Thursday, December 31, 2009

On The Seventh Day Of The Twelve Days of Christmas

And you thought Christmas was over? You obviously don't know your Medieval history. Fortunately, we have a historian on the net who blogs on nothing else - Got Medieval. It is one of the most interesting of history blogs on the net . . . and do be sure to check out the Medieval personals on the side of his blog for any lonely hearts out there:

. . . The Nativity is celebrated on December 25, a date set in 337 by Pope St. Julius I. So, Merry 1672th Christmas, everybody! For most of the Middle Ages, Christmas was not, as it is today, the culmination of the holiday season, but rather its beginning. The twelve days of Christmas begin on Christmas, after all, and stretch until January 5th, also known as Twelfth Night, the day before Epiphany, the day the Magi arrived.

As an aside, scratch most any Christian holiday and you'll find all sorts of pagan customs caught up in it. That does not detract from the religious meaning of the holiday, but merely goes to show how early Christianity followed a policy of "syncretism" during the process of conversion. They adapted as much as possible of the local pagan customs into the overlay of Christianity. Indeed, our recent "1672nd" celebration of Christmas is itself very much a creature of syncretism, adapting the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia into a celebration of the birth of Christ. And the Celtic Cross, with its overlay of a sun symbol, is yet another result of syncretism.

Probably the most famous memorialization of a papal order to use the process of syncretism comes from the writings of the Venerable Bede, who notes that in 601 A.D., Pope Gregory sent a letter to his missionaries instructing them to adapt local customs and places of worship as part of the conversion process whenever possible. If you want to learn more about the history of Christmas, by the way, there are a series of good videos I posted here. But none of that includes the additional information provided by the proprietor of Got Medieval, so to continue with his erudition:

December 26 marks the Feast of St. Stephen the Protomartyr of all Christianity. You may remember him as the guy that Saul helps to stone in Acts. And if you're American, you probably spent at least part of your childhood wondering why "Good King Wenceslas" looked out on the feast of Stephen instead of Christmas, since you sing the song at Christmastime. . . .

The Feast of St. John the Evangelist--not to be confused with St. John the Baptist--comes the next day, on December 27. St. John has the distinction of being the only one of the original twelve apostles to live to be an old man, rather than dying as a young martyr. According to one story, John was almost martyred, however, when someone tried to poison his wine, but he was saved because it was his habit to bless his wine before he drank it. John's blessing didn't just passively purify the wine--according to the story, the poison rose up magically from the chalice and formed into the shape of a servant that then slithered off. Thus, St. John often appears in medieval iconography as a man holding a chailce with what looks like steam coming out of it.*** In recognition of this near miss, traditional Catholics celebrate St. John's with lots of wine. I guess magic snakes are as good an excuse as any.

If you look closely at the image from the medieval calendar above, you can see that December 28 is illustrated by two midgets impaled on a spear that's being propped up by someone's decapitated head. That's because December 28th is The Feast of the Holy Innocents, commemorating the children massacred by Herod in his failed attempt to kill off Christ. . . .

St. Thomas Becket, Henry II's "turbulent priest" is commemorated with a feast on December 29. (He's the one pictured above near the end with a dagger sticking out of his head.) As a Chaucerian, I'm pretty tired of Thomas Becket. I mean, what's the big deal? He's just a bishop who got killed by some overzealous royal sycophants. Sure, he's known for curative powers, but what saint isn't? . . .

Rounding out the year, The Feast of Pope St. Sylvester is celebrated on December 31. Sylvester is chiefly notable for being the pope that Emperor Constantine was said to have given all his lands to, thus granting the papacy superiority to all temporal monarchs--at least, that's the story the popes told. They even had a document forged, the so-called Donation of Constantine, to back them up. Lorenzo Valla, the Renaissance scholar, eventually pointed out the many problems with it, including the fact that nobody seems to have mentioned the Donation in print until about four hundred years after it was supposed to have been written. Oh, silly medieval popes, your pitiful forgeries can only fool people for six hundred years or so. Why do you even try?

Lol. Hmmm, just as a person is the sum of their choices in life, so are we, in a collective sense, the sum of our history. It pays to know it. And besides, it's always interesting and often humorous. Do pay Got Medieval a visit for his additional commentary on the Saints above.


Dr. North's One Man Crusade To Expose Corruption

The man above, appropriately attired in the Chairman Mao outfit, is Rajendra Pachauri. Whether you realize it or not, he is of immense importance to you. He is rich. He is immensely powerful. He has financial interests hidden under a hundred different rocks. And if he gets his way, he will be stealing money out of your pocket and significantly lessening your quality of life. Remember that as you read this post.


The UN's Intergorvenmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a body expressly dedicated to informing us about the reality of climate science in an honest and unbiased fashion. Don't laugh.

Please stop laughing, I am trying to make an important point . . .

My question is this . . . should the person who then is appointed Chairman of the IPCC be neutral, without any financial stake in the theory of anthropogenic global warming? That answer is clearly yes. If it were otherwise, it would be a massive conflict of interest the likes of which would be tortious were the IPCC a U.S. corporation. And were it a U.S. governmental organization, acting under such a pecuniary conflict would be a crime under 18 U.S.C § 208. As bad as Al Gore is - he has made over $100 million if not much, much more in the past decade shilling for global warming - at least he holds no official position by which he can directly effect how AGW science is portrayed and how it is pursued at the international level. But what if the Chairman of the UN's IPCC held every bit as much a stake in pushing AGW as Al Gore? Something would really stink in Denmark then. And that something would be Rajendra Pachauri, the UN's IPCC Chairman.

One would not know this from a casual look through the MSM. But some of the best investigative journalism on this issue is going on across the pond on a blog - EU Referendum. It is a blog which is, for my money, the most consistently intelligent blog on either side of the Atlantic. The proprietor, Dr. North, has spent the better part of the last few weeks digging through the public record to paint a picture of an IPCC Chairman with massive financial conflicts of interest - and indeed, a purveyor of hypocrisy on a Gorian scale. Dr. North has bitten into this story, and like a dog with a bone, is not letting go. It is getting some play in the newspapers and some play in the blogs - it deserves far, far more in terms of both publicity and in terms of rattling the cages of our elected representatives.

This from one of the earlier posts on this issue by Dr. North:

No one but the utterly na├»ve greenies believe that the Mann-made global warming hype is anything to do with climate – much less saving the planet. It is, as always, about power, influence - and money.

Out of literally thin air, the money-men have been able to conjure up a brand new product on which to increase their riches, the fabulous "carbon" which in less than a decade will – they hope – underpin an "industry" worth more than $2 trillion a year.

That alone justified the enormous effort which is being made to cement global warming as an issue in the public consciousness and, more importantly, in the legislative systems of the world. And it is the latter which is most important. Once the elimination of "carbon" is locked into enough legislative systems, it does not matter what people think – the revenue stream will be secure.

Bearing in mind that the issue is based on the central deception that the life-giving gas carbon dioxide is a "pollutant", behind the push to create this multi-trillion dollar industry is a vast nexus of influence, at or near the heart of which – it is emerging – is the chairman of the UN's IPCC, Dr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri.

Carefully cultivating the image of the concerned "scientist", he has on the back of the global warming hype not only been able to amass a considerable personal fortune (about which he is extraordinarily shy) but has also built a powerful global organisation under the brand-name "TERI", as the front for his lobbying and power-broking activities

That Pachauri heads the UN's IPCC while having a vast conflict of interest is pure corruption. And the bottom line is that until people like Pachauri are exposed and made to step down, if not locked down (which would be appropriate, since we are talking about theft that would make Bernie Madoff look like a mere pick pocket), then the science of AGW will always remain politicized and there is little chance of stopping this world record scam from reaching into our pockets.

Here, in order, are the posts (earliest to most recent in descending order) on this issue from EU Referendum. You should read them. Then you should be calling your elected representatives to ask why we are allowing such a massive conflict of interest at the UN IPCC and what they are going to do about it? You might want to cc Senator James Inhofe on this also. Unless you own massive amounts of stock in GE, Kleiner Perkins,or TERI, it is in the financial interests of you, your children, your grandchildren, and this nation to make those calls.

- Big Carbon
- We Woz Not Wrong
- All Roads Lead To Pachauri
- A Busy Man
- A Vast Nexus of Influence
- Corus In The EU Parliament
- Global Warming - An Economic War
- Conflict of Interest
- High Noon For Pachauri
- Wheels Within Wheels
- Protecting Big Carbon
- It's All Lies
- Indian Style
- The Power Of The Internet
- Slow Burn
- Eating Away At Civilization
- Pachauri In An Expenses Scam
- What Is With The Media?
- A Hypocrite As Well As A Liar
- Pachauri: Another Tata Link
- Pachauri: They've All Got It In For Me
- Pachauri: Moving The Goalposts
- Pachauri: Hornet's Nest Stirred
- Pachauri: Admits To $300,000 In Payments
- Pachauri: The Deutsche Bank Connection
- Pachauri: More Lucerative By The Day
- Pachauri: Not $300,000, But $800,000 Admitted
- Pachauri And Big Oil
- Pachauri And Hidden Subsidies
- Pachauri: TERI-Europe - The Enigma Part I
- Pachauri: Friend of Friends
- Nothing Is Ever What It Seems

I will update and bump this post as new information comes to light.


The "Progressive" Degradation Of San Francisco

One of the most erudite members of the Watcher's Council is the blogger who goes by the nom de guerre Bookworm Room. She was born in San Francisco and has spent her life in or near the city. She has recently penned a long and educational missive on how the city has been degraded over the past near half century of "progressive rule." Here is a snippet from Bookworm Room:

This has been a really long post — the longest, I think, that I have ever written. I write it as a tocsin, warning Americans that there is nothing benign about American Leftism, and that it is even more dangerous than the nanny state some people seem willing to accept as the price of living in the modern world. Because American leftists are as committed to elevating the rights of the criminals, the crazies and the perverts as they are to taxing, quashing and directing the middle and working classes, we can anticipate the worst of all possible worlds: an America in which ordinary people live under totalitarian control and socialist taxation, while the worst elements in every society are allowed to run rampant.

Do read her whole post. She sees San Francisco as laboratory showing all the evils of "progressive" rule at the local level much as I see Britain as such a laboratory at the national level.


Rush Limbaugh Hospitalized

Rush, on vacation in Hawaii, was taken to the hospital this afternoon with chest pains and is now listed in serious condition. Let us all pray for his health and a speedy recovery.

I was going to end the post with that single paragraph, but I made the mistake of glancing at the comments to the post on TMZ. If you wish to know the difference between today's left and the right, compare how the right reacted to the illness and death of Ted Kennedy with how the left is acting in response to Rush's apparent heart attack:

Here are some of the comments on a random page at TMZ:

1. good riddance!

Posted at 10:01PM on Dec 30th 2009 by james
2. Best news I've heard in years...Hope he joins MJ, the sooner the better!

Posted at 10:02PM on Dec 30th 2009 by Ron Burgundy
3. i'm with james . . .

Posted at 10:03PM on Dec 30th 2009 by tb
5. Won't miss ya! There will be a little less rage in the world if this druggie goes.

Posted at 10:02PM on Dec 30th 2009 by toe
6. I have no simpathy for Rush. He is a racist, piece of sh

Posted at 10:03PM on Dec 30th 2009 by andy
7. he haw

Posted at 10:02PM on Dec 30th 2009 by e33
8. I hope he dies.

Posted at 10:03PM on Dec 30th 2009 by Chris
9. best news today

Posted at 10:03PM on Dec 30th 2009 by Dave
10. Boo-hoo. I don't wish ill on him, but the fool has been living an unhealthy life for a long time as though personal responsibility does not exist for himself--just for other people. If you live like an idiot, this is what happens, and this will be the price you pay.

Personal accountability, Limbaugh. Can you handle it now?

Posted at 10:21PM on Dec 30th 2009 by sara
11. so long hypocrite!!!

Posted at 10:04PM on Dec 30th 2009 by steve
12. I hope he fails.

Posted at 11:08PM on Dec 30th 2009 by Robert Ex-Republican
13. LMFAO @ James. I was kind of thinking the same thing, but didn't want to seem tacky by putting it into words. I wonder if 2009 will take one more celebrity before the year ends? Gosh it's been a rough year for celebs.

Posted at 10:03PM on Dec 30th 2009 by Next: Bill O'Reilly?
14. Die, suckah

Posted at 10:04PM on Dec 30th 2009 by ts

Hmmm, these are the truly classless and crass people who form our modern "progressives." Anyone want to bet that not a single one of these people celebrating Rush's sickness and rooting for his death has ever listened to an hour of his shows? I wonder at the subculture that sustains these moronic zombies and what our public schools of this era must have done to produce them?


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cheney Unleashed On The 9-10 Mindset; The Left Tries To Rewrite History

In the wake of the attempted Christmas Day bombing by would be jihadist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Dick Cheney goes feral on the Obama administration over their 9-10 mindset. This from the Politico:

. . . Here is Cheney’s full statement:

"As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."

Cheney as ususal, is dead on point. As I posted the other day, the worst part of this is that now, the Obama administration, having bestowed constitutional rights on this would be jihadist and, concomitantly, having allowed him to lawyer up, our chances of getting actionable intelligence have dropped substantially. As I have written before, Obama's moral compass - the one he so ostentatiously points to at every opportunity - is faulty indeed. His first moral, ethical and Constitutional duty is to protect the U.S. Period.

But it was inevitable that some idiots on the left would crawl from under their slime encrusted rocks to blame Bush. And indeed, they appear today at Hotline On Call:

. . . While many Dems stay silent and let the WH lead the way, DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) say the previous admin let down their guard.

"In general, we are facing the consequences of the Bush administration's failures to deal with al Qaeda," Van Hollen told Hotline OnCall. "The Republicans have no business in pointing fingers at the Obama administration on terrorism and national security."

"The Obama administration has been much more aggressive about going after al Qaeda than the Bush administration, which turned its focus from al Qaeda to Iraq," he added. The Obama admin has "been on the offense in places where the Bush administration had taken its eye off the ball."

Meanwhile, Massa has taken on ex-VP Dick Cheney, who he says is directly responsible for releasing the top al Qaeda figures in Yemen who aided and trained the Nigerian-born suspect.

"I would remind the American public that the apparent leaders of the al Qaeda cell in Yemen were 2 terrorists who were released by Vice President Cheney in secret. I think there's a level of accountability that has to be levied personally on the vice president," Massa said in an interview. "He is personally responsible for that."

Not since Stalin rewrote the history of the communist movement in Russia has there been such a blatant attempt at a historical rewrite. Or maybe not since the left tried to rewrite themselves out of the vote for the Iraq war. Hmmm, or maybe not since Pelosi tried to rewrite the history of her CIA briefings on waterboarding . . .? Well, whatever, let's deal with the historical rewrite being attempted at hand. As to the claim that the left has been far more "aggressively" going after al Qaeda," than the right ever has, that turns history on its head, pulls it inside out, runs it through a meat grinder and tosses it into an industrial strength trash compactor.

The U.S. Congress near unanimously voted for war authorization for Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan fell and al Qaeda was all but driven out from there within months of 9-11. Iraq fell in weeks once the war started. It was a year and some months later when al Qaeda, at the top of their Muslim-wide popularity, explicitly made Iraq the centerpiece of their efforts. They wanted to drive America out of Iraq. In this, they were aided and abetted by the Democrats who did their absolute best to surrender to al Qaeda at whatever would have been the cosmic cost to our national security. Who can forget the Senate Majority Leader officially surrendering to al Qaeda after two bloody suicide bombings in April, 2007:

Obama himself was quite willing to see a genocide in Iraq if we would only surrender to al Qaeda there. We didn't - only because of George Bush. In the end, our military defeated al Qaeda in their theater of choice, Iraq. The al Qaeda brand was humiliated throughout the Middle East.

The Predator Drone strikes that Obama is now using to kill al Qaeda leaders didn't start in January 2009. That program began under Bush. Indeed, as near as I can tell, there is not a single new program undertaken by Obama to target al Qaeda. At any rate, in sum, for the utter scum on the left - those who placed a raw grab for political power over our national security - to now claim that they have always been the better guardians of our national security is to tell an obscene fairy tale.

As an aside, the reason al Qaeda is still extant - though very much near the ebb of its power - has everything to do with Bush AND Obama AND Congress down both aisles. Al Qaeda is as much an idea based on Salafism as it is a loose organization, and until that idea is altered, we are going to be playing whack-a-mole with al Qaeda whereever they can find a failed state to hide in. Nothing our government has done yet has addressed the toxin of Salafism spreading throughout the world on the backs of Saudi petrodollars. As I have said ad infinitum on this blog, our war against al Qaeda will continue ever on until we engage in the war of ideas.

Ok, back to Rep. Massa and his one semi-valid point in what is otherwise a massive steaming pile of bull excreata:

I would remind the American public that the apparent leaders of the al Qaeda cell in Yemen were 2 terrorists who were released by Vice President Cheney in secret.

It is true the Bush administration released these two "leaders" of the al Qaeda cell at issue - though the "in secret" bit is utterly ridiculous. It was well known at the time that the Bush administration were releasing Gitmo detainees who they thought no longer posed a threat and/or could be dealt with in their home countries. I hadn't, before today, heard a single Democrat object to that. This was an experiment that has worked in some cases, not in others. Apparently, the recidivism rate has been about 15%.

The two men Massa refers to, Said Ali Shari and Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, were released from Gitmo to Saudi Arabia in 2007. The Saudis promised to detain them until they were rehabilitated. Shari was "rehabilitated," then went to Yemen to become a leader of the al Qaeda cell there. Al-Marbi, though named by Massa and initially thought to have done the same, in fact was no longer involved with the Yemeni al Qaeda cell.

Why were these men - and indeed - anyone in Guantamo ever released? We always had the option to keep every Guantamo detainee under permanent detention until the end of hostilities. That, by 2006, is what had every leftwing nut near a microphone going into full moonbat mode, accusing the Bush administration of everything from violating the Constitution to committing war crimes. Indeed, it is this same group of moonbats that had, until about yesterday, planned to send close to 100 Gitmo grads to Yemen in the coming weeks so that they can close Gitmo at all costs. Where is Massa on that one? Need anyone ask?

But no matter. The real problem is the 9-10 mindset, as Cheney points out. And whether Gitmo-grad Shari took part in the planning of the Christmas bombing or not is merely a collateral attack on Cheney. It has nothing to do with whether Cheney's criticims of Obama are valid. They are.


The Amazing Hubris Of The AGW Cabal

If Climategate taught us anything it is that what the AGW cabal practices is advocacy, not science. In the aftermath of that scandal, one would think that there are a few red lines that the AGW cabal would never again cross. Chief among those is their bastardization of the scientific method. Everything that a scientist chooses to publish should include not merely conclusions, but raw data, meta data, and methodology, including any and all computer programing used to massage the data. Only then can their conclusions be vetted and verified. Not one iota less should ever again be tolerated.

Yet today we learn from Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit that these shills are once again complaining about having to make their work - other than their conclusions - available to the public:

Climate scientists have recently been promoting the myth that providing data in response to FOI requests was interfering with their work. Nature uncritically accepted this myth in a recent editorial calling for action to protect climate-change researchers from “endless time-consuming demands for information under the US and UK Freedom of Information Acts.”:

If there are benefits to the e-mail theft, one is to highlight yet again the harassment that denialists inflict on some climate-change researchers, often in the form of endless, time-consuming demands for information under the US and UK Freedom of Information Acts. Governments and institutions need to provide tangible assistance for researchers facing such a burden…

While the scientific method is supposed to require fact checking, in this case, the mantra had merely been repeated over and over by climate scientists like a sort of tribal chant and, without carrying out even a modicum of due diligence to determine the veracity of the claims, Nature joined into the chant.

Ponder that . . . whilst I go find my stash of tar and feathers and a hockey stick to beat them with.


Today's Belly Laugh

Do see Gerard Van der Luen's post You've got stupid questions? Charles Johnson's got stupid answers . Its hilarious. (Note that when you click on the link, you will have to scroll a ways down the page to hit the Johnson entry).

Heh. I am still chuckling.


Watcher's Council Nominations To Close Out The New Year

Each week, the members of the Watcher's Council nominate one of their own posts and a second from outside the Council for consideration by other council members in a contest for best post. The Watcher publishes the results each Friday morning.

If you would like to participate in the Council's activites, while there is no opening on the council at the moment, we invite you take part by submitting your own best post of the week through "link whorage." You can find out how in the post here.

This week's nominations are on a wide array of topics - Iran's nascent revolution, The Christmas Bomber, Disney, Global Warming, and more. This is one of the stronger group of submissions I can recall reading.

Do enjoy them all:


Wolf Howling - Ashura – A New Phase To The Revolution
Right Truth - 300 terrorists in Yemen planning terror attacks: Bare your body and pay them money!
The Razor - Hard Choices Needed to Stop Terrorism
Bookworm Room- The Princess and the Frog — Disney’s Gift to American Blacks
The Provocateur - Sarah Palin: Crazy Like a Fox
The Glittering Eye - The Underwear Bomber
Soccer Dad - What’s There To Debate
Mere Rhetoric - Obligatory Post About New Organ Harvesting Story That Provides “No Evidence” For Organ Harvesting Libel
The Colossus of Rhodey - Liberal Trek
American Digest - The Emperor’s New Speech Impediment
Rhymes With Right - A Global Warming Observation
Joshuapundit - The Christmas Crotch Bomber – How He Almost Succeeded And How To Stop Him In The Future

Honorable Mentions
The OyVay Blog - Tweeting About Iran

Non-Council Submissions
Submitted By:The Watcher– Commentary/Jonathan Tobin - Comic Book Hate: a New Chapter in Anti-Israel Bias at the New York Times
Submitted By: Wolf Howling – Doug Ross @ Journal - Judicial Watch Announces Most Corrupt Politicians of 2009 Awards
Submitted By: Joshuapundit – Seraphic Secret Suicide in Slow Motion
Submitted By: Right Truth – Powerline - Obama and the Iranian protesters — mutuality of interests but not of spirit
Submitted By: The Razor – Volokh Conspiracy - The Unorganized Militia Once Again is Needed
Submitted By: Bookworm Room – Impeach Obama - Does The Left Want To Impeach Obama Too?
Submitted By: The Glittering Eye – Serious Medicine Strategy - Surgery For Life: How Romanticism and Religion Are Working With Science To Improve Medicine
Submitted By: Soccer Dad – The Volokh Conspiracy - Assessing Airport Security Measures
Submitted By: Mere Rhetoric – Hudson New York - Shhh…Mubarak is building a wall
Submitted By: The Colossus of Rhodey – Discriminations - Are Republicans More Principled Than Democrats?
Submitted By: American Digest– Rhymes with Cars & Girls - The Smart People Crowd
Submitted By: Rhymes With Right – Gates Of Vienna - The Death Bells of the Occident
Submitted By: The Provocateur – Dick Morris - Griffith’s Switch Illustrates Death of Moderate Dems


Bob Baer, Obama & The Real Travesty Of The Attempted Chrismas Bombing

The video below is of ex CIA agent Robert Baer discussing the terrorist attempt to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to the U.S. on Christmas Day. Interestingly enough, Baer predicted just such an attack three years ago. That this attack occurred shows serious systemic failures in our secruity apparatus, but that is not the real travesty. Do see the video.

(H/T Hot Air) As Baer makes clear, this bombing attempt arose out of an "organization" - a Yemeni al Qaeda cell - that was capable of both planning an operation to defeat airport security and building a sophisticated bomb. It was an attempt that only failed by the grace of God. Jihadist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was in direct contact with that 'organization' and the 'organization' presents an ongoing threat to America. Thus, to remain safe, the U.S. needs every piece of intelligence it can extract from Mr. Abdulmutallab about it. Yet the Obama administration is treating Abdulmutallab as a common criminal, not a prisoner of war. The Obama administration has already arraigned Abdulmutallab - indeed, the administration did it within two days of the attack. This means that Abdulmutallab now has a lawyer and nothing of timely intelligence value will be forthcoming. This is utter insanity.

To state again, under the rules of war, we have every right to hold combatants for the duration of hostilities. In other words, we are within our rights to hold Abdulmutallab until his age reaches triple digits so long as hostilities have not ceased. And we are within our rights to interrogate him for information every day he is in custody - no lawyers allowed, no constitutional rights at issue (well, but see Boumadiene). There is no reason whatsoever to put a combatant to trial unless you have an additional goal of trying them for war crimes and executing them. By placing this Abdulmutallab in the criminal system unnecessarily, Obama has kneecapped our ability to get actionable intelligence that might stop the next attack from this 'organization.' As bad as are all of the other issues surrounding this attempted bombing, this is the worst.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Setting A Course Through A Perfect Storm

We are in a perfect storm with Iran. We don't merely have a single event to concern us as regards Iran, but rather a multiplicity of events all converging at once. Iran is within months of crossing the nuclear threshold. Israel cannot afford to allow Iran to create a nuclear arsenal - and for that matter, neither can the West. Everyday that Iran continues its rush to a nuclear arsenal, most other nations in the Middle East, virtually all of them incubators of muslim extremism in one form or another, are also pursuing nuclear weapons out of self defense. At the same time, the Iranian regime is on the verge of a revolution. But it is a largely leaderless revolution, and there is no single individual whom we can bank on to emerge as the head of a new Iran if and when the theocracy falls. Perhaps Mousavi, but it appears ever more that events have passed him by. It truly is a perfect storm from from which any of countless possible realities could emerge, many of which would be inimical to our interests. It is time, to paraphrase from Invictus, that we engage in this matter and become "masters of our fate."

The Washington Post, in an editorial today, takes stock of the past week of protests and joins the chorus of calls for Obama to decisively support revolution in Iran:

ONE WAY or another, Sunday's Ashura holiday in Iran probably will be a turning point in the struggle between an extremist regime and an increasingly radical opposition. . . .

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei clearly is betting he can defeat the opposition Green Movement with brute force. In the past week, security forces have attacked peaceful mourners at the funeral of dissident Ayatollah Ali Montazeri and violated the tradition of restraint associated with the Ashura holiday. The predominant chant in the streets, meanwhile, has shifted to "death to Khamenei" or "death to the dictator." More street protests can be expected when the movement's new martyr, Ali Habibi Mousavi Khamene, is commemorated.

In short, Iran's political crisis now looks like a battle to the death between the regime and its opposition. No one on either side in Tehran is talking about compromise. . . . [M]ore than ever, the Obama administration and other Western governments must tailor their policies toward Iran to reflect the centrality of the Green Movement's fight for freedom. While diplomatic contact with the regime need not be broken off entirely, by now it should be obvious that it cannot produce significant results -- and might serve to shore up a tottering dictatorship.

President Obama shifted U.S. Policy . . . Monday . . . with an admirably strong statement that condemned "the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens" and called for "the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained."

There is, however, more that could be done to help the Green Movement. Russia and non-Western nations should be pressed to join in condemning the regime's violence. Sanctions aimed at the Revolutionary Guard and its extensive business and financial network should be accelerated; action must not be delayed by months of haggling at the U.N. Security Council. More should be done, now, to facilitate Iranian use of the Internet for uncensored communication. The State Department continues to drag its feet on using money appropriated by Congress to fund firewall-busting operations and to deny support to groups with a proven record of success, like the Global Internet Freedom Consortium.

The administration has worried excessively that open U.S. support might damage the Green Movement. Now President Obama has publicly taken sides, and the battle inside Iran has reached a critical juncture. It's time for the United States to do whatever it can, in public and covertly, to help those Iranians fighting for freedom.

The Washington Post has it right. It is time – actually long past time – for Obama to weigh in decisively and on multiple levels to support the revolution in Iran. Besides those things enumerated by Wapo, there are a host of other things that Obama needs to put in motion to support the regime. For example, Obama stripped all funding for the programs promoting democracy in Iran when he took office. He needs to refund those programs, particularly Radio Farda which ought to play a major role in getting news into Iran, both about the outside world and about events occurring inside Iran that the regime wants silenced.

If Obama were smart - and indeed, thinking of his legacy - he would embrace this option with all the fervor with which he has pushed health care reform. It is something that would, I believe, have bipartisan support. And if the revolution succeeds after he has thrown full U.S. support, then Obama's legacy will be cemented in stone. Whatever else he screws up, he will be the President who helped bring an end to Iran's evil theocracy and the President who moved the Middle East much closer to stability. It would, at a stroke, end a highly significant portion of terrorism around the world. It would remove from Hamas and Hezbollah their primary source of funding.

The joker in the deck, if you will, is that the revolution needs time to flower, if it ever will. If Obama does nothing else, time may soon run out. Iran sits on the cusp of crossing the nuclear threshold and, by Israeli estimates, will have a nuclear weapon by 2011. Israel, threatened near daily with destruction by the Iranian regime, has every justification to go to war with Iran to stop the Iranian regime from making that weapon. If Obama is going to fully support the revolution, he needs to buy time from Israel. Obama would need to provide the Israeli government with guarantees that the U.S. will underwrite the missile defense of Israel. Obama needs to further guarantee that the U.S. will, with Israel, jointly conduct that attack on Iran's nuclear sites if and when it appears that Iran's revolution will not succeed. Indeed, if need be, the U.S. should go so far as to publicly put Israel under its nuclear umbrella. For if and when the first bombs strike Iran, war will have begun. We will almost assuredly be drawn into it. And the chance to end all of this through a revolution will have ended.

In short, it is time for Obama to truly engage with Iran's revolution. He needs to set a course through the perfect storm.

Update: What Obama should not do is heed the advice of the NYT editorial board:

President Obama is right to remain open to dialogue with Iran and to continue looking for a peaceful resolution to the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. He is also right to condemn the violence against Iranian civilians . . .

The government still appears to have firm control of the main levers of power, including the brutish Revolutionary Guard and the Basij militia. . . .

The Iranian people are demanding what all people have a right to demand: basic freedoms, economic security, and the knowledge that their government is committed to protecting, not killing its citizens.

These people are as out of touch with reality as they were when they called the Iraq War lost during the height of the surge. If they think that the government is firmly in control, they have not bothered to read their own paper's reporting of the events of last week. If they think the Iranian people are demanding mere "basic freedoms," they are completely misreading how these protests have evovled since June. If they think that Obama's main concern should be to keep an "open dialogoue" going with the barbaric and illegitimate government - the same government that has essentially given Obama the one finger salute over the past months - they are utterly insane. What they counsel is not a search for a "peaceful resolution" to this madness. To quote Milton fron Paradise Lost:

Thus Belial with words clothed in reason's garb
Counselled ignoble ease and peaceful sloth, not peace.

The counsel of the NYT would lead us to war, sooner or later. Our best chance for peace, indeed our only one, is to move decisively in support of the revolution.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Obama Speaks On Iran: Pro Forma Or Pro Protesters?

Obama finally broke his grotesquely wrong-headed silence on Iran during his speech today:

Here is the text of his speech:

Before I leave, let me also briefly address the events that have taken place over the last few days in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens, which has apparently resulted in detentions, injuries, and even death.

For months, the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights. Each time they have done so, they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days. And each time that has happened, the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people who are part of Iran's great and enduring civilization.
What's taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country. It's about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves. And the decision of Iran's leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.

As I said in Oslo, it's telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

Along with all free nations, the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights. We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people.

We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran. We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there. And I'm confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice.

The President's speech comes six months after protests began in Iran, five months after the government began systematically arresting, torturing, raping and murdering protesters, a week after massive protests began during the burial of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, and a day after the most violent protests to date that occurred on the Shia holy day of Ashura. The week of protests leading up to Ashura and the protests on Ashura yesterday took place throughout Iran, involved many different classes of Iranian society, and were far more militant than prior demonstrations. For all the reasons set forth in the post here, it seems clear that Iran's revolution has reached a new phase.

I applaud the President's speech. He has finally come out with a statement that, for all its faults and its lateness, will be interpreted as a relatively strong, if brief statement, in support of the protesters. That said, this one minute vignette comes months late, it understates what is happening in Iran, it misstates the goals of the protesters, and in it, Obama cannot bring himself to call the Iranian regime illegitimate. What is happening in Iran is not a protest for "social justice," it is a fight to the death for freedom. What the government is doing to these protesters is not mere "detentions, injuries, and even death." It is wholesale brutality, rape, torture, and murder. It is a human rights violations on steroids. It is the attempt of the theocracy to terrorize the Iranian citizenry.

Charles Krauthammer addressed the President's speech on Fox News tonight. While I am not as vociferous as Krauthammer in my critique at this point, I think the tenor of Krauthammer's criticism is valid.

Whether Krauthammer's criticisms are truly warranted will be answered in the coming days, as we learn whether Obama's speech was merely pro forma or whether it marks an actual intent to decisively support the revolution in Iran. Will Obama refund all of those programs designed to support democracy in Iran? Will he begin to use the bully pulpit to mark the Iranian regime as illegitimate? Will Obama call attention to individual cases of human rights abuses? Will Obama tell the story of Neda Soltan and how the government has threatened and supressed her family in the aftermath of her murder? Obama can make a difference in whether this revolution, no longer nascent, succeeds or fails. What will he do?

Time is running out on our options for dealing with the mad mullahs. Even laying aside the moral imperative of supporting people fighting and dying for freedom from the yoke of tyranny, the reality is that that same tyrannical government will soon attain a nuclear arsenal and threaten the world with the same terror now being waged against its citizenry. The single best thing Obama can do for Iran, America and the world is to throw his full support to the protesters in Iran. Let us hope his speech this day was not merely pro forma.


Courts, Environmental Policy & An End Run Around Democracy

The greeenies are determined to punish our economy and means of energy production. If they cannot do it through the ballot box, they learned long ago that the Courts, staffed by many an activist judge, provide an equally good venue. And with the push to declare carbon a pollutant, things are primed to get much worse. This from the WSJ:

. . . Across the country, trial lawyers and green pressure groups—if that's not redundant—are teaming up to sue electric utilities for carbon emissions under "nuisance" laws.

A group of 12 Gulf Coast residents whose homes were damaged by Katrina are suing 33 energy companies for greenhouse gas emissions that allegedly contributed to the global warming that allegedly made the hurricane worse. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and seven state AG allies plus New York City are suing American Electric Power and other utilities for a host of supposed eco-maladies. A native village in Alaska is suing Exxon and 23 oil and energy companies for coastal erosion.

What unites these cases is the creativity of their legal chain of causation and their naked attempts at political intimidation. "My hope is that the court case will provide a powerful incentive for polluters to be reasonable and come to the table and seek affordable and reasonable reductions," Mr. Blumenthal told the trade publication Carbon Control News. "We're trying to compel measures that will stem global warming regardless of what happens in the legislature."

Mull over that one for a moment. Mr. Blumenthal isn't suing to right a wrong. He admits that he's suing to coerce a change in policy no matter what the public's elected representatives choose.

Cap and trade or a global treaty like the one that collapsed in Copenhagen would be destructive—but at least either would need the assent of a politically accountable Congress. The Obama Administration's antidemocratic decision to impose carbon regulation via the Environmental Protection Agency would be even more destructive—but at least it would be grounded in an existing law, the 1977 Clean Air Act, however misinterpreted. The nuisance suits ask the courts to make such fundamentally political decisions themselves, with judges substituting their views for those of the elected branches.

And now that you mention it, the U.S. appeals courts seem more than ready to arrogate to themselves this power. In September, the Second Circuit allowed Mr. Blumenthal's suit to proceed, while a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit reversed a lower court's dismissal of the Katrina case in October. An en banc hearing is now under consideration.

But global warming is, well, global: It doesn't matter whether ubiquitous CO2 emissions come from American Electric Power or Exxon—or China. "There is no logical reason to draw the line at 30 defendants as opposed to 150, or 500, or even 10,000 defendants," says David Rivkin, an attorney at Baker Hostetler and a contributor to our pages, in an amicus brief in the Katrina case. "These plaintiffs—and any others alleging injury by climatic phenomena—would have standing to assert a damages claim against virtually every entity and individual on the planet, since each 'contributes' to global concentrations of carbon dioxide."

In other words, the courts would become a venue for a carbon war of all against all. Not only might businesses sue to shackle their competitors—could we sue the New York Times for deforestation?—but judges would decide the remedies against specific defendants. In practice this would mean ad hoc command-and-control regulation against any industries that happen to catch the green lobby's eye.

Carbon litigation without legislation is one more way to harm the economy, and the rule of law. We hope the Fifth Circuit will have the good sense to deflect this damaging legal theory before it crash-lands at the Supreme Court

(emphasis added)

I have long been a vociferous advocate of changing the rules of standing (those rules limiting who may sue) under our environmental laws and under common law claims based on environmental issues. And under the same rubric, I have long been for taking decisions on environmental policy completely out of our court system. It is clear that environmental laws are being abused both to harrass and to act as an end run around the democratic process. It is further clear that our environmentally conscious far left have found fertile ground to work their destructive acts with liberal judges. Indeed, the absolutey worst case of this came when five noted climate scientists on the Supreme Court held, in the 2007 case of Massachusetts vs. Environmental Protection Agency, that the EPA had "improperly failed to determine that “greenhouse gas emissions” are dangerous and within its jurisdiction." In his opinion for the Court, Justice Stevens observed:

A well-documented rise in global temperatures has coincided with a significant increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Respected scientists believe the two trends are related. For when carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, it acts like the ceiling of a greenhouse, trapping solar energy and retarding the escape of reflected heat. It is therefore a species — the most important species — of a “greenhouse gas.”

That, from a non-scientist, non-elected official who, on that date, all but decided America's future environmental policy. That is Exhibit A in why activist judges, unable to control themselves and refuse to decide issues of social policy generally, environmental policy in particular, have no business hearing such cases.

To quote once again from Dr. North at EU Referendum:

In the end, there are going to be two groups of people in this world: the greenies and the people who shoot greenies. It's kill or be killed, and the greenies will be the death of us all if this madness continues.


Facts Of Climate Science From An IPCC Reviewer

This from Lee C. Gerhard, writing at LJ World:

I have been a reviewer of the last two IPCC reports, one of the several thousand scientists who purportedly are supporters of the IPCC view that humans control global temperature. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of us try to bring better and more current science to the IPCC, but we usually fail. Recently we found out why. The whistleblower release of e-mails and files from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University has demonstrated scientific malfeasance and a sickening violation of scientific ethics.

Gerhard gives us a short primer facts of climate science.

Greenhouse gases and their effects are well-known. Here are some of things we know
• The most effective greenhouse gas is water vapor, comprising approximately 95 percent of the total greenhouse effect.

• Carbon dioxide concentration has been continually rising for nearly 100 years. It continues to rise, but carbon dioxide concentrations at present are near the lowest in geologic history.

• Temperature change correlation with carbon dioxide levels is not statistically significant.

• There are no data that definitively relate carbon dioxide levels to temperature changes.

• The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide logarithmically declines with increasing concentration. At present levels, any additional carbon dioxide can have very little effect.

We also know a lot about Earth temperature changes:

• Global temperature changes naturally all of the time, in both directions and at many scales of intensity.

• The warmest year in the U.S. in the last century was 1934, not 1998. The U.S. has the best and most extensive temperature records in the world.

• Global temperature peaked in 1998 on the current 60-80 year cycle, and has been episodically declining ever since. This cooling absolutely falsifies claims that human carbon dioxide emissions are a controlling factor in Earth temperature.

• Voluminous historic records demonstrate the Medieval Climate Optimum (MCO) was real and that the “hockey stick” graphic that attempted to deny that fact was at best bad science. The MCO was considerably warmer than the end of the 20th century.

• During the last 100 years, temperature has both risen and fallen, including the present cooling. All the changes in temperature of the last 100 years are in normal historic ranges, both in absolute value and, most importantly, rate of change.

Contrary to many public statements:

• Effects of temperature change are absolutely independent of the cause of the temperature change.

• Global hurricane, cyclonic and major storm activity is near 30-year lows. Any increase in cost of damages by storms is a product of increasing population density in vulnerable areas such as along the shores and property value inflation, not due to any increase in frequency or severity of storms.

• Polar bears have survived and thrived over periods of extreme cold and extreme warmth over hundreds of thousands of years — extremes far in excess of modern temperature changes.

• The 2009 minimum Arctic ice extent was significantly larger than the previous two years. The 2009 Antarctic maximum ice extent was significantly above the 30-year average. There are only 30 years of records.

• Rate and magnitude of sea level changes observed during the last 100 years are within normal historical ranges. Current sea level rise is tiny and, at most, justifies a prediction of perhaps ten centimeters rise in this century.

The present climate debate is a classic conflict between data and computer programs. The computer programs are the source of concern over climate change and global warming, not the data. Data are measurements. Computer programs are artificial constructs.

Public announcements use a great deal of hyperbole and inflammatory language. For instance, the word “ever” is misused by media and in public pronouncements alike. It does not mean “in the last 20 years,“ or “the last 70 years.” “Ever” means the last 4.5 billion years.

For example, some argue that the Arctic is melting, with the warmest-ever temperatures. One should ask, “How long is ever?” The answer is since 1979. And then ask, “Is it still warming?” The answer is unequivocally “No.” Earth temperatures are cooling. Similarly, the word “unprecedented” cannot be legitimately used to describe any climate change in the last 8,000 years.

There is not an unlimited supply of liquid fuels. At some point, sooner or later, global oil production will decline, and transportation costs will become insurmountable if we do not develop alternative energy sources. However, those alternative energy sources do not now exist.

A legislated reduction in energy use or significant increase in cost will severely harm the global economy and force a reduction in the standard of living in the United States. It is time we spent the research dollars to invent an order-of-magnitude better solar converter and an order-of-magnitude better battery. Once we learn how to store electrical energy, we can electrify transportation. But these are separate issues. Energy conversion is not related to climate change science. . . .

If the game of Russian roulette with the environment that Adrian Melott contends is going on, is it how will we feed all the people when the cold of the inevitable Little Ice Age returns? It will return. We just don’t know when.


Ashura - A New Phase To The Revolution

Public Statement of Mehdi Karroubi on the Iranian regime's brutality during Ashura, Iran News:

"To the coup leaders and instigators of oppression and brutality against the people protesting during the ceremony of Ashura . . . The sins that you have committed today cannot be forgiven by God. If you don’t have a belief in God, at least be a human.” . . . even the Shah respected the day of Ashura and he gave orders to allow people to be free to do as they wish.

- - 27 Dec. 2009

Public Statement of President Barack Obama on the Iranian regime's brutality during Ashura:


- - 27 Dec. 2009

It cannot be stated often enough that Obama's lack of leadership and his lack of strategic vision in failing to decisively support revolution in Iran are mistakes of the highest order. While Obama plays golf in Hawaii, the people of Iran are fighting, bleeding and dying in the streets for freedom from the oppression of a regime that is every bit as much our and the world's enemy as it is the Iranian people's. While Obama's foreign policy acts of his first year have been one misstep after another, it is this misstep that is exponentially the worst. [Update: Obama has since made a reasonably strong statement in support of the protesters (see here), though he still does not condemn the regime as illegitimate. I applaud Obama's decision to finally speak up. That said, it remains to be seen whether this marks a months late decision by Obama to lend decisive support to the protesters (something which even WaPo, in an editorial, is calling upon him to do) or whether Obama has made merely a pro forma statement that he does not intend to follow up.]

By all accounts, the Iranian peoples' protests against the regime yesterday on the holy day of Ashura (see here) were the "largest," "bloodiest," and most wide spread of the protests to date. There are several things of significance about yesterday's protests that suggest Ashura marks a new phase to the revolution.

In the wake of the mid level cleric-cum-Supreme Guide Khameini's ever more brutal repression, the size of Iran's protests had been dwindling since June. The people of Iran, other than a hard core at the center, appeared to be cowed. That has been reversed. The size of the protests that began earlier this week with Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's funeral and culminated in yesterday's holy day of Ashura were back to, if not in excess of, June levels. Moreover, they involved new and different classes of protesters. The protests now included many religious Iranians outraged at the regime's lack of principals and many of the lower class. The protests show a very much revitalized opposition to the regime that is, as Michael Ledeen notes, "very broad based."

Of equal importance, the nature of the protest on Ashura was different. The protests had long ago morphed from simple calls for a new election to calls for an end to this most evil of theocracies. What changed most strikingly (pun unintentional) with the Ashura demonstrations was the degree of militancy. There were, for the first time, a significant number of reports of people, unarmed or armed only with rocks, willing to engage with IRGC and the regime's brown shirts, the basij. And there were a surprising number of reports of IRGC and basij backing down and either retreating or literally giving up. This shows not merely a lack of morale, but a fundamental lack of certainty in their cause that, if it becomes widespread or occurs at critical points, will spell sudden and immediate doom for the regime in the months ahead.

This new militancy is verified by the Washington Post:

Amid thick smoke from fires and tear gas that blanketed key parts of the city, Tehran became the scene of hand-to-hand combat between security forces and the protesters. At one point, according to witnesses, members of the pro-government Basij militia fired their handguns while ramming a car through two barriers set up by demonstrators. Elsewhere, the protesters, who in recent months had run whenever security forces moved in to disrupt demonstrations, began to attack riot police, pelting them with rocks and setting some of their vehicles ablaze.

"The people's protests have become deeper, wider and more radical," said Hamid Reza Jalaeipour, an opposition supporter and a sociology professor at Tehran University. He said to expect the government to respond with an even greater crackdown than the one over the summer. "Everything will, from now on, be harsher, tougher, stronger," he said

The Guardian had similar reports, adding that the violence extended well beyond Tehran:

Mayhem unfolded in Tehran after a brutal crackdown in which security forces fired on protesters gathered on Ashura, one of the holiest days in the Shia calendar. The shootings killed at least four people, with another said to have died from head injuries after being beaten by police. Among the dead was Ali Mousavi, a nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi, leader of the reformist movement. He was reported to have been shot through the heart.

Demonstrators – many chanting slogans against Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – retaliated by attacking members of the security forces, in some cases beating them with their own batons. Police cars were set on fire and photographs appeared to show riot officers retreating under a hail of stones.

A further four people were killed and many others injured in the northern city of Tabriz, according to reformist websites. Clashes were also reported in several other cities, including Isfahan, Shiraz, Arak, Mashhad, Babol and Najafabad. . . .

CNN is now reporting that martial law has been imposed in Najaf, indicating that the demonstrations there must have been particularly serious.

The NYT also reported on the new militancy of the protests, adding that the murder of the nephew of the Green Movement leader, Mousavi, appears to have been a planned assassination:

The decision by the authorities to use deadly force on the Ashura holiday infuriated many Iranians, and some said the violence appeared to galvanize more traditional religious people who have not been part of the protests so far. Historically, Iranian rulers have honored Ashura’s prohibition of violence, even during wartime.

In Tehran, thick crowds marched down a central avenue in midmorning, defying official warnings of a harsh crackdown on protests as they chanted “death to Khamenei,” referring to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has expressed growing intolerance for political dissent in the country.

They refused to retreat even as the police fired tear gas, charged them with batons and fired warning shots. The police then opened fire directly into the crowd, opposition Web sites said, citing witnesses. At least five people were killed in Tehran, four in the northwestern city of Tabriz, and one in Shiraz in the south, the Web sites reported. Photographs of several victims were circulated widely.

Unlike the other protesters reported killed on Sunday, Ali Moussavi appears to have been assassinated in a political gesture aimed at his uncle, according to Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an opposition figure based in Paris with close ties to the Moussavi family. . . .

Michael Ledeen also points to a telling point that didn't dawn on me until he mentioned it. If you review the many pictures and videos from prior protests, you will see that it was the protesters who hid their faces behind masks, afraid of regime recriminations if they were identified. Now the tables are turned. As you review the many photos and videos from the Ashura demonstrations, what you see more often than not is the opposite. This is another indicator relating to the utter determination of the protesters and the flagging morale of the regime's troops. As Ledeen states:

. . . many of the evil Basij goons wore masks. This is new, and indicates fear that they will be identified and hunted down. The conflict is ever more violent . . .

Lastly, the Iranian regime's legitimacy has always depended on two legs - democracy and religious justification. The democratic leg was destroyed by Khameini with the stolen election in June. As to the second leg, religious legitimacy, it is logically of paramount importance to a theocracy that claims divine right to rule. To the extent that the regime still had any such legitimacy, they washed it away with their recent acts. Khameini spent the past week crossing one religious red line after another. As Michael Ledeen states:

the regime has been stripped of religious legitimacy by its own panic-driven brutality. By invading mosques and hosseiniyas, by assaulting family members of leading clerics (Grand Ayatollah Sane’i is under house arrest), and by ordering murder on Ashura, the supreme leader has violated a whole series of previously sacrosanct rules.

Michael Totten adds:

. . . Security forces reportedly opened fire against demonstrators and even killed the nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi – and they did it during Ashura. There are few things “supreme guide” Ali Khamenei could have done to enrage religious conservatives and harden them against his regime more than this. As one demonstrator put it, “killing Muslims on Ashura is like crucifying Christians on Christmas.”

“The clock began to tick for Ayatollah Khamenei’s fall from today,” said one of Iran’s few former female members of parliament Fatemeh Haghighatjou. “Killing people on Ashura shows how far Mr. Khamenei is willing to go to suppress the protests. People are comparing him more with Yazid because they consider him responsible for the order to use violence against people.” . . .

Thus it is no surprise that the Ashura protests were, according to Newsweek, joined by many ". . . observant Iranians (the type who hadn't been involved in previous protests) . . ." That is ominous news indeed for the regime. All that is left now is the naked exercise of power. And since Ashura, that is what the regime has done. There have been reports of high level arrests overnight: "Hossein Mousavi Tabrizi, the head of Assembly of the Teachers and Researchers of Qom, has reportedly been arrested with other clerics; Ebrahim Yazdi, the head of the Freedom Movement of Iran who was detained soon after the Presidential election but released after a few days, has again been taken by Iranian authorities."

This is clearing spiraling towards a decision point in the months ahead. But what comes next? According to Pam Gellar, a nationwide strike has been called for today. Coming across twitter are reports that many businesses in Tehran have not opened today. Further, the next major "celebration" in Iran - and thus the next likely major demonstration - falls on Feb. 11. It is, ironically enough, the day that Iran celebrates the birth of its theocracy.

We shall see if today brings calm. Even if it does, the events of Ashura are a guarantee that it will only be temporary. The ante has been upped. Let us hope, on this issue of monumental importance to Iran, the U.S., Israel and the world, Obama decides to finally and decisively engage - on the side of the protesters (with this President, I feel the need to add that qualifier).

Update: The Times of London adds:

The opposition claims that the unrest is spreading across Iran, and to every social class. It senses victory, but activists fear a bloodbath first. “The security forces, especially the Revolutionary Guards, are prepared to fight until the end as they have nowhere to go,” one member said.

This may be the start of the endgame, but it does not seem likely. The endgame will likely begin when the first major strikes occur on a national scale, much as what occurred during the 1978 revolution. As to the Revolutionary Guards, as I've pointed out before, they are inextricably entwined in all the graft and corruption of the regime and, thus, the IRGC leadership at least will order their men to fight this revolution to the death. As to whether the rank and file of the IRGC are willing to follow those orders, we saw some chinks in the armor during Ashura. If such refusals become endemic, the regime wil lbe in its final days.

Welcome Larwyn's Linx readers.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Napolitano: The System Worked

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23 year old son of an upper class Nigerian family, attempted to blow up Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam as it prepared for final approach into Detroit. Only by the grace of God did he fail.

It is not clear how Abdulmutallab became radicalized. An article in the Guardian describes his privileged background. Born into a wealthy Muslim family in the middle of Nigeria's muslim heartland, he attended private schools in West Africa and then traveled to Britain to attend college. He always displayed a religious bent, but no one interviewed in the article gives any indication that Abdulmutallab was subjected to extremist views or took up the extremist cause prior to departing for the UK. Unfortunately, the article does not dig deep enough into this line of questioning, making no apparent effort to discover the mosques he attended in London. The fact that someone of privileged backround should be radicalized and the fact that the radicalization likely occurred in UK should be no surprise whatsoever to anyone who follows such things closely.

Apparently, six months ago, Abdulmutallab's father became so concerned with his son's newly radicalized views that he reported his son as a potential danger to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria. Somewhere about that time, according to ABC News, Abdulmutallab made contact with a Salafi imam in Yemen asking for links to al Qaeda. The imam directed Abdulmutallab to come to Yemen where he was linked up with a Saudi bomb maker. The bomb maker sowed the bomb into a set of underwear - Fruit of the Boom apparently. Its the latest Salafi knock-off for the well dressed jihadist.

Despite having information on his ties to terrorists and the warning from his father, our government did not put him on a no-fly list or even designate him for special screening measures. He was travelling on a Visa issued by the State Department on June 16, 2008 and valid until June 12, 2010.

The explosive he had situated in his underwear and behind his testicles consisted of over 80 grams of PETN, an explosive that has been around for a century and that is easy to make. You can find complete instructions for making it at several places on the internet. Those who have spent time in the military will know PETN as the explosive used in detcord, among other things. It explodes at a velocity of about 24,000 feet per second, making it a bit more powerful than TNT. The amount of PETN used by the would-be murderer would have been sufficient to blow a hole in the fuselage. The only thing which intervened was the detonater's failure. While there was no explosion, there was a fire, and Abdulmutallab's chestnuts got roasted (how apropos - and even in keeping with Christmas tradition).

So what we have is an individual who should at least have been picked up for special screening if not placed on a no-fly list. That is a failure of our system. Further, the screening system in place in Amsterdam obviously failed to detect the explosives carried by Abdulmutallab under normal screening procedures. This is particularly problematic as PETN has long been a favored explosive for terrorists, and it is one that is easilly detectable:

. . . law enforcement officials said modern airport screening machines could have detected the chemical. Airport "puffer" machines - the devices that blow air onto a passenger to collect and analyze residues - would probably have detected the powder, as would bomb-sniffing dogs or a hands-on search using a swab.

Enter Janet Napolitano, she who replaced the term terrorism with "man-caused disasters" and who was last seen painting all conservatives and former military as potential terrorists. In response to questions on how this could happen, her claim is that . . .

The system worked?

The SYSTEM WORKED??????? The only thing that worked, to put it in that light, the only thing that saved 300 lives on Christmas day, was a failed detonater. Somehow I find claiming either an act of God or jihadi incompetence as part of our official government system to protect the lives of air travelers as a bit more than outrageous.

And Napolitano claims insufficient information to put this would be jihadist on the list for just more secure screening - even after his father warns the Embassy about his radical religious views?????

Is this woman insane? She is at minimumum completely incompetent.

And to add, a great job with this interview by CNN.