes for the hypodermic injection of any illegal drug.” The White House says in a very lame manner that more time is needed to build support.
When it comes to drug policy Obama is continually sending mixed signals and apparently he needs to be pushed to do the right thing. The Drug Policy Alliance has organized a campaign to support lifting the federal syringe ban and one can participate by clicking here.
July 22, 2009
THE CASE FOR A HEMP INDUSTRY
With all of the hardship occurring in this country you would think that our government would not be banning a proven versatile economic activity. Yet drug prohibition continues to stifle the opportunity for people to create wealth through the growing of hemp and the manufacture of hemp products. This material has industrial purposes and it is in no way a psycho-active drug. Legalizing marijuana would also permit the growing of hemp for industrial use, which could very well turn out to be a greater source of revenue than the drug used for recreational purposes.
It is left to the conservative website The GOPUSA Eagle to remind us of just how irrational this anti-hemp policy is. Author Harris Sherline argues that, “the bottom line is that by treating hemp as a drug, the United States has effectively shut down one of the most profitable and useful crops in history and has once again essentially abandoned the market to other nations that have a more realistic attitude. We are preventing our farmers from growing a crop that has almost unlimited uses. It's cheap and easy to plant and cultivate, and could potentially rejuvenate the small farming industry in America. While spending billions of dollars in what has been an almost fruitless effort to keep small farmers on the farm, we have also been unwilling to simply let them to do it for themselves by allowing them to cultivate perhaps the best cash crop they could grow.”
July 21, 2009
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH’S LUCRATIVE ANTI-ISRAELI BIAS
Human Rights Watch recently sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia but its mission was not to investigate mistreatment of Saudi women or the fact that homosexuals are subject to the death penalty in that country. No they went there to raise money and as David Bernstein reports in the Wall Street Journal their main strategy involved highlighting Human Right Watch’s anti-Israeli bias. Spokesperson Sarah Leah Whitson asked the wealthy Saudis for help with her organization’s battles against "pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations."
Bernstein also quotes Nathan Wagner at Opinio Juris saying that, “surely there is a moral difference between raising funds in free nations through appeals to ideals of universal human rights and raising money in repressive nations through appeals highlighting pressure brought against their enemies.”
July 17, 2009
THE ECONOMICS OF MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
The state of California is often on the cutting edge when it comes to new trends. Perhaps this will be the case when it comes to funding state activities. At the moment serious consideration is being given to the idea of legal marijuana as revenue source because of a severe budget crisis. California is now paying many of its vendors with IOUs and for the second time this month state workers are staying home because there is no money to pay them.
At the same time the state Board of Equalization has released a report stating that legalization of marijuana would generate nearly $1.4 billion in additional revenue and that is not counting the money to be saved by eliminating enforcement and incarceration costs. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has introduced a bill to make this partial solution to state budget woes a reality. Let us hope for the sake of the people of California that he succeeds.
July 17, 2009
HOW WONDERFUL TO READ OF SOMETHING NOBLE IN THE MIDST OF HORROR!
A salute to a fine human being
July 14, 2009
MR. OBAMA STROKES THE ARABS AND BEATS UP ON OTHERS
Bayefsky provides a tough critique. A must read.
July 13, 2009
THE NEXT CHAPTER IN THE MELANIE-ALAN DEBATE
I believe that Melanie is more persuasive. Sadly for the world!
July 12, 2009
AN INTERESTING DEBATE ON ISRAEL
By two opinion leaders I admire. Which one is correct?
July 9, 2009
EVIL IN ITS PUREST FORM
Unfortunately, stories telling us about unspeakable acts committed by the Taliban are all too common but this latest one really is beyond the pale. The Washington Times is reporting that, “Pakistan's top Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, is buying children as young as 7 to serve as suicide bombers in the growing spate of attacks against Pakistani, Afghan and U.S. targets, U.S. Defense Department and Pakistani officials say.”
July 2, 2009
THE POLITICS OF RACIAL EQUALITY
Americans are justly proud of the fact that we have gone from enslaving black people to electing a black man as president. We still have much to learn from the story of that transformation. A new book, Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, edited by Jonathan J. Bean will greatly add to the lesson. Using primary documents the book “explains the major themes of the anti-racist, classical liberal tradition of individual liberty and equality, demonstrating how it has inspired individuals to improve race relations in the United States. Classical liberals have advocated freedom from governmental interference, abolition of prejudicial law, equality under a uniform rule of law guaranteed by the Constitution, and market-based entrepreneurial opportunity.”
July 1, 2009
BETTER THINGS COST MORE
Not since the early years of the Clinton Administration has the American health care system been such a hot topic of discussion. There are many different ways to approach the subject and in this insightful article Thomas Sowell begins by pointing out that it is the increasing cost of medical services that is driving the debate. He then reminds us that, “we were not spending nearly as much on high-tech medical procedures in the past because there were not nearly as many of them, and we were not spending anything at all on some of the new pharmaceutical drugs because they didn't exist. This general pattern is not peculiar to medical care. Cars didn't cost nearly as much in the past, when they didn't have air-conditioning, power steering and high-tech safety features. Homes were cheaper when they were smaller, had fewer bathrooms and lacked such conveniences as built-in microwave ovens. We would like to have all these things without the rising costs that come with them. But only with medical care is such wishful thinking taken seriously, with government regarded as a sort of fairy godmother who will give us the benefits without the costs.”
June 30, 2009
SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS NEW HAVEN WHITE FIREFIGHTERS
This was a tough 5-4 decision showing just how sensitive and personal some of these decisions are. The personal predilections of the judges count and they always have. I believe the court did the right thing but recognize that the dissenters have a lot of good reasoning on their side.
June 29, 2009
THE SCAM KNOWN AS A DEMILITARIZED STATE
Here is another emotional plea to treat the idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state as a scam and a dangerous delusion. Again I hope that the writer is wrong and that the advent of a Palestinian state will help bring peace to that troubled region. However, I fear the writer's angst is well placed and that Israel and the West are about to go down a destructive road.
June 26, 2009
INTELLIGENCE AND DRUG USE
One of the reasons our society so readily accepts the failed policy of drug prohibition, with its harsh unjust punishments, has been the long steady governmental campaign to dehumanize users of the proscribed drugs. Part of this process has been to portray those choosing to seek benefit from the use of illegal drugs as members of the criminal or less intelligent lower classes. By definition people who use illicit drugs are criminals so to say that criminals use drugs has very little meaning. To say that lower class less intelligent people use drugs is of greater import.
However, it is not at all a certainty that the lower class, presumably more drug using, individuals are actually less bright. In his impressive essay, published by The American Scholar, Blue-Collar Brilliance Mike Rose argues that social class defined by one’s job is not a predictor of intellectual ability. If this is true then when the charge is made that drug users come from the less intellectually gifted social class, it is not valid. Perhaps the reason those in the lower classes use illegal drugs at a greater rate is not due to a lack of intelligence but rather because they have less options than those in the higher classes. If we can get the prohibitionists to admit that drug use rates are a matter of opportunity rather than some defect in intellect, it will be a step forward. Thanks to Joey Tranchina for bringing this to my attention.
June 25, 2009
FINALLY THE COURT GETS IT CORRECT ON STUDENT STRIP SEARCHES
I have not read the decision yet but it is good to hear that the Supreme
Court has finally got it correct on school strip searches. Over the years in various books and columns I have decried the refusal of the court to issue clear protections of the rights of students to be free from strip searches by school officials looking for drugs. One of the worst cases was Doe V. Renfrow which dealt with a massive search of many students. The
officials were backed up by police and police dogs. On May 26, 1981 the high court refused to intervene. I wrote about these awful cases in The Great Drug War, pages 221-226, among other places. Now the court seems to have come to its senses. Finally.
June 25, 2009
OUR PRESIDENT IS MISSING AN HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY
At the just-completed news conference, our president was his charming brilliant self. I found myself cheering his bravura performance until I took stock of the content. It is possible, even probable, that the Iranian protests offer the opportunity to destroy or mute the leadership of the vicious brand of Islamic extremism that has devastated the earth for the last thirty years or so. Iran has its bloody fingers and whole hands into some of the worst outrages in recent years, not least being the attacks on Americans everywhere. That opportunity is slowly passing because this brutal regime hesitates at nothing to bludgeon dissent among its citizens. Mr. Obama cannot expect to continue the policy of so-called engagement with these thugs. This is not the time to declare war but it is the time to deliver Reagan style demands, as I said before, and to start imposing harsh economic sanctions, especially cutting off access to refined gasoline products that this awful regime needs. A good first step was to disinvite Iranian officials to such civilized social events as our Fourth of July parties at American embassies overseas. The Iranian leadership hates us now. It will make little difference if they hate us even more. And of course we should use every other weapon we have, short of a real war. That includes the CIA and other intelligence resources.
Again, not a time to declare war but it is time for a guts check at the White House. Or call it a cojones-check if you will.
June 25, 2009
MEXICO TO DECRIMINALIZE POSSESSION OF SMALL AMOUNTS OF DRUGS
For years various Mexican administrations have flirted with idea of decriminalizing drugs. The main obstacle to this happening has always been the United States government. Now The Seattle Times is reporting that, “the Mexican legislature has voted quietly to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and other drugs. Past efforts have proved highly controversial, most recently three years ago, but President Felipe Calderón is expected to sign the bill into law this time.”
Of course the measure is not legalization and so it will do little to curb the endemic black market violence now occurring in Mexico. However, one good sign that American Obama administration maybe on the path to a more enlightened drug policy is that they are not publically opposing the new Mexican law.
June 23, 2009
I TRUST WALID'S JUDGEMENT ON IRAN
When Walid Phares says the uprising will not be stopped, I listen. The real
question is: what will Mr. Obama do to move this revolution along toward a
just end? Does he truly believe he can reason with these brutal bunch of
thugs in charge of this nation? We need a "tear down this wall" type of
speech -- repeated many times.
June 22, 2009
MEDICAL MEDIA BIAS AGAINST ISRAEL
When one thinks of media bias against Israel daily papers like The Washington Post or television networks like the BBC come to mind. However, such prejudice also lies in other less well known publications, such as medical journals. Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) is highlighting an article by Aaron Schimmer and Eldad Zachsenhaus which appeared in the June 9th issue of Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). The piece describes how The British Medical Journal and the Lancet have printed numerous articles on the medical conditions in Gaza that completely fail to mention the role of Hamas and their rockets in the creation of this suffering.
The CMAJ followed suit with two similar pieces of their own, but unlike the British journals it has acknowledged that there is a problem. Perhaps, it is because the publication received over 300 letters protesting the biased take on the situation.
Schimmer and Zachsenhaus conclude their essay with an example from history in order to show just how dangerous this kind of partiality masquerading as professional scientific discourse can be. They inform us that, “lest, one think that using the medical literature to foster and incite hatred is a new phenomenon, in April 1938, the prestigious British journal Nature invited the German Nobel-prize winning physicist, Johannes Stark, to publish an article ‘The Pragmatic and Dogmatic Spirit in Physics’. In this paper Stark divided the world of Physics into Dogmatic and Pragmatic fractions. According to Stark, Jewish scientists (including Einstein) dominate the undesired dogmatic spirit while the desired pragmatic fraction is represented mostly by Aryans scientists. In the accompanying News and Views, it was urged to ‘purge science of the Jewish Spirit’. Therefore, while the rise of anti-Israel campaigns in academic circles appears new, we need only look back in history to understand the potential ramifications of these words.”
June 20, 2009
DISGRACE AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: THE CASE OF JEFF SCHALER, AGAIN
I have great affection for American University and for its officers and
faculty and staff. After all, I taught there for 25 years and enjoyed it
very much. However, the treatment of my good friend and colleague,
Professor Jeffrey Schaler, continues to amaze me. Jeff has taught at the
university since 1990 and has amassed an incredible record of teaching,
scholarship, and community service. Yet every time he applies for a tenure
track appointment, he is denied. This occurs even when the opening of such
a position is announced. Inevitably, another applicant from outside the
university is given the job. I just happened to speak to Jeff on the
telephone and learned that it has happened again. He was recently denied a
tenure track job again and was instead given another short-term contract.
There is something mysterious functioning at my old school. It is
mysterious, disgraceful, and totally unjust. What hidden power has
convinced the school to act in this strange fashion? This fine university
is in the process of losing its soul in regard to this awful case. My hope
is that my old friends -- especially AU President Neil Kerwin and Dean of
Public Affairs Bill LeoGrande -- confront this disgraceful injustice and
remedy it immediately. They have the power to do so. It is high time that
On December 4, 2006 I wrote a letter to the search committee considering
Jeff's application at that time. Here is what I said:
This letter is written to recommend that American University
promote Dr. Jeffrey Schaler to the rank of associate professor with tenure.
I know Dr. Schaler well, and I know his work well. I believe this action
should be taken within the next few months, with the appointment effective
at the start of the next academic year. In the event the search committee
has any doubts about the wisdom of taking such an action, I request that I
be given a hearing before the committee to explain in person my reasons for
As a professor in the Department of Justice, Law & Society
for 25 years, I have a long history of dealing with such matters. The
hiring of tenured faculty is among the most important decisions existing
faculty can make. I have observed and helped to mediate and resolve
emotional disputes concerning the propriety of tenure votes one way or
another over the course of many years in the department. This history has
included many years of dealing with tenure decisions in search committees at
both the department and school levels. It has also included at least three
years of service on the Faculty Relations Committee (FRC) at American
University, which as you know provides the final academic review for all
decisions regarding promotion and tenure throughout the university. For at
least one of those years I served as chairman of the FRC.
When I reflect back over a quarter century of my experience
as a professor and member of the AU community, I can recall no candidate for
the initial appointment to a tenure position in any department of American
University who has had a better record than that now presented by Jeffrey
Schaler. There certainly may have been one who had a better record, but I
frankly cannot recall that candidate.
Professor Schaler has a superb record on every criterion that
university regulations deem important. This evaluation applies to the
often-unspoken criterion by which, in my opinion, university professors
should be judged. In a sound scholarly manner, Jeff contributes ideas that
provoke his students, colleagues, and listeners in the general public to
rethink and reconsider important basic assumptions concerning justice, law
and society. Some people who listen to his ideas - and that occasionally
includes me -- do not always agree with them. Yet, he presents his ideas in
ways that cannot be simply brushed away or dismissed. They demand
reflection and response, and in so doing, advance the nature of rational
discussion on the great issues of our time.
Jeff teaches many courses each year, more than most if not
all other professors in the School of Public Affairs, to my knowledge. His
teaching evaluations are among the highest I have ever seen. His students
love him, even though he makes great demands on them. His classes fill up
rapidly once the academic schedule is announced. Whenever I appear as a
guest lecturer these days in university classes, I am often forced to
respond to arguments based on students influenced by his lectures and
thinking. I know many faculty here have had similar experiences.
In my opinion, his record of scholarship is outstanding. He
produces a steady stream of articles and books. He is now Executive Editor
of a leading scholarly journal. His books continually contribute to
academic knowledge and public discourse. His latest monograph, Addiction is
a Choice, has been widely reviewed and debated. On its face, it seems an
impossible title--yet, his arguments and ideas cannot be ignored. I urge
members of the committee to read his book, or at least become acquainted
with parts of it. I read it in various drafts and when it was published, I
felt compelled to comment on it in my latest book -- not out of friendship
but out of respect for his scholarship in my book dealing with drug abuse.
A review of his record on university service is exhausting.
He counsels students on their courses, provides personal advice to them when
they are troubled, and supervises numerous Capstone and independent study
Finally, there is the matter of his long commitment to the
university, to the School of Public Affairs, and to the Department of
Justice, Law & Society. Jeff Schaler has been teaching in the university
since 1990, a total of sixteen years. During that time he has taught sixty
three courses for American University, of which fifteen were on different
subjects. His pay has been a tiny fraction of that received by those with
permanent positions. He has frequently asked to be considered for a tenured
position and has been consistently rebuffed. I know of no teacher who has
been more loyal to the Department, to SPA, and to this university, and who
has been treated more unfairly.
As senior faculty in our department and SPA are aware, Jeff
teaches many of the courses I created in our department. He clearly fills
the niche, and carries on the work I established in the area of drug policy.
I understand now that he is also teaching many of the courses in psychiatry,
psychology and law that Ron Weiner created and taught for years.
In a department dedicated to the exploration of justice, the
treatment of Jeff Schaler stands out sadly as a case of justice ignored and
justice denied. In making this judgment, I am speaking both as an old
professor of justice and an old civil rights lawyer.
It is time to do the right thing and do justice in this
matter -- at long last.
I would be glad to discuss this matter further with the
committee or with appropriate university officials.
Arnold S. Trebach
A few years later, in March 2007, after Jeff had been denied a shot at a
tenure track position yet again, I wrote a letter to the American
University provost in which I said that this seemed like a classic case of
employment discrimination. That letter ended with these words:
"In this context I am reminded of a story, perhaps apocryphal, from my days
long ago on the forefront of reform in the Deep South. An old Negro goes
into the office of the voting registrar in his county and asks to be
registered to vote. The registrar presents him with a section of the state
constitution and asks the candidate to interpret it. The candidate replies,
'It means I don't get to vote again this year, same as last year.'
In the view of some key university decision makers, it appears that
candidate Schaler, despite his record, has the wrong color of academic
'skin.' How wrong and how sad for the university."
To this day it remains terribly wrong and terribly sad.
June 20, 2009
CALLOUS INDIFFERENCE TO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
There is no doubt that the American military base on Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean, is very important to our defense posture. However, the way we acquired the base and what happened to the indigenous people living there at the time is one of the most disgraceful and least known episodes in Anglo-American history. That is about to change with the publication by Princeton University Press of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the US Military Base on Diego Garcia by David Vine.
In an excellent review of the book, found in The New York of Review of Books, Jonathan Freedland describes the fate of the native Chagossians. He tells us that, “those luckless enough to be away from home were told they could not return: their islands were now closed. Those still on the archipelago were then informed that it was a criminal offense to be living in Chagos—a place that most of them had never left—without a permit. Next they were, in effect, starved out, as British officials deliberately ran down supplies of food and medicine. Salvage crews came to dismantle the plantations: there would be no work and no rations. Then, in a demonstration of US and UK resolve, the commissioner of the British Indian Ocean Territory, as it was now renamed, gave the order for the islanders' pet dogs to be killed; after US soldiers armed with M16 rifles failed to shoot them all, the animals were gassed as their owners looked on. The remaining Chagossians were forced to board crammed cargo ships for a nightmarish crossing—sleeping on decks slick with urine and vomit— to Mauritius or the Seychelles where they were dumped, with no homes to go to and no compensation to make up for the possessions and livelihoods they had been forced to leave behind.”
June 19, 2009
SENSIBLE CAMPUS VOICE
These days on the American college campus the voices raised against Israel are loud and ubiquitous. However, as this editorial published in the American University student newspaper The Eagle demonstrates they are not unanimous. Author Alex Knepper, a political science student, finds bias and error in President Obama’s recent Cairo speech. He writes that, “It is not true that the Palestinian people have aspired to statehood for 60 years. The nationalist Palestine Liberation Organization, an invention of the Arab League, did not come to prominence until roughly 40 years ago. Led by Yasser Arafat, the League transformed Palestinianism from an ethnicity into a nationality in order to legitimize the Arab cause. Before the PLO, virtually all Palestinians considered themselves rightly a part of Jordan or southern Syria. To this day, the majority of Jordanians are Palestinians.”
June 18, 2009
GOOD TO HEAR THIS MR. KRISTOFF
That is what I have been saying for years and which I summarized in my last book, Fatal Distraction: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror, which came out several years ago. I wrote that, “it is remarkable that while Islamic terrorism threatens the very existence of all free societies and while the war on drugs interferes with the war on terror, the war on drugs continues nevertheless.”
June 14, 2009
DRUG WAR CORRUPTION CONTINUES
The intended consequence of drug prohibition is to stop people from using drugs; however, the unintended ones are myriad. One of them is the corruption of our police forces. This time though the surveillance camera’s caught the authorities breaking the law.
June 14, 2009
MY OBAMA MANIA
There are better words to describe my affliction, perhaps schizophrenia is the best single word. Allow me to explain.
First, I am very impressed with this guy and his wife and his kids. I really like him and them. This is an incredibly smart, courageous leader and at times I am delighted that he and his family are in the White House.
Second, I do not understand his actions on the economic front and my guess is that they just might succeed. Yet they worry me terribly and I fear that the economy may collapse because of his actions. But again, I do not understand them.
Third, I now am convinced that he is well-intentioned but naive on foreign policy. His actions on Israel are appalling and I wonder if our president has been influenced by Reverend Wright or if he simply agrees with him. In any event I am appalled and worried that his actions are going to harm Israel seriously and in the bargain decrease our own level of security.
Finally, I hope the pessimistic aspects of my affliction prove wrong.
June 11, 2009
ANOTHER OUTRAGED TAKE ON THE CAIRO SPEECH
In Anne Bayefsky's words, this was a stunning offense to Israel and the Jewish people -- that and a low point in human history. I am afraid that I find that her outrage is accurate and necessary to portray sad reality. I wish it were not so and am depressed that it is.
June 11, 2009
OBAMA'S FAILURE TO SEE REALITY IN THE ISRAELI SITUATION
Mort Zuckerman supplies a good review of the myths guiding our well-intentioned president, who I continue to like personally while at the same time being outraged over his foreign policy in the Middle East.
June 11, 2009
REFORMIST MUSLIMS ARE APPALLED AT OBAMA'S CAIRO TALK
The people who should know, almost universally, view Obama's Cairo talk as
full of falsehoods and needless apologies. Here is a link to the Muslims
Against Shariah Blog. It is worth reading most of it, although it is a bit
long. Mr. Obama is going down a dangerous and misleading path, one that is
destructive of our values and our freedoms and security. Terribly disappointing because he is a master orator and always sounds wonderful.
June 9, 2009
HERE IS WHAT THE NEW STATE WILL LOOK LIKE, MR. OBAMA
Recall that Gaza was turned over fully to the Arabs a few years ago as a
peace offering. The Israelis said here is a start for your state. Thus the
Arabs now have several states in the region -- Jordan, Lebanon, and Gaza.
All are virtually Judenrein. In a sense the two state (or three-state)
solution exists, Mr. President. Missiles have rained down on parts of
Israel from two of those states, Lebanon and Gaza. Israel was forced to
fight wars in response to those unprovoked attacks. Now we find that even
after the latest war, which Israel called Cast Lead, the Arabs in Gaza have
just launched a major assault on a crossing point which provides needed goods to the Gazans.
If the West Bank is then given over to the Arabs, this madness will
continue. My hope is that Mr. Obama has the guts to tell the truth and say
the Arabs are making the idea of two democratic states impossible. I do not
think he has the guts or the cojones to do it. How sad and outrageous.
As much as possible I try not to refer to the Arabs as Palestinians, a
made-up term, which used to apply to the Jews living in the area. Remember,
Arafat was an Egyptian.
The Arabs have in effect declared that they are prepared for unending war
whether or not another Arab state is created. Israel and the US better get
used to the idea, however repugnant it may be.
To repeat, the two-state idea is utter madness, at least until the Arabs in
the area show they are civilized.
June 8, 2009
THE SETTLEMENTS LIE: MY SENTIMENTS EXACTLY
As I have already indicated in recent messages here, I agree very much with
Charles Krauthammer on this canard about settlements and Obama's claim not to want
to impose our values on anyone -- except on the Jews in Israel. Krauthammer also said
that, "in the sixteen years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders -- Fatah and Hamas alike -- built no schools, no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, no institutions that would relieve their people's suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts.
June 5, 2009
THE WIDE ARRAY OF REACTIONS TO THIS HISTORIC SPEECH
Here is a good summary of the varied reactions to this historic speech. I give Obama credit for trying to do something truly gutsy and historic. At
the same time I can not get over the fact that he flew from Saudi Arabia to Egypt and did not stop in Israel, our one reliable ally in that part of the world. Thanks a bunch, Barack. More complaints to follow.
June 5, 2009
A HISTORY LESSON
Here is an interesting item sent to me by wonderful younger cousin Myna Smith.
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used? Well, because that's the way they built them in England , and English engineers designed the first US railroads.
Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the wagon tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
So, why did 'they' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that same wheel spacing.
Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break more often on some of the old, long distance roads in England. You see, that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.
And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match or run the risk of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.
So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with this?', you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' asses.)
Now, the twist to the story:
When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah . The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass. And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything and.
CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else.
June 5, 2009
A FURTHER EXPLANATION OF MY THOUGHTS ON OBAMA'S EXCELLENT JOURNEY ETC.
I worry that I am getting too emotional about the latest developments in Mr. Obama's policies toward Israel and the Islamic world. Let me try again this morning, more calmly.
All of us must applaud the attempts of our president to express warmth and kindness to people of the Islamic faith. Those are my thoughts also. All people of all faiths are welcome in this wonderful country so long as they peacefully support our system of constitutional government. Muslims in other countries deserve fair treatment in every respect from their governments also. In no way is the United States government or its people at war with Islam.
However, we must be intolerant of the intolerant and violent aspects of the Islamic religion as practiced by millions of Muslims. The attacks of 9/11 were carried out in the name of the Islamic religion and the "victory" was applauded by Islamic people around the world, including by multitudes of Palestinians. We are and should be at war with those aspects of the Islamic religion. The persistent attacks on Israel have been carried out in the name of that religion and in the name of numerous other causes, the least of which can be categorized as settlements. Israel's Arab neighbors simply do not accept the existence of the Jewish state and wish it would cease to exist.
It is an unfair fight. The neighboring Arabs outnumber the Jews in tiny Israel over 100 to one. Most of those neighbors give every indication that they intend to destroy their tiny neighbor as soon as they have the chance. Somehow the Israelis -- a difficult group of people in many respects -- have survived and prospered and have beaten back every one of those persistent attempts to destroy them. American governments for decades have shown support for Israel in a variety of ways. In part this is due to the fact that it is such an unfair fight and in part because American leaders understand that the Jews have claims on the land going back at least three thousand years, long before the Islamic religion or Muslims even existed.
During the campaign Mr. Obama went out of his way to show his support for Israel and at no time did he indicate that he would apologize to the Muslim world for bad behavior of the American government toward Islam. We have nothing to apologize about. Perhaps my memory is failing but I simply do not remember any hints in the direction of throwing Israel under the bus. Now I see Obama, with the support his Jewish chief of staff, treating Israel as it were one of the departments in the executive branch of government or one of our colonies to be whipped into shape. Mr. Obama tells the world that we cannot seek to impose our values on other cultures and yet he has no hesitation in imposing his values on the Jews in Israel. That imposition threatens the existence of Israel and also the survival of the West, including the United States.
That is the source of my outrage which I again express this morning, even though more coolly than yesterday.
As an American who voted for Obama, as an American who voluntarily served in the armed forces, though never in combat, as an old Jew, as a front line civil rights protester and federal civil rights officials who risked his life in the violent American South, and who helped pave the way for Obama's election, I have been betrayed. And I am calmly but royally pissed off.
June 3, 2009
OBAMA SAYS WE CANNOT IMPOSE OUR VALUES ON OTHER CULTURES -- SO LONG AS THEY ARE NOT JEWISH
My point is that here he is in London suggesting that the Iranians must be allowed to follow their own policies regarding nuclear energy so long as they are peaceful and then he declares to the Muslim world that we in the US should not seek to impose our values on that vast world. However, he has no
compunction in imposing his values --not necessarily American values, but his values -- on those stiff-necked troublesome Jews in Israel. He calls it tough love on the Israelis. And he is in effect telling many Israelis that they really should stop having children because that causes natural growth of settlements. How utterly outrageous.
I feel completely betrayed because there was no hint during the campaign that
he would bow to the Saudi despot or that he would interfere so deeply into
all aspects of Israeli life.
This is total betrayal and I wonder where the mainstream media is on this
terrible situation. There will be backlash and it should come soon. Forget
the new Hispanic justice. She should be confirmed and there should be almost
no attention paid to this issue. It is a done deal and really not that
important as an issue. The future of civilization hangs on the outcome of
Obama's surrender to the Islamists among us and around the world. That
should be front page news every day.
I still find Obama an engaging human being and that is one reason I voted
for him -- but his policies on Israel and the Muslims are pure poison, which
will harm millions of Muslims in the end, not just Jews and Christians and
June 2, 2009
A RIDICULOUS AND ODIOUS COMPARISON
An all too common motif in criticism of the Israeli government is to compare it to Hitler’s regime. A Canadian magazine Adbusters has taken this theme to new heights of absurdity by comparing the people living in Gaza with those who suffered in the Warsaw ghetto. HonestReporting points out some very obvious differences between the two situations. In the first place, the people in the Warsaw ghetto were not firing thousands of missiles onto German soil every year. Also, the Jews in the ghetto were gathered from all over Eastern Europe as a short time first step in their eventual extermination, while the people in Gaza have been there for decades. In addition, the leadership in control of Gaza has rejected the very real possibility of living in peace and prosperity with their neighbor Israel, those in Warsaw had no such option.
In Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston asserts that the analogy “denies and diminishes and exploits the Holocaust, does disrespect to Holocaust victims and survivors alike, alleviates European guilt over complicity with the Nazis, alleviates American guilt over inaction in the face of the annihilation machine, misrepresents both the cruel reality of the Gaza Strip and the cruel reality of the ghetto, dismisses the humanity and the vulnerability of the million Israeli Jews and Arabs within rocket range, and ignores completely the role of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in having sent thousands and thousands and thousands of rockets and mortars into Israel.”
June 2, 2009
UNBELIEVABLE US SUPPORT OF PALESTINIANS
I really do not want to believe these stories but they seem to be true, sadly so.
June 2, 2009
JEWISH BABIES THREATEN THE PEACE PROCESS
That is the sub-lead on the top editorial in The Washington Times this morning. The next editorial is labeled "Subsidized Shariah." Both editorial essays are well-written and both appeal to my current philosophy as a recovering liberal. I did not plan it this way and have in the past been very much in The Washington Post camp. However, the Post is now a routine part of the Western left, a group that threatens the survival of all we should hold dear, which includes the survival of American freedom and of Israel's very existence.
If Israel is destroyed, then American Jews will bear a large part of the blame because they have so strongly supported Obama and his Secretary of State and his national Security Advisor in their strategic decision to whip the Israelis into Obama's version of the so-called Peace Process. It is as if Reverend Wright were making American policy toward the Middle East. The Obama-Wright position is that the main obstacle to peace there is not Islamic terror but Israeli violence and stubbornness.
The intent of leading Muslims to kill as many Jews as possible long predated the existence of the State of Israel. It has nothing to do with the so-called settlements but rather with the existence of the Jewish state on what is perceived as Holy Arab land. Thus, the open demand of Obama and Clinton that there be no settlement expansion including natural-growth expansion is in effect telling the Israelis who live in those so-called settlements to stop having children, damn it. As the Times editorial put it so well, "Behind the euphemism 'natural growth' are thousands of babies, boys and girls, who are objects of love and adoration of their doting parents."
The essay on this Administration's support of Shariah finance and thus of Islamic terror is equally powerful. Yes, the American government now stands accused of supporting an extreme aspect of the Islamic religion.
The Times deserves a lot of credit for this kind of journalism. That paper should be widely read by the mainstream media. I know of no reporter from the MSM who regularly reads the so-called Moony paper. It is time they stopped the slander and did read it. Frequently.
June 1, 2009
BY SOME STANDARDS, THE FIRST HISPANIC JUSTICE WAS CARDOZO
But some people doubt that fact.
May 31, 2009
WHICH POLITICIANS DO THE DRUG CARTELS SUPPORT?
Not too long ago then Speaker of House Dennis Hastert rightfully earned the scorn of many clear thinking people when he suggested that drug law reformer George Soros was funded by the drug cartels. Recent events in Mexico are demonstrating just how far from rational an American politician can go on the subject of drug policy. The Drug War Chronicle is reporting that members and candidates of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) are being subject to violent attacks. The SDP Party Chairman Jose Carlos Diaz Cuervo believes this is happening because the party’s platform strongly calls for the legalization of drugs. He asserts that, "doubtless, unlike the federal government, it appears the drug traffickers do understand that the regulation of that market would take the business away from them and would be a more intelligent way to combat them."
May 30, 2009
MORE ON THE UTTER MADNESS OF THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION
I wish that it were not so and I wish that I did not agree so strongly with
this negative assessment but I do, sadly. The so-called Palestinians are led by thugs and thieving dictators and the West acts as if none of this was true.
May 29, 2009
SOTOMAYOR APPOINTMENT A BRILLIANT POLITICAL MOVE?
Obama’s choice of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court vacancy is already galvanizing social conservatives in opposition. Writing for Mother Jones Magazine David Corn looks at the political implications of the pick. He notes that one of the founders of the modern conservative movement, Richard Viguerie, is calling for a nationwide sustained effort to block the nomination. Corn quotes Viguerie as saying that, “this is an enormous opportunity for conservatives to define President Obama as a radical liberal in a way that Republicans have so far failed to do." However, if they do succeed in keeping Sotomayor off the Court it may be a pyrrhic victory because such a process is bound to alienate large numbers of Hispanic voters. The questions become how many ballot-needing Republican Senators are likely to join such a campaign and secondly is Obama such a brilliant politician that he is deliberately promoting dissension within Republican ranks?
May 27, 2009
NEW SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NAMED
President Obama has done the expected and named a Hispanic woman, Sonia Sotomayor, to be the newest member of the Supreme Court. By all accounts she is considered to be very competent and is well liked by those who come before her as well as those who work for her. When the first George Bush nominated her to be a federal judge seven current Republican senators voted for her. Nevertheless, Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network has strongly criticized the selection saying that, “Judge Sotomayor will allow her feelings and personal politics to stand in the way of basic fairness.” However, on the other hand, at her last confirmation hearing Sotomayor stated that, "I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it." Only time will tell if Obama has made a wise choice.
May 26, 2009
GREATER COST, LESS SAFETY?
The Defense Department has never been known for frugal spending of the taxpayer’s money. However, in this recent case extravagant behavior with regard to body armor could interfere with the safety of our troops. The Washington Times reports that “the U.S. Army's decision to move testing from private companies to in-house has increased costs by more than 500 percent and undermined research and development of life-saving equipment.” Asia Fernandez, president of one company who previously did the work is claiming that “the Army's decision jeopardizes her company's research and development unit, with dire potential consequences for the safety of U.S. troops.”
May 24, 2009
HISTORIC CONFRONTATION ON NATIONAL SECURITY POLICIES: OBAMA V CHENEY
This is important and complicated. I tend to side with Cheney now but admire Obama's arguments and style. The future of the country depends on who is correct.
It is important to admit that in times of stress the leaders of this country
have often committed acts that went beyond my understanding of the law. This
has happened hundreds of times. One of the most prominent was FDR's massive
and consistent violations of our laws to help Great Britain during the
early days of World War II, such as the famous destroyers for bases deal.
That was a grand hoax and FDR rightly feared impeachment.
May 21, 2009
CHILDREN DYING IN PAIN
One of the consequences of the drug war is that many people are unnecessarily suffering pain and that includes children. Each year 38,000 American children die from a terminal illness and Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf, director of the Pain and Palliative Care team at Children's Hospitals and Clinics, is asserting that most of them needlessly suffer from untreated pain. .Minnesota Public Radio quotes him as saying that, "we have data from children dying from cancer and non-malignant diseases that more than 80 percent of the children die in pain, more than 60 percent die of breathlessness, more than half of the children have nausea and vomiting. This is something which is easy to manage." Friedrichsdorf believes the primary reason that such a situation exists is that many doctors are afraid to ease suffering by using the necessary medications.
May 21, 2009
TWO STATE SOLUTION MADNESS
Everyone from President Obama to Pope Benedict XVI is now applying pressure on Israel to accept a two state solution, thereby achieving peace in the Middle East. However, this demand is being applied to the wrong party; it is the Palestinians who have stood in the way of such a remedy. This article, by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, summarizes the reasons why a two-state solution is madness, a madness that has been repeated time and time again. He points out that, ”to this day, the charters of Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, call for Israel's liquidation. ‘The whole world’ may want peace and a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want something very different. Until that changes, there is no two-state solution.”
May 20, 2009
WHAT A NOVEL IDEA-TREAT JEWS LIKE THE PALESTINIAN JEWS TREAT THE ISRAELI ARABS
And then you might well have the basis for a fair two-state solution. But
not before. Gaffney speaks sense as usual.
May 19, 2009
CAN ISRAEL SURVIVE PRESIDENT OBAMA?
Afternoon of May 18th
This is being written a few miles from the White House, just as the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has concluded. The first press reports indicated that as expected Mr. Obama demanded that Jewish so-called settlement activity stop and that Israel support a so-called two-state solution. Such demands by the American leader have been consistent with other reports from the Obama government indicating that Israel was the stiff-necked obstacle to peace in the region and that America was going to whip this bad actor into submission. There were the usual demands that the Arabs behave also but the major blame was placed, in line with the standard views of the American left, on these stubborn, arrogant, apartheid-loving, violent Israelis.
Let me be clear at this point that I find many Israelis to be hard to love in part because they are often, shall we say, unpredictable and thorny folks. Also I find Mr. Obama and his entire family to be easy to love, which is one of the reasons I voted for him.
Moreover, I do not claim to understand much of what goes on in that bizarre region of the world. However, there are a few matters about which I feel confident to opine. The two-state solution was decided upon by a solemn vote of the United Nations in 1947. The Jews of Palestine – known for decades as the Palestinians – accepted the vote and agreed to take much less of the disputed land than they might well have deserved. The Arabs rejected it out of hand and when the new state of Israel was declared on May 15, 1948 – my twentieth birthday, by the way – five Arab armies from the neighboring countries invaded with the express purpose of killing all those hated Jewish infidels. The basic posture of Israel ’s Arab neighbors has changed only slightly since that time. So also the posture of most of the Arab and Muslim world. While there have been formal peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt , hate for Jews and Israel dominates the people of the region.
Miraculously and at great human cost the pitiful band of Jewish Palestinians somehow survived the onslaught of Arab armies and of their Arab Palestinian neighbors in 1948. Miraculously those stubborn Jewish Palestinians survived many successive assaults by their Arab Palestinian neighbors and by their Arab neighbors in other countries over the six decades that followed. The Jewish Palestinians have also performed other miracles in creating a powerful military force that has provided protection from these constant assaults. As a result, throughout the West leading liberal and leftist opinion leaders – as well as many millions of ordinary citizens – now view these armed Jewish Palestinians as the major cause of the unrest in the region and in much of the world.
Those views seem to be those of our new President Obama who just a few minutes ago has personally expressed them in perhaps politer form to the new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Jewish nation. In addition, President Obama has told our only true ally in that region -- and the only democracy there --that they must be nice to the Iranians and to their leader who has openly declared many, many times that he intends to destroy Israel, suggesting but not openly saying that he intends to use nuclear weapons in pursuit of that holy task, if and when Iran develops those weapons.
As a result of all of this I find myself in a state of utter despair because unless a miracle occurs that causes a major change in American strategy, I believe that Israel is doomed – and much of the West is in mortal danger. There is a practical limit to the number of miracles that can happen to save Israel . I fear that we have run out of them. I pray that I am wrong about all of this.
May 19, 2009
IMPORTANT SUPREME COURT REFUSAL
The last time, in 2005, the Supreme Court visited the issue of medical marijuana we got the disastrous and unconstitutional Gonzales v. Raich ruling giving federal law the upper hand when it came to the use of marijuana as medicine. In his dissent Justice Thomas wrote that, ”Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything–and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.”
Since then the attitude of both the executive and legislative branches of government seem to be changing and perhaps the judicial branch is going to follow suit.The Atlantic is reporting that “the Supreme Court has refused to hear challenges to California's medical marijuana law, brought by San Diego and San Bernardino counties.” This decision is significant because the counties argument that federal law trumped state law will not become more entrenched therefore further hindering medical marijuana efforts in other states.
May 18, 2009
ALCOHOL VERSUS MARIJUANA ON CAMPUS
It could well be argued that it is impossible to be anti-marijuana without being de-facto pro-alcohol. When marijuana became illegal not too long ago, pot using jazz musicians wrote songs about the circumstances that invariably mentioned a reluctant switch to booze. Now a Denver based organization Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, headed by Mason Tvert, is making the case that “stiff punishments for being caught in a campus dorm with the drug steer students to booze and add to binge drinking, drunken brawls and other booze-soaked troubles”
The organization is pushing a non-binding resolution, the Emerald Initiative which calls for the equalization of penalties for students caught with marijuana and those violating alcohol policies. So far the measure has passed at thirteen colleges including Ohio State University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Texas at Austin and Purdue University. It has won every time it has been put to a vote, which suggests that many college students are much smarter than their elders in government.
May 17, 2009
CULTURAL PROBLEMS AT THE FBI?
You would think that after 9-11 an FBI agent fluent in Arabic with an outstanding record in previous anti-terrorist operations would be a hot commodity. However, in the case of Bassem Youssef just the opposite happened, he was assigned to an unrelated desk job and experienced hostility from his co-workers. Youssef has since filed a discrimination suit against the Bureau. Mother Jones Magazine tells his story, which raises the question is the institutional culture at the FBI an impediment to keeping Americans safe from terrorism? The article asserts that, “Youssef knows there's little chance of resurrecting his career. He stays on at the bureau in the hope of changing the culture by example—though that may be unlikely under Mueller, whom Obama has retained as director. The counterterrorism division, he says, is no better prepared today than it was before 9/11, and might even be worse off.”
May 16, 2009
THE CHANGING OF A MINDSET?
When President Obama first appointed former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as the nation’s new Drug Czar the words "cautiously optimistic" swept through the drug law reform community. This optimism has been fueled by a promised halt to federal raids on medical marijuana clinics in states where it is legal and efforts to deal with the racial injustice resulting from sentencing disparities between crack and powered cocaine offenses. In addition, Kerlikowske has done little to dampen the enthusiasm with his recent first press conference. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the new drug chief asserting that the war analogy is counter productive said “the Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment's role growing relative to incarceration.”
This is very significant because until now the changes brought by Obama have dealt with single issues in a limited way, while Kerlikowske’s remarks signal a positive transformation in the underlying philosophy which drives drug policy. Of course, there will be many opposed to any such progress. Politicians who love war such as Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, the only Senator to vote against the Drug Czar’s confirmation, and officials, dedicated to protecting prestige and budgets, such as James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, will fight any reforms with the utmost vigor. Still, optimism rules this day at least.
May 14, 2009
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS?
Christians living in fear on the West Bank have begun speaking out about the persecution they have been receiving from their Muslim neighbors. The Jerusalem Post quotes Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the Beit Sahur-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station as saying that, "the situation is very dangerous, I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation." The same thing is also happening in Gaza. The paper reports that “since the Hamas coup of July 2007, this position has become increasingly untenable. Islamist organizations, empowered by the indifference of the authorities, have begun to target Christian institutions and individuals in Gaza with increasing impunity. Intimidation, assault and the threat of kidnapping are now part of daily reality for Christians.”
It would seem obvious as to who is responsible for this deplorable situation but not to Time Magazine’s Andrew Lee Butters who manages to lay the blame for Muslim actions squarely on Israel asserting that, “the creation of Israel has been a disaster for Christians in the Middle East.” In its point by point refutation of the Time article HonestReporting observes that, “according to Butters, therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t ultimately responsible for ‘small-scale terror’ against the Christians it carries out. It’s really Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories that is behind it all.” The persecution of Christians by Islamic extremists is a worldwide problem. A Muslim who converts to Christianity is subject to the death penalty, is that Israel’s fault? Sadly here is yet another Western journalist who can not acknowledge any flaws in or lay any blame on Muslim religion.
May 14, 2009
A DANGEROUS LINKAGE
In 2000-2001 the Israelis offered the Palestinians a state comprised of all of Gaza and 95% of the West Bank with a capital in Jerusalem and $35 billion to compensate refugees. Their proposal was rejected. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a very complicated matter; on the other hand a nuclear armed Iran is clearly an existential and immediate threat to Israel. Therefore in an article for the New York Post Alan Dershowitz argues the two issues should not be linked. He writes that, “Rahm Emanuel is a good man and a good friend of Israel, but in a highly publicized recent statement he linked American efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons to Israeli efforts toward establishing a Palestinian state. This is dangerous.”
May 12, 2009
ANOTHER CRITIQUE OF OBAMA'S POLICY TOWARD ISRAEL
And this one is just as pessimistic as many others. The message of many commentators is that the new Palestinian state will be run by Hamas, with the help of Iran, and will pose an existential threat to Israel. The next question may well be: where will the few survivors of the next Holocaust be allowed to emigrate and live in peace? Or is this just so much fear mongering?
May 12, 2009
IS OBAMA CHANGING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL?
Many supporters of Israel viewed the election of Barak Obama with caution and even some anxiety. Recent reported remarks by him, Vice-President Joe Biden, and National Security Adviser General James Jones have considerably raised the level of concern. Indeed, the always astute Melanie Phillips believes that this is the beginning of a process that will “throw Israel under the bus.” She point out that “Jones is quoted in the telegram as saying that the United States, European Union and moderate Arab states must redefine ‘a satisfactory endgame solution.’ The U.S. national security adviser did not mention Israel as party to these consultations.”
Those who consistently take a strong anti-Israeli stance also see a change in the winds. Justin Raimondo, a very harsh critic of both Israel and the President’s interaction with them up until now, citing some of the same evidence as Phillips, asks in the title of his article “Is Obama Taking on the Israeli Lobby?”
May 11, 2009
POLLS SHOW GREATLY INCREASED SUPPORT FOR MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
In the 1920s, the decade after alcohol prohibition passed, dissatisfaction with the policy grew at a tremendous rate. As the violence became widespread the ranks of politically wet groups swelled while membership in dry groups declined substantially. Yet it was not until the economic collapse of the Great Depression that repeal of Prohibition became a concrete possibility. In his book Repealing National Prohibition historian David Kyvig writes that the ”growing malaise of the Great Depression introduced new political and social as well as economic circumstances, greatly accelerating the revolt against prohibition and causing the prospect of repeal to be taken seriously for the first time.”
Perhaps in a way history is repeating itself, as new polls show an increased support for the legalization of marijuana. An essay in The Christian Science Monitor reports that a poll conducted last week by Zogby International shows a nationwide majority support for legal pot, 52%, for the first time ever. This is up from an ABC News/Washington Post survey conducted last month which revealed 46% in favor of marijuana decriminalization. In addition, a recent poll of California voters had 56% of the respondents favoring taxation and regulation of legal cannabis. The article asserts that NORML deputy director Paul Armentano ”traces the changing stance to three developments: the economic downturn, which is forcing people to consider new sources of revenue; the violent Mexican drug war, which he says many Americans see as the result of prohibition of the drug trade and not directly linked to personal usage; and lastly, more experience with the drug.”
May 9, 2009
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR ON BOARD FOR MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION DEBATE
In 2002 the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron was re-released with a scene showing Governor Arnold Schwarzengger smoking marijuana. However, unlike most politicians he does not seek to repudiate his past by taking a hard line against present day users. In fact, the San Francisco Chronicle is quoting him as saying with regard to marijuana legalization that "I think it's time for debate. I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues - I'm always for an open debate on it." The article also mentions that ”for the first time a majority of California voters back legal marijuana. Also, a San Francisco legislator has proposed regulating and taxing marijuana to bring the state as much as $1.3 billion a year in extra revenue.”
May 6, 2009
KNOWLEDGABLE ASSESSMENT OF DRUG PROHIBITION
Many people consider HBO’s The Wire to be the finest television program ever made. Stellar acting and production values combine with an extremely interesting plot line, which has something important to say, to make it impossible to turn away from this show. The plot primarily follows the lives of Baltimore drug dealers and the police trying to catch them. The over arching theme of the series is the futility and destructiveness of the law enforcement effort. This important message comes from executive producer David Simon who sat down for a fascinating video interview with Bill Moyers. Simon’s analysis of drug prohibition’s utter failure comes from first hand experience; he spent twelve years as a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun.
May 5, 2009
FDR AND THE “JEWISH QUESTION” IN THE 1930S
For some time the historical consensus has been that Franklin Roosevelt did very little to help the European Jews in the years preceding the Holocaust. A new book Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald (1935-1945), edited by Richard Breitman, Barbra McDonald Stewart, and Severin Hochberg, is challenging that viewpoint. A USA Today piece on the book quotes American University History Professor Richard Breitman as saying that Roosevelt was "a master politician who tried to carry out some humanitarian steps while juggling political and military considerations."
Citing new sources the authors point to a cut in red tape, a plan to resettle large number of Jews in South America, an appeal to other Democracies to share the burden, and a promise to ask Congress for a $150 million to go towards re-location as evidence of FDR’s sympathetic actions. Deborah Lipstadt, a Holocaust studies professor at Emory University asserts that "This is consensus-changing. He may deserve a lot more credit than he is getting.”
However, not everyone is convinced that this new information should change the original historical interpretation. A New York Times article devoted to the tome mentions that David Wyman and Rafael Medoff of the Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington argue that the President never asked for the $150 million and that, “Roosevelt may have talked about some pie-in-the-sky plans, but when it came to taking substantive action, he did nothing. For instance, they said, he opposed the 1939 Wagner-Rogers bill that would have permitted the United States to take in 20,000 Jewish children from Germany in addition to the existing German-Austrian quota of 27,370.”
May 1, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE DENYING ITS OWN VITAL INFORMATION
If you are in the military working on a Department of Defense computer there is a vast quantity of information that you have no access to. William S. Lind, writing about this little known problem, points out that there is a great deal of important information “available open-source: Web sites by and about our opponents, works by civilian academics, material from think-tanks, reports from businessmen who travel in areas we are interested in – the pile is almost bottomless. Every American soldier with access to a computer can find almost anything he needs. Much of it is both more accurate and more useful than what filters down through the military intelligence chain.”
However, the DOD blocks much of this vital intelligence for parochial or political reasons. Lind concludes his article by stating that, “Rigid control of information through a compartmented, stove piped process is characteristic of the Second Generation. Once again we see why Second Generation militaries cannot win Fourth Generation wars. Our defeats are less a product of what our enemy does to us than of what we do to ourselves.”
April 29, 2009
AGING PRISON POPULATION
Back in the 1980s mandatory minimum sentencing, three strikes laws, and no parole provisions were all the rage for law makers who desired to be thought of as tough on crime. This has resulted in an American with a record high number of individuals imprisoned, over 2,000,000 people. Today’s law makers face rapidly dwindling resources combined with a rapidly aging prison population which contributes to serious overcrowding and rising health care costs. Writing in Mother Jones Magazine James Ridgeway points out the findings of the authors of Growing Older: Challenges of Prison and Reentry for the Aging Population, Brie Williams and Rita Abraldes. They discovered that, “the cost for each geriatric inmate came to $70,000 a year. In addition to the chronic diseases that increase with age, these offenders have problems such as paraplegia because of gunshot wounds, and advanced liver disease, renal disease, hepatitis and HIV from drug and alcohol abuse. Living under prison conditions, they are more likely to get pneumonia and flu.” In addition many older inmates suffer from acute depression and other mental illnesses.
Addressing California’s filled to capacity system George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley asserts that the state must make risk based decisions that will involve releasing some prisoners. He argues that, “among the various factors, the most reliable is age. As a general rule, people become less dangerous as they age. In males, the greatest drop in recidivism occurs around age 30 and tends to continue to fall. In addition to their lower risk, older prisoners impose much higher costs on the system. Because of maintenance and medical costs, the average cost of an older prisoner is two to three times that of a younger prisoner.”
April 27, 2009
DOES THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY REALLY WANT TO GOVERN?
Traditionally disaffected ethnic and religious groups have all had a common goal, the establishment of their own state. However, because of modern day technological advances, both civilian and military, statelessness may become in many cases the preferred situation. In an exceptional and important essay Johns Hopkins University Professor Jakub Grygiel discusses the advantages of statelessness. He argues that some groups “are considerably more capable of achieving their objectives and maintaining their social cohesion without a state apparatus. The state is a burden for them, while statelessness is not only very feasible but also a source of enormous power. Modern technologies allow these groups to organize themselves, seek financing, and plan and implement actions against their targets — almost always other states — without ever establishing a state of their own. They seek power without the responsibility of governing. The result is the opposite of what we came to know over the past two or three centuries: Instead of groups seeking statehood through a variety of means, they now pursue a range of objectives while actively avoiding statehood. Statelessness is no longer eschewed as a source of weakness but embraced as an asset.”
In an article for The Atlantic Monthly Robert Kaplan takes Grygiel’s ideas and applies them to the Palestinian circumstances. He points out that in 2000 the rejection by Yasser Arafat of the considerable concessions offered by the Israelis indicates a strong reluctance to take responsibility for governing. Kaplan concludes that as far as their own state goes, the Palestinians “may not really want one. Statehood would mean openly compromising with Israel, and, because of the dictates of geography, living in an intimate political and economic relationship with it. Better the glory of victimhood, combined with the power of radical abstractions! As a stateless people, Palestinians can lob rockets into Israel, but not be wholly blamed in the eyes of the international community. Statehood would, perforce, put an end to such license.” Certainly, history shows that when Hamas got control of Gaza they did very little with regard to establishing a viable nation-state in the territory they control.
April 24, 2009
WILL SICK VETERANS BE TAKEN CARE OF THIS TIME?
The suffering of military personal often continues long after the fighting has stopped; take for example Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange. With bad publicity and millions of dollars in medical benefits at stake, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have strong incentives to deny there is a problem. It took almost two decades for authorities to acknowledge the reality of Gulf War Syndrome leaving those stricken by serious illness without the aid they deserved for years.
A similar situation is now being created in Iraq and Afghanistan. However Kelley B. Vlahos writes in a piece documenting present day problems that, “today the military may find that injured veterans are one step ahead of the usual obfuscations. Horror stories and photos shared online about the massive open burning of medical waste, chemicals, plastics, and hardware on various military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan, witnessed by tens of thousands of service members and contractors, have gone viral in recent months. These stories threaten to blow wide open the unchecked exposure of potentially thousands of people to dangerous levels of contaminants, like benzene, arsenic, Freon, cyanide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ethylbenzene, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfuric acid, and xylene.”
April 23, 2009
UNUSUAL STRENGTHENING OF THE FOURTH AMENDMENT
Every once in awhile the Supreme Court forgets about the drug exception to the Constitution and in a case involving illegal substances rules in favor of protecting individual rights. Such an instance has occurred with the decision in Arizona v. Gant. After Mr. Gant was arrested for driving on a suspended license and locked up in the patrol car the police searched his vehicle and found a small amount of cocaine. However the Court ruled that the evidence was obtained with an illegal search. And, Scott Morgan of Flex Your Rights reports that now “vehicle searches following an arrest are legal only if the suspect has access to the vehicle or if officers reasonably believe the vehicle contains evidence related to that arrest. In other words, police are now required to have an actual reason to justify the vehicle search, instead of being allowed to do it automatically. This decision restores some much needed logic and common sense to the way many warrantless vehicle searches are analyzed under the 4th Amendment.”
April 23, 2009
WAR ON PAIN RELIEF IS ALSO A WAR ON FREE SPEECH
The government does not like Siobhan Reynolds who is head of The Pain Relief Network an advocacy group fighting against the state persecution of pain patients and their doctors. The immediate cause of animosity is Reynolds defense of Kansas Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Nurse Linda Schneider, who have been accused of operating a pain clinic responsible for 56 overdose deaths. The network has been organizing patients in support of the defendants and generating publicity about the case.
The Schneider’s federal prosecutors tried to impose a gag order on Reynolds’s group but the judge denied the motion. Now the Drug War Chronicle reports that she “has been targeted for a grand jury investigation of obstruction of justice for her role in supporting a Kansas physician and his wife in their legal battle against federal prosecutors.” In her subpoena Assistant US Attorney Tanya Treadway “demands that Reynolds turn over all correspondence with attorneys, patients, Schneider family members, doctors, and others related to the Schneider case. She also demands that Reynolds turn over bank and credit card statements showing payments to or from clinic employees, patients, potential witnesses and others.” Reynolds has stated that she has no intention of complying with the order and has filed a motion seeking to have the subpoena thrown out.
Gore Vidal has said that, “America is a quarter of a billion people totally misinformed and disinformed by their government. This is tragic but our media is -- I wouldn't even say corrupt -- it's just beyond telling us anything that the government doesn't want us to know.” Given the large amount of truth in that statement, this pernicious governmental attempt to silence an advocacy group should be all the more frightening to us.
April 20, 2009
DECRIMINALIZATION POLICY IS A SUCCESS
Those who argue decriminalizing drugs would be a disaster have to ignore the real life example of Portugal, which shows their assertions to be false. In 2001 that country’s government passed a law making all drug offenses involving personal use exclusively administrative violations. A new CATO study by constitutional lawyer and Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald shows the policy has been a notable success. Greenwald points out that there is a broad Portuguese political consensus in favor of decriminalization and that it “is unsurprising in light of the relevant empirical data. Those data indicate that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. Although post decriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.” You can read the full study here.
April 16, 2009
THE WORST PEOPLE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH
It is as though there is a contest where participants try to come in first by proving they are the most cruel and barbarous people in the world and the Taliban is winning. Their latest action is the killing by firing squad of a 19 year old girl and a 21 year old boy for the crime of being in love and trying to elope. The most disturbing part is that the time from capture to execution was only four days.
April 15, 2009
THE MACHO FACTOR IN THE OBAMA EQUATION
The recent successful rescue from the Somalia pirates has created a flood of positive comments on the macho aspect of Obama’s foreign policy. Those come after a previous flood of negative comments suggesting a wimp and appeasement factor. For an example of one of the previous comments it is worth looking at one of Caroline Glick’s latest columns. She writes about her apprehensions in The Jerusalem Post and she points out that, “the pro-Obama US and European media are so pleased with America's abdication of power that they took the rare step of applauding Obama at his press conference in London. Indeed, the media's enthusiasm for Obama appeared to grow with each presidential statement of contrition for America's past uses of force, each savage attack he leveled against his predecessor George W. Bush, each swipe he took at Israel, and each statement of gratitude for the blessings of Islam he uttered.”
April 13, 2009
THE DANGERS OF ANTI-ZIONISM
There are differences between anti-Semitism and anti- Zionism. The former rejects the idea that Jews are equal members of the human race and this idea is considered by most people to be the more pernicious. However, UCLA professor and president of the Daniel Pearl foundation, Judea Pearl, argues in his essay that anti-Zionism, which rejects the notion that Jews are a nation, is the more dangerous thought. After presenting strong evidence that Jews are indeed a nation he asserts that, “anti-Zionism targets the most vulnerable part of the Jewish people, namely, the Jewish population of Israel, whose physical safety and personal dignity depend crucially on maintaining Israel's sovereignty. Put bluntly, the anti-Zionist plan to do away with Israel condemns five and a half million human beings, mostly refugees or children of refugees, to eternal defenselessness in a region where genocidal designs are not uncommon.”
April 7, 2009
ISRAELI SOLDIERS SPEAK OUT
Currently there is an extensive media campaign to use the recent conflict in Gaza for the purpose of applying the label of war criminals to all the members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). However, the men and women who serve in Israel’s military are fighting back with a grassroots website, Soldiers Speak Out, which allows individual members of the IDF to share their experiences. The site’s front-page points out the simple fact that; “The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has over 700,000 citizen soldiers and reservists who are expected to live up to the IDFs ethical standards. In any army, some soldiers violate the rules of combat. In the IDF, all alleged violations are investigated, and offenders are punished.”
April 6, 2009
TYPICAL TALIBAN BEHAVIOR EXPOSED
Negotiations that turned over control of Pakistan’s Swat Valley to the Taliban are now being questioned after the circulation of a disturbing video showing a seventeen year old girl being flogged more than thirty times. ABC News is reporting that,” her crime, according to the Taliban and local residents, was hosting a man in her house and supposedly having a physical relationship with him. No evidence of such a relationship was ever given, but the rumor of such a relationship, according to the local Taliban spokesman, was actually enough to be stoned to death. The punishment in this case, he told a local TV channel, was ‘lenient.’”
April 4, 2009
ACADEMIA AND THE PRESERVATION OF RACIAL DIVISION
Ever since the infamous Duke Lacrosse team rape case that university has been a flash point when it comes to race relations. It must be remembered that 88 Duke faulty members signed a statement using the case to assert that racism at the university was endemic. Eventually, those players accused were found to be completely innocent and in fact they were the victims of a prosecutor courting the black vote for the next election.
In March Duke held an academic conference titled Still Two Nations? The Resilience of the Color Line and The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy sent Jane Shaw to observe the event. She found that most of the participants at the conference believed that racism in America has continued to thrive and even grow. Indeed, Duke Professor of Public Policy William Darity argued that the election of Barak Obama would actually retard social justice for Blacks. Shaw maintains that “the overall message of the conference was grim and distasteful. Mostly it was about how to build political power on the shoulders of race. I was bothered by the fact that participants spoke freely about negative stereotypes, including the low role of blacks in the ‘racial hierarchy.’ If that is part of today’s scholarship, maybe we need less scholarship.”
April 3, 2009
WAYS TO FIGHT BACK
There is no question that recently the amount of anti-Israeli intimidation and propaganda, much of it tinged with anti-Semitism, on American campuses has risen dramatically. Edward S. Beck of Walden University and President-Emeritus Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) argues that only faculty can prevent this increase in hate speech. He maintains that, “while more and more faculty have been increasingly vocal about issues of academic anti-Israelism expressed in academic publications and calls for boycotts of and divestment from Israel academics and academic institutions, many have been silent on their campuses when it comes to student activities when these events take place, thinking student organization can and will do something.” Beck urges faculty members to fight back against this and provides a guide for those willing to do so.
April 1, 2009
DESPITE HOLDER’S PROMISE ANOTHER MEDICAL MARIJUANA RAID IN CALIFORNIA
Only a couple of weeks ago Eric Holder the nation’s Attorney General stated that President Obama would keep his campaign promise and there would be no more federal raids on the medical marijuana dispensaries in California. Only a few days ago the DEA raided the Emmalyn’s California Cannabis Clinic in San Francisco. It makes us all wonder what Holder and Obama meant when they said no more raids. We assumed that no means no. Anthony Gregory has a suggestion as to how the state of California should respond to this event. After pointing out that the DEA pretext of state sales tax violation did not originate with a complaint by the state, he argues that, “short of exempting medical marijuana from sales tax altogether, how can future outrages be prevented? California should go on the offensive. It should legalize marijuana, leave its regulation to the market, and, for now, treat it like any other retail good in terms of tax law. It could do so under the guise of medical marijuana, to protect users and distributors from federal sanction, assuming Obama keeps his promise to the letter. California could make medical marijuana completely legal – like aspirin or cough syrup – and allow retailers of all types to sell it without license or prescription.”
For Gregory the question involves much more than mere access to medical marijuana. His thesis is that drug prohibition is a fundamental attack on American civilization, which is supposed to include values such as truthfulness. He discusses this idea with Scott Horton in a very informative radio interview found here.
March 31, 2009
THE PRO-PALESTINIAN AMERICAN CAMPUS
There is more sympathy for Hamas on some American campuses than in Ramallah. Indeed, journalist Khaled Abu Toameh found this to be true when he recently visited some American schools of higher learning. In addition he states that “I never imagined that I would need police protection while speaking at a university in the U.S. I have been on many Palestinian campuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and I cannot recall one case where I felt intimidated or where someone shouted abuse at me.”
March 27, 2009
NO BASIS FOR WAR CRIMES CHARGE
The latest project of those who disseminate anti-Israeli propaganda is to convince the world that Israeli Defense Forces committed systematic war crimes during the recent conflict in Gaza. Sadly they are having some success with even Ha’aretz joining the chorus of those making such charges. However, the website HonestReporting makes a strong case that the publicity surrounding these war crimes charges is simply the product of shoddy journalism.
It links to Melanie Phillips who points out that, ”there are precisely two charges of gratuitous killing of Palestinian civilians under allegedly explicit orders to do so. One is what even Ha’aretz made clear was an accidental killing, when two women misunderstood the evacuation route the Israeli soldiers had given them and walked into a sniper’s gunsights as a result. Moreover, the soldier who said this has subsequently admitted he didn’t see this incident – he wasn’t even in Gaza at the time – and had merely reported rumour and hearsay.”
HonestReporting also notes that writing in The Jerusalem Post Herb Keinon argues that ”it is important to note that none of the testimony was about what the soldiers did themselves, but rather of what they heard or saw other soldiers do. It is also important that what was reported seems to fall within the realm of aberrations by individuals during war against a cruel enemy hiding behind civilians, not a systematic loss by the army of its moral compass.”
March 27, 2009
SURPRISING SOURCE OF HELP FOR ISRAEL
Not all Palestinians are relentless enemies of Israel and in fact many of them played an important positive role in creation of the Jewish state. Daniel Pipes is calling attention to an important new book, Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948 by Hillel Cohen of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which documents this fact. Pipes informs us that, ”Cohen demonstrates the many roles that accommodating Palestinians played for the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community in the Holy Land. They provided labor, engaged in commerce, sold land, sold arms, handed over state assets, provided intelligence about enemy forces, spread rumors and dissension, convinced fellow Palestinians to surrender, fought the Yishuv's enemies, and even operated behind enemy lines. So great was their cumulative assistance, one wonders if the State of Israel could have come into existence without their contribution.”
March 27, 2009
WHAT IF ISRAEL VANISHED?
Edward Glick, a professor emeritus of political science at Temple University, argues that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and “the world's other Jew-haters spend nearly all their time hiding their politically incorrect anti-Semitism behind politically correct anti-Israelism.” Since these people see the state of Israel as the source of all the Middle East’s problems he asks the question what if they got their wish and Israel ceased to exist? Glick goes on to point out that a myriad of difficulties such as impoverished people, endemic corruption, brutal dictators, the Sunni/Shia schism, and the radical desire to impose Islamic law upon the entire world would still be in place. He adds that, ”Hamas, Hezbollah and the other Arab leaders would have to find a new scapegoat toward which to deflect the anger and despair of their people.”
March 26, 2009
UNSUNG CIVIL RIGHTS HERO
One of the earliest and most couraegeous people to fight against the brutal segregation in the 1950s South was T.R.M. Howard, unfortunately he is now largely forgotten. David Beito and Linda Royster Beito hope to correct this oversight with their outstanding biography Black Maverick: T. R. M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power. Howard, at much risk to himself, became very involved in the Emmett Till murder case. While Till’s killers were not brought to justice at the time the incident brought much needed awareness and attention to the plight of Blacks living in Mississippi and the other southern states. Many historians consider the reaction to Till’s death the beginning of the modern civil rights movement. Damon W. Root’s very positive review of the book for Reason can be found here.
March 26, 2009
STUDENTS PROTEST SHOOTING
In a situation that is all too common Grand Valley State University unarmed student Derek Copp investigated a noise at the back door of his apartment and was shot though the chest by police executing a drug war search warrant. They found no cash, guns, or hard drugs, only a miniscule amount of marijuana. Normally this would not be a big story; however, students all over Michigan at the behest of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) are making it important news by strenuously protesting this violent injustice. Fortunately Derek Copp survived his encounter with the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs but the next person, and as long as drug prohibition continues there will be a next person, may not be so lucky.
March 26, 2009
GAZA CONFLICT SPURS WORLDWIDE ANTI-SEMITISM
The recent fighting in Gaza had the effect of raising expressions of anti-Semitism, both by verbal means and through concrete actions, to a post World War II high. A report by Manfred Gerstenfeld and Tamas Berzi published in Institute for Global Jewish Affairs Post- Holocaust and Anti-Semitism No. 79, 1 April 2009, extensively documents this phenomenon citing both numerous governmental and private examples. The authors argue that this is not solely the concern of Jews when they assert that, “actions by various independent Muslim bodies in several Western countries manifested their desire to conquer the public square and, at the same time, remove Jewish and Israeli identities from it. This development is relevant not only to Jews but also to the general public. Those who want to impose themselves in the public domain today at the expense of Jews are likely to do so tomorrow at the expense of others.”
March 24, 2009
ONE OF CARTER’S PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENTS THE WORLD’S WORST DICTATOR
Last Sunday when Parade Magazine named Robert Mugabe as the world’s worst dictator not many analysts would have had a strong disagreement with that choice. Besides the violence and intimidation, including numerous rapes, this megalomaniac has used to hold on to power, there is an economic situation in which “inflation in Zimbabwe is so bad that in January the government released a $50 billion note — enough to buy two loaves of bread.” The employment rate reached 85% in 2008.
The magazine rated the top 20 strong men and each one had a section labeled U.S. link. However, as the NewsBusters website points out this section for the Mugabe entry fails to acknowledge the strong support from the Jimmy Carter Administration enjoyed by the world’s worst dictator when he first came to power. Carter considered it a major foreign policy success when his administration helped to negotiate a settlement that paved the way for Mugabe’s ascension to power. In August 1980, former Ambassador to the UN Andrew Young wrote in The Washington Post that, “the president's best investment of the past four years has just begun to pay off. The visit of Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Robert Mugabe sparked an enthusiasm in black America that may well rekindle the fires that Jimmy Carter so desperately needs for reelection.” Young added that, “Zimbabwe may have given the American people the vote of confidence needed to get out of the present paralyzing cynicism and to begin building at home and abroad the dream of free men and women, of a world of peace and prosperity.”
March 24, 2009
THE TRUTH ABOUT GAZA BY SOMEONE WHO LIVED THERE
Nonie Darwish is a remarkable witness who must be heard, again and again.
Buy her latest book also!
March 20, 2009
CHANGE IN MEDICAL MARIJAUANA POLICY CLARIFIED
Attorney General Eric Holder has made clear what President Obama’s new policy regarding medical marijuana is in states that have legalized it. He stated that, "the policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law.” He added that "given the limited resources that we have, our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that's inconsistent with federal and state law." This is a significant and positive change, however, some advocates of reform are asking what about those already convicted of or facing federal charges?
March 19, 2009
AMERICA ON WRONG SIDE AT UN
So far, sending mixed messages would be a very apt description of the Obama Administration’s approach to drug policy. In the week after taking office there were federal raids on medical marijuana clinics but subsequently the Attorney General announced that there would be a change in that aspect of the federal/state relationship. Next the administration named the most forward thinking and humane person to hold the job of Drug Czar in the history of that office; however, the administration made the appointment a non-cabinet position and stated that veteran dedicated drug warrior Vice-President Joe Biden would have a significant role in forming policy. Also, that while some military leaders are expressing a desire to intervene in support of Mexican drug prohibition the administration itself seems to be very reluctant.
In the latest signal though, the Obama Administration has opposed the idea of harm reduction at the UN. At a meeting in Austria to determine the direction of UN drug policy for the next decade, the concept of mitigating the effects of drug use was not included in the final statement and 26 countries, including some of our closest allies, tried to change this despite strong opposition from the U.S. delegation. Eyewitness SSDP Executive Director Kris Krane reports that, “over 100 countries chose not to speak in support or opposition to harm reduction, yet the United States willingly chose to align itself with countries that are responsible for some the worst human rights abuses perpetrated in the name of the War on Drugs, rather than staying silent or aligning with America’s traditional allies. The Obama administration has promised to rebuild America’s traditional alliances, yet they willfully set this process back in order to continue the disastrous global war on drugs and drug users. Clearly, this behavior will not change unless President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton hear a loud message from citizens that global drug policy must be based in science, reason, evidence, and human rights, rather than worn-out ideology and Drug War orthodoxy.”
Indeed, Obama does need to make a decision, will his drug policy be based on the same old inhumane, immoral, violent, costly, and failed concepts or will he instigate meaningful change that will benefit both his place in history and the lives of the American people. Before he makes such a choice he would do well to heed Anthony Gregory’s latest comprehensive and well argued talk on the subject. To make clear the stakes involved Gregory quotes Ludwig von Mises as asserting that, “opium and morphine are certainly dangerous, habit-forming drugs. But once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments. A good case could be made out in favor of the prohibition of alcohol and nicotine. And why limit the government's benevolent providence to the protection of the individual's body only? Is not the harm a man can inflict on his mind and soul even more disastrous than any bodily evils? Why not prevent him from reading bad books and seeing bad plays, from looking at bad paintings and statues and from hearing bad music? The mischief done by bad ideologies, surely, is much more pernicious, both for the individual and for the whole society, than that done by narcotic drugs.”
Some of Barak Obama’s opponents on the political far right are arguing that the new president’s real agenda is the imposition of totalitarianism. We would do well to monitor his drug policy choices as a gauge to the accuracy of his adversary’s claims.
March 19, 2009
MEXICAN VIOLENCE HAS POLITICAL PRICE
It is an axiom among politicians that being tough on drugs is a necessity. No one has ever adhered to this idea more than Mexican President Felipe Calderón and he has over six thousand dead bodies to show for it. Shortly after taking office he committed fifty thousand troops to fighting the drug cartels and an orgy violence ensued. Traditional thinking would have the electorate approving these actions; however, USA Today is reporting that Calderón’s move may cost his party dearly in the upcoming election. In fact, “a poll by El Universal newspaper last month showed the PRI leading Calderón's party by 15 percentage points in the congressional races. Other polls by the Mitofsky and Demotecnia consulting companies showed the PRI ahead by 9 and 6 points, respectively.” With any luck American politicians will take note that supporting overly harsh drug policies can have a heavy political price.
March 18, 2009
NOT THE ARMY’S JOB OR A GOOD IDEA
It appears that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has a habit of confusing the United States Army with the Drug Enforcement Agency. First an American General in Afghanistan under his supervision announces that henceforth American personal will shoot on sight anyone connected with the opium trade, thereby vastly increasing support for the Taliban, and now Gates wants to move U.S. troops into Mexico to enforce drug prohibition there. On the television program Meet the Press he stated that, "I think we are beginning to be in a position to help the Mexicans more than we have in the past. Some of the old biases against cooperation between our militaries and so on, I think, are being set aside."
However, in an article for the McClatchy website Marisa Taylor and Nancy A. Youssef present evidence that the Mexican Army, Laredo police, numerous federal agencies, and the Obama Administration in general all have little enthusiasm for Gate’s vision. Also, moving this project forward is not made easier when “during a trip designed to expand U.S. Mexican-military relations, Adm. Michael Mullen, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, visited the graves of American troops who died during the Mexican-American war just as Gates did during his first visit in August.”
In 1916, the last time the United States Army entered Mexico, it went to fight opponents of the Mexican government who were involved with drugs and it quickly withdrew because of more important conflicts on the world stage. Hopefully, history will not repeat itself because that would be wrongheaded, expensive, and deadly.
March 17, 2009
CONTROVERSIAL APPOINTMENT RESIGNED
On Tuesday Charles Freeman former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia withdrew from his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Writing in The Washington Post Walter Pincus seems to attribute this event to pro-Israeli lobbyists and quotes Freeman as maintaining that, “the aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views... and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors."
However, Caroline Glick in an essay for The Jerusalem Post sees the event in a far different light. She points out that the memoirs of former Secretary of State James Baker claimed that the affliction of "clientitis" affected the former ambassador to the Saudi Kingdom and that Freeman later became president of the Middle East Policy Council which received millions of dollars in support from the royal family. Glick also accuses Pincus of “reportorial malpractice” and notes that paper’s news editor, Douglas Jehl deliberately ignored this story of a campaign against Freeman until now. She asserts that, “they never asked whether the controversy surrounding it was justified. Had they asked that question, perhaps they would have reconsidered their decision to ignore the story.”
March 14, 2009
IMMORAL GOVERNMENT IN TENAHA TEXAS
Officials in the small (population 1046) Texas town of Tenaha apparently believe that outright theft from black people who happen to pass through their stretch of highway is a moral and correct way to fund government. They are putting their belief into practice by way of the asset forfeiture laws. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune black drivers and interracial couples are stopped and threatened with arrest on drug charges, while those with children are also told their offspring will be sent into foster care. However, if they give up any money or valuables in their possession they are let go after signing a waiver which states that, "we agree that this case may be taken up and considered by the Court without further notice to us during this proceeding. In exchange for this agreement, no criminal charges shall be filed on either of us as a result of this case, and our children shall not be turned over to CPS." Of 200 cases involving asset forfeiture only 50 were connected to actual drug charges.
March 13, 2009
ON CAMPUS ANTI-ISRAELI BIAS CONTINUES
People who support Israel’s right to exist such as Daniel Pipes are quite familiar with the high degree of animosity towards the Jews living in the Middle East that exists on American institutions of higher learning today. In fact, Pipes started an organization, Campus Watch to monitor such bias. Also, The Pope Center is taking notice.
Member and researcher Jay Schalin attended a “teach in” about Israeli-Palestinian relations presented at Duke University and he reports that his expectations of heavy anti-Israeli bias were more than met. He concludes that, “what I really learned at the teach-in is that universities like Duke are creating potential incubators of Jihad on American soil while posturing as open-minded and morally superior centers of disinterested learning.”
March 12, 2009
GAZA COULD BE A WONDERFUL GARDEN SPOT
I have often said that and here is an Israeli Arab sayng it much better than I could.
March 11, 2009
RELENTLESS ARGUMENT FOR LEGALIZATION
More and more people, organizations, and publications are beginning to acknowledge the failure of drug prohibition. On the other hand the Economist took the position that, “minimising the evil of drugs means learning to live with them, legally” over twenty years ago. In a recent relentlessly logical and compelling article the magazine reasserts the position that, “prohibition has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution.”
The essay begins by reminding us of the 1998 promise by the UN General Assembly of a drug free world and it asserts “that is the kind of promise politicians love to make. It assuages the sense of moral panic that has been the handmaiden of prohibition for a century. It is intended to reassure the parents of teenagers across the world. Yet it is a hugely irresponsible promise, because it cannot be fulfilled.”
March 11, 2009
FORCED MARRIAGE ACT FAILS TO PROTECT
One of the points of conflict between Islam and Western liberal values is the practice of forced marriage. Often even very young girls are compelled by their families to marry against their will. In November of 2008 the British government attempted to provide some protection against this injustice by passing the Forced Marriage Act. However, the law is largely ineffective because it provided no criminal or civil penalties on the theory that girls would not want their families punished. Also, on Islamist Watch Victoria Golshani points out that though the Home Office may not recognize these coerced unions, the Sharia courts found throughout the United Kingdom do. She argues that, “once again, when a government justifies human rights abuses as an acceptance of ‘cultural diversity,’ the attempt to absolve itself through the Forced Marriage Act is not worth the paper it is written on. The UK has created a state within a state where an individual's rights depends on their religion. A piece of legislation that touts that it is ‘not okay’ to force someone to marry another is meaningless without a legal system that does not excuse human rights abuses based on supposed religious tolerance.”
March 11, 2009
UN DRUG POLICY AGENDA TO BE SET
Starting today the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) will meet for the purpose of setting the next decade’s worldwide drug policy agenda. Human Rights Watch will be observing this gathering closely because they have documented a plethora of fundamental human rights violations, in many countries, that are connected to drug prohibition. The organization asserts that, “around the world, drug control efforts result in serious human rights abuses - torture and ill-treatment by police, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, and denial of essential medicines and basic health services. UN drug control agencies have paid little attention to whether international drug control efforts are consistent with human rights protections, or to the effect of drug control policies on fundamental human rights.”
March 11, 2009
GOOD DAY FOR MARIJUANA LAW REFORM
Another good sign for the marijuana law reform movement came with the news that CNN’s medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta will not be the new Surgeon General. Dr. Gupta wrote an article for Time magazine in which he used specious logic and misinformation to categorically reject marijuana decriminalization. His elevation to the above position would have been an impediment to needed change.
March 6, 2009
A DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT VIEW OF GAZA
There is no doubt that much suffering occurred during the recent Israeli attack on Gaza. But there is doubt as to the actual extent of the human suffering and the physical damage. One English Jew was so concerned about the extent of the suffering and damage that she took a personal trip of discovery to bear witness and to express her concern. It turns out that she was shocked to find a very different view than that now accepted as the truth by millions of people throughout the world.
The Jerusalem Post
Puzzled in Gaza
by Yvonne Green
I'm a poet, an English Jew and a frequent visitor to Israel. Deeply disturbed by the reports of wanton slaughter and destruction during Operation Cast Lead, I felt I had to see for myself. I flew to Tel Aviv and on Wednesday, January 28, using my press card to cross the Erez checkpoint, I walked across the border into Gaza where I was met by my guide, a Palestinian journalist. He asked if I wanted to meet with Hamas officials. I explained that I'd come to bear witness to the damage and civilian suffering, not to talk politics.
What I saw was that there had been precision attacks made on all of Hamas' infrastructure. Does UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticize the surgical destruction of the explosives cache in the Imad Akhel Mosque, of the National Forces compound, of the Shi Jaya police station, of the Ministry of Prisoners? The Gazans I met weren't mourning the police state. Neither were they radicalized. As Hamas blackshirts menaced the street corners, I witnessed how passersby ignored them.
THERE WERE empty beds at Shifa Hospital and a threatening atmosphere. Hamas is reduced to wielding its unchallengeable authority from extensive air raid shelters which, together with the hospital, were built by Israel 30 years ago. Terrorized Gazans used doublespeak when they told me most of the alleged 5,500 wounded were being treated in Egypt and Jordan. They want it known that the figure is a lie, and showed me that the wounded weren't in Gaza. No evidence exists of their presence in foreign hospitals, or of how they might have gotten there.
From the mansions of the Abu Ayida family at Jebala Rayes to Tallel Howa (Gaza City's densest residential area), Gazans contradicted allegations that Israel had murderously attacked civilians. They told me again and again that both civilians and Hamas fighters had evacuated safely from areas of Hamas activity in response to Israeli telephone calls, leaflets and megaphone warnings.
Seeing Al-Fakhora made it impossible to understand how UN and press reports could ever have alleged that the UNWRA school had been hit by Israeli shells. The school, like most of Gaza, was visibly intact. I was shown where Hamas had been firing from nearby, and the Israeli missile's marks on the road outside the school were unmistakeable. When I met Mona al-Ashkor, one of the 40 people injured running toward Al-Fakhora - rather than inside it as widely and persistently reported - I was told that Israel had warned people not to take shelter in the school because Hamas was operating in the area, and that some people had ignored the warning because UNWRA previously told them that the school would be safe. Press reports that fatalities numbered 40 were denied.
I WAS TOLD stories at Samouni Street which contradicted each other, what I saw and later media accounts. Examples of these inconsistencies are that 24, 31, 34 or more members of the Fatah Samouni family had died. That all the deaths occurred when Israel bombed the safe building it had told 160 family members to shelter in; the safe building was pointed out to me but looked externally intact and washing was still hanging on a line on one of its balconies. That some left the safe building and were shot in another house. That one was shot when outside collecting firewood. That there was no resistance - but the top right hand window of the safe building (which appears in a BBC Panorama film Out of the Ruins" aired February 8) has a black mark above it - a sign I was shown all day of weaponry having been fired from inside. That victims were left bleeding for two or three days.
I saw large scoured craters and a buckled container which appeared to have been damaged by an internal impact (its external surfaces were undamaged). Media accounts of Samouni Street don't mention these possible indications of explosive caches (although the container is visible on media footage). The Samouni family's elder told me during a taped interview that he had a CD film of the killings. As far as I'm aware, no such film has been made public. He also told me that there are members of his family who have still not been found.
The media have manufactured and examined allegations that Israel committed a war crime against the Samounis without mentioning that the family are Fatah and that some of its members are still missing. They have not considered what might flow from those facts: that Hamas might have been active not only in the Samouni killings but in the exertion of force on the Samounis to accuse Israel.
THE GAZA I saw was societally intact. There were no homeless, walking wounded, hungry or underdressed people. The streets were busy, shops were hung with embroidered dresses and gigantic cooking pots, the markets were full of fresh meat and beautiful produce - the red radishes were bigger than grapefruits. Mothers accompanied by a 13-year-old boy told me they were bored of leaving home to sit on rubble all day to tell the press how they'd survived. Women graduates I met in Shijaya spoke of education as power as old men watched over them.
No one praised their government as they showed me the sites of tunnels where fighters had melted away. No one declared Hamas victorious for creating a forced civilian front line as they showed me the remains of booby trapped homes and schools.
From what I saw and was told in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead pinpointed a totalitarian regime's power bases and largely neutralized Hamas's plans to make Israel its tool for the sacrifice of civilian life.
Corroboration of my account may be found in tardy and piecemeal retractions of claims concerning the UNWRA school at Al-Fakhora; an isolated acknowledgment that Gaza is substantially intact by The New York Times; Internet media watch corrections; and the unresolved discrepancy between the alleged wounded and their unreported whereabouts.
The writer is a poet and freelance writer who lives in London. Her collection Boukhara was a 2008 Smith/Doorstop prize winner. She also translates the poetry of Semyon Lipkin, the Russian World War II poet.
March 4, 2009
NOT THE TIME TO REBUILD
The Egyptian government hosted an International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza and to the delight of people such as Hillary Clinton, Husni Mubarak of Egypt, Nicholas Sarkozy of France, Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, Amr Moussa of the Arab League, Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, and most of all the leadership of Hamas $4.5 billion dollars was pledged for the rebuilding of Gaza.
However, Daniel Pipes is incredulous. He asks, “why my disbelief at this spectacle: I wonder if those eminentoes and worthies really believe that warfare in Gaza is a thing of the past, and that the time for reconstruction is nigh?” He goes on to explain that since the ceasefire Hamas has been firing an average of over two rockets, some more sophisticated than ever before, per day into its neighbor and that by providing these funds the donors are defying Israel to defend itself. Pipes ends his piece by posing the question, “is this ignorance or mendacity? I suspect the latter; no one is that dumb.”
March 3, 2009
NOW WE HAVE A REAL WAR
The exponentially increasing violence as a result of the Mexican government’s ill conceived attempt to crack down on the drug cartels is finally garnering some attention. The television program Sixty Minutes had a segment on it last night. However, as per usual the piece had plenty of questionable scary sensationalism with virtually no analysis of the root of the problem, the drug laws. There was also no mention of the recent statement by former leaders Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), César Gaviria (Colombia) and Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico) calling for a paradigm shift in drug policy. Instead, CBS attempted to blame U.S. demand for drugs and lack of gun control laws for the problem.
Meanwhile Defense Secretary Robert Gates is praising Mexican President Felipe Calderon for initiating the chaos and he promises more U.S. assistance, including joint military operations, to keep the violence going.
On the other hand, essayist for the Orange County Registrar, Alan Bock, places the blame for the killings squarely where it belongs on drug prohibition. He asks us to substitute the phrase “drug law related violence” for the misleading drug related violence now commonly in use. Bock is arguing that so called successes in this war are actually failures when he points out that those “who have sought to win the ill-considered War on Drugs by main force have discovered time and time again, that the drug cartels are hydra-headed monsters. Kill or imprison the head of a particularly brutal cartel, as the authorities were able to do recently with the notorious Felix Arellano organization in Tijuana, and a half dozen contenders for leadership quickly emerge, all of them skilled to one extent or another in the dark arts of violence, concealment, intimidation, and cruelty.”
March 2, 2009
WORLD CONFERENCE ON RACISM REBUKED
Thanks to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and American President Barak Obama there will be no North American presence at the World Conference Against Racism in Geneva, also known as Durban II. At the original conference in 2001 it was held that Zionism equals racism. Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) congratulates the Obama Administration and sees this important choice “as a rebuking of such doctrines and hope that his action will bring sanity and civility to the discourse of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on campus and in the region.”
March 2, 2009
CALIFORNIA MARIJUANA POLICY IN TRANSITION
Currently in California there is legislation introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. Most people do not think the bill has much of a chance to be enacted, however, if editorials like this recent one in the Los Angles Times keep appearing many may be surprised. Its starts out by asserting that, ”it has been nearly 40 years since President Nixon began the ‘war on drugs’ in 1971. Its objective from the outset was to suppress the manufacture, distribution and consumption of illicit drugs. By all of those measures -- and by common agreement -- the multibillion-dollar effort has been a failure. Supply is plentiful, distribution sophisticated and consumption steady. Today, there is rare consensus among policymakers, law enforcement leaders and healthcare professionals: Our drug policy, they concede, is not working.” The essay ends by reminding President Obama that he once agreed wholeheartedly with that sentiment.
March 1, 2009
MEDICAL MARIJUANA REFORM ADVANCES
It appears that the early signs after Barak Obama took over national drug policy were misleading, especially when it comes to medical marijuana. During the campaign Obama told of his mother’s death from cancer and indicated he saw no difference between morphine and marijuana when they are prescribed for pain relief. However, there were DEA raids on California dispensaries during his first week in office.
Now though, the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting on a press conference where the new Attorney General, Eric Holder, said that, “what the president said during the campaign, you'll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we'll be doing here in law enforcement. What he said during the campaign is now American policy."
The Drug Policy Alliance’s National Affairs Director. Bill Piper, responded by asserting that, “I think it definitely signals that Obama is moving in a new direction, that it means what he said on the campaign trail that marijuana should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue." Obama and Holder are to be congratulated on a significant and positive change in federal policy.
February 27, 2009
AMERICAN TAX DOLLARS FOR HAMAS
If a private U.S. citizen gives money to Hamas they can go to prison for a long time. However, the Obama Administration plans to give $900 million dollars for the rebuilding of Gaza. Will Eric Holder prosecute our president for giving material aid to a terrorist organization? The government says the money will go to the Palestinian Authority but a Jewish Press Editorial points out the comical nature of “the administration’s assurances that the money will be funneled through the PA so as not to benefit Hamas. Of course, Hamas is firmly in charge in Gaza and would inevitably have a hand in all reconstruction and receive the lion’s share of credit for any improvement in Gaza’s landscape and infrastructure.” Also, if American money is used to rebuild Gaza, then Hamas will not have to pay for it and therefore they will have more funds available for rockets and other arms.
Our government correctly labels Hamas a terrorist organization and refuses to recognize it when they win an election. Hamas makes it absolutely clear that they will induce carnage again as soon as they deem it feasible. So Obama gives this organization, whose overriding mission is the destruction of Israel by violent means, as stated in its charter, access to almost a billion American dollars.
February 26, 2009
THE NEW ANTI-SEMITISM
The only constant in world history is change and so it is with one of the oldest hatreds, anti-Semitism. The traditional anti-Semitism directed at Jews as individuals has evolved into a loathing of Jews as a collective embodied by the state of Israel. In a very important article. Canadian MP and former minister of justice and attorney-general, Irwin Cotler, explains in detail the differences between the old and new anti-Semitism. Cotler traces a milestone in this transformation to the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism and he quotes the late Senator Daniel Moynihan saying that it “gave the abomination of anti-Semitism the appearance of international legal sanction." Indeed, Cotler argues that the new anti-Semitism has both ideological and legal aspects. Worst of all the author points out that new collective anti-Semitism has led to a worldwide resurgence of the old variety.
February 23, 2009
STATE SPONSORED CHILD ABUSE
Two juvenile court judges in Pennsylvania, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, have pled guilty to the crime of accepting kickbacks from a private prison company in return for imprisoning thousands of those who appeared before them. Standard practice was to get the parents of defendants to wave the right to an attorney and one such girl was sentenced after a ninety second trial. Another female teenager got an eleven month stretch for a single slap even through there was no injury and no witnesses. While in prison she was forced to take medication and then began cutting herself leading to three hospitalizations. She says that, “I was never depressed, I was never put on meds before. I went there, and they just started putting meds on me, and I didn’t even know what they were. They said if I didn’t take them, I wasn’t following my program.” This story prompts the question how many of the 2.1 million Americans currently incarcerated are there not because of any crime they committed but rather so that someone else can make money?
February 20, 2009
HOW DO WE RATE THE NEW DEAL?
Perhaps never before has a historical question been so important in the discussion of present policies. It involves the New Deal and asks were the actions pursued then the right way to get the nation through an unprecedented crisis or were they wrong headed and the cause of much prolonged human misery?
In an article appearing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer syndicated columnist Scot Lehigh argues that the criticism of the New Deal is coming from obstructionist conservatives who are falsely revising history. He writes that, “in sum, determined efforts at revisionism notwithstanding, the New Deal was hardly a failure. It's more accurate to say that it was a success, but a limited one -- and that there are important lessons to be learned from its shortcomings. But those lessons would be hard for conservatives to square with their beliefs.”
However, on the same opinion page Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, asserts that any success of the New Deal approach is purely mythological. She points out that, “Bureau of Labor Statistics data show joblessness in the 1930s bumping around in the teens and moving back up toward 20 percent later that decade -- years after the New Dealers first spoke of ‘bold, persistent experimentation.‘ These numbers include long-term public-sector jobs (tax collector, school teacher) but not the short-term or part-time jobs generated by the New Deal's alphabet agencies. Some New Deal fans prefer to include even those make-work positions in their math. Even then, you find unemployment in the double digits most of the time.”
February 19, 2009
THE LATEST HONOR KILLING IN THE US AND ITS MEANING
The awful trail of honor killings in the US and the world leads to religious disputes. In those disputes the role of American Muslim leaders does not appear to have integrity.
February 17, 2009
THE SAD NEWS OF WES FAGER’S PASSING
Unhappily one of the stalwarts in the fight against drug treatment abuse, Wesley M. Fager has passed away. He died on Friday in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the funeral is tomorrow in Chesapeake, VA. Because of experiences within his own family Fager took up the important and neglected cause of those abused, sometimes very seriously, while confined to drug treatment facilites. He is the author of the e-book A Clockwork Straight and he will be sorely missed.
February 16, 2009
SURPRISING STAND FROM A DRUG CZAR DESIGNATE
One of the more overlooked consequences of the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs is the disenfranchisement of citizens caught up in the conflict. Those hoping for substantial change from the soon to be new Office of National Drug Control Policy head, ex-police chief of Seattle Gil Kerlikowske, can take some hope from an editorial he co-wrote with John Lovick the Snohomish County sheriff. The two law enforcement officers write in favor of legislation that would automatically restore the voting rights of convicted felons who have served their time. They cite a study which “showed former offenders who vote are 50 percent less likely to commit new crimes than those who don't vote. We want those who leave prison to become productive and law-abiding citizens. Voting puts them on that path.”
The change in Washington state law is also supported by the editorial board of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It points out that, “combined with sociological factors, the current law has the dire effect of eliminating 17 percent of African-Americans and 10 percent of Latinos from voting eligibility. That's shockingly excessive.”
February 16, 2009
THE NEW DRUG CZAR
The drug law reform community put much effort and faith into the election of President Barack Obama and until just recently they have experienced nothing but disappointment in return. First, during the transition Obama nominated hardline drug warrior Eric Holder, who sought to make simple misdemeanor marijuana possession a felony with mandatory minimum sentencing in the District of Columbia, to be Attorney General. The president then named as Surgeon General television personality Sanjay Gupta who has demonstrated astounding ignorance on the subject of cannabis use.
The new administration’s measures in this field so far have been just as bad as his nominations. During his first week in office there were federal raids in California on medical marijuana clinics operating legally under state law, an action that broke a campaign promise to change this Bush policy. Although, the leader of NATO in Afghanistan, a U.S. general under Obama’s command, did announce a policy change, henceforth his subordinates were to kill on sight anyone involved in the drug trade irregardless of any connection with the insurgency. Also, when the City Council of El Paso Texas voted for a resolution merely calling for a national discussion on legalization of drugs they were threatened with a loss of stimulus package funding from the Obama Administration. And, there is no evidence that any of the above actions has displeased our new leader.
However, last week Obama did do something that drew praise from the nation’s drug law reform organizations, he nominated Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Drug Policy Alliance for example cited the facts that Seattle had legalized medical marijuana, made recreational marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, allowed the implementation of needle exchange programs, and pursed a progressive policy when it came to dealing with overdoses as very good signs. Perhaps the greatest cause for optimism is the fact that Chief Kerlikowske has followed in the footsteps of retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper now a prominent member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) who “believes the drug war causes untold misery, undermines effective law enforcement, and does not begin to pass any sort of cost-benefit analysis.”
February 14, 2009
QUESTIONABLE NEW EMPHASIS IN AFGHANISTAN
As I pointed out in Fatal Distraction: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror there is an inherent conflict between the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs and the war on terror. Both compete for scarce resources and often actions meant to suppress drug use can interfere with the effort to prevent terrorism. Nowhere in the world today is this policy tension more evident than in Afghanistan, especially now that NATO Supreme Commander General John Craddock has announced that his soldiers will soon kill on sight anyone involved in the drug trade whether or not they have anything to do with the insurgency.
This is to be done in a country where a recent poll shows that “opinion of the United States dropped nearly in half, from 83 percent support in the 2005 poll to just 47 percent. NATO’s approval rating was 37 percent, while President Hamid Karzai, faced with an election at some point this year, has dipped from 83 percent to 52 percent.” The new policy is unlikely to raise these numbers considering the fact that opium production accounts for the equivalent of 50% of Afghanistan’s GNP. Though the Taliban nearly completely wiped out poppy production back in 2001 they now benefit by taxing the trade, however, most of the people to be shot are warlords, government officials or small farmers now either allied with us against the Taliban or at least neutral. Indeed, many NATO commanders on the ground oppose the change in policy fearing the main result will be a sharp increase in the number of their enemies.
Lastly, if the treatment of Cheye Calvo, the innocent Mayor of Berwyn Heights accused of being a marijuana dealer, and his family by the Prince Georges County police is any indication of how the U.S. military will pursue the new anti-drug campaign then many blameless people who have nothing to do with the opium traffic are going to die.
February 10, 2009
OUR ECONOMY IS NOT CHINA’S FAULT
With the U.S. economy in a shambles many in the media and the political class are pursuing the great American sport of finding someone, anyone, else to blame for this chaos but themselves. Their favorite target is China charging that our problems stem from the fact that the people there save too much. However, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, a senior Fellow of The Center on Global Prosperity at The Independent Institute, argues that it is wrong to focus on a foreign scapegoat. He writes that, “the U.S. financial mess and the ensuing recession were home-grown. Whether one subscribes, as I do, to the view that the consumers’ frenzy and Wall Street’s lunacy originated in the Federal Reserve’s policy of easy money and the lowering of lending standards or, as many others think, in financial deregulation, the key decisions were made by Americans who were (or seemed) perfectly awake. China did not set U.S. interest rates, increase the money supply and pass laws such as the updated Community Reinvestment Act or the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act. And—if one subscribes to the other view—China is not the one that deregulated U.S. financial markets through laws such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999.”
February 10, 2009
ISLAMIC COURT SEEKS DEATH PENALTY
Time and time again we are told that Islam is a beautiful religion promoting high moral values just like the other major faiths. However, there seems to be a continuous stream of stories that causes one to question this idea. The latest one comes from Afghanistan and it concerns a pocket size translation of the Quran that did not include the verses in Arabic. An AP article informs us that, “the book appeared among gifts left for the cleric at a major Kabul mosque after Friday prayers in September 2007. It was a translation of the Quran into one of Afghanistan's languages, with a note giving permission to reprint the text as long as it was distributed for free. Some of the men of the mosque said the book would be useful to Afghans who didn't know Arabic, so they took up a collection for printing. The mosque's cleric asked Ahmad Ghaws Zalmai, a longtime friend, to get the books printed.” Now six men are incarcerated, their families are ostracized, while both the cleric and Zalmai, because they appealed their long prison sentences, face the death penalty.
This story should also make one wonder why we are supporting governments that apply this harsh version of Islam as part of the criminal law of their countries.
February 6, 2009
REASONS TO WORRY ABOUT OBAMA ON THE MIDDLE EAST
My impressions of our new president have evolved to the point where I really like him and his approach to most problems. (And I love his kids. Wow!) Yet, there are many reasons to worry about his approach to the Middle East and Muslims. Daniel Pipes here makes much sense and provides reasons to worry.
February 4, 2009
LESSER KNOWN ASPECT OF HOLOCAUST REMEMBERED
When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 they immediately began killing any Jews that they could find. In all, over 2 million died there by bullets not by gas. A terrific article posted on Newser describes the work of French priest Patrick Desbois, author of The Holocaust by Bullets, documenting this horrific part of history.
Desbois has found that the slaughter was systematic and that there was ”widespread use of local children to help bury the dead, wait on the German soldiers during meals and remove gold teeth and other valuables from the bodies. His work has also yielded evidence that the killings were most frequently carried out in the open, in daylight and in a variety of ways _ shooting victims, throwing them alive into bonfires, walling up a group of Jews in a cellar that wasn't opened until 12 years later.” He also tells the story of a young barefoot girl forced to trample down bodies thrown into a pit, including her classmate, to make room for more.
Further documentation of this aspect of the Holocaust and the local desire not to remember it, including the work of Brown University history professor Omer Bartov, can be found here.
February 4, 2009
UN OFFICIAL ADMITS ISRAEL DID NOT SHELL UN SCHOOL
Stories such as this force me again to raise the question as to what good the US participation in the UN does. At the very least all Western governments should withdraw funding from the UNRWA which perpetuates the status of Palestinian refugees who should be resettled into permanent homes like all other refugees.
In their study of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center authors Barry Rubin, Asaf Romirowsky, and Jonathan Spyer report that "UNRWA has broken all the rules that are supposed to govern humanitarian enterprises. Consequently, UNRWA is the exact opposite of other refugee relief operations. They seek to resettle refugees; UNRWA is dedicated to blocking resettlement. They help refugees to live normal lives so that they can move on with their existence; UNRWA's role is to ensure their lives remain abnormal so they are filled with anger and a thirst for revenge that inspires violence and can only be quenched by a victorious return. They try to create stable conditions for refugees; UNRWA's mission is to enable radical political activity and indoctrination by armed groups which ensures a continual state of near chaos."
February 3, 2009
IN REALITY MARIJUANA PROHIBITION DAMAGED
Winner of a record eight Olympic gold medals, swimmer Michael Phelps, foolishly allowed himself to be photographed taking a hit of marijuana from a bong. With millions of dollars in endorsement deals a stake Phelps has already apologized for his actions promising never to do it again.
Despite the request for forgiveness this incident has a much greater potential to harm Phelps’ prospects than a previous drunk driving arrest. Commentators are questioning the sincerity, asking was he sorry he did it or was he sorry he got caught? And, of course, the charge that he has failed to provide a good role model, thereby hurting the nation’s youth, is being made.
However, if marijuana were legal then the America’s young swim fans would not know about Phelps’ smoking habits because the picture would not be a news story. In fact, the whole situation is an indictment of cannabis prohibition. It is not very likely that this photo depicts the first time Phelps has used marijuana, yet none of the alleged reasons such use must be punished severely can be found in the swimmer’s behavior. Because of his prowess as an athlete he is one of the most scrutinized people on the planet but there have been no signs of murderous rampages, blatant insanity, or any violent actions. He often appears in public wearing only a speedo with no hint of needle tracks indicating the use of heroin or any other drug through injection. Also, is anyone seriously going to accuse Michael Phelps of being apathetic and lazy due to amotivational syndrome?
There is no damage to Michael Phelps that can be attributed to the use of marijuana other than the fact that the press found out about it. That this one photo can instantly turn a beloved icon in to a disgraced loser says more about the hypocrisy of our society than it does about him.
February 2, 2009
IMPORTANT SOURCE OF INFORMATION
One of the most neglected public issues is the war on people who sue certain kinds of drugs. The Obama administration has not yet even named a new drug czar and the mainstream media could not care less. However, there still are some sources of information on America’s longest lasting war. A good one can be found at the ReconsiDer Blog written by Nicholas Eyle. There you can find such under reported stories as a “guidance” by the NATO commander in Afghanistan to shoot anyone involved in the opium trade on sight, even if the person has nothing to do with terrorist activity, and the newest trend in education, random drug testing of teachers.
February 2, 2009
TIME FOR A WAR ON DRUNKEN HORSE RIDING
With the demise of the motor car, this problem will loom large in our future.
January 31, 2009
THE TRUTH IS PROSECUTED IN HOLLAND
Dutch legislator Geert Wilders, producer of the film Fitna is to be prosecuted for hate speech by his own government. Reversing last year’s decision by the public prosecutor's office “the Amsterdam appeals court has ordered the prosecution of member of parliament Geert Wilders for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs."
Wilders’ situation has outraged a fellow member of the Board of Advisors to the International Free Press, LTC Allen West (USAR). In his essay, posted by Diana West, he asks, “what is happening in Western civilization? Have we become so enamored with this illness called multiculturalism that we are embarrassed to honor and defend our own cultural principles? Can nothing be more shocking than to charge a member of the Dutch Parliament with ‘hate speech’ for speaking the truth?”
The Islamists who applaud this attempt to silence Wilders may have achieved a pyrrhic victory. His viewpoint and interpretation of the Koran will reach a much larger audience because of a trial that is bound to be sensational and it will be more difficult to conceal evil intentions behind the cloak of religion.
January 29, 2009
PIPES AT HIS BEST
Daniel Pipes is one of the most brilliant and courageous commentators on the complexities of the Middle East and related painful puzzles. Here is one of his latest essays in the form of answers to questions raised by one of his previous essays.
January 28, 2009
HAMAS NO DEED TOO LOW
While most newspapers in the United States concentrate on finding misdeeds committed by the Israeli Army and Air Force, a daily journal in Australia has found some information that gives us a look at the true nature of Hamas. The Sidney Morning Herald is reporting a story on the two side’s different treatment of Gazan ambulance drivers during the most recent conflict. The article quotes an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Mohammed Shriteh, 30, worked in al-Quds neighbourhood during the fighting and he tells us that “mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected. We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us." On the other hand, he goes on to describe an incident where Hamas terrorists tried to commandeer his vehicle in one of “several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war.”
January 27, 2009
IRAQI STYLE ELECTION IN ANBAR PROVINCE
The most powerful force in Western Iraq is tribalism and the political landscape their bears a strong resemblance to the one that existed in the post World War 1 era. Anthony Shadid writes about the upcoming provincial elections in Anbar describing a contest dominated by tribal factions. He asserts that “the results of next Saturday's ballot may say less about the campaigns themselves than about the political geography of Anbar, where tribes, sprawling clans steeped in tradition and courted by the U.S. military, enjoy more power than at any time since the Iraqi monarchy was toppled half a century ago.”
January 26, 2009
STIMULUS PACKAGE USED TO STIFLE DEBATE
The murder rate in the city of Juarez, Mexico doubled last year because of increased efforts to enforce drug prohibition. The city council of its sister city, El Paso, Texas, voted 8 to 0 in favor of a resolution calling for a national debate on the legalization of drugs. The mayor vetoed the legislation and six votes were needed to override this action. Despite the powerful testimony of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) member Nubia Legarda and the articulate and authoritative support for discussion from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) the veto was sustained in a 4 to 4 vote.
Why did four members of the council change their votes? The answer quite simply is that they were coerced. Ryan Grim writing on The Huffington Post reveals that “Rep. Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat who represents El Paso in Congress, lobbied each council member, making it clear that if the resolution calling for a debate passed, El Paso would risk losing money in the upcoming stimulus legislation. Five Texas House representatives made the same threat.”
Here is an opportunity for Barack Obama to prove that his promise of change has at least some substance. His administration should contact Rep. Reyes and the four state legislators for the purpose of finding out if anyone working in the federal bureaucracy indicated that funding would be cut off if the resolution passed. If any such persons are found then Obama must fire them immediately. He ought to also make a very public statement that discussing issues is not grounds for denial of stimulus or any other government funds. If he does not take these actions then we will know for sure that it is business as usual in the nation’s capital.
January 22, 2009
BAD SIGN ABOUT OBAMA: THE PURPLE TUNNEL OF DOOM
This looks awful. I heard about this but just now realized how awful it was. This is from a foreign policy advisor to Obama. It is truly a wonder, as some of the bloggers here said, that this did not turn out to be a
catastrophe. Yes, a bad sign and hopefully not a portent of things to come.
I want this guy, our new prez, to succeed! So do all decent people.
January 21, 2009
THIS WAS THE WORST SPEECH I HAVE HEARD FROM OBAMA
I was moved to tears of gratitude for Mr. Obama and for this wonderful
country, time and time again, during this magnificent day, but the speech
was the worst I had heard him give. For years, moreover, I have almost
never agreed with the UK Telegraph but in this case I found my self in agreement with Alex Spillius of that usually awful newspaper. The stock market was not moved in a positive way by the speech either.
On the other hand, my family members and friends who were on the mall or
heard it on television, generally disagreed with me. So did some of the
folks who wrote in comments to the Spillus article. I remain impressed by the new president and pray that he makes real progress soon. We are stuck with him now and our future rides on his shoulders. Go for it, Barack! Hit a grand slam home run next time at bat.
January 21, 2009
UNWARRANTED POPULARITY OF HAMAS
Despite the death and destruction rained down upon the people of Gaza, in response to terrorist attacks upon Israel, writers sympathetic to Hamas and the organization itself are claiming that the Gazans do not blame them for the current tragedy. They assert that Hamas is more popular than ever.
If this is true then people living on this unfortunate strip of land must take their share of responsibility for any violence that descends upon them in the future. Talal Nassar, the chief Hamas spokesman in Syria, has said that “future violence was inevitable.” Article 13 of the Hamas charter states that, “the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.” Hamas promises the people of Gaza nothing but an endless cycle of carnage until the people of Israel are totally destroyed and there is no reason not to take the organization’s word on this.
If the 1.4 million Gazans not only condone but enthusiastically support the continued killing of Israelis by a relatively small number of Hamas cadres, can they really be considered innocent victims? Does not this (use close captioning) share some of the blame for the high number of civilian casualties when she laughs upon learning that Hamas has fired a missile from right underneath her office? Do those people who allow their homes, schools, and Mosques to be sites for storing explosives and launching attacks have any kind of justified complaint when those structures are destroyed?
It is unrealistic and unfair for the people of Gaza to expect the people of Israel to continually be on the receiving end of violence with no response. Despite all of the Hamas braggadocio, the past few weeks make it clear that they can not defend the people of Gaza therefore the people of Gaza should not allow them to invite further retaliation.
January 20, 2009
REMEMBERING THOSE WHO PAVED THE WAY
The inauguration of our first African-American president naturally inspires many to think of those such as Martin Luther King and Jackie Robinson who came before making this occasion possible. For Brigadier General Darren McDew, the Air Force director of public affairs and the Virginia Military Institute’s first African-American first captain and the regimental commander of the Corps of Cadets, this event triggers thoughts of the courageous Tuskegee Airmen, who overcame considerable prejudice in order to risk their lives fighting the Nazis and some of whom shared the stage with Barak Obama when he was sworn in. McDew has a message for “the many who have come before me, and especially to the Tuskegee Airmen, thank you. Thank you for standing tall for all of us. Thank you for courageously disregarding your personal safety and risking your family's future to benefit others. And thank you for your service to these United States of America. We have not forgotten what you have done for our country ... and we never will.” I have met some of the Tuskegee Airman and am in awe of them. They are true Americans heroes.
January 20, 2009
WILL INDIA BE PUNISHED FOR ITS COMMERCE WITH ISRAEL?
The horrific attacks that occurred at Mumbai in November points out that there are at least two countries in the world subject to continuing violence committed by Islamic terrorists, India and Israel. The two nations are natural allies and indeed the present character of their relationship began in the 1990s with arms exchanges. However, as both countries developed economies based on providing services and non-commodity wealth a commercial connection flourished. In the last ten years the non-military trade between India and Israel has grown from the millions to the billions. In an article by Amity Shlaes, on the history of Israeli/Indian relations, she tells us that the, “Indian press has suggested that the Mumbai attack was all about punishing the new trading culture. The terrorists, after all, arrived in Mumbai via a jetty at that symbol of trade, the Gateway. And an Indian paper noted that one target in the Mumbai attack -- the Chabad House Jewish center -- may have been selected to send a message that there would be a specific penalty for India's commerce with Israel.”
January 18, 2009
BEING PRO-ISRAEL AND ANTI-GAZA OP
The horrors of Gaza fighting split supportive commentators. What is the proper course in the face of continuing rocket assaults from Hamas? Can Israel survive this madness? I am not sure.
January 17, 2009
CANNABIS AND ALZHEIMER”S DISEASE
Studies finding that cannabis, or marijuana as it is more commonly known, has both a mitigating and prophylactic effect with regards to Alzheimer’s disease continue to accumulate. One of the latest articles comes from researchers working at the Department of Physiology and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin. They found that “certain cannabinoids can protect neurons from the deleterious effects of ß-amyloid and are capable of reducing tau phosphorylation. The propensity of cannabinoids to reduce ß-amyloid-evoked oxidative stress and neurodegeneration, whilst stimulating neurotrophin expression neurogenesis, are interesting properties that may be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease” and the Scientists concluded that “cannabinoids offer a multi-faceted approach for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease by providing neuroprotection and reducing neuroinflammation, whilst simultaneously supporting the brain's intrinsic repair mechanisms by augmenting neurotrophin expression and enhancing neurogenesis.”
January 17, 2009
CRITICISM OF GAZA OPERATION BY ISRAELIS
While the overwhelming majority of Israelis support the operation, there are critical voices who view it with horror. Here and here are two examples.
January 16, 2009
THE CASE FOR A “DISPROPORTIONATE” RESPONSE
The present situation in Gaza has engendered widespread charges that Israel’s response to recent terrorist violence is disproportionate. Natan Sharansky, a former Israeli deputy prime minister and chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies in Shalem Center, tells us about two cabinet meetings where the proportionality of response to suicide bombings was discussed.
The first occurred in June of 2001 after the destruction of the Dolphinarium discotheque in which 21 Israelis died and 130 were wounded. The government decided on a proportionate response in order to keep world opinion on their side. The result was ever increasing terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians culminating in the March 2002 bombing on Passover Eve, at the Park Hotel in Netanya which killed 130 people. This time the cabinet met and decided on a response that many in the world called disproportionate and Israel was roundly condemned. However, the suicide attacks and loss of Israeli lives greatly diminished.
Sharansky asserts that, “understanding the war in Gaza means recognizing the lessons of 2002. During the three years that passed after pulling out all troops and settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel chose to respond to Hamas's deadly, daily rocket attacks with proportionality and diplomacy. The result? More rockets, more missiles, more misery for Palestinians -- and enough breathing space for Hamas to take over the Gaza Strip, devastate its society, build a much more powerful arsenal than it had in 2005 and become the vanguard of Iranian expansionism in the region. Terrorism is a cancer that can't be cured through "proportional" treatments. It requires invasive surgery. It threatens not only democratic states that are its target, but also -- foremost -- the local civilians who are forced into its fanatical ranks, deployed as human shields, and devastated by its tyranny.”
January 15, 2009
YET MORE TRAGEDY AND MORE DISTORTION ON GAZA
The great tragedy here is that the Arabs are victims of their leaders as has been the case for centuries. And there are other victims among the Israelis and among other people including Americans. Gaza should be an oasis of fun and hope instead of a den for savage leaders who teach hate and bring suffering to their own people. HonestReporting shows another side to this awful situation by describing the sympathetic coverage given by the mass media to a doctor who supports all sorts of harm visited on Americans and those who oppose terror. Some elements of the western media thus continue to demonstrate obscene bias in reporting on any event in which Israel -- and often America -- are involved. HonestReporting deserves to be read and supported by all decent people. By the way, I have no problem with a person being radical or Marxist but I do object to those who support terror and lies.
January 13, 2009
THE LONG RANGE STRATEGY OF HAMAS
Most people who get their information from the mainstream media do not know that the 1988 covenant of Hamas is in reality a comprehensive plan for the obliteration of Israel. The document considers anything other than violent jihad to be a waste of time and it states that women and children are to be a part of this program, thus the television programming aimed at inciting little children to hate and kill.
In his article Irwin J. Mansdorf, director of the leadership program in Israel-Arab studies at Lindenbaum College in Jerusalem, discusses the Hamas charter and the philosophy behind it. He argues that, “what Israel is fighting is not a legitimate political organization with supposed nationalistic aims but rather an extreme religious ideology based on a treatise filled with racist diatribes, ethnic smears, vile stereotypes and genocidal intentions. Every Hamas action, including sacrificing their own population, is designed to destroy the independence of the Jewish state. For Israel the war against Hamas is one of survival. For Israel the ideology of Hamas is a clear existential threat.”
January 13, 2009
ISRAEL’S LONG TERM GAZA STRATEGY
Some commentators have argued that the present Israeli actions in Gaza are being done for domestic political reasons or that they have a spur of the moment character. Writing on a Shalem Center website Senior Fellow Martin Kramer takes issue with such assessments. His article argues that the attack against the Gaza terrorists is part of a well thought out long term campaign to eliminate the rule in Gaza of an organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel. A key component of the plan involves maintaining the economic sanctions against Hamas now in place. Kramer points out that, “were Israel to lift the economic sanctions, it would transform Hamas control of Gaza into a permanent fact, solidify the division of the West Bank and Gaza, and undermine both Israel and Abbas by showing that violent "resistance" to Israel produces better results than peaceful compromise and cooperation. Rewarding ‘resistance’ just produces more of it. So Israel's war aim is very straightforward, and it is not simply a total cease-fire. At the very least, it is a total cease-fire that also leaves the sanctions against Hamas in place. This would place Israel in an advantageous position to bring about the collapse of Hamas rule sometime in the future—its long-term objective.”
And, in the pages of The Washington Times Rodger Chapin, founder of Make America Safe contends that the Israeli strategy of eliminating Hamas rule is in the best interest of the United States too.
January 13, 2009
MADOFF CASE NOT UNIQUE TO JEWS
There is concern that the $50 billion Ponzi scheme perpetrated by financier Bernard Madoff and the media coverage of it may spur a new wave of American anti-Semitism. A pointed history lesson presented by syndicated columnist Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, should go far towards diminishing this apprehension Her essay tells the very similar story of white Anglo-Saxon Protestant Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange during the 1930s, who ended up in Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
With regards to worry about Madoff and guilt by association, Shlaes states that her "advice is to have no such fear. The Madoff scandal is not about how different a Jewish clan is from a Protestant clan. It is about how the two are alike. And how Jewish and Protestant clannishness resembles that of Italian-Americans, Russian-Americans, Chinese-Americans and on down the line. Clannishness transcends any specific group. The clan can add value as a cultural or economic institution. It also harbors a unique power to destroy."
January 10, 2009
THE OBSCENE ROLE OF THE UN IN THE ENTIRE TERRORIST UNIVERSE
In the midst of the anguish on all sides in Gaza, it is helpful to step back and look at the underlying reality of the UN complicity in that anguish. Claudia Rosett gets to the core of this mad situation.
January 9, 2009
IT IS OUR LAND
It may be that in response to an interviewer's question about Gaza, Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister of Israel, replied that "it is our land." Several websites are reporting this and asking that their posts be circulated. They include some facts complied by a Christian professor that would back up such a statement by Netanyahu.
January 8, 2009
WHO'S WAR ON CHILDREN
There is no question that the recent violence in Gaza has resulted in children losing their lives. The question is whether or not the Israeli forces are deliberately killing them. The answer is no, because of the way Hamas has chosen to integrate its forces and the positions it attacks from into the general population the deaths of civilians, including children is inevitable during any armed conflict.
On the other hand, the various Palestinian factions have a long history of deliberately targeting Jewish children. Robert G. Kaufman, who lives in Seattle, has had an essay published making this very point. He gives some examples writing that there was a "massacre of 24 high school students on a field trip in Maalot, 1974. Burning babies in the nursery of Kibbutz Misgav Am, the sniper shooting of 10-month old Shalchevet Pass while being pushed in her stroller, the kidnapping and mutilation of 14-year-olds Kobi Mandel and Yossi Ish-Ran in Tekoa, the bomb planted outside the teen club Dolphinarium, killing 19, and the recent murder of teen students studying in a religious school in Jerusalem, celebrated by the Palestinians handing out candy to their children."
January 7, 2009
MORALITY IN THE MIDST OF WAR
Israeli doctors saving babies of all backgrounds and religions through world-class heart surgery. They just saved a newborn Palestinian baby.
January 5, 2009
CNN IS OFTEN FAIR DESPITE MY VIDEO CRITICISM TODAY
I posted a video commenting on the situation in Gaza and I was particularly critical of a few CNN commentators. Now I have just seen other commentators and they covered a wider range of views.
The big problem remains that Israel often ends up the bad guy whenever it fights to defend its citizens. A UN-brokered cease fire means that the Israelis stop defending themselves and the Arabs then have free reign to kill as many Jews as they like. There never are UN emergency meetings when the Arabs are killing Jews. That is seen as the natural order of history.
January 4, 2009
MIRACLES DO HAPPEN!
Yes, they do, but they need a little nudge from ordinary humans. The
Israelis are lauding the fair coverage of their campaign in Gaza. [See
here.] This is amazing news and it comes in part from the more intelligent
-- though brutal -- Israeli battle plan and in part from their smarter use
of the Internet and modern communications technology. We shall see what
impact all of this has on the long run because the Palestinians have voted
to support a suicidal and terrorist set of leaders in Hamas. How sad that
ordinary Arab kids and other civilians have to die in this utterly
unnecessary war declared by the subhuman savages who lead Hamas. Gaza
should by now be a garden spot on the sea visited by thousands of peaceful,
happy tourists from Israel and around the world. The Arab leaders spend
their time and effort in hate and killing rather than in productive
educational and commercial pursuits. They are truly suicidal in all senses
of that word.
January 3, 2009
I would like to start the new year with more hope but the facts do not
support it. The Arabs -- that is, those in leadership positions and those
who support them by the hundreds of millions -- seem determined to continue
to wallow in hate and misery. The Gaza Arabs voted in Hamas and there is no
doubt that they knew what they were getting -- perpetual war and death in
the name of defeating and killing the Jews. All that appears likely now is
that the Jews will keep fighting them rather than be annihilated and the
Arabs will continue to do the same and never surrender to the hope of a
brighter peaceful future. In this atmosphere a two-state solution is a pipe
dream. The Arabs have chosen misery. Please God, I fervently hope I am
wrong and that 2009 starts to prove me wrong and that righteous Arab leaders
However, at least one Israeli writer does seem to agree with my pessimism.
January 3, 2009
February 20, 2007
HIRSI ALI: ONE OF THE COURAGEOUS ISLAMIC REFUSENICKS
Her courage tells all who will listen about the horror of Islamic rules and the need for reform -- for Muslims and for the rest of us. See here.
TREBACH TO TALK AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY
THURS FEB 22 - 1:30
subtitle could be-- the criminal always returns to the scene of the
WHERE: School of International Service Lounge, Nebraska Avenue,
of parking across the street in the Nebraska lot.
All credit goes to SSDP - the American University chapter of
Students for Sensible Drug Policy -- and to AU Professor Jeff Schaler who will
moderate or MC the event. The students and Jeff took the lead in making
this appearance happen.
I will talk
primarily about my latest book FATAL DISTRACTION: The War on Drugs
in the Age of Islamic Terror. In addition, I will talk
about my 35 years or so at the forefront of drug policy research and reform and
my views on the failures and the future of the entire drug policy reform
All three books in
the Trebach Trilogy will also figure in the discussion and they will be
there for autographing and purchase -- in the event there are hardy,
wonderful souls who want to buy these amazing tomes.
My interest in drug
policy started in the Ward Circle Building at AU while I was teaching basic
administration of justice courses in the early Seventies. In part, because
I was encouraged by my colleagues to research and write books and in part
because writing was in my soul, I kept writing at AU. The
Heroin Solution and The Great Drug War were completed while I
was at AU. In each of the years when they were released the university
gave me the award as the outstanding scholar of the year. Parts of the latest
book were completed when I was still at AU but it was finished within the
last year, long after I retired from the university and became a professor
Thus, the existence
of the Trebach Trilogy -- put out by Unlimited Publishing LLC of Bloomington,
Indiana -- provides evidence that scholarship at AU does happen and is carried
on by many professors and students alike. It rarely gets the recognition it
deserves -- even though it resides at the core of the university
THE TREBACH TRILOGY IS AVAILABLE NOW!
FATAL DISTRACTION: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror
Fatal Distraction is now available from major booksellers
Barns and Noble
The Heroin Solution 2nd Edition
Barns and Noble
Debunks myths about heroin: A classic by a leading expert on drugs, their medical uses and abuse by addicts. Comparative history of narcotics control and treatment in Britain and America. Includes extensive citations, bibliography, index. "A blockbuster," says Publishers Weekly.
"Eloquent and persuasive."
- The New York Times
The Great Drug War 2nd Edition
The Great Drug War
by Arnold S. Trebach
Formerly published by Macmillan; 2005 edition from UP includes new introduction and links to extensive source materials.
"At last! A professor, attorney, and writer who offers a reasonable and realistic approach to the drug problem in America."
-- Psychology Today
"This controversial study is likely to be widely discussed."
-- Publishers Weekly
"...Trebach's proposals are worthy of serious consideration... Highly recommended."
-- Library Journal
Order "The Great Drug War" at Amazon.com today!
Order "The Great Drug War" at Barnes and Noble today!
Order "The Great Drug War" at BookSense today!
February 15, 2007
Former Representative Mark Foley, with his lustful eye for young male pages and his co-chairmanship of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, certainly embodies the most inappropriate committee appointment in Congressional history. A close second, though, may very well be Congressman Mark Souder as ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that oversees federal drug war policies.
Last week the MSNBC program hosted by Tucker Carlson wanted to talk about the refunding of the failed government sponsored program airing anti-marijuana radio and television ads. They scheduled as a guest Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance but at the last minute bumped him in favor of Congressman Souder. As a result viewers were treated to an amazing display of ignorance concerning marijuana. As Piper puts it, “I never thought I would say this, but I’m glad I got bumped. Souder made a total fool of himself.” Also, we must give credit to Carlson who helped with the process by refusing to accept at face value many of Souder’s blatant falsehoods.
February 14, 2007
MARIJUANA IS GOOD MEDICINE, BIG NEWS? NO
It is the same old story. Another impressive scientific research study documents the value of marijuana in medicine -- and ho hum, the White House says the strudy is flawed and is not persuasive and will not change policy. Science makes no difference in the making of American drug policy. This is a continuing embarrassment of the same type I have been documenting for about 35 years. How sad and what a waste of time. An important story appeared yesterday in the Washinton Post on this matter. Here.
May 1, 2006
FATAL DISTRACTION: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror
These events -- the Mexican legalization law and that awful police decapitation story -- come at a time when I have just finished work on three books covering much of my career in drug reform. The newest and most comprehensive is in the process of being released to the public. Because of these events, I have decided that the time has come to post more information on my web site about that book.
Why? Those events showed just how horrible the impact of the drug war can be and they also showed the dramatic reforms that are starting to take place. I have worked for drug legalization for decades precisely because of the harm it causes. The book lays out the rationale for full legalization and the Mexican government has just gone further down that road than any government of my knowledge. My hope is that Mexican officials use the arguments in my book to keep going even further.
The book is being published by Unlimited Publishing LLC, a relatively new and pioneering company. While the book is not available in bookstores as yet, advance pre-publication copies may be secured by the electronic and print media for review and comment purposes, as explained below.
A preliminary copy of the first press release from Unlimited Publishing follows.
UNLIMITED PUBLISHING LLC
Bloomington, Indiana 47402
ANNOUNCING THE PUBLICATION OF:
FATAL DISTRACTION: The War on Drugs in the Age of Islamic Terror
By Arnold S. Trebach
For further information or to arrange interviews with the author, contact Jack Magestro at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the press (only) may call 800-218-8877. Information may also be obtained at email@example.com.
THAT LEGENDARY OPPONENT OF DRUG PROHIBITION
CONTINUES TO SHATTER MYTHS IN THIS MUST-READ BOOK
"In 1996, Arnold Trebach, a legendary opponent of drug prohibition, gave a speech noting that 'all of us would be infinitely safer if the courageous efforts of anti-drug agents in the U.S. … and other countries were focused on terrorists aimed at blowing up airlines and skyscrapers [rather] than drug traffickers seeking to sell the passengers and office dwellers cocaine and marijuana.' We will never know what would have happened had the FBI taken Mr. Trebach's advice. But we do know what happened when the FBI continued to fight the futile war on drugs."
These cogent thoughts appeared in an editorial of the Ottawa Citizen several years ago.
The media spread those words around the world after 9/11, leading some observers to marvel at the fact that Trebach had predicted the assault. Of course, he had done nothing of the kind, but he had stated the obvious though ignored truth that we all need protection from bombs not from bongs, from Osama not marijuana. In this book, Trebach, who over the years has been hired to provide advice to many federal agencies -- including the White House, the Justice Department, and the CIA -- puts that advice in a must-read narrative for all who care about our common future. In the process, this seasoned Washington veteran pulls together the lessons of his extensive experience and personal travails on the front lines of drug policy reform. His convincing core argument: in this age of Islamic terrorism, the war on drugs is indeed a fatal distraction from much more serious business.
Trebach argues that the war on drugs can only be ended if drugs are finally, at long exhausting last, legalized. His advice is that this be done quickly, without any more soul-searching or navel gazing. We cannot continue to waste precious human and monetary resources when our very survival is on the line.
We ignore his advice at our peril. As Trebach states in the opening words of this book: "It is remarkable that while Islamic terrorism threatens the very existence of all free societies and while the war on drugs interferes with the war on terror, the war on drugs continues nevertheless. History may well record that this distraction was fatal and that it was part of a series of other deadly mistakes and diversions which, taken together, were instrumental in dooming modern democratic civilization to the dustbin of that history."
Almost every day the lead news stories provide heightening support for his main thesis and that alarming prediction. The forces of extreme Islamic terror seem to push the West further and further back. The United States is in a state of internal conflict over its global strategy, with some leading officials decrying any diversion of resources from the failed war on drugs. In early April, for example, the normally sensible Congressman Henry Hyde complained that the Bush administration has no plans to replace damaged coca-spraying aircraft stationed in Colombia because resources are needed for conflicts in the Middle East. Such views document the confusion of our leaders as to how to survive this time of extreme peril in the nation's history.
In this book Trebach lays out the basis for new thinking and new strategies that would show that America and it allies take seriously the need for bold and urgent action. One small but significant signal would be the immediate disbanding of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the assignment of its thousands of dedicated, armed agents to the front lines of the war on terror. Their new marching orders, in Trebach's view, would be: Ignore pot; ignore meth; inform our citizens they must show personal responsibility regarding their drug consumption; focus on corralling the jihadists hiding at home and those abroad plotting to murder our people simply because we are infidels who believe in freedom and equality for all human beings regardless of their gender or religion or sexual orientation.
We at Unlimited Publishing hope that you find Fatal Distraction enlightening and helpful. If you publish a review or make a comment about it, we would like to receive a copy of the review or a transcript of the comment.
For reviews: Those who would like a copy for review purposes should send a request by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com using your company or institutional address.
To purchase advance copies: For a limited time only, advance release copies of this new book are available exclusively from lulu.com at a substantial discount. Broad public availability to order in paperback and hardback at full retail price is expected later this year from all major booksellers.
Friday, February 3, 2006, 11:25am
AMERICAN DRUG WAR HORRORS: IMPRISONING PATIENTS
In the midst of all of the other horrors taking place in the world, it is
embarrassing to see that the American war on drugs continues to divert
precious enforcement and enforcement resources from the war on terror. Our
drug war also continues to imprison seriously ill patients who have had the
gall to use illegal drugs that helped their conditions. Kris Hermes of Safe
Access has just sent around circular letter asking decent people to help
prevent these heartless drug-war incarcerations from becoming death
sentences, which they have for several patients. He is now asking for help
in getting proper care for Steve Kubby, a convicted medial marijuana
patient. His appeal can be found here. Your letters and appeals may help
lessen the frequency of these home-made horrors.
After several decades of working for decent treatment of American drug-war
prisoners, the persistence of cases like these helped moved me to the
position of complete abolition. In my view, it is not possible for
Americans to run a humane drug war any more than it was possible to make
slavery humane. Abolition made sense in the 1860's regarding slavery and it
makes sense now regarding prohibition and the war on drugs. Legalization is
the only rational, moderate, and sensible option This thesis is laid out
more fully in my forthcoming book, Fatal Distraction.
"This is the Book of Genesis for the modern drug war. While the Reagans claimed to believe in personal freedom, they launched a campaign that justified perverse inrtusions into the very bodies and bodily fluids of American citizens.
Many parents felt impelled to imprison their kids in destructive "treatment" programs if they had smoked an occaisional marijuana joint. Here you see the invasions of basic American freedoms that were expanded in the current era of terror - and defended on the grounds that they were nothing to fret about because they had already been accepted in the drug war.
The Great Drug War
THE SECOND EDITION OF THE GREAT DRUG WAR IS NOW AVAILABLE.
It is good to be able to report that one of my favorite book-children has
been reborn in a second edition and is now available. The second edition of
The Great Drug War, published by Unlimited Publishing, LLC, contains a new
introduction and in addition on this site you will find the source notes I
prepared for the original edition but for some reason never published. Those
notes have been updated in many places and they will be frequently updated
in the future.
The book provides an up-close and personal view of the Reagan drug war of
the Eighties and of the harm it caused to ordinary Americans as well as to
our concepts of freedom. Until I went back recently and started reading it
again, I had forgotten how traumatized and angry I had become as I roamed
the various fronts in that largely forgotten war. Of course the book
reflects that trauma and anger, and well it should. Even though I have, to
my own surprise, become an admirer of Ronald Reagan for his accomplishments
in dealing with the Soviet empire, I remain quite disturbed over the harm he
and Nancy caused on the home front.
Orders by school bookstores for large numbers of books for class use may be
sent to this site or to :
Baker & Taylor
2550 West Tyvola Road, Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28217
Tel: 800-775-1800; 704-998-3100
Students should be advised to look up the expanding list of source notes for this book on this site, which as I said is frequently updated.
In addition, I am now slowly leaving my monk's cell and making myself
available for public lectures at colleges and universities around this
country and Canada. While I am still working very hard at bringing out other
books, I will set up a schedule for such lectures as the requests come in to
this site. Please contact Elizabeth Belt at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the lectures or any matter related to my drug policy activities. One of the main topics of my lectures will be THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CAPE COD CANAL AND THE EFFORTS TO LEGALIZE DRUGS. What in the world can that mean?
The Great Drug War
by Arnold S. Trebach
Formerly published by Macmillan; 2005 edition from UP includes new introduction and links to extensive source materials.
"At last! A professor, attorney, and writer who offers a reasonable and realistic approach to the drug problem in America."
-- Psychology Today
"This controversial study is likely to be widely discussed."
-- Publishers Weekly
"...Trebach's proposals are worthy of serious consideration... Highly recommended."
-- Library Journal
Order "The Great Drug War" at Amazon.com today!
Order "The Great Drug War" at Barnes and Noble today!
Order "The Great Drug War" at BookSense today!